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Title: A History of Roman Classical Literature.
Author: Browne, R. W.
Language: English
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                               A HISTORY


                            ROMAN CLASSICAL



                        R. W. BROWNE, M.A., PH.D.,
                         KING’S COLLEGE, LONDON.

 Meum semper judicium fuit, omnia nostros aut invenisse per se sapientius
   quam Græcos; aut accepta ab illis fecisse meliora, quæ quidem digne
                    statuissent in quibus elaborarent.

                                                   Cic. _Tusc. Disp._ I.

                           BLANCHARD AND LEA.

                         WM. S. YOUNG, PRINTER.



The history of Roman Classical Literature, although it comprehends the
names of many illustrious writers and many voluminous works, is,
chronologically speaking, contained within narrow limits. Dating from
its earliest infancy, until the epoch when it ceased to deserve the
title of classical, its existence occupies a period of less than four

The imperial city had been founded for upwards of five hundred years
without exhibiting more than those rudest germs of literary taste which
are common to the most uncivilized nations, without producing a single
author either in poetry or prose.

The Roman mind, naturally vigorous and active, was still uncultivated,
when, about two centuries and a half before the Christian era,[1]
conquest made the inhabitants of the capital acquainted, for the first
time, with Greek science, art, and literature; and the last rays of
classic taste and learning ceased to illumine the Roman world before the
accession of the Antonines.[2]

Such a history, however, must be introduced by a reference to times of
much higher antiquity. The language itself must be examined
historically, that is, its progress and its formation from its primitive
elements, must be traced with reference to the influences exercised upon
it from without by the natives who spoke the dialects out of which it
was composed; and the earliest indications of a taste for poetry, and a
desire to cultivate the intellectual powers, must be marked and followed
out in their successive stages of development. In this investigation, it
will be seen how great the difficulties were with which literary men had
to struggle under the Republic—difficulties principally arising from the
physical activity of the people, and the practical character of the
Roman mind, which led the majority to undervalue and despise devotion to
sedentary and contemplative pursuits.

The Roman, in the olden times, had a high and self-denying sense of
duty—he was ambitious, but his ambition was for the glory, not of
himself, but his country; he thus lived for conquest: his motive,
however, was not self-aggrandizement but the extension of the domination
of Rome. When the state came to be merged in the individual, generals
and statesmen sought to heap up wealth and to acquire power; but it was
not so in the Republican times. Owing to these characteristic features,
the Roman citizen conceived it to be his duty to devote his energies to
the public service: he concentrated all his powers, mental and bodily,
upon war and politics; he despised all other occupations and sources of
fame; for he was conscious that his country owed her position amongst
nations to her military prowess, and her liberties at home to the wise
administration of her constitution.

Hence it will be seen, that there never was a period in which literature
did not require to be fostered and protected by the patronage of the
wealthy and powerful. Even tragedy never captivated the feelings or
acquired an influence over the minds of the people at large as it did in
Greece; it degenerated into mere recitations in a dramatic form,
addressed like any other poetry to a _coterie_. Comedy formed the only
exception to this rule. It was the only species of literature which the
masses thoroughly enjoyed. Learning was a sickly plant: patronage was
the artificial heat which brought it to maturity. Accius was patronized
by D. Brutus; Ennius by Lucilius and the Scipios; Terence by Africanus
and Lælius; Lucretius by the Memmii; Tibullus by Messala; Propertius by
Ælius Gallus; Virgil and his friends by Augustus, Mæcenas, and Pollio;
Martial and Quintilian by Domitian.

As the conquest of Magna Græcia, Sicily, and, finally, of Greece itself,
first directed to the pursuit of intellectual cultivation a people whose
national literature, even if it deserved to be so called, was of the
rudest and most meager description, Roman literature was, as might be
expected, the offspring of the Greek, and its beauties a reflexion of
the Greek mind; and although some portions were more original than
others, as being more congenial to the national character—such, for
example, as satire, oratory, and history—it was, upon the whole, never
anything more than an imitation. It had, therefore, all the faults of an
imitation. As in painting, those that study the old masters, and neglect
nature, are nothing more than copyists, however high the finish and
elaborate the polish of their works may be; so in the literature of
Rome, we are delighted with the execution, and charmed with the genius,
wit, and ingenuity, but we seek in vain for the enthusiasm and
inspiration which breathes in every part of the original.

One faculty of the greatest importance to literary eminence was
possessed by the Romans in the highest perfection, because it may be
acquired as well as innate, and is always improved and polished by
education: that faculty is taste—the ability, as Addison defines it, to
discern the beauties of an author with pleasure, and his imperfections
with dislike.

Of the three periods into which this history is divided, the first may
be considered as _dramatic_. Eloquence, indeed, made rapid strides, and
C. Gracchus may be considered as the father of Latin prose; but the
language was not sufficiently smoothed and polished; the sentiments of
the orator were far superior to the diction in which they were conveyed.
Jurisprudence also was studied with thoughtfulness and accuracy;
history, however, was nothing more than annals, and epic poetry rugged
and monotonous. But the acting tragedy of the Romans is almost
exclusively confined to this period; and the comedies of Plautus and
Terence were then written, which have survived to command the admiration
of modern times. Although, at this epoch, the language was elaborately
polished and embellished with the utmost variety of graceful forms and
expressions, it was simple and unconstrained: it flowed easily and
naturally, and was therefore full and copious; brevity and epigrammatic
terseness are acquired qualities, and the result of art, although that
art may be skilfully concealed.

The second period consists of two subdivisions, of which the first was
the era of _prose_, and, consequently, the period at which the language
attained its greatest perfection; for the structure, power, and genius
of a language must be judged of by its prose, and not by its poetry.
Cicero is the representative of this era as an orator and
philosopher—Cæsar and Sallust as historians. The second subdivision, or
the Augustan age, is the era of poetry, for in it poetry arrived at the
same eminence which prose had attained in the preceding generation. But
the age of Cicero and that of Augustus can only be made subdivisions of
one great period; they are not separated from each other by a strong
line of demarkation; they are blended together, and gradually melt into
one another. In the former, Lucretius and Catullus were the harbingers
of Virgil, Horace, and Ovid; and, in the latter, the sun of Cicero,
Cæsar, and Sallust, seems to set in the sweet narrative of Livy.

The last period is _rhetorical_: it has been called “the silver age.” It
produced Rome’s only fabulist, Phædrus; the greatest satirist, Juvenal;
the wittiest epigrammatist, Martial; the most philosophical historian,
Tacitus; the most judicious critic, Quintilian; and a letter-writer,
scarcely inferior to Cicero himself, the younger Pliny; and yet,
notwithstanding these illustrious names, this is the period of the
decline. These great names shed a lustre over their generation; but they
did not influence their taste or arrest the approaching decay of the
national genius: causes were at work which were rapidly producing this
effect, and they were beyond their control. A new and false standard of
taste was now set up, which was inconsistent with original genius and
independent thought. Rome was persuaded, to accept a declamatory
rhetoric as a substitute for that fervid eloquence in which she had
delighted, and which was now deprived of its use, and was driven from
the Forum to the lecture-room. This taste infected every species of
composition. Seneca abused his fine talents to teach men to admire
nothing so much as glitter, novelty, and affectation; and, at length,
all became constrained, hollow, and artificial. With the national
liberty, the national intellect lapsed into a state of inactivity: a
period of intellectual darkness succeeded, the influence which the
capital had lost was taken up by the provinces, and thus the way was
paved for the inroad of barbarism.

Such is the outline of this work; and if the reader finds some features,
which he considers of great importance, rapidly touched upon, the extent
of the subject, and the wish to compress it within a moderate compass,
must be offered as the author’s apology. In conclusion, the author
acknowledges his deep obligations to those historians and biographers
whose works he has consulted during the composition of this history. He
feels that it would have been presumptuous to offer such a work to the
public without having profited by the laborious investigations of Wolf,
Bayle, Hermann, Grotefend, Bernhardy, Bähr, Schlegel, Lachmann, Dunlop,
Matthiæ, Schoell, Krause, Ritter, Nisard, Pierron, Niebuhr, Milman,
Arnold, Merivale, Donaldson, Smith, and the authors of the “Biographie


                                 BOOK I.

                               FIRST ERA.

                               CHAPTER I.


 Comparison of the Latin language with the Greek—Eras of
   Latinity—Origin of the Romans—Elements of the Latin
   language—Etruscan influence                                        33

                               CHAPTER II.

 The Eugubine Tables—Existence of Oscan in Italy—Bantine
   Table—Perugian Inscription—Etruscan Alphabet and Words—Chant of
   Fratres Arvales—Salian Hymn—Other Monuments of Old Latin—Latin
   and Greek Alphabets compared                                       44

                              CHAPTER III.

 Saturnian Metre—Opinions respecting its origin—Early examples of
   this Metre—Saturnian Ballads in Livy—Structure of the
   Verse—Instances of Rhythmical Poetry                               60

                               CHAPTER IV.

 Three periods of Roman Classical Literature—Its Elements
   rude—Roman Religion—Etruscan influence—Early Historical
   Monuments—Fescennine Verses—Fabulæ Atellanæ—Introduction of
   Stage-Players—Derivation of Satire                                 67

                               CHAPTER V.

 Emancipation of Livius Andronicus—His imitation of the
   Odyssey—New kind of Scenic Exhibitions—First exhibition of his
   Dramas—Nævius a Political Partisan—His bitterness—His Punic
   War—His nationality—His versification                              76

                               CHAPTER VI.

 Nævius stood between two Ages—Life of Ennius—Epitaphs written by
   him—His taste, learning, and character—His fitness for being a
   Literary Reformer—His influence on the language—His
   versification—The Annals—Difficulties of the Subject—Tragedies
   and Comedies—Satire—Minor Works                                    90

                              CHAPTER VII.

 The New Comedy of the Greeks the Model of the Roman—The Morality
   of Roman Comedy—Want of variety in the Plots of Roman
   Comedy—Dramatis Personæ—Costume—Characters—Music—Latin
   Pronunciation—Metrical Licenses—Criticism of Volcatius—Life of
   Plautus—Character of his Comedies—Analysis of his Plots            99

                              CHAPTER VII.

 Statius compared with Menander—Criticism of Cicero—Hypotheses
   respecting the early life of Terence—Anecdote related by
   Donatus—Style and Morality of Terence—Anecdote of him related
   by Cornelius Nepos—His pecuniary circumstances and death—Plots
   and Criticism of his Comedies—The remaining Comic Poets           118

                              CHAPTER VIII.

 Why Tragedy did not flourish at Rome—National Legends not
   influential with the People—Fabulæ Prætextatæ—Roman Religion
   not ideal—Roman love for Scenes of Real Action and Gorgeous
   Spectacle—Tragedy not patronised by the People—Pacuvius—His
   Dulorestes and Paulus                                             140

                               CHAPTER IX.

 L. Attius—His Tragedies and Fragments—Other Works—Tragedy
   disappeared with him—Roman Theatres—Traces of the Satiric
   Spirit in Greece—Roman Satire—Lucilius—Criticisms of Horace,
   Cicero, and Quintilian—Passage quoted by Lactantius—Lævius a
   Lyric Poet                                                        152

                               CHAPTER X.

 Prose Literature—Prose suitable to Roman Genius—History,
   Jurisprudence, and Oratory—Prevalence of Greek—Q. Fabius
   Pictor—L. Cincius Alimentus—C. Acilius Glabrio—Value of the
   Annalists—Important literary period, during which Cato Censors
   flourished—Sketch of his Life—His character, genius, and style    162

                               CHAPTER XI.

 The Origines of Cato—Passage quoted by Gellius—Treatise De Re
   Rustica—Orations—L. Cassius Hemina—Historians in the Days of
   the Gracchi—Traditional Anecdote of
   Romulus—Autobiographers—Fragment of Quadrigarius—Falsehoods of
   Antias—Sisenna—Tubero                                             176

                              CHAPTER XII.

 Early Roman Oratory—Eloquence of Appius Claudius Cæcus—Funeral
   Orations—Defence of Scipio Africanus Major—Scipio Africanus
   Minor Æmilianus—Era of the Gracchi—Their Characters—Interval
   between the Gracchi and Cicero—M. Antonius—L. Licinius
   Crassus—Q. Hortensius—Causes of his early popularity and
   subsequent failure                                                187

                              CHAPTER XIII.

 Study of Jurisprudence—Earliest Systematic Works on Roman
   Law—Groundwork of the Roman Civil Law—Eminent Jurists—The
   Scævolæ—Ælius Gallus—C. Aquilius Gallus, a Law Reformer—Other
   Jurists—Grammarians                                               204

                                BOOK II.

                     THE ERA OF CICERO AND AUGUSTUS.

                               CHAPTER I.

 Prose the Test of the condition of a Language—Dramatic Literature
   extinct—Mimes—Difference between Roman and Greek
   Mimes—Laberius—Passages from his Poetry—Matius
   Calvena—Mimiambi—Publius Syrus—Roman Pantomime—Its
   licentiousness—Principal actors of Pantomime                      211

                               CHAPTER II.

 Lucretius a Poet rather than a Philosopher—His Life—Epic
   structure of his Poem—Variety of his Poetry—Extracts from his
   Poem—Argument of it—The Epicurean Doctrines contained in
   it—Morality of Epicurus and Lucretius—Testimonies of Virgil and
   Ovid—Catullus, his Life, Character, and Poetry—Other Poets of
   this period                                                       220

                              CHAPTER III.

 Age of Virgil favourable to Poetry—His birth, education, habits,
   illness, and death—His popularity and character—His minor
   Poems, the Culex, Ciris, Moretum, Copa, and Catalecta—His
   Bucolics—Italian manners not suited to Pastoral Poetry—Idylls
   of Theocritus—Classification of the Bucolics—Subject of the
   Pollio—Heyne’s theory respecting it                               238

                               CHAPTER IV.

 Beauty of Didactic Poetry—Elaborate finish of the Georgics—Roman
   love of Rural Pursuits—Hesiod suitable as a Model—Condition of
   Italy—Subjects treated of in the Georgics—Some striking
   passages enumerated—Influence of Roman Literature on English
   Poetry—Sources from which the incidents of the Æneid are
   derived—Character of Æneas—Criticism of Niebuhr                   252

                               CHAPTER V.

 The Libertini—Roman feelings as to Commerce—Birth and infancy of
   Horace—His early education at Rome—His Military career—He
   returns to Rome—Is introduced to Mæcenas—Commences the
   Satires—Mæcenas gives him his Sabine Farm—His country life—The
   Epodes—Epistles—Carmen Seculare—Illness and death                 264

                               CHAPTER VI.

 Character of Horace—Descriptions of his Villa at Tivoli, and his
   Sabine Farm—Site of the Bandusian Fountain—The neighbouring
   Scenery—Subjects of his Satires and Epistles—Beauty of his
   Odes—Imitations of Greek Poets—Spurious Odes—Chronological
   Arrangement                                                       278

                              CHAPTER VII.

 Biography of Mæcenas—His intimacy and influence with Augustus—His
   character—Valgius Rufus—Varius—Cornelius Gallus—Biography of
   Tibullus—His style—Criticism of Muretus—Propertius—Imitated the
   Alexandrian Poets—Æmilius Macer                                   295

                              CHAPTER VIII.

 Birth and education of Ovid—His rhetorical powers—Anecdote
   related by Seneca—His poetical genius—Self-indulgent
   life—Popularity—Banishment—Place of his Exile—Epistles and
   other Works—Gratius Faliscus—Pedo Albinovanus—Aulus
   Sabinus—Marcus Manilius                                           307

                               CHAPTER IX.

 Prose Writers—Influence of Cicero upon the Language—His converse
   with his Friends—His early Life—Pleads his first Cause—Is
   Quæstor, Ædile, Prætor, and Consul—His exile, return, and
   provincial Administration—His vacillating conduct—He delivers
   his Philippics—Is proscribed and assassinated—His character       320

                               CHAPTER X.

 Cicero no Historian—His Oratorical style defended—Its principal
   charm—Observations on his forensic Orations—His Oratory
   essentially judicial—Political Orations—Rhetorical
   Treatises—The object of his Philosophical Works—Characteristics
   of Roman Philosophical Literature—Philosophy of Cicero—His
   Political Works—Letters—His Correspondents—Varro                  332

                               CHAPTER XI.

 Roman Historical Literature—Principal
   Historians—Lucceius—Lucullus—Cornelius Nepos—Opinions of the
   genuineness of the Works which bear his Name—Biography of J.
   Cæsar—His Commentaries—Their style and language—His modesty
   overrated—Other Works—Character of Cæsar                          355

                              CHAPTER XII.

 Life of Sallust—His insincerity—His Historical Works—He was a
   bitter opponent of the New Aristocracy—Profligacy of that
   Order—His style compared with that of Thucydides—His value as
   an Historian—Trogus Pompeius—His Historiæ Philippicæ              369

                              CHAPTER XIII.

 Life of Livy—His object in writing his History—Its spirit and
   character—Livy precisely suited to his Age—Not wilfully
   inaccurate—His political bias accounted for—Materials which he
   might have used—Sources of History—His defects as an
   Historian—His style—Grammarians—Vitruvius Pollio, an Augustine
   Writer—Contents of his Work                                       377

                                BOOK III.

                           ERA OF THE DECLINE.

                               CHAPTER I.

 Decline of Roman Literature—It became declamatory—Biography of
   Phædrus—Genuineness of his Fables—Moral and Political Lessons
   inculcated in them—Specimens of Fables—Fables suggested by
   Historical events—Sejanus and Tiberius—Epoch unfavourable to
   Literature—Ingenuity of Phædrus—Superiority of Æsop—The style
   of Phædrus classical                                              390

                               CHAPTER II.

 Dramatic Literature in the Augustan Age—Revival under
   Nero—Defects of the Tragedies attributed to Seneca—Internal
   evidence of their authorship—Seneca the Philosopher a
   Stoic—Inconsistent and unstable—The sentiments of his
   Philosophical Works found in his Tragedies—Parallel passages
   compared—French School of Tragic Poets                            403

                              CHAPTER III.

 Biography of Persius—His schoolboy days—His friends—His purity
   and modesty—His defects as a Satirist—Subject of his
   Satires—Obscurity of his style—Compared with Horace—Biography
   of Juvenal—Corruption of Roman Morals—Critical observations on
   the Satires—Their Historical value—Style of Juvenal—He was the
   last of Roman Satirists                                           412

                               CHAPTER IV.

 Biography of Lucan—Inscription to his Memory—Sentiments expressed
   in the Pharsalia—Lucan an unequal Poet—Faults and merits of the
   Pharsalia—Characteristics of his Age—Difficulties of Historical
   Poetry—Lucan a descriptive Poet—Specimens of his
   Poetry—Biography of Silius Italicus—His character by Pliny—His
   Poem dull and tedious—His description of the Alps                 428

                               CHAPTER V.

 C. Valerius Flaccus—Faults of the Argonautica—Papinius
   Statius—Beauty of his minor Poems—Incapable of Epic
   Poetry—Domitian—Epigram—Martial—His Biography—Profligacy of the
   Age in which he lived—Impurity of his Writings—Favourable
   specimens of his Poetry                                           441

                               CHAPTER VI.

 Aufidius Bassus and Cremutius Cordus—Velleius
   Paterculus—Character of his Works—Valerius Maximus—Cornelius
   Tacitus—Age of Trajan—Biography of Tacitus—His extant Works
   enumerated—Agricola—Germany—Histories—Traditions respecting the
   Jews—Annals—Object of Tacitus—His character—His style             455

                              CHAPTER VII.

 C. Suetonius Tranquillus—His Biography—Sources of his History—His
   great fault—Q. Curtius Rufus—Time when he flourished
   doubtful—His Biography, of Alexander—Epitomes of L. Annæus
   Florus—Sources whence he derived them                             469

                              CHAPTER VIII.

 M. Annæus Seneca—His Controversiæ and Suasoriæ—L. Annæus
   Seneca—Tutor to Nero—His enormous fortune—His death and
   character—Inconsistencies in his Philosophy—A favourite with
   early Christian Writers—His Epistles—Work on Natural
   Phenomena—Apocolocyntosis—His style                               476

                               CHAPTER IX.

 Pliny the Elder—His habits described by his Nephew—His industry
   and application—His death in the eruption of Vesuvius—The
   Eruption described in two Letters of Pliny the Younger—The
   Natural History of Pliny—Its subjects described—Pliny the
   Younger—His affection for his guardian—His Panegyric, Letters,
   and Despatches—That concerning the Christians—The answer          483

                               CHAPTER X.

 M. Fabius Quintilianus—His Biography—His Institutiones
   Oratoriæ—His views of Education—Division of his Subject into
   Five Parts—Review of Greek and Roman Literature—Completeness of
   his great Work—His other Works—His disposition—Grief for the
   loss of his son                                                   499

                               CHAPTER XI.

 A. Cornelius Celsus—His merits—Cicero Medicorum—Scribonius Largus
   Designatianus—Pomponius Mela—L. Junius Moderatus Columella—S.
   Julius Frontinus—Decline of taste in the Silver Age—Foreign
   Influence on Roman Literature—Conclusion                          508

 Chronological Table                                                 515

                       ROMAN CLASSICAL LITERATURE

                                BOOK I.
                               FIRST ERA.

                               CHAPTER I.

The various races which, from very remote antiquity, inhabited the
peninsula of Italy, necessarily gave a composite character to the Latin
language. But as all of them sprang from one common origin, the great
Indo-European stock to which also the Hellenic family belonged, a
relation of the most intimate kind is visible between the languages of
ancient Greece and Rome. Not only are their alphabets and grammatical
constructions identical, but the genius of the one is so similar to that
of the other, that the Romans readily adopted the principles of Greek
literary taste, and Latin, without losing its own characteristic
features, moulded itself after the Greek model.

Latin, however, has not the plastic property which the Greek
possesses—the natural faculty of transforming itself into every variety
of shape conceived by the fancy and imagination. It is a harder
material, it readily takes a polish, but the process by which it
receives it is laborious and artificial. Greek, like a liquid or a soft
substance, seems to crystallize as it were spontaneously into the most
beautiful forms: Latin, whether poetry or prose, derives only from
consummate art and skill that graceful beauty which is the natural
property of the kindred language.

Latin, also, to continue the same metaphor, has other characteristic
features of hard substances—gravity, solidity, and momentum or energy.
It is a fit language for embodying and expressing the thoughts of an
active and practical but not an imaginative and speculative people.

But the Latin language, notwithstanding its nervous energy and
constitutional vigour, has, by no means, exhibited the permanency and
vitality of the Greek. The Greek language, reckoning from the earliest
works extant to the present day, boasts of an existence measured by
nearly one-half the duration of the human race, and yet how gradual were
the changes during the classical periods, and how small, when compared
with those of other European languages, the sum and result of them all!
Setting aside the differences due to race and physical organization,
there are no abrupt chasms, no broad lines of demarkation, between one
literary period and another. The transition is gentle, slow, and
gradual. The successive steps can be traced and followed out. The
literary style of one period melts and is absorbed into that of the
following one, just like the successive tints and colours of the prism.
The Greek of the Homeric poems is not so different from that of
Herodotus and Thucydides, or the tragedians or the orators, or even the
authors of the later debased ages, but that the same scholar who
understands the one can analyze the rest. Though separated by so many
ages, the contemporaries of Demosthenes could appreciate the beauties of
Homer; and the Byzantines and early Christian fathers wrote and spoke
the language of the ancient Greek philosophers.

The Greek language long outlived Greek nationality. The earliest Roman
historians wrote in Greek because they had as yet no native language
fitter to express their thoughts. The Romans, in the time of Cicero,
made Greek the foundation of a liberal education, and frequented Athens
as a University for the purpose of studying Greek literature and
philosophy. The great orator, in his defence of the poet Archias,
informs us that Greek literature was read by almost all nations of the
world, whilst Latin was still confined within very narrow boundaries. At
the commencement of the Christian era Greek was so prevalent throughout
the civilized world, that it was the language chosen by the Evangelists
for recording the doctrines of the gospel. In the time of Hadrian, Greek
was the favourite language of literary men. The Princess Anna Comnena,
daughter of the Emperor Alexis, and Eustathius, the commentator on
Homer, both of whom nourished in the twelfth century after the birth of
Christ, are celebrated for the singular purity of their style; and,
lastly, Philelphus, who lived in the fifteenth century, and had visited
Constantinople, states, in a letter dated A. D. 1451, that although much
bad Greek was spoken in that capital, the court, and especially the
ladies, retained the dignity and elegance which characterize the purest
writers of the classical ages. “Græci quibus lingua depravata non sit,
et quos ipsi tum sequimur tum imitamur ita loquuntur vulgo etiam hac
tempestate ut Aristophanes comicus ut Euripides tragicus, ut oratores
omnes ut historiographi ut philosophi etiam ipsi et Plato et
Aristoteles. Viri aulici veterem sermonis dignitatem atque elegantiam

Such was the wonderful vitality of Greek in its ancient form; and yet,
strange to say, notwithstanding it clung so to existence, it seems as
though it was a plant of such delicate nature, that it could only
flourish under a combination of favourable circumstances. It pined and
withered when separated from the living Greek intellect. It lived only
where Greeks themselves lived, in their fatherland or in their colonies.
It refused to take root elsewhere. Whenever in any part of the world a
Greek settlement decayed, and the population became extinct, even
although Greek art and science, and literature and philosophy, had found
there a temporary home, the language perished also.

The Greek language could not exist when the fostering care of native
genius was withdrawn: it then shrunk back again into its original
dimensions, and was confined within the boundaries of its original home.
When the Greeks in any place passed away, their language did not
influence or amalgamate with that of the people which succeeded them.
Latin, on the other hand, was propagated like the dominion of Rome by
conquest; it either took the place of the language of the conquered
nation, or became engrafted upon it and gradually pervaded its
composition. Hence its presence is discernible in all European
languages. In Spain it became united with the Celtic and Iberian as
early as the period of the Gracchi: it was planted in Gaul by the
conquests of Julius Cæsar, and in Britain (so far as the names of
localities are concerned) by his transient expeditions; and lastly, in
the reign of Trajan, it became permanently fixed in the distant regions
of Dacia and Pannonia.

It is scarcely correct to term Greek a dead language. It has
degenerated, but has never perished or disappeared. Its harmonious
modulations are forgotten, and its delicate pronunciation is no longer
heard, but Greek is still spoken at Athens. The language, of course,
exhibits those features which constitute the principal difference
between ancient and modern languages; prepositions and particles have
supplanted affixes and inflexions, auxiliary verbs supply the gaps
caused by the crumbling away of the old conjugations, and literal
translations of modern modes of speech give an air of incongruity and
barbarism; but still the language is upon the whole wonderfully
preserved. A well-educated modern Greek would find less difficulty in
understanding the writings of Xenophon than an Englishman would
experience in reading Chaucer, or perhaps Spenser.

Greek has evinced not only vitality, but individuality likewise.
Compared with other languages, its stream flowed pure through barbarous
lands, and was but little tinged or polluted by the soil through which
it passed. There is nothing of this in Latin, neither the vitality nor
the power of resistance to change. Strange to say, although partially
derived from the same source, its properties appear to be totally
different. Latin seems to have a strong disposition to change; it
readily became polished, and as readily barbarized; it had no difficulty
in enriching itself with new expressions borrowed from the Greek, and
conforming itself to Greek rules of taste and grammar. When it came in
contact with the languages of other nations, the affinity which it had
for them was so strong that it speedily amalgamated with them, but it
did not so much influence them as itself receive an impress from them.
It did not supersede, but it became absorbed in and was corrupted by,
other tongues. Probably, as it was originally made up of many European
elements, it recognised a relationship with all other languages, and
therefore readily admitted of fusion together with them into a composite
form. Its existence is confined within the limits of less than eight
centuries. It assumed a form adapted for literary composition less than
two centuries and a half before the Christian era, and it ceased to be a
spoken language in the sixth century.

As long as the Roman empire existed in its integrity, and the capital
city retained its influence as the patron to whom all literary men must
look for support, and as the model of refinement and civilization, the
language maintained its dominion. Provincial writers endeavoured to rid
themselves of their provincialisms. At Rome they formed their taste and
received their education. The rule of language was the usage of the
capital; but when the empire was dismembered, and language was thus set
free from its former restrictions, each section of it felt itself at
liberty to have an independent language and literature of its own, the
classical standard was neglected, Latin rapidly became barbarized.
Again, Latin has interpenetrated or become the nucleus of every language
of civilized Europe; it has shown great facilities of adaptation, but no
individuality or power to supersede; but the relation which it bears to
them is totally unlike that which ancient Greek bears to modern. The
best Latin scholar would not understand Dante or Tasso, nor would a
knowledge of Italian enable one to read Horace and Virgil.

The old Roman language, as it existed previous to coming in contact with
Greek influences, has almost entirely perished. It will be shown
hereafter that only a few records of it remain; and the language of
these fragments is very different from that of the classical period. Nor
did the old language grow into the new like the Greek of two successive
ages by a process of development, but it was remoulded by external and
foreign influences. So different was the old Roman from classical Latin,
that although the investigations of modern scholars have enabled us to
decipher the fragments which remain, and to point out the analogies
which exist between old and new forms, some of them were with difficulty
intelligible to the cleverest and best educated of the Augustan age. The
treaty which Rome made with Carthage in the first year of the Republic
was engraved on brazen tablets, and preserved in the archives of the
Capitol. Polybius had learning enough to translate it into Greek, but he
tells us that the language of it was too archaic for the Romans of his

A wide gap separates this old Latin from the Latin of Ennius, whose
style was formed by Greek taste; another not so wide is interposed
between the age of Ennius and that of Plautus and Terence, both of whom
wrote in the language of their adopted city, but confessedly copied
Greek models; and, lastly, Cicero and the Augustan poets mark another
age, to which from the preceding one, the only transition with which we
are acquainted is the style of oratory of Caius Gracchus, which
tradition informs us was free from ancient rudeness, although it had not
acquired the smoothness and polish of Hortensius or Cicero.

In order to arrive at the origin of the Latin language it will be
necessary to trace that of the Romans themselves. In the most distant
ages to which tradition extends, the peninsula of Italy appears to have
been inhabited by three stocks or tribes of the great Indo-Germanic
family. One of these is commonly known by the name of Oscans; another
consisted of two branches, the Sabellians, or Sabines, and the Umbrians;
the third were called Sikeli, sometimes Vituli and Itali. What
affinities there were between these and the other Indo-European tribes
out of Italy, or by what route they came from the original cradle of the
human race is wrapped in obscurity. Donaldson considers that all the
so-called aboriginal inhabitants of Italy were of the same race as the
Lithuanians or old Prussians. The Oscans evidently, from the name which
tradition assigns to them, claimed to be the aboriginal inhabitants. The
name Osci, or Opici, which is a longer form of it, is etymologically
connected with Ops, the goddess Earth, and consequently their national
appellation is equivalent to the Greek terms αυτοχθονες, or γηγενεις,
the “children of the soil.” That the Sabellians and Umbrians are
branches of the same stock is proved by the similarity which has been
discovered to exist between the languages spoken by them. The Umbrians
also claimed great antiquity, for the Greeks are said to have given them
their name from ομβρος, rain; implying that they were an antediluvian
race, and had survived the storms of rain which deluged the world. Pliny
likewise considers them the most ancient race in Italy.[5]

The original settlements of the Umbrians extended over the district
bounded on one side by the Tiber, on the other by the Po. All the
country to the south was in the possession of the Oscans, with the
exception of Latium, which was inhabited by the Sikeli. But in process
of time, the Oscans, pressed upon by the Sabellians, invaded the abodes
of this peaceful and rural people, some of whom submitted and
amalgamated with their conquerors, the rest were driven across the
narrow sea into Sicily, and gave the name to that island.[6] These
native tribes were not left in undisturbed possession of their rich
inheritance. There arrived in the north of Italy that enterprising race,
famed alike for their warlike spirit and their skill in the arts of
peace, the Pelasgians (or dark Asiatics,) and became the civilizers of
Italy. Historical research has failed to discover what settlements this
wonderful race inhabited immediately previous to their occupation of
Etruria. According to Livy’s account[7] they must have arrived in Italy
by sea, for he asserts that their first settlements were south of the
Apennines, that thence they spread northwards, and that the Rhæti were a
portion of them, and spoke their language in a barbarous and corrupt
form. His testimony ought to have some weight, because, as a native of
the neighbourhood, he probably knew the Rhætian language. Their
immigration must have taken place more than one thousand years before
Christ,[8] and yet they were far advanced in the arts of civilization
and refinement, and the science of politics and social life. They
enriched their newly-acquired country with commerce, and filled it with
strongly-fortified and populous cities; their dominion rapidly spread
over the whole of Italy from sea to sea, from the Alps to Vesuvius and
Salerno, and even penetrated into the islands of Elba and Corsica.[9]
Herodotus[10] asserts that they migrated from Lydia; and this tradition
was adopted by the Romans and by themselves.[11] Dionysius[12] rejects
this theory on the grounds that there is no similarity between the
Lydian and Etruscan language, religion, or institutions, and that
Xanthus, a native Lydian historian, makes no mention of this migration.
Doubtless the language is unique, nor can a connexion be traced between
it and any family; but their alphabet is Phœnician, their theology and
polity oriental, their national dress and national symbol, the eagle,
was Lydian, and a remarkable custom alluded to both by Herodotus[13] and
Plautus[14] was Lydian likewise.

Entering the territory of the Umbrians, they drove them before them into
the rugged and mountainous districts, and themselves occupied the rich
and fertile plains. The head-quarters of the invaders was Etruria; the
conquered Umbrians lived amongst them as a subject people, like the
Peloponnesians under their Dorian conquerors, or the Saxons under the
Norman nobility. This portion of the Pelasgians called themselves
Rasena, the Greeks spoke of them as Tyrseni, a name evidently connected
with the Greek τυρρις or τυρσις (Latin, Turris,) and which remarkably
confirms the assertion of Herodotus, since the only Pelasgians who were
famed for architecture or tower-building, were those who claimed a
Lydian extraction, namely, the Argives and Etruscans.[15] This theory of
the Pelasgian origin of the Etruscans is due to Lepsius,[16] and has
been adopted by Donaldson;[17] and if it be correct, the language of
Etruria was probably Pelasgian amalgamated with, and to a certain extent
corrupted by, the native Umbrian.

Pelasgian supremacy on the left bank of the Tiber found no one to
dispute it. Let us now turn our attention to the influence of these
invaders in lower Italy. As they marched southwards, they vanquished the
Oscans and occupied the plains of Latium. They did not, however, remain
long at peace in the districts which they had conquered. The old
inhabitants returned from the neighbouring highlands to which they had
been driven, and subjugated the northern part of Latium.

The history of the occupation of Etruria, which has been already
related, was here acted over again, with only the following alteration,
that here the Oscan was the dominant tribe, and the subject people
amongst whom they took up their abode were Pelasgians and Sikeli, by
whom the rest of the low country of Latium were still occupied. The
towns of the north formed a federal union, of which Alba was the
capital, whilst of the southern or Pelasgian confederacy the chief city
was Lavinium, or Latinium. The conquering Oscans were a nation of
warriors and hunters, and consequently, as Niebuhr remarked, in the
language of this district the terms belonging to war and hunting are
Oscan, whilst those which relate to peace and the occupations of rural
life are Pelasgian. As, therefore, the language of Etruria was
Pelasgian, corrupted by Umbrian, so Pelasgian + Oscan is the formula
which presents the language of Latium.

But the Roman or Latin language is still more composite in its nature,
and consists of more than these two elements. This phenomenon is also to
be accounted for by the origin of the Roman people. The septi-montium
upon which old Rome was built was occupied by different Italian tribes.
A Latin tribe belonging, if we may trust the mythical tradition, to the
Alban confederacy, had their settlement upon the Mount Palatine, and a
Sabine or Sabellian community occupied the neighbouring heights of the
Quirinal and Capitoline. Mutual jealousy of race kept them for some time
separate from each other; but at length the privilege of intermarriage
was conceded, and the two communities became one people.

The Tyrrhene Pelasgians, however, separated only by a small river from
this new state, rapidly rising to power and prosperity, were not likely
to view its existence without distrust and jealousy. Accordingly, the
early Roman historical traditions evidently point to a period during
which Rome was subject to Etruscan rule. When the Etruscan dynasty
passed away, its influence in many respects still remained. The religion
and mythology of Etruria left an indelible stamp on the rites and
ceremonies of the Roman people. The Etruscan deities were the natural
gods of Rome before the influence of Greek poetry introduced the
mythology of Homer and Hesiod into her Pantheon. The characters and
attributes of these deities were totally different from those of Greece.
No licentious orgies disgraced their worship; they were defiled by none
of their vices.[18] Saturn, Janus, Sylvanus, Faunus, and other Etruscan
deities, were grave, venerable, pure, and delighted in the simple
occupations of rural life. It was only general features of resemblance
which enabled the poets in later ages to identify Saturn with Kronos,
Sylvanus with Pan, the prophetic Camenæ of the Janiculum with the muses
of Parnassus.[19] The point, however, most important for the present
consideration is that their language was likewise permanently affected.

The ethnical affinities which have been here briefly stated, and which
may be considered as satisfactorily established by the investigations of
Niebuhr, Müller, Lepsius, Donaldson, and others, are a guide to the
affinities of the Latin language, and point out the elements of which it
is composed. These elements, then, are Umbrian, Oscan, Etruscan, Sabine,
and Pelasgian; but, as has been stated, the Etruscan language was a
compound of Oscan and Pelasgian, and the Sabine was the link between the
Umbrian and Oscan, therefore the elements of the Latin are reduced to
three, namely, Umbrian, Oscan and Pelasgian. These may again be
classified under two heads, the one which has, the other which has not,
a resemblance to the Greek. All Latin words which resemble Greek are
Pelasgian,[20] all which do not are Oscan and Umbrian. From the first of
these classes must of course be excepted those words—such, for example,
as Triclinium, &c.,—which are directly derived from the Greek, the
origin of which dates partly from the time when Rome began to have
intercourse with the Greek colonies of Magna Græcia, partly since Greek
exercised an influence on Roman literature. It is clear from the
testimony of Horace that the enriching of the language by the adoption
of such foreign words was defended and encouraged by the literary men of
the Augustan age:—

             —— Si forte necesse est
     Indiciis monstrare recentibus abdita rerum
     Fingere cinctutis non exaudita Cethegis
     Continget; dabiturque licentia sumta pudenter,
     Et nova fictaque nuper habebunt verba fidem, si
     Græco fonte cadant, parce detorta.
                                            _Hor. Ep. ad Pis. 48._

                              CHAPTER II.

                         THE UMBRIAN LANGUAGE.

In the neighbourhood of Ugubio,[21] at the foot of the Apennines (the
ancient Iguvium,) were discovered, in A. D. 1444, seven tables, commonly
called the Eugubine Tables. They were in good preservation, and
contained prayers and rules for religious ceremonies. Some of them were
engraved in the Etruscan or Umbrian characters, others in Latin letters.
Lepsius[22] has determined, from philological considerations, that the
date of them must be as early as from A. U. C. 400,[23] and that the
letters were engraved about two centuries later. A comparison of the two
shows, in the Umbrian character, the letter _s_ standing in the place
occupied by _r_ in the Latin, and _k_ in the place of _g_, because the
Etruscan alphabet, with which the Umbrian is the same, did not contain
the medial letters _B_, _G_, _D_. An analogous substitute is seen in the
transition from the old to the more modern Latin. The names Furius and
Caius, for example, were originally written Fusius and Gaius. _H_ is
also introduced between two vowels, as stahito for stato, in the same
way that in Latin aheneus is derived from _aes_. It also appears that
the termination of the masculine singular was _o_: thus, orto = ortus;
whilst that of the plural was or; _e. g._, subator = subacti; screhitor
= scripti. This mode of inflexion illustrates the form amaminor for
amamini, which was itself a participle used for amamini estis, an idiom
analogous to the Greek τετυμμενοι εισι.

The following extract, with the translation by Donaldson,[24] together
with a few words which present the greatest resemblance to the Latin,
will suffice to give a general notion of the relation which the Umbrian
bears to it:—

Teio subokau suboko, Dei Grabovi, okriper Fisiu, totaper Jiovina, erer
nomne-per, erar, nomne-per; fos sei, paker sei, okre Fisei, Tote
Jiovine, erer nomne, erar nomne: Tab. VI. (_Lepsius._) Te invocavi
invoco, Jupiter Grabovi, pro monte Fisio, pro urbe Iguvina, pro illius
nomine, pro hujus nomine, bonus sis, propitius sis, monti Fisio, urbi
Iguvinæ, illius nomine, hujus nomine.

      Alfu                albus    white
      Asa                 ara      altar
      Aveis               aves     birds
      Buf                 boves    oxen
      Ferine              farina   meal
      Nep                 nec      nor
      Nome                nomen    name
      Parfa               parra    owl
      Peica               picus    pie
      Periklum            preculum prayer (dim.)
      Poplus              populus  people
      Puni                panis    bread
      Rehte               recte    rightly
      Skrehto             scriptus written
      Suboko              sub-voco invoke
      Subra               supra    above
      Taflle              tabula   table
      Tuplu               duplus   double
      Tripler             triplus  triple
      Tota (analogous to) totus    a city (a whole or collection)
      Vas                 fas      law
      Vinu                vinum    wine
      Uve                 ovis     sheep
      Vitlu               vitulus  calf.[25]

                          THE OSCAN LANGUAGE.

The remains which have come down to us of this language belong, in fact,
to a composite idiom made up of the Sabine and Oscan. Although its
literature has entirely perished, inscriptions fortunately still
survive; but as they must have been engraved long subsequently to the
settlement of the Sabellians in Southern Italy, the language in which
they are written must necessarily be compounded of those spoken both by
the conquerors and the conquered. Although Livy[26] makes mention of an
Oscan dramatic literature, for he tells us that the “Fabulæ Atellanæ” of
the Oscans were introduced when a pestilence raged at Rome,[27] together
with other theatrical entertainments, he only speaks of the Oscan
language in one passage.[28] This, however, is an important one, because
it proves that Oscan was the vernacular tongue of the Samnites at that
period. He relates that Volumnius sent spies into the Samnite camp who
understood Oscan: “Gnaros Oscæ linguæ exploratum quid agatur mittit.”

It is clear that the reason why the Oscan language prevailed amongst
this people is, that the dominant orders in Samnium were Sabines. But
there is evidence of the existence of Oscan in Italy at a still later
period. Niebuhr[29] asserts that in the Social War[30] the Marsi spoke
Oscan, although in writing they used the Latin characters. Some denarii
still exist struck by the confederate Italian Government established in
that war at Corfinium, on which the word _Italia_ is inscribed, whilst
others bear the word Viteliu. The latter is the old Oscan orthography,
the former the Latin. One class of these coins, therefore, was struck
for the use of the Sabine, the other of the Marsian allies. It is said
also that Oscan was spoken even after the establishment of the empire.

The principal monument of the Sabello-Oscan is a brass plate which was
discovered A. D. 1793. As the word _Bansæ_ occurs in the 23d line of the
inscription, it has been supposed to refer to the town of Bantia, which
was situated not far from the spot where the tablet was found, and it is
therefore called the Bantine Table. In consequence of the perfect state
of the central portion, much of this inscription has been interpreted
with tolerable certainty and correctness. The affinity may be traced
between most of the words and their corresponding Latin; and it is
perfectly clear that the variations from the Latin follow certain
definite rules, and that the grammatical inflexions were the same as in
the oldest Latin. A copy of the Table may be found in the collection of
Orellius, and also in Donaldson’s “Varronianus.”[31] The following are a
few specimens of words in which a resemblance to the Latin will be
readily recognised, and also, in some instances, the relation of the
Oscan to the other ancient languages of Italy:—

            Licitud                 Liceto
            Multam                  Mulctam,
            Maimas                  Maximas,
            Carneis                 Carnes
            Senateis                Senatus
            Pis                     quis
            Hipid                   habeat
            Pruhipid                præhibeat
            Pruhipust               præhibuent
            Censtur                 censor
            Censazet                censapit
            Censaum, &c.            censum, &c.
            Comonei                 Communis
            Perum dolum mallom siom Per dolum malum suum
            Iok—Ionc                hoc—hunc
            Pod                     quod
            Valæmon                 Valetudinem
            Fust                    fuerit
            Poizad                  penset (Anglicè, poize.)
            Fuid                    fuit
            Tarpinius               Tarquinius
            Ampus                   Ancus

To these other well-known words may be added, which all philologers
allow to be originally Oscan, but which have been incorporated with the
Latin—such as, for example, Brutus, Cascus, Catus, Fœdus, Idus, Porcus,
Trabea; and names of deities, such as Fides, Terminus, Vertumnus, Fors,
Flora, Lares, Mamers, Quirinus, &c.

                         THE ETRUSCAN LANGUAGE.

The difficulty and obscurity in which the Etruscan language is involved
are owing to the nature of the inscriptions and monuments which have
been discovered. Those records, to which reference has already been made
when speaking of the Umbrian and Sabello-Oscan, were of a ceremonial or
legal character; they therefore contained connected phrases and
sentences, varied modes of thought and expression. Monuments such as the
Eugubine or Bantine Tables contribute not a little towards a vocabulary
of the languages, and still more to a knowledge of their structure and
analogies. This, however, is not the case with the Etruscan monuments of
antiquity which have been hitherto discovered. They are, indeed,
numerous, but they exhibit little variety. They are sepulchral records
of a complimentary kind, or titles inscribed on statues and votive
offerings. Hence the same brief phraseology continually recurs, and the
principal portions of the inscriptions are occupied by proper names.

The most important, because the largest, Etruscan record which has been
hitherto discovered, is one which was found near Perugia, A. D.
1822.[32] This inscription contains one hundred and thirty-one words and
abbreviations of words, and of these no fewer than thirty-eight are
proper names. Of the rest, a vast number are either frequently repeated,
or are etymologically connected. These have not proved sufficient to
enable any philologist (although many have attempted it) to give a
satisfactory and trustworthy explanation of its contents.

A comparison of the Perugian with the Eugubine inscription shows the
existence of similarity between some of the words found in both of them;
and this is exactly what we should _à priori_ expect to result from the
theory of the Etruscan being a compound of the Pelasgian and Umbrian. In
the Perugian inscription, words which resemble the Umbrian forms are
more numerous than those which seem to have an affinity for the
Pelasgian. Indeed, the language in which it is written appears almost
entirely to have lost the Pelasgian element. The same observation may be
made with respect to the Cortonian inscription:[33]—

  Arses verses Sethlanl tephral ape termnu pisest estu; _i. e._ Avertas
  ignem Vulcane victimarum carne post terminum piatus esto; Avertas
  ignem Vulcane in cinerem redigens qui apud terminum piatus esto.

Probably, therefore, both these belong to a period at which the old
Umbrian of the conquered tribes had been exercising a long-continued
influence in corrupting the pure Pelasgian of the conquerors.

One example of the Etruscan alphabet is extant. It was discovered in a
tomb at Bomarzo, by Mr. Dennis,[34] inscribed round the foot of a cup,
and probably had been a present for a child. The letters ran from left
to right, and are as follows:—

[Illustration: ph ch th u t s r s p n m l i th h z v e c a]

It will be seen from this specimen that the Etruscan language was
deficient in the letters Β Γ Δ Ξ Ψ Η Ο Ω.

The following is a catalogue of those Etruscan words which have been
handed down to us, together with their Latin interpretation. The list is
but a meager one, but valuable as containing some which have been
admitted into the Latin, and as exhibiting many affinities to the

 Æsar                                 Deus
 Agalletor                            Puer
 Andar                                Boreas
 Anhelos                              Aurora
 Antar                                Aquila
 Aracos                               Accipiter
 Arimos                               Simia
 Arse Verse                           Averte ignem
 Ataison                              Vitis
 Burros                               Poculum
 Balteus                            }
 Capra                              } The same as in the Latin.
 Cassis                             }
 Celer                              }
 Capys                                Falco
 Damnus                               Equus
 Drouna                               Principium
 Falandum                             Cœlum
 Gapos                                Currus
 Hister                               Ludio
 Iduare                               Dividere
 Idulus                               Ovis
 Itus                                 Idus
 Læna                                 Vestimentum
 Lanista                              Carnifex
 Lar                                  Dominus
 Lucumo                               Princeps
 Mantisa                              Additamentum
 Nanos                                Vagabundus
 Nepos                                Luxuriosus
 Rasena                               Etrusci
 Subulo                               Tibicen
 Slan                                 Filius
 Sec                                  Filia
 Ril avil                             Vixit annos
 Toga                                 Toga

The discoveries of General Galassi and Mr. Dennis at the Etruscan city
of Cervetri have shown to what an extent the Pelasgian element prevailed
in the old Etruscan. Cervetri was the old Cære or Agylla, which was
founded by Pelasgians, maintained a religious connexion with the Greeks
as a kindred race,[36] and remained Pelasgian to a late period.[37] In
the royal tomb discovered in this place the name of Tarquin—

[Illustration: Tarquin]

occurs no less than thirty-five times.[38] On a little cruet-shaped
vase, like an ink-bottle, was found inscribed the syllables Bi, Ba, Bu,
&c., as in a horn-book, and also an alphabet in the Pelasgian
character.[39] These characters are almost identical with the Etruscan.
Again, General Galassi found here a small black pot, with letters
legibly scratched, and filled with red paint.[40] Lepsius pronounced
them to be Pelasgian, divided them into words, and arranged them in the
following lines, which are evidently hexametrical:—

            Mi ni kethu ma mi mathu maram lisiai thipurenai
            Ethe erai sic epana mi nethu nastav helephu.

Mr. Donaldson[41] has offered some suggestions, with a view to
explaining this inscription, and has clearly shown many close affinities
to the Greek; but there is another which he quotes, and which is
pronounced by Müller[42] to be pure Pelasgian, which even in its
Pelasgian form is almost Greek:—

                          Mi kalairu fuius.
                          ἐιμι Καλαιροῦ Ϝυιός.

It would be impossible in this work to attempt the analysis of all the
known Etruscan words, and to point out their affinities to the
Pelasgian, the Greek, or the Latin; but a few examples may be given,
whilst the reader, who wishes to pursue the subject further, is referred
to the investigations of the learned author of the “Varronianus.”

Aifil, age, is evidently from the same root as the Greek αἰων, the
digamma, which is the characteristic of the Pelasgian, as it was of the
derivative dialect, the Æolic, being inserted between the vowels. Aruns,
an agriculturist, contains the root of ἀρόω, to plough. Capys, a falcon,
that of capio, to catch. Cassis (originally capsis,) that of caput, the
head. Lituus, a curved staff, that of obliquus. Toga, that of tego, the
dress, which was originally as much the Etruscan costume as it
subsequently became characteristic of the Roman. Lastly, it is well
known that, whereas the Greeks denoted numbers by the letters of the
alphabet, the Romans had a system of numeral signs. This was a great
improvement. The Greek system of notation was clumsy, because in reality
it only pointed out the order in which each number stands. The Roman
notation, on the other hand, represented arithmetical quantity, and even
the addition and subtraction of quantities; and this elegant contrivance
the Romans owed to the Etruscans. Their numerals were as follows:—


This system is identical with the Roman, for Ʌ inverted became Ⅴ, and
[50 symbol], [100 symbol], [500 symbol], and [1000 symbol] became
respectively Ⅼ, Ⅽ, Ⅾ, and ⅭⅠↃ, for which Ⅿ was substituted in later

From the few examples which have been here given, it is evident that the
Pelasgian element of the Etruscan was most influential in the formation
of the Latin language, as the Pelasgian art and science of that
wonderful people contributed to the advancement and improvement of the
Roman character.

                        THE OLD LATIN LANGUAGE.

The above observations, and the materials out of which the old Latin was
composed, have prepared the way for some illustrations of its structure
and character. The monuments from which all our information is derived
are few in number: the conflagration of Rome destroyed the majority; the
common accidents of a long series of years completed the mischief.
Almost the only records which remain are laws, ceremonials, epitaphs,
and honorary inscriptions.

An example of the oldest Latin extant is contained in the sacred chant
of the Fratres Arvales. The inscription which embodied this Litany was
discovered A. D. 1778,[43] whilst digging out the foundations of the
sacristy of St. Peter’s at Rome. The monument belongs to the reign of
Heliogabalus;[44] but although the date is so recent, the permanence of
religious formulæ renders it probable that the inscription contains the
exact words sung by this priesthood in the earliest times.

The Fratres Arvales were a college of priests, founded, according to the
tradition, by Romulus himself. The symbolical ensign of their office was
a chaplet of ears of corn (spicea corona,) and their function was to
offer prayers in solemn dances and processions at the opening of spring
for plenteous harvests. Their song was chanted in the temple with closed
doors, accompanied by that peculiar dance which was termed the
tripudium, from its containing three beats. To this rhythm the Saturnian
measure of the hymn corresponds; and for this reason each verse was
thrice repeated. The hymn contains sixteen letters: _s_ is sometimes put
for _r_, _ei_ for _i_, and _p_ for _f_ or _ph_. The following is a
transcription of it, as given by Orellius, to which an interpretation is

  Enos     Lases      juvate.

  Nos      Lares      juvate.

  Us       O Lares    help.

  Neve     luaerve    Marmer sins  incurrere in pleoris.

  Neve     luem       Mars   sinas incurrere    plus.

  Nor the pestilence O Mars permit to invade    more.

  Satur    fufere     Mars  limen       Salista     berber.

  Satiatus furendo    Mars  lumen       Solis sta   fervere.

  Satiated with fury, O Mars, the light of the sun stop from burning.

  Semunis     alternei       advocapit     conctos.

  Semihemones alterni        ad vos capite cunctos.

  Us half-men in your turns to you take all.

  Enos Marmer juvato.

  Nos  Mars   juvato.

  Us   Mars   help.

  Triumpe, triumpe, triumpe, triumpe, triumpe.

  Triumph, &c.

Of the Salian hymn (Carmen Saliare,) another monument of ancient Latin,
the following fragments, preserved by Varro,[45] are all that remain,
with the exception of a few isolated words:—

         (1.) Cozeulodoizesa, omina vero ad patula coemisse
              Jam cusiones; duonus ceruses dunzianus vevet.[45]

This has been corrected, arranged in the Saturnian metre, and translated
into Latin by Donaldson,[46] as follows:—

                Choroi-aulōdos eso, omina enim vero
                Ad patula’ ose misse Jani cariones.
                Duonus Cerus esit dunque Janus vevet.

      Choroio-aulodus ero, omina enim vero ad patulas aures
      Miserunt Jani curiones. Bonus Cerus erit donec Janus vivet.

      I will be a flute-player in the chorus, for the priests of Janus
      have sent omens to open ears. Cerus (the Creator) will be
      propitious so long as Janus shall live.

      (2.) Divum empta cante, divum deo supplicante.

      _i. e._ Deorum impetu canite, deorum deo suppliciter canite.

        Sing by the inspiration of the gods, sing as suppliants to the
        god of gods.

The _Leges Regiæ_ are generally considered as furnishing the next
examples, in point of antiquity, of the old Latin language; but there
can be little doubt that, although they were assumed by the metrical
traditions to belong to the period of the kings,[47] they belong to a
later historical period than the laws of the Twelve Tables. Some
fragments of laws, attributed to Numa and Servius Tullius, are preserved
by Festus[48] in a restored and corrected form, and, therefore, it is to
be feared that they have been modernized in accordance with the
orthographical rules of a later age.

One of these laws is quoted by Livy[49] as put in force in the trial of
the surviving Horatius for the murder of his sister when he returned, as
the tradition relates, from his victory over the Curatii. Another is
alluded to by Pliny,[50] which forbids the sacrificing all fish which
have not scales; but they are given in modern Latin, and can only be
restored to their old form by conjecture.

We may, therefore, proceed at once to a consideration of the Latin of
the Twelve Tables, of which fragments have been preserved by Cicero,
Aulus Gellius, Festus, Gaius, Ulpian, and others. These fragments are to
be found collected together in Haubold’s “Institutionum Juris Romani
privati lineamenta” and Donaldson’s “Varronianus.”[51] The laws of the
Twelve Tables were engraven on tablets of brass, and publicly set up in
the Comitium, and were first made public in B. C. 449.[52] Nor had the
Romans any other digested code of laws until the time of Justinian.[53]
The following are a few examples of the words and phrases contained in

                       Ni             nec
                       Em             eum
                       Endo jacito    injicito
                       Ævitas         ætas
                       Fuat           sit
                       Sonticus       nocens
                       Hostis         Hospes
                       Diffensus esto differatur
                       Se             sine
                       Venom-dint     venum det
                       Estod          esto
                       Escit          est
                       Legassit, &c.  legaverit.

The next example of the old Latin is contained in the Tiburtine
inscription, which was discovered in the sixteenth century at Tivoli,
the ancient Tibur. It came into the possession of the Barberini family;
but it was afterwards lost, and has never been recovered. Niebuhr[54]
considers (and his conjecture is probably correct) that this monument is
a Senatus-consultum, belonging to the period of the second Samnite
war.[55] The inscription is given at length in the collection of
Gruter,[56] and also by Niebuhr[57] and Donaldson.[58] The Latin in
which it is written may be considered almost classical, the variations
from that of a later age being principally orthographical. For example:—

                 Tiburtes         is written Teiburtes
                 Castoris         is written Kastorus
                 Advertit         is written advortit
                 Dixistis         is written deixsistis
                 Publicæ          is written poplicæ
                 Utile            is written oitile
                 Inducimus        is written indoucimus
                 A or ab before v is written af.

This document is followed very closely, in point of time, by the
well-known inscription on the sarcophagus of L. Cornelius Scipio[59]
Barbatus, and the epitaph on his son,[60] which are both written in the
old Saturnian metre. Scipio Barbatus was the great-grandfather of the
conqueror of Hannibal, and was consul in A. U. C. 456, the first year of
the third Samnite war. His sarcophagus was found A. D. 1780 in a tomb
near the Appian Way, whence it was removed to the Vatican. The epitaph
is as follows:—

               Cornelius Lucius Scipio Barbatus Gnaivod
               Patre prognatus fortis vir sapiensque
               Quoius forma virtutei parisuma fuit
               Consol Censor Aidilis quei fuit apud vos
               Taurasia Cisauna Samnio cepit
               Subigit omne Loucana opsidesque abdoucit.

“Cornelius L. Scipio Barbatus, son of Cnæus, a brave and wise man, whose
beauty was equal to his virtue. He was amongst you Consul, Censor,
Ædile. He took Taurasia, Cisauna, and Samnium; he subjugated all
Lucania, and led away hostages.”

His son was Consul A. U. C. 495.[61] The following inscription is on a
slab which was found near the Porta Capona. The title is painted red

           L. Cornelio L. F. Scipio, Aidiles, Consol, Censor.
           Honc oino ploirume cosentiunt R.
           Duonoro optimo fuise viro
           Luciom Scipionem. Filios Barbati
           Consol Censor Aidiles hic fuet
           Hic cepit Corsica Aleria que urbe
           Dedet tempestatebus aide mereto.

“Romans for the most part agree, that this one man, Lucius Scipio, was
the best of good men. He was the son of Barbatus, Consul, Censor, Ædile.
He took Corsica and the city Aleria. He dedicated a temple to the Storms
as a just return.”

It is not a little remarkable that the style of this epitaph is more
archaic than that of the preceding.

The consul of the year B. C. 260 was C. Duilius, who in that year gained
his celebrated naval victory over the Carthaginians; the inscription,
therefore, engraved on the pedestal of the Columna Rostrata, which was
erected in commemoration of that event, may be considered as a
contemporary monument of the language.[62] Some alterations were
probably made in its orthography at a period subsequent to its erection,
for it was rent asunder from top to bottom by lightning A. U. C.
580,[63] and is supposed not to have been repaired until the reign of
Augustus, for the restoration of a temple built by Duilius was begun by
that emperor and completed by Tiberius.[64] The principal peculiarities
to be observed in this inscription are, that the ablatives singular end
in _d_, as in the words Siceliad, obsidioned; _c_ is put for _g_, as in
_macistratos_, _leciones_; _e_ for _i_, as in _navebos_, _ornavet_; _o_
for _u_, as in _Duilios_, _aurom_; _classes_, _nummi_, &c., are spelt
clases, numei, and _quinqueremos_, _triremos_, _quinresmos_, _triesmos_.
This monument was discovered A. D. 1565, in a very imperfect state, but
its numerous _lacunæ_ were supplied by Grotefend.

About sixty years after the date of this epitaph,[65] the
Senatus-consultum, respecting the Bacchanals, was passed.[66] This
monument was discovered A. D. 1692, in the Calabrian village of Terra di
Feriolo, and is now preserved in the Imperial Museum of Vienna.[67]

There is scarcely any difference between the Latinity of this
inscription and that of the classical period except in the orthography
and some of the grammatical inflexions. The expressions are in
accordance with the usage of good authors, and the construction is not
without elegance. Nor is this to be wondered at when it is remembered
that, at the period when this decree was published, Rome already
possessed a written literature. Ennius was now known as a poet and an
historian, and many of the comedies of Plautus had been acted on the
public stage.

Having thus enumerated the existing monuments of the old Roman language
and its constituent elements, it remains to compare the Latin and Greek
alphabets, for the purpose of exhibiting the variations which the Latin
letters have severally undergone.

The letters then may be arranged according to the following

                              { Soft      P       C K or Q,   T.
                  { Mutes     { Medial    B       G           D.
       Consonants {           { Aspirates F (V)   H           —
                  { Liquids               L, M, N, R.
                  { Sibilants             S, X.
       Vowels                             A, E, I, O, U.

Owing to the relation which subsists between P, B, and F or V, as the
soft medial and aspirated pronunciation of the same letters, P and B, as
well as F and V, in Latin, are the representatives or equivalents of the
Greek F sound (φ and Ϝ,) and V also sometimes stands in the place of β.
For example (1,) the Latin _fama_, _fero_, _fugio_, _vir_, &c.,
correspond to the Greek φημή, φέρω, φεύγω (Ϝ)Ἄρης. (2.) _Nebula_,
_caput_, _albus_, _ambo_, to νεφέλη, κεφαλή, ἀλφός, ἄμφω. Similarly,
_duonus_ and _duellum_ become _bonus_ and _bellum_; the transition being
from _du_ to a sound like the English _w_, thence to _v_, and lastly to
_b_. The old Latin _c_ was used as the representative of its
corresponding medial G, as well as K; for example, magistratus,
legiones, Carthaginienses were written on the Columna Rostrata,
_leciones_, _macistratus_, _Cartacinienses_. The representative of the
Greek κ was c; thus caput stands for κεφαλή: the sound _qu_ also, as
might be expected, from its answering to the Greek koppa (Q,) and the
Hebrew koph (‏ק‎,) had undoubtedly in the old Latin the same sound as C
or K, and, therefore, quatio becomes, in composition, cutio; and quojus,
quoi, quolonia, become, in classical Latin, _cujus_, _cui_, _colonia_.
This pronunciation has descended to the modern French language, although
it has become lost in the Italian. A passage from the “Aulularia”[68] of
Plautus illustrates this assertion, and Quintilian[69] also bears
testimony to the existence of the same pronunciation in the time of

The aspirate H is in Latin the representative of the Greek Χ, as, for
example, _hiems_, _hortus_, and _humi_ correspond to χείμων, χόρτος,
χάμαι, whilst the third Greek aspirated mute Θ becomes a tenuis in the
mouths of the early Latins, as in _Cartaginienses_, and the _h_ sound
was afterwards restored when Greek exercised an influence over the
language as well as the literature of Rome.

The absence of the _th_ sound in the old Latin is compensated for in a
variety of ways; sometimes by an _f_, as fera, fores, for θήρ and θύρα.

The interchanges which take place between the T and D, and the liquids
L, N, R, can be accounted for on the grammatical principle,[70] which is
so constantly exemplified in the literal changes of the Semitic
languages, that letters articulated by the same organ are frequently put
one for the other. Now D, T, L, N are all palatals, and in the
pronunciation of R also some use is made of the palate. Hence we find a
commutation of _r_ and _n_ in δωρον, _donum_; _æreus_, _æneus_; of _t_
and _l_ in θώρηξ and _lorica_; _d_ and _l_ in olfacio and odere facio,
Ulysses and Οδυσσεύς; _r_ and _d_ in _auris_ and _audio_, _arfuise_, and

To the remaining liquid, _m_, little value seems to have been attached
in Latin. In verse it was elided before a vowel; in verbs it was
universally omitted from the first person of the present tense, although
it was originally its characteristic, and was only retained in _sum_ and
_inquam_: it was also omitted in other words, as _omne_ for _omnem_;[71]
and Cato the Censor was in the habit of putting _dice_ and _facie_ for
_dicam_(or _dicem_) and _faciam_ (_faciem_.)

As the Roman _x_ was nothing more than a double letter compounded of _g_
or _c_ and _s_, as _rego_, _regsi_, _rexi_; _dico_, _dicsi_, _dixi_, the
only consonant now remaining for consideration is the sibilant _s_. The
principal position which it occupies in Latin is as corresponding to the
aspirate in Greek words derived from the same Pelasgic roots. Thus ὓς,
ἓξ, ὓλη, &c., are represented by _sus_, _sex_, _silva_. This may
possibly be accounted for by the fact that S is in reality a very
powerful aspirate. It is only necessary to try the experiment, in order
to prove that a strong expiration produces a hissing sound. Those words
which in classical Greek are written without an aspirate, such as εἰ,
ἄναξ, &c., which, nevertheless, have an _s_ in Latin, as si, senex, &c.,
may possibly have been at one period pronounced with the stronger
breathing. The most remarkable change, however, which has taken place
with respect to this letter, in the transition from the old to the
classical Latin, is the substitution of _r_ for _s_. Thus _Fusius_,
_Papisius_, _eso_, _arbos_, &c., become _Furius_, _Papirius_, _ero_,
_arbor_, &c.

The following table exhibits the principal changes undergone by the
vowels and diphthongs:—

           _In modern Latin._                  _In ancient Latin._
 E was represented by i, sometimes u, as luci, condumnari,
 I was represented by u, ei, e, o        optume, nominus, preivatus,
                                           dedit, senatuos.
 U was represented by oi, ou, o          quoius, ploirume, douco, honc.
 Æ was represented by ai                 Aidiles.
 Πwas represented by oi                 proilium.
     The vowels were sometimes doubled, as leegi, luuci, haace.[72]

In the grammatical inflexions, the principal difference between the old
and the new Latin is, that in nouns the old forms were longer, and
assumed their modern form by a process of contraction, and that the
ablative ended in _d_, as _Gnaivod_, _sententiad_; consequently the
adverbial termination was the same as _suprad_, _bonod_, _malod_. The
same termination appears in the form of _tod_ in the singular number of
the imperative mood.

                              CHAPTER III.
                           RHYTHMICAL POETRY.

The origin and progress of the Roman language have now been briefly
traced, by the help of existing monuments, from the earliest dawn of its
existence, when the fusion of its discordant elements was so incomplete
as to be scarcely intelligible, to the period when even in the unadorned
form of public records it began to assume a classical shape. But such an
analysis will not be complete without some account of the verse in which
the earliest national poetry was composed.

The oldest measure used by the Latin poets was the Saturnian. According
to Hermann,[73] there is no doubt that it was derived from the
Etruscans, and that long before the fountains of Greek literature were
opened; the strains of the Italian bards flowed in this metre, until
Ennius introduced the heroic hexameter. The grammarian Diomedes[74]
attributed the invention of it to Nævius, and seems to imply that the
Roman poet derived the idea from the Greeks, for his theory is, that he
formed the verse by adding a syllable to the Iambic trimeter.
Terentianus Maurus, as well as Atilius, professed to find verses of this
kind in the tragedies of Euripides and the odes of Callimachus, and
Servius and Censorinus attempted to analyze the Saturnian according to
the strict rules of Greek prosody; but they were obliged to permit every
conceivable license, and to make Roman rudeness an excuse for a
violation of those rules which they themselves had arbitrarily imposed.
The opinion of Bentley was, that it was a Greek metre introduced into
Italy by Nævius.[75] The only argument in favour of the latter theory is
the fact that the Saturnian is found amongst the verses of Archilochus;
but many circumstances, which shall hereafter be pointed out, combine to
make it far more probable that the use of it by the Greek poet is an
accidental coincidence, than that the old Roman bards copied it from

Whatever be its history, there can be no doubt that, if it did not
originate in Italy, its rhythm in very early times recommended itself to
the Italian ear, and became the recognised vehicle of their national
poetry. A rude resemblance of it is discernible in the Eugubine tables;
it had obtained a more advanced degree of perfection in the Arvalian
chants, and the _axamenta_[76] or Salian hymns. Examples of it are found
in fragments of Roman laws, which Livy[77] refers to the reign of Tullus
Hostilius, and Cicero[78] to that of Tarquinius Priscus. The epitaphs of
the Scipios are in fact Saturnian næniæ. Ennius, whose era was
sufficiently early for him to know that Nævius, instead of being the
inventor of a new verse, or the introducer of a Greek one, followed the
example of his predecessors, finds fault with the antiquated rudeness of
his Saturnians.

                               Scripsere alii rem
           Versibus quos olim Fauni Vatesque canebant
           Quom neque Musarum scopulos quisquam superarat,
           Nec dicti studiosus erat.

                             Some in such verses wrote,
               As sung the Fauns and Bards in olden times,
               When none had scaled the Muses’ rocky heights
               Or studied graceful diction.

Had the Saturnian been introduced from Greece, Ennius would not have
denied to it the inspiration of the Muses, or have doubted that its
birthplace was on the rocky peaks of Parnassus, nor would his ear,
attuned to the varied melody of Greek poetry, have been unconscious of
its simple and natural rhythm, and have entirely rejected it for the
more ponderous and grandiloquent hexameter. The truth is, the taste
which was formed by the study of Greek letters created a prejudice
against the old national verse. As it was not Greek, it was pronounced
rough and unmusical, and was exploded as old-fashioned. The well-known
passage of Horace represents the prevailing feeling, although he says
that the Saturnian remained long after the introduction of the
hexameter, and that, even in his own day, when Virgil had brought the
Latin hexameter to the highest degree of perfection, a few traces of
that old long-lost poetry, which Cicero[79] wished for back again, might
still be discovered:—

     Græcia capta ferum victorem cepit et artes
     Intulit agresti Latio. Sic horridus ille
     Defluxit numerus Saturnius, et grave virus
     Munditiæ pepulere: sed in longum tamen ævum
     Manserunt, hodieque manent vestigia ruris.
                                               _Ep._ II., ii. 156.

Some passages of Livy bear evident marks of having been originally
portions of Saturnian ballads, although the historian has mutilated the
metre by the process of translating them into more modern Latin. The
prophetic warning of C. Marcius[80] has been thus restored by Hermann
with but slight alteration of the words of Livy:

           Amnén, Trojúgena, Cánnam fuge, ne te alienigenæ
           Cogánt in cámpo Díomedéi manús consérere;
           Sed nec credes tu mihi, donec complessis sangui
           Campum, miliaque multa occisa tua tetulerit
           Is amnis in portum magnum ex terra frugifera.
           Piscibus avibus ferisque quæ incolunt terras, eis
           Fuat esca carnis tua; ita Juppiter mihi fatus.

The oracle which tradition recorded as having been brought from Delphi
respecting the waters of the Alban lake[81] was evidently embodied in a
Saturnian poem, probably the composition of the same Marcius, or one of
his contemporaries, such as Fabius Pictor, Cincius Alimentus, or
Acilius. This lay has also been conjecturally restored by Hermann.

           Romane aquam Albanam lacu cave contineri,
           Cave in mare immanare suopte flumine siris;
           Missam manu per agros rigassis, dissipatam
           Rivis extinxis, tum tu insistito hostium audax
           Muris memor, quam per tot annos circum obsides
           Urbem, ex ea tibi his, quæ nunc panduntur fatis,
           Victoriam datam; bello perfecto donum
           Amplum ad mea victor templa portato; sacra patria
           Nec curata instaurato, utique adsolitum, facito.

In later times Livius Andronicus translated the whole Odyssey into
Saturnians, and Nævius wrote in the same metre a poem consisting of
seven books, the subject of which was the first Punic war. Detached
fragments of both these have been preserved by Aulus Gellius, Priscian,
Festus, and others, which have been collected together by Hermann.[82]

The structure of the Saturnian is very simple, and its rhythmical
arrangement is found in the poetry of every age and country.
Macaulay[83] quotes the following Saturnians from the poem of the Cid
and from the Nibelungen-Lied—

              Estás nuevás a mío | Cíd erán venídas
              A mí lo dían; á ti | dán las órejádas.
            Man móhte míchel wúnder | vón Sifríde ságen
            Wa ích den kúnic vínde | dás sol mán mir ságen.

He adds, also, an example of a perfect Saturnian, the following line
from the well known nursery song—

         The quéen was ín her párlour | eáting breád and hóney.

It was the metre naturally adapted to the national mode of dancing, in
which each alternate step strongly marked the time,[84] and the
rhythmical beat was repeated in a series of three bars, which gave to
the dance the appellation of tripudium.

The Saturnian consists of two parts, each containing three feet, which
fall upon the ear with the same effect as Greek trochees. The whole is
preceded by a syllable in thesis technically called an anacrusis. For

            Sum|más o|pés qui | régum ‖ régi|ás re|frégit ‖

The metre in its original form was perfectly independent of the rules of
Greek prosody; its only essential requisite was the beat or ictus on the
alternate syllable or its representative. The only law to regulate the
stress was that of the common popular pronunciation. In fact, stress
occupied the place of quantity. Two or three syllables, which, according
to the rules of prosody would be long by position, might be slurred over
or pronounced rapidly in the time of one, as in the following line:—

            Amném Trojúgena Cánnam | fúge ne té alienígenæ.

Thus it is clear that the principles which regulated it were those of
modern versification, without any of the niceties and delicacies of
Greek quantity.

The anacrusis resembles the introductory note to a musical air, and does
not interfere with the essential quality of the verse, namely, the three
beats twice repeated, any more than it does in English poems, in which
octosyllabic lines, having the stress on the even places, are
intermingled with verses of seven syllables, as in the following passage
of Milton’s L’Allegro:—

                  Come and trip it as you go
                  On the light fantastic toe,
                  And in thy right hand lead with thee
                  The mountain nymph, sweet Liberty;
                  And if I give thee honour due,
                  Mirth, admit me of thy crew.

It is remarkable that in the degenerate periods of Latin literature,
there was a return to the same old rhythmical principles which gave
birth to the Saturnian verse: ictus was again substituted for quantity,
and the Greek rules of prosody were neglected for a rhythm consisting of
alternate beats, which pervades most modern poetry.

The empire had become so extensive, that the taste of the people,
especially of the provincials, was no longer regulated by that of the
capital, and emphasis and accent became, instead of metrical quantity,
the general rule of pronunciation. This was the origin of rhythmical
poetry. Traces of it may be found as early as the satirical verses of
Suetonius on J. Cæsar.

It is the metre of the little jeu d’esprit addressed by the emperor
Hadrian to Florus—[85]

                         Ego nolo Florus esse
                         Ambulare per tabernas
                         Latitare per popinas
                         Culices pati rotundos;

and also of the historian’s repartee—

                        Ego nolo Cæsar esse
                        Ambulare per Britannos
                        Scythicas pati pruinas.

The simple grandeur of such strains as—

                     Dies iræ, dies illa,
                     Solvet sæclum in favilla, &c.

and other monkish hymns, go far to rescue the old Saturnian from the
charge of ruggedness and rusticity ascribed to it by Horace and others,
whose taste was formed by Greek poetry, and whose fastidious ears could
not brook any harmony but that which had been consecrated to the
outpourings of Greek genius.

From this species of verse, which probably prevailed among the natives
of Provence (the Roman Provincia) the Troubadours derived the metre of
their ballad poetry, and thence introduced it into the rest of Europe.
But whatever phases the external form of ancient poetry underwent, the
classical writers both of Greece and Rome eschewed rhyme. Even to a
modern ear the beautiful effect of the ancient metres is entirely
destroyed by it. It was a false taste and a less refined ear which could
accept it as a compensation for the imperfections of prosody.

Although rhyme was introduced as an embellishment of verses framed on
the principle of ictus, and not of quantity, at a very early period of
Christian Latin literature, it is not quite certain when it came to be
added as a new difficulty to the metres of classical antiquity. It is
recorded by Gray[86] that when the children educated in the monastery of
St. Gall addressed a Bishop of Constance on his first visitation with
expostulatory orations, the younger ones recited the following doggerel

              Quid tibi fecimus tale ut nobis facias male
              Appellamus regem quia nostram fecimus legem.

The elder and more advanced students spoke in rhyming hexameters:—

             Non nobis pia spes fuerat cum sis novus hospes
             Ut vetus in pejus transvertere tute velis jus.

                              CHAPTER IV.

The era during which Roman classical literature commenced, arrived at
perfection, and declined, may be conveniently divided into three
periods. The first of these embraces its rise and progress, such traces
as are discoverable of oral and traditional compositions, the rude
elements of the drama, the introduction of Greek literature, and the
cultivation of the national taste in accordance with this model, the
infancy of eloquence, and the construction and perfection of comedy.

To this period the first five centuries of the republic may be
considered as introductory; the groundwork and foundation were then
being gradually laid on which the superstructure was built up; for,
properly speaking, Rome had no literature until the conclusion of the
first Punic war.[87]

Independently therefore of these 500 years, this period consists of 160
years extending from the time when Livius Andronicus flourished[88] to
the first appearance of Cicero in public life.[89]

The second period ends with the death of Augustus.[90] It comprehends
the age of which Cicero is the representative, as the most accomplished
orator, philosopher, and prose writer of his times, as well as that of
Augustus, which is commonly called the golden age of Latin poetry.

The third and last period of Roman classical literature terminates with
the death of Hadrian.[91] Notwithstanding the numerous excellencies
which will be seen to distinguish the literature of this period, its
decline had evidently commenced. It missed the patronage of Augustus and
his refined court, and was chilled by the baneful influence of his
tyrannical successors. As the age of Augustus has been distinguished by
the epithet “golden,” so the succeeding period has been, on account of
its comparative inferiority, designated as “the silver age.”

The Romans, like all other nations, had oral poetical compositions
before they possessed any written literature. Cicero, in three
places,[92] speaks of the banquet being enlivened by the songs of bards,
in which the exploits of heroes were recited and celebrated. By these
lays national pride and family vanity were gratified, and the anecdotes
thus preserved by memory furnished the sources of early legendary

But these lays and legends must not be compared to those of Greece,
which had probably taken an epic form long before they furnished the
groundwork of the Iliad and the Odyssey. In Roman tradition there are no
traces of elevated genius or poetical inspiration. The religious
sentiment was the fertile source of Greek fancy, which gave a
supernatural glory to the effusions of the bard, painted men as heroes,
and heroes as deities; and, whilst it was the natural growth of the
Greek intellect, twined itself round the affections of the whole people.

Roman religion was a ceremonial for the priests, not for the people; and
its poetry was merely formulæ in verse, and soared no higher than the
semi-barbarous ejaculations of the Salian priests or the Arvalian
brotherhood. Fabulous legends doubtless formed the groundwork of
history, and therefore probably constituted the festive entertainments
to which Cicero alludes; but they were rude and simple, and the
narratives founded upon them, which are embodied in the pages of Livy
and others, are as much improved by the embellishments of the historian,
as these in their turn have been expanded by the poetic talent of

It is scarcely possible to conceive that the uncouth literature which
was contemporary with such rude relics as have come down to modern times
should have displayed a higher degree of imaginative power. A few simple
descriptive lines, one or two animating and heart-stirring sentiments,
and no more, would be tolerated as an interruption to the grosser
pleasures of the table amongst a rude and boisterous people. The Romans
were men of actions, not of words; their intellect, though vigorous, was
essentially of a practical character: it was such as to form warriors,
statesmen, jurists, orators, but not poets; in the highest sense of the
word, _i. e._ if by poetic talent is meant the creative faculty of the
imagination. The Roman mind possessed the germs of those faculties which
admit of cultivation and improvement, such as taste and genius, and the
appreciation of the beautiful, and their endowments rendered them
capable of attaining literary excellence; it did not possess the natural
gifts of fancy and imagination, which were part and parcel of the Greek
mind, and which made them in a state of infancy, almost of barbarism, a
poetical people.

With the Romans literature was not of spontaneous growth: it was the
result of external influence. It is impossible to fix the period at
which they first became subject to this influence, but it is clear that
in everything mental and spiritual their neighbours the Etruscans were
their teachers. The influence exercised by this remarkable people was
not only religious, but moral: its primary object was discipline, its
secondary one refinement. If it cultivated the intellectual powers, it
was with a view to disciplining the moral faculties. To this pure
culture the old Roman character owed its vigour, its honesty, its
incorruptible sternness, and those virtues which are summed up in the
comprehensive and truly Roman word “gravitas.” History proves that these
qualities had a real existence—that they were not the mere ideal
phantasies of those who loved to praise times gone by. The error into
which those fell who mourned over the loss of the old Roman discipline,
and lamented the degeneracy of their own times, was, that they
attributed this degeneracy to the onward march of refinement and
civilization, and not to the accidental circumstance that this march was
accompanied by profligacy and effeminacy, and that the race which was
the dispensers of these blessings was a corrupt and degenerate one. They
could not separate the causes and the effects; they did not see that
Rome was intellectually advanced by Greek literature, but that
unfortunately it was degraded at the same time by Greek profligacy.

For centuries the Roman mind was imbued with Etruscan literature; and
Livy[93] asserts that, just as Greek was in his own day, it continued to
be the instrument of Roman education during five centuries after the
foundation of the city.

The tendency of the Roman mind was essentially utilitarian. Even Cicero,
with all his varied accomplishments, will recognise but one end and
object of all study, namely, those sciences which will render a man
useful to his country:—“Quid esse igitur censes discendum nobis?... Eas
artes quæ efficiunt ut usui civitati simus; id enim esse præclarissimum
sapientiæ munus maximumque virtutis vel documentum vel officium
puto.”[94] We must, therefore, expect to find the law of literary
development modified in accordance with this ruling principle. From the
very beginning, the final cause of Roman literature will be found to
have been a view to utility, and not the satisfaction of an impulsive

In other nations poetry has been the first spontaneous production. With
the Romans the first literary effort was history. But their early
history consisted simply of annals and memorials—records of facts, not
of ideas or sentiments. It was calculated to form a storehouse of
valuable materials for future ages, but it had no impress of genius or
thought; its merits were truth and accuracy; its very facts were often
frivolous and unimportant, neither rendered interesting as narratives,
nor illustrated by reflections. These original documents were elements
of literature rather than deserving the name of literature
itself—antiquarian rather than historical. The earliest records of this
kind were the _Libri Lintei_—manuscripts written on rolls of linen
cloth, to which Livy refers as containing the first treaty between Rome
and Carthage, and the truce made with Ardea and Gabii.[95] To these may
be added the _Annales Maximi_, or _Commentarii Pontificum_, of the
minute accuracy of which, the following account is given by Servius.[96]
“Every year the chief pontiff inscribed on a white tablet, at the head
of which were the names of the consuls and other magistrates, a daily
record of all memorable events both at home and abroad. These
commentaries or registers were afterwards collected into eighty books,
which were entitled by their authors _Annales Maximi_.”

Similar notes of the year were kept regularly from the earliest periods
by the civil magistrates, and are spoken of by Latin authors under the
titles of _Commentarii Consulares_, _Libri Prætorum_, and _Tabulæ
Censoriæ_. All these records, however, which were anterior to the
capture of Rome by the Gauls, perished in the conflagration of the city.

Each patrician house, also, had its private family history, and the
laudatory orations said to have been recited at the funerals of
illustrious members, were carefully preserved, as adorning and
illustrating their nobility; but this heraldic literature obscured
instead of throwing a light upon history: it was filled with false
triumphs, imaginary consulships, and forged genealogies.[97]

The earliest attempt at poetry, or rather versification, for it was
simply the outward form and not the inward spirit which the rude
inhabitants of Latium attained, was satire in somewhat of a dramatic
form. _The Fescennine songs_ were metrical, for the accompaniments of
music and dancing necessarily subjected their extemporaneous effusions
to the restrictions of a rude measure. Like the first theatrical
exhibitions of the Greeks, they had their origin, not in towns, but
amongst the rural population. They were not, like Greek tragedy,
performed in honour of a deity, nor did they form a portion of a
religious ceremonial. Still, however, they were the accompaniment of it,
the pastime of the village festival. Religion was the excuse for the
holiday sport, and amusement its natural occupation. At first they were
innocent and gay, their mirth overflowed in boisterous but good-humoured
repartee; but liberty at length degenerated into license, and gave birth
to malicious and libellous attacks on persons of irreproachable
character.[98] As the licentiousness of Greek comedy provoked the
interference of the legislature, so the laws of the Twelve Tables
forbade the personalities of the Fescennine verses.

This infancy of song illustrates the character of the Romans in its
rudest and coarsest form. They loved strife, both bodily and mental:
with them the highest exercise of the intellect was in legal conflict
and political debate; and, on the same principle, the pleasure which the
spectators in the rural theatre derived from this species of attack and
defence, approached somewhat nearly to the enthusiasm with which they
would have witnessed an exhibition of gladiatorial skill. The rustic
delighted in the strife of words as he would in the wrestling matches
which also formed a portion of his day’s sports, and thus early
displayed that taste, which, in more polished ages, and in the hands of
cultivated poets, was developed in the sharp cutting wit, the lively but
piercing points of Roman satire.

The Fescennine verses show that the Romans possessed a natural aptitude
for satire. The pleasure derived from this species of writing, as well
as the moral influence exercised by it, depends not upon an æsthetic
appreciation of the beautiful, but on a high sense of moral duty; and
such a sense displays itself in a stern and indignant abhorrence of vice
rather than a disposition to be attracted by the charms and loveliness
of virtue. The Romans were a stern, not an æsthetic people, consequently
satire is the most original of all Roman literature, and the perfect and
polished form which it afterwards assumed was entirely their own. They
did, indeed, afterwards acutely observe and readily seize upon those
parts of Greek literature which were subservient to this end, and hence
Lucilius, the founder of Roman satire, eagerly adopted the models and
materials which Greek comedy placed at his disposal, and thus became, as
Horace[99] writes, a disciple of Eupolis, Cratinus, and Aristophanes.

So permanent was the popularity of these entertainments that they even
survived the introduction of Greek letters, and received a polish and
refinement from the change which then took place in the spirit of the
national poetry.[100] It has been said, that in these rude elements of
the drama, Etruria was the first teacher of Latium, and that the
epithet, Fescennine, perpetuates the name of an Etrurian village,
Fescennia, from which the amusement derived its origin; but Niebuhr has
shown that Fescennia was not an Etruscan village, and, therefore, that
this etymology is untenable.

The most probable etymology of the word Fescennine is one given by
Festus.[101] Fascinium was the Greek Phallus, the emblem of fertility;
and as the origin of Greek comedy was derived from the rustic Phallic
songs, so he considers that the same ceremonial may be, in some way,
connected with the Fescennine verses. If this be the true account, the
Etruscans furnished the spectacle—all that which addresses itself to the
eye, whilst the habits of Italian rural life supplied the sarcastic
humour and ready extemporaneous gibe, which are the essence of the true
comic; and these combined elements having migrated from the country to
the capital, and being enthusiastically adopted by young men of more
refined taste and more liberal education, afterwards paved the way for
the introduction and adaptation of Greek comedy.

If in these improvisatory dialogues may be discerned the germ of the
Roman Comic Drama, the next advance in point of art must be attributed
to the Oscans. Their quasi-dramatic entertainments were most popular
amongst the Italian nations. They represented in broad caricature
national peculiarities: the language of the dialogue was, of course,
originally Oscan, the characters of the drama were Oscan likewise.[102]
The principal one was called Macchus, whose part was that of the Clown
in the modern pantomime. Another was termed Bucco, who was a kind of
Pantaloon, or charlatan. Much of the wit consisted in practical jokes
like that of the Italian Polichinello. These entertainments were
sometimes called Ludi Osci, but they are more commonly known by the
title of Fabulæ Atellanæ, from Aderla,[103] or, as the Romans pronounced
it, Atella, a town in Campania, where they were very popular, or perhaps
first performed. After their introduction at Rome they underwent great
modifications and received important improvements. They lost their
native rusticity; their satire was good natured; their jests were
seemly, and kept in check by the laws of good taste, and were free from
scurrility or obscenity.[104] They seem in later times to have been
divided, like comedies, into five acts, with exodia,[105] _i. e._
farcical interludes in verse, interspersed between them. Nor were they
acted by the common professional performers. The Atellan actors[106]
formed a peculiar class; they were not considered infamous, nor were
they excluded from the tribes, but enjoyed the privilege of immunity
from military service. Even a private Roman citizen might take a part in
them without disgrace or disfranchisement, although these were the
social penalties imposed upon the regular _histrio_. The Fabulæ Atellanæ
introduced thus early remained in favour for centuries. The dictator
Sylla is said to have amused his leisure hours in writing them; and
Suetonius bears testimony to their having been a popular amusement under
the empire.

As early, however, as the close of the fourth century, the drama took a
more artificial form. In the consulship of C. Sulpicius Peticus and C.
Dicinius Stolo,[107] a pestilence devastated Rome. In order to deprecate
the anger of the gods, a solemn lectisternium was proclaimed; couches of
marble were prepared, with cushions and coverlets of tapestry, on which
were placed the statues of the deities in a reclining posture. Before
them were placed well-spread tables, as though they were able to partake
of the feast. On this occasion a company of stage-players (_histriones_)
were sent for from Etruria, as a means, according to Livy[108] of
propitiating the favour of Heaven; but probably also for the wiser
purpose of diverting the popular mind from the contemplation of their
own suffering. These entertainments were a novelty to a people whose
only recognised public sports, up to that time, with the exception of
the rural drama already described, had been trials of bodily strength
and skill. The exhibitions of the Etruscan histriones consisted of
graceful national dances, accompanied with the music of the flute, but
without either songs or dramatic action. They were, therefore, simply
_ballets_, and not _dramas_.

Thus the Etruscans furnished the suggestion: the Romans improved upon
it, and invested it with a dramatic character. They combined the old
Fescennine songs with the newly introduced dances. The varied metres
which the unrestrained nature of their rude verse permitted to the vocal
parts, gave to this mixed entertainment the name of satura (a
hodge-podge or pot-pourri,) from which in after times the word satire
was derived. The actors in these quasi-dramas were professed histriones,
and no further alteration took place until that introduced by Livius

                               CHAPTER V.


The events already related had by this time prepared the Roman people
for the reception of a more regular drama, when, at the conclusion of
the first Punic War, the influence of Greek intellect, which had already
long been felt in Italy, extended to the capital. But not only did the
Romans owe to Greece the principles of literary taste, and the original
models from which the elements of that taste were derived, but their
first and earliest poet was one of that nation. Livius Andronicus,
although born in Italy, educated in the Latin tongue at Rome, and
subsequently a naturalized Roman, is generally supposed to have been a
native of the Greek colony of Tarentum. He was a man of cultivated mind,
and well versed in the literature of his nation, especially in dramatic
poetry. How he came to be at Rome in the condition of a slave, it is
impossible to say. Attius stated that he was taken prisoner at Tarentum
by Q. Fabius Maximus, when he recovered that city, in the tenth year of
the second Punic War. But Cicero shows, on the authority of Atticus,
that this date is thirty years later than the period at which he first
exhibited at Rome, and Niebuhr[109] considers that the reason why he is
called a Tarentine captive is, from being confounded with one M. Livius
Macatus, mentioned by Livy.[110] He may perhaps have owed his change of
fortune to being made a prisoner of war; at any rate, he became one of
the household of M. Livius Salinator, and occupied the confidential
position of instructor to his children. The employment as tutors of
Greek slaves, who, being men of education and refinement, had fallen
into this position by the fortune of war, was customary with the wealthy
Romans. By this means there was rapidly introduced amongst the rising
generation of the higher classes a knowledge of that language and
learning which the Romans so eagerly embraced and so enthusiastically

Fidelity in so important a situation generally gained the esteem and
affection of the patron. The generous Roman became a protector of the
man of genius rather than his master, and conferred upon him the gift of
freedom. Andronicus was emancipated under such circumstances as these,
and according to custom received the name of his former master, Livius,
and his civil and political rank became that of an ærarius. He wrote a
translation, or perhaps an imitation of the Odyssey, in the old
Saturnian metre, and also a few hymns. Niebuhr supposes that the reason
why he has translated or epitomized the Odyssey in preference to the
Iliad is, that it would have greater attractions for the Romans, in
consequence of the relation which it bore to the ancient legends of
Italy. The sea which washes the coast of Italy was the scene of many of
the most marvellous adventures of Ulysses. Sicily, in which, owing to
the wars with Hiero and the Carthaginians, the Romans now began to take
a lively interest, was represented in the Odyssey as abounding in the
elements of poetry. Circe’s fairy abode was within sight of land—a
promontory of Latium bore her name, and one of Ulysses’ sons by her was,
according to the legend of Hesiod, Latinus, the patriarch of the Latin
name. His principal works, however, were tragedies. The passion of the
Romans for shows and exhibitions, the love of action, and of stirring
business-like occupation, which characterizes them, would make the drama
popular, and it would harmonize with the public entertainments, in which
they had been accustomed to take pleasure from the earliest times, when
tradition informs us that the founder of their race instituted the
solemn games to the equestrian Neptune, and invited all the neighbours
to the spectacle;[111] and when Ancus celebrated with unwonted splendour
the Great Games, and appointed separate seats and boxes for the knights
and senators.[112] It was probable that Livius Andronicus, coming
forward as the introducer of a new era in literature, would study the
character as well as the language of his newly-adopted countrymen, and
endeavour to please them as well as teach them. In order to become
eventually a leader of the public taste, he would at first fall in with
it to a certain degree. The process by which he moulded it after the
model which he considered the true one, would be gentle and gradual, not
sudden and abrupt. The paucity and brevity of the fragments which are
extant furnish but little opportunity for forming an accurate estimate
of his ability as a poet, and his competency to guide and form the taste
of a people. Hermann[113] has collected together the fragments of the
Latin Odyssey which are scattered through the works of Gellius,
Priscian, Festus, Nonius, and others, and has compared them with the
Homeric passages of which they are the translations. Few of these,
however, are longer than a single line; and, therefore, the only opinion
which can be formed respecting them is, that although the versification
is rough and rhythmical rather than metrical, the language is vigorous
and expressive, and conveys, as far as a translation can, the force and
meaning of the original.

Nor do the criticisms of the ancient classical authors furnish much
assistance in coming to a decision. Their tastes were so completely
Greek, and the prejudices of their education so strong, that they could
scarcely confess the existence of excellence in a poet so old as
Andronicus. Cicero says in the Brutus,[114] that his Latin Odyssey was
as old-fashioned and rude as would have been the sculptures of Dædalus,
and that his dramas would not bear a second perusal. Horace, however, is
not quite so sweeping in his strictures. He confesses that he would not
condemn the poems of Livius[115] to utter oblivion, although he
remembers them in connexion with the floggings of his schoolmaster; but
he is surprised that any one should consider them polished and
beautiful, and not falling far short of critical exactness.

A passage in the history of Livy seems to imply that Andronicus ventured
upon some deviations from the ancient plan of scenic exhibitions.[116]
According to him, Livius was the first who substituted, for the rude
extemporaneous effusions of the Fescennine verse, plays with a regular
plot and fable. He adds, that in consequence of losing his voice from
being frequently encored, he obtained permission to introduce a boy to
sing the ode, or air, to the accompaniment of the flute, whilst he
himself represented the action of the song by his gestures and dancing.
He was thus enabled to depict the subject with greater vigour and
freedom of pantomimic action, because he was unimpeded by the obligation
to use his voice. Hence the custom began of the actor responding by his
gesticulation to the song and music of another, whilst the dialogue
between the odes was delivered without any musical accompaniment.

The passage of which the above is a paraphrase, is as follows:—“Livius
post aliquot annos qui ab saturis ausus est primus argumento fabulam
serere (idem scilicet, id quod omnes tum erant, suorum carminum actor)
dicitur, quum sæpius revocatus vocem obtudisset, veniâ petitâ, puerum ad
canendum ante tibicinem quum statuisset, canticum egisse aliquanto magis
vigente motu, quia nihil vocis usus impediebat. Inde ad manum cantari
histrionibus cæptum, diverbiaque tantum ipsorum voci relicta.” It is
evident that this description points out the introduction of the
principles of Greek art. We are reminded of the hyporchemes in honour of
Apollo, in which the gestures of certain members of the chorus
represented the incidents related or sentiments expressed by the singer,
and also the separation of the choral or musical part from the dialogue
of a Greek tragedy. Nevertheless, the choral or lyrical portion of the
drama to which alone this novel practice introduced by Livius applies,
found but a small part in a Latin tragedy, if compared with those of the
Greeks. In this alone the poet himself sustained a part, whilst the
whole of the dialogue (diverbia) was recited by professional performers.

This new style of dramatic performances, however, does not appear at
first to have taken such hold upon the affections of the people as to
supersede their old amusements. They admitted them, and witnessed them
with pleasure and applause, but they would not give up the old. The
young men wished their amusements to be really games and sports; they
were not content to be merely quiet spectators. Extemporaneous effusions
were more convenient for amateurs than regular plays, and joke and jest
than tragic earnest. The new custom introduced by Livius elevated the
drama above the region of ribaldry and laughter, but the art and skill
requisite confined the work to the professional performer. The young
Romans, therefore, left to the stage-player the regular drama, restored
their old amusement as an exodium or after-piece, and did not suffer it,
as Livy says, to be “polluted” by the interference of _histriones_.
According to the testimony of Cicero,[117] who makes his statement on
the authority of Atticus, Livius first exhibited his dramas in the year
before the birth of Ennius, in the consulship of C. Clodius and M.
Tuditanus, A. U. C. 514.[118] This date is also adopted by Aulus
Gellius,[119] who places his first dramatic representations about a
hundred and sixty years after the death of Sophocles, and fifty-two
years after that of Menander. The titles of his tragedies which are
extant show that they were translations or adaptations from the Greek.
Amongst them are those of Egisthus, Hermione, Tereus, Ajax, and Helena.
From each of the last two one line is preserved, and four lines are
quoted by Terentianus Maurus from his tragedy of Ino;[120] but the
language and metre render it far more probable that they were written by
some more modern poet. Two of his tragedies, the Clytemnestra and the
Trojan Horse, were acted in the second consulship of Pompey the Great,
at the inauguration of the splendid stone theatre[121] which he built.
No expense was spared in putting them upon the stage, for Cicero writes,
in a letter to M. Marius,[122] that three thousand bucklers, the spoils
of foreign nations, were exhibited in the latter, and a procession of
six hundred mules, probably richly caparisoned, were introduced in the
former, whilst cavalry and infantry, clad in various armour, mingled in
mimic combat on the scene. He considers, however, that this splendour
was an offence against good taste, and that the enjoyment was spoilt by
the gorgeousness of the spectacle. The taste of his patrons, the Roman
people, as well as the testimony of antiquity, render it highly probable
that he was the author of comedies[123] as well as tragedies. Festus
speaks of one, of which he quotes a single line, for the sake of its
philological value.

                              CN. NÆVIUS.

Nævius was the first poet who really deserves the name of Roman. His
countrymen in all ages, as well as his contemporaries, looked upon him
as one of themselves. The probability is, that he was not actually born
at Rome, though even this has been maintained with some show of
plausibility.[124] He was, at any rate, by birth entitled to the
municipal franchise, and from his earliest boyhood was a resident in the
capital. Nor was he a mere servile imitator, but applied Greek taste and
cultivation to the development of Roman sentiments. A true Roman in
heart and spirit in his fearless attachment to liberty; his stern
opposition to all who dared invade the rights of his fellow-citizens; he
was unsparing in his censure of immorality, and his admiration for
heroic self-devotion. He was a soldier, and imbibed the free and martial
enthusiasm which breathes in his poems when he fought the battles of his
country in the first Punic War. His honest principles cemented, in his
later years, a strong friendship between him and the upright and
unbending Cato,[125]—a friendship which probably contributed to form the
political and literary character of that stern old Roman.

It is generally assumed that Nævius was a Campanian; but the only reason
for this assumption is, that A. Gellius[126] criticises his epitaph, of
which Nævius himself was the author, as full of Campanian pride.

The time of his birth is unknown, but it is probable that his public
career commenced within a very few years after that of Livius. Gellius
fixes the exhibition of his first drama in B. C. 235,[127] and Cicero
places his death in the consulship of M. Cornelius Cethegus and P.
Sempronius Tuditanus,[128] although he allows that Varro, who places it
somewhat later, is the most pains-taking of Roman antiquarians. It is
also certain that he died at an advanced age, for, according to Cicero,
he was an old man when he wrote one of his poems. He was the author of
an epic poem, the title of which was the Punic War; but, owing to the
popularity of dramatic literature, his earliest literary productions
were tragedies and comedies. The titles of most of these show that their
subjects were Greek legends or stories. It was, therefore, in his epic
poem that the acknowledged originality of his talents was mainly
displayed. Nævius was a strong political partisan, a warm supporter of
the people against the encroachments of the nobility. In consequence of
the expenditure during the war, great part of the population was reduced
to poverty, and a strong line of demarkation was drawn between the rich
and the poor. The estrangement and want of sympathy between those two
classes were daily increasing. The barrier of _caste_ was indeed almost
destroyed, but that of _class_ was beginning to be erected in its stead.
The passing of the Licinian bills[129] had led to the gradual rise of a
plebeian nobility. The Ogulnian law[130] had admitted patrician and
plebeian to a religious as well as political equality, and more than
three-quarters of a century had passed away since Appius Claudius the
blind[131] had given political existence to the freedmen by admitting
them into the tribes, and had even raised some whose fathers had been
freedmen to the rank of senators, to the exclusion of many distinguished
plebeians who had filled curule offices. The object which he proposed to
himself by this policy was undoubtedly the depression of the rising
plebeian nobility, and this object was for a time attained; but the
ultimate result was a vast increase in the numbers and the power of
those who were opposed to the old patrician nobility, by the formation
of a higher class, the only qualification for admission into which was
wealth and intelligence. According to the old distinctions of rank it
was necessary that even a plebeian should have a pedigree; his father
and grandfather must have been born free. Appius, when chosen for the
first time, waived this, and introduced a new principle of political
party. Of this anti-aristocratic party Nævius was the literary
representative, and the vehement opponent of privileges derived from the
accident of birth. His position, too, was calculated to provoke a man of
better temper. He was a Roman citizen, but, as a native of a municipal
town, he did not possess the full franchise which he saw enjoyed by
others around him who were intellectually inferior to himself, and the
sense of his political inferiority was galling to him. Accordingly he
used literature as a new and powerful instrument to foster the jealousy
which existed between the orders of the state. He attacked the principle
of an aristocracy of birth in the persons of some members of the most
distinguished families. He held up Scipio Africanus to ridicule by
making him the hero of a tale of scandal.

        Etiam qui res magnas manu gessit sæpe gloriose,
        Cujus facta viva nunc vigent, qui apud gentes solas
        Præstat, eum suus pater cum pallio una ab amica abduxit.

The public services of the two Metelli could not shield them from the
poet’s bitterness, which attributed their consulships not to their own
merits, but to the mere will of fate.[132] One bitter sentence, “Fato
Metelli Romæ fiunt consules.” made that powerful family his enemies. The
Metellus, who at that time held the office of consul, threatened him
with vengeance for his slander in the following verse:—“Dabunt malum
Metelli Nævio poetæ.” and the offending poet was indicted for a libel,
in pursuance of a law of the Twelve Tables,[133] and thrown into prison.
Whilst there he composed two pieces, in which he expressed contrition;
and Plautus[134] describes him as watched by two jailers, pensively
resting his head upon his hands:—

            Nam os columnatum poetæ esse inaudivi barbaro,
            Quoi bini custodes semper totis horis accubant.

Through the influence of the tribunes he was set at liberty.[135] As,
however, is frequently the case, he could not resist indulging again in
his satiric vein, and he was exiled to Utica, where he died,[136] having
employed the last years of his life in writing his epic poem. The
following laudatory epitaph was written by himself:—

       Mortales immortales flere si foret fas,
       Flerent Divæ Camenæ Nævium poetam.
       Itaque postquam est Orcino traditus thesauro
       Obliti sunt Romani loquier Latinâ linguâ.

       If gods might to a mortal pay the tribute of a tear,
       The Muses would shed one upon the poet Nævius’ bier;
       For when he was transferred unto the regions of the tomb,
       The people soon forgot to speak the native tongue of Rome.

The best and most admired writers have paid their homage to his
excellence. Ennius and Virgil discovered in him such a freshness and
power that they unscrupulously copied and imitated him, and transferred
his thoughts into their own poems as they did those of Homer. Horace
writes that in his day the poems of Nævius were universally read, and
were in the hands and hearts of everybody, and Cicero[137] praises him,
although he had no taste for the old national literature.

We cannot be surprised at the universal popularity of Nævius. His stern
love of liberty, his unsparing opposition to aristocratic exclusiveness,
was identical with the old Roman republicanism. His taste for satire
exactly fell in with the spirit of the earliest Roman literature, whilst
he depicted with life and vigour and graphic skill the scenes of heroism
in which the soldier-poet of the first Punic War was himself an actor.
His tragedies were probably entirely taken from the Greek, but his
comedies had undoubted pretensions to originality. The titles of many of
them plainly show a Greek origin; but probably all more or less
presented pictures of Roman life and manners, and therefore went home to
the hearts of the people. This is essential to the complete
effectiveness of comedy. Tragedy appeals to higher feelings: it depicts
passions and principles of action which are recognised by the whole
human race; it may, therefore, enlist the sympathies on the side of
those whose habits and manners differ from our own, as it does in favour
of those characters which are of a heroic and superhuman mould. Comedy
professes to describe real life, and to paint men as they are; it
therefore loses part of its power unless it deals with scenes which the
experience of the audience can realize. Thus it is with painting. The
high art of the Italian school, which selected for its subjects the holy
scenes of religion, the heroism of history, and the creatures of
classical poetry, was fostered by the taste of the rich and noble
amongst a highly cultivated and imaginative people. The homely realities
of the Flemish painters, with their accurate and lifelike delineations,
were the delight of a rude prosaic nation, who could not appreciate a
more elevated style or understand ideal beauties unless brought down to
the level of every-day life.

The new form with which Nævius invested comedy gave him scope for
holding up to public scorn the prevailing vices and follies of the day.
He had also another vehicle for personality in his Ludi or Satiræ, as
they were termed by Cicero. These were comic scenes, and not regular
dramas, somewhat resembling the Atellan farces, without their
extemporaneous character. But his great work was his poem on the first
Punic War. We cannot judge of its merits by the few fragments which
remain; but the testimony borne to it by Cicero, and the use which was
made of it by Ennius and Virgil, prove that it fully deserved the title
of an epic poem. The idea was original, the plot and characters Roman.
The author, although Greek literature taught him how to be a poet, drew
his inspiration from the scenes of his native Italy and the exploits of
his countrymen. To this poem Virgil owed that beautiful allegorical
representation of the undying enmity between Rome and Carthage, and the
disastrous love of Æneas and Dido. Here was first painted in such
touching colours the self-devoted patriotism of Regulus, whom (although
love of historic truth refuses to believe the legend) the poet
represents as sacrificing home and wife and children to a sense of
honour, and as submitting to a torturing death for the sake of his
country. Probably many other heart-stirring legends and tales of prowess
which had cheered the nightly bivouac of the soldiers and inspirited
them in the field, were embodied in this popular epic. Not that he
disdained any more than Virgil the aid of Homer.[138] The second book of
the Iliad suggested to him the enumeration of the opposing forces at the
commencement of the struggle, and the description of the storm, from
which Virgil, in his turn, copied in the Æneid,[139] owes much of its
energy to the eighth book of the Odyssey. The expostulation of Venus
with the father of gods and men,[140] respecting the perils of her son,
and the promise of future prosperity to the descendants of Æneas, with
which Jupiter consoles her, as well as the address of Æneas to his
companions, are imitations of passages from this poem of Nævius; and
Ennius copied so much from him and his predecessors as to have provoked
the following rebuke from Cicero:[141]—“They have written well, if not
with all thy elegance, and so oughtest thou to think who have borrowed
so much from Nævius, if you confess that you have done so, or, if you
deny it, have stolen so much from him.”

The fragments of Nævius extant are not more numerous than those of
Livius, but some are rather longer. The two following may be quoted as
examples of simplicity and power:—

         Uxores noctu Troiad exibant capitibus
         Opertis, flentes ambæ, abeuntes lacrymis multis.[142]

These few words tell their tale with as much pathos as that admired line
in the Andrian of Terence—

               Rejecit se in eum flens quam familiariter.

The following lines describe the panic of the Carthaginians; nor could
any Roman poet have sketched the picture in fewer strokes or with more
suggestive power:—

              Sic Poinei contremiscunt artibus universim;
              Magnei metus tumultus pectora possidet
              Cæsum funera agitant, exequias ititant,
              Temulentiamque tollunt festam.[143]

Whoever can forgive roughness of expression for the sake of vigorous
thought, would, if more had remained, have read with delight the
inartificial although unpolished poetry of Nævius. Without that
elaborate workmanship which was to the Roman the only substitute for the
spontaneous grace and beauty of all that proceeded from the Greek mind,
and was expressed in the Greek tongue, there is no doubt that Nævius
displayed genius, originality, and dignity. The prejudices of Horace in
favour of Greek taste were too strong for him to value what was old in
poetry, or to sympathize with the admiration of that which the goddess
of death had consecrated.[144] But Cicero, whilst he attributed to
Livius only the mechanic skill and barbaric art of Dædalus, gave to
Nævius the creative talent and plastic power of Myron.

Even when Roman critics were not unanimous in assigning him a niche
amongst the greatest bards, the Roman people loved him as their national
poet, and were grateful to him for his nationality. They paid him the
highest compliment possible by retaining him as the educator of their
youth. Orbilius flogged his sentiments into his pupil’s memories; and,
whilst the niceties of grammar were taught through the instrumentality
of Greek by Greek instructors, and poetic taste was formed by a study of
the Homeric poems, Nævius still had the formation of the character of
the young Roman gentlemen, and his epic was in the hands and hearts of
every one.

One more subject remains to be treated of with reference to the literary
productions of Nævius, and that is, the metrical character of his
poetry. He appreciated that important element of Greek poetic beauty.
The varied versification by means of which it appeals at once to the
ear, just as physical beauty charms long before we are attracted by the
hidden power of moral excellence, and external form creates a prejudice
in favour of that which is of more intrinsic value, but cannot so
readily be perceived, so the melody of verse more readily pleases than
the beauty of the imagery and sentiments which the verses convey.
Nævius, therefore, did not disdain to recommend his original genius by a
study of the principles of Greek versification, and by clothing his
thoughts in those which his ear suggested as being most appropriate to
the occasion. He does not seem to have overcome the difficulties of the
heroic metre, although he studied the Homeric poems.

Probably as the Saturnian, the only natural Italian measure which he
found existing, was a triple time, the Roman ear could not at once adapt
itself to the common time of the dactylic measures. The versification of
our own country furnishes an analogous example. The usual metres of
English poetry consist of an alternation of long and short syllables;
dactyles and anapæsts are of less frequent occurrence and are of more
modern introduction, and the English ear is even yet not quite
accustomed to the hexametrical rhythm. The dignity of the epic is
expressed in the grave march of the iambus; the ballad tells its story
in the same metre, though in shorter lines; the joyous Anacreontic
adopts the dancing step of the trochee. For this reason, perhaps,
Nævius, as a matter of taste, limited himself to the introduction of
iambic and trochaic metres, and the irregular features of Greek lyric
poetry to the exclusion of the heroic hexameter.

It was long before the Romans could arrive at perfection in this metre.
Ennius was unsuccessful. His hexameters are rough and unmusical; he
seems never to have perfectly understood the nature and beauty of the
_cæsura_ or pause. The failure of Cicero, notwithstanding his natural
musical ear, is proverbial. No one previous to Virgil seems to have
overcome the difficulty. Versification seems always to have been
somewhat of a labour to the Romans. In the structure of their poetry
they worked by rule; their finish was artistic, but it was artificial.
Hence the Latin poet allowed himself less metrical liberty than the
Greek, whom he made his model. He seemed to feel that the Greek metres,
which the education of his taste had compelled him to adopt, were not
precisely the form into which Latin words naturally fell; that this
deficiency must be supplied by the care with which he moulded his verse,
according to the strictest possible standard. One can imagine the
extemporaneous effusions of a Homeric bard; but to Roman taste which, in
every literary work, especially in poetry, looked for elaborate finish,
the power of the improvisator, who could pour forth a hundred verses
standing on one foot, was a ridiculous pretension.[145]

As a general rule, no Roman poet attained facility in versification;
Ovid was perhaps the only exception. In the early period, when Roman
poetry was extemporaneous, their national verse was only rhythmical, and
now that modern Italy can boast of the faculty of improvisation, verse
has become rhythmical again. But although Nævius introduced a variety of
Greek metres to the Romans, the principal part of his poems, and
especially his national epic, were written in the old Saturnian measure:
its structure was indeed less rude, and its metre more regular and
scientific, but still he did not permit the new rules of Greek poetry to
banish entirely the favourite verses “in which in olden times Fauns and
bards sung,” and which would most acceptably convey to the national ear
the achievements of Roman arms.

                              CHAPTER VI.

                        ENNIUS (BORN B. C. 239.)

Nævius appears to have occupied a position between two successive ages;
he was the last of the oldest school of writers, and prepared the way
for a new one. Although a true Roman in sentiment, he admired Greek
cultivation. He saw with regret the old literature of his country fading
away, although he had himself introduced new principles of taste to his
countrymen. He was not prepared for the shock of seeing the old school
superseded by the new. But still the period for this had arrived, and in
his epitaph, as we have seen, he deplored that Latin had died with him.
A love for old Roman literature remained amongst the goatherds of the
hills and the husbandmen of the valleys and plains, in whose memories
lived the old songs which had been the delight of their infancy: it
survived amongst the few who could discern merit in undisciplined
genius; but the rising generation, who owed their taste to education,
admired only those productions by which their taste had been formed.
Greek literature had now an open field in which to flourish: it had
driven out its predecessor, although as yet it had not struck its roots
deeply into the Roman mind; a new school of poetry arose, and of that
school Ennius was the founder. The principal events in the life of
Ennius are as follows:—he was born at the little village of Rudiæ, in
the wild and mountainous Calabria, B. C. 239.[146] Of ancient and
honourable descent,[147] he is said[148] to have begun life in a
military career, and to have risen to the rank of a centurion or
captain. The anonymous author of the life of Cato, which is generally
attributed to Cornelius Nepos, relates that Cato in his voyage from
Africa to Rome[149] visited Sardinia, and finding Ennius in that island
took him home with him. But no reason can be assigned why Ennius should
have been there, or why Cato should have gone so far out of his way. If
the Censor did really introduce the poet to public notice at Rome, he
may have made his acquaintance during his quæstorship in Africa, if
Ennius was with Scipio in that province; or during his prætorship[150]
in Sardinia, if the poet was a resident in that island. There exist,
however, no sufficient data to clear up these difficulties.

It seems, moreover, strange that Cato should have been his patron, and
yet that he should have reproached M. Fulvius Nobilior for taking the
poet with him as his companion throughout his Ætolian expedition.[151]
With the exception of this campaign, Ennius resided during the remainder
of his long life at Rome. Greek and Greek literature were now eagerly
sought after by the higher classes, and Ennius earned a subsistence
sufficient for his moderate wants by tuition. He enjoyed the friendship
and esteem of the leading literary societies at Rome; and at his death,
at the age of seventy, he was buried in the family tomb of the Scipios,
at the request of the great conqueror of Hannibal, whose fame he
contributed to hand down to posterity. His statue was honoured with a
niche amongst the images of that illustrious race. The following epitaph
was written by himself:—[152]

             Adspicite, O cives, senis Enni imagini’ formam
               Hic vostrum panxit maxima facta patrum.
             Nemo me lacrymis decoret, nec funera fletu
               Faxit. cur? volito vivu’ per ora virum.

The epitaph which he wrote in honour of Scipio Africanus has also been

            Hic est ille situs, cui nemo civi’ neque hostis
              Quivit pro factis reddere operæ pretium.

It is probable that death alone put a period to his career as a poet,
and that his last work was completed but a short time before his
decease. So popular was he for centuries, and with such care were his
poems preserved, that his whole works are said to have existed as late
as the thirteenth century.[154]

Literature, as represented by Ennius, attained a higher social and
political position than it had hitherto enjoyed. Livius Andronicus was,
as we have seen, a freedman, and probably a prisoner of war. Nævius
never arrived at the full civic franchise, nor became anything more than
the native of a municipality, resident at Rome. Hitherto the Romans,
although they had begun to admire learning, had not learned to respect
its professors. Ennius was evidently a gentleman; he was the first to
obtain for literature its due influence. Thus he achieved for himself
the much-coveted privileges of a Roman citizen, to which Livius had
never aspired, and which Nævius was never able to attain. Hence Cicero
always speaks of him with affection as a fellow-countryman. “Our own
Ennius” is the appellation which he uses when he quotes his poetry.
Horace also calls him “Father Ennius,” a term implying not only that he
was the founder of Latin poetry, but also reverence and regard.

To discriminating taste and extensive learning he added that versatility
of talent which is displayed in the great variety of his compositions.
He was acquainted with all the best existing sources of poetic lore, the
ancient legends of the Roman people, and the best works of the Greek
writers; he had critical judgment to select beautiful and interesting
portions, ingenuity to imitate them, and at the same time genius and
fancy to clothe them with originality. It was not to be expected that he
could be entirely freed from the antiquated style of the old school. The
process of remodelling a national literature, including the very
language in which it is expressed, and the metrical harmonies in which
it falls upon the ear, is almost like reforming the modes of thought,
and reconstructing the character of a people. Such a work must be
gradual and gentle: a nation’s mind will not bend at once to new
principles of taste and new rules of art. To attempt a violent
revolution would be absurd, and argue ignorance of human nature. The
poet who attempted it would fail in gaining sympathy, which is an
essential element of success. To cause such a revolution at all requires
a strong will and a vigorous manly mind; and these are precisely the
characteristic features of the Ennian poetry.

If we were to paint the character best adapted to act the part of a
literary reformer to a nation such as the Romans were, it would be
exactly that of Ennius. He was, like his friends Cato the Censor and
Scipio Africanus the elder, a man of action as well as philosophical
thought. He was not only a poet, but he was a brave and stout-hearted
soldier. He had all the singleness of heart and unostentatious
simplicity of manners which marked the old times of Roman virtue; he
lived the life of the Cincinnati, the Curii, and Fabricii, which the
poets of the luxurious Augustan age professed to admire, but did not
imitate. Rome was now beginning to be wealthy, and wealth to be the
badge of rank; yet the noble poet was respected by the rich and great,
even in his lowly cottage on the Aventine, and found it no discredit to
be employed as an instructor of youth, although it had been up to his
time only the occupation of servants and freedmen. He was the founder of
a new school, and was leading his admirers forward to a new career; but
his imagination could revel in the recollections and traditions of the
past. To him the glorious exploits of the patriarchs of his race
furnished as rich a mine of fable as the heroic strains of Homer, the
marvellous mythologies of Hesiod, and the tragic heroes of Argos, Mycenæ
and Thebes. His early training in Greek philosophy and poetry, and in
the midst of Greek habits in his native village, had not polished and
refined away his natural freshness. He was a child of art, but a child
of nature still. He had a firm belief in his mission as a poet, an
abiding conviction of his inspiration. He thought he was not
metaphorically, but really, what Horace calls him, a second Homer,[155]
for that the soul of the great Greek bard now animated his mortal body.
He had all the enthusiasm and boldness necessary for accomplishing a
great task, together with a consciousness that his task was a great and
honourable one.

Owing to this rare union of the best points of Roman character with
Greek refinement and civilization, he rendered himself as well as his
works acceptable to the most distinguished men of his day, and his
intimacy and friendship influenced the minds of Porcius Cato, Lælius,
Fulvius Nobilior, and the great Scipio.

A comparison of the extant specimens of the old Latin with the numerous
fragments[156] of the poems of Ennius which have been preserved, will
show how deeply they were indebted to him for the improvement of their
language, not only in the harmony of its numbers and the convenience of
its grammatical forms, but also in its copiousness and power.

It must not, however, be supposed that Ennius is to be praised, not only
because he did so much, but because he refrained from doing more, as
though he designedly left an antiquated rudeness, redolent of the old
Roman spirit and simplicity. A language in the condition or phase of
improvement to which he brought it is valuable in an antiquarian point
of view; but it is not to be admired as if it were then in a higher
state of perfection than it afterwards attained. Elaborate polish may,
perhaps, overcome life and freshness, but no one who possesses any
correctness of ear or appreciation of beauty can prefer the limping
hexameters of Ennius to the musical lines of Virgil, or his later style
to the refined eloquence of the Augustan age. As Quintilian says, we
value Ennius, not for the beauty of his style, but for his
picturesqueness, and for the holiness, as it were, which consecrates
antiquity, just as we feel a reverential awe when we contemplate the
huge gnarled fathers of the forest. “Ennium sicut sacros vetustate lucos
adoremus in quibus grandia et antiqua robora, jam non tantam habent
speciem, quantam religionem.”

His predecessors had done little to remould the rude and undigested mass
which, as has been shown, was made up of several elements, thrown
together by the chance of war and conquest, and left to be amalgamated
together by the natural genius of the people. Ennius naturally possessed
great power over words, and wielded that power skilfully. In
reconstructing the edifice he did the most important and most difficult
part, although the result of his labours does not strike the eye as
perfect and consummate. He laid the foundation strongly and safely. What
he did was improved upon, but was never undone. The taste of succeeding
ages erected on his basement an elegant and beautiful superstructure. To
Ennius we owe the fact that after his time Latin literature was always
advancing until it reached its perfection. It never went back, because
the groundwork on which it was built was sound.

Ennius imitated most of the Greek metrical forms; but he wrote verses
like a learner, and not like one imbued with the spirit of the metres
which he imitated. He attended to the prosodiac rules of quantity, so
far as his observation deduced them from the analogies of the two
languages, instead of the old Roman principle of ictus or stress; but,
provided the number of feet were correct, and the long and short
syllables followed each other in proper order, his ear was satisfied: it
was not as yet sufficiently in tune to appreciate those minuter
accessaries which embellish later Latin versification. This is the
principal cause of that ruggedness with which even the admirers of
Ennius justly find fault. But notwithstanding these defects, there are
amongst his verses some as musical and harmonious as those of the best
poets in the Augustan age.

His great epic poem, entitled “The Annals,” gained him the attachment as
well as the admiration of his countrymen. This poem, written in
hexameters, a metre now first introduced to the notice of the Romans,
detailed in eighteen books the rise and progress of their national
glory, from the earliest legendary periods down to his own times. The
only portion of history which he omitted was the first Punic war; and
the reason which he gives for the omission is that others have
anticipated him[157]—alluding to his predecessors Livius and Nævius.

The subject which he proposed to himself was one of considerable
difficulty. The title and scope of his work compelled him to adopt a
strict chronological order instead of the principles of epic
arrangement, and to invest the truths which the course of history forced
upon his acceptance with the interest of fiction. His subject could have
no unity, no hero upon whose fortunes the principal interest should be
concentrated, and around whom the leading events should group
themselves. But still no history could be better adapted to his purpose
than that of his own country. Its early legends form a long series of
poetical romances, fit to be sung in heroic numbers, although from being
originally unconnected with each other, incapable of being woven into
one epic story. Ennius had to unite in himself the characters of the
historian and the poet—to teach what he believed to be truth, and yet to
move the feelings and delight the fancy by the embellishments of
fiction. The poetical merit in which he must necessarily have been
deficient was the conduct of the plot; but the fragments of his poem are
not sufficiently numerous for us to discover this deficiency. They are,
however, amply sufficient to show that he possessed picturesque power
both in sketching his narratives and in portraying his characters. His
scenes are full of activity and animation; his characters seem to live
and breathe; his sentiments are noble, and full of a healthful
enthusiasm. His language is what that of an old Roman ought to be, such
as we might have expected from Cato and Scipio had they been poets:
dignified, chaste, severe, it rises as high as the most majestic
eloquence, although it does not soar to the sublimity of poetry.

The parts in which he approaches most nearly to his great model, or, as
he believed, the source of his inspiration, were in his descriptions of
battles. Here the martial spirit of the Roman warrior shines forth; the
old soldier seems to revel in the scenes of his youth. The poem which
occupied his declining years shows that it was his greatest pleasure to
record the triumphs of his countrymen, and to teach posterity how their
ancestors had won so many glorious fields. His similes are simply
imitations; they show that he had taste to appreciate the peculiar
features of the Homeric Poem; but as must be the case with mere
imitations, they have not the energy which characterizes his battles.

As a dramatic poet, Ennius does not deserve a high reputation. A tragic
drama must be of native growth, it will not bear transplanting. The
Romans did not possess the elements of tragedy; the genius of Ennius was
not able to remedy that defect, and he could do no more than select,
with the taste and judgment which he possessed, such Greek dramas as
were likely to be interesting. Probably, however, his tragedies never
became popular; they were admired by the narrow literary circle in which
his private life was passed. Those who were familiar with the Greek
originals were delighted to see their favourites transferred into their
native language; those who were not, had their curiosity gratified, and
welcomed even these reflections of the glorious minds of Æschylus,
Sophocles, and Euripides.

But the tribute of admiration which the ancient classical authors paid
to Ennius, was paid to him as an epic not as a dramatic poet. Cicero
when he speaks in his praise generally quotes from the Annals, only once
from a tragedy.[158] Virgil borrows lines and thoughts, together with
the commencement and conclusion of the same poem; and, although the fame
of Ennius survived the decline of Roman tragedy, and flourished even in
the age of the Antonines,[159] and his verses were heard in the theatre
of Puteoli (Pozzuoli,) the entertainment did not consist of one of his
tragedies, but of recitations from his epic poem. Nevertheless his
tragedies were very numerous, and the titles and some fragments of
twenty-three remain. They are all close imitations, or even
translations, of the Greek. Of fifteen fragments of his Medea which are
extant, there is not one which does not correspond with some passage in
the Medea of Euripides: the little which we have of his Eumenides is a
transcript from the tragedy of Æschylus;[160] and, according to A.
Gellius, his Hecuba is a clever translation likewise.

His favourite model was Euripides: nor is it surprising that he should
have been better able to appreciate the inferior excellencies of this
dramatic poet, when we remember that the birth of Latin literature was
coincident with the decay of that of Greece. Callimachus died just as
Livius began to write.[161] Theocritus expired when Ennius was
twenty-five years old;[162] and by this decaying living literature his
taste must have been partially educated and formed.

In comedy, as in tragedy, he never emancipated himself from the trammels
of the Greek originals. His comedies were _palliatæ_; and Terence when
accused of plagiarism defends himself by an appeal to the example of
Ennius. Fragments are preserved of four only.

The poems which he wrote in various metres, and on miscellaneous
subjects, were, for that reason, entitled _Satiræ_ or _Saturæ_. Ennius
does not, indeed, anticipate the claim of Lucilius to be considered the
father of Roman satire in its proper sense; but still there can be
little doubt that the scope of these minor poems was the chastisement of
vice. The degeneracy of Roman virtue, even in his days, provoked
language of Archilochian bitterness from so stern a moralist, although
he would not libellously attack those who were undeserving of censure.
The salutation which he addresses to himself expresses the burning
indignation which he felt against wickedness:—

                 Enni poeta salve qui mortalibus
                 _Versus_ propinas flammeos medullitus.

Amongst his minor works were epitaphs on Scipio and on himself, a
didactic poem, entitled Epicharmus, a collection of moral precepts, an
encomium on his friend Scipio Africanus, a translation in hexameters of
a poem on edible fishes and their localities, by Archestratus
(Phagetica,) and a work entitled Asotus, the existence of which is only
known from its being mentioned by Varro and Festus for the sake of
etymological illustration; by some it is thought to have been a comedy.
The idea that he was the author of a piece called “Sabinæ” is without

Cicero[163] mentions a mythological work (Evemerus,) a translation in
trochaics of the Ἱερα Ἀναγραφη of the Sicilian writer who bore that
name. It was a work well adapted to the talent which Ennius possessed of
relating mythical traditions, in the form of poetical history. The
theory embodied in the original was one which is often adopted by Livy
in his early history, and therefore most probably entered into the
ancient legends, namely, that the gods were originally mighty warriors
and benefactors of mankind, who, as their reward, were deified and

                              CHAPTER VII.

It has already been shown that the dramatic taste of the Romans first
displayed itself in the rudest species of comedy. The entertainment was
extemporaneous, and performed by amateurs, and rhythmical only so far as
to be consistent with these conditions. It was satirical, personal, full
of burlesque extravagances, practical jokes, and licentious jesting.
When it put on a more systematic form, by the introduction of music, and
singing, and dancing, and professional actors, still the Roman youth
would not give up their national amusement, and a marked distinction was
made in the social and political condition of the actor and the amateur.
Italian comedy made no further progress, but on it was engrafted the
Greek comedy, and hence arose that phase of the drama, the
representatives of which were Plautus, Cæcilius Statius, and Terence.

Now the old Attic comedy consisted of either political or literary
criticism. In Italy, however, the Fescennine verses, and the farces of
Atella, were not political, neither was there any literature to
criticise or to parody. But the personalities in which the people had
taken pleasure prepared them to enjoy the comedy of manners, embodying
as it did pictures of social life. The new comedy, therefore, of the
Greeks furnished a suitable model; and the comedies of Menander,
Diphilus, Apollodorus, and others formed a rich mine of materials for
adaptation or imitation.

From them the Roman poet could derive much more than the “vis comica,”
in which Cæsar complained that they were still so deficient. In the
extant fragments of Menander may be found powerful delineations of human
passions, especially of the pains and pleasures of love, melancholy but
true views of the vanity of human hopes, elevated moral sentiments, and
noble ideas of the divine nature. A vein of temperate and placid
gentleness, intermingled with amiable pleasantry, pervaded the comedies
of Philemon, and his sentiments are tender and serious, without being
gloomy. These good qualities recommended them to Chrysostom, Eustathius,
and other early Christians, by whom so many of their fragments have been

There is no doubt that the comic, as well as the tragic poet of Greece,
considered himself as a public instructor; but it is difficult to say
how far the Roman author recognised a moral object, because it cannot be
determined what moral sentiments were designedly introduced, and what
were merely transcriptions from the original. It is plain, however, that
Roman comedy was calculated to produce a moral result, although the
morality which it inculcated was extremely low: its standard was merely
worldly prudence, its lessons utilitarian, its philosophy, like that of
Menander himself, Epicurean, and therefore it did not inculcate an
unbending sense of honour, the self-denying heroism of the Stoic school,
or that rigid Roman virtue which was akin to it—it contented itself with
encouraging the benevolent affections.

It did not profess to reform the knave, except by showing him that
knavery was not always successful. It taught that cunning must be met
with its own weapons, and that the qualities necessary for the conflict
were wit and sharpness. The union between the moral and the comic
element was exhibited in making intrigue successful wherever the victim
was deserving of it, and in representing him as foiled by accidents and
cross-purposes, because the prudence and caution of the knave are not
always on a par with his cunning. It also had its sentimental side, and
the sympathies of the audience were enlisted in favour of good temper,
affection, and generosity.

But the new Attic comedy presented a truthful portraiture of real native
life. This was scarcely ever the case with the Romans; the plots,
characters, localities, and political institutions, were all Greek, and
therefore it can only be said that the whole was in perfect harmony and
consistency with Roman modes of thinking and acting. The comedies of
Plautus probably, as will be seen hereafter, form the only exception.

It cannot be denied that there is a want of variety in the plots of
Roman comedy;[164] but this defect is owing to the political and social
condition of ancient Greece. Greece and the neighbouring countries were
divided into numerous independent states; its narrow seas were, even
more than they are now, infested with pirates, who had their nests and
lurking-places in the various unfrequented coasts and islands; and
slaves were an article of merchandise. Many a romantic incident
therefore occurred, such as is found in comedy. A child would be stolen,
sold as a slave, educated in all the accomplishments which would fit her
to be an _Hetæra_, engage the affections of some young Athenian, and
eventually, from some jewels or personal marks, be recognised by her
parents, and restored to the rank of an Athenian citizen.

Again, in order to confine the privilege of citizenship, marriages with
foreigners were invalid, and this restriction on marriage caused the
_Hetæra_ to occupy so prominent a part in comedy; besides, love was
little more than sensual passion, and marriage generally a matter of
convenience: the Hetæræ, too, were often clever and accomplished, whilst
the virtuous matron was fitter for the duties of domestic life than for
society. The regulations of the Greek theatre also, which were adopted
by the Romans, caused some restrictions upon the variety of plots. In
comedy the scene represented the public street, in which Greek females
of good character did not usually appear unveiled: matrons, nurses, and
women of light character alone are introduced upon the stage, and in all
the plays of Terence, except the Eunuch, the heroine is never seen.

As the range of subjects is small, so there is a sameness in the
dramatis personæ: the principal characters are a morose and
parsimonious, or a gentle and easy father, who is sometimes, also, the
henpecked husband of a rich wife, an affectionate or domineering wife, a
young man who is frank and good-natured but profligate, a grasping or
benevolent Hetæra, a roguish servant, a fawning favourite, a hectoring
coward, an unscrupulous procuress, and a cold calculating slave-dealer.

The actors wore appropriate masks, sometimes partial, sometimes covering
the whole face, the features of which were not only grotesque, but much
exaggerated and magnified. This was rendered absolutely necessary by the
immense size of the theatre, the stage of which sometimes measured sixty
yards, and which would contain many thousands of spectators; the mouth,
also, answered the purpose of a sounding board, or speaking-trumpet to
assist in conveying the voice to every part of the vast building. The
characters, too, were made known by a conventional costume: old men wore
ample robes of white; young men were attired in gay parti-coloured
clothes; rich men in purple; soldiers in scarlet; poor men and slaves in
dark-coloured and scanty dresses.

The names assigned to the characters of the Roman comedy have always an
appropriate meaning. Young men, for example, are Pamphilus, “dear to
all;” Charinus, “gracious;” Phædria, “joyous:” old men are Simo,
“flat-nosed,” such a physiognomy being considered indicative of a
cross-grained disposition: Chremes, from a word signifying troubled with
phlegm. Slaves generally bear the name of their native country, as
Syrus, Phrygia; Davus, a Dacian; Byrrhia, a native of Pyrrha in Caria;
Dorias, a Dorian girl; a vain-glorious soldier is Thraso, from θρασος,
boldness; a parasite, Gnatho, from γναθος, the jaw; a nurse, Sophrona
(discreet;) a freedman, Sosia, as having been spared in war; a young
girl is Glycerium, from γλυκυς, sweet; a judge is Crito; a courtesan,
Chrysis, from χρυσος, gold. These examples will be sufficient to
illustrate the practice adopted by the comic writers.

It is very difficult to understand the relation which music bore to the
exhibition of Roman comedy. It is clear that there was always a musical
accompaniment, and that the instruments used were flutes; the lyre was
only used in tragedy, because in comedy there was no chorus or lyric
portion. The flutes were at first small and simple; but in the time of
Horace were much larger and more powerful, as well as constructed with
more numerous stops and greater compass.[165]

Flutes were of two kinds. Those played with the right hand (tibiæ
dextræ) were made of the upper part of the reed, and like the modern
fife or octave flute emitted a high sound: they were therefore suitable
to lively and cheerful melodies; and this kind of music, known by the
name of the Lydian mode, was performed upon a pair of tibiæ dextræ. The
left-handed flutes (tibiæ sinistræ) were pitched an octave lower: their
tones were grave and fit for solemn music. The mode denominated Tyrian,
or Sarrane,[166] was executed with a pair of tibiæ sinistræ. If the
subject of the play was serio-comic, the music was in the Phrygian mode,
and the flutes used were _impares_ (unequal,) _i. e._, one for the
right, the other for the left hand.[167] In tragedy the lyrical portion
was sung to music and the dialogue declaimed. But if that were the case
in comedy, it is difficult to imagine what corresponded to the lyrical
portion, and therefore where music was used. Quintilian informs us that
scenic modulation was a simple, easy chant,[168] resembling probably
intonation in our cathedrals. Such a practice would aid the voice
considerably; and if so, the theory of Colman is probably correct, that
there was throughout some accompaniment, but that the music arranged for
the soliloquies (in which Terence especially abounds) was more laboured
and complicated than that of the dialogue.[169]

In order to understand the principles which regulated the Roman comic
metres, some remarks must be made on the manner in which the language
itself was affected by the common conversational pronunciation. In most
languages there is a natural tendency to abbreviation and contraction.
As the object of language is the expression of thought, few are inclined
to take more trouble or to expend more time than is absolutely necessary
for conveying their meaning: this attention to practical utility and
convenience is the reason for all elliptical forms in grammatical
constructions, and also for all abbreviated methods of pronunciation by
slurring or clipping, or, to use the language of grammarians, by
apocope, syncope, synæresis, or crasis.

The experience of every one proves how different is the impression which
the sound of a foreign language makes upon the ear, when spoken by
another, from what it makes upon the eye when read even by one who is
perfectly acquainted with the theory of pronunciation. Until the ear is
habituated, it is easier for an Englishman to speak French than to
understand it when spoken. If we consider attentively the manner in
which we speak our own language, it is astonishing how many letters and
even syllables are slurred over and omitted: the accented syllable is
strongly and firmly enunciated, the rest, especially in long words, are
left to take care of themselves, and the experience of the hearer and
his acquaintance with the language find no difficulty in supplying the
deficiency. This is universally the case, except in careful and
deliberate reading, and in measured and stately declamation.

With regard to the classical languages, the foregoing observations hold
good; in a slighter degree, indeed, with respect to the Greek, for the
delicacy of their ear, their attention to accent and quantity, not only
in poetry but in oratory, and even in conversation, caused them to give
greater effect to every syllable, and especially to the vowel sounds.
But even in Greek poetry elision sometimes prevents the disagreeable
effect of a hiatus, and in the transition from the one dialect to the
other, the numerous vowels of the Ionic assume the contracted form of
the Attic.

The resemblance between the practice of the Romans and that of modern
nations is very remarkable; with them the mark of good taste was
ease—the absence of effort, pedantry, and affectation. As they
principally admired facility in versification, so they sought it in
pronunciation likewise. To speak with mouthing (hiulce,) with a broad
accent (late, vaste,) was to speak like a clown and not like a gentleman
(rustice et inurbaniter.) Cicero[170] admired the soft, gentle, equable
tones of the female voice, and considered the pronunciation of the
eloquent and cultivated Lælia as the model of purity and perfection: he
thought that she spoke as Plautus or Nævius might have spoken. Again, he
speaks of the habit which Cotta had of omitting the iota; pronouncing,
for example, dominus, dom’nus, as a prevalent fashion; and although he
says,[171] that such an _obscuration_ argues negligence, he, on the
other hand, applies to the opposite fault a term (putidius) which
implies the most offensive affectation. From these observations, we must
expect to find that Latin as it was pronounced was very different from
Latin as it is written; that this difference consisted in abbreviation
either by the omission of sounds altogether, or by contraction of two
sounds into one; and that these processes would take place especially in
those syllables which in poetry are not marked by the ictus or beat, or
in common conversation by the stress or emphasis. Even in the more
artificial poetry and oratory of the Augustan age, in which quantity was
more rigidly observed by the Roman imitators than by the Greek
originals, we find traces of this tendency; and Virgil does not hesitate
to use in his stately heroics such forms as aspris, for asperis,
semustum for semiustum, oraclum for oraculum, maniplus for manipulus;
and, like Terence, to make rejicere (rēīcĕrĕ) a dactyle.[172] A number
of the most common words, sanctioned by general usage, and incorporated
into the language when in its most perfect state, were contractions—such
as amassent for amavissent, concio for conventio, cogo from con and ago,
surgo from sub and rego, malla for maxilla, pomeridianus from
post-mediam-diem, and other instances too numerous to mention.

But in the earlier periods, when literature was addressed still more to
the ear than to the eye, when the Greek metres were as yet unknown, and
even when, after their introduction, exact observation of Greek rules
was not yet necessary, we find, as might be expected, these principles
of the language carried still further. They pervade the poems of Livius
and Ennius, and the Roman tragedies, even although their style is
necessarily more declamatory than that of the comic writers; but in the
latter we have a complete representation of Latin as it was commonly
pronounced and spoken, and but little trammelled or confined by a rigid
adhesion to the Greek metrical laws. In the prologues, indeed, which are
of the nature of declamation, and not of free and natural conversation,
more care is visible; the iambic trimeters in which they are written
fall upon the ear with a cadence similar to those of the Greek, with
scarcely any license except an occasional spondee in the even places.
But in the scenes little more seems to have been attended to, than that
the verse should have the required number of feet, and the syllables
pronounced the right quantity, in accordance with the widest license
which the rules of Greek prosody allowed. What syllables should be
slurred, was left to be decided by the common custom of pronunciation.

Besides the licenses commonly met with in the poets of the Augustan age,
the following mutilations are the most usual in the poetical language of
the age of which we are treating:—

1. The final _s_ might be elided even before a consonant, and hence the
preceding vowel was made short: thus mălīs became mali, on the same
principle that in Augustan poetry aūdīsnĕ was contracted into audĭn’.
Thus the short vowel would suffer elision before another, and the
following line of Terence would consequently be thus scanned:—

     Ut mă | līs gāŭ | dēat ălĭ | ēn’ ātq’. | ēx ĭn | cōmmö | dīs.

2. Vowels and even consonants were slurred over; hence Liberius became
Lib’rius; Adolescens, Ad’lescens; Vehemens, Vemens; Voluptas, V’luptas
(like the French voila, v’la;) meum, eum, suum, siet, fuit, Deos, ego,
ille, tace, became monosyllables; and facio, sequere, &c., dissyllables.

3. _M_ and _D_ were syncopated in the middle of words: thus enimvero
became en’vero; quidem and modo qu’en and mo’o, circumventus,

4. Conversely _d_ was added to me, te, and se, when followed by a vowel,
as Reliquit med homo, &c., and in Plautus, med erga.

Observations of such principles as these enable us to reduce all the
metres of Terence, and nearly all of Plautus, to iambic and trochaic,
especially to iambic senarii and trochaic tetrameters. Many of those
which defy the attempt have become, by the injudicious treatment of
transcribers or commentators, wrongly arranged: for example, one of four
lines in the Andria of Terence, which has always proved a difficulty,
might be thus arranged:—

          Innā | tă cuī | quām tānt’ | ūt siēt | vēcōr | dĭa;

instead of the usual unmanageable form—

     Tanta vecordia innata cuiquam ut siet.
                                                    _Andr._ iv. 1.

Volcatius Sedigitus, a critic and grammarian, assigns an order of merit
to the authors of Roman comedy in the following passage:—

     Multos incertos certare hanc rem vidimus
     Palmam poetæ comico cui deferant.
     Eum, me judice, errorem dissolvam tibi;
     Ut contra si quis sentiat, nihil sentiat.
     Cæcilio palmam Statio do comico.
     Plautus secundus facile exsuperat cæteros.
     Dein Nævius qui servet pretium, tertius est.
     Si erit, quod quarto dabitur Licinio.
     Post insequi Licinium facio Atilium.
     In sexto sequitur hos loco Terentius.
     Turpilius septimum, Trabea octavum obtinet;
     Nono loco esse facile facio Luscium.
     Decimum addo causa antiquitatis Ennium.
                              _Volc. Sedig. ap. Gel._ lib. xv. 24.

However correct this judgment may be, Plautus is the oldest, if not the
most celebrated of those who have not as yet been mentioned.


T. Maccius Plautus was a contemporary of Ennius, for it is generally
supposed that he was born twelve years later,[173] and died fifteen
years earlier[174] than the founder of the new school of Latin poetry.
The flourishing period, therefore, of both coincide. He was a native of
Sarsina, in Umbria, but was very young when he removed to Rome. Very
little is known respecting his life; but it is universally admitted that
he was of humble origin, and owing to the prevalence of this tradition
we find _Plautinæ prosapiæ homo_, used as a proverbial expression. The
numerous examples in his comedies of vulgar taste and low humour are in
favour of this supposition.

He had no early gentlemanlike associations to interfere with his
delineations of Roman character in low life. His contemporary, Ennius,
was a gentleman; Plautus was not: education did not overcome his
vulgarity, although it produced a great effect upon his language and
style, which were more refined and cultivated than those of his
predecessors. Plautus must have lived and associated with the class
whose manners he describes; hence his pictures are correct and truthful.

The class from which his representations of Roman life was taken is that
of the _ærarii_, who consisted of clients, the sons of freedmen, and the
half-enfranchised natives of Italian towns. His plots are Greek, his
personages Greek, and the scene is laid in Greece and her colonies; but
the morality, manners, sentiments, wit, and humour, were those of that
mixed, half-foreign, class of the inhabitants of the capital, which
stood between the slave and the free-born citizen. One of his characters
is, as was observed by Niebuhr,[175] not Roman, for the parasite is a
Greek, not a Roman character; but then a flatterer is by profession a
citizen of the world, and his business is to conform himself to the
manners of every society. How readily that character became naturalized,
we are informed by some of the most amusing passages in the satires of
Horace and Juvenal.

The humble occupation which his poverty compelled him to follow was
calculated to draw out and foster the comic talent for which he was
afterwards distinguished, for Varro[176] tells us that he acted as a
stage-carpenter (_operarius_) to a theatrical company; he adds, also,
that he was subsequently engaged in some trade in which he was
unsuccessful, and was reduced to the necessity of earning his daily
bread by grinding in a mill. To this degrading labour, which was not
usually performed by men, except as a punishment for refractory slaves,
it has been supposed that he owed his cognomen, Asinius, which is
sometimes appended to his other names. Ritzschl, however, has most
ingeniously and satisfactorily proved that the name of Asinius is a
corruption of Sarsinas (native of Sarsina:) he supposes that Sarsinas
became Arsinas, that this was afterwards written Arsin, then Asin, and
that this was finally considered as the representative of Asinius.

This view is further supported by the fact that, in all cases in which
the name Asinius is used, the poet is called not Asinius Plautus, but
Plautus Asinius, like Livius Patavinus, this being the proper position
for the ethnic name. Another error respecting the poet’s name has been
perpetuated throughout all the editions of his works, although it is not
found in any manuscript. It was discovered by Ritzschl[177] whilst
examining the palimpsest MS. in the Ambrosian Library at Milan. He thus
found that his real names were Titus Maccius, and not Marcus Accius. The
name Plautus was given him because he had flat feet, this being the
signification of the word in the Umbrian language. Niebuhr,[178]
although he does not deny his poverty, gives no credit to the story of
his working at a mill.

The earliest comedies which he wrote are said to have been entitled
“Addictus,” and “Saturio,” but they are not contained amongst the twenty
which are now extant. As soon as he became an author there can be no
doubt that he emerged from his state of poverty and obscurity, for he
had no rival during his whole career, unless Cæcilius Statius, a man of
very inferior talent, can be considered one. Comedies began now to be in
great demand: the taste for the comic drama was awakened; it was
precisely the sort of literature likely to be acceptable to an active,
bustling, observant people like the Romans. They liked shows of every
kind, and public speaking, and had always their eyes and their ears
open, loved jokes and rude satire and boisterous mirth, and would
appreciate bold and fearless delineations of character, which they met
with in their every-day life. The demand for the public games,
therefore, began to be quite as great as the supply, and the theatrical
managers would take care always to have a new play in rehearsal, in case
they should be called upon for a public representation.

Plautus had no aristocratic patrons, like Ennius and Terence—probably
his humour was too broad, and his taste not refined enough, to please
the Scipios and Lælii, and their fastidious associates. Horace finds
fault with Plautus because his wit was not sufficiently gentlemanlike,
as well as his numbers not sufficiently harmonious. Probably the higher
classes might have observed similar deficiencies; with the masses,
however, the comedies of Plautus, notwithstanding their faults, retained
their original popularity even in the Augustan age. The Roman public
were his patrons. His very coarseness would recommend him to the rude
admirers of the Fescennine songs and the Atellan _Fabulæ_. His careless
prosody and inharmonious verses would either escape the not over-refined
ears of his audience, or be forgiven for the sake of the fun which they
contained. Life, bustle, surprise, unexpected situations, sharp,
sprightly, brilliant, sparkling raillery, that knew no restraint nor
bounds, carried the audience with him. He allowed no respite, no time
for dulness or weariness. To use an expression of Horace, he hurried on
from scene to scene, from incident to incident, from jest to jest, so
that his auditors had no opportunity for feeling fatigue.

Another cause of his popularity was, that although Greek was the
fountain from which he drew his stores, and the metres of Greek poetry
the framework in which he set them, his wit, his mode of thought, his
language, were purely Roman. He had lived so long amongst Romans that he
had caught their national spirit, and this spirit was reflected
throughout his comedies. The incidents of them might have taken place in
the streets of Rome, so skilful was he in investing them with a Roman

His style too was truly Latin, and Latin of the very purest and most
elegant kind.[179] He did not, like Cato and Ennius, carry his
admiration for Greek so far as to “enrich” his native tongue with new
and foreign words. Nor would this feature be without some effect in
gaining him the sympathy of the masses. They admire elegance of language
if it is elegant simplicity. They appreciate well-chosen and
well-arranged sentences, if the words are such as fall familiarly, and,
therefore, intelligibly on their ears.

The coarseness of Plautus, however, was the coarseness of innuendo, and
even if the allusion was indelicate, it was veiled in decent language.
This quality of his wit called forth the approbation of Cicero.[180] But
it is difficult to conceive how he could compare him, in this
particular, with the old Athenian comedy, the obscenity of which is so
gross and palpable, as to constitute the sole blemish of those
delightful compositions.

The following laudatory epigram written by Varro is found in the Noctes
Atticæ of A. Gellius:[181]—

           Postquam est mortem aptus Plautus, comœdia luget,
           Scena est deserta dein risus ludu, jocusque,
           Et numeri innumeri simul omnes collacrumarunt.

The same grammarian paid to his style a compliment similar to that which
had been paid to Plato, by saying, that if the Muses spoke in Latin they
would borrow the language of Plautus.[182] Whatever might have been the
faults of the Plautian comedy, it maintained its position on the Roman
stage for at least five centuries, and was acted as late as the reign of

It does not appear that Plautus ever attained the full privileges of a
Roman citizen. Probably he had no powerful friends to press his claims,
and therefore enjoyed no more than the Italian franchise to the end of
his days. No fewer than one hundred and thirty comedies have been
attributed to him, but of these many were spurious. Varro considers the
twenty which are now extant genuine, together with the Vidularia, of
which only a few lines remain, and those only in the palimpsest MS.
already mentioned. The rest, the titles of which alone survive, are of
doubtful authority.

All the comedies of Plautus, except the _Amphitruo_, were adapted from
the new comedy of the Greeks. The statement that he imitated the
Sicilian Epicharmus,[183] and founded the _Menæchmi_ on one of his
comedies, rests only on a vague tradition. There can be no doubt that he
studied also both the old and the middle comedy; but still Menander,
Diphilus, and Philemon furnished him the originals of his plots. The
popularity of Plautus was not confined to Rome, either republican or
imperial. Dramatic writers of modern times have recognised the
effectiveness of his plots, and, therefore, have adopted or imitated
them, and they have been translated into most of the European languages.

The following is a brief sketch of the subjects of his extant comedies.

I. Amphitruo. This is the only piece which Plautus borrowed from the
middle Attic comedy; the plot is founded on the well-known story of
Jupiter and Alcmena, and has been imitated both by Molière and Dryden.

II., III., IV. The Asinaria, Casina, and Mercator, depict a state of
morals so revolting that it is impossible to dwell upon them.

V. In the Aulularia, a very amusing play, a miser finds a pot of gold
(aulula,) and hides it with the greatest care. His daughter is demanded
in marriage by an old man named Megadorus, the principal recommendation
to whose suit is, that he is willing to take her without a dowry.
Meanwhile the slave of her young lover steals the gold, and, as may be
conjectured, for no more of the play is preserved, the lover restores
the gold, and the old man, in the joy of his heart, gives him his

This comedy suggested to Molière the plot of L’Avare, the best play
which he ever wrote, and one in which he far surpasses the original. Two
attempts have been made to supply the lost scenes, which may be found in
the Delphin and Variorum edition.

VI. The Bacchides are two twin sisters, one of whom is beloved by her
sister’s lover. He does not know that there are two, and, misled by the
similarity of the name, thinks himself betrayed. Hence arise amusing
situations and incidents, but at length an éclaircissement takes place.

VII. The Captivi, for its style, sentiments, moral, and the structure of
the plot, is incomparably the best comedy of Plautus. In a war between
the Ætolians and Eleians, Philopolemus, an Ætolian, the son of Hegio, is
taken prisoner, whilst Philocrates is captured by the Ætolians.
Philocrates and his slave Tyndarus are purchased by Hegio, with a view
to recover his son by an exchange of prisoners. The master and slave,
however, agree to change places; and thus Philocrates is sent back to
his country, valued only as a slave. Hegio discovers the trick, and
condemns Tyndarus to fetters and hard labour. Philocrates, however,
returns, and brings back Philopolemus with him, and it also turns out
that Tyndarus is a son of Hegio whom he had lost in his infancy.

VIII. The Curculio derives its name from a parasite, who is the hero,
and who acts his part in a plot full of fraud and forgery; the only
satisfactory point in the comedy being the deserved punishment of an
infamous pander.

IX. In the Cistellaria, Demipho, a Lemnian, promises his daughter to
Alcesimarchus, who is in love with Silenium. The young lady has fallen
into the hands of a courtesan, who endeavours to force her into a
vicious course of life; she, however, steadily refuses; and it is at
length discovered, by means of a box of toys (cistella,) that she is the
illegitimate daughter of Demipho, and had been exposed as an infant. Her
virtue is rewarded by her being happily married to her lover.

X. The Epidicus was evidently a favourite play with the author, for he
makes one of the characters in another comedy say that he loves it as
dearly as himself.[184] The plot turns on the common story of a lost
child recognised. The intrigue, which is remarkably clever, is managed
by Epidicus, a cunning slave, who gives the name to the play.

XI. The Mostellaria is exceedingly lively and amusing. A young man, in
his father’s absence, makes the paternal mansion a scene of noisy and
extravagant revelry. In the midst of it the father returns, and in order
to prevent discovery, a slave persuades him that the house is haunted.
When he discovers the trick he is very angry, but ultimately pardons
both his son and the slave. The name is derived from Mostellum, the
diminutive of Monstrum, a prodigy, or supernatural visitor.

XII. The Menæchmi is a Comedy of Errors, arising out of the exact
likeness between two brothers, one of whom was stolen in infancy, and
the other wanders in search of him, and at last finds him in great
affluence at Epidamnus. It furnished the plot to Shakspeare’s play, and
likewise to the comedy of Regnard, which bears the name of the original.

XIII. The Miles Gloriosus was taken from the Ἀλαζων (Boaster) of the
Greek comic drama. Its hero, Pyrgopolinices, is the model of all the
blustering, swaggering captains of ancient and modern comedy. The
braggadocio carries off the mistress of a young Athenian, who follows
him, and takes up his abode in the next house to that in which the girl
is concealed. Like Pyramus and Thisbe the lovers have secret interviews
through a hole in the party-wall. (The device being borrowed from the
“Phantom” of Menander.)[185] When they are discovered, the soldier is
induced to resign the lady by being persuaded that another is
desperately in love with him, but the only reward which he gets is a
good beating for his pains.

XIV. In the Pseudolus, a cunning slave of that name procures, by a false
memorandum, a female slave for his young master; and when the fraud is
discovered the matter is settled by the payment of the price by a
complaisant father. Notwithstanding the simplicity of the plot, the
action is bustling and full of intrigue; and from a passage of
Cicero,[186] it appears that this play and Truculentus were favourites
with the author himself. The procurer in this comedy was one of the
characters in which Roscius especially excelled.

XV. The Pœnulus derives its name from its romantic plot. A young
Carthaginian slave is adopted by an old bachelor, who leaves him a good
inheritance. He falls in love with a girl, a Carthaginian like himself,
who had been kidnapped with her sister, and now belonged to a procurer.
The arrival of the father leads to a discovery that they are free-born,
and that they are the first cousins of the young man. Thus it comes to
pass that the girls are rescued, and the lovers united. The most curious
portion of this comedy is that in which Hanno, the father, is
represented as talking Punic;[187] and his words bear so close a
resemblance to the Hebrew that commentators have expressed them in
Hebrew characters, and rendered them, after a few emendations, capable
of translation.[188]

XVI. The tricks played upon a procurer by a slave, aided by a Persian
parasite, furnish the slender plot of the Persa.

XVII. The Rudens derives its name from the rope of a fishing-net, and,
with the exception perhaps of the Captivi, is the most affecting and
pleasing of all the twenty plays. The morality is pure, the sentiments
elevated, the poetic justice complete. A female child has fallen into
the hands of a procurer. Her lover in vain endeavours to ransom her, and
being shipwrecked, the toys with which she played in infancy are lost in
the waves, but are eventually brought to shore by the net of a
fisherman. She is thus recognised by her father, and is married to her
lover, whilst the procurer is utterly ruined by the loss of his property
in the wreck.

XVIII. Stichus is the name of the slave on whom the intrigue of the play
which bears this name mainly depends. The plot is very simple. Two
brothers marry two sisters, and are ruined by extravagant living; they
determine therefore to go abroad and repair their fortunes. After they
have been many years absent the ladies’ father wishes them to marry
again. They, however, steadily refuse, and their constancy is rewarded
by the return of their husbands with large fortunes.

XIX. The Trinummus is a translation from the Thesaurus of the Greek
comic poet Philemon.[189] It derived its Latin title from the incident
of the informer being bribed with three _nummi_.[190] An old merchant on
leaving home places his son and daughter, together with a treasure which
he has buried in his house, under the guardianship of his friend
Callicles. The son squanders his father’s property, and is even forced
to sell his house, which Callicles purchases. Soon a young man of good
family and fortune makes proposals for the daughter’s hand, and
Callicles is at a loss to know how to give her a dowry without saying
something about the treasure. At length he hires a man to pretend that
he has come from the absent father, and has brought one thousand pieces
of gold. The return of the father interferes with the plan; but
everything is explained, the daughter is married, and the son forgiven.

XX. The Truculentus, although the moral picture which it presents is
detestable, is remarkably clever, both for the variety of incidents and
the graphic delineations of character which it contains. The artful
courtesan who dupes and ruins her lovers; the three lovers
themselves—one a man of the town, another an unpolished but generous
rustic, the third a stupid and conceited soldier; and, lastly, the
slave, whose rude sagacity and bluff hatred of courtesans expose him to
the imputation of being actually savage (truculentus,) are powerfully
drawn; but notwithstanding its merits, it is not a play which can
possibly please the tastes and sentiments of modern times.

Plautus must not be dismissed without some notice of his prologues. The
prologue of the Greek drama prepared the audience for the action of the
play, by narrating all the previous events of the story which were
necessary in order to understand the plot. That of the modern stage is
an address of the poet to the spectators, praying for indulgence,
deprecating severe criticism, enlivened frequently by characteristic
sketches and satirical observations on the manners and habits of the
age. In these features it sometimes resembles the parabasis of the old
Attic comedy. The prologues of Plautus united all these objects; and
whilst they introduced the comedy, their amusing gayety was calculated
to put the audience in good humour and secure their applause. The shrewd
knowledge which the author displayed in them of the character of his
fellow-countrymen claimed their sympathies, and called forth their
prejudices in his favour; whilst their polish and finish must have been
appreciated by an assembly whose attention had not begun to flag or to
weary. Some are long pieces. That of the Amphitruo, which is the
longest, extends to upwards of one hundred and fifty lines. That of the
Trinummus takes the unusual form of a brief allegorical dialogue between
Luxury and her daughter Poverty.

                              CHAPTER VII.
                         REMAINING COMIC POETS.

                           CÆCILIUS STATIUS.

Between Plautus and Terence flourished Cæcilius Statius, whom Volcatius,
as well as Cicero,[191] places at the head of the list of Roman comic
poets. He was an emancipated slave, and was born at Milan. The time of
his birth is unknown, but he died A. U. C. 586, and was therefore a
contemporary of Ennius. He did not depart from the established custom of
transferring the comedy of the Greek stage to that of Rome, and as far
as a judgment can be formed from the titles of his forty-five comedies
which are extant, they were all “_Palliatæ_.” The collection of
fragments remaining of his works is a large one, but they are not
sufficiently long or connected to test the favourable opinion
entertained by the critics of ancient times.

Aulus Gellius[192] enables us to estimate the powers of C. Statius as a
translator by a comparison of two passages taken from his “Plocius” with
the original of Menander. The result is, that the usual fault of
translations is too plainly manifest, namely, the loss of the spirit and
vigour. “Our comedies,” he remarks, “are written in an elegant and
graceful style, and may be read with pleasure; but if compared with the
Greek originals, they fall so far short that the arms of Glaucus could
not have been more inferior to those of Diomede: the Greek is full of
emotion, wit, and liveliness; the Latin dull and uninteresting.” Cicero,
likewise, and Varro have pronounced judgment upon his merits and
demerits. The sum and substance of their criticisms appear to be that
his excellencies consisted in the conduct of the plot,[193]
dignity,[194] and in pathos,[195] whilst his fault was not sufficient
care in preserving the purity of the Latin style.

Cicero,[196] though not without hesitation, assigns the palm to him
amongst the writers of Latin comedy, as he awards that of epic poetry to
Ennius, and that of tragedy to Pacuvius.[196] He says, on the other
hand,[197] that the bad Latin of Cæcilius and Pacuvius formed exceptions
to the usual style of their age, which was as commendable for its
Latinity as for its innocence. And in a letter to Atticus,[198] he
writes:—“I said, not as Cæcilius, _Mane ut ex portu in Piræum_, but as
Terence, whose plays, on account of their elegant Latinity, were thought
to have been written by C. Lælius, Heri aliquot adolescentuli coimus in
Piræum.” Horace,[199] without stating his own opinion, gives, as that
commonly received in his day, that Cæcilius is superior in dignity
(_gravitate_,) Terence in skill (_arte_.)

The prologue of Terence’s comedy of the Hecyra proves that the earlier
plays of Cæcilius had a great struggle to achieve success. The actor who
delivers it, an old favourite with the public, and probably the manager,
apologizes for bringing forward a play which had been once rejected
(_exacta_,) on the ground that by perseverance in a similar course he
had caused the reception and approval of not one but many of the
comedies of Cæcilius which had been unsuccessful, and adds, that of
those which did succeed, some had a narrow escape.

                           P. TERENTIUS AFER.

P. Terentius Afer was a slave in the family of a Roman senator, P.
Terentius Lucanus. His early history is involved in obscurity, but he is
generally supposed to have been born A. U. C. 561.[200] His cognomen,
Afer, points to an African origin, for it was a common custom to
distinguish slaves by an ethnical name. Whether there is any sufficient
authority for the tradition that he was a native of Carthage is
uncertain. He could not, as was rightly observed by Fenestella,[201]
have been actually a prisoner of war, because he was both born and died
in the interval between the first and second Punic Wars; nor, if he had
been captured by the Numidians or Gætulians in any war which these
tribes carried on with Carthage, could he have come into the possession
of a Roman general by purchase, for there was no commercial intercourse
between these nations and Rome until after the destruction of Carthage.

Another hypothesis has been suggested, which is by no means
improbable.[202] During the interval which elapsed between the first and
second Punic Wars, the Carthaginians were involved in wars with their
own mercenaries, the Numidians, and the southern Iberians. Some
embassies from Rome also visited Carthage. Terence, therefore, may
possibly have been taken prisoner in one of these wars, have been
purchased by a Roman in the Carthaginian slave-market, and so have been
carried to Rome. What his condition was in the house of Lucanus is not
known; but it is clear that he had opportunities of cultivating his
natural talents, and acquiring that refined and masterly acquaintance
with all the niceties and elegancies of the Latin language which his
comedies exhibited, and it is probable, also, that very early in life he
obtained his freedom.

His first essay as a dramatic author was the “Andrian,” perhaps the
most interesting, certainly the most affecting of all his comedies.
Terence, an unknown and obscure young man, offered his play to the
Curule Ædiles. They, accordingly, we are told, referred the new
candidate to the experienced judgment of Cæcilius Statius, then at the
height of his popularity. Terence, in humble garb, was introduced to
the poet whilst he was at supper, and seated on a low stool near the
couch on which Cæcilius was reclining, he commenced reading. He had
finished but a few lines when Cæcilius invited him to sit by him and
sup with him. He rapidly ran through the rest of his play, and gained
the unqualified admiration of his hearer. This story is related by
Donatus, but whether there is any truth in it is very doubtful. It is,
at any rate, certain that “The Andrian” was not brought forward
immediately after obtaining this decision in its favour, for the date
of its first representation[203] is two years subsequent to the death
of Cæcilius.

Talents of so popular a kind as those of Terence, and a genius
presenting the rare combination of all the fine and delicate touches
which characterize true Attic sentiment, without corrupting the native
ingenuous purity of the Latin language, could not long remain in
obscurity. He was soon eagerly sought for as a guest and a companion by
those who could appreciate his powers. The great Roman nobility, such as
the Scipiones, the Lælii, the Scavolæ, and the Metelli, had a taste for
literature. Like the _Tyranni_ in Sicily and Greece, and like some of
the Italian princes in the middle ages, they assembled around them
circles of literary men, of whom the polite and hospitable host himself
formed the nucleus and centre.

The purity and gracefulness of the style of Terence, “_per quam dulces
Latini leporis facetiæ nituerunt_,”[204] show that the conversation of
his accomplished friends was not lost upon his correct ear and quick
intuition. To these habits of good society may also be attributed the
leading moral characteristics of his comedies. He invariably exhibits
the humanity and benevolence of a cultivated mind. He cannot bear
loathsome and disgusting vice: he deters the young from the unlawful
indulgence of their passions by painting such indulgence as inconsistent
with the refined habits and tastes of a gentleman.

His truthfulness compels him to depict habits and practices which were
recognised and allowed, as well by the manners of the Athenians, from
whom his comedies were taken, as by the lax morality of Roman
fashionable society. Nor can we expect from a heathen writer of comedy
so high a tone of morality as to lash vice with the severe censure which
the Christian feels it deserves, however venial society may pronounce it
to be. It is as much as can be hoped for, if we find the principles of
good taste brought forward on the stage to influence public morals. Even
the code of Christian society too often contents itself with rebuking
such vice as interferes with its own comfort or safety, and stigmatizes
conduct, not for its immorality, but for its being unbecoming a
gentleman. It is a standard which has its use, but it is not higher than
the Terentian.

And if the plays of Terence are compared with those of authors
professing to be Christians, which form part of the classical literature
of the English nation, and were unblushingly witnessed on their
representation by some of both sexes, who, nevertheless, professed a
regard for character, how immeasurably superior are the comedies of the
heathen poet! Point out to the young the greater light and knowledge
which the Christian enjoys, and the plays of Terence may be read without
moral danger. No amount of colouring and caution would be sufficient to
shield the mind of an ingenuous youth from the imminent peril of being
corrupted by those of Wycherly and Congreve. Pictures of Roman manners
must represent them as corrupt, or they would not be truthful; but often
a good lesson is elicited from them. When the deceived wife
reproachfully asks her offending husband with what face he can rebuke
his son because he has a mistress when he himself has two wives,[205]
one is far more struck with the honour which the strictness of Roman
virtue paid to the nuptial tie, than offended at the lenient view which
is taken of the young man’s fault. The knaveries and tricks of
Davus[206] meet with sufficient poetical justice in his fright and his
flogging. The very dress in which the Meretrix, or woman of abandoned
morals, was costumed, kept constantly before the eyes of the Roman youth
their grasping avarice, and therefore warned them of the ruin which
awaited their victims; and the well-known passage,[207] in which the
loathsome habits of this class are described, must have been, as Terence
himself says, a preservative of youthful virtue:—

               Nosse omnia hæc saluti est adolescentulis.

The Pander, who basely, for the sake of filthy lucre, ministers to the
passions of the young, is represented as the most degraded and
contemptible of mortals. The Parasite, who earns his meal by flattering
and fawning on his rich patron, is made the butt of unsparing ridicule.
And the timid, simple maiden, confiding too implicitly in the affections
of her lover, and sacrificing her interests to that love, and not to
lust or love of gain, is painted in such colours as to command the
spectator’s pity and sympathy, and to call forth his approbation when
she is deservedly reinstated in her position as an honourable matron.
Lastly, her lover is not represented as a profligate, revelling in the
indiscriminate indulgence of his passions, and rendering vice seductive
by engaging manners and fascinating qualities: but we feel that his sin
necessarily results from the absence of a high tone of public morality
to protect the young against temptation; and in all cases the reality
and permanency of his affection for the victim of his wrongdoing is
proved by his readiness and anxiety to become her husband.

So far as it can be so, comedy was in the hands of Terence an instrument
of moral teaching, for it can only be so indirectly by painting men and
manners as they are, and not as they ought to be.

It is said that the patrons of Terence assisted him in the composition
of his comedies, or, at least, corrected their language and style, and
embellished them by the insertion of scenes and passages. An anecdote is
related by Cornelius Nepos,[208] which, if true, at once proves the
point. He says that Lælius was at his villa near Puteoli during the
festival of the Matronalia. On this holiday the power of the Roman
ladies was absolute. Lælius was ordered by his wife to come to supper
early. He excused himself on the ground that he was occupied, and begged
not to be disturbed. When he appeared in the supper-room, he said he had
never been so well satisfied with his compositions. He was asked for a
specimen of what he had written, and immediately repeated a scene in the
“Self-Tormentor”[209] of Terence. Terence, however, gently refutes this
story in the prologue to the “Adelphi,” and gives it a positive
contradiction in the prologue to the comedy in which the passage occurs.
Perhaps he may at first have permitted the report to be credited for the
sake of paying a compliment to his patron.

There is a tradition that he lived and died in poverty, and this tale is
perpetuated in the following lines by Porcius Licinius:——

                              Nil Publius
     Scipio profuit, nihil ei Lælius, nil Furius,
     Tres per idem tempus qui agitabant nobiles facillume,
     Eorum ille opere ne domum quidem habuit conductitium
     Saltem ut esset quo referret obitum domini servulus.

     Nothing did Publius Scipio profit him;
     Nothing did Lælius, nothing Furius;
     At once the three great patrons of our bard.
     And yet so niggard of their bounty to him,
     He had not even wherewithal to hire
     A house in Rome to which a faithful slave
     Might bring the tidings of his master’s death.      _Colman._

The patrons of Terence, however, never deserved the reproach of
meanness. Nor could the comic poet have been very poor. He received
large sums for his comedies; he had funds sufficient to reside for some
time in Greece; and at his death he possessed gardens on the Appian Way
twenty jugera in extent.

A mystery hangs over his death, which took place B. C. 158.[210] It is
not known whether he died in Greece, or was lost at sea, together with
all the comedies of Menander, which he had translated whilst in Greece,
or whether, after embarking for Asia, he was, as Volcatius writes, never
seen more:——

               Ut Afer sex populo edidit comœdias
             Iter hinc in Asiam fecit, navim cum semel
             Conscendit visus nunquam est. Sic vitâ vacat.

One daughter married to a Roman knight survived him.

Six comedies by Terence remain, and it is probable that these are all
that he ever wrote; they belong to the class technically denominated

                            “_The Andrian._”

“The Andrian” was exhibited at the Magalensian games, A. U. C. 588,[211]
when the poet was in his twenty-seventh year. The musical accompaniment
was performed on equal flutes, right-handed and left-handed (_tibiis
paribus dextris et sinistris_;) _i. e._, as the action was of a
serio-comic character, the lively music of the _tibiæ dextræ_ was used
in the comic scenes; the solemn sounds of the _tibiæ sinistræ_
accompanied the serious portion. The manners are Greek, and the scene is
laid at Athens.

The plot is as follows:—Glycerium, a young Athenian girl, is placed
under the care of an Andrian, who educates her with his daughter
Chrysis. On his death Chrysis migrates to Athens, taking Glycerium with
her as her sister, and is driven by distress to become a courtesan.
Pamphilus, the son of Simo, falls in love with Glycerium, and promises
her marriage. Simo accidentally discovers his son’s attachment in the
following manner:—Chrysis dies, and at her funeral Glycerium imprudently
approaches too near to the burning pile. Her lover rushes forward and
embraces her, and affectionately expostulates with her for thus risking
her life. “Dearest Glycerium!” he exclaims, “what are you doing? Why do
you rush to destruction?” Upon this the girl burst into a flood of
tears, and threw herself into his arms. Simo had meanwhile betrothed
Pamphilus to Philumena, the daughter of Chremes; and although he had
discovered his son’s passion, and Chremes had heard of the promise of
marriage, he pretends that the marriage with Philumena shall still take
place, in order that he may discover what his son’s real sentiments are.
In this difficulty, Pamphilus applies to Davus, a cunning and clever
slave, who advises him to offer no opposition. At this crisis Glycerium
is delivered of a child, which Davus causes to be laid at the door of
Simo. Chremes sees the infant, and, understanding that Pamphilus is the
father, refuses to give him his daughter. The opportune arrival of
Crito, an Andrian, discovers to Chremes that Glycerium is his own
daughter, whom on a former absence from Athens he had intrusted to his
brother Phania, now dead. Consequently Glycerium is married to
Pamphilus, and Philumena is given to a young lover, named Charinus, who
had hitherto pressed his suit in vain.

“The Andrian” was, as it deserved to be, eminently successful, and
encouraged the young author to persevere in the career which he had
chosen. The interest is well sustained, the action is natural, and many
scenes touching and pathetic, whilst the serious parts are skilfully
relieved by the adroitness of Davus, and his cleverness in getting out
of the scrapes in which his cunning involves him. Cicero[212] praises
the funeral scene[213] as an example of that talent for narrative which
Terence constantly displays. The substance of his criticism is, that the
poet has attained conciseness without the sacrifice of beauty; and
whilst he has avoided wearisome affectation, has not omitted any details
which are agreeable and interesting. Nothing can be more beautiful than
the struggle between the love and filial duty of Pamphilus,[214] which
ends with his determination to yield to his father’s will; nothing more
candid than his confession, or more upright than his earnest desire not
to be suspected of suborning Crito.

“The Andrian” has been closely imitated in the comedy of “The Conscious
Lovers,” by Sir Richard Steele; but in natural and graceful wit, as well
as ingenuity, the English play is far inferior to the Roman original.


“The Eunuch” is a transcript of a comedy by Menander. Even the
characters are the same, except that Gnatho and Thraso together occupy
the place of Colax (the flatterer) in the original Greek. It was
represented in the consulship of M. Valerius Messala and C. Fannius
Strabo.[215] The musical accompaniment was Lydian. It was the most
popular of all Terence’s plays, and brought the author the largest sum
of money that had ever been paid for a comedy previously, namely, 8,000
sestertii, a sum equivalent to about 65_l._ sterling. In vain Lavinius,
Terence’s most bitter rival, endeavoured to interrupt the performance,
and to accuse the author of plagiarism. His defence was perfectly
successful, and Suetonius states[216] that it was called for twice in
one day.

“The Eunuch” is not equal to some of Terence’s plays in wit and humour;
but the plot is bustling and animated, and the dialogue gay and
sparkling: it is also unquestionably the best acting play of the whole.
There is no play in which there is a greater individuality of character,
or more effect of histrionic contrast. The lovesick and somewhat
effeminate Phædria contrasts well with the ardent and passionate Chærea,
the swaggering, bullying Thraso with the pompous, philosophical
parasite, who proposes to found a Gnathonic School. Parmeno is quite as
crafty, but far more clever, than Davus, and his description of the
evils of love is the perfection of shrewd wisdom.

The plot is as follows:—Pamphila, the daughter of an Athenian citizen,
was kidnapped in her infancy, and sold to a Rhodian. He gave her to a
courtesan, who educated her with her own daughter Thais. Subsequently
Thais removes to Athens; and on the mother’s death Pamphila is sold to a
soldier, named Thraso. The soldier, being in love with Thais, resolves
to make her a present of his purchase; but Thais has got another lover,
Phædria, and Thraso refuses to give Pamphila to Thais unless Phædria is
first turned off. She, thinking that she has discovered Pamphila’s
relations, and anxious to restore her to them, persuades Phædria to
absent himself for two days, in order that Thraso may present her with
the maiden. Meanwhile Chærea, Phædria’s younger brother, sees Pamphila
accidentally, and falls desperately in love with her. He, therefore,
persuades his brother’s slave, Parmeno, to introduce him into Thais’
house in the disguise of a eunuch, whom Phædria has intrusted him to
convey to her during his absence. This leads to an _éclaircissement_.
Pamphila is discovered to be an Athenian citizen, and her brother
Chremes gives her in marriage to Chærea.

The most skilful part of this play is the method by which Terence has
connected the underplot between Parmeno and Pythias, the waiting-maid of
Thais, with the main action, their quarrels being entirely instrumental
in bringing about the _dénouement_. Of all the comedies of Terence, the
moral tone of this is the lowest and most degrading. The connivance of
Laches the father of Chærea, at his son’s illicit amour with Thais,
presents a sad picture of moral corruption, as the arrangement coolly
made between Phædria and Gnatho[217] displays the meanness, which
evidently was not considered inconsistent with the habits of Roman

Grievous as are these blemishes, this comedy must always be a favourite.
There are in it passages of which the lapse of ages has not diminished
the pungency: take, for example, the quiet satire contained in the
contrast which Chærea draws between the healthful and natural beauty of
his mistress and the “every-day forms of which his eyes are weary:”—

 CH.  Haud similis virgo est virginum nostrarum; quas matres student
      Demissis humeris esse, vincto pectore, ut graciles sient;
      Si qua est habitior paulo, pugilem esse aiunt; deducunt cibum,
      Tametsi bona est natura, reddunt curatura junceas:
      Itaque ergo amantur.

 PA.        Quid tua istæc.

 CH.                       Nova figura oris.

 PA.                                        Papæ!

 CH.  Color verus, corpus solidum et succi plenum.[218]

“The Eunuch” suggested the plot of Sir Charles Sedley’s “Bellamira,” was
translated by Lafontaine, and imitated in “Le Muet” of Brueys.


“The Self-Punisher” is a translation from Menander. It was acted the
first time with Phrygian music, the second time with Lydian, in the
consulship of the celebrated Ti. Sempronius Gracchus and M. Juventius
Thalna.[219] This play may be considered as the masterpiece of Terence;
it was a great favourite, notwithstanding its seriousness, and the
absence of comic drollery throughout. Steele[220] remarks with truth,
that it is a picture of human life; but there is not in the whole one
passage which could raise a laugh. It is a good specimen of the refined
taste of Terence, who, unlike Plautus, abhorred vulgarity and ribaldry,
and did not often condescend even to humour. Its favourable reception,
moreover, proves that, notwithstanding the preference which the Roman
people were inclined to give to gladiatorial shows, and the more
innocent amusements of buffoons and rope-dancers, and the noisy mirth
with which theatrical entertainments were frequently interrupted, they
could appreciate and enjoy a skilfully-constructed plot, and that
quality which Terence especially claims for this comedy,[221] purity of
style. The noble sentiment,

               Homo sum, nihil humanum a me alienum puto,

was received by the whole audience with a burst of applause.

_Plot._——Clinia, the son of Menedemus, falls in love with Antiphila,
supposed to be the daughter of a poor Corinthian woman, and, to avoid
his father’s anger, enters the service of the king of Persia. Menedemus,
repenting of his severity, punishes himself by purchasing a farm, and,
giving up all the luxuries of a town life, works hard from morning to
night. Like Laertes, in the Odyssey, he seeks by occupation to divert
his mind from the contemplation of his son’s absence:—

     The mournful hour that tore his son away
     Sent the sad sire in solitude to stray;
     Yet, busied with his slaves, to ease his wo
     He drest the vine, and bade the garden blow.
                                                 _Odys._ xvi. 145.

Clinia returns from Asia, and takes up his abode at the house of his
friend Clitipho, the son of Chremes. This Clitipho has fallen in love
with Bacchis, an extravagant courtesan; and Syrus, an artful slave,
persuades him to pass off Bacchis as the object of Clinia’s affection,
and Antiphila as her waiting-maid. Chremes, next day, to whom Menedemus
had communicated his grief and remorse, acquaints him with the return of
his son, and recommends him to pretend ignorance of his amour. By the
intrigues and knavery of Syrus, Chremes is induced to pay 10 minæ
(40_l._) to Clitipho for the support of Bacchis. Sostrata, the wife of
Chremes, has mean while discovered, by a ring in her possession, that
Antiphila is her daughter. She had, according to the cruel Athenian
practice, given her to the Corinthian in infancy that she might not be
exposed; she had given the ring, the means of her discovery, at the same
time. Clinia, therefore, marries Antiphila; and Chremes, although
enraged at the imposition of Syrus, forgives him and his son, and
Clitipho promises that he will give up Bacchis and marry a neighbour’s

This play abounds in amiable and generous sentiments and passages of
simple and graphic beauty. The whole scene, in which the habits of the
poor girl whom Clinia loves is described, is exquisitely true to nature.
Her occupation is like that of the chaste Lucretia in the legend:—

     Texentem telam studiose ipsam offendimus,
     Mediocriter vestitam veste lugubri,
     Ejus anuis causa, opinor, quæ erat mortua;
     Sine auro, tum ornatam, ita uti quæ ornantur sibi;
     Nulla mala re esse expolitam muliebri;
     Capillus passus, prolixus, circum caput
     Rejectus negligenter.
                                                 _Heaut._ II. iii.

     Busily plying of the web we found her,
     Decently clad in mourning, I suppose,
     For the deceased old woman. She had on
     No gold, or trinkets, but was plain and neat,
     And dressed like those who dress but for themselves.
     No female varnish to set off her beauty;
     Her hair dishevelled, long, and flowing loose
     About her shoulders.

The reader cannot but sympathize with the remark of Clitipho, when he
has heard this description of virtuous poverty,—“If all this is true, as
I believe it is, you are the most fortunate of men.”

The degraded Bacchis also reads a valuable lesson to her sex, when she
shows the blessings of the path of virtue from which she has strayed:—

   Nam expedit bonas esse vobis: nos, quibuscum est res, non sinunt;
   Quippe forma impulsi nostra, nos amatores colunt:
   Hæc ubi immutata est, illi suum animum alio conferunt.
   Nisi si prospectum interea aliquid est, desertæ vivimus.
   Vobis cum uno semel ubi ætatem agere decretum ’st viro,
   Cujus mos maxume ’st consimilis vostrum, hi se ad vos applicant.
   Hoc beneficio utrique ab utrisque vero devincimini,
   Ut nunquam ulla amori vestro incidere possit calamitas.
                                                _Heaut._ II. iv.

       Virtue’s your interest: those with whom we deal
       Forbid it to be ours; for our gallants,
       Charmed by our beauty, court us but for that;
       Which, fading, they transfer their love to others.
       If, then, mean while we look not to ourselves,
       We live forlorn, deserted, and distressed.
       You, when you’ve once agreed to pass your life
       Bound to one man whose temper suits with yours,
       He too attaches his whole heart to you.
       Thus mutual friendship draws you each to each;
       Nothing can part you, nothing shake your love.

How beautiful, too, is the unselfish devotion of Antiphila, when she
artlessly professes to know nothing of other women’s feelings, but to
know this one thing only, that her happiness is wrapped up in that of
her lover!——

        Nescio alias; me quidem semper scio fecisse sedulo
        Ut ex illius commodo meum compararem commodum.
                                                    II. iv. 16.


The Phormio is a translation or adaptation of the Epidicazomene (_the
subject of the law suit_) of Apollodorus: it was entitled Phormio.

              Quia primas partes qui aget, is erit Phormio
              Parasitus, per quem res geretur maxume.[222]

It was acted four times; on the last occasion, in the consulship of C.
Fannius Strabo and M. Valerius Messala,[223] at the Roman or Circensian

_Plot._——Chremes, an Athenian, although he has a wife at Athens,
(Nausistrata,) marries another at Lemnos under the feigned name of
Stilpho. By her he has a daughter, Phanium. When she has attained a
marriageable age, Chremes arranges with his brother Demipho, that she
shall become the wife of his son Antipho. After this, the two old men
leave Athens; and in their absence Demipho’s son, Phædria, falls in love
with a minstrel-girl, and the Lemnian wife arrives at Athens, together
with her daughter Phanium. There she dies; and Antipho, seeing Phanium
at the funeral, becomes enamoured of her. Not knowing what to do, he
takes the advice of Phormio. In the case of a destitute orphan, the
Athenian law compelled the nearest of kin to marry her or to give a
portion. Phormio brings an action against Antipho; the case is proved,
and he marries Phanium. The old men return, and Chremes, not knowing
that Phanium is his own daughter, is desperately angry. Mean while,
Dorio, the owner of Pamphila, threatens to sell her to some one else
unless Phædria will immediately pay him thirty minæ. Geta, a knavish
servant of Demipho, procures this money by telling the old gentleman
that Phormio is willing to take Antipho’s wife off his hands on
condition of receiving thirty minæ. Phanium is eventually discovered and
acknowledged, and thus matters are happily concluded. Nausistrata is at
first very angry, but relents on the submission of the repentant

This comedy supplied Molière with a large portion of the materials for
“Les Fourberies de Scapin.”


This comedy, which, if the inscription may be trusted, is a translation
or adaptation from one by Menander, was the least successful of all the
plays of Terence. Twice it was rejected; on the first occasion, as the
prologue to its second representation informs us, owing to “an
unheard-of calamity and impediment.”[224] The thoughts of the public
were so occupied by a rope-dancer that they would not hear a word.
Terence feared to risk a second representation on the same day; but such
confidence had he in the merits of the play, that he offered it a second
time for sale to the ædiles, and it was acted again in the consulship of
Cn. Octavius and T. Manlius.[225] It was acted a third time at the
funeral games of L. Æmilius Paulus, when it was again rejected. On its
next representation, it was successful; and Ambivius Turpio, by whose
theatrical company it was performed, and whose popularity had already
caused the revival of some unsuccessful plays,[226] undertook to plead
its cause in a new prologue. This prologue enters fully into the
circumstances which caused its rejection. It states that some renowned
boxers and expected performances of a rope-dancer caused a great tumult
and disturbance, especially among the female part of the audience; that,
at the next representation, the first act went off with applause, but a
rumour spread of a gladiatorial combat, the people flocked to a show
which was more congenial to their taste, and the theatre was deserted.
In conclusion, for the sake of the art of poetry, for the encouragement
of himself to buy new plays, and for the protection of the poet from
malicious critics, Ambivio entreated the patient attention of the
audience; and the appeal of the old favourite servant of the public was

The Hecyra is, without doubt, inferior to the other plays of Terence,
and probably for that reason has never been imitated in modern
literature. It is a drama of domestic life, and yet the plot is
deficient in interest, and the scenes want life and variety.

_Plot._—Pamphilus, at the desire of his father, Laches, marries
Philumena, the daughter of Phidippus and Myrrhina, but being involved in
an amour with Bacchis, has no affection for his wife, and avoids all
intercourse with her. Meanwhile, Bacchis offended at his marriage, shows
such an ill-temper, that his affection is weaned from her and
transferred to Philumena. Pamphilus then goes to Imbrus, and on his
return is surprised with the news that Philumena has left his father’s
house, and subsequently discovers that she has given birth to a son. He
refuses, consequently, to receive her as his wife; but as he loves her
to distraction, he promises her mother that he will keep her shame
secret. As he will neither live with his wife nor assign any reason,
Bacchis is suspected of being the cause. But she clears herself from the
suspicion. Myrrhina, however, recognises upon her finger a ring
belonging to her daughter. This leads to the _dénouement_. Pamphilus had
one night when intoxicated met Philumena, and offered her violence. He
had forced a ring from her finger and given it to Bacchis. He,
therefore, with joy, acknowledges the child as his own, and restores his
injured wife to his affections.

The comedy derives its title, Hecyra (the mother-in-law,) from the part
taken by Sostrata, the mother of Pamphilus. Laches, unable to account
for the conduct of Philumena and his son, is firmly persuaded that his
wife Sostrata had taken a prejudice against her daughter-in-law, and
Pamphilus, notwithstanding his dutiful affection for his mother, cannot
avoid being under a similar impression. Sostrata, in order to remove
this suspicion, offers with noble generosity to leave the house in order
that Philumena may return.

This amiable rivalry of maternal devotion on the one hand, and filial
respect on the other, constitutes the most interesting portion of the
comedy; and Terence has thus endeavoured to rescue the relation of
mother-in-law from the prejudice which, too often deservedly, attached
to it.


This comedy was acted at the funeral games of L. Æmilius Paulus
Macedonius, the conqueror of Perseus, in the consulship of L. Anicius
Gallus and M. Cornelius Cethegus.[227] The music was Sarrane or Tyrian,
the grave character of which was suitable to the solemnity of the
occasion. The cost of the representation was borne by Q. Fabius Maximus,
and P. C. Scipio Africanus, the sons of the deceased.

_Plot._—Demea, a country gentleman and a strict disciplinarian, has two
sons, Æschinus and Ctesipho. Æschinus, the elder, is adopted by his
uncle Micio, a bachelor of indulgent temper and somewhat loose
principles, who lives a town life at Athens. Whilst Ctesipho is brought
up strictly in the country, Æschinus is educated with too great
indulgence, and pursues a course of riot and extravagance. One night, in
a moment of drunken passion, he offers violence to Pamphila, a young
maiden, well born but poor; for which outrage he makes amends by a
promise of marriage. Ctesipho soon after falls in love with a minstrel
girl whom he accidentally meets; and Æschinus, to save his brother from
his father’s anger, conceals his amour and takes the discredit of it
upon himself. At last he assaults the pander to whom the girl belongs,
takes her away by force, and gives her to his brother. The affair comes
to Demea’s ears, who severely reproves Micio for ruining his son by
injudicious indulgence. Matters are at length explained, and the
marriage between Æschinus and Pamphila takes place, the minstrel girl is
assigned to Ctesipho, and the price for her paid. The old bachelor,
Micio, marries Sostrata, the mother of Pamphila, and, according to the
usual rule of comedy, all the inferior persons of the drama are made

Lax as the morals are which Micio refrains from correcting, his conduct
illustrates a valuable principle in education; that——

  There is a way of winning more by love
  And urging of the modesty than fear.
  Force works on servile humours, not the free.
                                                        _Ben Jonson._

Nor are the evils likely to arise from indifference to moral principle
left entirely without an antidote. A wise and not indiscriminate
indulgence is upheld by Demea; and, at the conclusion of the play, he
announces his deliberate change of character, but, at the same time,
points out the pernicious errors of that kindness and indulgence which
proceeds from impulse and not from principle.

                                   Dicam tibi:
  Ut id ostenderem, quod te isti facilem et festivum putant,
  Id non fieri ex vera vita, neque adeo ex æquo et bono;
  Sed assentando atque indulgendo et largiendo, Micio.
  Nunc adeo, si ob eam rem vobis mea vita invisa, Æschine, est,
  Quia non justa, injusta, prorsus omnia omnino obsequor;
  Missa facio; effundite, emite, facite, quod vobis lubet.
  Sed si id voltis potius, quæ vos propter adulescentiam
  Minus videtis, magis impense cupitis, consulitis parum,
  Hæc reprehendere et corrigere quam, obsecundare in loco;
  Ecce me qui id faciam vobis.

  Now, therefore, if I’m odious to you, son,
  Because I’m not subservient to your humour
  In all things, right or wrong; away with care:
  Spend, squander, and do what you will. But if,
  In those affairs where youth has made you blind,
  Eager, and thoughtless, you will suffer me
  To counsel and correct you, and in due season
  Indulge you, I am at your service.                        _Colman._

This twofold lesson is by no means a useless one to parents, not to
purchase the affection of their children by injudicious indulgence like
Micio, nor, on the other hand, like Demea, to strain the cord too tight,
and thus tempt their children to pursue a course of deceit, and to
refuse their confidence to their natural advisers and guardians. The
most beautiful feature, however, of the play is the picture which it
gives of fraternal affection. This was the last comedy of the author. It
furnished Molière with the idea of his “Ecole des Maris,” and Baron with
great part of the plot of “L’Ecole de Pères.” Shadwell was also indebted
to it for his “Squire of Alsatia,” and Garrick for his comedy of “The

The following comparison of the two great Roman comic poets by a French
critic is a just one:——

“Ce poète (Térence) a beaucoup plus d’art, mais il me semble que l’autre
a plus d’esprit. Terence fait beaucoup plus parler qu’agir; l’autre fait
plus agir que parler: et c’est le véritable caractère de la comédie, qui
est beaucoup plus dans l’action que dans le discours. Cette vivacité me
paroît donner encore un grand avantage à Plaute; c’est que ses intrigues
sont bien variées, et ont toujours quelque chose qui surprend
agréablement; au lieu que le théâtre semble languir quelquefois dans
Térence, à qui la vivacité de l’action et les nœuds des incidens et des
intrigues manquent manifestement.”

If Terence was inferior to Plautus in life and bustle and intrigue, and
in the powerful delineation of national character, he is superior in
elegance of language and refinement of taste; he far more rarely offends
against decency, and he substitutes delicacy of sentiment for vulgarity.
The justness of his reflections more than compensates for the absence of
his predecessor’s humour: he touches the heart as well as gratifies the

If he was deficient in _vis comica_, it is only the defect which Cæsar
attributed to Roman comedy generally; and Cicero, who thought that Roman
wit was even more piquant than Attic salt itself, paid him a merited
compliment in the following line:——

            Quicquid come loquens atque omnia dulcia dicens.

It has been objected to Terence that he superabounds in
soliloquies;[228] but it is not surprising that he should have delighted
in them, since no author ever surpassed him in narrative. His natural
and unaffected simplicity renders him the best possible teller of a
story: he never indulges in a display of forced wit or in attempts at
epigrammatic sharpness; there are no superfluous touches, although his
pictures are enlivened by sufficient minuteness; his moral lessons are
conveyed in familiar proverb-like suggestions, not in dull and pedantic

The remaining comic poets will require but brief notice. L. Afranius was
a contemporary of Terence, and flourished about B. C. 150. His comedies
were all of the lowest class of _fabulæ togatæ_ (tabernariæ;) and he was
generally allowed by the critics to possess great skill in accommodating
the Greek comedy to the representation of Roman manners:——

     Dicitur Afrani _toga_ convenisse Menandro.
                                             _Hor. Ep._ II. i. 57.

His style was short and eloquent (_perargutus et disertus_,)[229] but he
was a man of low tastes and profligate morals;[230] and, therefore,
although, from living amidst the scenes of vulgar vice which he
delighted to paint, his characters were true to nature, they were
revolting and disgusting. His immorality, probably, as much as his
talent, caused him to continue a favourite under the most corrupt times
of the empire. Fragments and titles of many of his comedies have been

The name of Atilius is made known to us by Cicero, who mentions him
three times. In a letter to Atticus,[231] he calls him a most crabbed
poet (_poeta durissimus_,) and quotes the following line from one of his

     Suam cuique sponsam, mihi meam; suum cuique amorem, mihi meum.

In the treatise “_De Finibus_,”[232] he speaks of him as the author of a
bad translation of the Electra of Sophocles, and refers to the testimony
of Licinius, who pronounces him as “hard as iron”——

           Ferreum scriptorem; verum opinor; scriptorem tamen
           Ut legendus sit;

and, lastly, in the “Tusculan Disputations,”[233] he gives the title of
one of his plays—Μισογυνος (the Woman-hater.) Of his birth and private
history nothing has been recorded.

P. Licinius Tegula is generally supposed to have been one of the oldest
of the Latin comic writers, having flourished as early as the beginning
of the second century B. C. The few fragments which remain of his works
afford no opportunity of determining how far he deserved the place
assigned to him in the epigram of Volcatius.

Lavinius Luscius is severely criticised by Terence in his prologues to
the Eunuchus, Heautontimorumenos, and Phormio, although he is not
mentioned by name. Terence, however, defends the severity of his
strictures, on the ground that Luscius was the first aggressor. In the
first of the above-mentioned prologues, we are informed that he
translated well; but, by unskilful alterations and adaptations of the
plots, made bad Latin comedies out of good Greek ones:—

                     —— bene vertendo et describendo male
              Ex Græcis bonis Latinas fecit non bonas.

Two plays of Menander are mentioned as having been thus ill-treated—the
Phasma (Phantom,) and the Thesaurus (Treasure.) How he spoilt the plot
of the former is not stated; but in the version of the Thesaurus,
Terence convicts Luscius of a legal blunder. A young prodigal has sold
his inheritance, on which his father’s tomb stands, to an old miser. The
father, foreseeing the consequence of his son’s extravagance, had,
before his death, bid him open the tomb after the expiration of ten
years. He does so, and finds a treasure. The old man claims the treasure
as his own, and the young man brings an action to recover it. The
mistake of which Luscius was guilty, was, that in the conduct of the
cause he made the defendant open the pleadings instead of the plaintiff.

Of the works of Q. Trabea no fragments remain except the short passages
quoted by Cicero,[234] and the time at which he flourished is unknown.
There is an anecdote which relates that Muretus presented to Jos.
Scaliger a translation in Latin verse from a poem of Philemon, preserved
by Stobæus, which he pretended was by Trabea. Scaliger was imposed upon;
and in his notes on Varro, quoted the verses of Muretus as the work of
Trabea. When he discovered the trick, he suppressed them in the Latin
editions of his notes, and revenged himself on Muretus by a libellous

The last of these dramatic writers who remains to be mentioned is Sextus
Turpilius. A few fragments, as well as the titles of some of his plays,
are still extant. All the titles are Greek, and, therefore, probably his
comedies were _Fabulæ Palliatæ_. He flourished during the second century
B. C., and died, according to the Eusebian Chronicle, at the
commencement of the first century.[236]

                             CHAPTER VIII.

From what has been already said, it is sufficiently clear that the
Italians, like all other Indo-European races, had some taste for the
drama, but that this taste developed itself in a love for scenes of
humorous satire. Whilst, therefore, Roman comedy originated in Italy,
and was brought to perfection by the influence of Greek literature,
Roman tragedy,[237] on the other hand, was transplanted from Athens, and
with the exception of a very few cases, was never anything more than
translation or imitation.

In the century, during which, together with comedy, it flourished and
decayed, it boasted of five distinguished writers—Livius, Nævius,
Ennius, Pacuvius, and Attius. The only claim of Atilius to be considered
as a tragic poet is his having been the translator of one Greek tragedy.
But, in after ages, Rome did not produce one tragic poet unless Varius
can be considered an exception. His tragedy, _Thyestes_, which enjoyed
so high a reputation amongst the critics of the Augustan age, that
Quintilian, whose judgment generally agrees with them, pronounces it as
able to bear comparison with the productions of the Greek tragic poets.
It was acted on one occasion, namely, after the return of Octavius from
the battle of Actium, and the poet received for it 1,000,000 sesterces
(about 8,000_l._)[238] The tragedies attributed to Seneca were never
acted, and were only composed for reading and recitation.

Some account has already been given of Livius, Nævius, and Ennius,
because their poetical reputation rests rather on other grounds than on
their talents for dramatic poetry. But, before proceeding with the lives
and writings of Pacuvius and Attius, it will be necessary to examine the
causes which prevented tragedy from flourishing at Rome.

In endeavouring to account for this phenomenon, it is not sufficient to
say, that in the national legends of the Hellenic race were imbodied
subjects essentially of a dramatic character, and that epic poetry
contained incidents, characters, sentiments, and even dramatic
machinery, which only required to be put upon the stage. Doubtless the
Greek epics and legends were an inexhaustible source of inspiration to
the tragic poets. But it is also true that the Romans had national
legends which formed the groundwork of their history, and were
interwoven in their early literature. These legends, however, were
private, not public property; they were preserved in the records and
pedigrees of private families, and ministered to their glory, and were
therefore more interesting to the members of these houses than to the
people at large: they were not preserved as a national treasure by
priestly families, like those of the Attic Eumolpidæ, nor did they twine
themselves around the hearts of the Roman people, as the venerable
traditions of Greece did around those of that nation. The Romans did not
live in them—they were embalmed in their poets as curious records of
antiquity or acknowledged fictions—they did not furnish occasions for
awakening national enthusiasm. Although, therefore, they existed, they
were comparatively powerless over the popular mind as elements of
dramatic effect.

They were jealously preserved by illustrious houses, furnished materials
in a dry and unadorned form to the annalists, and were embellished by
the graphic power of the historian; but it is not probable that they
ever constituted, in the same sense as the Greek legends, the folklore
of the Roman people. In themselves, the lays of Horatius and of the lake
Regillus were sufficiently stirring, and those of Lucretia, Coriolanus,
and Virginia sufficiently moving, for tragedy, but they were not
familiar to the masses of the people.

A period at length arrived in which there was a still further reason why
Roman national legends, however adapted for tragedy they might be
abstractedly, had not power to move the affections of the Roman
populace. It ceased to have a personal interest in them. The masses had
undergone a complete change. The Roman people of the most flourishing
literary eras were not the descendants of those who maintained the
national glory in the legendary period. Not only were almost all the
patrician families then extinct, but war and poverty had extinguished
the middle classes, and miserably thinned the lower orders. The old
veterans of pure Roman blood who survived were settled at a distance
from Rome in the different military colonies. Into the vacancy thus
caused had poured thousands of slaves, captives in the bloody wars of
Gaul and Spain, and Greece and Africa. These and their descendants
replaced the ancient people. Many of them received liberty and
franchise, and some by their talents and energy arrived at wealth and
station. But they could not possibly be Romans at heart, or consider the
past glories of their adopted country as their own. They were bound by
no ties of old associations to it. The ancient legends had no especial
interest in their eyes. It mattered little whether the incidents and
characters of the tragedy which they witnessed were Greek or Roman. It
was to the rise of this new element of population, and the displacement
or absorption of the old race, that the decline of patriotism was
owing—the careless disregard of everything except daily sustenance and
daily amusement,[239] which paved the way for the empire, and marked the
downfall of liberty. From this cause, also, resulted in some degree the
non-influential position which national traditions occupied at Rome; and
tragedy, though for a time popular, could not maintain its popularity.
Thus it entirely disappeared; and, when it revived, it came forth, not
as the favourite of the people, but under the patronage of select
circles, and took its place, not like Athenian tragedy, as the leading
literature of the age, but simply as one species of literary

A people made up of these elements held out no temptation to the poet to
leave the beaten track of his predecessor, the imitations of Greek
tragedy. They were step-sons of Rome, as Scipio Æmilianus called the
mob, who clamoured at his saying that the death of Tiberius Gracchus was

                         Mercedibus emptæ
     Et viles operæ quibus est mea Roma noverca.
                                                 _Petron._ v. 164.

The poet’s real patrons had been educated on Greek principles; and hence
Greek taste was completely triumphant over national legend, and the
heroes of Roman tragedy were those who were celebrated in Hellenic
story. The Roman historical plays, (prætextatæ,) which approached most
nearly towards realizing the idea of a national tragedy, were graceful
compliments to distinguished individuals. They were usually performed at
public funerals; and as, in the procession, masks representing the
features of the deceased were borne by persons of similar stature, so
incidents in his life formed the subject of the drama which was
exhibited on the occasion.

The list of _Fabulæ Prætextatæ_, even if it were perfect, would occupy
but narrow limits; nor had they sufficient merits to stand the test of
time. They survive but in name, and the titles extant are but nine in

The Paulus of Pacuvius, which represented an incident in the life of L.
Æmilius Paulus.[240]

The Brutus, Æneadæ, and Marcellus of Attius.[241]

Iter ad Lentulum, a passage in the life of Balbus.[242]


Domitius Nero, by Maternus, in the time of Vespasian.

Vescio, by the Satirist (?) Persius.

Octavian, by Seneca, in the reign of Trajan.

Nor must it be forgotten, in comparing the influence which tragedy
exercised upon the people of Athens and Rome, that with the former it
was a part and parcel of the national religion. By it not only were the
people taught to sympathize with their heroic ancestors, but their
sympathies were hallowed. In Greece, the poet was held to be
inspired—poetry was the voice of deified nature—the tongue in which the
natural held communion with the supernatural, the visible with the
invisible. With the Romans, poetry was nothing more than an amusement of
the fancy; with the Greeks, it was a divinely originating emotion of the

Hence, in Athens, the drama was, as it were, an act of worship,—it
formed an integral part of a joyous, yet serious, religious festival.
The theatre was a temple; the altar of a deity was its central point;
and a band of choristers moved in solemn march and song in honour of the
god, and, in the didactic spirit which sanctified their office, taught
men lessons of virtue. Not that the audience entered the precincts with
their hearts imbued with holy feelings, or with the thoughts of
worshippers; but this is always the case when religious ceremonials
become sensuous. The real object of the worship is by the majority
forgotten. But still the Greeks were habituated unconsciously to be
affected by the drama, as by a development of religious sentiments. With
the Romans, the theatre was merely a place of secular amusement. The
thymele existed no longer as a memorial of the sacrifice to the god. The
orchestra, formerly consecrated to the chorus, was to them nothing more
than stalls occupied by the dignitaries of the state. Dramas were
certainly exhibited at the great Megalensian games, but they were only
accessories to the religious character of the festival. A holy season
implies rest and relaxation—a _holiday_ in the popular sense of the
word—and theatrical representations were considered a fit and proper
species of pastime; but as religion itself did not exercise the same
influence over the popular mind of the Romans which it did over that of
the Greeks, so neither with the Romans did the drama stand in the place
of the handmaid of religion.

Again, their religion, though purer and chaster, was not ideal like that
of the Greeks. Its freedom from human passions removed it out of the
sphere of poetry, and, therefore, it was neither calculated to move
terror nor pity. The moral attributes of the Deity were displayed in
stern severity; but neither the belief nor the ceremonial sought to
inflame the heart of the worshipper with enthusiasm. Rome had no
priestly caste uniting in one and the same person the character of the
bard and of the minister of religion. In after ages, she learned from
the Greeks to call the poet sacred, but the holiness which she
attributed to his character was not the earnest belief of the heart. The
Roman priests were civil magistrates; religion, therefore, became a part
of the civil administration, and a political engine. It mattered little
what was believed as true. The old national faith of Italy, not being
firmly rooted in the heart, soon became obsolete: it readily admitted
the engrafting of foreign superstitions. The old deities assumed the
names of the Greek mythology: they exchanged their attributes and
histories for those of Greek legend, and a host of strange gods filled
their Pantheon. They had, however, no hold either on the belief or the
love of the people: they were mythological and unreal characters, fit
only to furnish subjects and embellishments for poetry.

Nor was the genius of the Roman people such as to sympathize with the
legends of the past. The Romans lived in the present and the future,
rather than in the past. The poet might call the age in which he lived
degenerate, and look forward with mournful anticipations to a still
lower degradation, whilst he looked back admiringly to bygone times.
Through the vista of past years, Roman virtue and greatness seemed to
his imagination magnified: he could lament, as Horace did, a gradual
decay, which had not as yet reached its worst point:——

     Ætas parentum pejor avis tulit
       Nos nequiores mox daturos
         Progeniem vitiosiorem.
                                                _Od._ III. vi. 46.

But the people did not sympathize with these feelings: they delighted in
action, not in contemplation and reflection. They did not look back upon
their national heroes as demigods, or dream over their glories: they
were pressing forward and extending the frontiers of their empire,
bringing under their yoke tribes and nations which their forefathers had
not known. If they regarded their ancestors at all, it was not in the
light of men of heroic stature, as compared with themselves, but as
those whom they could equal or even surpass: they lived in hope and not
in memory.

These are not the elements of character which would lead a people to
realize to themselves the ideal of tragedy. The tragic poet at Athens
would have been sure that the same subject which inspired him would also
interest his audience—that if his genius rose to the height which their
critical taste demanded, he could reckon up the sympathy of a theatre
crowded with ten thousand of his countrymen. A Roman tragic poet would
have been deserted for any spectacle of a more stirring nature—his most
affecting scenes and noble sentiments, for scenes of real action and
real life. The bloody combats of the gladiators, the miserable captives
and malefactors stretched on crosses, expiring in excruciating agonies,
or mangled by wild beasts, were real tragedies—the sham fights and
Naumachiæ, though only imitations, were real dramas, in which those
pursuits which most deeply interested the spectators, which constituted
their chief duties and highest glories, were visibly represented. Even
gorgeous spectacles fed their personal vanity and pride in their
national greatness. The spoil of conquered nations, borne in procession
across the stage, reminded them of their triumphs and their victories;
and the magnificent dress of the actors—the model of the captured city,
preceded and followed by its sculptures in marble and ivory—represented
in mimic grandeur the ovation or the triumph of some successful general,
whose return from a distant expedition, laden with wealth, realized the
rumours which had already arrived at the gates of Rome; whilst the
scene, glittering with glass, and gold, and silver, and adorned with
variegated pillars of foreign marble, told ostentatiously of their
wealth and splendour.[243]

Again, the Romans were a rough, turbulent people, full of physical
rather than intellectual energy, loving antagonism, courting peril,
setting no value on human life or suffering. Their very virtues were
stern and severe. The unrelenting justice of a Brutus, representing as
it did the victory of principle over feeling, was to them the height of
virtue. They were ready to undergo the extreme of physical torture with
Regulus, and to devote themselves to death, like Curtius and the Decii.
Hard and pitiless to themselves, they were, as might be expected, the
same towards others. They were, in fact, strangers to both the passions,
which it was the object of tragedy to excite and to purify, Pity and
Terror.[244] They were too stern to pity, too unimaginative to be moved
by the tales of wonder and deeds of horror which affected the tender and
marvel-loving imagination of the Greeks. Being an active, and not a
sentimental people, they did not appreciate moral suffering and the
struggles of a sensitive spirit. They were moved only by scenes of
physical suffering and agony.

The public games of Greece at Olympia, or the Isthmus, were bloodless
and peaceful, and the refinements of poetry mingled with those which
were calculated to invigorate the physical powers and develop manly
beauty. Those of Rome were exhibitions, not of moral, but of physical
courage and endurance: they were sanguinary and brutalizing,—the
amusements of a nation to whom war was not a necessary evil or a
struggle for national existence, for hearths and altars, but a pleasure
and a pastime—the means of gratifying an aggressive ambition. The tragic
feeling of Greece is represented by the sculptured grief of Niobe, that
of Rome by the death-struggles which distort the features and muscles of
the Laocoon. It was, if the expression is allowable, _amphitheatrical_,
not _theatrical_.

To such a people the moral woes of tragedy were powerless; and yet it is
to the people that the drama, if it is to flourish, must look for
patronage. A refined and educated society, such as always existed at
Rome during its literary period, might applaud a happy adaptation from
the Greek tragedians, and encourage a poet in his task—for it is only an
educated and refined taste which can appreciate such talent as skilful
imitation displays; but a tragic drama under such circumstances could
hardly hope to be national. Nor must it be forgotten, with reference to
their taste for spectacle, that the artistic accessories of the drama
would have a better chance of success with a people like the Romans than
literary merit, because the pleasures of art are of a lower and more
sensuous kind. Hence, in the popular eye, the decoration of the theatre
and the costume of the performers naturally became the principal
requisites, whilst the poet’s office was considered subordinate to the
manner in which the play was put upon the stage; and thus the degenerate
theatrical taste which prevailed in the days of Horace called forth the
poet’s well-known and well-deserved criticism.[245]

It cannot, indeed, be asserted that tragedy was never, to a certain
extent, an acceptable entertainment at Rome, but only that it never
flourished at Rome as it did at Athens—that no Roman tragedies can,
notwithstanding all that has been said in their praise and their
defence, be compared with those of Greece, and that the tragic drama
never maintained such a hold on the popular mind as not to be liable to
be displaced by amusements of a more material and less intellectual
kind. It was imitative and destitute of originality. It was introduced
from without as one portion of the new literature; it did not grow
spontaneously by a process of natural development out of preceding eras
of epic and lyric poetry, and start into being, as it did at Athens, at
the very moment when the public mind and taste was ready to receive and
appreciate it.

Three eras, separated from one another by chasms, the second wider than
the first, produced tragic poets. In the first of these flourished
Livius Andronicus, Nævius, and Ennius; in the second Pacuvius and
Attius; in the third Asinius Pollio[246] wrote tragedies, the plots of
which, as the words of Virgil seem to imply, were taken from Roman
history.[247] Varius either wrote, or, as some of the Scholiasts assert,
stole, the “Thyestes” from Cassius or Virgil. Ovid attempted a “Medea,”
of which Quintilian speaks, as being, to say the least, a promising
performance; and even the Emperor Augustus himself, together with other
men of genius, tried their hands, though unsuccessfully, at tragedy. The
epistle of Horace to the Pisos shows at once the prevalence of this
taste, and that general ignorance of the rules and principles of art
required instruction. Ten rhetorical dramas, attributed with good reason
to the philosopher Seneca, complete the catalogue of tragedies belonging
to this era, but with the exception of these, no specimens remain; most
probably they did not merit preservation. The tragedies of the older
school were of a higher stamp, and they kept their place in the public
estimation long enough to give birth to the newer and inferior school.
Passages from the old Latin tragedies quoted by Cicero well deserve the
admiration with which he regarded them; and a fragment of the
“Prometheus” of Attius is marked by a grandeur and sublimity which makes
us regret the almost total loss of this branch of Roman literature.

                       PACUVIUS (BORN B. C. 220.)

The era at which Roman tragedy reached its highest degree of perfection
was the second of those mentioned, and was simultaneous with that of
comedy. Both nourished together; for, whilst Terence was so successfully
reproducing the wit and manners of the new Attic comedy, M. Pacuvius was
enriching the Roman drama with free imitations of the Greek tragedians.
He was a native of Brundisium, and nephew,[248] or, according to St.
Jerome, grandson of the poet Ennius. Although born as early as B. C.
220, he does not appear to have attained the height of his popularity
until B. C.[249] During his residence at Rome, where he remained until
after his 80th year,[250] he distinguished himself as a painter as well
as a dramatic poet; and one of his pictures in the temple of Hercules
was thought only to be surpassed by the work of Fabius Pictor.[251] He
formed one of that literary circle of which Lælius was so great an
ornament. The close of his long life was passed in the retirement of
Tarentum, where he died in the ninetieth year of his age. A simple and
unpretending epigram is preserved by Aulus Gellius,[252] which may
probably have been written by himself:——

          Adulescens, etsi properas, te hoc saxum rogat
          Uti ad se aspicias, deinde quod scriptum est, legas.
          Hic sunt poetæ Pacuvi Marci sita
          Ossa. Hoc volebam, nescius ne esses. Vale!

Pacuvius was a great favourite with those who could make allowances for
the faults, and appreciate the merits, of the great writers of
antiquity, and his verses were popular in the time of J. Cæsar;[253] and
that lover of the old Roman literature, Cicero, though not blind to his
faults, is warm in his commendations. He was not without admirers in the
Augustan age, and even his defects had zealous defenders in the time of
Persius amongst those who could scarcely discover a fault in any work
which savoured of antiquity.[254] The archaic ruggedness of his
language, his uncouth forms, such as _axim_, _tetinerim_,
_egregiissimus_, and his unauthorized constructions, like _mihi piget_,
were due to the unsettled state of the Latin language in his days. His
strange combinations, such as _repandirostrum_ and _incurvicervicum_,
may possibly have been suggested by the study of Greek, and by his
overweening admiration for its facility of composition. But his polish,
pathos, and learning,[255] the harmony of his periods,[256] his
eloquence,[257] his fluency, his word-painting,[258] are peculiarly his

The tragedies of Pacuvius were not mere translations, but adaptations of
Greek tragedies to the Roman stage. The fragments which are extant are
full of new and original thoughts. His plots were borrowed from the
Greek, but the plan and treatment were his own. The lyric portion
appears to have occupied an important place in his tragedies, and
displays considerable imaginative power. It is evident that his mind
only required suggestions, and was sufficiently original, to form new
combinations. The titles of thirteen of his tragedies are
preserved,[259] of which the most celebrated were the “Antiopa” and
“Dulorestes” (Orestes in Slavery.) Of the former, the only fragment
extant is one severely criticised by Persius. The latter was principally
founded on the “Iphigenia in Tauris” of Euripides,[260] although the
author was evidently inspired with the poetical conceptions of Æschylus.
In fact, Pacuvius is less Euripidean than the other Roman tragic poets.
The very roughness of his style and audacity of his expressions have
somewhat of the solemn grandeur and picturesque boldness which
distinguish the father of Attic tragedy.

The subject of the “Dulorestes” was the adventures of the son of
Agamemnon. When driven from the palace of his ancestors, he was in exile
and in slavery.[261] On the first representation of this play, the
generous friendship of Orestes and Pylades called forth the most
enthusiastic applause from the audience, who then probably heard the
legend for the first time. “What acclamations,” says Lælius,[262]
“resounded through the theatre at the representation of the new play of
my guest and friend, M. Pacuvius, when the king, being ignorant which of
the two was Orestes, Pylades affirmed that he was Orestes, that he might
be put to death in his place, whilst Orestes persevered in asserting
that he was the man!”

One of his plays, “Paulus,” was a _fabula prætextata_: its subject was
taken entirely from Roman history, the hero being L. Æm. Paulus, the
conqueror of Perseus. Besides tragedies, the grammarians have attributed
to him one satura.[263] He is said also to have written comedies; but
there is no evidence in favour of any, with the exception of one,
entitled “Mercator.”

                              CHAPTER IX.

                   L. ATTIUS (BORN ABOUT B. C. 170.)

Although born about fifty years later than Pacuvius,[264] Attius was
almost his contemporary, and a competitor for popular applause. The
amiable old poet lived on the most friendly terms with his young rival;
and A. Gellius tells us that after he withdrew from the literary society
of Rome to retirement at Tarentum, he on one occasion invited the rising
poet to be his guest for some days, and made him read his tragedy of
“Atreus.” Pacuvius criticised it kindly, fairly praised the grandeur of
the poetry, but said that it was somewhat harsh and hard. “You are
right,” replied Attius, “but I hope to improve. Fruits which are at
first hard and sour, become soft and mellow, but those which begin by
being soft, end in being rotten.” Valerius Maximus[265] relates that in
the assemblies of the poets he refused to rise at the entrance of J.
Cæsar, because he felt that in the republic of letters he was the
superior. If this anecdote is genuine, it does not prove that the aged
poet was guilty of unwarrantable self-esteem, for Cæsar must then have
been quite a youth, and if he had any claim to reputation as a poet, he
was, at any rate, not yet distinguished as a warrior or a statesman.
Amongst the great men whose friendship the poet enjoyed was Dec. Brutus,
who was consul A. U. C. 616.[266] Nothing more is known respecting his
private history, except that his parents were freedmen, and that he was
one of the colonists settled at Pisaurum, where, in after times, a farm
or estate (fundus Attianus) continued to bear his name. His tragedies
were very numerous. He is said to have written more than fifty. Three at
least were _prætextatæ_, their titles being “Brutus,” “The Æneadæ,” or
“Decius,”[267] and “Marcellus.” His “Trachiniæ” and “Phœnissæ” were
almost translations, the one from Sophocles, the other from Euripides;
the rest were free imitations of Greek tragedies. They were
distinguished both for sublimity and pathos; and although he was warmed
by the fiery spirit and tragic grandeur of Æschylus, he evidently
evinced a predilection for Sophocles.[268] His taste is chastened, his
sentiments noble, his versification elegant. His language is almost
classical, and was deservedly admired by the ancients for its polish as
well as its vigour. The “Brutus” was written at the suggestion of his
friend Decimus. The plot was the expulsion of the Tarquins, the hero
Brutus, the heroine Lucretia. He had chosen one of the noblest romances
in Roman history. Two passages,[269] quoted by Cicero, are all that
remain of this national tragedy. In them the tyrant relates to the
augurs a dream which had haunted him, and they, at his request, give
their interpretation of it. Varro has also preserved the soliloquy of
Hercules in the agonies of death, from the Trachiniæ,[270] a noble
paraphrase of Sophocles. This fine specimen of his genius extends to the
length of forty-five lines. In another passage, Philoctetes pours forth
his sufferings in language as touching as the original Greek; and in a
third, Prometheus, now delivered from the tyranny of Jupiter, addresses
to his assembled Titans a strain of indignant eloquence not unworthy of
Æschylus.[271] The following lines from the “Phœnissæ” and the
“Complaint of Philoctetes,” are, though brief, fair examples of his
language and versification:——

              Sol, qui micantem candido curru atque equis
              Flammam citatis fervido ardore explicas,
              Quianam tam adverso augurio et inimico omine
              Thebis radiatum lumen ostendis tuum![272]

              Heu! quis salsis fluctibus mandet
              Me ex sublimi vertice saxi,
              Jamjam absumor; conficit animam
              Vis volneris, ulceris æstus.[273]

These are the most important of the numerous fragments which are extant
of the various tragedies of the lofty Attius.[274] He has been
considered by some as the founder of the _Tragœdia Prætextatæ_. This,
however, is not true, for there is no doubt that such dramas were
written by his predecessors. Nevertheless, he brought the natural
tragedy to its highest state of perfection.

The time was now evidently approaching when the Romans were beginning to
show, that although they did not possess the inventive genius of the
Greeks, they were capable of stripping their native language of its
rudeness, and of transferring into it the beauties of Greek thought;
that they were no longer mere servile copyists, but could use Greek
poetry as furnishing suggestions for original efforts. They could not
quarry for themselves, but they could now build up Greek materials into
a glowing and polished edifice, of which the details were new and the
effect original.

The metres which Attius used were chiefly the iambic trimeter and the
anapæstic dimeter, but his _prætextatæ_ were written in trochaic and
iambic tetrameters, the rhythm of which proves that his ear was more
refined than that of his predecessors.[275]

It is not known whether he was the author of any comedies, but he was a
historian, an antiquarian, and a critic, as well as a poet. He left
behind him a review of dramatic poetry, entitled “_Libri Didascalion_,”
“Roman Annals,” in verse, and two other works—“_Libri Pragmaticon_,” and
“_Parerga_.” The former of these is quoted by Nonius, and A. Gellius. He
died at an advanced age, probably about A. U. C. 670, and is thus a
link, as it were, which connects the first literary period with the age
of Cicero; for the great orator was personally acquainted with him, and
at his death must have been about twenty-two years of age.

With Attius Latin tragedy disappeared. The tragedies of the third period
were written expressly for reading and recitation, and not for the
stage. They may have deserved the commendations which they obtained, but
the merit and talent which they displayed were simply rhetorical, and
not dramatic; they were dramatic poems, not dramas.

The state of political affairs, which synchronized with the death of
Attius, was less congenial than ever to the tragic muse. Real and bloody
tragedies were being enacted, and there was no room in the heart of the
Roman people for fictitious woes. If it was improbable that a people who
delighted in the sanguinary scenes of the amphitheatre should sympathize
with the sorrows of a hero in tragedy, it was almost impossible that
tragedy should flourish when Rome itself was a theatre in which scenes
of horror were daily enacted.

Either then, or not long before, the terrible domination of Cinna and
Marius had begun. Massacre and violence raged through the streets of
Rome. The best and noblest fell victims to the raging thirst for blood.
The aged Marius, distracted by unscrupulous ambition and savage
passions, died amidst the delirious ravings of remorse, and thus made
way for the tyranny of his perjured accomplice Cinna. Still there was no
respite or interruption. The cruel Sulla sent his orders from Antemnæ to
slaughter 8,000 prisoners in cold blood. The massacre had hardly begun
when he himself arrived, had taken his place in the Senate; and the
shrieks of his murdered victims were audible in the house whilst he was
coolly speaking. This was the beginning of horrors: the notorious
proscription followed. Besides other victims, 5,600 Roman knights

Amidst such scenes as these, the voice of the tragic muse was hushed.
Depending for her very existence on the breath of popular favour, she
necessarily could not find supporters, and so languished and was
silenced. It might appear surprising that literature of any kind should
have lived through such times of savage barbarism. But other literature
is not dependent upon public patronage: it finds a refuge beneath the
shelter of the private dwelling. The literary man finds friends and
patrons amongst those who, devoted to the humanities of intellectual
pursuits, shuns the scenes of revolutionary strife and the struggles of
selfish ambition. Even Sulla himself had a polished and refined taste;
and, when he resigned the Dictatorship, passed those hours of retirement
in literary studies which were not devoted to depravity and

The style in which the Roman theatres were built, indicate that whatever
taste for tragedy the Roman people possessed had now decayed. The huge
edifice erected by Pompey was too vast for the exhibition of tragedy.
The forty thousand spectators which it contained could scarcely hear the
actor, still less could they see the expression of human passions and
emotions. The two theatres, placed on pivots, back to back, so that they
could be wheeled round and form one vast amphitheatre, show how an
interest in the drama was shared with the passion for spectacle; and
provision was thus publicly made for gratifying that corrupt taste which
had arrived at its zenith in the time of Horace, and, as we have seen,
interrupted even comedy so early as the times of Terence.


The invention of satire is universally attributed to the Romans, and
this assertion is true as far as the external form is concerned; but the
spirit of satire is found in many parts of the literature of Greece. It
animated the Homeric Margites, the poem on woman by Simonides, the
bitter lyrical iambics of Archilochus, Stesichorus’ attack on Helen, and
especially, as Horace says, the old comedy of Eupolis, Cratinus, and
Aristophanes. Some resemblance may also be discerned between Roman
satire and the Greek Silli, poems belonging to the declining period of
Greek literature,[276] the design of which was to attack vice and folly
with severe ridicule.[277]

Satire is, in fact, if Horace may be believed, the form which comedy
took amongst the people with whom the drama did not flourish. Ennius was
the inventor of the name, but Lucilius[278] was the father of satire, in
the proper sense, and was at Rome what the writers of the old comedy
were at Athens. It subsequently occupied a wider field: Persius and
Juvenal confined themselves to its didactic purpose, but Horace made it
a vehicle for the narration of amusing adventure, and picturesque
descriptions of human life.

The Satires of Lucilius mark an era in Roman literature, and prove that
a love for this species of poetry had already made great progress.
Hitherto, science, literature, and art, had been considered the province
of slaves and freedmen. The stern old Roman virtue despised such
sedentary and inactive employment as intellectual cultivation, and
thought it unworthy of the warrior and statesman. Some of the higher
classes loved literature and patronised it, but did not make it their
pursuit. Cato blamed M. Fulvius Nobilior for being accompanied by poets
when he proceeded to his provincial government,[279] and did not until
advanced in years undertake to study Greek.[280] C. Lucilius was by
birth of equestrian rank, the first Roman knight who was himself a
poet.[281] He was born at Suessa Aurunca, B. C. 148,[282] and lived to
the age of forty-six years.[283] At fourteen, he served under Scipio at
the siege of Numantia.[284] He was the maternal great-uncle of Pompey,
and numbered amongst his friends and patrons, Africanus and Lælius. His
Satires were comprised in thirty books, of which the first twenty and
the thirtieth were written in hexameters, the rest in iambics or
trochaics. Numerous fragments are still extant, some of considerable
length. The Satires were probably arranged according to their
subject-matter; for those in the first book are on topics connected with
religion, whilst those in the ninth treat of literary and grammatical
criticism. His versification is careless and unrefined; very inferior in
this respect to that of his predecessors. He sets at defiance the laws
of prosody, and almost returns to the usage of that period in which the
ear was the only judge.

The prejudices of Horace[285] against the ancient Roman literature
render him an unsafe guide in criticism. Even in his own time his
attacks were considered by some indefensible; but his strictures on the
style of Lucilius are not undeserved; it was unmusical, affected, and
incorrect. His sentences are frequently ill-arranged, and therefore
deficient in perspicuity. His mixture of Greek and Latin expressions,
without that skill and art with which Horace considered it allowable to
enrich the vernacular language, is itself offensive to good taste, and
is rendered still more disagreeable by unnecessary diminutives and
forced alliteration. On these grounds, and on these alone, he merits the
contemptuous criticism of Horace.

His real defect was want of facility; and it is not improbable that, if
prose had been considered a legitimate vehicle, he would have preferred
pouring forth in that unrestricted form his indignant eloquence, rather
than that, as Horace says, every verse should have cost him many
scratchings of the head, and biting his nails to the quick. Whilst the
criticism of Horace errs on the side of severity, that of Cicero[286] is
somewhat too partial: firstly, because he himself was deficient in
poetical facility; secondly, because in his time there were no models of
perfection wherewith to compare the works of Lucilius. The judgment of
Quintilian[287] is moderate; and although the taste for poetry was then
corrupted by a love of quietness and rhetorical affectation, the praise
is well merited which he bestows on the frank honesty and biting wit of
the Satires of Lucilius. As he took the writers of old Attic comedy for
his models, it cannot be a matter of surprise that he occasionally added
force to his attacks on vice by coarseness and personality. Like them,
if Lucilius found any one who deserved rebuke for his crimes, he did not
trouble himself to make general remarks, and to attack vice in the
abstract, but to illustrate his principles by living examples.

The education of Lucilius had probably been desultory, and his course of
study not sufficiently strict to give the rich young Roman knight the
accurate training, the critical knowledge, necessary to make him a poet
as well as a satirist. It had given him learning and erudition—it had
furnished him with the wealth of two languages, both of which he used
whenever he thought they supplied him with a two-edged weapon—but it had
not sufficiently cultivated his ear and refined his taste. On the other
hand, his Satires must have possessed nobler qualities than those of
style. He was evidently a man of high moral principle, though stern and
stoical, devotedly attached to the cause of virtue, a relentless enemy
of vice and profligacy, a gallant and fearless defender of truth and
honesty. He must have felt with Juvenal, “difficile est satiram non
scribere.” He was under an obligation which he could not avoid. What
cared he for correct tetrameters, or heroics, or senarii, so that he
could crush effeminacy, and gluttony, and self-indulgence, and restore
the standard of ancient morals, to which he looked back with admiration?

This chivalrous devotion inspired him with eloquence, and gave a dignity
to his rude verses, although it did not invest them with the graces and
charms of poetry. Nor is it only when he declares open war against
corruption that he must have made his adversaries tremble, or his
victims, conscience-stricken, writhe beneath his knife. His encomiums
upon virtue form as striking pictures; but in both it is the masterly
outline of the drawing which amazes and instructs, not the mere
accessory of the colouring. See, for example, the following noble
passage, with its unselfish conclusion, preserved by Lactantius:[288]—

         Virtus, Albine, est pretium persolvere verum
         Queis in versamur, queis vivimu’ rebu’ potesse.
         Virtus est homini scire id quod quæque habeat res.
         Virtus, scire homini rectum, utile, quid sit honestum,
         Quæ bona, quæ mala item quid inutile turpe inhonestum.
         Virtus, quærendæ finem rei scire modumque;
         Virtus, divitiis pretium persolvere posse.
         Virtus, id dare quod reipsa debetur honori,
         Hostem esse atque inimicum hominum morumque malorum;
         Contra, defensorem hominum morumque bonorum;
         Magnificare hos, his bene velle, his vivere amicum;
         Commoda præterea patriai prima putare,
         Deinde parentum, tertia jam postremaque nostra.

Had they been extant, we should have found useful information and
instruction in his faithful pictures of Roman life and manners in their
state of moral transition—amusement in such pieces as his journal of a
progress from Rome to Capua, from which Horace borrowed the idea of his
journey to Brundisium, whilst in his love poems, addressed to his
mistress, Collyra, we should have traced the tender sympathies of human
nature, which the sternness of stoicism was unable to overcome.

Besides satire, Lucilius is said to have attempted lyric poetry: if this
be the case, it is by no means surprising that no specimens have stood
the test of time, for he possessed none of the qualifications of a lyric

After the death of Lucilius, satire languished. Varro Atacinus attempted
it and failed.[289] Half a century subsequently it assumed a new garb in
the descriptive scenes of Horace, and put forth its original vigour in
the burning thoughts of Persius and Juvenal.


This literary period was entirely destitute of lyric poetry, unless
Niebuhr is correct in supposing that Lævius flourished contemporaneously
with Lucilius.[290] Nothing is known of his history; and such
uncertainty prevails respecting him that his name is constantly
confounded with those of Livius and Nævius. It is not improbable, that
some passages attributed to them, which appear to belong to a later
literary age, are, in reality, the work of Lævius—for example, the
hexameters which are found in the Latin Odyssey of Livius. He translated
the Cyprian poems, and wrote some fugitive amatory pieces entitled
Erotopægnia. They seem to have possessed neither the graceful simplicity
nor the tender warmth which are essential to lyric poetry, although they
perhaps attained as great elegance of expression as the state of the
language then admitted. Short fragments are preserved by Apuleius and in
the _Noctes Atticæ_ of A. Gellius.[291]

                               CHAPTER X.
                           GENIUS, AND STYLE.

Prose was far more in accordance with the genius of the Romans than
poetry. As a nation they had little or no ideality or imaginative power,
no enthusiastic love of natural beauty, no acute perception of the
sympathy and relation existing between man and the external world. In
the Greek mind a love of country and a love of nature held a divided
empire—they were poets as well as patriots. Roman patriotism had indeed
its dark side—an unbounded lust of dominion, an unscrupulous ambition to
extend the power and glory of the republic; but, nevertheless, it
prompted a zealous devotion to whatever would promote national
independence and social advancement. Statesmanship, therefore, and the
subjects akin to it, constituted the favourite civil pursuit of an
enlightened Roman, who sought a distinguished career of public
usefulness; and, therefore, that literature which tended to advance the
science of social life had a charm for him which no other literature

The branches of knowledge which would engage his attention were History,
Jurisprudence, and Oratory. They would be studied with a view to
utility, and in a practical spirit they would require a scientific and
not an artistic treatment; and, therefore, their natural language would
be prose and not poetry. As matter was more valued than manner by this
utilitarian people, it was long before it was thought necessary to
embellish prose literature with the graces of composition. The earliest
orators spoke with a rude and vigorous eloquence which is always
captivating: they wrote but little; their style was stiff and dry, and
very inferior to their speaking. Cato’s prose was less rugged than that
of his contemporaries or even his immediate successors. Sisenna was the
first historian to whom gracefulness and polish have been attributed;
and C. Gracchus is spoken of as a single exception to the orators of his
age, on account of the rhythmical modulation of his prose sentences—a
quality which he probably owed not more to a delicate ear than to the
softening influence of a mother’s education. Even the prose of that
celebrated model of refinement and good taste, C. Lælius, was harsh and

Besides the influence which the practical character of the Roman mind
exercised upon prose writing, it must not be forgotten that Roman
literature was imitative: its end and object, therefore, were not
invention, but erudition; it depended for its existence on learning, and
was almost synonymous with it. This principle gave a decidedly
historical bias to the Roman intellect: an historical taste pervades a
great portion of the national literature. There is a manifest tendency
to study subjects in an historical point of view. It will be seen
hereafter that it is not like the Greek, original and inventive, but
erudite and eclectic. The historic principle is the great characteristic
feature of the Roman mind; consequently, in this branch of literature,
the Romans attained the highest reputation, and may fairly stand forth
as competitors with their Greek instructors. Not that they ever entirely
equalled them; for though they were practical, vigorous, and just
thinkers, they never attained that comprehensive and philosophical
spirit which distinguished the Greek historians.

The work of an historian was, in the earliest times, recognised as not
unworthy of a Roman. It was not like the other branches of literature,
in which the example was first set by slaves and freedmen. Those who
first devoted themselves to the pursuit were also eminent in the public
service of their country. Fabius Pictor was of an illustrious patrician
family. Cincius Alimentus, Fulvius Nobilior, and others, were of free
and honourable birth. Such were Roman historians until the time of
Sulla; for L. Otacilius Pilitus, who flourished at that period, was the
first freedman who began to write history.[293][294]

Again, the science of jurisprudence formed an indispensable part of
statesmanship. It was a study which recommended itself by its practical
nature: it could not be stigmatized even by the busiest as an idle and
frivolous pursuit, whilst the constitutional relation which subsisted
between patron and client, rendered the knowledge of its principles, to
a certain extent, absolutely necessary. Protection from wrong was the
greatest boon which the strong could confer upon the weak, the learned
on the unlearned. It was, therefore, the most efficacious method of
gaining grateful and attached friends; and by their support, the direct
path was opened to the highest political positions. It is not,
therefore, to be wondered at that, even when elegant literature was in
its infancy, so many names are found of men illustrious as jurists and

Practical statesmanship, in like manner, gave an early encouragement to
oratory. It is peculiarly the literature of active life. The possession
of eloquence rendered a man more efficient as a soldier and as a
citizen. Great as is the force of native, unadorned eloquence, vigorous
common sense, honest truthfulness, and indignant passion, nature would
give way to art as taste became more cultivated. Nor could the Romans
long have the finished models of Greek eloquence before their eyes,
without transferring to the forum or the senate-house somewhat of their
simple grandeur and majestic beauty.

The first efforts of the Roman historians were devoted to the transfer
of the records of poetry into prose, as their more appropriate and
popular vehicle. The national lays which tradition had handed down were
the storehouses which they ransacked to furnish a supply of materials.
As far as the records of authentic history are concerned, they performed
the functions of simple annalists: they related events almost in the
style of public monuments, without any attempt at ornament, without
picturesque detail or political reflection. When Cicero compares the
style of Fabius Pictor, Cato, and Piso, to that of the old Greek
logographers,[295] Pherecydes, Hellanicus, and Acusilaus, the points of
resemblance which he instances are, that both neglected ornament, were
careful only that their statements should be intelligible, and thought
the chief excellence of a writer was brevity. Probably the
subject-matter of the Roman annalists was the more valuable, whilst the
Greeks had the advantage in liveliness and skill. Some of the earliest
historians wrote in Greek instead of Latin. Even, in later times, such
men as Sulla and Lucullus, and also Cn. Aufidius, who flourished during
the boyhood of Cicero, wrote their memoirs in a foreign tongue. There
was some reason for this. The language in which the higher classes
received their education was Greek—the tutors, even the nurses, were
Greek, as well as the librarians, secretaries, and confidential servants
in most distinguished families. Such was the humanizing spirit of
literature that these distinguished foreigners found an asylum in the
households of noble Romans, notwithstanding the severity with which the
law treated prisoners of war. Fashionable conversation, moreover, was
interlarded with Greek phrases, and, in some houses, Greek was
habitually spoken. Even so late as the times of Cicero,[296] Greek
literature was read and studied in almost every part of the civilized
world, while the works of Latin writers were only known within the
circumscribed limits of Italy.

                           Q. FABIUS PICTOR.

The most ancient prose writer of Roman history was Q. Fabius Pictor, the
contemporary of Nævius. He belonged to that branch of the noble house of
the Fabii, which derived its distinguishing appellation from the
eminence of its founder as a painter. The temple of Salus, which he
painted, was dedicated B. C. 302, by the dictator, C. Junius Bubulcus;
and this oldest known specimen of Roman fine art remained until the
conflagration of the temple in the reign of Claudius. It must,
therefore, have been subjected to the criticisms of an age capable of
forming a correct judgment respecting its merits; and it appears from
the testimony of antiquity to have possessed the two essentials of
accurate drawing and truthful colouring, and to have been free from the
fault of conventional treatment.[297]

The Fabii were an intellectual family as well as a distinguished one:
perhaps the numerous records of their exploits which exist were, in some
degree, owing to their learning. The grandson of the eminent artist was
Fabius Pictor the historian. Livy[298] continually refers to him, and
throughout his narrative of the Hannibalian war, he professes implicit
confidence in him on the grounds of his being a contemporary
historian,[299] (_æqualem temporibus hujusce belli_;) he is likewise the
authority on whom the greatest reliance was placed by Dion Cassius and
Appian. Nor did the accurate and faithful Polybius consider him
otherwise than trustworthy upon the whole, although he accuses him of
partiality towards his countrymen.[300] Niebuhr[301] attributes to
Fabius Pictor the accurate knowledge of constitutional history displayed
by Dion Cassius, and acknowledges how deeply we are indebted to him for
the information which we possess concerning the changes which took place
in the Roman constitution. It is to his care that we owe the
faithfulness of Dion, whilst Dionysius and Livy too often lead us
astray. It constitutes some justification of his partiality as an
historian, that Philinus of Agrigentum had also written a history of the
first Punic war in a spirit hostile to Rome, and that this provoked
Pictor to a defence of his country’s honour. His work was written in
Greek, and its principal subject was a history of the first and second
Punic wars, especially that against Hannibal. It has been held by some,
on the authority of a passage in the “De Oratore” of Cicero,[302] that
he wrote in Latin as well as in Greek; but Niebuhr believes that Cicero
is in error, and has confused him with a Latin annalist, named F. Max.
Servilianus. The period to which his work extended is uncertain; but the
last event alluded to by Livy, on his authority, is the battle of
Trasymenus,[303] and the last occasion on which he mentions his name is
when he records his return from an embassy to Delphi in the following
year.[304] The earlier history of Rome was prefixed by way of
introduction; for his object was not merely to assist in constructing
the rising edifice of Roman literature, but to spread the glory of his
country throughout that other great nation of antiquity, which now, for
the first time, came in contact with a worthy rival. The pontifical
annals, the national ballads, the annals of his own house, so rich in
legendary tales of heroism, furnished him with ample materials; but he
is also said to have drawn largely on the stores of a Greek author,
named Diocles, a native of Peparethus, who had preceded him in the work
of research and accumulation.

                         L. CINCIUS ALIMENTUS.

Contemporary with Fabius was the other annalist of the second Punic war,
L. Cincius Alimentus. He was prætor in Sicily[305] in the ninth year of
the war, and took a prominent part in it.[306] The soldiers who fought
at Cannæ[307] were placed at his disposal, his period of command was
prolonged, and after his return home he was sent as _legatus_ to the
consul Crispinus, on the occasion of the melancholy death of his
colleague, Marcellus.[308] Some time after this, he was taken prisoner
by Hannibal.[309] Like Fabius, he wrote his work in Greek, and prefixed
to it a brief abstract of early Roman history.[310] Livy speaks of him
as a diligent antiquarian, and appeals to his authority to establish the
Etruscan origin of the custom of the dictator driving a nail into the
temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus.[311] As his accurate investigation of
original monuments gives a credibility to his early history, so his
being personally engaged in the war in a high position, renders him
trustworthy in the later periods. It is also said that, when he was a
prisoner of war, Hannibal, who delighted in the society of literary men,
treated him with great kindness and consideration, and himself
communicated to him the details of his passage across the Alps into

To him, therefore, and to the opportunities which he enjoyed of gaining
information, we owe the credibility of this portion of Livy’s
history[312] on a point on which authors were at variance, namely, the
number of Hannibal’s forces at this time. Livy appeals to the statement
of Cincius as settling the question, and says, Hannibal himself informed
Cincius how many troops he had lost between the passage of the Rhone and
his descent into Italy.

His accurate habit of mind must have made his annals a most valuable
work; and, therefore, it was most important that the variation of his
early chronology from that which is commonly received should be
explained and reconciled. This task Niebuhr has satisfactorily
accomplished. He supposes that Cincius took cyclical years of ten
months, which were used previous to the reign of Tarquinius Priscus, in
the place of common years of twelve months. The time which had elapsed
between the building of Rome and this epoch was, according to the
pontifical annals, 132 years. The error, therefore, due to this
miscalculation would be 132 - (132 + 10) / 12 = 22 years. If this be
added to the common date of the building of Rome, B. C. 753 = Ol. vii.
2, the result is the date given by Cincius, namely Ol. vii. 4.[313]

                          C. ACILIUS GLABRIO.

A few words may be devoted to C. Acilius Glabrio, the third
representative of the Græco-Roman historic literature. Very little is
known respecting him. He was quæstor A. U. C. 551, tribune A. U. C. 557,
and subsequently attained senatorial rank; for Gellius[314] relates
that, when the three Athenian philosophers visited Rome as ambassadors,
Acilius introduced them to the senate and acted as interpreter. His
story was considered worthy of translation by an author named Claudius,
and to this translation reference is twice made by Livy.[315]

Valuable though the works of these annalists must have been as
historical records, and as furnishing materials for more thoughtful and
philosophical minds, they are only such as could have existed in the
infancy of a national literature. They were a bare compilation of facts,
the mere scaffolding and framework of history; they were diversified by
no critical remarks or political reflections. The authors made no use of
their facts, either to deduce or to illustrate principles. With respect
to style, they were meager, insipid, and jejune.

                       M. PORCIUS CATO CENSORIUS.

The versatility and variety of talent displayed by Cato claim for him a
place amongst orators, jurists, economists, and historians. It is,
however, amongst the latter, as representatives of the highest branch of
prose literature, that we must speak of the author of the “Origines.”
His life extends over a wide and important period of literary history:
everything was in a state of change—morals, social habits, literary
taste. Not only the influence of Greek literature, but also that of the
moral and metaphysical creed of Greek philosophy, was beginning to be
felt when Cato’s manly and powerful intellect was flourishing. When he
filled the second public office to which the Roman citizen aspired,
Nævius was still living. He was censor when Plautus died; and, before
his own life ended, the comedies of Terence had been exhibited on the
Roman stage.

Three political events took place during his lifetime, which must have
exercised an important influence on the mental condition of the Roman
people. When Macedonia, at the defeat of Perseus,[316] was reduced to
the condition of a Roman province, nearly a thousand Achæans, amongst
whom was the historian Polybius, were sent to Rome, and detained in
Italy as hostages during nearly seventeen years. The thirteenth year
from that event witnessed the dawn of philosophy at Rome, for previously
to this epoch, the philosophical schools of Magna Græcia appear to have
been unnoticed and disregarded. But now[317] Carneades the academic,
Critolaus the peripatetic, and Diogenes the stoic,[318] came to Rome as
ambassadors from Athens, and delivered philosophical lectures, which
attracted the attention of the leading statesmen, whilst the doctrines
which they taught excited universal alarm. The following year Crates
arrived as ambassador from Attalus, king of Pergamus, and during his
stay delighted the literary society of the capital with commentaries on
the Greek poets.[319] It is not surprising that one who lived through a
period during which Greek literature had such favourable opportunities
of being propagated by some of its most distinguished professors,
sufficiently overcame his prejudices as to learn in his old age the
language of a people whom he both hated and despised.

M. Porcius Cato Censorius was born at Tusculum, B. C. 234.[320] His
family was of great antiquity, and numbered amongst its members many who
were distinguished for their courage in war and their integrity in
peace. His boyhood was passed in the healthy pursuits of rural life, at
a small Sabine farm belonging to his father; and his mind, invigorated
by stern and hardy training, was early directed to the study as well as
the practice of agriculture. To this rugged yet honest discipline may be
traced the features of his character as displayed in after life, his
prejudices as well as his virtues.

He became a soldier at a very early age, B. C. 217, served in the
Hannibalian war, was under the command of Fabius Maximus both in
Campania and Tarentum, and did good service at the decisive battle of
the Metaurus. Between his campaigns he did not seek to exhibit his
laurels in the society of the capital, but, like Curius Dentatus and
Quintius Cincinnatus, employed himself in the rural labours of his
Sabine retirement.

His shrewd remarks and easy conversation, as well as the skill with
which he pleaded the causes of his clients before the rural magistracy,
soon made his abilities known, and his reputation attracted the notice
of one of his country neighbours, L. Valerius Flaccus, who invited him
to his town-house at Rome. Owing to the patronage of his noble friend,
and his own merits, his rise to eminence as a pleader was rapid. He was
a quæstor in B. C. 206, ædile in B. C. 199, prætor the following year,
and in B. C. 195 he obtained the consulship, his patron Flaccus being
now his colleague. His province was Spain;[321] and, whilst stern and
pitiless towards his foes, he exhibited a noble example of self-denying
endurance in order to minister to the welfare of his army. At the
conclusion of his consulship, he served as legatus in Thrace and Greece;
and in B. C. 189 was sent on a civil mission to Fulvius Nobilior in

After experiencing one failure, he was elected censor in B. C. 184; and
he had now an opportunity of making a return for the obligations which
his earliest patron had conferred upon him; for, by his influence,
Flaccus was appointed his colleague. This office was, above all others,
suited to his talents; and to his remarkable activity in the discharge
of his duties, he owes his fame and his surname.

He had now full scope for displaying his habits of business, his talents
for administration, his uncompromising resistance to all luxury and
extravagance, his fearlessness in the reformation of abuses: and though
he was severe, public opinion bore testimony to his integrity, for he
was rewarded with a statue and an inscription. He had now served his
country in every capacity, but still he gave himself no rest; advancing
age did not weaken his energies; he was always ready as the champion of
the oppressed, the advocate of virtue, the punisher of vice. He
prosecuted the extortionate governors of his old province, Spain.[322]
He pleaded before the senate the cause of the loyal Rhodians.

He caused the courteous dismissal of the three Greek philosophers,
because the arguments of Carneades made it difficult to discern what was
truth.[323] Although his prejudice against Greeks prevented him
sympathizing with the sorrows of the Achæan exiles, he supported the
vote for their restoration to their native land. Neither his enemies nor
his country would allow him rest. In his eighty-sixth year, he had to
defend himself against a capital charge. In his eighty-ninth, he was
sent to Africa as one of the arbitrators between the Carthaginians and
Massinissa,[324] and in his ninetieth, the year in which he died,[325]
his last public act was the prosecution of Galba for his perfidious
treatment of the conquered Lusitanians.[326]

Cato loved strife, and his long life was one continued combat. He never
found a task too difficult, because difficulty called forth all his
energies, and his strong will and invincible perseverance insured
success. His inherent love of truth made him hate anything conventional.
As a politician, he considered rank valueless, except it depended upon
personal merit; and therefore he was an unrelenting enemy of the
aristocracy. As a moralist, he indignantly rejected that false gloss of
modern fashion which was superseding the old plainness, and which was,
in his opinion, the foundation of his country’s glory. In literature, he
distrusted and condemned every thing Greek, because he confounded the
sentiments of its noblest periods as a nation with those of the
degenerate Greeks with whom he came in contact. But, at length, his
candid and truthful disposition discovered and confessed his error on
this point, and his prejudices gave way before conviction.

Cato, with all his virtues, was a hard-hearted man.[327] He had no
amiability, no love, no affection; he did not love right, for he loved
nothing; but he had a burning indignation against wrong. This was the
mainspring of his conduct. He did not feel for the oppressed, but he
declared war against the oppressor. He never could sympathize with
living men. In his youth, all his admiration was for the past
generation. In his old age, his feeling was that his life had been spent
with the past, and he had nothing in common with the present.

As is usually the case with those who live during a period of
transition, his feelings were so interested in that past by which his
character was formed, that he was incapable of discerning any good
whatever in change and progress. For this reason he dreaded the invasion
of refinement and civilization. Accustomed to connect virtue and purity
with the absence of temptations, he was prepared to take an exaggerated
view of the relation between polish and effeminacy, between a taste for
the beautiful and luxury.

He was a bitter hater of those who opposed his prejudices. His enmity to
Carthage sprung much more from his antagonism to Scipio, as the leader
of the Greek or movement party, than from fears for the safety of Rome.
Scipio said, Let Carthage be; therefore Cato’s will was, let Carthage be
destroyed. When his hatred of injustice was aroused, as, for example, by
the perfidy of S. Sulpicius Galba towards the Lusitanians, he could
support the cause of foreigners against a fellow-countryman. His
character is full of apparent inconsistencies. Although he hated
oppression, he was cruel to his slaves; tyrannical and implacable,
simply because he would not brook opposition to his will. His integrity
was incorruptible, and yet he was a grinding usurer; frugal in his
habits, and notwithstanding his few wants, grasping and avaricious; but
it was his love of business that he was gratifying, rather than a love
of money. Trade was with him a combat in which he would not allow an
advantage to be gained by his adversary. Virtue did not present itself
to Cato in an amiable form. He had but one idea of it—austerity; and, as
his hatred of wrong was not counterbalanced by a love of right, the
intensity of his hatred was only kept in check by the practical good
sense and utilitarian views which occupy so prominent a place in the
Roman character. Being himself reserved and undemonstrative, he expected
others to be so likewise, and thought it unbecoming the dignity of a
Roman to exhibit tenderness of feeling. On one occasion we are told that
he degraded a Roman knight for embracing his wife in the presence of his
daughter. His personal appearance was not more prepossessing than his
manners, as we learn from the following severe epigram:—[328]

             Πυῤῥὸν, πανδακέτην, γλαυκόμματον, οὐδὲ θανόντα
             Πόρκιον εἰς ἀΐδην Περσεφόνη δέχεται.

  With his red hair, constant snarl, and gray eyes, Proserpine would not
  receive Porcius, even after death, into Hades.

As, notwithstanding his defects, Cato was morally the greatest man ever
Rome produced, so he was one of the greatest intellectually. His genius
was perfectly original; his character was not moulded by other men; he
had no education except self-education. He had immense power of
acquiring learning, and he ransacked every source to increase his
stores; but he was indebted to no man for his opinions—they were
self-formed, except those which he inherited, and in which his own
independent convictions led him to acquiesce. He had the ability and the
determination to excel in everything which he undertook, politics, war,
rural economy, oratory, history. His style is rude, unpolished,
ungraceful, because to him wit was artifice, and polish superficial, and
therefore unreal. For this reason he did not profit by the inconceivably
rapid change which was then taking place in the Latin language, and
which is evident from the comparison of the fragments of Cato’s works
with the polished comedies of Terence.

His statements, however, were clear and transparent; his illustrations,
though quaint, were striking; the words with which he enriched his
native tongue were full of meaning; his wit was keen and lively,
although he never would permit it to offend against gravity, or partake
of irreverence.[329] His arguments went straight to the intellect, and
carried conviction with them.

The character of Cato forms one of the most beautiful passages in the
works of Livy:[330] “In hoc viro tanta vis animi ingeniique fuit, ut,
quocunque loco natus esset, fortunam sibi ipse facturus fuisse
videretur. Nulla ars, neque privatæ, neque publicæ rei gerendæ, ei
defuit. Urbanas rusticasque res pariter callebat. Ad summos honores
alios scientia juris, alios eloquentia, alios gloria militaris provexit.
Huic versatile ingenium sic pariter ad omnia fuit, ut natum ad id unum
diceres, quodcunque ageret. In bello manu fortissimus, multisque
insignibus clarus pugnis; idem, postquam ad magnos honores pervenit,
summus imperator: idem in pace, si jus consuleres, peritissimus; si
causa oranda esset, eloquentissimus. Nec is tantum, cujus lingua vivo eo
viguerit, monumentum eloquentiæ nullum exstet: vivit immo vigetque
eloquentia ejus, sacrata scriptis omnis generis. Orationes et pro se
multæ, et pro aliis et in alios; nam non solum accusando, sed etiam
causam dicendo, fatigavit inimicos. Simultates nimio plures et
exercuerunt eum, et ipse exercuit eas; nec facile dixeris, utrum magis
presserit eum nobilitas, an ille agitaverit nobilitatem. Asperi
proculdubio animi, et linguæ acerbæ, et immodice liberæ fuit; sed
invicti a cupiditatibus animi, et rigidæ innocentiæ; contemptor gratiæ
divitiarum. In parsimonia, in patientia laboris, periculi, ferrei prope
corporis animique; quam neque senectus quidem, quæ solvit omnia,
fregerit. Qui sextum et octogesimum annum agens causam dixerit, ipse pro
se oraverit, scripseritque; nonagesimo anno Ser. Galbam ad populi
adduxerit judicium.”

                              CHAPTER XI.

Cato’s great historical and antiquarian work, “The Origines,” was
written in his old age.[331] Its title would seem to imply that it was
merely an inquiry into the ancient history of his country; but in
reality it comprehended far more than this—it was a history of Italy and
Rome from the earliest times to the latest events which occurred in his
own lifetime. The contents of the work are thus described by Cornelius
Nepos.[332] It is divided into seven books. The first treats of the
history of the kings; the second and third of the rise and progress of
the Italian states; the fourth contains the first Punic war; the fifth
the war with Hannibal; the remaining two the history of the subsequent
wars down to the prætorship of Servius Galba.

It was a work of great research and originality. For his archæological
information, he had consulted the records and documents, not only of
Rome, but of the principal Italian towns. It is probable that their
constitutional history was introduced incidentally to the main
narrative; and that the rise and progress of the Roman constitution was
illustrated by the political principles of the Italian nations. The
“Origines” also contained valuable notices respecting the history and
constitution of Carthage,[333] his embassy having furnished him with
full opportunity for collecting materials. It was, in fact, a unique
work: no other Roman historian wrote in the same spirit, or was equally
laborious in the work of original investigation.

The truthfulness and honesty of Cato must have rendered the contemporary
part of the history equally valuable with the antiquarian portion. He
could not have been guilty of flattery, he had no regard for the
feelings of individuals. Not only he never mentions himself, but, except
in times long gone by, he never names any one.[334] The glory of a
victory, or of a gallant exploit, belongs to the general, or consul, or
tribune, as the representative of the republic. He does not allow either
individual or family to participate in that which he considered the
exclusive property of his country.

Sufficient fragments of the “Origines” remain to make us regret that
more have not been preserved; but though very numerous, they are, with
the exception of two, excessively brief. One of these is a portion of
his own speech in favour of the Rhodians;[335] the other a simple and
affecting narrative of an act of self-devoted heroism. A consular army
was surprised and surrounded by the Carthaginians in a defile, from
which there was no escape. The tribune, whom Cato does not name, but
who, as A. Gellius informs us, was Cædicius, went to the consul and
recommended him to send four hundred men to occupy a neighbouring
height. The enemy, he added, will attack them, and without doubt they
will be slain to a man. Nevertheless, whilst the enemy is thus occupied,
the army will escape. But, replied the consul, who will be the leader of
this band? I will, said the tribune; I devote my life to you, and to my
country. The tribune and four hundred men set forth to die. They sold
their lives dearly, but all fell. “The immortal gods,” adds Cato, for
Gellius is here quoting his very words, “granted the tribune a lot
according to his valour. For thus it came to pass. Though he had
received many wounds, none proved mortal; and when his comrades
recognised him amongst the dead, faint from loss of blood, they took him
up, and he recovered. But it makes a vast difference in what country a
generous action is performed. Leonidas, of Lacedæmon, is praised, who
performed a similar exploit at Thermopylæ. On account of his valour
united Greece testified her gratitude in every possible way, and adorned
his exploit with monumental records, pictures, statues, eulogies,
histories. The Roman tribune gained but faint praise, and yet he had
done the same, and saved the republic.” The most pathetic writer could
not have told the tale more effectively than the stern Cato.

Circumstances invest his treatise “De Re Rustica” with great interest.
The population of Rome, both patrician and plebeian, was necessarily
agricultural. For centuries they had little commerce: their wealth
consisted in flocks and herds, and in the conquered territories of
nations as poor as themselves. The _ager Romanus_, and subsequently as
they gained fresh acquisitions, the fertile plains, and valleys, and
mountain sides of Italy, supplied them with maintenance. The statesman
and the general, in the intervals of civil war or military service,
returned, like Cincinnatus and Cato, to the cultivation of their fields
and gardens. The Roman armies were recruited from the peasantry; and
when the war was over, the soldier returned to his daily labour; and, in
later times, the veteran, when his period of service was completed,
became a small farmer in a military colony. To a restless nation, who
could not exist in a state of inactivity, a change of labour was
relaxation; and the pleasures of rural life, which were so often sung by
the Augustan poets, were heartily enjoyed by the same man whose natural
atmosphere seemed to be either politics or war.

Besides the possession of these rural tastes the Romans were essentially
a domestic people. The Greeks were social; they lived in public; they
had no idea of home. Woman did not with them occupy a position
favourable to the existence of home-feeling. The Roman matron was the
centre of the domestic circle; she was her husband’s equal, sometimes
his counsellor, and generally the educator of his children in their
early years. Hundreds of sepulchral inscriptions bear testimony to the
sweet charities of home-life, to the dutiful obedience of children, the
devoted affection of parents, the fidelity of wives, the attachments of
husbands. Hence, home and all its pursuits and occupations had an
interest in the eyes of a Roman. For this reason there were so many
writers on rural and domestic economy. From Cato to Columella we have a
list of authors whose object was instruction in the various branches of
the subject. They were thus enumerated by Columella himself:[336] “Cato
was the first who taught the art of agriculture to speak in Latin; after
him it was improved by the diligence of the two Sasernæ, father and son;
next it acquired eloquence from Scrofa Tremellius; polish from M.
Terentius, (Varro;) poetic power from Virgil.” To their illustrious
names he adds those of J. Hyginus, the Carthaginian Mago, Corn. Celsus,
J. Atticus, and his disciple J. Græcinus.

The work of Cato, “De Re Rustica,” has come down to us almost in form
and substance as it was written. It has not the method of a regular
treatise. It is a commonplace-book of agriculture and domestic economy
under one hundred and sixty-three heads. The subjects are connected, but
not regularly arranged; they form a collection of useful instructions,
hints, and receipts. Its object is utility, not science. It serves the
purposes of a farmers’ and gardeners’ manual; a domestic medicine, an
herbal, and cookery-book; prudential maxims are interspersed, and some
favourite charms for the cure of diseases in man and beast. Cato teaches
his readers, for example, how to plant ozier-beds, to cultivate
vegetables, to preserve the health of cattle, to pickle pork, and to
make savoury dishes. He is shrewd and economical, but he never allows
humanity to interfere with profits; for he recommends his readers to
sell every thing which they do not want, even old horses and old slaves.
He is a great conjurer, for he informs us that the most potent cure for
a sprain is the repetition of the following hocus-pocus:[337] “Daries
dardaries, astataries dissunapitea;” or, “Huat hanat, huat hista, pista
sista, domiabo damnaustra;” or, “Huat huat, huat, ista sis tar sis,
ordannabon damnaustra.” This miscellaneous collection is preceded by an
introduction, in which is maintained the superiority of agriculture over
other modes of gaining a livelihood, especially over that of trade and

Cato was a conscientious father. He could not trust Greeks, but
undertook the education of his son himself. As a part of his system, he
addressed to him, in the form of letters, instruction on various
topics—historical, philosophical, and moral. A very few fragments of
this work, unfortunately, remain. In one of them he recommends a cursory
view of Greek literature, but not a profound study of it. He evidently
considered Greek writings morally dangerous; but he entertained a still
greater horror of their medicine. He had confidence in his own
old-fashioned charms and rural pharmacopeia; but he firmly believed, as
he would the voice of an oracle, that all the Greek physicians were
banded together to destroy the Romans as barbarians.

Of the orations of Cato, ninety titles are extant, together with
numerous fragments.[338] Some of these were evidently judicial, but the
majority deliberative. After what has been said of his works it is
scarcely necessary to describe the style of his eloquence. Unless a man
is a mere actor, his character is generally exemplified in his speaking.
This is especially true of Cato. He despised art. He was too fearless
and upright, too confident in the justice of his cause, to be a
rhetorician; too much wrapt up in his subject to be careful of the
language in which he conveyed his thoughts. He imitated no one, and no
one was ever able to imitate him. His style was abrupt, concise, witty,
full of contrast; its beauty that of nature, namely, the rapid
alternations of light and shade. Now it was rude and harsh, now pathetic
and affecting. It was the language of debate—antagonistic, gladiatorial,

Plutarch compares him to Socrates; but he omits the principal point of
resemblance, namely, that he always speaks as if he was hand to hand
with an adversary. Even amidst the glitter and polish of the Augustan
age, old Cato had some admirers.[339] But this was not the general
feeling. The intrinsic value of the rough gem was not appreciated.
Cicero[340] tells us that, to his astonishment, Cato was almost entirely
unknown. The time afterwards arrived when criticism became a science,
and he was estimated as he deserved to be; but this admiration for the
antique form was not a revival of the antique spirit; it was only an
attempt to compensate for its loss; it was an imitation, not a reality.

Such was the literary position occupied by him whom Niebuhr pronounces
to be the only great man in his generation, and one of the greatest and
most honourable characters in Roman history.[341]

                           L. CASSIUS HEMINA.

There was no one worthy to follow Cato as an historian but L. Cassius
Hemina. A. Postumius Albinus, consul B. C. 151, was, according to
Cicero,[342] a learned and eloquent man, and wrote a history of Rome in
Greek;[343] but it was so inelegant that he apologized on the ground
that he was a Roman writing in a foreign language.[344] It is probable,
also, that he was inaccurate and puerile. He tells us, for example, that
Baiæ was so named after Boia, the nurse of one of Æneas’ friends, and
that Brutus used to eat green figs and honey.[345]

Hemina wrote Roman annals in five or six books, and published them about
the time of the fall of Carthage:[346] a considerable number of
fragments are extant. He was the last writer of this period who
investigated the original sources of history. His researches went back
to very early times; and he appears to have attempted, at least, a
comparison of Greek and Italian chronology, for he fixes the age of
Homer and Hesiod in the dynasty of the Silvii, more than 160 years after
the siege of Troy. He relates the original legend of Cacus and the oxen
of Hercules, the finding of Numa’s coffin, and the celebration of the
fourth sæcular games in the consulship of Lentulus and Mummius.[347]
This was probably the last event of importance previous to the
publication of his work. Only two fragments are of sufficient length to
enable us to form any judgment respecting his style. Many of his
expressions are very archaic, but the story of Cacus is told in a simple
and pleasing manner.

After Hemina, Roman history was, for some years, nothing more than a
compilation from the old chronicles, and from the labours and
investigations of previous authors. Q. Fabius Maximus Servilianus was
consul A. U. C. 612. His Latin style must have been very deficient in
euphony, if he frequently indulged in such words as _litterosissimum_,
which occurs in one of the fragments extant. C. Fannius, prætor A. U. C.
617, wrote a meager history[348] in not inelegant Latin. Vennonius, his
contemporary, was the author of annals which are referred to by
Dionysius. To this list of historians may be added C. Sempronius
Tuditanus, a polished gentleman as well as an elegant writer.[349]

The days of the Gracchi were very fruitful in historians and
autobiographers. At the head of them stands L. Cælius Antipater,[350] a
Roman freedman, an eloquent orator, and skilful jurist. His work
consisted of seven books, and many fragments are preserved by the
grammarians. He seems to have delighted in the marvellous; for Cicero
quotes from two remarkable dreams in his treatise on divination. He is
also frequently referred to by Livy in his history of the Punic wars.

Contemporaneously with Cælius lived Cn. Gellius, whose voluminous
history extended to the length of ninety-seven books at least. Livy
seldom refers to him. Probably, in this instance, he acted wisely; for
he seems to have been an historian of little or no authority. Two other
Gellii, Sextus and Aulus, flourished at the same time.

Publius Sempronius Asellio wrote, about the middle of the seventh
century of Rome, a memoir of the Numantian war. He was an eye-witness of
the scenes which he describes, for he was tribune at Numantia under
Scipio Africanus.[351]

The only constitutional history of Rome was the work of C. Junius, who
was surnamed Gracchanus, in consequence of his intimacy with C.
Gracchus. It is certain that this work must have been the result of
original research, as there are no remains extant of any history which
could have furnished the materials. The legal and political knowledge
which it contained was evidently considerable, for it is quoted by the
jurists as a trustworthy authority.[352]

Servius Fabius Pictor[353] wrote annals; but his principal work was a
treatise on the pontifical law, an antiquarian record of rites and
ceremonies. L. Calpurnius Piso Frugi Censorius was consul in the year in
which Ti. Sempronius Gracchus was killed, and censor the year after the
murder of C. Gracchus:[354] he is occasionally quoted by Dionysius, and
twice by Livy, who, on the points in question, consider his authority
less trustworthy than that of Fabius Pictor.[355] Gellius[356] quotes
from him the following traditional anecdote of Romulus. Once upon a time
the king was invited out to supper. He drank very little, because he had
business to transact on the following day. Some one at table remarked,
if every body did so, wine would be cheaper. “Nay,” replied Romulus, “I
have drank as much as I wished; if every body did so, it would be dear.”

Piso was an honest man, but not an honest historian. He acquired the
surname Frugi by his strict integrity and simple habits; but his
ingenuity tempted him to disregard historical truth. Niebuhr considers
him the first who introduced systematic forgeries into Roman history.
Seeing the discrepancies and consistencies between the accounts given by
previous annalists, instead of weighing them together, and adopting
those which were best supported by the testimony of antiquity, he either
invented theories, in order to reconcile conflicting statements, or
substituted some narrative which he thought might have been the
groundwork of the marvellous legend. Niebuhr observes, that he treated
history precisely in the same way in which the rationalists endeavoured
to divest the scripture of its miraculous character.

M. Æmilius Scaurus, P. Rutilius Rufus, and Q. Lutatius Catulus, were the
first Roman autobiographers; and their example was afterwards followed
by Sulla, who employed his retirement in writing his own memoir in
twenty-two books. Scaurus was the son of a charcoal-dealer, who, by his
military talents, twice raised himself to the consulship, and once
enjoyed the honour of a triumph. A few unimportant fragments of his
personal memoirs are preserved by the grammarians. Rutilius was consul
A. U. C. 649: he wrote his own life in Latin, and a history of Rome in
Greek.[357] Catulus is praised by Cicero for his Latinity, who compares
his style to that of Xenophon.[358]

The other historians, who flourished immediately before the literary
period of Cicero, were C. Licinius Macer, Q. Claudius Quadrigarius, and
Q. Valerius Antias.

Macer[359] was a prolix and gossiping writer: he was not deficient in
industry; he spared no pains in collecting traditions; but he had no
judgment in selection, and accepted all the Greek fables respecting
Italy without discrimination. Hence he makes some statements which were
rejected by annalists of greater authority. Niebuhr[360] defends him,
and regrets deeply the loss of his annals. He thinks it not improbable
that Cicero’s unfavourable criticism may have been owing to political
prejudice. His work was voluminous, and probably traced the Roman
history from the commencement to his own times.

Quadrigarius is much quoted both by Livy and the grammarians. From the
fragments extant it is clear that his history commenced with the Gallic
wars; and from a passage in Plutarch’s Life of Numa,[361] he appears to
have been actuated by a motive indicative of his truthfulness as an
historian. He was not content with fabulous legends; and there were no
documents in existence anterior to the capture of Rome by the Gauls. His
work consisted of twenty-three books: it carried the history, as is
generally supposed, as far as the death of Sulla,[362] or, as Niebuhr
believed, down to the consulship of Cicero.[363] The longest fragment
extant has been preserved by Gellius, and relates the combat of Manlius
Torquatus with the gigantic Gaul.

The style is abrupt and sententious, and the structure of the sentences
loose; but the story is told in a naïve and spirited manner. One can
realize the scene as the historian describes it—the awe of the Roman
host at the unwonted sight—the gigantic stature, the truculent
countenance of the Goliath-like youth—the unbroken silence, in the midst
of which his voice of thunder uttered his defiance—the scorn with which
he sneered and put out his tongue when no one accepted his challenge—the
shame and grief of the noble Manlius—the struggle—the cutting off the
monster’s head, and the wreathing his own neck with the collar still
reeking with blood.

It has been suggested that this historian received the surname
Quadrigarius because, in the games of the circus, celebrated after the
victory of Sulla, he won the prize in the chariot-race.

No Roman historian ever made greater pretensions to accuracy than
Valerius Antias, and no one was less trustworthy. Livy, on one
occasion,[364] accuses him of either negligence or impudent
exaggeration; but there is no doubt that he was guilty of the latter
fault. Almost all the places in which he is quoted by Livy have
reference to numbers, and in all he not only goes far beyond all other
historians,[365] but even transgresses the bounds of possibility. Livy
never hesitates to call him a liar. In all cases he is guilty of
falsehood; the only question is whether his falsehood is more or less
moderate. The following examples are sufficient to convict him. He
undertakes to assert that the exact number of the Sabine virgins was
527.[366] If one historian states that 60 engines of war were taken, he
makes the number 6,000;[367] when all authors, Greek and Latin, unite in
asserting that in A. U. C. 553, there was no memorable campaign, he says
a battle was fought in which 12,000 of the enemy were slain and 1,200
taken prisoners.[368] In another place 10,000 slain become 40,000;[369]
and a fine which Quadrigarius states was to be paid by instalments in
thirty years, he distributes only over the space of ten.[370] With
matter of this unauthentic kind, he filled no less than seventy-five
books, of which a large portion of passages have been preserved,
especially by Livy.

Hitherto, with one doubtful exception, Latin historical composition was
in the hands of the great and noble; the first historian belonging to
the order of the libertinei was L. Otacilius Pilitus. Suetonius[371]
says, that he was not only originally a slave, but that he acted as
porter, and, as was the custom, was chained to his master’s door.
Nothing is known of his works; it is probable, therefore, that they were
of no merit.

Two more important names remain to be mentioned amongst the annalists of
this period—L. Cornelius Sisenna and Q. Ælius Tubero. Sisenna, according
to the testimony of Cicero,[372] was born between B. C. 640 and B. C.
680, and filled the office of quæstor B. C. 676. He was, according to
the same authority, a man of learning and taste, wrote pure Latin, was
well acquainted with public business, and, although deficient in
industry, surpassed all his predecessors and contemporaries in his
talents as an historian. Probably his style of writing approached more
nearly to that of the new school, although still below the Ciceronian
standard. The testimony of Sallust is not so favourable, as he considers
him not sufficiently impartial to fulfil adequately the duties of a
contemporary historian.[373]

No fragments are extant of sufficient length to enable us to form any
estimate of his merits, although, on account of the numerous unusual
words which occur in his writings, no historian of this period has been
more frequently quoted by the grammarians. The probability is that his
twenty-three books are of little or no value, as they are never referred
to in order to illustrate matters of historical or antiquarian interest.

Tubero was the contemporary of Cicero, and did not write his annals
until after Cicero’s consulship. Nevertheless he must be considered as
belonging to the old school, and its last as well as one of its most
worthy representatives. He was the father of L. Tubero, the legate of Q.
Cicero, in Asia. Like Piso, he was a stout opponent of the Gracchic
policy, and a firm supporter of the aristocracy. A stoic in philosophy,
his life was in strict accordance with his creed, and his style of
writing is said to have been marked with Catonian rudeness. He
describes, in his history, the cruel tortures of Regulus by the
Carthaginians, and relates the story of the wonderful serpent at
Bagrada.[374] He is once quoted by Dionysius and twice by Livy.

                              CHAPTER XII.

Eloquence, though of a rude, unpolished kind, must have been in the very
earliest times a characteristic of the Roman people. It is a plant
indigenous to a free soil. Its infancy was nurtured in the schools of
Tisias and Corax, when, on the dethronement of the tyrants, the dawn of
freedom brightened upon Sicily; and, just as in modern times it has
flourished, especially in England and America, fostered by the
unfettered freedom of debate, so it found a congenial home in free
Greece and republican Rome. He who could contrast in the most glowing
colours the cruelty of the pitiless creditor, with the sufferings of the
ruined debtor—who could ingeniously connect those patent evils with some
defects in the constitution, some inequalities in political rights
hitherto hidden and unobserved—would wield at will the affections of the
people, and become the master-spirit amongst his fellow-citizens.

Occasions would not be wanting in a state where, from the earliest
times, a struggle was continually maintained between a dominant and a
subject race, for the use of those arts of eloquence which nature, the
mistress of all art, suggests. The plebeians, in their conflicts with
the patricians, must have had some leader, and eloquence, probably to a
great extent, directed the selection, even though there was, in reality,
no Menenius Agrippa to lead them back from the sacred mountain with his
homely wisdom. Cases of oppression, doubtless, inspired some Icilius or
Virginius with words of burning indignation, and many a Siccius
Dentatus, though he had never learnt technical rhetoric, used the
rhetorical artifice of appealing to his honourable wounds and scars in
front, which he had received in the service of his country, and to
disgraceful weals with which his back was lacerated by the lash of the
torturer. In an army where the personal influence of the general was
more productive of heroism than the rules of a long-established
discipline, a short harangue often led the soldiers to victory. And,
lastly, the relation subsisting between the two orders of patron and
client taught a milder and more business-like eloquence—that of
explaining with facility common civil rights, and unravelling the knotty
points of the constitutional law. Oratory, in fact, was the unwritten
literature of active life, and recommended itself by its antagonistic
spirit and its utility to a warlike and utilitarian people. Long,
therefore, before the art of the historian was sufficiently advanced to
record a speech, or to insert a fictitious one, as an embellishment or
illustration of its pages, the forum, senate, the battle-field, the
threshold of the jurisconsult, had been nurseries of Roman eloquence, or
schools in which oratory attained a vigorous youth, and prepared for its
subsequent maturity.

Tradition speaks of a speech recorded even before the poetry of Nævius
was written, and this speech was known to Cicero. It was delivered
against Pyrrhus by Appius Claudius the blind.[375] He belonged to a
house, every member of which, from the decemvir to the emperor, was born
to bow down their fellow-men beneath their strong wills. Such a
character, united with a poetical genius, implies the very elements of
that oratory which would curb a nation accustomed to be restrained by
force as much as by reason. On this celebrated occasion,[376] the blind
old man caused himself to be borne into the senate-house on a litter,
that he might confront the wily Cineas whom Pyrrhus had sent to
negotiate peace. The Macedonian minister was an accomplished speaker,
and his memory, that important auxiliary to eloquence, was so powerful,
that in one day he learnt to address all the senators and knights by
name, yet it is said that he was no match for the energy of Appius, and
was obliged to quit Rome.

Whilst the legal and political constitution of the Roman people gave
direct encouragement to deliberative and judicial oratory, respect to
the illustrious dead furnished opportunities for panegyric. The song of
the bard in honour of the departed warrior gave place to the funeral
oration, (_laudatio_.)

Before the commencement of the second Punic war,[377] Q. Metellus
pronounced the funeral harangue over his father, the conqueror of
Hasdrubal; history also speaks of him as a debator in the senate, and
his address to the censors is found in the fourth decade of Livy.[378]
This funeral oration was admired even in the time of J. Cæsar, and
Pliny[379] has recorded the substance of one remarkable passage which it
contained. The period of the second Punic war produced Corn. Cethegus.
Cicero mentions him in his list of Roman orators;[380] and although he
had never seen a specimen of his style, he states that he retained his
force and vigour even in his old age. Ennius also bears testimony to his
eloquence in the following line:—

               Flos delibatus populi, suaviloquenti ore.

At the conclusion of the second war, Fabius Cunctator pronounced the
eulogium[381] of his elder son; and Cicero, although he denies him the
praise of eloquence, states that he was a fluent and correct speaker.

Scipio Africanus Major, on that memorable day when his enemies called
upon him to render an account of the moneys received from Antiochus,
proved himself a consummate orator: he disdained to refute the malignant
charges of his opponents, but spoke till dusk of the benefits which he
had conferred upon his country. Thus it came to pass that the adjourned
meeting was held on the anniversary of Zama. Livy has adorned the simple
words of the great soldier with his graceful language, but A.
Gellius[382] has preserved the peroration almost in his own words. “I
call to remembrance, Romans,” said he, “that this is the very day on
which I vanquished in a bloody battle on the plains of Africa the
Carthaginian Hannibal, the most formidable enemy Rome ever encountered.
I obtained for you a peace and an unlooked-for victory. Let us then not
be ungrateful to heaven, but let us leave this knave, and at once offer
our grateful thanksgivings to Jove, supremely good and great.”

The people obeyed his summons—the forum was deserted, and crowds
followed him with acclamations to the Capitol.

Mention has already been made of the stern eloquence of his adversary
Cato. He was equally laborious as a speaker and a writer. No fewer than
one hundred and fifty of his orations were extant in Cicero’s time, most
of which were on subjects of public and political interest.

The father of the Gracchi was distinguished amongst his contemporaries
for a plain and nervous eloquence, but no specimens of his oratory have

Scipio Africanus Minor (Æmilianus) was precisely qualified to be the
link between the new and the old school of oratory. His soldier-like
character displayed all the vigour and somewhat of the sternness of the
old Roman, but the harder outlines were modified by an ardent love of
learning. His first campaign was in Greece, under his father Æmilius
Paulus. His first literary friendship was formed there with the
historian Polybius, which ripened into the closest intimacy when
Polybius came as a hostage to Rome. Subsequently he became acquainted
with Panætius, who was his instructor in the principles of philosophy.
His taste was gratified with Greek refinement, although he abhorred the
effeminacy and profligacy of the Greeks themselves. In the spirit of
Cato, for whom he entertained the warmest admiration, he indignantly
remonstrated against the inroad of Greek manners. In his speech in
opposition to the law of C. Gracchus, he warned his hearers of the
corruptions which were already insinuating themselves amongst the Roman
youth. “I did not believe what I heard,” he says, “until I witnessed it
with my own eyes: at the dancing-school I saw more than five hundred of
the youth of both sexes. I saw a boy, of at least twelve years old,
wearing the badge of noble birth, who performed a castanet dance, which
an immodest slave could not have danced without disgrace.”

The degeneracy of Greek manners had not corrupted his moral nature, or
rendered him averse to the active duties of a citizen; it had not
destroyed the frankness, whilst it had humanized the rough honesty, of
the Roman, and taught him to love the beautiful as well as the good, and
to believe that the former was the proper external development of the

One friend, whose influence contributed to form the mind of Scipio, was
the wise and gentle Lælius. In other places, as well as in the “_de
Amicitia_,” Cicero associates their names together. These distinguished
friends were well suited to each other. The sentiments of both were
noble and elevated. “Both,” as Cicero[383] says, “were ‘_imprimis
eloquentes_.’” Their discrepancies were such as draw men of similar
tastes more closely together, in those hours which they can devote to
their favourite pursuits. Scipio was an active man of business—Lælius, a
contemplative philosopher: Scipio, a Roman in heart and soul—Lælius, a
citizen of the world: Scipio was rather inclined to ostentatious
display—Lælius was retiring. The former had a correct taste, spoke Latin
with great purity, and had an extensive acquaintance with the literature
both of Greece and his own country. The attainments of the latter were
more solid, and his acquaintance with the mind of Greece more profound.
But Lælius was not equally calculated to occupy a place in history; and
hence, perhaps, although a few fragments of the eloquence of Scipio are
extant,[384] the remains of that of Lælius extend only to as many lines.
Cheerfulness, (hilaritas,) smoothness, (lenitas,) and learning
distinguished the speeches of Lælius, whilst spirit, genius, and natural
power marked those of Scipio.

Servius Sulpicius Galba, whom Cato[385] prosecuted for his treachery to
the Lusitanians, obtained from Cicero the praise of having been the
first Roman who really understood how to apply the theoretical
principles of Greek rhetoric. He is said likewise to have carried away
with him the feelings of his auditors by his animated and vehement
delivery. How skilful he was in the use of rhetorical artifice is shown
by his parading before the assembly of the people, when brought to
trial, his two infant sons, and the orphan of his friend Sulpicius
Gallus. His tears and embraces touched the hearts of his judges, and the
cold-blooded perjurer was acquitted. External artifice, however,
probably constituted his whole merit. He had the tact thus to cover a
dry and antique style, destitute of nerve and muscle, of which no
specimen except only a few words remain.

All periods of political disquiet are necessarily favourable to
eloquence, and the era of the Gracchi was especially so. Extensive
political changes were now established. They had been of slow and
gradual growth, and were the natural development of the Roman system;
but they were changes which could not take place without the crisis
being accompanied by great political convulsions. In order to understand
the state of parties, of which the great leaders and principal orators
were the representatives, it is necessary to explain briefly in what
these changes consisted. The result of an obstinate and persevering
struggle during nearly four centuries was, that the old distinction of
patrician and plebeian no longer existed. Plebeians held the
consulship[386] and censorship,[387] and patricians, like the Gracchi,
stood forward as plebeian tribunes and champions of popular rights.

The distinctions of blood and race, therefore, were no longer regarded.
Most of the old patrician families were extinct. Niebuhr believes that
at this period not more than fifteen patrician “_gentes_” remained; and
the individual members of those which survived, if they maintained their
position at all, maintained it by personal influence. The constitutional
principle which determined the difference of ranks was property. This
line of demarkation between rich and poor was not an impassable one like
that of birth, but it had now become very broad and deep, owing to the
accumulation of wealth in few hands; and thus between these two orders
there was as little sympathy as there had been between the patrician
creditors and the plebeian debtors in the earlier times of the republic.

But besides this constitutional principle of distinction, there was
another of a more aristocratic nature, which owed its erection to public
opinion. Those families the members of which had held high public
offices were termed _nobiles_ (nobles.) Those individuals whose families
had never been so distinguished were termed new men (_novi homines_.)
Thus a man’s ancestors were made hostages for his patriotism; and so
trustworthy a pledge was hereditary merit considered for ability and
fidelity in the discharge of high functions, that only in a few
exceptional cases was the consulship, although open to all, conferred
upon a new man. One consequence of all these changes was, that the
struggle for political distinction became hotter than ever, and the
strife more vehement between the competitors for public favour.

These stirring times produced many celebrated orators. Papirius Carbo,
the ultra-liberal and unscrupulous colleague of Tiberius Gracchus, who
united the gift of a beautiful voice to copiousness and fluency; Lepidus
Porcina, who attained the perfection of Attic gentleness, and whom Tib.
Gracchus took as his model; Æmilius Scaurus, whom Statius libelled as of
ignoble birth; Rutilius Rufus, who was too upright to appeal to the
compassion of his judges;[388] M. Junius Pennus, who met by an insulting
alien act the bill of Gracchus for the enfranchisement of the Italians.

The Gracchi themselves were each in a different degree eloquent, and
possessed those endowments and accidents of birth which would recommend
their eloquence to their countrymen. Gentleness and kindness were the
characteristics of this illustrious race. Their father, by his mild
administration, attached to himself the warm affection of the Spaniards.
Their mother inherited the strong mind and genius of Scipio. To a sound
knowledge of Greek and Latin literature[389] and a talent for poetry,
she added feminine accomplishments. She danced elegantly, more
elegantly, indeed, than according to the strict notions of Roman
morality a woman of character need have done. She could also sing and
accompany herself upon the lute. To her care in early youth the
illustrious brothers owed the development of their natural endowments,
and the direction of their generous principles. Cicero tells us that he
had seen the letters of this remarkable woman, which showed how much her
sons were indebted to her teaching. Greek philosophers aided her in her
work; and the accomplished Lælius contributed to add grace and polish to
the more solid portions of her education.

Notwithstanding that the political principles which the Gracchi embraced
were the same, their characters, or, more properly speaking, their
temperaments, widely differed, and their style of speaking was, as might
be expected, in accordance with their respective dispositions. Tiberius
was cold, deliberate, sedate, reserved. The storms of passion never
ruffled the calmness of his feelings. His speaking, therefore, was
self-possessed and grave, as stoical as his philosophical creed. His
conduct was not the result of impulse, but of a strict sense of duty.
Cicero termed him _homo sanctissimus_, and his style was as chastened as
his integrity was spotless. Such, if we may trust Plutarch, was the
character of his oratory, for no fragments remain.

Caius, who was nine years younger than his brother, was warm,
passionate, and impetuous: he was inferior to Tiberius morally, as he
was intellectually his superior. His impulses were generous and amiable,
but he had not that unswerving rectitude of purpose which is the result
of moral principle. He had, however, more genius, more creative power.
His imagination, lashed by the violence of his passions, required a
strong curb; but for that reason it gushed forth as from a natural
fountain, and like a torrent carried all before it. On one occasion, to
which Cicero alludes,[390] his look, his voice, his gestures, were so
inexpressibly affecting, that even his enemies were dissolved in tears.
It is said that in his calmer moments he was conscious that his
vehemence was apt to offend against good taste, and employed a slave to
stand near him with a pitch-pipe, in order that he might regulate his
voice when passion rendered the tones unmusical. His education enabled
him to rid himself of the harshness of the old school, and to gain the
reputation of being the father of Roman prose. But his impetuosity made
him leave unfinished that which he had well begun. “His language was
noble, his sentiments wise; gravity pervaded his whole style, but his
works wanted the last finishing stroke. There were many glorious
beginnings, but they were not brought to perfection.”[391] Several
fragments remain, which confirm the correctness of Cicero’s
criticism—one of the most beautiful is from his speech against Popilius
Lænas, which drove that blood-thirsty tyrant into voluntary exile.

Oratory began now to be studied more as an art, and to be invested with
a more polished garb. The interval between the Gracchi and Cicero
boasted of many distinguished names, such as those of Q. Catulus, Curio,
Fimbria, Scævola, Cotta, P. Sulpicius, and the Memmii. The most
illustrious names of this epoch were M. Antonius, L. Licinius Crassus,
and Cicero’s immediate predecessor and most formidable rival,
Hortensius. Antony and Crassus, says Cicero, were the first Romans who
elevated eloquence to the heights to which it had been raised by Greek
genius.[392] From this complaint it may be inferred that,
notwithstanding the popular prejudice which existed against Greek taste,
and to which even Cicero himself sometimes conceived himself obliged to
yield,[393] the leading orators had ceased to take the specimens of old
Roman eloquence as their models. Cicero asserts[394] that both Antony
and Crassus owed their eminence to a diligent study of Greek literature,
and to the instructions of Greek professors. The former, he says,
attended regularly lectures at Athens and Rhodes, and the latter spoke
Greek as if it had been his mother tongue. Yet both had the
narrow-minded vanity to deny their obligations: they thought their
eloquence would be more popular, the one by showing contempt for the
Greeks, the other by affecting not to know them.

                              M. ANTONIUS.

M. Antonius entered public life as a pleader, and thus laid the
foundation of his brilliant political career; but he was through life
greater as a judicial than as a deliberative orator. He was
indefatigable in preparing his case, and made every point tell: he was a
great master of the pathetic, and knew the way to the hearts of the
_judices_. He was not free from the prevailing fault of advocates, of
being somewhat unscrupulous in his assertions; and the reason which he
is said to have given for never having published any of his speeches
was, lest he should be forced to deny his words. This statement,
however, is refuted by Cicero.[395] Although he did not himself give his
speeches to posterity, some of his most pointed expressions and
favourite passages left an indelible impression on the memories of his
hearers: many are preserved by Cicero, who has given us also a complete
epitome of one of them.[396] In the prime of life, he fell a victim to
political fury; and his bleeding head was placed upon the rostrum which
was so frequently the scene of his eloquent triumphs.

                          L. LICINIUS CRASSUS.

L. Licinius Crassus was four years younger than Antonius, having been
born B. C. 140. It is not known whether he was connected with the
distinguished family whose name he bore. He commenced his career at the
Roman bar.[397] At the early age of twenty-one, he successfully
impeached C. Carbo, and in the year B. C. 118 supported the foundation
of a colony at Narbo, in Gaul. A measure so beneficial to the poorer
citizens increased his popularity as well as his professional fame. He
went to Asia as quæstor, and there studied under Metrodorus the
rhetorician. On his way home he remained a short time at Athens, and
attended the lectures of the leading professors.

Notwithstanding his knowledge of jurisprudence, and his early eminence
as a pleader, the speech which established his reputation was a
political one. Under the Roman judicial system, the prætor presided in
court, with a certain number of assessors, (judices,) who gave their
verdict like our jurymen. These were chosen from the senators.
Experience proved that not only in their determination to stand by their
order they were guilty of partiality, but that they had also been open
to bribery. The knights constituted the nearest approach which could be
found to a rich middle class. C. Gracchus, therefore, by the “Lex
Sempronia,” transferred the administration of justice to a body of three
hundred men, chosen from the equestrian order. This promised to be a
salutary change; but so corrupt was the whole framework of Roman
society, that it did not prove effectual. The _Publicani_, who farmed
the revenues of the provinces, were all Roman knights. The new judges,
therefore, were as anxious to shield the peculations and extortions of
their own brethren as the old had been.

In B. C. 106, L. Servilius Cæpio brought in a bill for the restoration
of the judicial office to the senators. In support of this measure (the
first Lex Servilia,) Crassus delivered a powerful and triumphant
oration, in which he warmly espoused the cause of the senate, whom he
had before as strenuously opposed on the question of the colony to
Narbo. This speech was his _chef-d’œuvre_.[398] After serving the office
of consul,[399] in which he seems to have mistaken his vocation by
exchanging the toga for the sword, he was raised to the censorship.[400]
His year of office is celebrated for the closing the schools of the
Latin rhetoricians by an edict of himself and his colleague. The
foundations of these schools had been laid in the ruins of the Greek
schools, when the philosophers and rhetoricians were banished from
Rome.[401] Although the censorial power could suppress the schools, it
could not put a stop to the education given there. The professors found
a refuge in private mansions; and thus, protected and fostered by
intelligent patrons, continued to fulfil their duties as instructors of
youth. How often did literature at Rome have to seek an asylum from
private patronage against the rude attacks of public prejudice! The
reasons for the measure of Crassus are stated in the preamble.[402]
These schools were a novelty; they were contrary to ancient
institutions; they encouraged idle habits among the Roman youth. Cicero
defended this arbitrary act on the ground that the professors pretended
to teach subjects of which they were themselves ignorant; but Cicero
could scarcely find a fault in Crassus. He thought him a model of
perfection—the first of orators and jurists.[403] He saw no
inconsistency in his conduct in the cases of the Narbonne colony and the
Servilian law.[404] He is lavish in his praises of his wit and
facetiousness, (lepor et facetiæ,[405]) and applies to his malignant and
ill-natured jokes the term urbanity. The bon-mots of Crassus were by no
means superior to the generality of Roman witticisms, which were
deficient in point, although they were personal, caustic, and
severe.[406] The grave Romans were content with a very little wit; the
quality for which they looked in an oration was not playfulness, but
skill in the art of ingenious tormenting. Crassus never uttered a jest
equal to that of old Cato, when he said of Q. Helvidius, the glutton,
whose house was on fire, “What he could not eat he has burned.”[407]

His conduct with respect to the Latin schools, and his self-indulgent
life in his magnificent mansion on the Palatine, prove that he had
retained the narrow-mindedness of the old Romans without their
temperance and self-denial, and had acquired the luxury and taste of the
Greeks without their liberality. If, however, we make some allowance for
partiality, Crassus deserves the favourable criticism of Cicero.[408]
His style is careful and yet not laboured—it is elegant, accurate, and
perspicuous. He seems to have possessed considerable powers of
illustration, and great clearness in explaining and defining; his
delivery was calm and self-possessed, his action sufficiently vehement,
but not excessive.[409] He took especial pains with the commencement of
his speech. When he was about to speak, every one was prepared to
listen, and the very first words which he uttered showed him worthy of
the expectation formed. No one better understood the difficult art of
uniting elegance with brevity.

From amongst the crowd of orators which were then flourishing in the
last days of expiring Roman liberty, Cicero selected Crassus to be the
representative of his sentiments in his imaginary conversation in the
_de Oratore_. He felt that their tastes were congenial. In this most
captivating essay, he introduces his readers to a distinguished literary
circle, men who united activity in public life with a taste for refined
leisure. Antony, Crassus, Scævola, Cotta, and Sulpicius, met at Tusculum
to talk of the politics of the day. For this especial purpose they had
come, and all day long they ceased not to converse on these grave
matters. They spoke not of lighter matters until they reclined at
supper. Their day seemed to have been spent in the senate, their evening
at Tusculum. Next day, in the serene and sunny climate of Frascati, a
scene well fitted for the calm repose of a Platonic dialogue, Scævola
proposed to imitate the Socrates of Plato, and converse, as the great
philosopher did, beneath the shade of a plane-tree. Crassus assented,
suggesting only that cushions would be more convenient than the grass.
So the dialogue began in which Crassus is made the mouthpiece to deliver
the sentiments of Cicero.

Like our own Chatham, Crassus almost died on the floor of the
senate-house, and his last effort was in support of the aristocratic
party. His opponent, Philippus the consul, strained his power to the
utmost to insult him, and ordered his goods to be seized. His last words
were worthy of him. He mourned the bereavement of the senate—that the
consul, like a sacrilegious robber, should strip of its patrimony the
very order of which he ought to have been a kind parent or faithful
guardian. “It is useless,” he continued, “to seize these: if you will
silence Crassus, you must tear out his tongue, and even then my liberty
shall breathe forth a refutation of thy licentiousness!” The paroxysm
was too much for him; fever ensued, and in seven days he was a corpse.

We must pass over numerous names contained in the catalogue of Cicero,
mentioning by the way Cotta and the two Sulpicii. Cotta’s taste was
pure; but his delicate lungs made his oratory too tame for his vehement
countrymen. Publius Sulpicius had all the powers of a tragic actor to
influence the passions, but professed that he could not write, and
therefore left no specimens behind him. His reluctance to write must
have been the result of reserve or of indolence, and not of inability,
for nothing can be more tender and touching, and yet more philosophical,
than his letter to Cicero on the death of his beloved daughter.[410]
Servius, like too many orators, and even Cicero himself, at first
despised an accurate knowledge of the Roman law. The great Scævola,
however, rebuked him, and reminded him how disgraceful it was for one
who desired the reputation of an advocate to be ignorant of law. These
words excited his emulation; he ardently devoted himself to the study of
jurisprudence,[411] and at length is said to have surpassed even Scævola

                             Q. HORTENSIUS.

The last of the pre-Ciceronian orators was Hortensius. Although he was
scarcely eight years senior to the greatest of all Roman orators, he
cannot be considered as belonging to the same literary period, since the
genius and eloquence of Cicero constitute the commencement of a new era.
He was, nevertheless, his contemporary and his rival; and all that is
known respecting his career is derived from the writings of Cicero.

Q. Hortensius was the son of L. Hortensius, prætor of Sicily, B. C. 97.
He was born B. C. 114; and, as it was the custom that noble Roman youths
should be called to the bar at an early age, he commenced his career as
a pleader at nineteen, and pleaded, with applause and success, before
two consuls who were excellent judges of his merits, the orator Crassus
and the jurist Scævola. His first speech was in support of the province
of Africa against the extortions of the governor. In his second he
defended Nicomedes, king of Bithynia, against his brother, who had
dethroned him. When Crassus and Antony were dead, he was left without
any rival except Cotta, but he soon surpassed him.[412] The eloquence of
Cotta was too languid to stand against the impetuous flow, and he thus
became the acknowledged leader of the Roman bar until the star of Cicero
arose. They first came in contact when Cicero pleaded the cause of
Quintius, and in that oration he pays the highest possible compliment to
the talents and genius of Hortensius.

His political connexion with the faction of Sulla, and his unscrupulous
support of the profligate corruption which characterized that
administration both at home and abroad, enlisted his legal talents in
defence of the infamous Verres; but the eloquence of Cicero, together
with the justice of the cause which he espoused, prevailed, and from
that time forward his superiority over Hortensius was established and
complete. But the admiration which Cicero entertained for his rival had
ripened into friendship, which neither the fact of their being retained
on opposite sides, nor even difference in politics, had power to
interrupt. The only danger which ever threatened its stability was some
little jealousy on the part of Cicero—a jealousy which must be
attributed to his morbid temperament and susceptible disposition. But
Hortensius was always a warm and affectionate friend to Cicero, and
Cicero was affected with the deepest grief when he heard of the death of
Hortensius.[413] The time at length arrived when identity of political
sentiments drew them more closely together; and it is to this we owe the
place which Hortensius so often occupies in the letters and other works
of the great Roman orator.

Cicero had originally espoused the popular cause; but his zeal gradually
became less ardent, and the Catilinarian conspiracy threw him entirely
into the arms of the aristocratic party. At the Roman bar politics had
great influence in determining the side taken by the leading advocates.
They were virtually the great law officers of the party in the republic
to which they belonged, and had, as it were, general retainers on their
own side. Hence Hortensius generally advocated the same side with
Cicero. Together they defended Rabirius, Muræna, Flaccus, Sextius,
Scaurus, and Milo; but the former seems to have at once acknowledged his
inferiority, and henceforward to have taken but little part in public
life. In B. C. 51, he defended his nephew from a charge of bribery; but
the guilt of the accused was so plain that the people hissed him when he
entered the theatre.[414] The following year he died, at the age of
seventy-five, and left behind him a daughter, whose eloquence is
celebrated in history. An oration, of which she was the author, was read
in the time of Quintilian for the sake of its own merits, and not as a
mere compliment to the female sex. Q. Hortensius has been accused of
corruption; and his attachment to a corrupt party, his luxurious habits,
extravagant expenditure, numerous villas, and enormous wealth, make it
probable that this suspicion was not unfounded. He was an easy,
kind-hearted, hospitable, but self-indulgent man. His park was a
complete menagerie; his fish-ponds were stocked with fish so tame that
they would feed from his hand. His gardens were so carefully kept that
he even watered his trees with wine. He had a taste for both poetry and
painting, wrote some amatory verses, and for one picture gave 140,000
sesterces, (about 1,100_l._) His table was sumptuous; and peacocks were
seen for the first time in Rome at his banquets. His cellar was so well
supplied that he left 10,000 casks of Chian wine behind him.[415]

Cicero[416] tells us that the principal reason of Hortensius’ early
popularity and subsequent failure was, that his style of eloquence was
suited to the brilliance and liveliness of youth, but not the dignity
and gravity of mature age. In those days there were two parties,[417]
who differed in their views as to the theory of eloquence; the one
admired the oratory of the Attic rhetoricians, which was calm, polished,
refined, eschewing all redundancies; the other that of the Asiatic
schools, which was florid and ornate.

Cicero[418] tells us that the style of Hortensius’ eloquence was
Asiatic; and as the characteristic of his own eloquence is Asiatic
diffuseness rather than Attic closeness, and he often seems to consider
this quality of Asiatic eloquence least worthy of admiration, it is
possible that Hortensius carried it to excess, perhaps even to the
borders of affectation. In a youthful orator excess of ornament is
pardonable, because it is natural; it gives promise of future excellence
when genius becomes sobered and luxuriance retrenched.

Hortensius, a prosperous and spoilt child of nature, was a young man all
his life: there was nothing to cast a gloom over his gayety; and to
those of his auditors who possessed good taste, this juvenility seemed
inconsistent, and threw into the shade the finish, polish, and animation
which characterized his style. His delivery was probably no less
unsuitable to more advanced years. We are told that Æsop and Roscius
used to study his action as a lesson;[419] and that one Torquatus
sneeringly called him Dionysius, who was a celebrated dancer of that
day. His defence was clever: “I had rather,” he said, “be that than a
clumsy Torquatus.” But these very anecdotes seem to imply that his
delivery was somewhat foppish and theatrical.

                             CHAPTER XIII.

Politics and jurisprudence were the subjects on which the Romans
especially pursued independent lines of thought; but their jurisprudence
was the more original of the two. Although the practical development of
their political system was entirely the work of this eminently practical
people, still in the theory of political science they were followers and
imitators of the Greeks. But in jurisprudence, the help which they
derived from Greece was very slight. The mere framework, so far as the
laws of the Twelve Tables are concerned, came to them from Athens; but
the complete structure was built up by their own hands; and by their
skill and prudence they were the authors of a system possessing such
stability, that they bequeathed it as an inheritance to modern Europe,
and traces of Roman law are visible in the legal systems of the whole
civilized world.

Roman jurisprudence is, of course, a subject of too great extent to be
treated of as its importance deserves in a work like the present; but
still it is so closely connected with eloquence that it cannot be
dismissed without a few words. It has been already stated that arms,
politics, and the bar were the avenues to distinction; and thus many an
ambitious youth, who learned the art of war in a foreign campaign under
some experienced general, occupied himself also at home in the forum.
Not only was the young patrician conscious that he could not efficiently
discharge his first duty to his clients without possessing sufficient
ability and knowledge to defend their rights in a court of law, but this
was an effectual method of showing his fitness for a public career.
Eminence as a jurisconsult opened a direct path to eminence as a
statesman.[420] He must be like Pollio, “_Insigne mæstis præsidium
reis_,” as well as “_Consulenti curiæ_.”[421]

Hence the complicated principles of jurisprudence and of the Roman
constitution became a necessary part of a liberal education. The
brilliant orator, indeed, did sometimes affect to look down with
contempt on such black-letter and antiquarian lore, and stigmatize it as
pedantry;[422] but still common sense compelled the sober-minded to
acknowledge the necessity of the study. They saw that in the courts
eloquence could only be considered as the handmaid to legal knowledge,
even though the saying of Quintilian were true—“_Et leges ipsæ nihil
valent nisi actoris idoneâ voce munitæ_.”[423] When, therefore, a Roman
youth had completed his studies under his teacher of rhetoric, he not
only frequented the forum in order to learn the practical application of
the oratorical principles which he had acquired, and frequently took
some celebrated orator as a model, but also studied the principles of
jurisprudence under an eminent jurist, and attended the consultations in
which they gave to their clients their expositions of law. In fact the
young Roman acquired his legal knowledge in the _atrium_ of the
jurisconsult, somewhat in the same manner that the law student of the
present day pursues his education in the chambers of a barrister. He
studied the subject practically and empirically rather than in its
theory and general principles.

Almost all the knowledge which we possess is derived from the labours of
writers who flourished long after constitutional liberty had expired.

The earliest systematic works on Roman law were the Enchiridion or
Manual of Pomponius, and the Institutes of Gaius, who flourished in the
times of Hadrian and the Antonines. Both these works were for a long
time lost, although numerous fragments were preserved in the Pandects or
Digest of Justinian. In 1816, however, Niebuhr discovered a palimpsest
MS., in which the Epistles of St. Jerome were written over the erased
Institutes of Gaius. But owing to the decisions and interpretations of
the great practising jurists, to the want of any system of reporting and
recording, and to the numerous misunderstandings of the Roman historians
respecting the laws and constitutional history of their country, the
whole subject long continued in a state of confusion: new contradictory
theories had been gradually introduced, and old difficulties had not
been explained and reconciled. Gian Baptista Vico, in his _Scienza
Nova_, was the first who dispelled the clouds of error and reduced it to
a system; and his example was afterwards so successfully followed by
Niebuhr, that modern students can understand the subject more clearly,
and have a more comprehensive antiquarian knowledge of it, than the
writers of the Augustan age.

The earliest Roman laws were the _Leges Regiæ_, which were collected and
codified by Sextus Papirius, and were hence called the Papirian Code.
But these were rude and unconnected—simply a collection of isolated
enactments. The laws of the Twelve Tables stand next in point of
antiquity. They exhibited the first attempts at regular system, and
imbodied not only legislative enactments but legal principles.[424] So
popular were they, that when Cicero was a child every Roman boy
committed them to memory as our children learn their catechism,[425] and
the great orator laments that in the course of his lifetime this
practice had become obsolete. The explanation of these laws was a
privilege confined to the pontifical college. This body alone prescribed
the form of pleading, and published the days on which the courts were
held. Hence, not only the whole practice and exposition of the law was
in the hands of the patricians, but they had also the power of
obstructing at their pleasure all legal business. But in the censorship
of Appius Claudius, his secretary, Cn. Flavius, set up, at the
suggestion of Appius, a Calendar in the Forum, which made known to the
public the days on which legal business could be transacted. In vain the
patricians endeavoured to maintain their monopoly by the invention of
new formulæ, called Notes, for Tiberius Coruncanius, the first plebeian
Pontifex Maximus, who was consul A. U. C. 474, opened a public school of
jurisprudence, and in the middle of the next century[426] the “Notes”
were published by Sextus Ælius Catus.

The oral traditional expositions of these laws formed the groundwork of
the Roman civil law. To these were added from time to time the decrees
of the people (plebiscita,) the acts of the senate (senatus-consulta,)
and the prætorian edicts, which announced the principles on which each
successive prætor purposed to administer the statute law.

Such were the various elements out of which the whole body of Roman law
was composed; and in such early times was the subject diligently studied
and expounded that the latter half of the sixth century A. U. C. was
rich in jurists whose powers are celebrated in history. Besides S. Ælius
Catus, already mentioned, P. Licinius Crassus, surnamed “the rich,” who
was consul A. U. C. 549, is mentioned by Livy[427] as learned in the
pontifical law, the canon law of the ancient Romans. L. Acilius also
wrote commentaries on the laws of the Twelve Tables; and to these may be
added T. Manlius Torquatus, consul A. U. C. 589, S. Fabius Pictor, and
another member of the same distinguished family, Q. Fabius Labeo, Cato
the censor and his son Porcius Cato Licinianus, and lastly P. Cornelius
Nasica, whose services as a jurist were recognised by the grant of a
house at the public expense.

The most eminent jurists who adorned the next century were the Scævolæ.
In their family the profession of the jurisconsult seems to have been
hereditary; of so many bearing that distinguished name, it might have
been said that their house was the oracle of the whole state; “Domus
jurisconsulti totius oraculum civitatis.”[428] Quintus, the augur, was
Cicero’s first instructor in the science of the law: his cousin Publius
enjoyed also a high reputation; and Quintus, the son of Publius, who
became Cicero’s tutor after the death of his elder kinsman, combined the
genius of an orator with the erudition of a jurist, and was called by
his distinguished pupil “the greatest orator among jurists, and the
greatest jurist among orators.” The compiler of the digest also quotes
as authorities M. Manilius and M. Junius Brutus.[429] Manilius is one of
the characters introduced in Cicero’s dialogue _de Republica_: he was
consul A. U. C. 604, and is said to have been the author of seven legal
treatises; but of all these, except three, Cicero denies the authority.
Brutus was the son of the ambassador of that name who was employed in
the war with Perseus, and left a treatise in three books on the civil

In the next century flourished one Ælius Gallus, who was somewhat senior
to Cicero, and was the author of a treatise on the signification of law
terms. Several of his definitions are given by Festus, and fragments are
preserved by A. Gellius,[431] and in the Digest. By some he has been
considered identical with Ælius Gallus, the prefect of Egypt in the
reign of Augustus,[432] who was the friend of the geographer Strabo; but
as there is little doubt that he is quoted by Varro,[433] such identity
is impossible, since Varro died B. C. 28, and yet he speaks of Gallus as
an aged man. Another distinguished jurist of this era was his namesake
C. Aquilius Gallus. He was a pupil of Q. Mucius Scævola, and surpassed
all his contemporaries in that black-letter knowledge of law, which in
olden time was more highly valued than in the more brilliant days of
Cicero. Learning then began to be ridiculed and lightly esteemed, and
oratorical powers were more admired in proportion as the Roman mind
became more alive to the refinements and beauties of language.

But Gallus was most eminent as a law reformer. The written law of Rome
presented by its technicality the greatest impediments to actions on the
unwritten principle of common right and equity. To obviate this he
invented legal fictions, _i. e._ formulæ by which the effects of the
statute could be annulled without the necessity of abrogating the
statute itself. His practice must have been large, for Pliny mentions
that he was the owner of a splendid palace on the Viminal Hill.[434] In
B. C. 67, he served the office of prætor together with Cicero, and both
before and after that he frequently sat as one of the judices. Cicero
pleaded before him in the defence both of Cæcina and Cluentius.

Besides Aquilius Gallus, three of the most distinguished jurists, who
were a few years senior to Cicero, owed their legal knowledge to the
instructions of Mucius Scævola. These were—C. Juventius, Sextus
Papirius, and L. Lucilius Balbus, the last of whom is mentioned by
Cicero,[435] and his works are quoted by his eminent pupil Sulpicius


Towards the conclusion of this literary period a great increase took
place in the numbers of those learned men whom the Romans termed
“_Litterati_,”[436] but afterwards, following the custom of the Greeks,
Grammarians, (_Grammatici_.[437]) To them literature was under deep
obligations. Although few of them were authors, and all of them men of
acquired learning rather than of original genius, they exercised a
powerful influence over the public mind as professors, lecturers,
critics, and school-masters. By them the youths of the best families not
only were imbued with a taste for Greek philosophy and poetry, but also
were taught to appreciate the literature of their own country.

Suetonius places at the head of the class Livius Andronicus and Ennius;
but their fame as poets eclipses their reputation as mere critics and

The first professed grammarian whom he mentions is Crates Mallotes, who,
between the first and second Punic wars, was sent to Rome by Attalus.
The unfortunate ambassador fell into an open drain and broke his leg,
and beguiled the tediousness of his confinement by reading a course of
philological lectures. After him C. Octavius Lampadio edited the works
of Nævius; Q. Vargunteius those of Ennius; and Lælius, Archelaus,
Vectius, and Q. Philocomus read and explained to a circle of auditors
the Satires of Lucilius.

Most of these grammarians were emancipated slaves: some were Greeks,
some barbarians. Sævius Nicanor and Aurelius Opilius were freedmen: the
latter had belonged to the household of some Epicurean philosopher.
Cornelius Epicadus was a freedman of Sulla, and completed the
Commentaries which his patron left unfinished, and Lenæus was freedman
of Pompey the Great. M. Pompilius Andronicus was a Syrian; M. Antonius
Gnipho, though of ingenuous birth, a Gaul. Servius Clodius, however, and
L. Ælius Lanuvinus were Roman knights. Nor were the labours of these
industrious scholars confined to Rome, or even to Italy; for Octavius
Teucer, Siscennius Iacchus and Oppius Chares gave instructions in the
province of Gallia Togata.

To the names already mentioned may be added those of L. Ælius Stilo, who
accompanied L. Metellus Numidicus into exile, and Valerius Cato, who not
only taught the art of poetry, but was himself a poet.

We have now traced from its infancy the rise and progress of Roman
literature, and watched the gradual opening of the national intellect.
The dawn has gently broken, the light has steadily increased, and is now
succeeded by the noon-day brilliance of the “golden age.”

                                BOOK II.
                    THE ERA OF CICERO AND AUGUSTUS.

                               CHAPTER I.

During the period upon which we are now entering, Roman literature
arrived at its greatest perfection. The time at which it attained the
highest point of excellence is fixed by Niebuhr[438] about A. U. C. 680,
when Cicero was between thirty and forty years old. Poetry, indeed,
still continued to improve, as regarded metrical structure and diction,
in finish, smoothness, and harmony. There is _ex. gr._ in these respects
a marked difference between the works of Lucretius and Virgil; but
nevertheless the principles of language now became fixed and settled. In
fact, the condition of a language must be judged of by its prose; so
must likewise the state of perfection to which its literature has
attained. If poetry could be with propriety assumed as the standard, the
commencement of the empire of Augustus would constitute the best age of
Latin literature, rather than the time when the forum echoed with the
eloquence of Cicero; but in the two ages of Cicero and Augustus, taken
together as forming one era, is comprehended the golden age both of
poetry and prose.

Dramatic literature, however, never recovered from the trance into which
it had fallen. The stage had not altogether lost that popularity which
it had possessed in the days of Attius and Terence, for Æsopus and
Roscius, the former the great tragedian, the latter the favourite
comedian, in the time of Cicero, amassed great wealth. Æsopus lived
liberally,[439] and yet bequeathed a fortune to his son, and Roscius is
said to have earned daily the sum of thirty-two pounds.

Notwithstanding, also, the degradation attached to the social position
of an actor, both these eminent artists enjoyed the friendship of Cicero
and other great men. They brought to the study of their profession
industry, taste, talent, and learning, and these qualities were
appreciated. Æsopus was on one occasion encored a countless number of
times (_millies_)[440] by an enthusiastic audience, and Roscius was
elevated by Sulla to the equestrian dignity. But although the standard
Roman plays were constantly represented, dramatic literature had become
extinct. No one wrote comedy at all, and the tragedies of Valgius Rufus
and Asinius Pollio were only intended for reading or recitation. Nor, as
has been already shown, does the Thyestes of Varus really form an
exception to this statement.

The dramatic entertainments which had now taken the place of comedy and
tragedy were termed mimes.

Their distinguishing appellation was derived from the Greek, but they
entirely differed from those compositions to which the Greeks applied
that title. The latter were written not in verse, but in prose;[441]
they were dialogues, not dramatic pieces, and though they were exhibited
at certain festivals, and the parts supported by actors, they were never
represented on the stage. Even when Sophron, whose compositions were
admired and imitated by Plato,[442] raised them to their highest degree
of perfection, and made them vehicles of serious moral lessons mingling
together ludicrous buffoonery with grave philosophy, their language was
only a rhythmical prose, probably somewhat resembling that in which the
celebrated despatch of Hippocrates[443] was written. Some idea may be
formed of their nature from the fact that the idylls of Theocritus were
imitated from the mimes of Sophron, and that Persius took them for his
model in his peculiarly dramatic satires.[444]

The Roman mimes were laughable imitations of manners and persons. So far
they combined features of comedy and farce; for comedy represents the
characters of a class—farce those of individuals. Their essence was that
of the modern pantomime; mimicry and burlesque dialogue were only
accidentally introduced. Their coarseness and even indecency[445]
gratified the love of broad humour which characterized the Roman people.
They became successful rivals of comedy, and thus came to be admitted on
the public stage. It is most probable that like other dramatic
exhibitions, they originally grew out of the Fabulæ Atellanæ, which they
afterwards superseded. But notwithstanding their indecency, their satire
upon the living, and their burlesque representations of the illustrious
dead, when exhibited at funeral games, they had sometimes, like the
mimes of Sophron, a moral character, and abounded in shrewd wisdom and
noble sentiments.[446] Schlegel asserts that there is a great affinity
between the Roman mimes and the pasquinades and harlequinades of modern
Italy. He conjectures that in them may be traced the germ of the
_Comedie dell’ Arte_, and states that the very picture of Polichinello
is found in some of the frescoes of Pompeii.

After a time, when mimes became established as popular favourites, the
dialogue or written part of the entertainment occupied a more prominent
position, and was written in verse, like that of tragedy or comedy. In
the dictatorship of Julius Cæsar, a Roman knight, named Decius Laberius,
became eminent for his mimes. Respecting his merits, we have few
opportunities of forming a judgment, as the fragments of his
writings[447] are but few and short; but Horace[448] speaks of them in
unfavourable language, and finds fault with their carelessness and want
of regular plan. He was born about B. C. 107,[449] and died B. C. 45, at
Puteoli, (Pozzuoli.) The profession of an actor of mimes was infamous;
but Laberius was a writer, not an actor. It happened, however, that P.
Syrus, who had been first the slave, then the freedman and pupil of
Laberius, and lastly a professional actor, challenged all his brethren
to a trial of improvisatorial skill. Cæsar entreated Laberius to enter
the lists, and offered him five hundred sestertia (about 4,000_l._)
Laberius did not submit to the degradation for the sake of the money,
but he was afraid to refuse. The only method of retaliation in his power
was sarcasm. His part was that of a slave, and when his master scourged
him, he exclaimed, “Porro, Quirites, libertatem perdimus!” His words
were received with a round of applause, and the audience fixed their
eyes on Cæsar. On another occasion his attack on the Dictator was almost

              Necesse est multos timeat quem multi timent.

He appears to have been always quick and ready in repartee. When, on
being vanquished by his adversary Syrus, the Dictator said to him with a

                Favente tibi me victus es Laberi a Syro,

He replied with the following sad but true reflections:—

           Non possunt primi esse omnes omni in tempore,
           Summum ad gradum cum claritatis veneris
           Consistes ægre; et quum descendas decides;
           Cecidi ego, cadet qui sequitur, laus est publica.

Cæsar, however, restored to him the rank and equestrian privileges of
which his act had deprived him; but still he could not recover the
respect of his countrymen. As he passed the orchestra in his way to the
stalls of the knights, Cicero cried out, “If we were not so crowded, I
would make room for you here.” Laberius replied, alluding to Cicero’s
lukewarmness as a political partisan, “I am astonished that you should
be crowded, as you generally sit on two stools.” The calm and feeling
rebuke with which, in the prologue to his mime, he remonstrated against
the tyranny of Cæsar, is singularly spirited and beautiful:—

  Necessitas, cujus cursus transversi impetum
  Voluerunt multi effugere, pauci potuerunt,
  Quo me detrusit pæne extremis sensibus?
  Quem nulla ambitio, nulla unquam largitio,
  Nullus timor, vis nulla, nulla auctoritas
  Movere potuit in juventa de statu;
  Ecce in senecta ut facile labefecit loco
  Viri excellentis mente clemente edita
  Submissa placide blandiloquens oratio!
  Etenim ipsi Dii negare cui nihil potuerunt,
  Hominem me denegare quis possit pati?
  Ergo bis tricenis actis annis sine nota
  Eques Romanus lare egressus meo
  Domum revertas mimus; Nimirum hoc die
  Uno plus vixi mihi quam vivendum fuit
  Fortuna, immoderata in bono æque atque in malo,
  Si tibi erat libitum literarum laudibus
  Floris cacumen nostræ famæ frangere,
  Cur quum vigebam membris præviridantibus,
  Satisfacere populo et tali cum poteram viro,
  Non flexibilem me concurvasti ut carperes?
  Nunc me quo dejicis? quid ad scenam affero?
  Decorem formæ, an dignitatem corporis,
  Animi virtutem, an vocis jucundæ sonum?
  Ut hedera serpens vires arboreas necat,
  Ita me vetustas amplexa annorum enecat,
  Sepulchri similis nihil nomen retines.

  O, strong Necessity! of whose swift course
  So many feel, so few escape the force,
  Whither, ah whither, in thy prone career,
  Hast thou decreed this dying frame to bear?
  Me, in my better days, nor foe, nor friend,
  Nor threat, nor bribe, nor vanity could bend;
  Now, lured by flattery, in my weaker age
  I sink my knighthood and ascend the stage.
  Yet muse not therefore—how shall man gainsay
  Him whom the Deities themselves obey?
  Sixty long years I’ve lived without disgrace
  A Roman knight!—let dignity give place;
  I’m Cæsar’s actor now, and compass more
  In one short hour than all my life before.
  O Fortune! fickle source of good and ill,
  If here to place me was thy sovereign will,
  Why, when I’d youth and faculties to please
  So great a master, and such guests as these,
  Why not compel me then, malicious power,
  To the hard task of this degrading hour?
  Where now, in what profound abyss of shame,
  Dost thou conspire with Fate to sink my name?
  Whence are my hopes? What voice can age supply
  To charm the ear, what grace to please the eye?
  Where is the active energy and art,
  The look that guides its passion to the heart?
  Age creeps like ivy o’er my withered trunk,
  Its bloom all blasted and its vigour shrunk;
  A tomb, where nothing but a name remains
  To tell the world whose ashes it contains.

Another poet of this age who composed mimes was C. Matius, surnamed,
from his baldness, Calvena. His mimes were termed _Mimiambi_, because he
wrote in the iambic measure,[450] and he was also a translator of the
Iliad as well as the author of a work on cookery. His principal merit is
said to have been his skill in enriching his native language by the
introduction of new words.[451] He was somewhat younger than Laberius,
and enjoyed the friendship of the greatest amongst his contemporaries.
His intimacy with Julius Cæsar,[452] to whom he was warmly
attached,[453] and afterwards with Augustus,[454] gave him great
influence;[455] but he never took much part in the political strife
which imbittered his times, nor did he use his influence in order to
procure his own advancement.

His retired habits and love of literary leisure saved him from seeking
his happiness in the excitements of ambition. Cicero, who loved him
dearly, often mentions him in his letters, and pays a compliment[456] to
his learning and amiability. An interesting letter of his, which is
preserved in the collection of Cicero’s epistles to his friends,[457]
shows that he possessed an accomplished mind and an affectionate heart.
It cannot be supposed, therefore, that his _Mimiambi_ were debased by
the too common faults of coarseness and immodesty.

                             PUBLIUS SYRUS.

Publius Syrus was, as his name implies, originally a Syrian slave, and
took his prænomen from the master who gave him his freedom. All that is
known respecting his life has already been stated in the account of
Laberius. The commendations which his mimes received from the ancients,
especially from Cicero,[458] Seneca,[459] and Pliny,[460] prove them to
have been much read and admired. The fragments which still remain are
marked by wit and neatness, and the shrewd wisdom of proverbial
philosophy. Tradition has also recorded a _bon-mot_ of his, which is as
witty as it is severe. Seeing once an ill-tempered man, named Mucius, in
low spirits, he remarked, “Either some bad fortune has happened to
Mucius, or some good fortune to one of his friends.” An accurate
knowledge of human nature, exhibited in pointed and terse language, most
probably constituted the charm of this species of scenic literature. The
large collection of his proverbial sayings, entitled _P. Syri
Sententiæ_, are by no means all genuine; but the nucleus around which
the collection has grown by successive additions is undoubtedly his, and
those which are the work of after ages are formed after the model of his

The Roman pantomime differed somewhat from the mime—it was a ballet of
action performed by a single dancer. It was first introduced in its
complete form in the reign of Augustus: and Suidas,[461] misquoting a
passage from Zosimus,[462] groundlessly attributes the invention to the
emperor himself. As the mime bore some resemblance to the Atellan
farces, so the pantomime resembled the histrionic performances
introduced by Livius Andronicus. In both, the person who recited the
words (_canticum_[463]) was different from him who represented the
characters. In the pantomime, the _canticum_ was sung by a chorus
arrayed at the back of the stage. Until the times of the later emperors,
when vice was paraded with unblushing effrontery, women never acted in
pantomime; but the exhibition itself was sensual and licentious in its
character,[464] and the actors of it were deservedly deemed infamous,
and forbidden by Tiberius to hold any intercourse with Romans of
equestrian or senatorial dignity.[465] Nero, however, outraged public
decency by himself appearing in pantomime.[466] Fortunate was it for the
dignity of Rome that the face of the emperor was concealed behind a mask
which, unlike the performers in the mimes, the pantomimic actors always
wore. The players not only exhibited the human figure in the most
graceful attitudes, but represented every passion and emotion with such
truth, that the spectators could without difficulty understand the
story. Sometimes the scenes represented were founded upon the Greek
tragic drama; but for its purifying effect was substituted the awakening
of licentious passions.

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

The principal actors of pantomime in the reign of Augustus were
Bathyllus, Hylas, and Pylades. In the reign of Nero the art was
practised by Latinus,[467] and Paris, who taught the emperor to dance,
and subsequently was put to death by Nero when he became his rival for
popular applause.[468] But those who attained the highest degree of
popularity were another Latinus, and another Paris, who flourished in
the reign of Domitian. Both have been immortalized in the epigrams of
Martial.[469] To the former, Martial attributes the power to fascinate
such stern and rigid moralists as resembled Cato, the Curii, and
Fabricii. The epitaph concludes with these lines:—

              Vos me laurigeri parasitum dicite Phœbi,
              Roma sui famulum dum sciat esse Jovis.

              Say ye I gained the laurelled Phœbus’ love,
              So that Rome hails me servant of her Jove.

The latter, by his popularity, acquired great influence at court, but
his profligacy proved his ruin. He intrigued with the empress Domitia;
and Domitian consequently divorced his wife, and caused Paris to be
assassinated. He has furnished a plot and a hero to Massinger’s play of
the “Roman Actor.” The simple and beautiful epitaph written to his
memory by Martial is as follows:—

             Quisquis Flaminiam teris, viator,
             Noli nobile præterire marmor.
             Urbis deliciæ, salesque Nili,
             Ars et gratia, lusus et voluptas;
             Romani decus et dolor theatri,
             Atque omnes Veneres, Cupidinesque,
             Hoc sunt condita, quo Paris, sepulchro.

             Whoe’er thou art, O traveller, stay!
             Mark what proud tomb adorns the way.
             The town’s delight, the wit of Nile,
             Art, grace, mirth, pleasure, sport and smile:
             The honour of the Roman stage,
             The grief and sorrow of the age:
             All Venuses and Loves lie here
             Buried in Paris’ sepulchre.

                              CHAPTER II.

                    LUCRETIUS CARUS (BORN B. C. 95.)

Lucretius Carus might claim a place amongst philosophers as well as
poets, for his poem marks an epoch both in poetry and philosophy. But
his philosophy is a mere reflexion from that of Greece, whilst his
poetry is bright with the rays of original genius. A delineation,
therefore, of his characteristics as a writer of the imagination, will
present the more accurate idea of the place which he occupies amongst
Roman authors. It was no empty boast of his, that, as a poet, he
deserved the praise of originality—that he had opened a path through the
territory of the muse, untrodden before by poet’s foot—that he had drawn
from a virgin fountain, and culled fresh flowers whence the Muse had
never yet sought them to wreathe a garland for the poet’s brow.[470]

Few materials exist for the compilation of his biography. From two
passages[471] in his work, in which he states that his native language
was Latin, it is clear that he was born within the limits of Italy. The
date of his birth is generally fixed B. C. 95.[472] The prevalence of
the Epicurean philosophy, and the additional popularity with which his
talents invested the fashionable creed, combined to raise him to the
equestrian dignity; and, consistently with his cold and hopeless
atheism—his proud disbelief in a superintending Providence—he died by
his own hand in the prime of life and in the forty-fourth year of his
age.[473] The story that his work was written in the lucid intervals of
a madness produced by a love-potion, as well as his residence at Athens
for the purpose of study, rest upon no foundation.

His poem _On the Nature of Things_ is divided into six books, and is
written in imitation of that of Empedocles, who is the subject of his
warmest praise and admiration. Whilst its subject is philosophical and
its purpose didactic, its unity of design, the one point of view from
which he regards the various doctrines of the master whose principles he
adopts, claims for it the rank of an epic poem.

This epic structure prevents it from being a complete and systematic
survey of the whole Epicurean philosophy; but, notwithstanding this
deficiency in point of comprehensiveness, the exactness and fidelity
with which he represents those doctrines which he enunciates, renders
him deserving of the credit of having given to his countrymen, as far as
epic writing permitted, an accurate view of the philosophical system
which then enjoyed the highest degree of popularity.

Although Greek philosophy furnished Lucretius with his subject, and a
Greek poem served as a model, he also saw and valued the capabilities of
the Latin language—he wielded at will its power of embodying the noblest
thoughts, and showed how its copious and flexible properties could
overcome the hard technicalities of science. Grand as were his
conceptions, the language of Lucretius is not inferior to them in
majesty. Without violating philosophical accuracy, he never appears to
feel it a restraint to his muse: his fancy is always lively, his
imagination has free scope even when his thoughts are fixed in the
abstrusest theories, and engaged in the most subtle argumentation.[474]

The great beauty of the poetry of Lucretius is its variety. One might
expect sublimity in the philosopher who penetrates the secrets of the
natural world, and discloses to the eye of man the hidden causes of its
wonderful phenomena. His object was a lofty one; for, although the
irrational absurdities of the national creed drove him into the opposite
evils of skepticism and unbelief, his aim was to set the intellect free
from the trammels of superstition. But besides grandeur and sublimity we
find the totally different poetical qualities of softness and
tenderness. Rome had long known nothing but war, and was now rent by
that worst and most demoralizing kind of war, civil dissension.
Lucretius yearned for peace; and his prayer, that the fabled goddess of
all that is beautiful in nature would heal the wounds which discord had
made, is distinguished by tenderness and pathos even more than by
sublimity. The whole passage is superior to the poetry of Ovid in force,
although inferior in facility. His versification is not so smooth and
harmonious as that of Virgil, who flourished in a period when the
language had attained a higher degree of perfection, and the Roman ear
was more educated, and therefore more delicately attuned, but it is
never harsh and rugged, and always falls upon the ear with a swelling
and sonorous melody. Virgil appreciated his excellence, and imitated not
only single expressions, but almost entire verses and passages.[475]

As an example of sublimity, few passages can equal that in which he
describes the prostration of human intellect under the grievous
superstition, the dauntless purpose of Epicurus to free men from her
oppressive rule, and to enable him to burst open the portals of Nature’s
treasure-house, and thus gain a victory which will place him on an
equality with the inhabitants of heaven:—

        Humana ante oculos fede quom vita jaceret
        In terris, oppressa gravi sub Religione,
        Quæ caput a cœli regionibus ostendebat,
        Horribili super aspectu mortalibus instans;
        Primum Graius homo mortales tendere contra
        Est oculos ausus, primusque obsistere contra;
        Quem neque fama deûm nec fulmina nec minitanti
        Murmure compressit cœlum, sed eo magis acrem
        Irritât animi virtutem, effringere ut arcta
        Naturæ primus portarum claustra cupiret.
        Ergo vivida vis animi pervicit et extra
        Processit longe flammantia mœnia mondi,
        Atque omne immensum peragravit mente animoque;
        Unde refert nobis victor, quid possit oriri,
        Quid nequeat; finita potestas denique quoique
        Quanam sit ratione, atque alte terminus hærens.
        Quare Religio, pedibus subjecta, vicissim
        Obteritur; nos exæquat victoria cœlo.
                                                    Lib. i. 63.

The idea which the poet here presents to the mind of his readers is of
the same kind with that which pervades the writings of the Greek
tragedians: it is that of the limited energies of mortals resolutely
struggling with a superior and almost irresistible power.

The thrilling narrative of the plague at Athens, with all its physical
and moral horrors, is one of the most heart-rending specimens of
descriptive poetry. The stern rejection of all fear of death, though
based upon a denial of the immortality of the soul, is a noble burst of
poetical as well as philosophical enthusiasm; and the fifth book
displays that perfect finish and accomplished grace which characterizes
all the best Roman poets. Amongst the most affecting passages may be
enumerated those which describe the early sorrows of the human race, and
the grief of the bereaved animal whose young one has been slain in
sacrifice.[476] Two other fine passages are the philosophical
explanation of Tartarus, and the panoramic view of the tempest of human
desires, seen from the rocky heights of philosophy—a glorious
descriptive piece which has been imitated by Lord Bacon.

The following lines show how beautifully the poet has caught the spirit
and feeling of Greek fancy, and how capable the Latin language now was
of adequately expressing them:—

       Aulide quo pacto Triviai virginis aram
       Iphianassai turparunt sanguine fede
       Ductores Danaum delectei, prima virorum
       Cui simul infula, virgineos circumdata comtus,
       Ex utraque pari malarum parte profusa est;
       Et mœstum simul ante aras astare parentem
       Sensit, et hunc propter ferrum celare ministros,
       Aspectuque suo lacrumas effundere civeis;
       Muta metu, terram genibus summissa, petebat:
       Nec miseræ prodesse in tali tempore quibat,
       Quod patrio princeps donarat nomine regem
       Nam sublata virum manibus, tremebundaque, ad aras
       Deducta est; non ut, solenni more sacrorum
       Perfecto, posset claro comitari hymenæo;
       Sed, casta incerte, nubendi tempore in ipso,
       Hostia concideret mactatu mœsta parentis,
       Exitus ut classi felix faustusque daretur.
       Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum!

       By that Diana’s cruel altar flowed
       With innocent and royal virgin’s blood:
       Unhappy maid! with sacred ribands bound,
       Religious pride! and holy garlands crowned;
       To meet an undeserved, untimely fate,
       Led by the Grecian chiefs in pomp and state;
       She saw her father by, whose tears did flow
       In streams—the only pity he could show.
       She saw the crafty priest conceal the knife
       From him, blessed and prepared against her life!
       She saw her citizens, with weeping eyes,
       Unwillingly attend the sacrifice.
       Then, dumb with grief, her tears did pity crave,
       But ’twas beyond her father’s power to save.
       In vain did innocence, youth, and beauty plead;
       In vain the first pledge of his nuptial bed;
       She fell—even now grown ripe for bridal joy—
       To bribe the gods, and buy a wind for Troy.
       So died this innocent, this royal maid:
       Such fiendish acts religion could persuade.      _Creech._

It cannot be denied that there are in the poem of Lucretius many barren
wastes over which are scattered the rubbish and _débris_ of a false
philosophy; but even in these deserts the oases are numerous enough to
prevent exhaustion and fatigue. They recur too frequently to enumerate
them all. If the attempt were made, other tastes would still discover
fresh examples.

The following is, in a few words, the plan and structure of the
poem:—Its professed object is to emancipate mankind from the debasing
effects of superstition by an exposition of the leading tenets of the
Epicurean school. It is divided into six books. In the first, the poet
enunciates and copiously illustrates the grand axiom of his system of
the universe, together with the corollaries which necessarily arise from
it. “Nothing is created out of nothing.” He commences also the subject
of the atomic theory. In the second book he pursues the subject of
creation generally, and the various functions of animal life. The third
treats of the nature of the soil. The fourth contains the theory of
sensation, especially of sight; of the relation which thought bears to
matter; of the passions, and especially of the influence of love, both
physical and moral. The fifth book is devoted to the history of mankind.
The sixth explains the phenomena of the natural world, including those
of disease and death.

The following are the leading Epicurean doctrines imbodied in the
poem:—There are divine beings, but they are neither the
creators[477] nor the governors of the world.[478] They live in the
enjoyment of perfect happiness and repose, regardless of human
affairs, unaffected by man’s virtues and vices, happiness or misery.
Neither have they the power any more than the will to interfere in
the affairs of the world, for they cannot resist the eternal laws of
nature and destiny. Whilst, in deference to the innate sense which
revolts at the denial of a God, he acknowledges the existence of
divine beings, the proofs which he adduces as derived from his great
master are weak and unsatisfactory.[479] The corollary of this
disbelief in Divine Providence is practical atheism. The ideas which
man entertains of God are false, because they are the mere creations
of the imagination. Ignorant of the real causes which lead to
natural phenomena, he conjures up these as the machinery to account
for them.[480] The popular belief is groundless; and yet the poet
believes that if this system is overthrown there is nothing to
supply its place, and hence all worship, whether prayer or praise,
is grovelling superstition.[481] The only true piety consists in
calm and peaceful contemplation.[482]

To those who argue that unbelief leads to ungodliness, his answer is
that what man calls religion has led to the greatest crimes.[483] He is
not entirely destitute of the religious sentiment or the principle of
faith, for he deifies nature[484] and has a veneration for her laws; and
hence his infidelity must be viewed rather in the light of a
philosophical protest against the degrading results of heathen
superstition than a total rejection of the principle of religious faith.

It is here that Lucretius seems for awhile to leave the authority of
Epicurus; and with the inspiration of a poet, which is hardly consistent
with a total absence of veneration and faith, to forsake his cold and
heartless system. Although he asserts that the phenomena of nature are
the result of a combination of atoms, that these elementary particles
are self-existent and eternal, he seems to invest nature with a sort of
personality. The warm sensibility of the poet overcomes the cold logic
of the philosopher. Dissatisfied with the ungenial idea of an abstract
lifeless principle, he yearns for the maternal caresses of a being
endued with energies and faculties with which he can sympathize. He
therefore ascribes to nature an attribute which can only belong to an
intelligent agent having ruling power. Nay, he even goes farther than
this, and absolutely contradicts the dogmas of the Epicurean school.
Even the works of nature are represented as instinct with life.[485] The
sun is spoken of as a being who, by the warmth of his beams, vivifies
all things: the earth, from whose womb all things spring, fosters and
nurtures all her children. The very stars may possibly be living beings,
performing their stated motions in search of their proper
sustenance.[486] These are, doubtless, the fancies of the poet rather
than the grave and serious belief of the philosopher; but they prove how
false, hollow, and artificial is a system which pretends to account for
creation by natural causes, and how earnestly the human mind craves
after the comfort and support of a personal deity.

The denial of the immortality of the soul is inferred from the
destructibility of the material elements out of which it is composed. It
must perish immediately that it is deprived of the protection of the
body.[487] In accordance with this psychical theory, he accounts for the
difference of human tempers and characters. Character results from the
combination of the elementary principles:—a predominance of heat
produces the choleric disposition; that of wind produces timidity; that
of air a calm and equable temper.[488] But this natural constitution,
the strength of the will, acted upon by education, is able, to a certain
extent, to modify, though it cannot effect a complete change. Thus it is
that, although moral as well as physical phenomena are produced in
accordance with fixed laws, human ills result from unbridled passions,
and may be remedied by philosophy.

Although, if tried by a Christian standard, the Lucretian morality is by
no means pure,[489] yet even where he permits laxity he is not
insensible to the moral beauty, the happy and holy results of purity and
chastity.[490] Nor, notwithstanding the assertions of Cicero,[491] can
the charge of immorality or of a selfish love of impure pleasure be made
against Lucretius or Epicurus. The distinction which the latter drew
between lawful and unlawful pleasures was severe and uncompromising. The
former speaks of the hell which the wicked sensualist always carries
within his own breast[492]—of the satisfaction of true wisdom,[493] and
of a conscience void of offence.[494]

Again, Epicurus was a man of almost Christian gentleness. Stoical
grossness and contempt of refinement revolted him; the unamiable
severity of that sect was alien to his nature. He was thus driven to the
opposite extreme; and although he was careful to make pure intellectual
pleasure the _summum bonum_, his standard laid him open to objections
from his jealous adversaries. The zeal with which many distinguished
females devoted themselves to his system, and became his disciples
because his doctrines and character especially recommended themselves to
the female sex, made it easy for his enemies to stigmatize them as
_effeminate_, instead of praising them as _feminine_. With that
illiberality which refused to woman freedom of conduct and a liberal
education, his adversaries calumniated the characters of his pupils,
represented them as unchaste, and their instructor as licentious. Nor
did they hesitate even to support these accusations by forgeries.[495]

A careless reception of their calumnies without investigation, added to
the general, and perhaps wilful, misapprehension which prevailed among
the Romans in the days of Cicero, led to the misrepresentations which
are found in his writings. These have been handed down to after ages:
and thus the doctrines taught by Epicurus have been loaded with
undeserved obloquy.[496] There is, however, no doubt that Epicurism was
adopted by the Romans in a corrupt form, and that it became fashionable
because it was supposed to encourage indifferentism and sensuality. It
is probable, too, that the denial of immortality contributed much to the
depravation and distortion of his system. Nothing so surely demoralizes
as destroying the hopes of eternity. Man cannot commune with God, or
soar on high to spiritual things, unless he hopes to be spiritualized
and to see God as He is. Whatever the philosopher may teach as to the
true nature of happiness, man will set up his own corrupt standard,
which his passions and appetites lead him to prefer: he will act on the
principle “Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.” Still it must be
confessed that the views of Epicurus respecting man’s duty to God were
disinterested—founded on ideas of the Divine perfections, not merely on
hopes of reward.[497] His views of sensual pleasures were in accordance
with his simple, frugal life, diametrically opposed to intemperance and
excess. He taught by example as well as by precept, that he who would be
happy must cultivate wisdom and justice, because virtue and happiness
are inseparable. He attached his disciples to him by affection rather
than by admiration; submitted to weakness and sickness with patient
resignation; and died with a heroism which no Stoic could have

Such was the master whom Lucretius followed, and the school to which he
belonged; and though the sternness of the Roman character breathed into
his protest against superstition a bolder spirit of defiance than that
of the placid and resigned Greek, his teaching was equally pure and
noble, and he would have proudly disdained to make philosophy a cloak
for voluptuous profligacy. Poets who surpassed him in gracefulness, and
who were fortunate enough to flourish when the Latin language had become
more plastic, paid due honour to his greatness. Virgil celebrates the
happiness of that man:—

         —— qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas,
         Atque metus omnes, et inexorabile fatum
         Subjecit pedibus, strepitumque Acherontis avari.[498]

His muse is instinct with Lucretian spirit when he describes with such
graphic skill the murrain attacking the brute creation;[499] and Ovid
exclaims that the sublime strains of Lucretius shall never perish until
the day shall arrive when the world shall be given up to destruction.

                       CATULLUS (BORN B. C. 86.)

Contemporary with the great didactic poet, but nine years his junior in
age, flourished C. Valerius Catullus. He was a member of a good family,
residing on the Lago di Garda, in the neighbourhood of Verona,[500] and
his father had the honour of frequently receiving Cæsar as his
guest.[501] At an early age he went to Rome, probably for education, but
his warm temperament and strong passions plunged him into the licentious
excesses of the capital. During this period of his career, passed in the
indulgence of pleasure and gayety, and in the midst of a dissipated
society, he had no more serious occupation than the cultivation of his
literary tastes and talents. The elegant tenderness of his amatory
poetry made him a favourite with the fair sex, for its licentiousness
was not out of keeping with the sentiments and conversation prevalent in
the Roman fashionable world. It must not be supposed that the tone of
society amongst the higher classes was pure and moral, like that of
Cicero and his friends, or that it was not marked by the same licentious
freedom which polluted some even of their most graceful poems.

The poetry of Catullus was such as might be expected from the tenor of
his life. The excuse which he made for its character was not a valid
one;[502] for the line in Hadrian’s epitaph on Voconius could not
possibly be applied to him:—

                Lascivus versu, mente pudicus eras.[503]

His mistress, whom he addresses under the feigned name of Lesbia, was
really named Clodia.[504] It has been said that she was the sister of
the infamous Clodius; but there are no grounds for the assertion.

A career of extravagance and debauchery terminated in ruin, and though
his fortune had been originally ample, his affairs became hopelessly
embarrassed; and in order to retrieve them by colonial plunder, he
accompanied Memmius, the friend of Lucretius, when he went as prætor to
Bythinia. Owing, however, to the grasping meanness of his patron his
expectations were disappointed. He returned home “with his purse full of
cobwebs.” Still he enjoyed the privilege of visiting those cities of
Greece and Asia which were the most celebrated for literature and the
fine arts.

When he went to Asia he visited the grave of a brother who had died in
the Troad, and who was buried on the Rhætian promontory; and a poem
which he addressed on the occasion to Hortalus, the dissipated son of
the orator Hortensius, as well as another dedicated to Manlius, bear
witness to the warmth of his fraternal affection. The former is a
beautiful and touching specimen of his elegiac style:—

             Multas per gentes et multa per æquora vectus,
               Adveni has miseras frater ad inferias.
             Ut te postremo donarem munere mortis
               Et mutum nequidquam alloquerer cinerem.
             Quandoquidem fortuna mihi tete abstulit ipsum
               Has miser indigne frater adempte mihi!
             Nunc tamen interea prisco quæ more parentum
               Tradita sub tristes munera ad inferias
             Accipe fraterno multum manantia fletu
               Atque in perpetuum frater ave atque vale!

On his return to Rome he resumed his old habits, and died in the prime
of life, probably B. C. 47, as that is the latest date to which allusion
is made in his writings.

His works consist of numerous short fugitive pieces of a lyrical
character; elegies, such as that already quoted; a secular hymn to
Diana; a poem, somewhat of a dithyrambic character, entitled Atys; and
the Epithalamium of Peleus and Thetis, a mythological poem in heroic
verse. His taste was evidently formed on a study of the Greek poets,
from whom he learnt not only his beautiful hendecasyllables, but also
their modes of thought and expression. He had skill and taste to adopt
the materials with which his vast erudition furnished him, and to
conceal his want of originality and inspiration. Some of his pieces are
translations from the Greek, as, for example, the elegy on the hair of
Berenice, which is taken from the Greek of Callimachus, and the
celebrated ode of Sappho.[505] He was one of the most popular of the
Roman poets—firstly, because he possessed those qualities which the
literary society of Rome most highly valued, namely, polish and
learning; and secondly, because, although he was an imitator, there is a
living reality about all that he wrote—a truly Roman nationality. He did
not merely disguise the inspiration of Greece in a Latin dress, but
invested Roman life, and thoughts, and social habits with the ideal of
Greek love and beauty. For these reasons his fame flourished as long as
Rome possessed a classical literature. Two eminent men only have
withheld their admiration—Horace in the golden age; Quintilian in the
period of the decline. The former disparages him as a lyrical poet; the
latter almost passes him over in silence. Horace was jealous of a rival
who was so nearly equal to himself: he could not bear the remotest
chance of his claim being disputed to be the musician of the Roman
lyre;[506] and he dishonestly declared that he first adapted Æolian
strains to the Roman lyre,[507] notwithstanding the Lesbian character
and hendecasyllabic metres of his predecessor. Quintilian could not
appreciate Catullus, because his own taste was too stiff and affected,
and spoilt by the rhetorical spirit of his age.

Catullus had a talent for satire, but his satire was not inspired by a
noble indignation at vice and wrong. It was the bitter resentment of a
vindictive spirit: his love and his hate were both purely selfish. His
language of love expresses the feelings of an impure voluptuary; his
language of scorn those of a disappointed one. He gratified his
irritable temper by attacking Cæsar most offensively; but the noble
Roman would not crush the insect which annoyed him; and although
Catullus insulted him personally by reading his lampoons in his
presence, not a change passed over his countenance: he would not stoop
to avenge himself: and the imperial clemency disarmed the anger of the
libeller. The strong prejudice of Niebuhr in favour of Roman antiquity
led him to pronounce Catullus a gigantic and extraordinary genius, equal
in every respect to the lyric poets of Greece previously to the time of
Sophocles; he believed him to be the greatest poet Rome ever possessed,
except, perhaps, some few of the early ones; but that great man also
thought that Virgil had mistaken his vocation in becoming an epic
instead of a lyric poet.[508] Catullus certainly possessed great
excellences and talents of the most alluring and captivating kind. No
genius ever displayed itself under a greater variety of aspects. He has
the playfulness and the petulance of a girl, the vivacity and simplicity
of a child. He has never been surpassed in gracefulness, melody, and
tenderness. No one, unless he possessed the coolness and self-command of
a Cæsar, could have avoided wincing under the sharp attacks of his wit:
he had passion and vehemence, but he had not the grandeur and sublimity
either of Lucretius or Virgil.

Although the peculiar characteristics of his poetry are chiefly to be
found in his lyric and elegiac poems, there are in his longer pieces,
which are less known and less admired, passages of singular sweetness
and beauty. He had not sufficient grasp and comprehensiveness of mind to
conduct an epic poem. His knowledge of human nature, confined as it was
to one of its phases—the development of the softer affections—did not
admit of sufficient variety for so vast a work. His intellectual taste,
like his moral principles, was too ill-regulated to construct a
well-digested plan, necessary to the perfection of an epic poem; but
wherever ingenuity and liveliness in description, or pathos in moving
the affections, are required, the poetry of Catullus does not yield to
that of Ovid or of Virgil.

The poem, entitled the marriage of Peleus and Thetis, bears some slight
resemblance to an heroic poem. Its subject is heroic, for it imbodies a
legend of the heroic age. The characters of mythology play a part in it,
similar to that which they support in the poems of Homer or Virgil. But
it is unconnected and deficient in unity; and the plan is far too
extensive for the dimensions by which it is circumscribed. Nevertheless,
with all these faults, it is pleasing on account of the luxuriance of
its fancy and the brilliancy of its genius. The most beautiful passage,
perhaps, is the episode relating the story of Theseus and Ariadne, which
is introduced into the main body of the poem as being woven and
embroidered on the hangings of the palace of Holeus. The following
verses are taken from this episode,[509] and form part of the complaint
of Ariadne for the perfidious desertion of Theseus:—

          Siccine discedens, neglecto numine Divûm,
          Immemor ah! devota domum perjuria portas?
          Nullane res potuit crudelis flectere mentis
          Consilium? tibi nulla fuit clementia præsto,
          Immite ut nostri vellet mitescere pectus?
          At non hæc quondam nobis promissa dedisti
          Voce; mihi non hoc miseræ sperare jubebas;
          Sed connubia læta, sed optatos hymenæos;
          Quæ cuncta aërii discerpunt irrita venti.
          Jam jam nulla viro juranti fœmina credat,
          Nulla viri speret sermones esse fideles;
          Qui, dum aliquid cupiens animus prægestit apisci,
          Nil metuunt jurare, nihil promittere parcunt;
          Sed simul ac cupidæ mentis satiata libido est,
          Dicta nihil metuere, nihil perjuria curant.
          Certe ego te in medio versantem turbine leti
          Eripui, et potius germanum amittere crevi,
          Quam tibi fallaci supremo in tempore deessem.
          Pro quo dilaceranda feris dabor, alitibusque
          Præda, neque injecta tumulabor mortua terra.
          Quænam te genuit sola sub rupe leæna?
          Quod mare conceptum spumantibus exspuit undis?
          Quæ Syrtis, quæ Scylla vorax, quæ vasta Charybdis,
          Talia qui reddis pro dulci præmia vitæ?
          Si tibi non cordi fuerant connubia nostra,
          Sæva quod horrebas prisci præcepta parentis;
          Attamen in vestras potuisti ducere sedes,
          Quæ tibi jucundo famularer serva labore,
          Candida permulcens liquidis vestigia lymphis,
          Purpureave tuum consternens veste cubile.
          Sed quid ego ignaris nequicquam conqueror auris,
          Externata malo? quæ nullis sensibus auctæ
          Nec missas audire queunt, nec reddere voces.—132–161.

          And couldst thou, Theseus, from her native land
          Thy Ariadne bring, then cruel so
          Desert thy victim on a lonely strand?
          And didst thou, perjured, dare to Athens go,
          Nor dread the weight of Heaven’s avenging blow?
          Could naught thy heart with sacred pity touch?
          Naught make thy soul the baleful plot forego
          ’Gainst her that loved thee? Ah! not once were such
        The vows, the hopes, thy smooth professions did avouch!

          Then all was truth, then did thy honeyed tongue
          Of wedded faith the flattering fable weave.
          All, all unto the winds of heaven are flung!
          Henceforth let never listening maid believe
          Protesting man. When their false hearts conceive
          The selfish wish, to all but pleasure blind,
          No words they spare, no oaths unuttered leave;
          But when possession cloys their pampered mind,
        No care have they for oaths, no words their honour bind.

          For this, then, I from instant death did cover
          Thy faithless bosom; and for this preferred,
          Even to a brother’s blood, a perjured lover;
          Now to be torn by savage beast and bird,
          With no due form, no decent rite, interred!
          What foaming sea, what savage of the night,
          In murky den thy monstrous birth conferred?
          What whirlpool guides and gave thee to the light,
        The welcome boon of life thus basely to requite?

          What though thy royal father’s stern command
          The bond of marriage to our lot forbade,
          Oh! safely still into thy native land
          I might have gone thy happy serving maid;
          There gladly washed thy snowy feet or laid
          Upon thy blissful bed the purple vest.
          Ah, vain appeal! upon the winds conveyed,
          The heedless winds, that hear not my behest:
        No words his ear can reach or penetrate his breast!

The writers of the Augustan age and their successors paid Catullus what
they considered the highest compliment, when they called him _learned_.
Criticism referred everything to the Greek standard. The qualities which
they recognised by this epithet were those which they deemed most
valuable—more so even than originality and invention—an extensive
acquaintance with the materials of Greek story, an elaborate study of
the poets taken as models, a scientific appreciation of the cadences and
harmonies of Greek versification. They were grateful for the blessings
which they were conscious of having derived from mental cultivation; and
the highest praise which they could bestow was to confer upon a poet the
title of a learned and accomplished man.

This period, at which prose reached its zenith, could boast of other
poets, also, besides Lucretius and Catullus, whose merits were
considerable although they did not satisfy the fastidious taste of the
Augustan age. There flourished C. Licinius Calvus,[510] C. Helvius
Cinna, Valerius Cato, Valgius, Ticida, Furius Bibaculus, and Varro

The first of these was a lively little man,[511] an orator as well as a
poet. His speeches were elaborately modelled after those of the Attic
orators; and had his poems displayed the same polish, they might have
satisfied Horace[512] and his contemporaries, and thus have been
preserved. As it is, the fragments which remain are so brief, that it is
impossible to say whether his merits were such as to justify Niebuhr in
placing him amongst the three greatest poets of his age. His poetry
resembled that of Catullus in spirit and morality. It was the
fashionable poetry of the day, and consisted of tender elegy, playful
and sentimental epigram, licentious love-songs, and bitter personality.

Cinna,[513] besides smaller poems, was the author of an epic, entitled
Smyrna; the subject is unknown: but Catullus, who was his intimate
friend, praises it highly, and Virgil modestly declares that, as
compared with Varius and Cinna, he himself appears a goose amongst
swans.[514] Valerius Cato was a grammarian as well as a poet. His two
principal poems were entitled Lydia and Diana;[515] and a fragmentary
poem, to which the title _Diræ_ or _Curses_[516] has been given, has
been generally attributed to him on the grounds that the author pours
forth his woes to a mistress named Lydia. The argument of the piece is
as follows:—The estate of Cato, like that of Virgil, was confiscated and
made a military colony; and smarting under a sense of wrong, he
imprecates curses on his lost home. Then the theme changes: his heart
softens; and in sad accents he bewails his separation from his mistress,
and from all his rural pleasures. This poem was formerly believed to be
the work of Virgil, but neither the language nor the poetry can be
compared to those of the Mantuan bard; nor do the sentiments resemble
the calmness and resignation with which he bears his misfortunes. J.
Scaliger, impressed with these considerations, transferred the
authorship from Virgil to Cato. But there are no sufficient grounds for
determining the question.

Respecting C. Valgius Rufus all is doubt and obscurity. The grammarians
quote from him; Pliny[517] speaks of his learning; Horace[518] refers to
him as an elegiac poet, and expresses the greatest confidence in his
critical taste and judgment. Ticida is mentioned by Suetonius as bearing
testimony to the merits of Valerius Cato. Bibaculus was a bitter
satirist, who spared not the feelings of his friend Cato when reduced
from affluence to poverty;[519] who himself had the vanity to attempt an
epic poem, and by his vulgar taste provoked the severe criticism of

P. Terentius Varro Atacinus was a contemporary of Varro Reatinus; and
for this reason his works have often been confounded with those of the
latter. He was born B. C. 82,[521] near the river Atax in Gaul, and
hence he was surnamed Atacinus, in order to distinguish him from his
learned namesake, who derived his appellation from property which he
possessed at Reati. Very few fragments of his works are extant,[522]
although his poetry was of such a character that Virgil deemed some of
his lines worthy of plagiarizing.[523] His principal work, which is not
spoken of in very high terms by Quintilian,[524] is a translation of the
Argonautica of Apollonius Rhodius. Besides this, he wrote two
geographical poems, namely, the _Chorographia_ and _Libri Navales_, a
heroic poem entitled _Bellum Sequanicum_, on one of the Gallic campaigns
of J. Cæsar, and also some elegies, epigrams, and saturæ.[525]

A fragment of the Chorographia is preserved by Meyer,[526] the
concluding lines of which were evidently imitated by Virgil, and also
the following severe epigram on Licinius:—

            Marmoreo Licinus tumulo jacet, at Cato nullo,
              Pompeius parvo; Quis putet esse Deos?
            Saxa premunt Licinum, levat altum fama Catonem,
              Pompeium tituli. Credimus esse Deos.

                              CHAPTER III.

                   P. VIRGILIUS MARO (BORN B. C. 70.)

The period at which Virgil flourished was singularly favourable both to
the development and appreciation of poetical talent of the most polished
and cultivated kind. The indulgent liberality of the imperial court
cherished and fostered genius: the ruin of republican liberty left the
intellect of the age without any other object except refinement;
imagination was not harassed by the cares and realities of life. The
same causes contributed to limit the range of prose composition,[527]
and therefore the field was left undisputed to Virgil and Horace and
their friends; and as the age of Cicero was essentially one in which
prose literature flourished, so that of Augustus was the golden age of
poetry. Of this age, Virgil stands forth pre-eminent amongst his
contemporaries, as the representative. He exhibited all its
characteristics, polish, ingenuity, and skill, and to these he
superadded dignity and sublimity. The life of Virgil, commonly prefixed
to his works, professes to be written by Tiberius Claudius Donatus, who
lived in the fifth century. If, as Heyne thought, the groundwork is by
him, it has been overlaid with fables similar to those found in the
Gesta Romanorum, and owing their origin to the inventions of the dark
ages. From this biography, stripped of those portions which are clearly
fabulous, and from other sources, the following particulars respecting
him may be derived:—P. Virgilius Maro was born on the ides (the 15th) of
October,[528] B. C. 70, on a small estate belonging to his father, at
Andes (Pietola,) a village of Cisalpine Gaul, situated about three Roman
miles from Mantua. It has been disputed whether his name was Virgilius
or Vergilius. Most probably both orthographies are correct, as _Diana_,
_Minerva_, _liber_, and other Latin words, were frequently written
_Deana_, _Menerva_, _leber_, &c.[529]

Virgil was by birth a citizen of Mantua,[530] but not of Rome, for the
full franchise was not extended to the _Transpadani_ until B. C. 49,
although they enjoyed the Jus Latii as early as B. C. 89. The varied
stores of learning contained in the Georgics and Æneid, abundantly prove
that Virgil received a liberal education. It is said that he acquired
the rudiments of literature at Cremona, where he remained until he had
assumed the _toga virilis_.[531] This event, if the anonymous life is to
be depended upon, took place unusually early; for it is there assigned
to the consulships of Pompey the Great and Licinius Crassus,[532] in the
first consulship of whom he was born. From Cremona he went to Milan, and
thence to Naples, where he studied Greek literature and philosophy under
the direction of Parthenius, a native of Bithynia. Muretus asserts that
he diligently read the history of Thucydides; but his favourite studies
were medicine and mathematics—an unusual discipline to engage the
attention of the future poet, but one which, by its exactness, tended to
foster and mature that judgment which distinguishes his poetry. The
philosophical sect to which he devoted himself was the Epicurean; and
the unfortunate general, P. Quintilius Varus, to whom he addresses his
sixth Eclogue,[533] studied this system together with him under Syron.

After this, it is probable that he came to Rome, but soon exchanged the
bustle of the capital, for which his bashful disposition and delicate
health unfitted him, for the quiet retirement of his hereditary estate.
Of this he was deprived in B. C. 42, with circumstances of great
hardship, when the whole neighbouring district was divided, after the
battle of Philippi, amongst the victorious legionaries of Octavius and
Antony. The town of Cremona had supported Brutus, and the old republican
party, and Mantua, together with its surrounding district, suffered in
consequence of its too close vicinity.[534] Asinius Pollio was at that
time commander of the forces in Cisalpine Gaul. He was grinding and
oppressive in his administration; but being himself an orator, poet, and
historian, he patronised literary men. Congenial tastes recommended
Virgil to his notice, and led him to take compassion on the poet’s
desolate condition. By his advice, Virgil proceeded to Rome with an
introduction to Mæcenas. Through him he gained access to Octavius, and
either immediately before or after the peace of Brundisium[535] his
little farm was restored to him.

He now became a prosperous man, was a member of the literary society
which graced the table of Mæcenas, and basked in sunshine of court
favour. Horace, Virgil, Plotius, and Varius, were united by the closest
bonds of friendship with Mæecenas, and accompanied him on that cheerful
expedition to Brundisium,[536] when he went thither in order to
negotiate a reconciliation between Octavius and Antony. Henceforth
Virgil’s favourite residence was Naples.[537] Its sunny climate suited
his pulmonary weakness far better than the low and damp banks of his
native Mincius (Menzo.) He had, besides, a villa in Sicily, and when at
Rome he lived in a pleasant house on the Esquiline, situated near those
of his friends Mæcenas and Horace. It is difficult to say how Virgil
became so rich: patrons were liberal in those days, and he doubtless
owed a portion of his affluence to their munificence. The liberality of
Mæcenas is well known; and Martial attributes the prosperity of Virgil
to the favour of “the Tuscan knight.”[538] Augustus also had great
wealth at his disposal, and was profuse in the distribution of it
amongst his favourites.

There is a passage in the Odes of Horace[539] which seems to hint that
he engaged to a slight extent in mercantile concerns: even if this
formed one source of his wealth, the love of gain (studium lucri,) and
anxiety about the means of living, do not appear to have hindered him
from devoting his hours of serious occupation to literary labours and
the diligent use of his well-stored library, whilst his leisure was
given to the delights of social intercourse, for which he was so
eminently qualified by his sweet temper and amiable disposition.

The poet’s term of life was not extended far beyond fifty years. He had
never been healthy or robust: he sometimes spat blood, and frequently
suffered from headache and indigestion.[540] Ill health was the only
drawback to a life otherwise passed in calm felicity. In the year B. C.
19 he meditated a tour in Greece, intending, during the course of it, to
give the final polish to his great epic poem. Greece and her classic
scenes, the favourite haunts of the Muses, the time-honoured contests of
Olympia, the living and breathing statues which he beheld in that home
of art, evidently inspired the beautiful imagery which adorns the
introduction to the third Georgic. He, however, only reached Athens:
there he met Augustus, who was on his way back from Samos, and both
returned together. On the occasion of this voyage, Horace wrote that
tender ode[541] in which he affectionately calls him “the half of his

                   Navis quæ tibi creditum
                     Debes Virgilium, finibus Atticis
                   Reddas incolumem precor
                     Et serves animæ dimidium meæ.

On the way he was seized with a mortal sickness, which was aggravated by
the motion of the vessel, and he only lived to land at Brundisium. The
powers of nature, already enfeebled, were now totally exhausted, and he
expired on the 22nd of September. He was buried rather more than a mile
from Naples, on the road to Puteoli (Pozzuoli.) A tomb is still pointed
out to the traveller which is said to be that of the poet. Nor is this
improbable; for, although it is not situated on the present high-road,
it is quite possible that the original direction of the road may have
been changed.[542] His epitaph is said to have been dictated by himself
in his last moments:—

             Mantua me genuit; Calabri rapuere; tenet nunc
               Parthenope. Cecini Pascua, Rura, Duces.[543]

Virgil was deservedly popular both as a poet and as a man. His rivals in
literature could not envy one so unassuming and inoffensive his
well-merited success, but loved him as much as they admired his poetry.
The emperor esteemed him, the people respected him. “Witness,” says
Tacitus,[544] “the letters of Augustus,—witness the conduct of the
people itself, which, when some of his verses were recited in the
theatre, rose _en masse_, and showed the same veneration for Virgil, who
happened to be present among the audience, which they were wont to show
to Augustus.” He was exceedingly temperate in his manner of living; so
pure-minded[545] and chaste in the midst of a profligate and licentious
age, that the Neapolitans gave him the name of Parthenias (from
παρθενος, a virgin,) unselfish, although surrounded by selfishness,
kind-hearted, and sympathizing. His talents and popularity never spoiled
his natural simplicity and modesty, as his moving in the polite circles
of the capital never could entirely wear off his rustic shyness and
unfashionable appearance.

He was constitutionally pensive and melancholy, and so distrustful of
his own poems, that Augustus could not persuade him to send an
unfinished portion of the Æneid to him for perusal. “As to my Æneas,” he
writes to the emperor,[546] when absent on his Cantabrian campaign, “if
I had anything worth your reading I would send it with pleasure, but the
work is only just begun, and I even blame my folly for venturing upon so
vast a task. But you know that I shall apply fresh and increased
diligence to carrying out my design.” It was with real reluctance that
he subsequently read the sixth book to the Emperor and Octavia. In his
last moments he was anxious to burn the whole manuscript; and in his
will he directed his executors, Varius and Tucca, either to improve it
or commit it to the flames.[547] He was open-hearted and generous, but
not extravagant in the expenditure of his wealth, for he bequeathed to
his brother, his friends, and the Emperor, a considerable property.

It is said that Virgil’s earliest poetical essay was an epic poem, the
subject of which was the Roman wars; but that the impossibility of
introducing Roman names in hexameter verse caused him to desist from the
task almost as soon as he had commenced it. The minor poems which are
still extant, were probably his first works. These are the _Culex_,
_Ciris_, _Moretum_, _Copa_, and the shorter pieces in lyric, elegiac,
and iambic metres,[548] commonly known by the name of Catalecta. The
“Culex” (Gnat) is a bucolic poem, with something of a mock-heroic
colouring, of which the argument is as follows:[549] A shepherd,
overcome with the heat, falls asleep beneath the shade of a tree, and a
venomous serpent from a neighbouring marsh stealthily approaches. A gnat
flies to his rescue, and stings him on the brow. The shepherd, awoke by
the smart, crushes his rescuer, but sees the serpent and kills it. The
ghost of the gnat appears, reproaches him with his ingratitude, and
describes the adventures he has met with in the regions of the dead. The
shepherd erects a monument in his honour, and indites the following

            Parve culex, pecudum custos tibi tale merenti
            Funeris officium vitæ pro munere reddit.

            Poor insect, thou a shepherd’s life didst save;
            Thou gavest a life, he gives thee but a grave.

The “Ciris,” which some have attributed to Corn. Gallus, is the Greek
legend of Scylla, who was changed into a fish, and her father Nisus into
an eagle. Great use has been made by Spenser of this poem in the
conversation between Britomart and her nurse Glauce, and also in
Glauce’s incantations.[550] The “Moretum,” was intended to trace the
employments of the agricultural labourer through the day; but it only
describes the commencement of them, and the preparation of a dish of
_olla podrida_ of garden herbs called _moretum_. It contains an
ingenious description of a cottager’s kitchen garden. The “Copa,” is an
elegiac poem, not unlike in jovial spirit the scolia or drinking songs
of the Greeks: it represents a female waiter at a tavern, begging for
custom by a tempting display of the accommodations and comforts prepared
for strangers. It describes the careless enjoyment of rural festivity:
the simple luxuries of grapes and mulberries, the fragrant roses, the
cheerful grasshoppers, and timid little lizards of Italy. Nor are the
excitements of the dice, the joys of wine, the blandishments of love
unsung. Dull care is banished far, and the enjoyment of the present hour

                     Pereant qui crastina curant
                 Mors aurem vellens Vivite, ait, venio.

Amongst the lyric poems of Virgil is a very elegant one on the villa of
his instructor in philosophy, Syron.

The poems which first established his reputation were his Bucolics or
Eclogues. This latter title was given them in later times, implying
either that they were selections from a greater number of poems or
imitations of passages selected from the works of Greek poets.[551]

The characters in Virgil’s Bucolics are Italians, in all their
sentiments and feelings, acting the unreal and assumed part of Sicilian
shepherds. In fact, the Italians never possessed the elements of
pastoral life, and therefore could not naturally furnish the poet with
originals and models from which to draw his portraits and characters.
They were a simple people, but their simplicity was rather Ascræan than
Arcadian: the domestic habits and virtues of rural life in Italy were
not unlike those of Bœtia, as described by Hesiod. Virgil, therefore,
wisely took him as his model, and produced a more natural picture of
Italian manners in his Georgics than in his Eclogues. The denizens of
the little towns had the manners and habits of municipal life: their
cultivation was the artificial refinement of town life, and not the
natural sentiments of the contemplative shepherd. Those who lived in the
country were hard-working, simple-minded peasants, who gained their
livelihood by the sweat of their brow—honest, plain-spoken,
rough-mannered, and without a grain of sentimentality. Pastoral poetry
owes its origin to, and is fostered by, solitude; its most beautiful
passages are of a meditative cast. The shepherd beguiles his loneliness
by communing with his own thoughts. His sorrows are not the hard
struggles of life, but often self-created and imaginary, or at least
exaggerated. When represented as Virgil represents them in his Bucolics,
they are in masquerade, and the drama in which they form the characters
is of an allegorical kind. The connexion with Italy is rather of an
historical than a moral nature: we meet with numerous allusions to
contemporary events, but not with exact descriptions of Italian
characters and manners. As, therefore, we cannot realize the
descriptions, we can neither sympathize nor admire. Menalcas and Corydon
and Alexis, and the rest, are as much out of place as the gentlemen and
ladies in the garb of shepherds and shepherdesses in English family
pictures. Even the scenery is Sicilian, and does not truthfully describe
the tame neighbourhood of Mantua. So long as it is remembered that they
are imitations of the Syracusan poet, we miss their nationality, and see
at once that they are untruthful and out of keeping; and Virgil suffers
in our estimation because we naturally compare him with the original
whom he professes to imitate, and we cannot but be aware of his
inferiority: but if we can once divest ourselves of the idea of the
outward form which he has chosen to adopt, and forget the personality of
the characters, we can feel for the wretched outcast, exiled from a
happy though humble home, and be touched by the simple narrative of
their disappointed loves and child-like woes; can appreciate the
delicately-veiled compliments paid by the poet to his patron; can enjoy
the inventive genius and poetical power which they display; and can be
elevated by the exalted sentiments which they sometimes breathe. We feel
that it is all an illusion; but we willingly permit ourselves to be
transported from the matter-of-fact realities of a hard and prosaic

Virgil in his Eclogues was too much cramped by following his Greek
original to present us with true pictures of Italian country life;
although the criticism of his friend Horace with justice attributes to
his rural pieces delicacy of touch and graceful wit:—

                 molle atque facetum
             Virgilio annuerunt gaudentes rure Camœnæ.[552]

The Idylls of Theocritus are transfusions into appropriate Greek of old
popular Sicilian legends which had taken root in the country, and had
become part and parcel of the national character. His subjects are not
always strictly pastoral, for his characters are sometimes reapers and
fishermen.[553] His language, characters, sentiments, scenery, habits,
incidents, are all Sicilian, and therefore all are in perfect harmony.
The characters of Theocritus have a specific individuality, and are
therefore different from each other; those of Virgil are generic, the
representatives of a class, and therefore there is little or no variety.
But still Virgil’s defects do not detract much from the enjoyment
experienced in reading his Bucolic poetry. The Aminta of Tasso, the
Pastor Fido of Guarini, the Calendar of Spenser, the Lycidas of Milton,
the Perdita of Shakspeare, the pastorals of Drayton, Drummond, and
Florian, are equally open to objection, and yet who does not admire
their beauties?

The Bucolics may be arranged in two classes. Those in the first are
composed entirely after the Greek model, and contain the following

I. The first, in which the poet, representing himself under the
character of Tityrus, expresses his gratitude for the restoration of his
property, whilst Melibœus, as an exiled Mantuan, bewails his harder

II. The second, which is generally supposed to have been the first
pastoral written by him, and is principally copied from the Cyclops of

III. The third is an imitation of the fourth and fifth Idylls of
Theocritus, and as well as the seventh, represent improvisatorial trials
of musical skill between shepherds.

V. The fifth, in which two shepherds pay the last honours to a departed
friend, the one singing his epitaph, the other his apotheosis.
Scaliger[554] has with good reason supposed that this poem allegorized
the murder and deification of Julius Cæsar. It has been often imitated
by modern poets: the most beautiful imitations are Spenser’s lament for
Dido, Milton’s Lycidas, Drayton’s sixth Eclogue, and Pomfret’s Elegy on
Queen Mary.

VIII. The eighth, which is imitated from the second and third Idylls of
Theocritus, consists of two parts; and, from the subject-matter of the
second portion, is entitled “Pharmaceutria,” (the Enchantress.) Two
shepherds, Damon and Alphesibœus, rival Orpheus in their musical skill,
for, whilst they sing, heifers forget to graze, lynxes are stupified,
and rivers stop their course to listen. It was addressed by Virgil to
his kind patron Pollio, whilst employed in his expedition to
Illyricum.[555] Damon, personifying an unsuccessful lover, laments that
a rival has been preferred to himself. Alphesibœus, in the character of
an enchantress, goes through a formula of magical incantations in order
to regain the lost affections of Daphnis. In this poem a refrain, or
intercalary verse, recurs after intervals of a few lines. In the song of
Damon, the refrain is—

               Incipe Mænalios mecum, mea tibia, versus.

In that of his opponent—

           Ducite ab urbe domum, mea carmina, ducite Daphnim.

IX. In the ninth, two shepherds converse together on the troubles which
have befallen their neighbourhood, and one of them is represented as
conveying a present of a few kids to court the favour of the new

The second class are of a more original kind.

IV. The fourth, entitled Pollio, which is the most celebrated of them
all, bears no resemblance to pastoral poetry. In the exordium, the poet
invokes the Muses of Sicilian song; but he professes to attune their
sylvan strain to a nobler theme. The melancholy Perusian war had been
brought to a termination. The reconciliation of Anthony and Octavius had
been effected by the treaty of Brundisium, and all things seemed to
promise peace and prosperity. The contrast was indeed a bright one,
after the havoc and desolation which war had spread through Italy. The
peace ratified with Sextus Pompey at Puteoli opened the long-closed
granaries of Sicily, and plenty succeeded to famine. The enthusiasm of
the poet hailed the return of the fabled golden age—the reign of Saturn.
The songs which the old bards of Italy professed to have learnt from the
Cumæan Sibyl, and to which legendary tradition attributed a prophetical
meaning, seemed to point to the new era which now dawned on the Roman

The belief of the civilized world was undoubtedly at this time
concentrated on the expectation of some great event, which should bring
peace and happiness to mankind. The divine revelation which God’s people
enjoyed taught them now to expect the advent of the Messiah; whilst
traditions, probably derived through corrupting channels from the true
light of prophecy, taught the heathen, though more vaguely, to look for
the coming of some great one. The prophetic literature of the East might
have travelled to Europe; and the divine prophecies of Isaiah, and the
other sacred writers, may have been incorporated by native bards in
Italian legends.

Bishop Lowth even supposed that the Sibylline predictions derived their
origin from a Greek version of Messianic prophecies.[556] A belief in
the inspiration of the Sibyls prevailed in the early ages of
Christianity, and the Emperor Constantine in one of his orations[557]
quotes from them, and paraphrases Virgil’s Pollio as an evidence to the
truths of the Gospel.

Some of the fathers of the Church attributed to them supernatural power;
and the Italian painters, acting under the patronage of the Roman
Church, honoured the four Sibyls as participators in a knowledge of the
Divine counsels. Ambrose[558] allows that they were inspired, but by the
spirit of evil. Jerome[559] believes that this power was given to them
by God as a reward for virginity; and Augustine[560] thinks that they
predicted many truths concerning Jesus Christ. Justin[561] adopts a
legend which would account for the similarity between the Sibylline
oracles and Hebrew prophecy. He says that the Cumæan Sibyl, celebrated
by Virgil, was born at Babylon, and was the daughter of Berosus, the
Chaldean historian.

If Virgil, in the fourth eclogue, correctly paraphrased the Sibylline
poems, two parallelisms between them and the prophecies of Isaiah are
remarkably striking:[562]—

            Jam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna;
            Jam nova progenies cœlo demittitur alto—
            Te duce, si qua manent sceleris vestigia nostri,
            Irrita perpetua solvent formidine terras—
            Pacatumque reget patriis virtutibus orbem.—v. 6.

  Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son.—Is. vii. 14.

  Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end,
  upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to
  establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for
  ever.—Is. ix. 7.

           At tibi prima, puer, nullo munuscula cultu,
           Errantes hederas passim cum baccare tellus,
           Mixtaque ridenti colocasia fundet acantho.—v. 18.

  The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the
  desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.—Is. xxxv. 1.

Many theories have been proposed respecting the child to whom allusion
is made in this eclogue, not one of which was satisfactory to
Gibbon;[563] but the following is adopted by Heyne as the most probable.
The peace of Brundisium was cemented by the marriage between Antony and
Cæsar’s half-sister Octavia. She was the widow of Marcellus, and
appeared likely to give birth to a posthumous child. To this child yet
unborn, the poet applies all the blessings promised by the Sibylline
oracles, and predicts that, under his auspices, the peace and prosperity
already inaugurated shall be confirmed.

VI. In the sixth, Virgil represents allegorically, under the character
of Silenus the tutor of Bacchus, his own instructor Syron; and thus
makes it the vehicle of a short account of the Epicurean philosophy. It
was not long since the same subject had been treated of at greater
length by the eloquent Lucretius; and it is said that when Cicero heard
it recited by the mime Cytheris, he was so struck with admiration as to
exclaim that he was “Magnæ spes altera Romæ.” This eclogue is parodied
by Gay in the Saturday of his Shepherd’s Week.

X. The tenth can scarcely be distinguished from any other amatory poem,
except that the heroic metre is not so usual in that species of poetry
as the elegiac. The loves of the poet Gallus are sung; Arcadia is fixed
upon as the place of his exile; and the lay is said to be set to the
music of the oaten-pipe of Sicily: but this eclogue has no other claim
to be entitled a bucolic poem.

One passage in this eclogue, which suggested the following beautiful
lines in Milton’s “Lycidas,” illustrates the truth that poetry often
derives additional beauty from the fact of its being a successful

     Quæ nemora aut qui vos saltus habuere, puellæ
     Naiades, indigno cum Gallus amore periret?
     Nam neque Parnassi vobis juga nam neque Pindi
     Ulla moram fecere, neque Aonia Aganippe.
                                                      _Ecl._ x. 9.

     Where were ye, Nymphs, when the remorseless deep
     Closed o’er the head of your loved Lycidas?
     For neither were ye playing on the steep,
     Where your old bards, the famous Druids, lie,
     Nor on the shaggy top of Mona high,
     Nor yet where Deva spreads her wizard stream.
                                               _Milton’s Lycidas._

                              CHAPTER IV.

Didactic poetry is of all kinds the least inviting. As its professed
object is instruction, there is no reason why its lessons should be
conveyed in poetical language—its purpose, could in fact, be better
attained in prose. Pretending, therefore, to poetry, it demands great
skill, elaborate finish and such graces and embellishments as will
conceal its dry character, and recommend it to the reader’s attention.

The beauty of a didactic poem depends only partially on the just views
and correct discrimination which it evinces, and principally on the
beauty of the language, the picturesque force, and pleasing character of
the descriptions, and the interest that is thrown into the episodes. In
fact, the accessaries are the parts most admired, and extracts brought
forward as specimens of this kind of poetry are invariably of this kind.
Poetry naturally deals with the beauties and terrors of external
nature—with the emotions and passions, whether of a tender or violent
kind—the sober practical rules of life are scarcely within its sphere.
True it is that when all literature was poetical, the precepts of moral
and physical philosophy, and even the dry commands of laws and
institutions, were embodied in a metrical form; but when literature
divides itself into poetry and prose, the subjects appropriated to each
other become spontaneously separate likewise. For this reason, the
Georgics of Virgil especially display his ability as a poet, his correct
taste the “limæ labor,” the pains which he took in polishing and
correcting. In none of his poems can we form a better idea of the
description which he gives of his patient toil, when he says, that “like
the she-bear he brought his poetical offspring into shape by constantly
licking them.”[564] The majesty of the language elevates the subject,
and divests it of so much of the homeliness as would be inappropriate to
poetry, and yet at the same time it is not too grand or elevated.

The following criticism of Addison[565] is by no means too
favourable:—“I shall conclude this poem to be the most complete,
elaborate, and finished piece of all antiquity. The Æneis is of a nobler
kind; but the Georgic is more perfect in its kind. The Æneis has a
greater variety of beauties in it; but those of the Georgic are more
exquisite. In short, the Georgic has all the perfection that can be
expected in a poem written by the greatest poet, in the flower of his
age, when his invention was ready, his imagination warm, his judgment
settled, and all his faculties in their full vigour and maturity.”

Rome offered a favourable field for a poet to undertake a poem on the
labours and enjoyments of rural life. Agriculture was always there
considered a liberal employment: tradition had adorned rustic manners
with the attributes of simplicity and honesty, and divested them of the
ideas of coarseness usually connected with them. The traditions of those
ages of national freedom and greatness, to which the enthusiasm of the
poet delighted to carry back the thoughts of his readers, had connected
some of the noblest names of history with rural labours. Curius and
Cincinnatus were called from the plough to defend and save their
country; and after their task was performed they returned with delight
to it again. Cato, the representative of the old and respected
generation, and other illustrious men, had written on the pursuits and
duties of rural life. Agriculture was never connected with ideas of
debasing and illiberal gain, such as attached to trade and commerce.

The poet, moreover, had a model ready at hand, after which to construct
his work. It was Greek, and therefore sure to be acceptable upon the
recognised principles of taste. It described a species of rural life,
hard, frugal, and industrious, very much like that led by the
agriculturists of Italy. It painted a standard of morals, which even the
licentious inhabitants of a luxurious capital could appreciate, though
they had degenerated from it. The discriminating judgment of Virgil saw
that the rural life of Italy could really be represented, in the same
way in which Hesiod had painted that of Bœtia, and he wisely determined—

              To sing through Roman towns Ascræan strains.

There exists, however, precisely that difference between the Georgics of
Virgil and their model that might be expected. The Hesiodic poem belongs
to a period when poetry was the accidental form—instruction the
essential object; and, therefore, the teaching is systematic, precise,
detailed, homely, sometimes coarse and unpolished. Virgil looks at his
subject from the poetical point of view. His precepts are often put, not
in a didactic but a descriptive form; they are unhesitatingly
interrupted by digressions and episodes, more or less to the point; and
out of a vast mass of materials such only are selected as are suitable
to awaken the sensibilities.

The state of Italy also contributed to enlist a poet’s sympathies in
favour of the rural classes, and to devote his pen to the patriotic task
of reviving the old agricultural tastes. War had devastated the land;
the peasant population had been fearfully thinned by military
conscriptions and confiscation; wide districts had been depopulated and
left destitute of cultivation. Instead of the sword being beat into a
ploughshare and the spear into a pruning-hook, the Italian peasant had
witnessed the contrary state of things. The poet laments the sad change
which now disfigured the fair face of Italy:—

                             non ullus aratro
     Dignus honos, squalent abductis arva colonis,
     Et curvæ rigidum falces conflantur in ensem.
                                                    _Geo._ i. 507.

The credit of having proposed this subject to Virgil is given to his
patron Mæcenas; and, to him, consequently, the Georgics are addressed;
but the poet doubtless gladly adopted the suggestion. When and where it
was commenced is uncertain, but the finishing stroke was put to it at
Naples[566] some time after the battle of Actium.[567] Although the
“Works and Days” of Hesiod is professedly his pattern, still he derives
his materials from other sources. Aratus supplies him with his signs of
the weather, and the writers _de Re Rustica_ with his practical
directions. His system is indeed perfectly Italian; so much so, that
many of his rules may be traced in modern Italian husbandry, just as the
descriptions of implements in Hesiod are frequently found to agree with
those in use in modern Greece.

The first book treats of tillage, the second of orchards; the subject of
the third, which is the noblest and most spirited of them, is the care
of horses and cattle; and the fourth, which is the most pleasing and
interesting, describes the natural instincts as well as the management
of bees.

But the great merit of the Georgics consists in their varied
digressions, interesting episodes, and sublime bursts of descriptive
vigour, which are interspersed throughout the poem. To quote any of them
would be unnecessary, as Virgil and his translations are in every one’s
hands. It will be sufficient to enumerate some of the most striking.
These are—

      I. The Origin of Agriculture, G. I. 125.

     II. The Storm in Harvest, I. 316.

    III. The Signs of the Weather, I. 351.

     IV. The Prodigies at the Death of Julius Cæsar, I. 466.

      V. The Battle of Pharsalia, I. 489.

     VI. The Panegyric on Italy, II. 136.

    VII. The Praises of a Country Life, II. 458.

   VIII. The Horse and Chariot Race, III. 103.

     IX. The Description of Winter in Scythia, III. 349.

      X. The Murrain of Cattle, III. 478.

     XI. The Battle of the Bees, IV. 67.

    XII. The Story of Aristæus, IV. 317.

   XIII. The Legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, IV. 453.

Roman poetry was more generally understood and more diligently studied
in the most polished days of English literature, than the yet scarcely
discovered stores of Greek learning. Want of originality was not
considered a blemish in an age the taste of which, notwithstanding all
its merits, was very artificial; whilst the exquisite polish and
elegance which constitute the charm of Latin poetry, recommended it both
for admiration and imitation. Hence English poets have been deeply
indebted to the Romans for their most happy thoughts, and our native
literature is largely imbued with a Virgilian and Horatian spirit. This
circumstance adds an especial interest to a survey of Roman literature
as the fountain from which welled forth so many of the streams that have
fertilized our poetry.

The Georgics have been frequently taken as a model for imitation, and
our descriptive poets have drawn largely from this source. Warton[568]
considered Philips’ “Cyder” the happiest imitation; “The Seasons” of our
greatest descriptive poet, Thomson, is a thoroughly Virgilian poem. Many
striking instances of Virgilian taste might be adduced, especially the
thunder-storm in “Summer,” and the praises of Great Britain, in

From the letter already quoted as preserved by Macrobius, it is clear
that the Æneid was commenced when Augustus was in Spain,[569] that it
occupied the whole of Virgil’s subsequent life, and was not sufficiently
corrected to satisfy his own fastidious taste when he died. Augustus
intrusted its publication to Varius and Tucca, with strict instructions
to abstain from interpolation. They are said to have transposed the
second and third books, and to have omitted twenty-two lines[570] as
being contradictory to another passage respecting Helen in the sixth
book.[571] Hence in many early manuscripts these verses are wanting.

The idea and plan of the Æneid are derived from the Homeric poems. As
the wrath of Achilles is the mainspring of all the events in the Iliad,
so on the anger of the offended Juno the unity of the Æneid depends, and
with it all the incidents are connected. Many of the most splendid
passages, picturesque images, and forcible epithets are imitations or
even translations from the Iliad and Odyssey. The war with Turnus owes
its grandeur and its interest to the Iliad—the wanderings of Æneas,
their wild and romantic adventures to the Odyssey. Virgil’s battles,
though not to be compared in point of vigour with those of Homer, shine
with a reflected light. His Necyia is a copy of that in the Odyssey. His
similes are most of them suggested by those favourite embellishments of
Homer. The shield of Æneas[572] is an imitation of that of Achilles. The
storm and the speech of Æneas[573] are almost translations from the

The thoughts thus borrowed from the great heroic poems of Greece, Virgil
interwove with that ingenuity which distinguishes the Augustan school by
means of the double character in which he represented his hero. The
narrative of his perils by sea and land were enriched by the marvellous
incidents of the Odyssey; his wars which occupy the latter books had
their prototype in the Iliad. Greek tragedy, also, which depicted so
frequently the subsequent fortunes of the Greek chieftains,[575]—the
numerous translations which had employed the genius of Ennius, Attius,
and Pacuvius—were a rich mine of poetic wealth. The second book, which
is almost too crowded with a rapid succession of pathetic incidents,
derived its interesting details—the untimely fate of Astyanax, the loss
of Creusa, the story of Sinon, the legend of the wooden horse, the death
of the aged Priam, the subsequent fortunes of Helen—from two Cyclic
poems, the Sack of Troy and the little Iliad of Arctinus. For the legend
of Laocoon he was indebted to the Alexandrian poet, Euphorion. The class
of Cyclic poems entitled the νοστοι suggested much of the third book,
especially the stories of Pyrrhus, Helenus, and Andromache. The fourth
drew its fairy enchantments partly from Homer’s Calypso, partly from the
love adventures of Jason, Medea, and Hypsypile in the Argonautica of the
Alexandrian poet, Apollonius Rhodius, which had been introduced to the
Romans by the translation of Varro.

The sixth is suggested by the eleventh book of the Odyssey and the
descent of Theseus in search of Pirithous in the Hesiodic poems. But
notwithstanding the force and originality—the vivid word-painting which
adorns this book—it is far inferior to the conceptions which Greek
genius formed of the unseen world. In the Æneid the legends of the world
of spirits seem but vulgar marvels and popular illusions. Tartarus and
Elysium are too palpable and material to be believed; their distinctness
dispels the enchantment which they were intended to produce; it is
daylight instead of dim shadow. We miss the outlines, which seem
gigantic from their dim and shadowy nature, the appalling grandeur to
which no one since Æschylus ever attained, except the great Italian poet
who has never since been equalled.

To this rich store of Greek learning Italy contributed her native
legends. The adventures of Æneas in Italy—the prophecy, of which the
fulfilment was discovered by Iulus—the pregnant white sow—the story of
the Sibyl—the sylph-like Camilla—were native lays amalgamated with the
Greek legend of Troy. Macrobius,[576] in three elaborate chapters, has
shown that Virgil was deeply indebted to the old Latin poets. In the
first he quotes more than seventy parallel turns of expression from
Ennius, Pacuvius, Attius, Nævius, Lucilius, Lucretius, Catullus, and
Varius, consisting of whole or half lines. In the second he enumerates
twenty-six longer passages, which Virgil has imitated from the poems of
Ennius, Attius, Lucretius, and Varius, amongst which are portions of
“The Praises of Rural Life,” and of “The Pestilence.”[577] In the third
he mentions a few (amongst them, for example, the well-known description
of the horse[578]) which were taken by Virgil from the old Roman poets,
having been first adopted by them from the Homeric poems. The following
passages are a few of these examples of what would in modern times be
considered plagiarisms, but which the ancients admitted without

     Qui cœlum versat stellis fulgentibus aptum.

     Axem humero torquet stellis fulgentibus aptum.
                                                 _V. Æn._ vi. 797.

     Est locus Hesperiam quam mortales perhibebant.
     Est locus Hesperiam Graii cognomine dicunt.
                                                     _Æn._ i. 530.

     Unus homo nobis cunctando restituit rem.
     Unus qui nobis cunctando restituis rem.
                                                    _Æn._ vi. 846.

     Quod per amœnam urbem leni fluit agmine flumen.
                                  —— arva
     Inter opima virum leni fluit agmine Tybris.
                                                    _Æn._ ii. 781.

     Hei mihi qualis erat quantum mutatus ab illo.
     Hei mihi qualis erat quantum mutatus ab illo.
                                                    _Æn._ ii. 274.

                             —— discordia tetra
     Belli ferratos postes portasque refregit.
     Belli ferratos rupit Saturnia postes.
                                                    _Æn._ vi. 622.

The variety of incidents, the consummate skill in the arrangement of
them, the interest which pervades both the plot and the episodes, fully
compensate for the want of originality—a defect of which none but
learned readers would be aware. What sweeter specimens can be found of
tender pathos than the legend of Camilla, and the episode of Nisus and
Euryalus? Where is the turbulence of uncurbed passions united with
womanly unselfish fondness, and queen-like generosity, painted with a
more masterly hand than in the character of Dido? Where, even in the
Iliad, are characters better sustained and more happily contrasted than
the weak Latinus, the soldier-like Turnus, the simple-minded Evander,
the feminine and retiring Lavinia, the barbarian Mezentius, who to the
savageness of a wild beast joined the natural instinct, which warmed
with the strongest affection for his son. The only character of which
the conception is somewhat unsatisfactory is that of the hero himself:
Æneas, notwithstanding his many virtues, fails of commanding the
reader’s sympathy or admiration. He is full of faith in the providence
of God, submits himself with entire resignation to His divine will—is
brave, patient, dutiful—but he is cold and heartless, and, if the
expression is allowable, unchivalrous. In his war with Turnus, he is so
decidedly in the wrong, and the character of his injured adversary
shines with such lustre, and is adorned with such gallantry, that one is
inclined to transfer to him the interest and sympathy which ought to be
felt for the hero alone. This is undoubtedly a fault, but it is
counterbalanced by innumerable excellences.

In personification, nothing is finer than Virgil’s portraiture of Fame,
except perhaps Spenser’s Despair. In description, the same genius which
shone forth in the Georgics, embellishes the Æneid also; and both the
objects and the phenomena of nature are represented in language equally
vivid and striking.

Notwithstanding the question has been much discussed, it is most
probable that the opinion of Pope was correct respecting the political
object of the Æneid. He affirmed that it was as much a party-piece as
Dryden’s Absalom and Achitophel; that its primary object was to increase
the popularity of Augustus; its secondary one to flatter the vanity of
his countrymen by the splendour and antiquity of their origin. Augustus
is evidently typified under the character of Æneas: both were cautious
and wise in council,[579] both were free from the perturbations of
passion; they were cold, unfeeling, and uninteresting. Their wisdom and
their policy were calculating and worldly-minded. Augustus was
conscious, as his last words show, that he was acting a part; and the
contrast between the sentiments and conduct of Æneas, wherever the warm
impulses of affection might be supposed to have sway, likewise create an
impression of insincerity. The characteristic virtue which adorns the
hero of the Æneid, as the epithet “Pius” so constantly applied to him
implies, was filial piety; and there was no virtue which Augustus more
ostentatiously put forward than dutiful affection to Julius Cæsar who
had adopted him.

Other characters which are grouped around the central figure are
allegorical likewise—Cleopatra is boldly sketched as Dido, the
passionate victim of unrequited love. Both displayed the noble, generous
qualities, and at the same time the uncontrolled self-will of a woman,
who neither had nor would acknowledge any master except the object of
her affections: the fortunes of both were similar, for their brothers
had become their bitterest enemies, and the fate of both alike was

Turnus, whose character, as has been already stated, is far more
chivalrous and attractive than that of Æneas, probably represented the
popular Antony; and as the latter violated the peace ratified at
Brundisium and Tarentum, so the former is represented as treacherous to
his engagements with Æneas. It has even been thought, and the view has
been supported by many ingenious arguments, that Iapis is a portrait of
the physician of Augustus.[580]

Virgil is especially skilful in that species of imitation which consists
in the appropriate choice of words, and the assimilation of the sound to
the sense. A series of dactyles expresses the rapid speed of horses, and
the still more rapid flight of time:—

     Quadrupedante putrem Sonitu quatit ungula campum.
                                                  _Æn._ viii. 591.

     Sed fugit interea fugit irreparabile tempus.
                                                  _Geo._ iii. 284.

Dignity and majesty are represented by an unusual use of spondees:—

     —— quæ Divum incedo regina.
                                                      _Æn._ i. 50.

     —— penatibus et magnis Dîs.
                                                  _Æn._ viii. 679.

Accelerated motion by a corresponding change of metre:—

        —— jamjam lapsura cadentique
     Imminet assimilis——
                                                    _Æn._ vi. 602.

Effort by a hiatus:—

                 Ter sunt conati imponere Pelio Ossam.

Abruptness, or the fall of a heavy body, by a monosyllable:—

     Insequitur cumulo præruptus aquæ mons.
                                                     _Æn._ i. 109.

     —— procumbit humi bos.
                                                     _Æn._ v. 481.

Many other examples might be adduced[581] of that which, if it were an
artifice, would be a very pleasing one, which rather proceeds from the
natural impulses of a lively fancy and a delicately-attuned ear.

Dunlop has well observed, that Virgil’s descriptions are more like
landscape-painting than any by his predecessors, whether Greek or Roman,
and that it is a remarkable fact that landscape-painting was first
introduced in his time. Pliny, in his Natural History,[582] informs us
that Ludius, who flourished in the lifetime of Augustus, invented the
most delightful style of painting, compositions introducing porticoes,
gardens, groves, hills, fish-ponds, rivers, and other pleasing objects,
enlivened by carriages, animals, and figures. Thus, perhaps, art
inspired poetry.

No one has ever attempted to disparage the reputation of Virgil as
holding the highest rank amongst Roman poets, except the Emperor
Caligula, J. Markland, and the great historian Niebuhr. The latter does
not hesitate to say that the flourishing period of Roman poetry ceased
about the time of the deaths of Cæsar and Cicero.[583] Doubtless Roman
national poetry then ceased, and was succeeded by the new era of Greek
taste; but still the poems of the new school were equally majestic and
pathetic, and though less natural, owed to their Greek originals
incomparably greater polish, grace and sweetness.

It is difficult to understand the low opinion which Niebuhr entertained
of Virgil, and the superiority which he attributes to Catullus. He not
only declares that he is opposed to the adoration with which the later
Romans regarded him, but he denies his fertility of genius and inventive
powers. Although he acknowledges that the Æneid contains many exquisite
passages, he pronounces it a complete failure, an unhappy idea from
beginning to end. It is evident that he looked at the Æneid with the eye
of an historian, and that his objections to it were entirely of an
historical character.

Wrapped up in Roman nationality and Italian traditions, he did not
forgive Virgil for adulterating this pure source of antiquarian
information with Greek legends. He assumes, correctly enough, that an
epic poem, in order to be successful, must be a living narrative of
events known and interesting to the mass of a nation, and at the same
time confesses that, whilst the ancient Italian traditions had already
fallen into oblivion, Homer was at that time better known than Nævius.
Surely, then, if Virgil had drawn from Italian sources exclusively, he
would have omitted much that would have added interest to his poem in
the opinion of his hearers, and would not have complied with the epic
conditions which Niebuhr himself lays down. Besides, if the traditions
of Nævius were Italian, were not many of the Greek and Italian
traditions which form the framework of the Æneid identical? Nævius must
have drawn largely from the Cyclic poems; and Niebuhr allows that Virgil
copied these parts of his poem from Nævius.[584] He asserts his
conviction that Virgil’s shield of Æneas had its model in Nævius, in
whose poem Æneas or some other hero had a shield representing the wars
of the giants; and yet no one could doubt that the shield of Nævius must
have been suggested by the Homeric and Hesiodic poems. Servius also
believed that Virgil borrowed from the poem of Nævius the plan of the
early books of the Æneid.[585]

Some of Virgil’s minor poems are undoubtedly very beautiful;[586] but it
is absurd to say that even the greatest elegance in fugitive pieces of
such a stamp can outshine the noble and sublime passages interwoven
throughout the whole structure of the Æneid. The dispraise of Niebuhr is
as exaggerated as the fulsome compliment paid by Propertius to the
genius of his fellow-countryman:—

     Cedite, Romani scriptores, cedite Graii,
       Nescio quid majus nascitur Iliade.
                                                   _Eleg._ ii. 27.

                               CHAPTER V.
                      SECULARE—ILLNESS AND DEATH.

                   HORATIUS FLACCUS (BORN B. C. 65.)

Lyric poetry is the most subjective of all poetry, and the musician of
the Roman lyre[587] was the most subjective of all Latin poets: hence a
complete sketch of his life and delineation of his character may be
deduced from his works. They contain the elements of an autobiography;
and, whilst they constitute the most authentic source of information,
convey the particulars in the most lively and engaging form.

At the period of Horace’s birth the _Libertini_, or freedmen, were
rapidly rising in wealth, and, therefore, in position. The Roman
constitution excluded the senatorial order from commercial pursuits, and
would not even permit them to own vessels of any considerable burden,
lest they should be made use of in trade. The old Roman feeling was even
more exclusive than the law. There were certain trades in which not only
none who had any pretensions to the rank of a gentleman, but even no one
who was free-born could engage without degradation. Cicero[588]
considers that money-lending, manufactures, retail trade, especially in
delicacies which minister to the appetite, are all sordid and illiberal.
He does not even allow that the professions of medicine and architecture
are honourable, except to such as are of suitable rank. Agriculture is
the only method of money-making which he pronounces to be without any
doubt worthy of free-born men.

Devoted to the duties of public life either as soldiers or citizens, the
Romans did not comprehend the dignity of labour. High-minded and
unselfish as it may appear to think meanly of employments undertaken
simply for the sake of profit and lucre, the political result of this
pride was unmixed evil. Commerce was thus thrown into the hands of those
whose fathers had been slaves, and who themselves inherited and
possessed the usual vices of a slavish disposition.

The middle classes were impoverished, and, as the unavoidable
consequence of a system in which social position depended upon property,
were rapidly sinking into the lowest ranks of the population. Here then
was a gap to be filled up—the question was by what means? Had Roman
feeling permitted the free-born citizen to devote his energies to labour
and the creation of capital, he would have risen in the social scale,
would have occupied the place left vacant, and would have brought with
him those sentiments of chivalrous freedom which there can be no doubt
distinguished Rome in earlier times, and advanced her in the scale of
nations. Thus the circulation would have been complete and healthy, and
the national system would have received fresh life and vigour in its
most important part. Instead of this, however, slaves and the sons of
slaves rose to wealth: not such slaves as those who, well educated and
occupying a high or, at least, a respectable position in the conquered
Greek states, were appreciated by their conquerors, became their friends
and intimates, because of their worth and intellectual acquirements,
imbued their masters with their own refinement and taste, and were
intrusted with the education of their children, but slaves who had
formed the masses of degraded nations. These were driven in hordes to
Rome. They swarmed in all the states of Italy and Sicily. Many of them
were not deficient in ability and energy, and therefore they rose; but
they had little or no moral principle. Their children intermarried with
the lower classes of the citizens; their blood infected that of the
higher European races which flowed in their veins; and thus the masses
of Rome became a mixed race, but not mixed for the better. The character
changed; but it changed because the old race had perished, and a new
race with new characteristics occupied its place.

Under such circumstances, the _Libertini_ became a powerful and
important class, both socially and politically: they were the bankers,
merchants, and tradesmen of Rome.

Of this class, the father of Horace was one of the most respectable. His
business was that of a _coactor_, or agent who collected the money from
purchasers of goods at public auctions. He was a man of strict
integrity, content with his position, and would not have thought himself
disgraced if his son had followed his own calling.[589] He had made by
his industry a small fortune, sufficient to purchase an estate near
Venusia (Venosa,) on the confines of Lucania and Apulia, but not
sufficient to free him from the appellation of “a poor man.”[590]

Here, on the 8th of December (vi^to id. Decembr.,) B. C. 65, Q. Horatius
Flaccus was born; and on the banks of the obstreperous Aufidus,[591] the
roar of whose waters could be heard far off,[592] Horace passed his
infant years, and played and wandered in that picturesque neighbourhood.
The natural beauties amidst which he was nursed, probably did much to
form and foster his poetic tastes. He himself relates, in one of his
finest odes,[593] an adventure which befell him in his childhood, and
which reminds the reader of the beautiful nursery ballad of the Children
in the Wood:——

  Me fabulosæ Vulture in Appulo
  Altricis extra limen Apuliæ
    Ludo fatigatumque somno
      Fronde nova puerum palumbes

  Texere (mirum quod foret omnibus,
  Quicumque celsæ nidum Acherontiæ,
    Saltusque Bantinos, et arvum
      Pingue tenent humilis Ferenti,)

  Ut tuto ab atris corpore viperis
  Dormirem et ursis; ut premerer sacra
    Lauroque collataque myrto
      Non sine Dîs animosus infans.

    Fatigued with sleep and youthful toil of play,
    When on a mountain’s brow reclined I lay,
    Near to my natal soil, around my head
  The fabled woodland doves a verdant foliage spread;

    Matter, be sure, of wonder most profound
    To all the gazing habitants around,
    Who dwell in Acherontia’s airy glades,
  Amid the Bantian woods, or low Ferentum’s meads.

    By snakes of poison black and beasts of prey,
    That thus in dewy sleep unharmed I lay;
    Laurels and myrtle were around me piled,
  Not without guardian gods, an animated child.

He remained amongst his native mountains until his eleventh or twelfth
year, when his father, wisely wishing to secure for him the benefits of
a liberal education, which the neighbouring village school of Flavius
did not furnish, removed with him to Rome.[594] Thus he quitted Venusia
for ever, of which place many passages in his works prove that he
retained very vivid recollections.[595]

At Rome he was placed under the instruction of Orbilius Pupillus, a
grammarian, who had been formerly in the army, and had migrated from
Beneventum to the capital. He was celebrated as a schoolmaster, but
still more for his severity, for he was commonly called the flogging
Orbilius (Plagosus Orbilius.[596]) With him young Horace read in his own
language the poems of Livius Andronicus and Ennius; and in the Greek,
the Iliad of Homer, whose divine poetry he soon learnt to enjoy.[597]

Whilst his father took this care of his intellectual education, he
enabled him by dress and a retinue of slaves to associate on terms of
equality with boys far above him in rank and station;[598] and, what was
still more important, he kept him under his own roof, and thus secured
for his son the benefits of home influences, sage and prudent advice,
and the watchful care of the parental eye.[599] For his father’s
liberality, good example, and constant attention, Horace expresses the
deepest gratitude,[600] and to him he acknowledges himself indebted for
all the good points of his character. The practical nature of this
indulgent and devoted father’s instruction—how he delighted to teach by
example rather than by precept—is simply told by Horace himself[601] in
one of his satires.

Before he arrived at man’s estate, it is probable that he lost his wise
adviser, for he never mentions his father except in connexion with the
years of his boyhood. Perhaps this is the reason why, in his earlier
poetry, his genial freedom so often degenerated into licentiousness, and
his love of pleasure tempted him to adopt the dissolute manners of a
corrupt age. His moral sense was accurate and just—he could see what was
useful and approve it; he could censure the vices of his
contemporaries—but he had lost that wise counsel which had hitherto
preserved him pure.

Athens was at that period the university of Rome. Thither the Roman
youth resorted to learn language, art, science, and philosophy:—

                Inter sylvas Academi quærere verum.[602]

                To seek for truth in Academic groves.

Horace commenced his residence there at a great political crisis, and
the politics of Rome created a vivid interest in the young students at
Athens. He had not lived there long, when Julius Cæsar was assassinated;
and many of his fellow students, as was natural to youthful and ardent
minds, zealously embraced the republican party. Horace, now twenty-two
years of age, joined the army of Brutus, and served under him until the
battle of Philippi in the rank of a military tribune.[603] He must have
already become distinguished, since nothing but merit could have
recommended the son of a freedman to Brutus for so high a military
command. But the event proved that he had sadly mistaken his vocation,
for he was totally unfit for the position either of an officer or a

With the rest of the vanquished he fled from the field of Philippi; and
in a beautiful and affectionate ode[604] to Pompeius Varus, he confesses
that he even threw away his shield; nor was he one of those who rallied,
although his friend was carried back again into the bloody conflict of
the tide of war. So at any rate he himself tells the story. It may have
been, however, that his vanity prompted him to pretend a resemblance in
this respect to his favourite Alcæus, or perhaps he wished to address a
piece of courtly flattery to the conqueror. Varus was one of his
earliest friends: together they had spent days of study and of
festivity; and when troublous times had separated them, nothing can
exceed the wild and tumultuous joy with which Horace looks forward to a
reunion with his friend.

On his return to Rome he found that his father was dead, and his
patrimony confiscated.[605] In order to obtain a livelihood, he
purchased a clerk’s place under the quæstor.[606] For its duties he must
have been totally unfit, for he hated business[607] and loved pleasure
and literary ease. But on the income of this office, and the kindness of
his friends, he lived a life of frugality and poverty.[608] It is
possible that even then he gained some profit from his poems, for he
says,[609] “Audacious poverty drove me to write verses.” Perhaps when he
became more prosperous, he resigned his place, for he does not mention
it in the account he gives to Mæcenas of the usual, daily avocations of
his careless and sauntering life.[610]

Soon, however, his fortunes began to brighten. His talents recommended
him, when about twenty-four years of age, to Virgil and Varius.[611]
They were then the leading poets at Rome; and Mæcenas, the polished but
somewhat effeminate friend of Augustus, was the powerful patron of
genius and the head of literary society. These two poets were warmly
attached to Horace, whose affection for them was equally strong,[612]
and to them he owed his introduction to the favourite of the
emperor.[613] He felt rather timid at the interview: Mæcenas spoke to
him with his usual reserved and curt manner, took no notice of him for
nine months, and then sent for him and enrolled him in the number of his
friends. Thenceforth Horace enjoyed uninterruptedly his friendship and
intimacy—of the affectionate nature of which many evidences may be found
in those poetical pieces which Horace addressed to him.

As Mæcenas rose in influence and favour with Augustus, he also procured
the advancement of his friend. When he was sent by Augustus on the
delicate mission of effecting a reconciliation with Anthony, Horace
accompanied him;[614] and it is not impossible that his shipwreck off
Cape Palinurus occurred when he was sailing with Mæcenas on his
expedition against S. Pompey.

At this period of his life he commenced the composition of his first
book of Satires.[615] The knowledge of human life which he had begun to
acquire when he lived, as it were, upon the town, and became acquainted
with the manners, habits and modes of thinking of the masses, was
afterwards cultivated, refined and matured by intercourse with the best
literary society. His observant mind found ample materials for satire at
the table of the courtly Mæcenas, and amidst the brilliant circle by
which he was surrounded. In this, his first publication, he also
introduces himself to the reader’s notice, draws a lively picture of his
youth, and describes the life which was congenial to his tastes, and
which his change of circumstances permitted him to lead.

But it must not be supposed that he wrote nothing at that time except
satire. Some of his odes, which display the strength of youthful
passions and the loosest morality, were probably written as separate
fugitive pieces, and circulated privately amongst his friends. The ode
to Canidia narrates a circumstance in the early part of his poetical
career. The Epodes breathe the spirit of the satirist rather than of the
lyric poet; and therefore the coarsest of them[616] also may belong to
the same period,[617] although the book which bears that name was not
completed and published as a whole until some years subsequently.

The bitterness of some of the Epodes is more suitable to his years of
adversity, and the hard struggles by which the temper is soured, than to
that life of ease and comfort which patronage enabled him to lead. Then
his temper resumed its wonted placidity, whilst his moral taste was
refined; his Archilochian iambics became less cutting, and his ideas
less gross; personal invective was laid aside, and his indignation was
only aroused by the prospect of political troubles and the horrors of
civil commotions.

Mæcenas accompanied his friendship with substantial favours. He gave
him, or procured for him by his influence, the public grant of his
Sabine farm. It was situated in a beautiful valley near Digentia
(Licenza.) Being about fifteen miles from Tibur (Tivoli,) it was
sufficiently near the capital to suit the fickle poet, who, when there,
often regretted the luxury, and gossip, and brilliant society of Rome,
and, when at Rome, sighed for the frugal table, the quiet retirement,
the rural employment of his country abode. The rapid alternation of town
and country life, which the possession of this estate enabled Horace to
enjoy, gives a peculiar charm to his poetry. The scene is ever changing:
his mind reflects the tenor of his life; simple pictures of rural life,
and the elegant refinements of polished society, relieve one another,
and prevent dulness and satiety. The property was neither extensive nor
fertile, but it was sufficient for his moderate wants and wishes, which
are so beautifully expressed in his sixth Satire—a poem which has found
many modern imitators.

At Rome, Horace occupied a house on the pleasant and healthful heights
of the Esquiline. Here he resided during the winter and spring, with the
exception of occasional sojourns at Baiæ, or other places of fashionable
resort, on the southern coast of Italy. Summer and autumn he passed at
his Sabine farm, where he was a great favourite with his simple
neighbours, and where he found all that he ever wished for, and even

                     Modus agri non ita magnus,
             Hortus ubi, et tecto vicinus jugis aquæ fons,
             Et paulum silvæ super his.[618]

He coveted not his neighbour’s field,[619] even though it disfigured his
own. He never prayed that chance might throw in his way a buried vase of
silver.[620] The calm of his life contrasted favourably with the hundred
affairs—not so much his own as of other people—which tormented him at
Rome;[621] the importunities of his friends that he would use his
influence in their behalf with Mæcenas;[622] the growing envy to which
his good fortune subjected him:[623] his only cares were to store up
provisions for his frugal maintenance during the year,[624] so that he
might live in sweet forgetfulness of how he lived.[625] His days were
divided between the books of the ancients,[626] the philosophy of Plato,
and the lively scenes of Menander.[627]

The pleasing labours of the farm served him by way of exercise, although
his town habits and awkwardness, and perhaps his short and stout figure,
panting and perspiring under the heat and exertion, sometimes provoked
good-humoured laughter.[628] At times, although he confessed how
dangerous was the siren voice of sloth, he would spend hours of musing
idleness on the margin of his favourite stream, listening to its
murmurs, and to the music of the shepherd’s reed as it echoed through
the Arcadian glen.[629] The evenings were devoted to social converse
with honest and virtuous friends, from which scandal and gossip were
banished; the conversation usually turning on moral and philosophical
discussion,[630] whilst its seriousness was occasionally relieved by
witty anecdotes and pointed fables, of which those of the town and
country mice, and of the madman who, when cured, complained that his
friends had destroyed all the happiness of his dreamy life, furnish
examples. At these _petits soupers_, which he called “suppers of the
gods,” the guests drank as much or as little as they pleased of his old
wine, and enjoyed perfect freedom from the absurd laws which Roman
custom permitted the chairman (_arbiter bibendi_) on such occasions to

Sometimes, when the heat of summer was intense, he retired to the lofty
Præneste (Palestrina,) where the climate was always cool and
refreshing.[631] At some period of his life, also, he became possessed
of a villa at Tibur (Tivoli,) of which the shady groves and roaring
waterfalls furnished him a delightful refreshment after “the smoke, and
magnificence, and noise of Rome.” Here he wrote many of his satires, and
thus achieved the reputation as a satirist of which he had laid the
foundation already; and was enabled to boast that, though earnestly
desirous of peace with the world, it were better not to provoke him;
that he who dared to offend him should smart for it, and be the
laughing-stock of the whole city.[632]

The composition and arrangement of the second book of Satires probably
occupied the thirtieth, thirty-first, and thirty-second years of the
poet’s life,[633] and it was not published until the following year.
This date will allow time for the expiration of more than seven or eight
years since his intimacy with Mæcenas commenced.[634] The Satires were
followed by the publication of the Epodes, very soon after the battle of
Actium,[635] for the ninth is evidently an epinician ode on the occasion
of that victory. Many of them contain noble sentiments, patriotic
advice, burning indignation against the oriental self-indulgence of
Antony,[636] the servility of Rome, its civil strife, and the degeneracy
of the age; and remind us that, before Horace became an Epicurean and a
courtier, he had fought against a tyrant in the ranks of freedom.[637]
The first Epode was written just before the battle of Actium; the second
and third at the period when he first exchanged the life of a
fashionable man about town for that of a country gentleman. We see in
one the delight which he derived from the consciousness that his estate
was his own; that he had no pecuniary embarrassments any longer; his
anticipations of the happiness to be enjoyed in the regularly-recurring
labours of rural life; in the absence of all care; in the kind-hearted
anticipations of humble domestic felicity; the superiority of a
healthful meal to all the luxuries that wealth could purchase. In the
other, notwithstanding all these professions of sentiment, he shows that
his refined urbanity is shocked by the grossness of rural habits. His
delicate nose cannot endure the smell of garlic: to him it is nothing
less than poison, such as Canidia or Medea might have used. It is more
deadly than the malaria of Apulia, or the envenomed robe steeped in the
blood of Nessus. Nay, in the same spirit Johnson said that “He who would
make a pun would pick a pocket,” he does not scruple to affirm that a
garlic-eater would commit parricide.

The seventh Epode is a burst of indignant expostulation against the
fratricidal madness which, at the bidding of an unprincipled woman,
armed Romans against each other in that tragical episode, the Perugian
war, when the first struggle took place between the civilians and the
soldiers for political influence and power. In the Epodes the spirit is
that of the satirist exaggerated. The outward form which he had modelled
by a careful study of the Archilochian verse, prepared him for the
cultivation of that poetry in which he stands pre-eminent. It was the
state of transition through which he passed before he became a lyric

With their publication concludes the first period of Horace’s literary
life. It was now flowing on calmly and peaceably, undisturbed by anxiety
either about himself or his country. Although the civil wars were not
yet ended, or the peace of the world solemnly and finally proclaimed,
until the temple of Janus was closed,[638] the course of Octavius to
universal empire lay plain and open before him. Rome was at his feet,
and owed to him its safety and prosperity.

Public and private well-doing developed a new phase of Horace’s genius.
His muse soared to heights which had only been attempted by Pindar and
the other Greek lyric poets. It cannot, of course, be supposed that he
lived to the age of thirty-five years without having written many of
those odes, which are so full of a youthful sprightliness and burning
passion; but it is certain that many more were written, and the first
three books published, during the period of eight years included between
his thirty-fifth and forty-second years;[639] some when he was
approaching, others when he had passed, his eighth lustre. In these
three books it is probable that Horace intended all the products of his
lyric muse should be comprised: to this purpose the last ode of the
third book[640] seems to point. He considered his work done; and he was
not insensible to the successful manner in which he had accomplished it.
With conscious pride, and in a prophetic spirit, he exclaimed—

                    Exegi monumentum ære perennius.

He intended his beloved friend and patron, Mæcenas, to be the subject of
his last, as he was of his first, song. His introductory satire—the
commencement of his published works—was addressed to him; the last ode
in the book[641] (except that final one which proclaims his task
finished) is a noble farewell, breathing the language of affectionate
compliment;[642] and in the introduction to his new work, the labour of
his maturer years, the fruit of careful judgment respecting men and
things, he states his determination to finish his career as a poet, and
to devote his last verses to his patron.

A few years after the first three books of the Odes, Horace published
the first book of the Epistles. Bentley assigns the appearance of these
finished and elaborate compositions to B. C. 19, Clinton to B. C. 20.
The _Carmen Seculare_, which appeared B. C. 17, on the occasion of the
celebration of the Secular Games, and the fourth book of the Odes, which
was published B. C. 13, were written at the personal request of the
Emperor. He wished him to celebrate the victories gained over Vindelici
by his step-sons, Tiberius and Drusus. His compliance with the wishes of
Augustus was a graceful return for the regard and affection which the
letters of the Emperor show that he felt for the poet.[643] The warm
admiration which, these odes express, the praises which are lavished in
them, upon Augustus and his step-sons Tiberius and Drusus, may seem
inconsistent with the poet’s former republicanism; but who could
withstand the proffered friendship, the winning courtesy, the
good-tempered condescension of his patron?

Besides, the experience of the past years must have forced him
conscientiously to believe that the reign of Augustus was indeed a
blessing to his country, and that his countrymen were totally unfit for
real liberty, as they showed themselves quite content with the empty
shadow of the constitution. He felt peace and repose were to be
purchased by almost any sacrifice except that of honourable principle;
that not only all the enjoyments of life were secured to himself to an
extent equalling, if not surpassing, the wishes of his contented spirit,
but that a similar measure of happiness was pretty generally diffused.
He could not sympathize with political ambition, which had been the
fruitful source of civil anarchy, and it was only the ambitious who had
any cause to be dissatisfied. Doubtless the older he grew the stronger
was the obligation which he felt to him who, by the lofty position which
he had attained, had apparently prevented even the possibility of
revolution or change. It is certain that the second book of the
Epistles, and that addressed to the Pisos, which is commonly called the
Art of Poetry, were written and published during the last years of his
life; but the date cannot be exactly determined. He had long bid adieu
to the excitements of politics; nor do these, his latest works, exhibit
traces of his fondness for discussing questions of moral science, or for
the profounder speculations of natural philosophy. He limits himself to
the neutral ground of literature; and writes only as a writer whose
judgment would be undisputed, because his works in their several
departments had actually formed the taste of his contemporaries.

In November, B. C. 8, A. U. C. 746, Horace was seized with a sudden
attack of illness, and died in the fifty-seventh year of his age. His
old friend Mæcenas had expired but a few months before. They were buried
near one another on the slope of the Esquiline.

His death was so sudden that he was unable to write a will; he had but
just time before he expired to nominate, according to a common custom,
the Emperor his heir.

Horace was never married; he was too general an admirer, and his tastes
and habits were too much those of a bachelor, to appreciate the
happiness of a wedded life. In this respect his feelings resembled those
of the voluptuous and selfish society of his times. He was of small and
slight figure,[644] but afterwards he grew corpulent.[645] The vigour
which he enjoyed in early youth[646] was diminished by ill health; he
became prematurely gray,[647] and a passage in one of his Odes seems to
imply that he was a valetudinarian at forty.[648]

                              CHAPTER VI.

The life of Horace is especially instructive, as a mirror in which is
reflected a faithful image of the manners of his day. He is the
representative of Roman refined society, as Virgil is of the national
mind. He who understands Horace and his works can picture to himself the
society in which he lived and moved. One cannot sympathize with
Petrarch, when he says “Se ex nullo poeta Latino evasisse meliorem quam
ex Horatio,” or exclaim with the devoted Mæcenas,

                    Ni te visceribus meis Horati
                    Plus jam diligo, tu tuum sodalem
                    Ninnio videas strigosiorem—

but still it is scarcely possible not to feel an affection for him.
Notwithstanding his selfish Epicureanism, he possessed those elements of
character which constitute the popularity of men of the world. He was a
gentleman in taste and sentiments. He would not have denied himself any
gratification for the sake of others; but he would not willingly have
caused any one a moment’s uneasiness, nor was he ever ungrateful to
those who were kind to him. He was a pleasant friend and a good-humoured
associate, adroit in using the language of compliment, but not a
flatterer, because he was candid and sincere. He changed his politics,
but he had good cause for so doing. The circumstances of the times
furnished ample justification. His morals were lax, but not worse than
those of his contemporaries: all that can be said is, that he was not in
advance of his age. His principles will not bear comparison with a high
moral standard; but he had good qualities to compensate for his moral
deficiencies. He looked at virtue and vice from a worldly, not a moral
point of view. With him the former was prudence, the latter folly. Vice,
therefore, provoked a sneer of derision, and not indignation at the sin
or compassion for the sinner; and for the same reason he was incapable
of entertaining a holy enthusiasm for virtue.

Good-tempered as a man, he nevertheless showed that he belonged to the
_genus irritabile vatum_. He was jealous of his poetical reputation;
not, indeed, towards his contemporaries, but towards the poets of former
ages. He either could not or would not see any merit in old Roman
poetry. His prejudice cannot be ascribed only to his enthusiasm for
Greek literature, for he did not even appreciate the excellences which
the old school of poetry had in common with the Greeks. Party spirit had
somewhat to do with it, for a feud on the subject divided the literary
society of the day,[649] and hence Horace took his side warmly and

But the principal cause was jealousy—unless he ignored Lucilius and
Catullus, he could not claim to have been the first follower of
Archilochus of whom Rome could boast; or, as the representative of Roman
lyric poetry, to have first tuned his lyre to Æolian song.

The scenes in which Horace passed his life are so interesting to every
reader of his works, that a few words respecting his villa at Tivoli and
his Sabine farm will not be out of place here. Tibur[650] is situated on
one of the spurs of the Appennines, about fifteen or sixteen miles from
Rome, on the left bank of the Anio (Teverone.) The river winds gently by
the town, separating it from the villa of Horace, and then, falling in a
sheet of water over an escarped rock, disappears beneath a rocky cavern.
Its roaring echoes are heard far and wide, and justifies the epithet
(_resonans_,) which Horace gives to the dwelling of Albunea, the
Tiburtine Sibyl. The villa commanded fine views, and a garden sloped
down from it to the river’s bank. From its grounds was visible the
palace of Mæcenas: on the opposite shore the wooded Sabine hills
sheltered it from the north; and the domain of the poet’s friend,
Quintilius Varus, formed its western boundary.

About fifteen miles north-east of Tibur, nestling amongst the roots of
Mount Lucretilis, lay the Sabine farm. Fragments of white marble, and
mosaic, which have been found there, show that, notwithstanding the
simple frugality which Horace delights to describe, it was built and
embellished with elegance and taste. From the mountain side, which rises
behind the house, trickles a clear stream, the source of which is now
called Fonte Bello, and which afterwards becomes the river Digentia
(Licenza,) and waters the beautiful valley of the sloping Ustica
(_Usticæ Cubantis_.) This rill, the parent of Horace’s favourite river,
the embellisher of that “_riant_ angle of the earth,” is interesting as
being probably the fountain of Bandusia, “more transparent than
glass,”[651] with whose fresh and sparkling waters the poet tempered his

M. de Chaupy[652] assumes that the Bandusian fountain, mentioned by
Horace, was situated near the birthplace of Horace, on the
Lucano-Apulian border. His opinion rests on the words of a grant made by
Pope Pascal II. to the abbot of the Bantine monastery; and Mr.
Hobhouse[653] considers this document as decisive in ascertaining its
position. It is decisive as to the existence of a Bandusian fountain
near Venusia; but it must be remembered that Horace never saw it after
the days of his childhood, when his paternal estate passed away from him
for ever, whilst he speaks of his Bandusian fountain as near him, when
he writes, and promises to sacrifice a kid to the guardian genius of the
spring. What, then, is more probable than the suggestion of Mr.
Dunlop,[654] that the same pleasing recollections of his early years,
which inspired him to relate his touching adventure, led him to “name
the clearest and loveliest stream of his Sabine retreat after that
fountain which lay in Apulia, and on the brink of which he had no doubt
often sported in infancy?”[655] He has in one of his odes alluded to
this affectionate desire to perpetuate reminiscences of home—a desire
which is illustrated by the topographical nomenclature which has been
adopted by colonists of every age and country.

Mr. Dennis, however, in a letter written at Licenza,[656] in sight of
the pleasant shades of M. Lucretilis, although he makes no doubt of the
Bandusian fountain being in the neighbourhood, does not identify it with
the “Fonte Bello.” He asserts that, although he has traced every
streamlet in the neighbourhood, the only one which answers to the
classical description is one now called “Fonte Blandusia.” It rises in a
narrow glen which divides the Mount Lucretilis from Ustica, which
probably derives its modern name _Valle Rustica_ from a corruption of
the classical appellation. As you ascend the glen it contracts into a
ravine with bare cliffs on either side; the streamlet with difficulty
winds its way between mossy rocks (_musco circumlita saxa_,)
overshadowed with dense woods which effectually exclude the heat of the
blazing Dog-star. The water issues from a rock, and trickles into two
successive natural basins. “The water is indeed _splendidior vitro_;
nothing, not even the Thracian Hebrus, can exceed it in purity,
coolness, and sweetness: ‘its loquacious waters still bubble;’ the very
ilices still overhang the hollow rocks whence it springs.”

A reference to Horace’s description[657] will prove to the modern
traveller through this classic region with what fidelity and accuracy
the poet has described the natural features of the scenery. The mountain
chain is continuous and unbroken (_continui montes_,) save by the well
wooded and therefore shady valley of the Digentia, which intersects it
in such a direction that—

                    Veniens dextrum latus aspiciat sol,
                Lævum decedens curru fugiente vaporet.

Another valley meets it, and on an exposed height, at the point of
junction, stands Bardela, in Horace’s time Mandela, and well described
by him as _rugosus frigore pagus_.[658] Corn grows on the sunny field
(apricum pratum) which slopes from the farm to the river: the ruins of
other dwellings mark the spot occupied by five domestic hearths, and
sending five honest representatives to the municipal council of the

                —— habitatum quinque focis, et
          Quinque bonos solitum Variam dimittere patres.[659]

A comparison of the truthful and descriptive verses of Horace identify
the spot which he loved. Nature is the same now as it was then; but
human skill and perseverance have adorned with the purple clusters of
the vine that “little corner of the world” which Horace said would bear
pepper and frankincense more quickly than grapes.[660]

The Satires of Horace occupy the position of the comedy of manners and
the fashionable novel. They are much more appropriately described by the
title _Sermones_ (Discourses) which is also given to them. They are, in
fact, desultory didactic essays, in which the topics are discussed just
as they present themselves. In them is sketched boldly but
good-humouredly a picture of Roman social life with its vices and
follies. His object was (to use his own words)—

                   Ut omnis
     Votivâ pateat veluti descripta tabellâ
                                                 _Sat._ II. i. 32.

Vices, however, are treated as follies; and the man of wit and pleasure
seldom uses a weapon more keen than the shafts of ridicule:—

  Omne vafer vitium ridenti Flaccus amico
  Tangit et admissus circum præcordia ludit.
                                          _Persius_, S. i. 116.

        Arch Horace, while he strove to mend,
  Probed all the foibles of his smiling friend;
  Played lightly round and round the peccant part,
  And won unfelt an entrance to his heart;
  Well skilled the follies of the crowd to trace,
  And sneer with gay good humour in his face.

There is nothing of the political bitterness of Lucilius,[662] the love
of purity and honour which adorns Persius, or the burning indignation
which Juvenal pours forth at the loathsome corruption of morals. Horace
had been a politician and a warm champion of liberty; but the struggle
was now over, both with himself and his country. Ease and tranquillity
were insured to both by the new régime; and his contented temper
disposed him to acquiesce in a state of things which gave Rome time to
rest from the horrors of civil war, and did not interfere with the
independence of the individual. Hence the circumstances of the times, as
well as his own temper, rendered his satires social and not political.
Lucilius wrote when the strife between nobles and people was still
raging, and the latter had not as yet succumbed. He, therefore, breathed
the spirit of the old Athenian comic poets whom he followed and
emulated; and the war of public opinion furnished him with topics
similar to those which were discussed in the republican commonwealth of

Circumstances also influenced, in some degree, the tone of Horace’s
strictures on the habits of social life. Immoral as society was, its
most salient features were luxury, frivolity, extravagance, and
effeminacy. Vice had not reached that appalling height which it attained
in the time of the emperor who succeeded Augustus. Deficient in moral
purity, an Epicurean and a debauchee, nothing would strike him as
deserving censure, except such success as would actually defeat the
object which he proposed to himself—namely, the utmost enjoyment of
life. The dictates of prudence, therefore, would be his highest standard
and his strongest check. He saw that public morals were already
deteriorated, and threatened to become worse; but though they were bad
enough to provoke derision, they did not shock or revolt one who was,
and who professed to be, a man of the world. Had Horace lived in the
time of Persius or Lucilius, even his satire would probably have been
pointed and severe.

Often his satires are only accidentally didactic; he contents himself
with graphic delineations of character and manners, and leaves them to
produce their own moral effect upon the reader. In one[663] he holds up
the superstition of the Romans to ridicule by a minute narrative of the
absurd ceremonies performed by Canidia and another sorceress in their
incantations. In another,[664] amusingly describes the annoyance to
which he was exposed by the importunities of a gossiping trifler. In the
journey to Brundisium he seems to have had no view beyond entertainment;
although two incidents give him an opportunity of exposing the pomposity
of a municipal official and the superstitious follies of a country
town.[665] In others, his subjects are the scenery and neighbouring
society of his Sabine valley;[666] the way in which he is wont to spend
his day when at Rome; his own autobiography;[667] a laughable trial in
Asia;[668] an essay on cookery;[669] and a candid exposure of his own
faults and inconsistencies. Not that he is forgetful of his moral duties
as a satirist. He exposes to merited contempt the prevailing iniquities
of the day. The meanness of legacy-hunting; the absurdity of pretension
and foppery; the folly of an inordinate passion for amassing
wealth;[670] the dangers of adultery;[671] the unfairness of
uncharitably misinterpreting the conduct of others.[672]

Such are the varied subjects contained in the _Sermones_ or Satires of
Horace. The Epistles are still more desultory and unrestrained.
Epistolary writing is especially a Roman accomplishment. The Romans
thought their correspondents deserved that as much pains should be
bestowed on that which was addressed to them as on that which was
intended for the public eye; and, in addition to the careful polish of
which Cicero set the example, Horace brought to the task the
embellishment of poetry. In the Epistles, he lays aside the character of
a moral teacher or censor. He treats his correspondent as an equal. He
opens his heart unreservedly: he gives advice, but in a kind and gentle
spirit, not with sneering severity. The satire is delivered _ex
cathedrâ_;—the epistle with the freedom with which he would converse
with an intimate friend.

The subjects of the first books are moral, those of the second critical.
The _Ars Poetica_ is but a poetical epistle addressed to the Pisos, who
had been bitten by the prevailing mania for tragic poetry. The usual
title claims a far greater extent of subject than the poet intended. It
is not a treatise on poetry, but simply an outline of the history of the
Greek drama, and the principles of criticism applicable to it. It
harmonizes well with the literary subjects treated of in the second book
of the Epistles, and might well be included in it. It is, indeed, longer
and more elaborate: a synopsis of so extensive a subject required more
careful treatment; but it is impossible to form a correct estimate of
the taste and judgment which it displays, unless it is considered as
nothing more than an epistle.

The versification of these compositions is more smooth than that of the
Satires, but only in proportion to the superior neatness of the style
generally. In neither does the metrical harmony rise to the height of
poetry, properly speaking. Doubtless this was the poet’s deliberate
intention. It cannot be supposed that he who could so successfully
introduce all the beautiful Greek lyric metres, and in some cases
improve the delicacy of their structure, was incapable of reproducing
the rhythm of the Greek hexameter. He felt that in subjects belonging to
the prosaic realities of life, and hitherto treated with the
conversational facility of the iambic measure, some appearance of
negligence and even roughness could alone render the stately hexameter
appropriate, and therefore tolerable. But, admirable as the Satires are
for their artistic and dramatic power, and the Epistles for their
correct taste, lively wit, and critical elegance, it is in his
inimitable Odes that the genius of Horace as a poet is especially
displayed. They have never been equalled in beauty of sentiment,
gracefulness of language, and melody of versification. They comprehend
every variety of subject suitable to the lyric muse. They rise without
effort to the most elevated topics—the grandest subjects of history, the
most gorgeous legends of mythology, the noblest aspirations of
patriotism: they descend to the simplest joys and sorrows of every-day
life. At one time they burn with indignation, at another they pour forth
accents of the tenderest emotions. They present in turn every phase of
the author’s character: some remind us that he was a philosopher and a
satirist; and although many are sensuous and self-indulgent, they are
full of gentleness, kindness, and spirituality. Not only do they evince
a complete mastery over the Greek metres, but also show that Horace was
thoroughly imbued with the spirit of Greek poetry, and had profoundly
studied Greek literature, especially the writings of Pindar and the
lyric poets. Numerous as the instances are in which he has imitated
them, and introduced by a happy adaptation their ideas, epithets, and
phrases, his imitations are not mere plagiarisms or purple patches—they
are made so completely his own, and are invested with so much novelty
and originality, that, when compared with the original, we receive
additional gratification from discovering the resemblance. The
sentiments which are paraphrased seem improved: the expressions which
are translated seem so appropriate, and harmonize so exactly with the
context, that a poet, whose memory was stored with them, would have been
guilty of bad taste if he had substituted any others. Greek feelings,
sentiments, and imagery, are so naturally amalgamated with Roman
manners, that they seem to have undergone a transmigration, and to
animate a Roman form. The following are some of the most striking

    Sunt quos curriculo, &c.
                                                _Carm._ 1, 3, _seq._

     Ἀελλοποδων μεν τινας ευφραινουσιν ἱππων τιμαι και στεφανοι·
     τους δ’ εν πολυχρυσοις θαλαμοις βιοτα·
     τερπεται δε και τις επ’ οιδμ’ αλιον
     ναι θοα σως διαστειχων.
                                                    _Pind. Fragm._

                  *       *       *       *       *

      Jam te premet nox, fabulæque Manes,
    Et domus exilis Plutonia: quo simul mearis,
      Nec regna vini sortiere talis, &c.
                                            _Carm._ 1, 4, 16, _seq._

     Κατθανοισα δε κεισ’, ουδεποτε μναμοσυνα σεθεν
     εσσετ’ ουδεποτ’ εις υστερον. ου γαρ πεδεχεις βροδων
     των εκ Πιεριας. αλλ’ αφανης κην Αιδα δομοις
     φοιτασεις πεδ’ αμαυρων νεκυων εκπεποταμενα.
                                                   _Sapph. Fragm._

                  *       *       *       *       *

    Vides, ut alta stet nive candidum
    Soracte, nec jam sustineant onus
      Silvæ laborantes, geluque
        Flumina constiterint acuto?
    Dissolve frigus, ligna super foco
    Large reponens; atque benignius
      Deprome quadrimum Sabina,
        O Thaliarche, merum diota.
                                                _Carm._ 1, 9. _seq._

     Υει μεν ο Ζευς, εκ δ’ ορανω μεγας
     χειμων · πεπαγασιν δ’ υδατων ροαι.
          ·     ·     ·     ·
     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·
     Καββαλλε τον χειμων’, επι μεν τιθεις
     πυρ, εν δε κιρναις οινον αφειδεως
       μελιχρον· αυταρ αμπι κορσα
         μαλθακον αμπιτιθει γναφαλλον.
                                                    _Alcæi Fragm._

                  *       *       *       *       *

    Quem virum aut heroa lyra vel acri
    Tibia sumis celebrare, Clio?
    Quem Deum? cujus recinet jocosa
            Nomen imago, &c.
                                               _Carm._ 1, 12, _seq._

     Ἀναξιφορμιγγες υμνοι
     τινα θεον, τιν’ ηρωα, τινα δ’ ανδρα κελαδησομεν.
                                                 _Pind. Ol._ 2, 1.

    O navis, referent in mare te novi
    Fluctus? O quid agis? fortiter occupa
      Portum. Nonne vides, ut
        Nudum remigio latus,
    Et malus celeri saucius Africo
    Antennæque gemant? ac sine funibus
      Vix durare carinæ
        Possint imperiosius
                                               _Carm._ 1, 14, _seq._

     Το μεν γαρ ενθεν κυμα κυλινδεται,
       Το δ’ ενθεν· αμμες δ’ αν το μεσσον
         ναι φορημεθα συν μελαινα,
     Χειμωνι μοχθευντες μεγανω καλων·
     παρ μεν γαρ αντλος ιοτοπεδαν εχει,
       λαιφος δε παν ζαδηλον ηδη,
         και λακιδες μεγαλαι κατ αυτο
     Χαλασι δ’ αγκυραι ...
                                                    _Alcæi Fragm._

                  *       *       *       *       *

    Nullam, Vare, sacra vite prius severis arborem.
                                               _Carm._ 1, 18, _seq._

     Μηδεν αλλο φυτευσης προτερον δενδρεον αμπελω.
                                                    _Alcæi Fragm._

                  *       *       *       *       *

    Vitas hinnuleo me similis, Chloe,
    Quærenti pavidam montibus aviis
      Matrem, non sine vano
        Aurarum et silvæ metu.
                                               _Carm._ 1, 23, _seq._

     Ατε νεβρον νεοθηλεα γαλαθηνον, ος εν υλη
       Κεροεσσης απολειφθεις υπο μητρος επτοηθη.
                                                   _Anacr. Fragm._

                  *       *       *       *       *

    O Venus, regina Gnidi Paphique,
    Sperne dilectam Cypron, &c.
                                               _Carm._ 1, 30, _seq._

     Κυπρον ιμερταν λιποισα και Παφον περιρρυταν.
                                                  _Alcman. Fragm._

                  *       *       *       *       *

    Quid dedicatum poscit Apollinem
    Vates? quid orat, de patera novum
      Fundens liquorem? &c.
                                               _Carm._ 1, 31, _seq._

     Τι δ’ ερδων, φιλος σοι τε,
     καρτεροβροντα Κρονιδα,
     φιλος δε Μοισαις, Ευθυμια τε
     μελων ειην, τουτ’ αιτημι σε.
                                                    _Pind. Fragm._

                  *       *       *       *       *

    Nunc est bibendum, nunc pede libero
    Pulsanda tellus, &c.
                                               _Carm._ 1, 37, _seq._

     Νυν χρη μεθυσκειν, και τινα προς βιαν
     πινειν, επειδη κατθανε Μυρσιλος.
                                                    _Alcæi Fragm._

                  *       *       *       *       *

    Nullus argento color est avaris
    Abdito terris, inimice lamnæ
    Crispe Sallusti, nisi temperato
            Splendeat usu.
                                                _Carm._ 2, 2, _seq._

     Ουκ εραμαι πολυν εν μεγαρω πλουτον κατακρυψαις εχειν
     αλλ’ εοντων, ευ τε παθειν και ακουσαι, φιλοις εξαρκεων.
                                               _Pind. Nem._ 1, 45.

                  *       *       *       *       *

    Sævius ventis agitatur ingens
                                            _Carm._ 2, 10, 9, _seq._

     Ου θρυον ου μαλαχην ανεμος ποτε, τας δε μεγιστας,
       η δρυας η πλατανους οιδε χαμαι καταγειν.
                                              _Lucian. in Anthol._

                  *       *       *       *       *

    Eheu fugaces, Postume, Postume,
    Labuntur anni: nec Pietas moram
      Rugis et instanti Senectæ
        Adferet, indomitæque Morti.
                                               _Carm._ 2, 14, _seq._

       Ἀλλ’ ολιγοχρονιον γιγνεται, ωσπερ οναρ,
     ηβη τιμηεσσα· το δ’ αργαλεον και αμορφον
       γηρας υπερ κεφαλης αυτιχ’ υπερκρεμαται.
                                                 _Mimnerm. Fragm._

                  *       *       *       *       *

     Quid brevi fortes jaculamur ævo
                                                _Carm._ 2, 16, 17.

                     —— Ω κενοι βροτων,
     οι τοξον εντεινοντες ως καιρου περα.
                                              _Eurip. Suppl._ 754.

                  *       *       *       *       *

     —— Nihil est ab omni
              Parte beatum.
                                                _Carm._ 2, 16, 27.

     Ουκ εστιν ουδεν δια τελους ευδαιμονουν.
                                              _Eurip. Suppl._ 281.

                  *       *       *       *       *

     Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.
                                                 _Carm._ 3, 2, 13.

     Τεθναμεναι γαρ καλον επι προμαχοισι πεσοντα
       ανδρ’ αγαθον περι η πατριδι μαρναμενον.
                                                   _Tyrtæi Fragm._

                  *       *       *       *       *

     Mors et fugacem persequitur virum.
                                                 _Carm._ 3, 2, 14.

     Ο δ’ αυ Θανατος εκιχε και τον φυγομαχον.

                  *       *       *       *       *

    Ætas parentum, pejor avis, tulit
      Nos nequiores, mox daturos
        Progeniem vitiosiorem.
                                            _Carm._ 3, 6, 46, _seq._

    Οιην χρυσειοι πατερες γενεην ελιποντο
    Χειροτερην! υμεις δε κακωτερα τεξειεσθε.
                                             _Arati Phænom._ 123.

                  *       *       *       *       *

     Pulchris excubat in genis.
                                                _Carm._ iv. 13, 8.

     Ος εν μαλακαις παρειαις
     νεανιδος εννυχευεις.
                                               _Soph. Antig._ 779.

                  *       *       *       *       *

   Dis miscent superis.            Ἀθανάτοις ἔμιχθεν.
                                             _Pindar. Isthm._ 2, 42.

   Nube candentes humeros amictus. Νεφέλῃ εἰλυμένος ὤμους.
                                                 _Hom. Il._ εʹ, 186.

   Erycina ridens.                 Φιλομειδὴς Ἀφροδίτη.
                                                 _Hom. Il._ νʹ, 424.

   Officinas Cyclopum.             Ἡφαίστοιο καμίνοις.
                                               _Callim. Fragm._ 129.

   Nitidum caput.                  Λιπαρὰν ἔθειραν.
                                              _Simonid. (Anth. Gr.)_

   Duplicis Ulixei.                Διπλοῦς ἀνήρ.
                                                 _Eurip. Rhes._ 392.

   Superis parem.                  Δαίμονι ἶσος.
                                                 _Hom. Il._ εʹ, 438.

   Aptum equis Argos.              Ἄργεος ἱπποβότοιο.
                                                 _Hom. Il._ βʹ, 287.

   Ditesque Mycenas.               Μυκήνας τὰς πολυχρύσους.
                                                _Sophocl. Elect._ 9.

   Nil desperandum.                Ἄελπτον οὐδέν.
                                                     _Eurip. Fragm._

   Deorum nuntium.                 Ἄγγελον ἀθανάτων.
                                             _Hom. Hymn in Merc._ 3.

   Marinæ filium Thetidis.         Παῖς ἁλίας Θέτιδος.
                                               _Eurip. Androm._ 108.

   Carpe diem.                     Καιρὸν λάβε.
                                          _Æsch. Sept. adv. Th._ 65.

   Difficile bile.                 Χόλου ἀργαλέοιο.
                                                 _Hom. Il._ κʹ, 107.

   Melior patre.                   Πατέρων ἀμείνονες εὐχόμεθ’ εἶναι.
                                                 _Hom. Il._ δʹ, 405.

   Mordaces solicitudines.         Γυιοβόρους μελεδῶνας.
                                                  _Hesiod._ Ἐργ, 66.

   Dulce ridentem.                 Γελάσας ἰμέροεν.

   Dulce loquentem.                Ἀδὺ φωνοίσας.

   Funera densentur.               Θνῆσκον ἐπασσύτεροι.
                                                 _Hom. Il._ αʹ, 383.

   Fulgentes oculos.               Ομματα μαρμαίροντα.
                                                 _Hom. Il._ γʹ, 397.

   Bellum lacrymosum.              Πόλεμον δακρυόεντα.
                                                 _Hom. Il._ εʹ, 737.

   Vacuum aera.                    Ἐρήμας δι’ αἰθέρος.
                                                 _Pind. Ol._ αʹ, 10.

   Loquaces lymphæ.                Λαλὸν ὕδωρ.
   Fulmine caduco.                 Καταιβάτης κεραυνός.
                                                 _Æsch. Pr. V._ 359.

   Vis consili expers.             Ῥώμη ἀμαθής.
                                                     _Eurip. Fragm._

   Flagitio additis damnum.        Πρὸς αἰσχύνῃ κακόν.
                                                 _Eurip. Rhes._ 102.

   Aquæ augur cornix.              Ὑετόμαντις κορώνη.

   Lentus amor.                    Βραδινὰ Αφροδίτα.

   Aquosa Ida.                     Πολυπίδακος Ἴδης.
                                                 _Hom. Il._ ξʹ, 157.

   Obliquum meditantis ictum.      Δοχμώ τ’ ἀΐσσοντε.
                                                 _Hom. Il._ μʹ, 148.

   Gelu acuto.                     Χιόνος ὀξείας.
                                               _Pind. Pyth._ αʹ, 39.

   Dulci fistula.                  Γλυκὺς αὐλός.
                                                _Pind. Ol._ ιʹ, 114.

   Testudinis aureæ.               Χρυσέα φόρμιγξ.
                                                _Pind. Pyth._ αʹ, 1.

   Magnæ linguæ.                   Μεγάλης γλώσσης.
                                               _Sophocl. Antig._ 12.

   Morti atræ.                     Μέλανος θανάτοιο.
                                                 _Hom. Il._ βʹ, 834.

   Aureo plectro.                  Χρυσέῳ πλάκτρῳ.
                                                _Pind. Nem._ εʹ, 44.

   Supremum iter.                  Ὑστάτην ὁδόν.
                                               _Eurip. Alcest._ 686.

   Nescios fari infantes.          Νήπια τέκνα.
                                                 _Hom. Il._ βʹ, 311.

   Noctilucam.                     Νυκτιλαμπής.

   Purpureo ore.                   Πορφυρέου ἀπὸ στόματος.

   Mens trepidat metu.             Δειματὶ πάλλει.
                                                    _Soph. Æd. Tyr._

The two following[674] odes have been attributed to Horace, but there is
no doubt that they are spurious. It was pretended that they were
discovered in the Palatine Library at Rome by Pallavicini: no MS.,
however, of Horace, containing them, has ever yet been found:—

                              AD IULIUM FLORUM.

                  Discolor grandem gravat uva ramum
                  Instat Autumnus; glacialis anno
                  Mox Hiems volvente aderit, capillis
                              Horrida canis.
                  Jam licet Nymphas trepide fugaces
                  Insequi lento pede detinendas;
                  Et labris captæ, simulantis iram,
                              Oscula figi.
                  Jam licet vino madidos vetusto
                  De die lætum recitare carmen;
                  Flore, si te des, hilarem licebit
                              Sumere noctem.
                  Jam vide curas aquilone sparsas!
                  Mens viri fortis sibi constat, utrum
                  Serius leti citiusve tristis
                              Advolat aura.

                  *       *       *       *       *

                               AD LIBRUM SUUM.

                   Dulci libello nemo sodalium
                   Forsan meorum carior extitit;
                       De te merenti quid fidelis
                         Officium domino rependes?
                   Te Roma cautum territat ardua;
                   Depone vanos invidiæ metus;
                       Urbisque, fidens dignitati,
                         Per plateas animosus audi.
                   En quo furentes Eumenidum choros
                   Disjecit almo fulmine Jupiter!
                       Huic ara stabit, fama cantu
                         Perpetuo celebranda crescet.

According to Bentley, the works of Horace were written in the following
chronological order:—

  Satires              Book   I.   in his 26th, 27th, and 28th years.
  Satires               “    II.     “    31st, 32d, and 33d years.
  Epodes                             “    34th and 35th years.
  Odes                  “     I.     “    36th, 37th, and 38th years.
  Odes                  “    II.     “    40th and 41st years.
  Odes                  “   III.     “    42d and 43d years.
  Epistles              “     I.     “    46th and 47th years.
  Odes                  “    IV. }   “    49th, 50th and 51st years.
  Secular Hymn                   }
  Epistle to the Pisos           }        uncertain.
  Epistles              “    II. }

                              CHAPTER VII.

                          C. CILNIUS MÆCENAS.

In a literary history it is impossible to omit some account of one, who,
although his attempts at poetry were very contemptible, exercised, by
his good taste and munificence, a great influence upon literature, and
to whom the literary men of Rome were much indebted for the use which he
made of his confidential friendship with Augustus.

C. Cilnius Mæcenas was a member of an equestrian family, which, though
it derived its descent from the old Etruscan kings,[675] does not appear
to have produced any distinguished individuals. His birth-year is
unknown, but his birth-day was the ides (13th) of April.[676] We have no
information respecting the origin of his intimacy with Augustus.
Probably his cultivated taste, his extensive acquaintance with Greek and
Roman literature, his imperturbable temper, and love of pleasure, first
recommended him as an agreeable companion to Octavius.

His good sense, activity, and energy in business, and decisive
character, qualities in which his irresolute and desultory patron was
signally deficient, enabled him rapidly to improve the acquaintance into
intimacy. It is said by Dion Cassius[677] that Augustus obtained from
Mæcenas a complete plan for the internal administration of his
newly-acquired empire, and that in it were displayed sound judgment and
political wisdom. It is probable that there is some exaggeration in this
statement; but that, without being a great man, he was in these respects
a greater man than Augustus, who, therefore, when he required his
support, could lean upon him with safety. And yet his weaknesses were
such as to prevent any feeling of jealousy, or appearance of
superiority, from endangering his friendship with the emperor. His love
of pleasure, and of the quiet and careless enjoyments of a private
station, proved, as it turned out, a blessing to his country. His heart
was so full of the delights of refined and intellectual society—of
palaces and gardens, and wit and poetry, and collections of art and
virtû—that there was no room in it for ambition. His careless and
sauntering indolence was openly displayed in his lounging gait, and his
toga trailing on the ground. No one could possibly suspect such a
loiterer of sufficient energy or application to be a politician and an
intriguer. Such being his character, tastes, and habits, he felt no
temptation to abuse his influence with Augustus. He did not covet
honours and office, because he knew they must bring trouble and
distraction, perhaps peril with them. He exercised his power, which was
undoubtedly great, to promote that luxurious, yet refined elegance, in
which he himself delighted, and to secure the welfare of his literary
friends. He had wealth enough to gratify his utmost wishes. Augustus,
therefore, had nothing more to confer on him which he valued, except
personal esteem and regard.

The confidence which the Emperor reposed in him is shown by his
employing him in some affairs of great delicacy: first, in arranging a
marriage with Scribonia; and, subsequently, on two occasions, in
negotiating with Antony.[678] In B. C. 36, he accompanied Octavius into
Sicily; but was sent back in order to undertake the administration of
Rome and Italy;[679] and during the campaign at Actium,[680] Mæcenas was
again vicegerent, in which capacity he crushed the conspiracy of the
younger Lepidus. So unlimited was his power, that he was even intrusted
with the signet of Octavius, and with authority to open, and even to
alter, if necessary, all letters which he wrote to the senate during his
campaign; and when the victorious general, on his return to Rome,
consulted with him and Agrippa as to the expediency of re-establishing
the republic, Mæcenas, in opposition to the recommendation of Agrippa,
dissuaded him from taking that step. The moral influence also of Mæcenas
over Augustus is very striking. So long as it continued, we see nothing
of that heartless cruelty, that disregard of the happiness of others,
which deformed the early life of the Emperor: if he was heartless, he at
least did that as a matter of taste which a better man would have done
on principle; and if he was still selfish, he sought fame and glory by
the wise counsels of peace rather than by the brilliant triumphs of war:
he conciliated friends instead of crushing enemies.

The intimacy between Mæcenas and the Emperor continued for at least ten
years after the battle of Actium: then an estrangement commenced; and in
B. C. 16, he was deprived of his official position, and Taurus was
intrusted with the administration of Rome and Italy. Scandalous stories
have been told about his wife Terentia and the Emperor, in order to
account for the interruption of their intimacy; but no special causes
are necessary to account for an event so common. The words of
Tacitus[681] are a sufficient solution of the problem:—“Idque et
Mæcenati acciderat; fato potentiæ, raro sempiternæ, an satias capit, aut
illos, cum omnia tribuerunt, aut hos, cum jam nihil reliquum est, quod
cupiant.” He retained the outward appearance of the imperial friendship,
although he had lost the reality. He went to court on the birth-day, but
ceased to be of the Emperor’s council. His life was passed in the
voluptuous retirement of his palace on the Esquiline, which he had built
for himself. This hill was not generally considered wholesome: probably
the fact that it had been a burial-ground[682] created a prejudice
against it; but the loftiness of the site chosen, as well as of the
building itself (_molem vicinam nubibus_,) and the breeze which played
freely through the lovely garden with which it was surrounded, rendered
it salubrious. All the most brilliant society of Rome was found at his
table; and many of the best of them received still more substantial
marks of his favour.[683] Virgil, Horace, Propertius, and Varius, were
amongst his friends and constant associates.

Mæcenas was a low-spirited invalid;[684] latterly he could not sleep,
and endeavoured in vain to procure repose by listening to soft
music.[685] In his last distressing illness he generally resided at his
Tiburtine villa, where the murmuring falls of the Anio invited that
sleep which was denied him elsewhere. He died B. C. 8, and was buried on
the Esquiline. Though married, he left no children, and bequeathed his
property to the Emperor, whom he besought in his will not to forget his
beloved Horace. His taste as a critic was evidently far superior to his
talents as a writer. Few fragments of his writings remain; and all
ancient critics are unanimous in the condemnation of his style.
Augustus[686] laughed at his affected jargon of mingled Etruscan and
Latin. Quintilian[687] quotes instances of his absurd inversions and
transpositions; and Seneca[688] shows, by an example, its unintelligible
obscurity.[689] He was a sensualist and a voluptuary,[690] and an
unfaithful husband; and yet he was devotedly fond of his wife, the
beautiful but ill-tempered Terentia, who had a great influence over him.
He would divorce her one day only to restore her to conjugal rights on
the next; and Seneca said that, though he had only one wife, he was
married a thousand times. He abhorred cruelty and severity, and would
not let it pass unrebuked even in the Emperor; and although he made a
boast of effeminacy, he was ready to devote himself heartily to business
in cases of emergency. In fact, he was a fair specimen of the man of
pleasure and society: liberal, kind-hearted, clever, refined, but
luxurious, self-indulgent, indolent, and volatile, with good instincts
and impulses, but without principle.

                           C. VALGIUS RUFUS.

Amongst the poets of the Augustan age, whose writings were much admired
by their contemporaries, but have not stood the searching test of time,
was Valgius Rufus. Of his life no records remain; but he probably
belonged to that class of authors of whom Pliny says, “Quibus nos in
vehiculo, in balneo, inter cœnam, oblectamus otium temporis.”[691] They
were light and pleasing, calculated to amuse an idle half-hour, or to
relieve the tedium of a journey. They answered the purpose of the
railroad literature of our own days. These writers had a correct taste,
and a critical discernment of poetical beauty, rather than a genius for
poetical composition. Probably their personal characters had something
to do with their reputation: they were members of a literary _coterie_;
they lived, thought, and felt together; they defended each other against
malicious criticism; and the bonds of friendship by which they were
united tempted the greater poets to regard their effusions with kind but
undue partiality. Valgius Rufus was a great favourite of Horace,[692]
but only a few short, isolated passages are extant of his poems.[693]
Quintilian[694] attributes to him a translation of the rhetorical
precepts of Apollodorus. Seneca[695] mentions him by name: Pliny[696]
praises his erudition. The testimony borne to his transcendent merits as
an epic poet, in the Panegyric of Messala, need scarcely be trusted,
because it is almost certain that this piece is spurious.[697]


Of L. Varius Rufus also, who was one of the constant guests at Mæcenas’
table, scarcely any thing is known. Horace[698] tells us that he was
unequalled in epic song, when Virgil had as yet only turned his
attention to rustic poetry. The high praise bestowed upon his Thyestes
by Quintilian has already been mentioned. To him, together with Virgil,
we have seen that Horace owed his introduction to Augustus, and all
three were of the party which accompanied Mæcenas to Brundisium. The
titles of two of his poems are extant,—I. _De Morte_; II. _Panegyric on
Augustus_. Of the former, four fragments are preserved by Macrobius, all
of which Virgil has deemed worthy of imitation. Of the latter, two
lines, containing a delicate compliment to Augustus, are extant, which
Horace has introduced entire into one of his Epistles.[699] The passage
by no means satisfies modern taste, which has been formed by the
hexametrical rhythm of Virgil; but Seneca praises his style as free from
the usual faults of Latin declamatory poetry—mere bombast on the one
hand, and excessive minuteness on the other. Niebuhr conjectures that
his Thyestes was too declamatory; and that, like the later Roman
tragedies of Seneca and others, it was not an imitation of the Attic
drama, but of the degenerate tragedies belonging to the Alexandrian

               C. CORNELIUS GALLUS (BORN B. C. 66 or 69.)

Gallus was more distinguished as a general than as a poet. Except a
single line from one of his elegies, not a vestige of his poetry
remains; for the short pieces attributed to him[700] are undoubtedly not
genuine. He owes his fame, probably, to the kind verdict of his
contemporaries, whose friendship and amiable affection for each other
appear never to have been endangered by the slightest spark of jealousy.

Born at Frejus, of low parentage, he was a fellow-student in philosophy
with Virgil[701] and Arius—a friendship thus commenced which continued
through life. The patronage of Asinius Pollio[702] brought him into
notice as a poet at the early age of twenty. He was one of the first to
attach himself to the cause of Octavius; and, being appointed
commissioner for allotting the lands to the military colonies, he had
the opportunity of befriending Virgil and the plundered Mantuans. At
Actium he commanded a brigade, burnt Antony’s ships in the harbour of
Parætonium, was one of the capturers of Cleopatra, and was rewarded by
Octavius with being made first prefect of Egypt. How so valuable a
servant lost the Emperor’s favour is uncertain. Ovid hints that his
crime was one of words, not of deeds:—

                    Linguam nimio non tenuisse mero.

He was recalled, his property confiscated, and himself exiled. He had
not strength of mind to bear his fall, and he committed suicide in the
forty-first or forty-third year of his age.[703]

No judgment respecting his merits can be formed from the contradictory
criticism of the ancients. Ovid awards to him the palm among the elegiac
poets,[704] and Virgil is said to have sung his praises in his fourth
Georgic, but afterwards to have omitted the passage and substituted for
it the story of Aristæus; whilst Quintilian[705] applies the epithet
_durior_ to his versification. Perhaps the latter attached too much
importance to the grace and sweetness of diction, but neglected the
beauty of the sentiments; whilst the former might have been too partial
in his sympathy with a fellow exile. He was the author of four books of
elegies, in which, under the feigned name of Lycoris, he sings his love
for his mistress Cytheris. He also translated the Greek poems of

                            ALBIUS TIBULLUS.

Tibullus was born of an equestrian family, probably in B. C. 54. He was
a contemporary of Virgil and Horace;[706] and like them, during the
troubles of the civil wars, suffered the confiscation of his paternal
estate, which was situated at Pedum, near Tibur. After the conclusion of
the struggle a portion was restored to him—small, indeed, but sufficient
to satisfy his moderate wants and contented disposition.

Disinclined, as well by his love of quiet, to the labours and perils of
a military life, as he was by the tenderness and softness of his
character to the horrors of war, circumstances, nevertheless, forced him
involuntarily to undertake a campaign. Messala was his patron, to whom
he was evidently under great obligations.[707] When, therefore, he was
sent by Octavia to quell an insurrection in Aquitania, Tibullus
accompanied him. This campaign and the successes of Messala furnished
the poet with subjects for his muse.[708] Tibullus also fully intended
to continue his services to Messala in the east, during the following
year; but illness compelled him to stop at Corcyra, whence he returned
to Rome.[709]

The mistresses whose beauty, inconstancy, and cruelty Tibullus
celebrates in his elegies were, unlike those of Horace, real persons.
Delia’s real name is said to have been Plautia or Plania;[710] who
Nemesis was is not known. These are the only two mentioned by himself or
alluded to by Ovid;[711] but Horace addresses an ode to him on his
passion for a mistress whom he names Glycera. Probably he is speaking of
one of Tibullus’ mistresses under a feigned name, in accordance with his
habitual practice, for the names introduced by him in his poems,
generally speaking, bear no appearance of reality. They are, with very
few exceptions, suggested by his study of Greek lyric poets. Chloris,
Lycoris, Neobule, Lydia, Thaliarchus, Xanthias, Pholoe, are all Greek
characters, translated to Roman scenes, and made to play an artificial
part in Roman life. Cinara[712] was, perhaps, a real person, as Bassus,
the Novii Mævius, and Numida, undoubtedly are. Sometimes, when his
object is satire, he speaks of the subject of his irony under a name
somewhat resembling the real one; as, for example, when he ridicules
Mæcenas under the name of Malthinus,[713] Salvidianus Rufus under that
of Nasidianus,[714] and lampoons Gratidia the sorceress as Canidia. But
in the poetry of Tibullus, as in that of Catullus and Propertius, the
same names are found in each of a series of poems. Apuleius[715] asserts
that the real name of the Lesbia of Catullus was Clodia; that of the
Cynthia of Propertius, Hostia, and that she was a native of Tivoli.

The style and tone of thought of Tibullus are, like his character,
deficient in vigour and manliness, but sweet, smooth, polished, tender,
and never disfigured by bad taste. He does not deserve the censure of
Niebuhr, who stigmatizes him as a “disagreeable poet, because of his
doleful and weeping melancholy and sentimentality, resulting from
misunderstanding the ancient elegies of Mimnermus.”[716]

After his return from Corcyra, Tibullus passed the remainder of his
short life in the peaceful retirement of his paternal estate. He died
young, shortly after Virgil, if we may trust to an epigram, ascribed to
Domitius Marsus, contained in the Latin Anthologia:[717]—

             Te quoque Virgilio comitem non æqua, Tibulle,
               Mors juvenem campos misit in Elysios,
             Ne foret, aut elegis molles qui fleret amores,
               Aut caneret forti regia bella pede.

The poems commonly ascribed to Tibullus consist of four books, but only
two are genuine, and of these, the second was published posthumously.
Two lines in the third book, which fix the date of the poet’s birth in
the consulship of Hirtius and Pansa,[718] have generally been considered
as spurious, because such a date is inconsistent with the rest of the
chronology; but Voss rejected the whole of that book; and there is no
question but that the spirit and character of the elegies, as well as
the harmony of the metre, are very inferior to those of the preceding
poems. The same inferiority marks the fourth also, with the exception of
the smaller poems, which bear the names of Sulpicia and Corinthus.
These, as Niebuhr correctly observes, display greater energy and
boldness than Tibullus possessed, and are the productions of some poet
much superior to him.

That elegant scholar and judicious critic, Muretus,[719] has well
attributed to him, as his chief characteristics, simplicity, and natural
and unaffected genius:—“Illum (_i. e._ Tibullum) judices _simplicius_
scripsisse quæ cogitaret; hunc (_i. e._ Propertium) diligentius
cogitasse quæ scriberet. In illo _plus naturæ_, in hoc plus curæ atque
industriæ perspicias.”

                      SEXTUS AURELIUS PROPERTIUS.

Very little is known respecting the life and personal history of
Propertius beyond the few facts which may be gleaned from his poems. He
was a native of the border country of Umbria, and was probably born not
earlier than A. U. C. 703,[720] or later than 700.[721] This period will
sufficiently agree with the statement of Ovid respecting their relative
ages.[722] His family had not produced any distinguished member, but
possessed a competent estate. Like Virgil and Tibullus, he was a
sufferer by the consequences of war; for the establishment of a military
colony reduced him from comfort to straitened circumstances.[723]

Like most young Romans of genius and education, he was intended for the
bar;[724] but poetry had greater charms for him than severe studies, and
he became nothing more than a literary man. He inhabited a house in the
now fashionable quarter of the Esquiline, and was on intimate terms with
Gallus, Ovid, Bassus, and Virgil. Cynthia, his amour with whom inspired
so large a portion of his elegies, was not only a beautiful but an
accomplished woman. She was his first love; and it appears to have been
some time before she yielded to his solicitations,[725] nor was she even
then always faithful to him.[726] She could write verses and play upon
the lyre,[727] and was a graceful dancer.[728] She owed to him, says
Martial, her immortality; whilst he owed to his love for her the
inspiration which immortalized himself:—

               Cynthia, facundi carmen juvenile Properti,
                 Accepit famam nec minus illa dedit.

The date of the poet’s death is unknown, but the probability is that he
died young.

Although Propertius was a contemporary and friend of the Augustan poets,
he may be considered as belonging to a somewhat different school of
poetry. His taste, like theirs, was educated by a study of Greek
literature; but the Greek poets whose works he took for his model
belonged to a later age. Horace, Virgil and Tibullus imitated and tried
to rival the Greek classical poets of the noblest ages: they transferred
into their native tongue the ideas of Homer, Pindar, and the old lyric
poets. Their taste was formed after the purest and most perfect models.
Propertius, on the other hand, was content with a lower flight. He
attempted nothing more than to imitate the graceful but feeble strains
of the Alexandrian poets, and to become a second Callimachus or
Philetas.[729] Roman perseverance in the pursuit of learning, and the
spirit of investigation in the wide field of Greek literature, had
raised up this new standard of taste, which was by no means an
improvement upon that which had been hitherto established.

The imitations of Propertius are too studied and apparent to permit him
to lay claim to great natural genius. Nature alone could give the
touching tenderness of Tibullus or the facility of Ovid—in both of
which, notwithstanding his grace and elegance, he is deficient. The
absence of original fancy is concealed by minute attention to the
outward form of the poetry which he admired. His pentameters are often
inharmonious, because they adopt so continually the Greek rules of
construction; awkward Greek idioms, and a studious display of his
learning, which was undoubtedly great, destroy that greatest charm of
style, perspicuity.

According to Quintilian,[730] the critics of his day somewhat overrated
his merits, for they could scarcely decide the question of superiority
between him and Tibullus. This, however, is to be expected in an age of
affected rhetoric and grammatical pedantry, when nothing was considered
beautiful in poetry except that which was in accordance with the
arbitrary rules of cold criticism. They appreciated his correctness, and
did not miss the warm heart of his rival. His poetry is not so polluted
with indelicacy as that of Ovid, but still it is often sensual and

It is worthy of remark that the fourth elegy of the third book, entitled
“Arethusa to Lycotas,” deprives Ovid of the credit of being the inventor
of the elegiac epistle.

                             ÆMILIUS MACER.

The poem of Æmilius Macer is only known through two verses in the
Tristia of Ovid,[731] which state that it treated of birds, serpents,
and medicinal herbs:

             Sæpe suas volucres legit mihi grandior ævo
               Quæque necet serpens; quæ juvet herba Macer.

He was born at Verona, and died in Asia, A. D. 16; and the passage
already quoted proves that he was older than Ovid.

His poem was a paraphrase or imitation of the Theriaca of Nicander—a
physician-poet, who flourished in Ætolia during the reign of Ptolemy
Epiphanes. Quintilian couples his name with that of Lucretius; and
awards him the praise of elegance, but adds that his style is deficient
in dignity.

                             CHAPTER VIII.

                     OVIDIUS NASO (BORN B. C. 43.)

Ovid, as he himself states,[732] was born at Sulmo (Sulmone,) a town of
the Peligni (Abruzzi,) ninety miles distant from Rome. The year of his
birth was that in which the consuls Hirtius and Pansa fell in the field
of Mutina (Modena.) His family was equestrian, and had been so for some
generations. His father lived to the age of ninety; and, as his mother
was then alive, it is probable that she also attained an advanced age.
He had a brother exactly twelve months older than himself. Their common
birthday was the first of the Quinquatria, or festival of Minerva (March

Whilst still of tender age the two boys were sent to Rome for education,
and placed under the care of eminent instructors. The elder studied
eloquence, and was brought up to the bar: but he died at the early age
of twenty. Ovid himself also, for a time, studied rhetoric under
Arellius Fuscus and Porcius Latro, and the results of his study are
visible in his poems;[733] for example, in the speeches of Ajax and

Seneca has left an interesting account of his rhetorical powers.[735] “I
remember,” he says, “hearing Naso declaim, in the presence of Arellius
Fuscus, of whom he was a pupil; for he was an admirer of Latro, although
his style was different from his own. The style of Ovid could at that
time be termed nothing else but poetry in prose: still he was so
diligent as to transfer many of his sentiments into his verses. Latro
had said—

                  Mittamus arma in hostes, et petamus.

Naso wrote—

              Arma viri fortis medios mittantur in hostes
              Inde jubete peti.

He borrowed another idea from one of Latro’s Suasorian orations:—

      Non vides uti immota fax torpeat et exagitata reddat ignes?

Ovid’s paraphrase of this illustration is—

             Vidi ego jactatas mota face crescere flammas,
               Et rursus, nullo concutiente, mori.

When he was a student he was thought to declaim well.”

On the affecting theme of a husband and wife, who had mutually sworn not
to survive each other, Seneca asserts that he surpassed his master in
wit and talent, and was only inferior in the arrangement of his topics.
He then quotes a long passage, in which Ovid analyzes the principles of
love, with a skill and ingenuity well worthy of one who, as a poet, made
love the subject of his song, and with a purity of sentiment which, it
were to be wished, had dignified the sweetness of his verses. Ovid
preferred _suasoriæ_ and ethical themes to _controversiæ_;[736] for all
argument was irksome to him. In oratory he was very careful in the use
of his words: in his poetry he was aware of his faults, but loved them
too well to correct them. He then adds the following amusing and
characteristic anecdote:—Being once asked by his friends to erase three
lines, he consented on condition that he himself should be at liberty to
make an exception in favour of three. He accordingly wrote down three
which he wished to preserve; his friends those which they wished to
erase. The papers were examined, and both were found to contain the same
verses. Pedo Albinovanus used to say that one of these was—

                 Semibovemque virum semivirumque bovem.

The other—

                  Egelidum Borean, egelidumque Notum.

Hence it is apparent that judgment was not wanting, but the inclination
to correct. He defended himself by saying that an occasional mole is an
improver of beauty. The former of these miserable conceits is not now to
be found in his poems. The latter occurs in the _Amores_, but it is
usually read—

                 Et gelidum Borean, egelidumque Notum;


              Et gelidum Borean, præcipitemque Notum.[737]

The father of Ovid, who took a utilitarian view of life, is said to have
discouraged the cultivation of his poetical talents, and to have
stigmatized the service of the Muses as barren and unprofitable. Even
Homer himself, he was wont to say, left no property behind him. Ovid
endeavoured to comply with his father’s wishes; he deserted Helicon, and
tried to write plain prose. It was all in vain; his words spontaneously
flowed into numbers, and whatever he tried to say was poetry. His
natural genius and facility displayed itself when he was quite a boy;
for he had not yet put on the _toga virilis_. When he assumed this badge
of mature age, it was bordered with a broad purple stripe, which marked
the patrician order; but being unambitious and indolent, he never took
his seat in the senate, although he filled several magisterial and
judicial offices.

His rank, fortune, and talents enabled him to cultivate the society of
men of congenial tastes. He became acquainted with the best poets of his
day. Macer and Propertius would recite their compositions to him.
Ponticus and Bassus were guests at his table. He had heard the lyrics of
Horace read by himself. Virgil he had only seen; and the untimely death
of Tibullus prevented him from making the acquaintance of that poet. He
was extremely young when his juvenile poems became very popular, and he
wrote far more than he published; for he burnt whatever displeased him;
and, when sentenced to exile, in disgust he committed the Metamorphoses
to the flames.

He himself confesses his natural susceptibility and amorous temperament;
but claims the credit of never having given occasion to any scandal. He
was three times married. His first wife was unsuitable, and proved
unworthy of him, and accordingly he divorced her. His second he divorced
also, although no imputation rested on her virtue. From his third, whom,
notwithstanding his fickleness and infidelity, he sincerely loved, he
was only separated by exile. She was one of the Fabian family, and bore
him one daughter.

Epicurean in his tastes, and a skeptic, if not a disbeliever in a future
state, he lived a life of continual self-indulgence and intrigue. He was
a universal admirer and as universal a favourite among the female sex in
the voluptuous capital; for the tone of female morals was in that age
low and depraved, and the women encouraged the licentiousness of the
men. Although his favourite mistress, whom he celebrated under the
fictitious name of Corinna, is unknown, and all the conjectures
concerning her identity are groundless, there is no doubt that she was a
lady of rank and fortune.

Ovid was popular as a poet, successful in society, and possessed all the
enjoyments which wealth can bestow. He had a villa and estate in his
native Sulmo, a house on the Capitoline hill, and suburban gardens,
celebrated for their beauty. At some period of his life he travelled
with Macer into Asia and Sicily; and, in his exile, recalls to mind with
sorrowful pleasure the magnificent cities of the former, and the sublime
scenery and classic haunts of the latter.[738] This sunny life at length
came to an end. The last ray of happiness, which he speaks of as beaming
on him, was the intelligence that his beloved daughter Perilla, who was
twice married, made him a grandfather a second time. When his hair
became tinged with white, and he had reached his fiftieth year, he
incurred, by some fault or indiscretion, the anger of Augustus, and was
banished to Tomi (Tomoswar or Baba.)

The cause of his banishment is involved in obscurity. It was not unknown
at Rome; but in his exile he refrains from alluding to it, except in
dark allusions, out of fear of giving additional offence to the
emperor.[739] He speaks of it as an indiscretion (_error_,) not a crime
(_scelus_, _facinus_;[740]) as something which he had accidentally
witnessed,[741] perhaps had indiscreetly told—a circumstance which
deeply and personally affected Augustus, and inflicted a wound which he
was unwilling to tear open afresh. He hints also that he fell a victim
to the treachery of friends and domestics,[742] who enriched themselves
by his ruin.

There have been many conjectures[743] on this difficult point. Some have
imagined an intrigue with the elder Julia, the profligate daughter of
Augustus; but this is scarcely consistent with the manner in which Ovid
himself speaks of his fault; and besides this, Julia was banished to
Pandataria eight years before. The banishment of the younger Julia to
Trimerus, about the same time with that of Ovid, would make it far more
probable that his fall was connected with that of this equally
profligate princess. Tiraboschi supposed that he had surprised one of
the royal family in some disgraceful act; and some have even imagined
that he might have witnessed such conduct on the part of the Emperor
himself. Dryden believed that he accidentally saw Livia in the bath; and
the author of the article in the Biographie Universelle, as well as
Schoell,[744] surmise that he was in some way implicated in the fortunes
of Agrippa Posthumus, and thus incurred the hatred of Livia and

Whatever the cause may have been, the punishment was a cruel one, except
for a crime of the deepest dye, and would never have been inflicted by
the gentle Augustus so long as he was under the salutary influence of
Mæcenas and his party. But in his old age he submitted to the baneful
rule of the dark Tiberius and the implacable Livia. Any pretext,
therefore, sufficed to remove one, who, from some cause or other, had
excited their enmity. The alleged reason was the immorality of his
writings; but they are not more immoral than those of Horace; and,
besides, the worst of them had been published ten years before. Nor was
the morality of the Emperor himself of such a character as to lead him
to punish so severely a licentious poet in a licentious age. The
exclusion of his works from the Palatine[745] library was a merited and
more appropriate visitation. Nevertheless, this was made the pretext for
a banishment, the misery of which was solaced by the empty mockery of
the reservation of his civil rights.

Tomi was on the very frontiers of the Roman empire, inhabited by the
Getæ, who were rude and uncivilized. The country itself, a barren and
treeless waste, cold, damp, and marshy, producing naturally scarcely
anything but wormwood, and yielding scanty crops to the unskilled toil
of ignorant cultivators, was rendered still more desolate by frequent
incursions of the neighbouring savage tribes, who used poisoned arrows,
and offered up as sacrifices their prisoners of war.[746] Ovid, who,
with all his faults, was affectionate and tender-hearted, was torn from
all the voluptuous blandishments of the capital, from the sympathies of
congenial spirits, who could appreciate his talents, and from the arms
of his weeping wife,[747] amidst the voice of wailing and of prayer,
which filled every corner of his desolate dwelling. The blow fell
suddenly upon him like a thunder-clap,[748] and so stupefied him that he
could make no preparations for his voyage. The season of his departure
was the depth of winter, and he was exposed to some peril by a tempest
in the Ionian Gulf. The climate of his new abode was as inclement as
that of Scythia. Not only the Danube, but even the sea near its mouth,
was for some extent covered with ice: even the wine froze into blocks,
and was broken in pieces before it could be used. He lived in exile only
ten years; constant anxiety preyed upon his bodily health; he suffered
languor, but no pain; he loathed all food; the little that he ate would
not digest; sleep failed him; his body became pale and emaciated, and so
he died. The Tomitæ showed their respect by erecting a tomb to his

In the midst of such a contrast between the present and the past, no
wonder that his complainings appear almost pitiful and unmanly, and his
urgent petitions to Augustus couched in too fulsome a strain of
adulation. No wonder that he painted in the most glowing colours the
story of his woes and privations. Yet he was destitute neither of
patience nor fortitude: he relied on the independence and immortality of
genius; and although the enervating effect of a luxurious and easy life
and a delicate constitution, rendered him a prey to grief, and he
gradually pined away, still he had strength of mind to relieve his
sorrows by devotion to the Muse, and he suffered with tranquillity and
resignation. Poetry was his resource during his stormy voyage. Poetry
gained him the affection and esteem of his new fellow-citizens,
notwithstanding their barbarism,[749] and procured him the honour of a

All the extant poems of Ovid, with the exception of the Metamorphoses,
are elegiac. It was the metre then most in vogue. All the minor poets,
his contemporaries, wrote in it. One of his earliest works is the
“Amores,” a collection of elegies, most of which are addressed to his
favourite mistress Corinna. Some of them, however, were composed
subsequently to his Epistles and Art of Love.[750] An epigram, which is
prefixed, states that there were originally five books, but that the
author subsequently reduced them to the present number, three.
Licentiousness disfigures these annals of his amours; but they teem with
the freshness and buoyancy of youth, and sparkle with grace and

The twenty-one _Epistolæ Heroidum_, i. e. Epistles to and from Women of
the Heroic Age, are a series of love-letters: their characteristic
feature is passion; the ardour of which is sometimes interfered with by
too laboured conceits and excessive refinement. They are, in fact, the
most polished efforts of one whose natural indolence often disinclined
him from expending that time and pains on the work of amending and
correcting which distinguished Virgil. Their great merit consists in the
remarkable neatness with which the sentiments are expressed, and the
sweetness of the versification; their great defect is want of variety.
The subject necessarily limited the topics. The range of them is
confined to laments for the absence of the beloved object, the pangs of
jealousy, apprehensions of inconstancy, expressions of warm affection,
and descriptions of the joys and sorrows of love.

With the exception of the Metamorphoses, the Epistles have been greater
favourites than any of the works of Ovid. Some were translated by
Drayton and Lord Hervey. The beautiful translation, by Pope, of the
epistle from Sappho to Phaon, is familiar to all; and his touching
picture of the struggle between passion and principle, in the letter of
Eloisa to Abelard, owes a portion of its inspiration to the Epistles of

Love in the days of Ovid had nothing in it chivalrous or pure—it was
carnal, sensual. The age in which he lived was morally polluted, and he
was neither better nor worse than his contemporaries. Great and noble as
was the character of the Roman matron, the charms of an accomplished
female education were almost as rare as at Athens. She had sterling
worth; but she had not often the power to fascinate those numbers who
considered woman the minister to the pleasures of man. She was wise,
self-sacrificing, patriotic, courageous—a devoted mother, an
affectionate wife—and a man of heroic mould valued as she deserved such
a partner of his fortunes. But those who sought merely the allurements
of passion looked only for meretricious pleasure and sensual enjoyment.
Hence grossness is the characteristic of Ovid’s Art of Love. The
instructions contained in the first two books, which are addressed to
men, are fit only for the seducer. The blandishments in the third are
suited only to the abandoned of the other sex.

The Art of Love was followed by the Remedies of Love, in one book: “Let
him,” he says, “who taught you to love, teach you also the cure; one
hand shall inflict the wound and minister the balm. The earth produces
noxious and healthful herbs; the rose is often nearest neighbour to the

His Metamorphoses were just finished, and not yet corrected,[752] when
his fall took place. When in his despair he burnt it, fortunately for
the world some copies transpired. Afterwards he prayed that they might
be preserved to remind the readers of the unhappy author. The
Metamorphoses consist of fifteen books, and contain a series of
mythological narratives from the earliest times to the translation of
the soul of Julius Cæsar from earth to heaven, and his metamorphosis
into a star. This poem is Ovid’s noblest effort: it approaches as near
to the epic form as is possible with so many naturally unconnected
episodes. In many parts, especially his descriptions, we do not merely
admire his natural facility in making verses, but picturesque
truthfulness and force—the richest fancy combined with grandeur and
dignity. Amongst the most beautiful portions may be enumerated the story
of Phaeton, including the splendid description of the Palace of the
Sun;[753] the golden age;[754] the story of Pyramus and Thisbe;[755] the
cottage home and the rustic habits of Baucis and Philemon,[756]
Narcissus at the fountain;[757] the powerfully sketched picture of the
Cave of Sleep,[758] Dædalus and Icarus,[759] Cephalus and Procris,[760]
and the soliloquy of Medea.[761] In this poem, especially, may be traced
that study and learning by which the Roman poets made all the treasures
of Greek literature their own. In fact, a more extensive knowledge of
Greek mythology may be derived from it than from the Greeks themselves,
because the books which were the sources of his information are
unfortunately no longer extant.

The “Fasti” is an antiquarian poem on the Roman calendar. Originally it
was intended to have formed twelve books, one for each month of the
year, but only the first six were completed:[762]——

              Sex ego Fastorum scripsi totidemque libellos
              Cumque suo finem mense volumen habet.

It is a beautiful specimen of simple narrative in verse, and displays
more than any of his works, his power of telling a story, without the
slightest effort, in poetry as well as prose. As a profound study of
Greek mythology and poetry had furnished the materials for his
Metamorphoses and other poems, so in this he drew principally from the
legends which had been preserved by the old poets and annalists of his
own country.

The five books of the Tristia and the four books of the Epistles from
Pontus were the outpourings of his sorrowful heart during the gloomy
evening of his days. Without the brilliancy, the wit, and the genius,
which beamed forth from his joyous spirit in the time of his prosperity,
without the graceful and inspired querulousness of the ancient models,
they are, nevertheless, conceived in the spirit of the Greek elegy—they
utter the voice of complaining, and deserve the Horatian epithet of
_miserabiles_.[763] It was natural to him to give utterance to his hope
and despair in song: he had sported like a gay insect in the sunshine of
prosperity. He was too fragile, delicate, and effeminate to bear the
storm of adversity—his butterfly spirit was broken; but, with all his
faults, that broken heart was capable of the tenderest emotions, and his
letter to his daughter Perilla[764] is full of purity and sweetness. The
carelessness of one who would not take the trouble to correct, and who
was conscious of his dangerous facility, is compensated for by the
commiseration which his natural complaints excite, and for the powerful
descriptions which occasionally enliven the monotony inseparable from

His minor poems consist of an elegiac poem, “Nux,” in which a nut-tree
bewails its hard fate and the ill treatment which it receives; a long
and bitter satire, entitled Ibis, on some enemy, or, perhaps, some
faithless friend; a poem on Cosmetics (Medicamina facici;[765]) another
on Fishing (Halieutica;[766]) and an address of condolence to Livia
Augusta. None, however, of these last three are universally admitted to
be genuine. Other works which were the offspring of his prolific genius
have perished. During his exile he acquired sufficient knowledge of the
Getan language to write some poems in it; and these were as popular with
the barbarians as his Latin works were at Rome. Lastly, he was the
author of the Medea; a tragedy of which Quintilian says, that it shows
of what grand works he was capable, if he had been willing to curb
instead of giving reins to the luxuriance of his genius.[767] Two lines
only are extant; but we can judge of the conception which he formed of
the character of Medea from the epistle in the “Heroides,” and her
eminently tragic soliloquy in the Metamorphoses.

Ovid was a voluptuary, but not a heartless one. The age in which he
lived was as immoral as himself, and far more gross; he was, therefore,
neither a corrupter nor a seducer. His poetry was popular, not only
because of its beauty, but because it was in exact accordance with the
spirit of the times. His wit was sometimes contrary to good taste, but
it was not forced and unnatural. He was betrayed into the appearance,
not the reality of affectation, by a luxuriance which required pruning,
for which he had neither patience nor inclination. He stored himself
with the learning of the ancients, and caught their inspiration; but
their severe taste was to him a trammel to which he was too self-willed
and self-complacent to submit. The prevalent taste for elegiac poetry
pointed out the style which was suited to his caliber; for one cannot
help feeling that his genius was incapable of mastering the gigantic
proportions of a true epic, and, notwithstanding the favourable
criticism of Quintilian, of soaring to the sublimity of tragedy.

                           GRATIUS FALISCUS.

The Cynegetica of Gratius, commonly, though without any reason, surnamed
Faliscus, may claim a place beside the Halieutica of Ovid, on account of
its subject, but not on the score of genius, poetry, or language.
Nothing is known respecting this author, except that Ovid speaks of him
as a contemporary.[768] The poem is heroic, and consists of 536 lines:
its style is hard and prosaic; it describes the weapons and arts of the
chase, horses and hounds; but the science is rather Greek than Italian,
and the information contained in it is principally derived from

                           PEDO ALBINOVANUS.

Another poet of the Ovidian age was his trusty friend, C. Pedo
Albinovanus. He was of equestrian rank,[770] and, unlike most of his
contemporaries, an epic poet.[771] Ovid in his Epistles from
Pontus,[772] which are addressed to him, applies to him the epithet,
“Sidereus,” either because he had written an astronomical poem, or
because his sublime language soared into the starry heavens. Martial
speaks of him as having written epigrams which extend to the length of
two pages.[773] A fragment of an epic poem, describing the voyage of
Germanicus related by Tacitus, is preserved by Seneca.[774] Three
elegies are usually ascribed to him; but their style is that of more
modern times, and the authority for their genuineness very suspicious.

                              A. SABINUS.

Another contemporary of Ovid was A. Sabinus; and all that is known
respecting him is derived from two passages in the works of the former
poet.[775] In one of these,[776] he tells us that Sabinus wrote answers
to six of the epistles of the Heroides. None of these, however, are
extant. The three which profess to be written by him, entitled Ulysses
to Penelope, Demophoon to Phyllis, and Paris to Œnone, are the work of
Angelus Sabinus,[777] a philologer and poet of the fifteenth century.

Two other works are attributed to him by Ovid in a passage in which he
speaks of his death.[778] One of these, entitled Trœzen, was probably an
epic poem, of which Theseus was the hero;[779] the other, _Dierum Opus_,
was a continuation of Ovid’s Fasti. Other elegiac poets flourished at
this period, such as Proculus and Montanus; but their poetical talents
were of too commonplace a character to deserve special mention. They
confer no obligation on literature, and contribute nothing towards the
illustration of the literary character of their times.

                              M. MANILIUS.

The astronomical and astrological poem of Manilius furnishes a series of
those historical problems which have never yet been satisfactorily
solved. The author has been in turn confounded with every one whom Roman
records mention as bearing that name, and in all cases with equally
little reason. No one knows when he flourished, where he lived, and of
what place he was a native. Bentley determined that he was an Asiatic;
Huet that he was a Carthaginian. Internal evidence renders it most
probable that he lived in the reign of Tiberius;[780] and yet neither he
nor his poem are ever mentioned by any ancient author. His work was
never discovered until the beginning of the fifteenth century; probably
it had never been published, but only a few copies had been made, some
of which have been marvellously preserved.

The philosophical principles of the poem are those of a Stoical
Pantheism. As one principle of life pervades the whole universe, there
is a close connexion between things celestial and things terrestrial. In
consequence of this relation, the astrologer can determine the course of
the latter by observation of the heavenly bodies. Together with all the
assumptions and absurdities of astrology are mingled extensive knowledge
of the state of astronomical science in his day: gleams of truth shoot
like meteors athwart the darkness. The subject which he has chosen is as
unpromising for poetical effect and embellishment as that of Lucretius;
but he does not handle it so successfully: he has neither the boldness
of thought, the dignity of language, nor the imaginative grandeur which
marked the old poet philosopher. The poem is incomplete; and probably
owes some of its roughness and obscurity to its never having been
corrected for publication.

                              CHAPTER IX.
                      ASSASSINATED—HIS CHARACTER.

As oratory gave to Latin prose-writing its elegance and dignity, Cicero
is not only the representative of the flourishing period of the
language, but also the instrumental cause of its arriving at perfection.
Circumstances may have been favourable to his influence. The national
mind may have been in that stage of progress which only required a
master-genius to develop it; but still it was he who gave a fixed
character to the language, who showed his countrymen what eloquence
especially was in its combination of the precepts of art and the
principles of natural beauty; what the vigour of Latin was, and of what
elegance and polish it was capable.

His age was not an age of poetry; but he paved the way for poetry by
investing the language with those graces which are indispensable to its
perfection. He freed it from all coarseness and harshness, and
accustomed the educated classes to use language, even in their every-day
conversation, which never called up gross ideas, but was fit for pure
and noble sentiments. Before his time, Latin was plain-spoken, and
therefore vigorous; but the penalty which was paid for this was, that it
was sometimes gross and even indecent. The conversational language of
the upper classes became in the days of Cicero in the highest degree
refined: it admitted scarcely an offensive expression. The truth of this
assertion is evident from those of his writings which are of the
familiar character—from his graphic Dialogues, in which he describes the
circumstances as naturally as if they really occurred; from his letters
to Atticus, in which he lays open the secret thoughts of his heart to
his most intimate friend, his second self. Cicero purified the language
morally as well as æsthetically. It was the licentious wantonness of the
poets which degraded the pleasures of the imagination by pandering to
the passions at first in language delicately veiled, and then by open
and disgusting sensuality.

It is difficult for us, perhaps, to whom religion comes under the aspect
of revelation separate from philosophy, and who consider the
philosophical investigation of moral subjects as different from the
religious view of morals, to form an adequate conception of the pure and
almost holy nature of the conversations of Cicero and his distinguished
contemporaries. To them philosophy was the contemplation of the nature
and attributes of the Supreme Being. The metaphysical analysis of the
internal nature of man was the study of immortality and the evidence for
another life. Cato, for example, read the Phædo of Plato in his last
moments in the same serious spirit in which the Christian would read the
words of inspiration. The study of ethics was that of the sanctions with
which God has supported duty and enlightened the conscience. They were
the highest subjects with which the mind of man could be conversant. For
men to meet together, as was the habitual practice of Cicero and his
friends, and pass their leisure hours in such discussions, was the same
as if Christians were to make the great truths of the gospel the
subjects of social converse.

Again, if we examine the character of their lighter conversations, when
they turned from philosophy to literature,—it was not mere gossip on the
popular literature of the day—it was not even confined to works written
in their native tongue—it embraced the whole field of the literature of
a foreign nation. They talked of poets, orators, philosophers, and
historians, who were ancients to them as they are to us. They did not
then think the subject of a foreign and ancient literature dull or
pedantic. They did not consider it necessary that conversation should be
trifling or frivolous in order to be entertaining.

Nor was the influence which Cicero exercised on the literature of his
day merely extensive, but it was permanent. The great men of whom he was
the leader and guide caught his spirit. His influence survived until
external political causes destroyed eloquence, and its place was
supplied by a cold and formal rhetoric: it was felt almost until the
language was corrupted by the admixture of barbarisms. It may be
discerned in the soldier-like plainness of Cæsar, in the Herodotean
narrative of Livy, and its sweetness without its diffuseness
occasionally adorns the reflective pages of Tacitus.

It is difficult in a limited space to do justice to Cicero, even as a
literary man; such was his versatility of genius, such his indefatigable
industry, so vast the range of subjects which he touched and adorned. Of
course, therefore, it is impossible to do more than rapidly glance at
the leading events of his political career, or at his public character,
since his history is, in fact, a history of his stirring and critical

                  M. TULLIUS CICERO (BORN B. C. 106.)

On the banks of the noiseless and gently-flowing[781] Liris
(Garigliano,) near Arpinum, the birthplace of Marius,[782] lived a Roman
knight named M. Tullius Cicero. A competent hereditary estate enabled
him to devote his time to literary pursuits. He had two sons: the elder,
who bore his father’s name, was born January 3rd, B. C. 106. The other,
Quintus, was about four years younger. As both, and Marcus especially,
displayed quick talents and a lively disposition, and gave promise of
inheriting their father’s taste for learning, he migrated to Rome when
Marcus was about fourteen years of age. The boys were educated with
their cousins, the young Aculei.[783] Q. Ælius[784] taught them grammar;
learned Greeks instructed them in philosophy; and the poet Archias
exercised them in the technical rules of verse, although he did not
succeed in giving them the inspiration of poetry. Quintus prided himself
on his poetic skill; and a poem by him, on the twelve zodiacal signs, is
still extant.[785] Cicero also had in his boyhood some poetical taste;
and there is great elegance in the translations from the Greek which we
meet with in his works. He wrote a poem in hexameters, entitled “Pontius
Glaucus,” as a sort of juvenile exercise, which was extant in the time
of Plutarch; and also when he was a young man in praise of Marius.

After assuming the toga virilis at sixteen years of age, M. T. Cicero
attended the forum diligently; and, by carefully exercising himself in
composition, made the eloquence of the celebrated orators whom he heard
his own, whilst from the lectures and advice of Q. Mucius Scævola, he
acquired the principles of Roman jurisprudence.

He served but little in the armies of his country: his only
campaign[786] was made under the father of Pompey the Great in the
social war. During the remainder of this period, Molo, the Rhodian
rhetorician, instructed him in oratory, whilst Diodotus the Stoic,
Phædrus the Epicurean, and Philo, who had presided over the New Academy
at Athens, were his masters in philosophy. The various schools, the
principles of which he thus imbibed, led to the eclecticism which
characterizes his philosophical creed. The bloody era of the Marian and
Sullan war was passed by him in study: he did not interfere in politics,
and the fruits of his retirement are extant in the treatise _de
Inventione Rhetorica_.

At twenty-five, he pleaded his first cause,[787] and in the following
year defended S. Roscius of Ameria; but his constitution was not strong
enough to bear great exertion. His friends, therefore, induced him to
travel, and he determined to pass some time at Athens.[788] There was
also another reason for this recommendation. His courageous defence of
Roscius had provoked the enmity of Chrysogonus, a creature of Sulla, and
it was therefore dangerous for him to remain at Rome. He was accompanied
by his brother Quintus,[789] and found Pomponius Atticus residing there,
who afterwards became his most intimate friend. From Athens he travelled
to Asia and Rhodes, employing his time in the cultivation of oratory,
his principal study at Athens having been philosophy. From Asia he
returned to Rome[790] with improved health and an invigorated
constitution; where he found a powerful rival, as an orator, in
Hortensius, who was then at the zenith of his popularity.

As soon as he was old enough,[791] he was elected quæstor, and the
province of Sicily was allotted to him. In the exercise of this office,
the unusual mildness and integrity of his administration endeared him to
the provincials; whilst the judgment with which he regulated the
supplies of corn from the granary of Rome, gained him equal credit with
his fellow-countrymen. It was during his stay in Sicily that his love of
antiquarianism was gratified by the discovery of the tomb of
Archimedes.[792] On his return home[793] he resumed his forensic
practice: and in B. C. 70 was the champion of his old friends, the
Sicilians, and impeached Verres, who had been prætor of Syracuse, for
oppression and maladministration. In the following year[794] he was
elected curule ædile by a triumphant majority. In the celebration of the
games which belonged to the province of this magistrate, he exhibited
great prudence by avoiding the lavish expenditure in which so many were
accustomed to indulge, whilst, at the same time, no one could accuse him
of meanness and illiberality.

In the year B. C. 67, he obtained the prætorship, and notwithstanding
the judicial duties of his office, defended Cluentius. Hitherto his
speeches had been entirely of the judicial kind. He now for the first
time distinguished himself as a deliberative orator, and supported the
Manilian law which conferred upon Pompey, to the discomfiture of the
aristocratic party, the command in chief of the Mithridatic war.

The great object of his ambition now was the consulship, which seemed
almost inaccessible to a _new man_. As all difficulties and prejudices
were on the side of the aristocratic party, his only hope of surmounting
them was by warmly espousing the cause of the people.

Catiline and C. Antonius, who were his principal competitors, formed a
coalition, and were supported by Cæsar and Crassus, but the influence of
Pompey and the popular party prevailed; and Cicero and Antony were
elected. He entered upon his office January 1, B. C. 63. At this period,
perhaps, the moral qualities of his character are the highest, and his
genius shines forth with the brightest splendour.

The conspiracy of Catiline was the great event of his consulship; a plot
which its historian does not hesitate to dignify with the title of a
war. Yet this war was crushed in an unparalleled short space of time;
and a splendid triumph was gained over so formidable an enemy, by one
who wore the peaceful _toga_, not the habiliments of a general. The
prudence and tact of the civilian did as good service as the courage and
decision of the soldier. The applause and gratitude of his fellow
citizens were unbounded, and all united in hailing him the father of his
country. One act alone laid him open to attack, and in fact eventually
caused his ruin. There is no doubt that it was unconstitutional,
although under the circumstances it was defensible, perhaps scarcely to
be avoided. This act was the execution of Lentulus, Cethegus, and the
other ringleaders, without sentence being passed upon them by the
comitia. The senate, seeing that the danger was imminent, had invested
Cicero and his colleague with power to do all that the exigencies of the
state might require (_videre ne quid res publica detrimenti caperet_;)
and although it was Cicero who recommended the measure and argued in its
favour, it was the senate who pronounced the sentence, and assumed that,
as traitors, the conspirators had forfeited their rights as citizens.

The grateful people saw this clearly; and when Metellus Celer, one of
the tribunes, would have prevented Cicero from giving an account of his
administration at the close of the consular year, he swore that he saved
his country, and his oath was confirmed by the acclamations of the
multitude. This was a great triumph; and in sadder times he looked back
to it with a justifiable self-complacency.[795] He now, as though his
mission was accomplished, refused all public dignities except that of a
senator: but he did not thus escape peril; he soon exposed himself to
the implacable vengeance of a powerful and unscrupulous enemy. The
infamous P. Clodius Pulcher intruded himself in female attire into the
rites of the Bona Dea, which were celebrated in the house of Cæsar.
Suspicion fell upon Cæsar’s wife, and a divorce was the
consequence.[796] Clodius was brought to trial on the charge of
sacrilege, and pleaded an alibi. Cicero, however, proved his presence in
Rome on the very day on which the accused asserted that he was at

Although the guilt of Clodius was fully established, his influence over
the corrupt Roman _judices_ was powerful enough to procure an acquittal.
Henceforward he never could forgive Cicero, and determined to work his
ruin. He caused himself to be adopted in a plebeian family; and thus
becoming qualified for the tribunate was elected to that magistracy,
B. C. 59. No sooner was he appointed, than he proposed a bill for the
outlawry of any one who had caused the execution of a citizen without
trial. Cicero at once saw that this blow was aimed against himself. He
had disgusted Cæsar by his political coquetry; the false and selfish
Pompey refused to aid him in his trouble; and spirit-broken, he fled to
Brundisium,[797] and thence to Thessalonica. He had an interview with
Pompey before his flight, but it led to no results.[798] He had sworn to
help him as long as he felt that there was danger, lest he should join
Cæsar’s party; but when he saw that his foes were successful, he
deserted him.

In his absence his exile was decreed, and his town and country houses
were given up to plunder. It cannot be denied that during his banishment
he exhibited weakness and pusillanimity: his reverses had such an effect
upon his mind that he was even supposed to be mad.[799] His great fault
was vanity, of which defect he was himself conscious, and confessed
it;[800] and disappointed vanity was the cause of his affliction. He
could bear anything better than loss of popular applause; and on this
occasion, more than any other, he gave grounds for the assertion, that
“he bore none of his calamities like a man, except his death.” Rome,
however, could not forget her preserver; and in the following year he
was recalled, and entered Rome in triumph, in the midst of the loud
plaudits of the assembled people.[801] Still, however, he was obliged to
secure the prosperity which he had recovered by political
tergiversation. The measures of the triumvirate, which he had formerly
attacked with the utmost virulence, he did not hesitate now to approve
and defend.

After his return[802] he was appointed to a seat in the College of
Augurs; a dignity which he had anxiously coveted before his exile, and
to obtain which, he had offered almost any terms to Cæsar and
Pompey.[803] The following year, much against his will, the province of
Cilicia was assigned to him. Strictly did the accuser of Verres act up
to the high and honourable principles which he professed. His was a
model administration: a stop was put to corruption, wrongs were
redressed, justice impartially administered. Those great occasions on
which he was compelled to act on his own responsibility, and to listen
to the dictates of his beautiful soul, “_seine schöne seele_,”[804] his
pure, honest, and incorruptible heart, are the bright points in Cicero’s
career. The emergency of the occasion overcame his constitutional

In the year B. C. 49, he returned to Rome, and finding himself in a
position in which he could calmly observe the current of affairs, and
determine unbiassed what part he should take in them, or whether it was
his duty to take any part at all, his weak, wavering, vacillating temper
again got the mastery over him. He would not do anything dishonest, but
he was not chivalrous enough to spurn at once that which was
dishonourable. Cæsar and Pompey were now at open war, and he could not
make up his mind which to join.[805] He felt, probably, that the energy,
ability, and firmness of Cæsar, would be crowned with success; and yet
his friends, his party, and his own heart were with Pompey, and he
dreaded the scorn which would be heaped upon him if he forsook his
political opinions. His were not the stern, unyielding principles of a
Cato; but the fear of what men would say of him made him anxious and
miserable. The struggle was a long one between caution and honour, but
at length honour overcame caution. He made his decision, and went to the
camp of Pompey; but he could never rally his spirits, or feel sanguine
as to the result. He immediately saw that Pharsalia decided the question
for ever, and consequently hastened to Brundisium, where he awaited the
return of the conqueror. It was a long time to remain in suspense; but
at last the generous Cæsar relieved him from it by a full and free

And now again his character rose higher, and his good qualities had room
to display themselves. There were no longer equally balanced parties to
revive the discord which formerly distracted his mind, nor were the
circumstances of the times such as to demand his active interference in
the cause of his country; but he was as great in the exercise of his
contemplative faculties as he had been in the brightest period of his
political life. The same faults may, perhaps, be discerned in his
philosophical speculations: the same indecision which rendered him
incapable of being a statesman or a patriot caused him to adopt in
philosophy a skeptical eclecticism. Truth was to him as variable as
political honesty; but he is always the advocate and supporter of
resignation, and fortitude, and purity, and virtue.

He had hitherto suffered as a public man: he was now bowed down by
domestic affliction. A quarrel with his wife Terentia ended in a
divorce:[806] such was the facility with which at Rome the nuptial tie
could be severed. His second wife was his own ward—a young lady of large
fortune; but disparity of years and temper prevented this connexion from
lasting long. In B. C. 45 he lost his daughter Tullia. The blow was
overwhelming: he sought in vain to soothe his grief in the woody
solitudes of his maritime villa at Astura, and it was long before the
bereaved father found consolation in philosophy.

The political crisis which ensued upon the assassination of Cæsar
alarmed him for his own personal safety: he therefore meditated a voyage
to Greece; but being wind-bound at Rhegium, the hopes of an
accommodation between Antony and the senate (a hope destined not to be
realized) induced him to return. Antony now left Rome, and Cicero
delivered that torrent of indignant and eloquent invective—his twelve
Philippic orations.[807] He was again the popular idol—crowds of
applauding and admiring fellow-citizens attended him to the Forum in a
kind of triumphant procession, as they had on his return from exile. But
soon the second triumvirate was formed. Each member readily gave up
friends to satisfy the vengeance of his colleagues, and Octavius
sacrificed Cicero.

The story of his death is a brief and sad one. He was enjoying the
literary retirement of his Tusculan villa when his friends warned him of
his approaching fate. He was too great a philosopher to fear death; but
too high-principled and resigned to the Divine will to commit suicide.
Still he scarcely thought life worth preserving: “I will die,” he said,
“in my fatherland, which I have so often saved.” However, at the
entreaty of his brother, to whom he was affectionately attached, he
endeavoured to escape. He first went across the country to Astura, and
there embarked. The weather was tempestuous, and as he suffered much
from sea-sickness, he again landed at Gaëta. A treacherous freedman
betrayed him, and as he was being carried in a litter he was overtaken
by his pursuers. He would not permit his attendants to make any
resistance; but patiently and courageously submitted to the sword of the
assassins, who cut off his head and hands and carried them to Antony. A
savage joy sparkled in the eyes of the triumvir at the sight of these
bloody trophies. His wife, Fulvia, gloated with inhuman delight upon the
pallid features, and in petty spite pierced with a needle that once
eloquent tongue. The head and hands were fixed upon the rostrum which
had so often witnessed his unequalled eloquence. All that passed by
bewailed his death, and gave vent to their affectionate feelings.

Although it is impossible to be blind to the numerous faults of Cicero,
few men have been more maligned and misrepresented, and the judgment of
antiquity has been, upon the whole, generally unfavourable. He was vain,
vacillating, inconstant, constitutionally timid, and the victim of a
morbid sensibility; but he was candid, truthful, just, generous,
pure-minded, and warm-hearted. His amiability, acted upon by timidity,
led him to set too high a value on public esteem and favour; and this
weakened his moral sense and his instinctive love of virtue. That he
possessed heroism is proved by his defence of Roscius, although the
favourite of the terrible Sulla was his adversary. He was not entirely
destitute of decision, or he would not so promptly have expressed his
approbation of Cæsar’s assassins as tyrannicides. He had resolution to
strive against his over-sensitiveness, and wisdom to see that mental
occupation was its best remedy; for in the midst of the distractions and
anxieties of that eventful and critical year which preceded the
consulship of Hirtius and Pansa an almost incredible number of works
proceeded from his pen.[808]

There are many circumstances to account for his political inconsistency
and indecision. He had an early predilection for the aristocratic party;
but he saw that they were narrow-minded and behind their age. All the
patricians, except Sulla and his small party, were on the popular side.
He was proud of his connexion with Marius; and his friend Sulpicius
Rufus, whom he greatly admired, joined the Marians. For these reasons,
Cicero was inconsistent as a politician. Again, during periods of
revolutionary turbulence, moderate men are detested by both sides; and
yet it was impossible for a philosophic temper, which could calmly and
dispassionately weigh the merits and demerits of both, to sympathize
warmly with either. Cicero saw that both were wrong: he was too
temperate to approve, too honest to pretend a zeal which he did not
feel, and, therefore, he was undecided.

Again, having a large benevolence, and a firm faith in virtue, he was
unconscious of guile himself, and thought no evil of others. He
therefore mistook flattery for sincerity, and compliments for kindness.
He was vain; but vanity is a weakness not inconsistent with great minds,
and in the case of Cicero it was fed by the unanimous voice of public

As an advocate his delight was to defend, not to accuse.[809] In three
only of his twenty-four orations did he undertake the office of an

Gentle, sympathizing, and affectionate, he lived as a patriot and died
as a philosopher.

                               CHAPTER X.

Such were the life and character of Cicero. The place which he occupies
in a history of Roman literature is that of an orator and philosopher.
It has been already stated that he had some taste for poetry: in fact,
without imagination he could scarcely have been so eminent as an orator;
but though the power which he wielded over prose was irresistible, he
had not fancy enough to give a poetical character to the language.

Nor had he, notwithstanding the versatility of his talents, any taste
for historical investigation. He delighted to read the Greek historians,
for the same purpose for which he studied the Attic orators, merely as
an instrument of intellectual cultivation; but he was ignorant of Roman
history, because he took no interest in original research. His
countrymen[810] expected from him an historical work, but he was unfit
for the task. It is plain from his “_Republic_,” how little he knew as
an antiquarian.

The greatest praise of an orator’s style is to say that he was
successful. The end and object of oratory is to convince and persuade—to
rivet the attention of the hearer, and to gain a mastery over the minds
of men. If, therefore, any who study the speeches of Cicero in the
closet find faults in his style, they must remember the very faults
themselves were suited to the object which he was carrying into
execution. During the process of raising the public taste to the highest
standard, he carried his hearers with him: he was not too much in
advance; he did not aim his shafts too high; they hit the head and
heart. Senate, judges, people understood his arguments, and felt his
passionate appeals. Compared with the dignified energy and majestic
vigour of the Athenian orator, the Asiatic exuberance of some of his
orations may be fatiguing to the sober and chastened taste of the modern
classical scholar; but in order to form a just appreciation, he must
transport himself mentally to the excitements of the thronged Forum—to
the senate composed, not of aged, venerable men, but statesmen and
warriors in the prime of life, maddened with the party spirit of
revolutionary times—to the presence of the jury of _judices_, as
numerous as a deliberative assembly, whose office was not merely calmly
to give their verdict of guilty or not guilty, but who were invested as
representatives of the sovereign people with the prerogative of
pardoning or condemning.

Viewed in this light, his most florid passages will appear free from
affectation—the natural flow of a speaker carried away with the torrent
of his enthusiasm. The melodious rise and fall of his periods are not
the result of studied effect, but of a true and musical ear.
Undoubtedly, amongst his earlier orations, are to be found passages
somewhat too declamatory and inconsistent with the principles which he
afterwards laid down when his taste was more matured, and when he
undertook to write scientifically on the theory of eloquence. Nor must
it be concealed that some of the staid and stern Romans of his own days
were daring enough, notwithstanding his popularity and success, to find
the same fault with him. “Suorum temporum homines,” says Quintilian,
“incessere audebant eum ut tumidiorem et Asianum[811] et redundantem et
in repetitionibus nimium et in salibus aliquando frigidum et in
compositione fractum et exsultantem et pene viro molliorem.”

But it is not only the brilliance and variety of expression, and the
finely-modulated periods, which constituted the principal charm of
Ciceronian oratory, and rendered it so effective. Its effectiveness was
mainly owing to the great orator’s knowledge of the human heart, and of
the national peculiarities of his countrymen. Its charm was owing to his
extensive acquaintance with the stores of literature and philosophy,
which his sprightly wit moulded at will, to the varied learning which
his unpedantic mind made so pleasant and popular, to his fund of
illustration at once interesting and convincing. Even if his knowledge,
because it spread over so wide a surface, was superficial, in this case
profoundness was unnecessary.

In a work like the present it is only possible to devote a few brief
observations to the most important of his numerous orations, in which,
according to the criticism of Quintilian, he combined the force of
Demosthenes, the copiousness of Plato, and the elegance of Isocrates.
Knowledge of law, far superior to that possessed by the great orators of
the day,[812] distinguishes his earliest extant oration, the defence of
P. Quinctius.[813] Hortensius was the defendant’s counsel. Nævius, the
defendant, who had unjustly possessed himself of the property of the
plaintiff’s deceased brother, was a deserter from the Marians, and
therefore a protégé of Sylla; but, notwithstanding these disadvantages,
Cicero gained his cause. In the masterly defence of S. Roscius,[814]
Cicero again defied Sulla. His client was accused of parricide: there
was not a shadow of proof, and Cicero saved the life of an innocent man.
The noble enthusiasm with which he inveighs against tyranny in this
oration strikingly contrasts with the language, full of sweetness, in
which he describes Roman rural life. The passage on parricide was too
glowing and Asiatic for the taste of his maturer years, and he did not
hesitate to make it the subject of severe criticism.[815] Passing over
speeches of less interest, we come to the six celebrated Verrian
orations. Of these _chefs-d’œuvre_ the first only was delivered.[816]
The others were merely published; for the voluntary exile of the
criminal rendered further pleading unnecessary. The first is entitled
“_Divinatio_,” _i. e._, an inquiry as to who should have the right of
prosecuting: Cæcilius, who had been quæstor to the accused, claimed this
privilege, wishing to make the suit a friendly one, and thus quash the
proceedings. Nothing can surpass the ironical and sarcastic exposure of
this fraudulent attempt to defeat the ends of justice. The noble
passages in the succeeding orations of the series are well known; the
sketch of the wicked proconsul’s antecedent career; the graceful eulogy
of that province, in the welfare of which Cicero himself felt so warm an
interest; the tasteful description of the statues and antiquities which
tempted the more than Roman cupidity of Verres; the interesting history
of ancient art which accompanies it; the burst of pathetic indignation
with which he paints the horrible tortures to which not only the
provincials, but even Roman citizens, were exposed. Transports of joy
pervaded the whole of Sicily at Cicero’s success; and the Sicilians
caused a medal to be struck with this inscription—“PROSTRATO VERRE
TRINACRIA.” The oration for Fonteius[817] is a skilful defence of an
unpopular governor; that in defence of Cluentius[818] is one of the most
remarkable _causes célèbres_ of antiquity; and the complicated scene of
villany which Cicero’s forcible and soul-harrowing language paints,
makes one shudder with horror, whilst we are struck with admiration at
the clearness of intellect with which he unravels the web of guilt woven
by Oppianicus and Sassia. This remarkable oration has been analyzed by
Dr. Blair.[819]

Again, passing over other forensic orations, we come to that on which he
had evidently expended all his resources of art, taste, and skill—the
speech for the poet Archias.[820] If possible it is even too elaborate
and polished for so graceful a theme. Although the object of the
advocate was simply to establish the right of his client to Roman
citizenship, the genius of the poet of Antioch furnished an opportunity
not to be neglected for digressing into the fields of literature, and
for pronouncing a truly academical eulogium on poetry. It is
satisfactory to the admirers of Cicero to find that the attack which has
been made on the genuineness of this pleasing oration is groundless and

The oration _pro Cælio_[822] is the most entertaining in the whole
collection. It contains a rich fund of anecdote, seasoned with witty
observations; a knowledge of human nature illustrated in a piquant and
humorous style, expressed in a tone of most gentlemanlike yet playful
eloquence, and interspersed with passages of great beauty. It presents a
marked contrast to the coarse personal abuse which defaces the otherwise
powerful invective against L. Piso, which was delivered in the following

The list, though many more marvellous specimens are omitted, must be
closed with the oration in defence of T. Annius Milo. On this occasion
Cicero lost his wonted self-possession. When the court opened, Pompey
was presiding on the bench, and he had caused the Forum to be occupied
with soldiers. The sight, added, perhaps, to the consciousness that he
was advocating a bad cause, struck Cicero with alarm; his voice
trembled, his tongue refused to give utterance to the conceptions which
he had formed. The judges were unmoved; and Milo remained in his
self-imposed exile at Marseilles. When Cicero left the court his courage
and calmness returned. He penned the oration which is now extant. He had
little or no proof or evidence to offer, and therefore, as an
argumentative work, it is unconvincing; but for force, pathos, and the
externals of eloquence, it deserves to be reckoned amongst his most
wonderful efforts. When the exiled Milo read it, he is said to have
exclaimed, “O, Cicero, if you had pleaded so, I should not be eating
such capital fish here!” The author himself and his contemporaries
thought this his finest oration; probably its deficiencies were
concealed by its eloquence and ingenuity. It appears that the oration
which he actually delivered was taken down in writing by reporters, and
was extant in the time of Asconius Pedianus, the most ancient
commentator on Cicero’s orations.[824] Its feebleness proved the
correctness of the judgment of antiquity.

The oratory of Cicero was essentially judicial: he was himself conscious
that his talents lay in that direction, and he saw that in that field
was the best opportunity for displaying oratorical power. Even his
political orations are rather judicial than deliberative. He was not
born for a politician. He possessed not that analytical character of
mind which penetrates into the remote causes of human action, nor the
synthetical power which enables a man to follow them out to their
farthest consequences; he had not that comprehensive grasp of mind which
can dismiss at once all points of minor importance and useless
speculation, and, seizing all the salient points, can bring them to bear
together upon questions of practical expediency. Of the three qualities
necessary for a statesman he possessed only two, honesty and patriotism:
he had not political wisdom.

Hence, in the finest specimens of his political harangues, his
Catilinarians and Philippics, and that in support of the Manilian law,
we look in vain for the calm, practical weighing of the subject which is
necessary in addressing a deliberative assembly. This was not the habit
of his mind. He was only lashed to action by circumstances of great
emergency; but even then he is still an advocate—all is excitement,
personal feeling, and party spirit: he deals in invective and panegyric,
and the denunciation of the enemies of his country; and the parts which
especially call forth our admiration differ in nothing from those which
we admire in his judicial orations. Nevertheless, so irresistible was
the influence which he exercised upon the minds of his hearers, that all
his political speeches were triumphs. His panegyric on Pompey,[825] in
the speech for the Manilian law, carried his appointment as
commander-in-chief of the armies of the East. The consequence of the
oration _de Provinciis Consularibus_ continued to Cæsar his
administration of Gaul. He crushed in Catiline one of the most
formidable traitors that had ever menaced the safety of the republic.
Antony’s fall followed the complete exposure of his debauchery in
private life, and the factiousness of his public career.[826]

Of the Catilinarians, the first and fourth were delivered in the senate,
the second and third in the presence of the people. Every one knows the
burst of indignation which the consul, rising in his place, aims at the
audacious conspirator who dared to pollute with his presence the temple
of the deity, and the most august assembly of the Roman people. In less
than twenty-four hours Catiline had left Rome, and the conspiracy had
become a war. In four words Cicero announced this to the assembled
Romans the day after he had addressed the senate. The third is a piece
of self-complacent but pardonable egotism. Success has overwhelmed
him—he sees that all eyes are turned upon himself—he is the hero of his
own story; still he demands no reward but the approbation of his
fellow-citizens, and reminds them that to the gods alone their gratitude
is due.

Two days pass away, and after Cæsar and Cicero had spoken, Cicero again
addresses the senate, and recommends that measure which was the
beginning of his troubles, the condemnation of the conspirators. The
zeal of the senate made the act their own, but Cicero paid the penalty.
The position which Cicero occupies on this occasion invests his speech
with more dignity than is displayed in any of the preceding. He is the
chief magistrate of the republic, performing the duty of pronouncing a
capital sentence on the guilty. The excitement of the crisis is
subsiding; and he has the more composure, because he knows that he
carries with him the sympathies of the senate and people.

The Philippics, so named after the orations of Demosthenes, are fourteen
in number. Cicero commenced his attack[827] upon the object of his
implacable hatred with a defence of the laws of Cæsar, which Antony
wished to repeal. He followed it up with the celebrated second oration,
in which he demolished the character of Antony; a speech which Juvenal
pronounced to be his _chef-d’œuvre_, but which Niebuhr thought was
undeserving of being so highly exalted. He delivered the remaining
twelve in the course of the succeeding year; they were the last
monuments of his eloquence; he never spoke again. The fourteenth is a
brilliant panegyric, but nothing more; the gallant army of Octavius
received their deserved applause; but in this political crisis the
orator could not discern or even catch a glimpse of the future destinies
of his country.

In his rhetorical works, Cicero left a legacy of practical instruction
to posterity. The treatise “_De Inventione_,” although it displays
genius, is merely interesting as the juvenile production of a future
great man; and the author himself alludes to it as a rude and unfinished
production.[828] Of the Rhetorical Hand-Book, in four sections,
addressed to Herennius, it is unnecessary to speak, as it is now
universally pronounced spurious.[829] The _De Oratore_, _Brutus sive de
claris Oratoribus_, and _Orator ad M. Brutum_,[830] are the result of
his matured experience. They form together one series; the principles
are first laid down; their developments are carried out and illustrated;
and lastly, in the _Orator_, he places before the eyes of Brutus the
model of ideal perfection. In his treatment of this subject, he shows a
mind imbued with the spirit of Plato: he invests it with dramatic
interest, and transports the reader into the scene which he so
graphically describes. The conversation contained in the first of these
works has been already described. The scene of the second is laid on the
lawn of Cicero’s palace at Rome: Cicero, Atticus and M. Brutus are the
_dramatis personæ_; and their taste receives inspiration from a statue
of Plato which adorns the garden. In the third, Cicero himself, at the
request of M. Brutus, paints, as Plato would have done, the portrait of
a faultless orator.

Three more short treatises must be added—(1.) The dialogue, _De
Partitione Oratoria_,[831] an elementary book, written for his son. (2.)
The _De Optimo Genere Oratorum_,[832] a short preface to a translation
of the Greek oration, _De Corona_. (3.) The _Topica_,[833] _i. e._, a
treatise on the commonplaces of judicial oratory.

                         PHILOSOPHY OF CICERO.

Cicero somewhat arrogantly claims the credit of being the first to
awaken a taste for philosophy, and to illuminate the darkness in which
it lay hid by the light of Roman letters.[834] He did not confess the
obligations under which he lay to his predecessors, because he never
could forget that he was an orator.[835] He could not deny that some of
them thought justly; but he denied that they possessed the power of
expressing what they thought. He felt that there was nothing in the
philosophical writings already existing to tempt his countrymen to study
the subject: they were dry, unadorned, unpolished. It required an orator
to array philosophy in an enticing garb. He proposed, therefore, to
assuage his anxieties—to seek repose from the harassing cares of
politics[836]—by rendering his countrymen independent of Greek
philosophical literature.

This was all he proposed to himself: it was all that his predecessor had
attempted; nor did he pretend to originality. The periods which he
devoted to the task, and to which all philosophical works belong, were
those during which he was excluded from political life. The first of
these was the triumvirate of Cæsar, Pompey, and Crassus; the second was
coincident with the dictatorship of Cæsar and the consulship of Antony.
Not only did his contemplative spirit delight in such studies, but,
whilst all the avenues to distinction were closed against him, his
ambition sought this road to fame, and his patriotism urged him to take
this method of benefiting his country. But as he was not the first who
introduced philosophy to the Romans, it will be necessary briefly to
sketch its progress up to the time at which his labours commenced.

Roman philosophy was neither the result of original investigation nor
the gradual development of the Greek system. It arose rather from a
study of ancient philosophical literature than from an examination of
philosophical principles. The Roman intellect did not possess the power
of abstraction in a sufficiently high degree for research, nor was the
Latin language capable of representing satisfactorily abstract thoughts.
Cicero was quite aware of the poverty of its scientific nomenclature, as
compared with that of Greece. In one treatise,[837] he writes,—“Equidem
soleo etiam, quod uno Græci, si aliter non possum, idem pluribus verbis
exprimere.” Pliny[838] and Seneca[839] assert the same fact. “Magis
damnabis,” writes the latter, “angustias Romanas si scieris unam
syllabam esse, quam mutare non possim. Quæ hæc sit quæris? το ον.” The
practical character also of the people prompted them to take advantage
of the material already furnished by others, and to select such
doctrines as it approved, without regard to their relation to each

The Roman philosopher, therefore, or rather (to speak more correctly)
philosophical student, did not throw himself into the speculations of
his age, pursue them contemporaneously, or deduce from them fresh
results. He went back to the earlier ages of Greek philosophy, studied,
commented on, and explained the works of the best authors, and adopted
some of their doctrines as fixed scholastic dogmas. Consequently, the
spirit in which philosophical study was pursued by the Romans was a
literary and not a scientific one. A taste for literature had been
awakened, and philosophy was considered only as one species of
literature, although its importance was recognised as bearing upon the
practical duties, the highest interests and happiness of man. The
practical view which Cicero took of philosophy, and the extensive
influence which he attributed to it, is manifest from numerous passages
in his works,[840] and is imbodied in the following beautiful apostrophe
in the Tusculan Disputations:[841] “O vitæ Philosophia dux! O virtutis
indagatrix, expultrixque vitiorum! Quid non modo nos, sed omnino vita
hominum sine te esse potuisset? Tu urbes peperisti; tu dissipatos
homines in societatem vitæ convocasti; tu eos inter se primo domiciliis,
deinde conjugiis, tum literarum et vocum communione junxisti; tu
inventrix legum, tu magistra morum et disciplinæ fuisti; ad te
confugimus, a te opem petimus; tibi nos, ut antea magna ex parte, sic
nunc penitus totosque tradimus.”

It is plain, therefore, that the chief characteristics of Roman
philosophy would be—(1.) Learning, for it consisted in bringing together
doctrines and opinions scattered over a wide field; (2,) Generally
speaking, an ethical purpose and object, for Romans would be little
inclined to value any subject of study which had no ultimate reference
to man’s political and social relations; (3,) Eclecticism; for although
there were certain schools, such as the Epicurean and Stoic, which were
evidently favourites, the dogmas of different teachers were collected
and combined together often without regard to consistency.

The defects of such a system are fatal to its claim to be considered
philosophical; for the scientific connexion of its parts is lost sight
of, and results are presented independent of the chain of causes and
effects by which they are connected with principles. Such a system must
necessarily be illogical and inconsequential. Even the liberality which
adopts the principle, “Nullius jurare in verba magistri,” and which,
therefore, appears to be its chief merit, was absurd; and the
willingness with which all views were readily admitted led to
skepticism, or doubt whether such a thing as absolute truth had a real

Greek philosophy was probably first introduced into Rome by the Achæan
exiles, of whom Polybius was one.[842] The embassy of Carneades the
Academic, Diogenes the Stoic, and Critolaus the Peripatetic, followed
six years afterwards. In vain the stern M. Porcius Cato caused their
dismissal; for some of the most illustrious and accomplished Romans,
such as Africanus, Lælius, and Furius, had already profited by their
lectures and instructions.[843] Whilst the educated Romans were gaining
an historical insight into the doctrines of these schools, the Stoic
Panætius, who was entertained in the household of Scipio Africanus, was
unfolding the mysterious and transcendental doctrines of the great
object of his veneration, Plato. But although the Romans could
appreciate the majestic dignity and poetical beauty of his style, they
were not equal to the task of penetrating his hidden meaning; they were,
therefore, content to take upon trust the glosses and commentaries of
his expositors. These inclined to the New Academy rather than to the
Old: in its skeptical spirit they compared and balanced opposing
probabilities; and went no farther than recommending the adoption of
opinions upon which they could not pronounce with certainty. Neither did
the Peripatetic doctrines meet with much favour, although the works of
Aristotle had been brought to Rome by the dictator Sulla, partly, as
Cicero says, because of the vastness of the subjects treated, partly
because they seemed incapable of satisfactory proof to unskilled and
inexperienced minds.[844]

The philosophical system which first arrested the attention of the
Romans, and gained an influence over their minds, was the
Epicurean.[845] But it is somewhat remarkable that, although this
philosophy was in its general character ethical, a people so eminently
practical in their turn of mind should have especially devoted
themselves to the study of the physical speculations of this
school.[846] The only apparent exception to this statement is Catius,
but even his principal works, although he wrote one, “_de Summo Bono_,”
are on the physical nature of things.[847]

Cicero accounts for the popularity of Epicureanism by saying that it was
easy—that it appealed to the blandishments of pleasure; and that its
first professors, Amafanius and Rabirius, used none of the refinements
of art or subtleties or dialectic, but clothed their discussions in a
homely and popular style, suited to the simple and unlearned. There were
many successors to Amafanius; and the doctrines which they taught
rapidly spread over the whole of Italy. Many illustrious statesmen,
also, were amongst the believers in this fashionable creed; of whom the
best known are C. Cassius, the fellow-conspirator of Brutus, and T.
Pomponius Atticus, the friend of Cicero. All the monuments and records,
however, of the Epicurean philosophy, which were published in Latin,
have perished, with the exception of the immortal work of T. Lucretius
Carus, “De Naturâ Rerum.”

Nor was Stoicism, the severe principles of which were in harmony with
the stern old Roman virtues, without distinguished disciples; such as
were the unflinching M. Brutus, the learned Terentius Varro, the jurist
Scævola, the unbending Cato of Utica, and the magnificent Lucullus—a
Stoic in creed, though not in life and conduct. The part which Cicero’s
character qualified him to perform in the philosophical instruction of
his countrymen was scarcely that of a guide: he could give them a lively
interest in the subject, and reveal to them the discoveries and
speculations of others, but he could not mould and form their belief,
and train them in the work of original investigation. Not being himself
devoutly attached to any system of philosophical belief, he would be
cautious of offending the philosophical prejudices of others. He loved
learning, but his temper was undecided and vacillating: whilst,
therefore, he delighted in accumulating stores of Greek erudition, the
tendency of his mind was, in the midst of a variety of inconsistent
doctrines, to leave the conclusion undetermined. Although he listened to
various instructors—Phædrus the Epicurean, Diodotus the Stoic, and Philo
the Academician—he found the eclecticism of the latter more congenial to
his taste. Its preference of probability to certainty suited one who
shrunk from the responsibility of deciding.

It is this personality, as it were, which gives a special interest to
the Ciceronian philosophy. The reflexion of his personal character which
pervades it rescues it from the imputation of being a mere transcript of
his Greek originals. Cicero brings everything as much as possible to a
practical standard. If the question arises between the study of morals
and politics and that of physics or metaphysics, he decides in favour of
the former, on the grounds that the latter transcends the capacities of
the human intellect;[848] that in morals and politics we are under
obligations from which in physics we are free; that we are bound to tear
ourselves from these abstract studies at the call of duty to our country
or our fellow-creatures, even if we were able to count the stars or
measure the magnitude of the universe.[849] In the didactic method which
he pursues he bears in mind that he is dealing not with contemplative
philosophers, or minds that have been logically trained, but with
statesmen and men of the world; he does not therefore claim too much, or
make his lessons too hard, and is always ready to sacrifice scientific
system to a method of popular instruction. His object seems to be to
recommend the subject—to smoothe difficulties, and illustrate
obscurities. He evidently admires the exalted purity of Stoical
morality; and the principles of that sect are those which he endeavours
to impress upon his son.[850] His only fear is that their system is

Cicero believed in the existence of one supreme Creator and Governor of
the universe, and also in His spiritual nature;[852] but his belief is
rather the result of instinctive conviction, than of the proofs derived
from philosophy; for as to them, he is, as on other points, uncertain
and wavering. He disbelieved the popular mythical religion; but,
uncertain as to what was the truth, he would not have that disturbed
which he looked upon as a political engine.[853] Amidst the doubtful and
conflicting reasons, respecting the human soul and man’s eternal
destiny, there is no doubt that, although he finds no satisfactory
proof, he is a believer in immortality.[854] It is unnecessary to pursue
the subject of his philosophical creed any further, because it is not a
system, but only a collection of precepts, not of investigations. Its
materials are borrowed, its illustrations alone novel. But,
nevertheless, the study of Cicero’s philosophical works is invaluable,
in order to understand the minds of those who came after him. It must
not be forgotten, that not only all Roman philosophy after his time, but
a great part of that of the middle ages, was Greek philosophy filtered
through Latin, and mainly founded on that of Cicero. Cicero’s works on
speculative philosophy generally consist of—(1.) _The Academics_, or a
history and defence of the belief of the New Academy. (2.) The _De
Finibus Bonorum et Malorum_, dialogues on the supreme good, the end of
all moral action. (3.) _The Tusculanæ Disputationes_, containing five
independent treatises on the fear of death, the endurance of pain, the
power of wisdom over sorrow, the morbid passions, the relation of virtue
to happiness. In these treatises Stoicism predominates, although
opinions are adduced from the whole range of Greek philosophy. (4.)
_Paradoxa_, in which the six celebrated Stoical paradoxies are touched
upon in a light and amusing manner. (5.) A dialogue in praise of
philosophy, named after Hortensius. (6.) Translations of the Timæus and
Protagoras of Plato. Of these last three treatises only a few fragments

His moral philosophy comprehends—(1.) The _De Officiis_, a Stoical
treatise on moral obligations, addressed to his son Marcus, at that time
a student at Athens. (2.) The unequalled little essays on Friendship and
Old Age. A few words also are preserved of two books on Glory, addressed
to Atticus; and one which he wrote on the Alleviation of Grief when
bereaved of his beloved daughter.[855] He left one theological work in
three parts: the first part is on the “Nature of the Gods;” the second
on the “Science of Divination;” the third on “Fate,” of which an
inconsiderable fragment is extant. His office of augur probably
suggested to him the composition of these treatises.

His political works are two in number—the _De Republica_[856] and _De
Legibus_; both are imperfect. The remains of the former are only
fragmentary; of the latter, three out of six books are extant, and those
not entire. Nevertheless, sufficient of both remains to enable us to
form some estimate of their philosophical character. Although he does
not profess originality, but confesses that they are imitations of the
two treatises of Plato, which bear the same name, still they are more
inductive than any of his other treatises. His purpose is, like that of
Plato, to give in the one an ideal republic, and in the other a sketch
of a model legislation; but the novelty of the treatment consists in
their principles being derived from the Roman constitution and the Roman

The questions which he proposes to answer are, what is the best
government and the best code: but the limits within which he confines
himself are the institutions of his country. In the Republic he first
discusses, like the Greek philosophers, the merits and demerits of the
three pure forms of government; and upon the whole decides in favour of
monarchy[857] as the best. With Aristotle[858] he agrees that all the
pure forms are liable to degenerate,[859] and comes to the conclusion
that the idea of a perfect polity is a combination of all three.[860] In
order to prove and illustrate his theory, he investigates, though it
must be confessed in a meager and imperfect manner, the constitutional
history of Rome, and discovers the monarchical element in the
consulship, the aristocratic in the senate, and the popular in the
assembly of the people and the tribunitial authority.

The Romans continued jealously to preserve the shadow of their
constitution even after they had surrendered the substance. Nominally,
the titles and offices of the old republic never perished—the Emperor
was in name nothing more than (Imperator) the commander-in-chief of the
armies of the republic, but in him all power centred: he was absolute,
autocratic, the chief of a military despotism.[861] Cicero, as the
treatise _De Legibus_ plainly shows, saw, with approbation, that this
state of things was rapidly coming to pass; that the people were not
fitted to be trusted with liberty, and yet that they would be contented
with its semblance and name.

The method which he pursues, is, firstly, to treat the subject in the
abstract, and to investigate the nature of law; and, secondly, to
propose an ideal code, limited by the principles of Roman jurisprudence.
Thus Cicero’s polity and code were not Utopian—the models on which they
were formed had a real tangible existence. His was the system of a
practical man, as the Roman constitution was that of a practical people.
It was not like Greek liberty, the realization of one single idea; it
was like that of England, the growth of ages, the development of a long
train of circumstances, and expedients, and experiments, and
emergencies. Cicero prudently acquiesced in the ruin of liberty as a
stern necessity; but he evidently thought that Rome had attained the
zenith of its national greatness immediately before the agitations of
the Gracchi.

Both these works are written in the engaging form of dialogues. In the
one, Scipio Æmilianus, Lælius, Scævola, and others, meet together in the
Latin holidays (Feriæ Latinæ,) and discuss the question of government.
In the other, the writer himself, with his brother Quintus and Atticus,
converse on jurisprudence whilst they saunter on a little islet near
Arpinum at the confluence of the Liris and Fibrena.

We must, lastly, contemplate Cicero as a correspondent. This intercourse
of congenial minds separated from one another, and induced by the force
of circumstances to digest and arrange their thoughts in their
communication, forms one of the most delightful and interesting, and at
the same time one of the most characteristic, portions of Roman
literature. A Roman thought that whenever he put pen to paper it was his
duty, to a certain extent, to avoid carelessness and offences against
good taste, and to bestow upon his friend some portion of that elaborate
attention which, as an author, he would devote to the public eye. In
fact the letter-writer was almost addressing the same persons as the
author; for the latter wrote for the approbation of his friends, the
circle of intimates in which he lived: the approbation of the public was
a secondary object. The Greeks were not writers of letters: the few
which we possess were mere written messages, containing such necessary
information as the interruption of intercourse demanded. There was no
interchange of hopes and fears, thoughts, sentiments, and feelings.

The extent of Cicero’s correspondence is almost incredible: even those
epistles which remain form a very voluminous collection—more than eight
hundred are extant. The letters to his friends and acquaintances (ad
Familiares) occupy sixteen books; those to Atticus sixteen more; and we
have besides three books of letters to Quintus, and one to Brutus; but
the authenticity of this last collection is somewhat doubtful. It is
quite clear that none of them were intended for publication, as those of
Pliny and Seneca were. They are elegant without stiffness, the natural
outpourings of a mind which could not give birth to an ungraceful idea.
When speaking of the perilous and critical politics of the day, more or
less restraint and reserve are apparent, according to the intimacy with
the person whom he is addressing, but no attempt at pompous display. His
style is so simple that the reader forgets that Cicero ever wrote or
delivered an oration. There is the eloquence of the heart, not of the
rhetoric school. Every subject is touched upon which could interest the
statesman, the man of letters, the admirer of the fine arts, or the man
of the world. The writer reveals in them his own motives, his secret
springs of actions, his loves, his hatreds, his strength, his weakness.
They extend over more than a quarter of a century, the most interesting
period of his own life, and one of the most critical in the history of
his country. The letters to Quintus are those of an elder brother to one
who stood in great need of good advice. Although Quintus was not
deserving of his brother’s affection, M. Cicero was warmly attached to
him, and took an interest in his welfare. Quintus was proprætor of Asia,
and not fitted for the office; and Cicero was not sparing in his
admonitions, though he offered them with kindness and delicacy. The
details of his family concerns form not the least interesting portion of
this correspondence. There is, as might be expected, more reserve in the
letters _ad Familiares_ than in those addressed to Atticus. They are
written to a variety of correspondents, of every shade and complexion of
opinions, many of them mere acquaintances, not intimate friends; but
whilst, for this reason, less historically valuable, they are the most
pleasing of the collection, on account of the exquisite elegance of
their style. They are models of pure Latinity. In the letters to
Atticus, on the other hand, he lays bare the secrets of his heart; he
trusts his life in his hands; he is not only his friend but his
confidant, his second self. Were it not for the letters of Cicero, we
should have had but a superficial knowledge of this period of Roman
history, as well as of the inner life of Roman society.

An elegant poetic compliment paid to Cicero by Laurea Tullus, one of his
freedmen, has been preserved by Pliny.[862] The subject of it is a
medicinal spring in the neighbourhood of the Academy.

          Quo tua Romanæ vindex clarissime linguæ
            Silva loco melius surgere jussa viret
          Atque Academiæ celebratam nomine villam
            Nunc reparat cultu sub potiore Vetus:
          Hic etiam adparent lymphæ non ante repertæ
            Languida quæ infuso lumina rore levant.
          Nimirum locus ipse sui Ciceronis honori
            Hoc dedit hac fontes cum patefecit opes
          Ut quoniam totum legitur sine fine per orbem
            Sint plures oculis quæ medeantur, aquæ.

          Father of eloquence in Rome,
            The groves that once pertained to thee
          Now with a fresher verdure bloom
            Around thy famed Academy.

          Vetus at length this favoured seat
            Hath with a tasteful care restored;
          And newly at thy loved retreat
            A gushing fount its stream has poured.

          These waters cure an aching sight;
            And thus the spring that bursts to view
          Through future ages shall requite
            The fame this spot from Tully drew.      _Elton._

The correspondents of Cicero included a number of eminent men. Atticus
was the least interesting, for his politic caution rendered him unstable
and insincere; but there was Cassius the tyrannicide; the Stoical Cato
of Utica; Cæcina, the warm partisan of Pompey; the orator Cælius Rufus;
Hirtius and Oppius, the literary friends of Cæsar; Lucceius the
historian; Matius the mimiambic poet; and that patron of arts and
letters,[863] C. Asinius Pollio.

Pollio was a scion of a distinguished house, and was born at Rome B. C.
76.[864] Even as a youth he was distinguished for wit and
sprightliness;[865] and at the age of twenty-two was the prosecutor of
C. Cato. He was with Cæsar at the Rubicon, at Pharsalia, in Africa, and
in Spain; and was finally intrusted with the conduct of the war in that
province against Sextus Pompey. On the establishment of the first
triumvirate, Pollio, after some hesitation, sent in his adhesion; and
Antony intrusted him with the administration of Gallia Transpadana,
including the allotment of the confiscated lands among the veteran
soldiers. He thus had opportunity of protecting Virgil and saving his
property. In B. C. 40, Octavian and Antony were reconciled at Brundisium
by his mediation. A successful campaign in Illyria concluded his
military career with the glories of a triumph,[866] and he then retired
from public life to his villa at Tusculum, and devoted himself to study.
He enjoyed life to the last, and died in his eightieth year. He left
three children, one of whom, Asinius Gallus,[867] wrote a comparison
between his father and Cicero, which was answered by the Emperor

In oratory, poetry, and history, Pollio enjoyed a high reputation among
contemporary critics, and yet none of his works have survived. The
solution of this difficulty may, perhaps, be found in the following
circumstances:—1. His patronage of literary men rendered him popular,
and drew from the critics a somewhat partial verdict. His kindness
caused Horace to extol[869] him, and Virgil to address to him his most
remarkable eclogue.[870] 2. His taste was formed before the new literary
school commenced. He had always a profound admiration for the old
writers, and frequently quoted them. His style probably appeared
antiquated and pedantic, and, therefore, never became generally popular.
A later writer[871] says, that he was so harsh and dry as to appear to
have reproduced the style of Attius and Pacuvius, not only in his
tragedies, but also in his orations. Quintilian observes,[872] that he
seemed to belong to the pre-Ciceronian period. Niebuhr, who could only
form his opinion upon the slight fragments preserved by Seneca, for the
three letters in Cicero’s collection[873] are only despatches, affirms
that he seems to stand between two distinct generations,[874] namely,
the literary periods of Cicero and Virgil. His great work was a history
of the civil wars, in seventeen books. He pretended to be a critic, but
his criticism was fastidious and somewhat ill-natured. He found
blemishes in Cicero, inaccuracies in Cæsar, pedantry in Sallust, and
provincialism (Patavinitas) in Livy. The correctness of his judgment
respecting the charming narratives of the great historian has been
assumed from generation to generation, yet no one can discover in what
this _Pativinity_ consists. It was easier to find fault than to write
correctly; for, whilst all the labours of the critic have perished,
Cicero, Cæsar, Sallust, and Livy are immortal. Vehemence and passion
developed his character.

Still he was one of the greatest benefactors to the literature of his
country; more especially as he was the first to found a public library.
Books had already been brought to Rome, and collections formed. Æmilius
Paulus had a library—Lucullus had one also, to which he allowed learned
men to have access. Sulla enriched Rome with the plunder of the Athenian
libraries; and in his time Tyrannis the grammarian was the possessor of
three thousand volumes. Julius Cæsar employed the learned Varro to
collect books with a view to a national collection, but death put a stop
to his intentions.[875] Pollio expended the spoils of Dalmatia in
founding a temple to Liberty in the Aventine, and furnishing it with a
library, the nucleus of which were the collections of Sulla and Varro.
After this time, the work was carried on by imperial munificence.
Augustus founded the Octavian library in the temple of Juno, and the
Palatine in the palace. Tiberius augmented the latter. Vespasian placed
one in the temple of Peace. Trajan formed the Ulpian; Domitian the
Capitoline; Hadrian a magnificent one at his own villa; and in the reign
of Constantine the number of public libraries exceeded twenty.

             M. TERENTIUS VARRO REATINUS (BORN B. C. 116.)

On an ancient medal is represented the effigy of Julius Cæsar bearing a
book in one hand and a sword in the other,[876] with the legend “Ex
utroque Cæsar.” This device represents the genius of many a
distinguished citizen of the republic, and that of Varro amongst the
number, for he was a soldier, and at the same time the most learned of
his countrymen. He was born[877] at Reate (Rieti,) a Sabine town
situated in the Tempe of Italy, in the neighbourhood of the celebrated
cascade of Terni. Ælius Stilo, the antiquarian, was the instructor of
his earlier years,[878] and from him he derived his thirst for
knowledge, and his ardent devotion to original investigation. He
subsequently studied philosophy under Antiochus, a professor of the
Academic school.[879] In politics he was warmly attached to the party of
Pompey, under whom he served in the Piratic and Mithridatic wars. He was
also one of his three _Legati_ in Spain, and did not resign his command
until the towns in the south of that province eagerly submitted to
Cæsar. After the battle of Pharsalia, he experienced the clemency of the
conqueror, but not soon enough to save his villa from being attacked and

Cæsar appreciated Varro’s extensive learning and intrusted to him the
formation of the great public library.[881] Henceforth he shunned the
perils of political life,[882] and in the retirement of his villas
devoted himself zealously to the pursuit of literature. Nevertheless he
could not escape the unrelenting persecution of political party; for in
that proscription to which Cicero fell a victim, his name was in the
list until it was erased by Antony.[883] Although he was seventy years
old, his industry was unabated, and he continued his literary labours
until his death, which took place in the eighty-ninth year of his
age.[884] Varro was a man of ponderous erudition and unwearied
industry,[885] without a spark of taste and genius. No Roman author
wrote so much as he did, no one read so much except Pliny; yet,
notwithstanding all this practice and study, he never acquired an
agreeable style. He dissected and anatomized the Latin language with all
the powers of critical analysis; but he was never imbued with its
elegant polish or its nervous eloquence.

Wherever, as in the case of his treatise on agriculture, he had access
to sound information and good authority, his habits of arrangement, the
clearness with which he classified, and the careful judgment with which
he adduced his facts, render his works valuable. Few men have possessed
greater powers of combining and systematizing: his mind was, as it were,
full of compartments, in which each species of knowledge had its proper
place, but it was nothing more. Whenever he left the beaten track of
other men’s discoveries, and indulged in free conjecture or original
thought, as in his grammatical works, his learning seems to desert him;
and etymology, which has tempted so many mere conjecturers to go astray,
led him also into absurdity.

One of his works, _Antiquitates Divinarum Rerum_, acquires a peculiar
interest from the fact of its having been the storehouse from which St.
Augustine, who was a great admirer of his learning, derived much of his
treatise _De Civitate Dei_. How this laborious compilation was lost it
is impossible to say. We can only lament the accident which deprives us
of the work to which especially the author owes his reputation. In the
treatise, which together with this forms one work, namely, _Antiquitates
Rerum Humanarum_, he investigated the early history and chronology of
Rome,[886] and fixed the date of the building of the city in the year
B. C. 753, a date which is now commonly received by the best

A catalogue of his numerous books and tracts on almost every subject
which then engaged the attention of literary men—on history, biography,
geography, philosophy, criticism, and morals—would be uninteresting, but
his principal works were as follows:—

     I. _De Re Rustica, Libri_ III.

    II. _De Lingua Latina, Libri_ XXIV., of which only six are extant,
   and these in a mutilated condition.

   III.  _Antiquitates Rerum Humanarum, Libri_ XXV. _Antiquitates Rerum
   Divinarum, Libri_ XVI.

    IV. _Saturæ_, partly in prose, partly in verse; consisting of moral
   essays and dialogues, exposing the vices and follies of the day, and
   teaching their lessons rather in a light and amusing than a didactic

     V. Poems, of which eighteen short epigrams of no great merit are

                              CHAPTER XI.
                       WORKS—CHARACTER OF CÆSAR.

                          HISTORICAL WRITERS.

In historical composition alone can the Romans lay claim to originality;
and in their historical literature especially is exhibited a faithful
transcript of their mind and character. History at once gratified their
patriotism, and its investigations were in accordance with their love of
the real and practical. Thus those natural powers which had been
elicited and cultivated by an acquaintance with Greek literature were
applied with a naïve simplicity to the narration of events, and
embellished them with all the graces of a refined style. The practical
good sense and political wisdom which the Roman social system was
admirably adapted to nurture found food for reflection: their shrewd
insight into character, and their searching scrutiny into the human
heart gave them a power over their materials; and hence they were
enabled in this department of literature to emulate, not merely imitate,
the Greeks, and to be their rivals, and sometimes their superiors. The
elegant simplicity of Cæsar is as attractive as that of Herodotus; not
one of the Greek historians surpasses Livy in talent for the
picturesque, and in the charm with which he invests his spirited and
living stories; whilst for condensation of thought, terseness of
expression, and political and philosophical acumen, Tacitus is not
inferior to Thucydides.

The subjects which historical investigation furnished were so peculiarly
national, so congenial to the character of the mind of the Romans, that
they seem to have cast aside their Greek originals, and to have struck
out an independent line for themselves.

The catalogue of Roman historians is a proud one. At the head of it
stand the four great names of Cæsar, Sallust, Livy, and Tacitus; all of
whom, except the last, belong to the Augustan age. It comprehends those
of Cornelius Nepos, Trogus Pompeius, Cremutius Cordus, Aufidius Bassus,
and Sallust, in the golden age; Velleius Paterculus, Valerius Maximus,
Q. Curtius, Suetonius, and Florus, in the succeeding one; nor must L.
Lucceius and L. Licinius Lucullus be passed over without mention.

                              L. LUCCEIUS.

L. Lucceius, the friend and correspondent of Cicero,[888] was an orator
who espoused the party of J. Cæsar, and relying on his influence,
became, together with him, a candidate for the consulship.[889] Being
unsuccessful, he quitted politics for the calm enjoyment of a literary
life. His right to be called an historian is founded on his having
commenced a history of the Social and Civil Wars, but it was never
completed or published. Cicero[890] entreats him to speak of the events
which he was recording, as well as of his own character and conduct,
with partiality; it is, therefore, impossible to trust the encomiums
which accompany this request, as they were probably dictated by a wish
to purchase his favourable opinion. The period of his retirement from
public affairs was not of long duration, for he afterwards again engaged
in the civil strife which agitated Rome, and joined the party of Pompey,
who held him in high estimation.[891] On his downfall he shared with
other Pompeians the clemency of the dictator.

                         L. LICINIUS LUCULLUS.

L. Licinius Lucullus,[892] the illustrious but luxurious conqueror of
Mithridates, did not disdain to devote his leisure to the composition of
history, although his works are not of such merit as to claim for him a
distinguished position among the historians of his country. The stirring
events of the Social War tempted him to record them.[893] Part of his
enormous wealth he had expended on a magnificent library: to the poet
Archias he was a kind friend;[894] and his patronage was liberally
granted to literary men, especially to those philosophers who held the
doctrines of his favourite Academy. Like most of those who combined with
a love of literature a life of activity in the public service of his
country, he was an orator of no mean abilities.[895] His love of Greek,
and his habits of intercourse with Greek philosophers, led him to write
his history in the Greek language, and to select and transcribe extracts
from the histories of Cælius Antipater and Polybius.

                            CORNELIUS NEPOS.

Cornelius Nepos was a contemporary of Catullus, and lived until the
sixth year of the reign of Augustus.[896] Ausonius says that he was a
Gaul,[897] Catullus that he was an Italian.[898] Both are probably
right, as the prevailing opinion is, that he was born either at Verona,
or the neighbouring village of Hostilia in Cisalpine Gaul. Besides
Catullus, he reckoned Cicero[899] and Atticus amongst the number of his
friends.[900] These circumstances constitute all that is known
respecting his personal history.

All his works which are mentioned by the ancients are unfortunately
lost; but respecting the genuineness of that with which every scholar is
familiar from his childhood, strong doubts have been entertained. His
lost works were, (1.) Three books of Chronicles, or a short abridgment
of Universal History. They are mentioned by A. Gellius,[901] and
allusion is made to them by Catullus.[902] (2.) Five books of anecdotes
styled “Libri Exemplorum,”[903] and also entitled “The Book of C. Nepos
_de Viris illustribus_.” (3.) A Life of Cicero,[904] and a collection of
Letters addressed to him.[905] (4.) “De Historicis,” or Memoirs of
Historians.[906] The work now extant which bears his name is entitled
“The Lives of Eminent Generals.” But besides the biographies of twenty
generals, it contains short accounts of some celebrated monarchs, lives
of Hamilcar and Hannibal, and also of Cato and Atticus. The Proëmium of
the book is addressed to one Atticus, and to the first edition was
prefixed a dedication to the Emperor Theodosius, from which it appeared
that the author’s name was Probus. These biographical sketches continued
to be ascribed to this unknown author until the latter half of the
sixteenth century.

At that time the celebrated scholar Lambinus, Regius Professor of Belles
Lettres at Paris, argued from the purity of the style that it was a work
of classical antiquity, and, from a passage in the life of Cato, that
the Atticus, to whom it was dedicated, was the well-known correspondent
of Cicero, and the author no other than Cornelius Nepos. The argument
derived from the Latinity is unanswerable; that, however, from the life
of Cato is a “_petitio principii_,” inasmuch as there is no more
evidence in favour of the life of Cato having been written by Nepos,
than the other biographies. The life of Atticus, which is a complete
model of biographical composition, is ascribed to him by name in some of
the best MSS. Of the rest nothing more can be affirmed with certainty,
than that they are a work, or the epitome of a work, belonging to the
Augustan age.

The strongest evidence which exists in favour of the authorship of C.
Nepos, is that Jerome Magius, a contemporary of Lambinus, who also
published an annotated edition of the “_Vitæ Illustrium Imperatorum_,”
found a MS. with the following conclusion: “Completum est opus Æmilii
Probi Cornelii Nepotis.” These words would seem to assert the authorship
of Nepos, and at the same time to admit that Probus was the editor or
epitomator, and thus support the theory of Lambinus, without accusing
Probus of a literary forgery.

                   C. JULIUS CÆSAR (BORN B. C. 100.)

To give a biographical account of Cæsar would be, in fact, nothing less
than to trace the contemporary history of Rome; for Roman history had
now become the history of those master-minds who seized upon, or were
invested by their countrymen with, supreme power. Although the rapid and
energetic talents of Cæsar never permitted him to lose a day, his active
devotion to the truly Roman employments of politics and war, left him
little time for sedentary occupations. His literary biography,
therefore, will necessarily occupy but a short space, compared with the
other great events of his career.

C. Julius Cæsar was descended from a family of the Julian _gens_, one of
the oldest among the patrician families of Rome, of which all but a very
few had by this time become extinct. The Cæsar family was not only of
patrician descent, but numbered amongst its members, during the century
which preceded the birth of the Dictator, many who had served curule
offices with great distinction. He was born on the 4th of the ides of
July (the 12th,) B. C. 100, and attached himself, both by politics and
by matrimonial connexion to the popular party: his good taste, great
tact, and pleasing manners, contributed, together with his talents, to
insure his popularity. He became a soldier in the nineteenth year of his
age; and hence his works display all the best qualities which are
fostered by a military education, and which therefore characterize the
military profession—frankness, simplicity, and brevity. He served his
first campaign at the conclusion of the first Mithridatic war, during
which he was present at the siege and capture of Mitylene,[907] and
received the honour of a civic crown for saving the life of a citizen.

His earliest literary triumph was as an orator. Cn. Dolabella was
suspected of oppressive extortion in the administration of his province
of Macedonia, and Cæsar came forward as his accuser. The celebrated
Hortensius was the advocate for the accused; and although Cæsar did not
gain his cause, the skill and eloquence which he displayed as a pleader
gave promise of his becoming hereafter a consummate orator. The
following year he increased his reputation by taking up the cause of the
province of Achaia against C. Antonius, who was accused of the same
crime as Dolabella; but he was again unsuccessful in the result.

He subsequently sailed for Rhodes, in order to pursue the study of
oratory under the direction of Apollonius Molon,[908] who was not only a
teacher of rhetoric, but also an able and eloquent pleader in the courts
of law. Cicero[909] bears testimony to his being a skilful instructor
and an eloquent speaker, and received instruction from him when he came
to Rome as an ambassador from Rhodes.[910] Cæsar, on his voyage, was
captured by pirates; but after he was ransomed, he carried his intention
into effect, and placed himself for a short time under the tuition of
Molon. After his return to Rome,[911] a proposition was made to recall
from exile those of the party of Lepidus, who had joined Sertorius, and
he spoke in favour of the measure. Two years subsequently he delivered
funeral orations in praise of his wife Cornelia, who was the daughter of
Cinna, and his aunt Julia, the widow of Marius.

The Catilinarian conspiracy, in which, without reason, he was suspected
of having been concerned, furnished him with another opportunity of
displaying his ability as an orator. His speech in the senate on the
celebrated nones of December, would probably have saved the lives of the
conspirators, had not Cato’s influence prevailed. Cæsar pleaded that it
was unconstitutional to put Roman citizens to death by the vote of the
senate, without a trial; but his arguments were overruled, and the
measure which subsequently led to the fall and assassination of Cicero
was carried. The following year,[912] when Metellus made this a subject
of accusation against Cicero, Cæsar again supported the same view with
his eloquence, but was unsuccessful.

Great, therefore, although it is said that his talents as an orator
were, he never appears to have convinced his hearers. This may have been
owing, not to deficiency in skill, but to the unfortunate nature of the
causes which he took in hand, or to the superior powers of his
opponents, for there is no doubt that his manner of speaking was most
engaging and popular. Tacitus speaks of him not only as the greatest of
authors,[913] but also as rivalling the most accomplished orators;[914]
whilst Suetonius praises his eloquence, and quotes the testimony of
Cicero himself in support of his favourable criticism.[915]

Hitherto, with the exception of his first campaign, the life of Cæsar
was of a civil complexion. His literary eminence took the colouring of
the public occupations in which he was engaged. Like a true Roman,
literature was subordinate to public duty, and his taste was directed
into the channel which was most akin to, and identified with, his life.
His intellectual vigour, however, demanded employment as well as his
practical talents for business; and for this reason, as has been seen,
he devoted himself to the study of oratory; and the principal works
which as yet obtain for him a place in a history of Roman literature are
merely orations.

His next official appointment opened to him a new field for thought. In
B. C. 63 he obtained the office of Pontifex Maximus, and examined so
diligently into the history and nature of the Roman belief in augury, of
which he was the official guardian, that his investigations were
published in a work consisting of at least sixteen books (_Libri
Auspiciorum_.[916]) In order to fit himself for discharging the duties
of his office he studied astronomy, and even wrote a treatise on that
science,[917] entitled “_de Astris_”, and a poem somewhat resembling the
Phenomena of Aratus. His knowledge of this science enabled him, with the
aid of the Alexandrian astronomers, to carry into effect some years[918]
afterwards the reformation of the calendar.

The works above mentioned are philosophically and scientifically
valueless, but curious and interesting; but we have now to view Cæsar in
that capacity which was the foundation of his literary reputation. He
obtained the province of Hispania Ulterior;[919] and at this post his
career as a military commander began. As had been the case during his
previous career, so now the almost incessant demands on his thoughts and
time did not divert him from literary pursuits, but determined the
channel in which his tastes should seek satisfaction, and furnished the
subject for his pen. He had evidently an ardent love for literature for
its own sake. It was not the paltry ambition of showing that he could
achieve success, and, even superiority, in every thing which he chose to
undertake, although his versatility of talent was such as to encourage
him to expect success, but a real attachment to literary employment.
Hence whatever leisure his duties as a military commander permitted him
to enjoy was devoted, as to a labour of love, to the composition of his
Memoirs or Commentaries of the Gallic and Civil Wars.

His comprehensive and liberal mind was also convinced of the
embarrassing technicalities which impeded the administration of the
Roman law. Its interpretation was confined to a few who had studied its
pedantic mysteries; and the laws which regulated the _dies fasti_ and
_nefasti_ had originally placed its administration in the hands of the
priests and patricians. Appius Claudius had already commenced the work
of demolishing the fences which to the people at large were impregnable;
and Cæsar entertained the grand design of reducing its principles and
practice to a regular code.[920] His views he imbodied in a
treatise,[921] which, as is often the case with pamphlets, perished when
the object ceased to exist for which it was intended.

It is said that he also contemplated a complete survey and map of the
Roman empire.[922] But his greatest benefaction, perhaps, to the cause
of Roman literature was the establishment of a public library.[923] The
spoils of Italy, collected by Asinius Pollio, furnished the materials,
just as the museums of Paris were enriched by the great modern conqueror
from the plunder of Europe; but it was, nevertheless, a great and
patriotic work; and he enhanced its utility by intrusting the collection
and arrangement of it to the learned Varro as librarian.

Besides the works already named, Cæsar left behind him various letters,
some of which are extant amongst those of Cicero; orations, of which, if
the panegyrics of Cicero, Tacitus, and Quintilian[924] are not
exaggerated, it is deeply to be regretted that the titles are alone
preserved;[925] a short treatise or pamphlet, called _Anticato_; a work
on the analogy of the Latin language; a collection of apothegms; and a
few poems.

These are the grounds on which the claims of the great conqueror to
literary fame rest in the various capacities of orator, historian,
antiquarian, philosopher, grammarian, and poet; but by far the most
important of his works is his “Commentaries.” These have fortunately
come down to us in a tolerably perfect state, although much still
remains to be done before we can be said to possess an accurate
edition.[926] Seven books contain the history of seven years of the
Gallic war, and three carry the history of the civil war down to the
commencement of the Alexandrine. These are the works of Cæsar himself.
The eighth book, “_De Bello Gallico_,” which completes the subject, and
the three supplemental books of the work, “_De Bello Civili_,” which
contain the Alexandrine, African, and Spanish wars, have been variously
ascribed to the friends of Cæsar, A. Hirtius, C. Oppius, and even to
Pansa. The claims of the latter, however, are entirely groundless. The
marked similarity between the style of the eighth book of the Gallic war
and that of the Alexandrine war proves that they were written by the
same author; and from the elegance and purity of the Latinity, and the
confidential footing on which the author must have been with Cæsar,
there is a probability, almost amounting to a certainty, that the
History of the Alexandrine War must be the work of A. Hirtius. It may
also be remarked that this opinion is in unison with that of

Hirtius was the only one of the three who united in himself both these
important qualifications. C. Oppius was indeed equally in the confidence
of Cæsar; he was his inseparable companion.[928] But, nevertheless,
Oppius was not so highly educated as Hirtius. Niebuhr, therefore, is
probably correct in attributing to him, “without hesitation,”[929] the
book on the African war. The intelligence and information displayed in
it are worthy of the sensible soldier and confidential friend, with whom
he corresponded in cipher, and whom he intrusted with writing the
introduction to his defence in the “Anticato;” whilst the inferiority of
the language marks a less skilful and practised hand than that of the
refined Hirtius. The book on the Spanish war is by some unknown author:
it is founded on a diary kept by some one engaged in the war; but
neither its language nor sentiments are those of a liberally educated
person.[930] The Greek term “Ephemerides” has sometimes been applied to
the “Commentaries,” though Bayle[931] thought that they were different

These memoirs are exactly what they profess to be, and are written in
the most appropriate style. Few would wish it to be other than it is.
They are sketches taken on the spot, in the midst of action, whilst the
mind was full: they have all the graphic power of a master-mind, and the
vigorous touches of a master-hand. Take, for example, the delineation of
the Gallic character, and compare it with some of the features still to
be found in the mixed race, their successors, and no one can doubt of
its accuracy, or of the deep and penetrating insight into human nature
which generally indicates the powerful and practical intellect. Their
elegance and polish is that which always mark even the least-laboured
efforts of a refined and educated taste, not that which proceeds from
careful emendation and correction. The “Commentaries” are the materials
for history; notes jotted down for future historians. It is evident that
no more time was spent upon them than would naturally be devoted to such
a work by one who was employing the inaction of winter quarters in
digesting the recollections stored up during the business of the
campaign; and for this reason few faults have been found with the
“Commentaries,” even by the most fastidious critics. The very faults
which may be justly found with the style of Cæsar are such as reflect
the man himself. The majesty of his character principally consists in
the imperturbable calmness and equability of his temper. He had no
sudden bursts of energy, and alternations of passion and inactivity: the
elevation of his character was a high one, but it was a level
table-land. This calmness and equability pervades his writings, and for
this reason they have been thought to want life and energy; whereas in
reality they are only deficient in contrast, and light and shade. The
uniformity of his active character is interesting as one great element
of his success; but the uniformity of style may perhaps be thought by
some readers to diminish the interest with which his work is read.

The simple beauty of his language is, as Cicero says, statuesque rather
than picturesque. Simple, severe, naked—“omni ornatu orationis tanquam
veste detracto;” and whilst, like a statue, it conveys the idea of
perfect and well-proportioned beauty, it banishes all thoughts of human
passion. It was this perfect calm propriety, perhaps this absence of all
ornamental display, which prevented him from being a successful orator,
and his orations from surviving, although he had every external
qualification for a speaker[932]—a fine voice, graceful action, a noble
and majestic appearance, and a frank and brilliant delivery.

The very few instances of doubtful Latinity which a hypercritical spirit
may detect are scarcely blemishes, and fewer than might have been
expected from the observation of Hirtius,[933] “Ceteri quam bene atque
emendate, nos etiam, quam facile ac celeriter eos perscripserit,
scimus.” When A. Pollio[934] called his “Commentaries” hasty, his
criticism was fair; but he was scarcely just in blaming the writer for
inaccuracy and credulity. These faults, so far as they existed, were due
to circumstances, not to himself. His observing mind wished to collect
information with respect to the foreign lands which were the field of
his exploits, and the habits of the inhabitants, quite as much as to
describe his own tactics and victories. He naturally accepted the
accounts given him, even when he had no means of testing their veracity.
He is, therefore, not to blame for recording those which subsequent
discoveries have shown to be untrue.

His digressions of this character yield in interest to no portion of his
work; and though some of his accounts of the Gauls and Germans are
incorrect, many were subsequently confirmed by the investigations of
Tacitus. The only quality in the character of Cæsar which has been
sometimes exaggerated is modesty. He does not, indeed, add to his own
reputation by detracting from the merits of those who served under him.
He is honest, generous, and candid, not only towards them, but also
towards his brave barbarian enemies. Nor is he guilty of egotism in the
strict literal sense of the term. This, however, is scarcely enough to
warrant the eulogy which some have founded upon it. He has too good
taste to recount his successes with pretension and arrogance; but he has
evidently no objection to be the hero of his own tale. He skilfully
veils his selfish, unpatriotic, and ambitious motives; and his object
evidently is to leave such memoirs, that future historians may be able
to hand down the most favourable character of Cæsar to posterity.

Though himself is his subject, his memoirs are not confessions. Not a
record of a weakness appears, nor even of a defect, except that which
the Romans would readily forgive, cruelty. His savage waste of human
life he recounts with perfect self-complacency. Vanity was his crowning
error in his career as a statesman; and though hidden by the reserve
with which he speaks of himself, it sometimes discovers itself in the

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

The “Anticatones”[935] were two books in answer to Cicero’s panegyric of
Cato, which he had written immediately after the philosopher’s death.
Hirtius first, at the request of Cæsar, wrote a reply, and sent it to
Cicero from Narbonne. Although he denied the justice of Cicero’s
eulogium, he secured the good-will of the orator himself by liberal
commendations.[936] This prepared the way for Cæsar’s own pamphlet.

His philological work, _de Analogia_, or _de Ratione Latine Loquendi_,
is commended by Cicero[937] for its extreme accuracy, and was held in
high estimation by the Roman grammarians. Probably, in liveliness and
originality, it was far superior to any of their works. Wonderful to
say, it was written during the difficulties and occupations of a journey
across the Alps. From the quotations from it, in the writings of the
grammarians, we learn that he proposed that the letter V should be
written Ⅎ, to mark its connexion with the Greek digamma; and that the
new orthography, which substituted _lacrimæ_ for _lucrumæ_, _maximus_
for _maxumus_, &c., was established by his authority.

The “_Apophthegmata_” is said to have been a collection of wise and
witty sayings by himself and others, although it is remarkable not a
single witty saying of Cæsar is on record.[938] He began it early in
life, and was continually making additions to it.

His poetical attempts consisted of a tragedy entitled “Œdipus;” a short
piece, the subject of which was the praises of Hercules (both of these,
as well as the Apophthegmata, were suppressed by Augustus;[939]) “Iter,”
an account of his march into Spain; the astronomical poem already
mentioned; and some epigrams, of which three are extant, although their
authenticity is somewhat doubtful.[940]

The character of Cæsar is full of inconsistencies; but they are the
inconsistencies which are natural to man, and are sometimes found in men
of a strong will and commanding talents who are destitute of moral
principle. His faults and excellences, his capability and talents, were
the result of his natural powers—not of pains or study. He was one of
the greatest as well as one of the worst men who ever lived. He was an
Epicurean in faith, and yet he had all the superstition which so often
accompanies infidelity. His habitual humanity and clemency towards his
fellow-citizens were interrupted by instances of stern and pitiless
cruelty. He shed tears at the assassination of Pompey, and yet could
massacre the Usipetes and the Tenchteri, and acted like a savage
barbarian towards his chivalrous foe Vercingetorix. He delighted in the
pure and refined pleasures of literature, and his intimate associates
were men of taste and genius; and yet he was the slave of his sensual
passions, and indulged in the grossest profligacy. He was candid,
friendly, confiding, generous; but he was attracted by brilliant
talents, and the qualities of the head, rather than the affections of
the heart. The mainspring of his conduct as a general and a statesman
exhibits a strong will and perfect self-reliance; and in like manner he
owes the energy of his style of writing, and the persuasive force of his
oratory, to the influence of no other minds: they are the natural fruit
of clear perceptions, a penetrating intellect, an observing mind capable
of taking a wide and comprehensive view of its subject. Men of varied
acquirements and extensive knowledge, but of pedantic taste, are said to
talk like books; the writings of Cæsar, on the contrary, are like lively
and unconstrained conversation: they have all the reality which
constitutes the great charm of his character.

He was above affectation, for his was a mind born to lead the age in
which he lived, not to think with others merely in deference to
established usage and custom; and although his natural vanity and
self-confidence led him to set his own character in the most favourable
light, his vanity was honest: he had no intention wilfully to deceive.
His wonderful memory fitted him for the task of faithfully recording the
events in which he himself was an actor; and his power of attention and
abstraction, which enabled him to write, converse, and dictate at the
same time, shows how valuable must be a work on which were concentrated
at once all the energies of his penetrating mind.

                              CHAPTER XII.

                 C. SALLUSTIUS CRISPUS (BORN B. C. 85.)

C. Sallustius Crispus was fifteen years junior to Cæsar: he was born at
Amiternum[941] in the territory of the Sabines, A. U. C. 669, B. C. 85.
He was a member of a plebeian family; but, having served the offices of
tribune and quæstor, attained senatorial rank. In A. U. C. 704, he was
expelled from the senate[942] by the censors Ap. Claudius Pulcher and L.
Calpurnius Piso.[943] It is said that, although he was “a most severe
censurer of the licentiousness of others,”[944] he was a profligate man
himself, and that the scandal of an intrigue with Fausta, the daughter
of Sulla and the wife of Milo, was the cause of his degradation.

Through the influence of Cæsar, whose party he espoused, he was restored
to his rank, and subsequently became prætor. He accompanied his patron
in the African war, and was made governor of Numidia. Whilst in that
capacity, he accumulated by rapacity and extortion enormous wealth,[945]
which he lavished on expensive but tasteful luxury. The gardens on the
Quirinal which bore his name were celebrated for their beauty; and
beneath their alleys, and porticoes, surrounded by the choicest works of
art, he avoided the tumultuous scenes of civil strife which ushered in
the empire, and devoted his retirement to composing the historical
records which survived him. His death took place B. C. 35.

Those who have wished to defend the character of Sallust from the
charges of immorality, to which allusion has been made, have attributed
them to the groundless calumnies of Lenæus, a freedman of Cæsar’s great
rival Pompey. It is not improbable that his faults may have been
exaggerated by the malevolence of party-spirit in those factious times;
but there are no sentiments in his works which can constitute a defence
of him. If an historian is distinguished by a high moral tone of
feeling, this quality cannot but show itself in his writings without
intention or design. But in Sallust there is always an affectation and
pretence of morality without the reality. His philosophical reflections
at the commencement of the Jugurthine and Catilinarian wars are empty,
cold, and heartless. There is a display of commonplace sentiment, and an
expressed admiration of the old Roman virtue of bygone days, but no
appearance of sincerity. The language may be pointed enough to produce
an effect upon the ear, but the sentiments always fail to probe the
recesses of the heart. Sallust lived in an immoral and corrupt age; and
though, perhaps, he was not amongst the worst of his contemporaries, he
had not sufficient strength of principle to resist the force of example
and temptation.

It is almost certain that, as a provincial governor, Sallust was not
more unscrupulous than others of his class; but wealth such as he
possessed could not have been acquired except by extortion and
maladministration. As a politician, he was equally unsatisfactory: he
was a mere partisan of Cæsar, and therefore, a strenuous opponent of the
higher classes as supporters of Pompey; but he was not an honest
champion of popular rights, nor was he capable of understanding the
meaning of patriotism. If, however, we make some allowance for the
political bias of Sallust, which is evident throughout his works, his
histories have not only the charms of the historical romance, but are
also valuable political studies. His characters are vigorously and
naturally drawn, as though he not only personally knew them, but
accurately understood them. The more his histories are read the more
will it be discovered that he always writes with an object. He eschews
the very idea of a mere dry chronicle of facts, and uses his facts as
the means of enforcing a great political lesson.

For this reason, like Thucydides, whom he evidently took as his model,
not only in style but in the use of his materials, his speeches are his
own compositions. Even when he had an opportunity, as in the case of
Cæsar’s and Cato’s speeches in the “_Bellum Catilinarium_,” he contented
himself with giving the substance of them, clothed it in his own
language, and imbodied in them his own sentiments. According to his own
statement, there is one exception to his practice in this respect. He
asserts that the speech of Memmius, the tribune of the people,[946] is
the very one which he delivered. If this be really the case, it is a
most valuable example of the style in which a popular leader addressed
his audience. But it is to be feared that this is not strictly and
literally true: the style is indeed somewhat different from that of the
other speeches, but does not exhibit freedom enough to assure us that he
has actually reported it as delivered. It may be only a specimen of that
consummate skill which constitutes the principal charm of Sallust’s
manner, and made him a complete master of composition. Sallust never
attempted anything more than detached portions of Roman history. “I have
determined,” he says, “to write only select portions of Roman history,”
(carptim perscribere.[947]) He himself gives an explanation of his
motives for so doing,[948] when he complains of the manner in which this
department of literature was neglected. Wherever a satisfactory account
existed, he thought it unnecessary to travel over the same ground a
second time.

His first work, reckoning according to the chronological order of
events, is the Jugurthine war, which commenced B. C. 111, and ended
B. C. 106. The next period, comprehending the social war and the war of
Sulla, extending as far as the consulship of M. Æmilius Lepidus, B. C.
78, had already been related by Sisenna, a friend of Cicero.[949] Where
Sisenna left off, the Histories of Sallust (Historiarum Libri V.) began,
and continued the narrative without interruption until the prætorship of
Cicero.[950] This work is unfortunately lost, with the exception of some
letters and speeches, and a few fragments relating to the war of
Spartacus. Niebuhr[951] considers this one of the most deplorable losses
in Roman literature; less, however, on account of its historical
importance, than as a perfect model of historical composition. A break
of two years ensues, and then follows the “_Bellum Catilinarium_,” or
history of the Catilinarian conspiracy in the year of Cicero’s

This completes the list of those works which are undoubtedly genuine. No
satisfactory opinion has been arrived at respecting the authorship of
the two letters to Cæsar, “_De Republicâ Ordinandâ_;” and it is now
unhesitatingly admitted, that the declamation against Cicero, must have
been, as well as its counterpart, the declamation against Sallust, the
work of some rhetorical writer of a later period. The subject of this
imaginary disputation was naturally suggested by the known fact that
Sallust was no friend to Cicero.

It has already been stated that Sallust was a bitter opponent of the
principles and policy of the aristocratic party; but it must be
carefully explained what is meant by that assertion. The object of his
hatred was not the old patrician blood of Rome, but the new aristocracy,
which had of late years been rapidly rising up and displacing it.

This new nobility was utterly corrupt; and their corruption was
encouraged by the venality of the masses, whose poverty and destitution
tempted them to be the tools of unscrupulous ambition. Everything at
Rome, as Juvenal said in later times, had its price. Sallust adds to the
severity of his strictures upon his countrymen by the force of contrast;
he represents even Jugurtha as asserting that the republic itself might
be bought, if a purchaser could be found; and paints the barbarian as
more honest and upright than his conquerors. The ruined and abandoned
associates of Catiline represented a numerous class among the younger
members of the upper classes, who, by lives devoted to lawless
pleasures, had become ruined, reckless, and demoralized. They were ripe
for revolution, because they had nothing to lose: they could not gratify
their vicious propensities without wealth; they had no principles or
scruples as to the means of acquiring it; their best prospects were in
anarchy, proscription, and confiscation. The debauched and ruined
nobleman, and the vulgar profligate of the lowest class, forgot their
mutual differences, and thus a combination was formed, the members of
which were the sink and outscourings of society.

Such degenerate profligacy is an ample justification of Sallust’s hatred
towards the new aristocracy; and the object of all his works evidently
was to place that party in the unfavourable light which it deserved. In
the Jugurthine war he describes the unworthiness of the foreign policy
of Rome under its maladministration. His “Histories,” according to the
statement of Niebuhr, describe the popular resistance to the
revolutionary policy of Sulla, the profligate leader of the same party;
and in the “Catilinarian war” he paints in vivid colours the depravity
of that order of society, who, bankrupt in fortune and dead to all
honourable feelings, still plumed themselves on their rank and
exclusiveness. Nevertheless, notwithstanding the truthfulness of the
picture which Sallust draws, selfishness and not patriotism was the
mainspring of his politics; and it is scarcely possible to avoid seeing
that he is anxious to set himself off to the best advantage. His
hollowness is that of a vain and conceited man, who measures himself by
too high a standard, and appears chagrined and disappointed that others
do not estimate him as highly as he does himself.

These are the blots in his character as a man and a citizen; but we must
not forget his real merits as an historian. To him must be conceded the
praise of having first conceived the notion of a history in the true
sense of the term. He saw the lamentable defects in the abortive
attempts made by his predecessors;[953] and the model was a good one
which he left for his successors to follow. It is scarcely too much to
suppose, that if it had not been for Sallust, Livy might not have been
led to conceive his vast and comprehensive plan. He was the first Roman
historian, and the guide to future historians. Again, his style,
although almost ostentatiously elaborate and artificial, and not without
affectation, is, upon the whole, pleasing, and almost always
transparently clear. The caution of Quintilian respecting his well-known
brevity (“vitanda est illa Sallustiana brevitas”[954]) is well-timed in
his work, as being addressed to orators, for public speaking necessarily
requires a more diffuse style; and it is probable that Quintilian would
not appreciate its merits, because he himself was a rhetorician, and his
taste was formed in a rhetorical age. Seneca, for the same reasons,
finds similar faults, not only with Sallust, but with the favourite
literature of his day. “When Sallust flourished, abrupt sentences,
unexpected cadences, obscure expressions, were considered signs of a
cultivated taste.”[955] But the brevity of Sallust does not produce the
effect of harsh or disagreeable abruptness, whilst it keeps the
attention awake, and impresses the facts upon the memory. How powerful
and suggestive, for example, how abundant in material for thought, are
those few words in which he describes Pompey as “oris probi, animo
inverecundo!” There is, however, this difference between the brevity of
Sallust and that of his supposed model, Thucydides. That of the Greek
historian was natural and involuntary; that of the Roman intentional and
the result of imitation. Thucydides thought more quickly than he could
write: his closely-packed ideas and condensed constructions, therefore,
constitute a species of shorthand, by which alone he could keep pace
with the rapidity of his intellect. He is, therefore, always vigorous
and suggestive; and the necessities of the case make the reader readily
pardon the difficulties of his style.

The brevity of Thucydides is the result of condensation; that of Sallust
is elliptical expression. He gives a hint and the reader must supply the
rest; whilst Thucydides only expects his readers to unfold and develop
ideas which already existed in a concentrated form. Sallust requires
addition; Thucydides dilution and expansion. Neither does the brevity of
Sallust resemble that of Cæsar or of Tacitus: the former was
straight-forward and business-like, requiring neither addition nor
expansion, because he wished to make his statements as clear as they
were capable of being expressed, without ornament or exaggeration. He
was brief, because he never wished to say more than was absolutely
necessary, and therefore his brevity is the very cause of perspicuity.
The mind of Tacitus was, from its thoughtfulness and philosophical
character, the very counterpart of that of Thucydides: his brevity was
therefore natural and the result of the same causes.

There is one point of view in which Sallust is invaluable as an
historian. He had always an object to which he wished all his facts to
converge: he brought forward his facts as illustrations and developments
of principles. He analyzed and exposed the motives of parties, and the
secret springs which actuated the conduct of individuals, and laid bare
the inner life of those great actors on the public stage, in the
interesting historical scenes which he undertakes to describe.

                            TROGUS POMPEIUS.

Trogus Pompeius was a voluminous historian of the Augustan age, whose
father was private secretary to Julius Cæsar.[956] His work was of such
vast extent, and embraced so great a variety of subjects, that it has
even been termed by Justin, who published a large collection of extracts
from it, _an Universal History_. Its title, however, “_Historiæ
Philippicæ_,” proves the writer’s primary object was the history of the
Macedonian monarchy, together with the kingdoms which arose out of it at
the death of Alexander; and that all the rest of the information
contained in it were digressions into which he was naturally led, and
episodes incidentally introduced into the main stream of the history.

For the materials contained in his work, which consisted of forty-four
books, he was indebted to the Greek historians, but especially to
Theopompus of Chios,[957] from whose principal work he derived the
title, “_Philippica_,” as well as the practice of branching out into
long and frequent digressions. It is easy to imagine over how vast an
area a history of the Macedonian empire was capable of extending. The
subjugation of the East by the conquests of Alexander naturally made a
rapid sketch of the Assyrian, Median, and Persian empires, an
appropriate introduction to the work: the connexion of Persia with
Greece and Egypt furnished an opportunity of imbodying the records of
Greek history, and a description of Egypt and its inhabitants. Once
embarked in Greek history, the writer pursued it until it became
interwoven, through the interference of Philip, with the affairs of
Macedon. Alexander and his successors succeed: the campaigns of Pyrrhus
bring the Romans upon the stage; Carthage and Sicily for awhile occupy
the scene; and the main body of the work is completed by a sketch of the
gradual consolidation of that vast empire, of which subjugated Macedonia
became a province. Nor is this all—other less important nations, states,
and cities are ever and anon introduced, according as they act their
part in the great drama of history.

                             CHAPTER XIII.

                  T. LIVIUS PATAVINUS (BORN B. C. 59.)

The biographical records of many great literary men of Rome are most
meager and unsatisfactory. Modern critics who have written their lives
have drawn largely upon their own imaginations for their materials;
whilst all the information to be derived from ancient writers is often
comprised in a few vague allusions and notices. Some of these have been
misunderstood, and from others unwarrantable deductions have been
derived. These observations are particularly applicable to him who is
the only illustrious Roman historian in the Augustan age.

Universal tradition assigns to Patavium (Padua) the honour of being the
birthplace of Titus Livius; but notwithstanding the general belief, some
doubt has been thrown upon the fact by an epigram of Martial.[958] He
came to Rome during the reign of Augustus, where he resided in the
enjoyment of the imperial favour and patronage.[959] He was a warm and
open admirer of the ancient institutions of the country, and esteemed
Pompey as one of its greatest heroes; but Augustus, with his usual
liberality, did not allow political opinions to interfere with the
regard which he entertained for the historian. Livy had a great
admiration for oratory, and advised his son to study the writings of
Demosthenes and Cicero.[960] At his recommendation the stupid Claudius
wrote history;[961] and it has even been asserted, though on
insufficient authority, that he was his instructor. His fame rapidly
spread beyond the limits of Italy, for Pliny the younger[962] relates
that an inhabitant of Cadiz came to Rome for the express purpose of
seeing him; a fact which St. Jerome[963] expands into an assertion that
many noble Gauls and Spaniards were attracted to the capital, far more
by the reputation of Livy than by the splendour of the imperial city.

His great work is a history of Rome, which he modestly terms “Annals,”
in one hundred and forty-two books, preceded by a brief but
elaborately-written preface,[964] and extending from the earliest
traditions to the death of Drusus.[965] Of this history thirty-five
books are extant, which were discovered at different periods.[966] Of
the rest we have only dry and meager epitomes, drawn up by some
uncertain author, and of these two are lost.[967]

Besides his History, Livy is said[968] to have written books which
professed to be philosophical, and dialogues, the subjects of which are
partly philosophical, and partly historical. Late in life he returned to
Patavium, and there died A. D. 18, in the seventy-seventh year of his
age.[969] He left one son, and one daughter who married L. Magius, a
teacher of rhetoric, of no great talent, who owed his reputation
principally to his connexion with the historian.[970] Livy had one great
object in view in writing his History, namely, to celebrate the glories
of his native country, to which he was devotedly attached. He was a
patriot: his sympathy was with Pompey, called forth by the
disinterestedness of that great man, and perhaps by his sad end, after
having so long enjoyed universal popularity. The character of the
historian would lead us to suppose that his attachment was personal
rather than political, for the general spirit of his work shows that he
was a man of pure mind and gentle feelings. He began his great work
about nine or ten years before the Christian era, a period singularly
favourable for such a design. The passages in which especially he
delights to put forth his powers, and on which he dwells with the
greatest zest, show the truth of Quintilian’s well-known criticism,
“that he is especially the historian of the affections, particularly of
the softer sensibilities.”[971] A lost battle is misery to him; he
trembles at the task of relating it. Nor does he appear to have been a
stern republican. He could admire enthusiastically, and describe with
spirit, the noble qualities and self-devotion which the old republican
freedom fostered; but his object is rather to paint the heroes, and to
give graphic representations of the struggles which they maintained in
defence of liberty, than to show any love of liberty in the abstract, or
a predilection for any particular form of constitution. To Livy
political struggles were no more than subjects for picturesque
delineations, the moral of which was the elevation of national grandeur,
just as successful foreign wars were the records of national glory.
Hence he is a biographer quite as much as an historian: he anatomizes
the moral nature of his heroes, and shows their inner man, and the
motive springs of their noble exploits. This gives to his narratives the
charm of an historical romance, and makes up for the want of accurate
research and political observation. His characters stand before us
objectively, like epic heroes; and thus he is “the Homer of the Roman
people,” whilst the charm of his narratives makes him the “Herodotus of
Roman historians.”

Rome was now the mistress of the world: her struggles with foreign
nations had been rewarded with universal dominion; so that when the
Roman empire was spoken of, no title less comprehensive than “the world”
(_orbis_) would satisfy the national vanity. The horrors of civil war
had ceased, and were succeeded by an amnesty of its bitter feuds and
bloody animosities. Liberty indeed had perished, but the people were no
longer fit for the enjoyment of it; and it was exchanged for a mild and
paternal rule, under which all the refinements of civilization were
encouraged, and its subjects could enjoy undisturbed the blessings of
peace and security.

Rome, therefore, had rest and breathing-time to look back into the
past—to trace the successive steps by which that marvellous edifice, the
Roman empire, had been constructed. She could do this, too, with perfect
self-complacency, for there was no symptom of decay to check her
exultation, or to mar the glories which she was contemplating.

Livy, the good, the affectionate, the romantic, was precisely the
popular historian for such times as these. His countrymen looked
naturally for panegyric rather than for criticism. They were not in a
temper to bear one who could remorselessly tear open and expose to view
all the faults and blemishes which blotted the pages of their history;
who could be a morose and querulous praiser of times gone by, never to
return, at the expense of their present greatness and prosperity. He
lived in happy times, before Rome had learnt by sad experience what the
tyranny of absolutism really was. He tells his story like a bard singing
his lay at a joyous and festive meeting, chequered by alternate
successes and reverses, prosperity and adversity, but all tending to a
happy end at last. These features of his character, and this object of
his work, whilst they constitute his peculiar charm as a narrator,
obviously render him less valuable as an historian. Although he was not
tasteless and spiritless, like Dionysius, he was not so trustworthy. He
would not be wilfully inaccurate, or otherwise than truth-telling; but
if the legend he was about to tell was captivating and interesting, he
would not stop to inquire whether or not it was true. He would take upon
trust the traditions which had been handed down from generation to
generation without inquiry; and the more flattering and popular they
were, the more suitable would he deem them for his purpose. Without
being himself necessarily superstitious, he would see that superstitious
marvels added to the embellishments of his story, and, therefore, would
accept them without pronouncing upon their truth or falsehood.

Wilful unfairness can never be attributed to Livy: he was prejudiced,
but he was not party-spirited. He loved his country and his countrymen,
and could scarcely persuade himself of the possibility of their doing
wrong. He could scarcely believe anything derogatory to the national
glory. When (to take a striking example,) in the case of the treaty with
Porsena, there were two opposite stories, he was led by this partiality
to ignore the well-authenticated fact of the capture of Rome, and to
adopt that account which was most creditable to his countrymen.[972]
Whenever Rome was false to treaties, unmerciful in victory, or
unsuccessful in arms, he is always anxious to find excuses. His
predilections are evidently aristocratic; and although he states the
facts fairly, he wishes his reader to sympathize with the patricians.

The plebeians of the days in which he lived were not the fair
representatives of that enterprising class in the early ages of the
republic, who were as well born as the patricians, although of different
blood; the strength and sinews of the state in its exhausting
wars—dependent only upon them from stern necessity, because they were
ground down to the dust by poverty, and debt, and oppression, but
independently maintaining themselves by their own industry, gradually
acquiring wealth, rising to the position of a middle class, winning
their way perseveringly, step by step, to political privileges.

The lower orders of Rome, in the time of Livy—for the term plebeian, in
its original sense, was no longer applicable—were debased and degraded;
they cared not for liberty or political power, or self-government; their
bosoms throbbed not with sympathy for the old plebeians, who retired to
Mount Sacer, and shed their blood for their principles. It was
difficult, therefore, for him not to believe that the popular leaders of
old times were unprincipled men, who sought to repair their fortunes by
the arts of the demagogue. In his eyes resistance to tyranny was treason
and rebellion.[973] But when, as in the story of Virginia, his gentler
affections were enlisted, Livy’s heart warmed with a generous admiration
towards the champions of the people’s rights, and his political
predilections gave way to his sensibilities. In treating of history
almost contemporaneous, Tacitus confesses his liberality. Although it
might have rendered him more acceptable at the court of his patron if he
had vilified his political foes, yet even imperial favour, acting on the
same side as political prejudice, did not tempt him to unfairness.[974]
He could see and acknowledge noble qualities and disinterested
patriotism, and give credit for sincere motives, even to those who
differed in political opinions.

From a character such as has been described, much care is not to be
expected as to the sources from which historical information was
derived. Many original documents must have existed in his day, which he
evidently never took the trouble to consult. A rich treasure of original
monuments relating to foreign and domestic affairs were ready at hand,
which might have been examined without much trouble.[975] The great
Annals of the Pontifex Maximus were digested into eighty books; and
these contained the names of the magistrates, all memorable events at
home and abroad—even the very days on which they occurred being marked.
The commentaries not only of the priests and augurs, but of the civil
magistrates, were kept with exactness and regularity. There is no reason
for supposing that the _Libri Lintei_[976] were lost in Livy’s time,
although he quotes from Licinius Macer,[977] instead of consulting them
himself. Three thousand brazen tablets, on which were engraved acts of
the senate and the plebeians, extending backwards (says Suetonius[978])
almost to the building of the city, existed in the Capitol until it was
burnt in the reign of Vespasian. The corpus of civil law, which is known
to have existed in the time of Cicero,[979] was full of antiquarian
lore; and the twelve tables furnished invaluable information, not only
on language, but on the manners and habits of bygone times. Nevertheless
the fragments of the _Leges Regiæ_ and the laws of the twelve tables
have been more carefully examined by critics of modern times than they
were by Livy, when they existed in a more perfect condition.

Lachmann[980] has satisfactorily shown that the assertions of Livy are
not based upon personal investigation, but that he trusted to the
annalists, and took advantage of the researches of preceding historians.
This is all that he himself professes to do; and even these professions
he does not always satisfactorily perform. He does not appear to have
profited by the Annals of Varro or the _Origines_ of Cato, a work which,
according to the testimony of Cicero, must have been invaluable to an
historian; and although the Archæologia of Dionysius were published
about the time at which Livy commenced his history,[981] there is no
evidence that he makes use of it; certainly he never acknowledges any
obligation to the indefatigable researches of the Greek historian.
According to his own confession,[982] Roman history is total darkness
until the capture of Rome by the Gauls; and although a dim light then
begins to break, a twilight period succeeds, which continues until the
first Punic war. But it cannot be asserted that he prepared himself for
his difficult task as he ought, or took advantage of all the means at
his disposal to enlighten the obscurity in which his subject was
involved. The authorities on which he principally depends for the
contents of the first Decade were such as Ennius, Fab. Pictor, Cincius,
and Piso. It is evident that he also consulted Greek writers. In the
third, which contains the most beautiful and elaborate passages of the
whole work, he follows Polybius. Nor could he, in this portion of his
history, follow a safer one. The Romans, notwithstanding all their
practical tendencies, did little to promote geographical science. It is
amongst the Greeks that we find the most accurate and indefatigable
geographers, such as were Polybius, Strabo, and Ptolemy.

Polybius prepared himself for the task of narrating the Italian campaign
of Hannibal by personal inspection. Livy did nothing of the kind. The
former travelled through the Alpine passes; and his authority was
considered so good that Strabo implicitly followed him. It is to be
lamented that, as he was writing to his countrymen, he seldom mentions
the name of places; probably he thought they would not be the wiser for
the enumeration of unknown barbarian names. But his accuracy in dates
and distances enables us to trace Hannibal’s route with correctness.
These prove that the passage of Hannibal was by the Alpis Graia, the
Little St. Bernard; a statement which had been made by that
veracious[983] historian, Cælius Antipater, and also by Cornelius
Nepos.[984] It has been since confirmed by the researches of modern
travellers, such as General Melville, M. de Luc, Cramer, and Wickham.
Strange to say, Livy, although following the route marked out by
Polybius almost step by step, at length ends it with the Alpis Cottia
(M. Genevre.) The absence of names left the fireside traveller at fault.
Cæsar[985] had crossed the Alps by that pass; and, perhaps, Livy named
it at a venture, as the most familiar to him. In the succeeding portions
of his work, so complete is the confidence which he reposes upon the
guidance of Polybius, that the fourth and fifth Decades are little more
than the history of Polybius paraphrased.

Niebuhr,[986] from internal evidence, gives an interesting account of
the manner in which it is probable that Livy wrote his history. He
supposes that, like most of the ancients, he employed a secretary, who
read to him from existing authorities the events of a single year. These
the historian mentally arranged, and then dictated his own narrative.
The work, therefore, was composed in portions; the connexion of the
events of one year with those of the preceding one was lost sight of,
and thus they seem isolated; and the conclusion of a series of events
sometimes unaccountably synchronizes with the conclusion of a year.

To his deficiencies in the habit of diligent and accurate investigation
are added others which singularly disqualify him for the task of a
faithful historian. He was a reader of books rather than a student of
men and things; he took upon trust what other people told him, instead
of acquiring knowledge in a practical manner. He was ill-acquainted with
the history of foreign countries. He was not, like Cæsar, a soldier; and
therefore his descriptions of military affairs are often vague and
indistinct, for he did not understand the tactics which he professed to
describe. He was not, like Thucydides, a politician or a philosopher;
and hence the little trustworthy information which we derive from him on
questions connected with constitutional changes. He did not fit himself,
like Herodotus, by travelling; and thus he is often ignorant of the
localities which he describes, even though they are within the limits of
Italy. Hence the difficulties in the way of understanding the route of
Hannibal and his army across the Alps, the battle of Thrasimene, and the
defeat at the Caudine Forks. He was not a philosopher, a lawyer, or a
politician: he could embrace with the eye and depict with the hand of an
artist everything which was external and tangible; but he could not
penetrate the secret motives which actuate the human will, nor form a
clear conception of the fundamental, legal and political principles
which animated the institutions, and gave rise to the peculiarities, of
Roman constitutional history.

With respect to the speeches which he attributes to his principal
heroes, a greater degree of accuracy cannot be expected, than is found
in those of Thucydides. But they do not possess that verisimilitude
which is so admirable in those of the Greek historian. As works of art
they are faultless, but Livy does not keep in view the principle adhered
to by Thucydides, that they should be such as the speakers were likely
to have delivered on the occasions in question. His great authority,
Polybius, disapproves of imaginary speeches altogether;[987] but it must
be remembered that, without some oratorical display, he would not have
pleased the Roman people. The speeches of Thucydides, although they bear
the stamp of the writer’s mind, are, to a certain extent, characteristic
of the speaker, and seem inspired by the occasion. If a Spartan speaks,
he is laconic; if a general, he is soldier-like; if a statesman or
demagogue, he is logical or argumentative, or appeals to the feelings
and passions of the Athenian people. Consistency produces variety. The
speeches of Livy are pleasing and eloquent,[988] but they are always, so
to speak, Livian; they are frequently not such as Romans would have
spoken in times when eloquence was rude, though forcible. They partake
of the rhetorical and declamatory spirit, which was already beginning to
creep over Roman literature; and often, from being unsuitable to time,
place, and person, diminish, instead of heightening, the dramatic

Such are the principal defects which cause us to regret that, whilst
Livy charms us with his romantic narratives and almost faultless style,
he is too often a fallacious guide as an historian, and gives, not
intentionally or dishonestly, but from the character of his mind, and
the object which he proposed to himself, a false colouring or a vague
and inaccurate outline to the events which he narrates. No one can avoid
relishing the liveliness, freshness, and “lactea ubertas,” of Livy’s
fascinating style; but its principal excellence is summed up in the
expression of Quintilian, “_clarissimus candor_,” (brightness and
lucidity.[989]) On the authority of Asinius Pollio, quoted by the same
writer,[990] a certain fault has been attributed to him, termed
“Patavinity,” _i. e._, some peculiar ideas not admissible in the purest
Latin, which mark the place of his nativity. So little pains do people
take in the investigation of truth, and so ready are they to take upon
trust what their predecessors have believed before them, that generation
after generation have assumed that Livy’s clear, eloquent, and
transparent style is disfigured by what we term provincialisms.[991] The
penetrating mind of Niebuhr finds no ground for believing the story. If
there is any truth in it, he supposes the criticism must have applied to
his speaking, and not to his writing.[992] His style is always
classical, even in the later decades: though prolix and tautologous, it
is invariably marked by idiomatic purity and grammatical accuracy.


The grammarians may be passed over with little more notice than the
simple mention of their names, because, although they contributed to the
stock of their country’s literature, they added little or nothing to its
literary reputation. The most conspicuous amongst them were—Atteius
Philologus, a freedman and friend of Sallust; Staberius Eros, who taught
Brutus and Cassius; Q. Cæcilius Epirota, the correspondent of Cicero; C.
Julius Hyginus, a Spaniard, the friend of Ovid, and curator of the
Palatine library; Verrius Flaccus, the tutor to the grandsons of
Augustus; Q. Cornificius, who was augur at the same time with Cicero;
and P. Nigidius Figulus, an orator and philosopher as well as a

                          M. VITRUVIUS POLLIO.

The distinguished name of M. Vitruvius Pollio claims a place in a
catalogue of the Augustan writers. His subject, indeed, belongs to the
apartment of the fine arts; but his varied acquirements and extensive
knowledge, as well as the manner in which, notwithstanding some faults,
he treats his subject, shed some lustre upon Roman literature, and stamp
him as one of the didactic writers of his country.

Little information exists respecting this celebrated architect; and this
circumstance has led to his being confounded with another professor of
the same art, L. Vitruvius Cerdo. The name of the latter is thus
inscribed on an arch, which was his work, at Verona:[993] “Q. Vitruvius
L. L. Cerdo, Architectus.” That Cerdo was not the author of the treatise
extant under the name of Vitruvius, may be satisfactorily
proved:—Firstly. The letters L. L. signify that he was Lucii Libertus
(the freedman of Lucius,) whereas M. Vitruvius Pollio was born free.
Secondly. The arch on which the name appears belongs to an age when the
Romans had begun, in defiance of the precepts of Pollio, to neglect the
principles of Greek architecture.[994]

Both the place and date of his birth are unknown. According to some
authorities he was born at Verona; according to others at Formiæ;[995]
but he himself asserts that he received a good liberal education; and
the truth of this statement is confirmed by the knowledge which he
displays of Greek and Roman literature, and his acquaintance with works
which treat, not only of architecture, but also of polite learning and
even philosophy[996]—the writings, for example, of Lucretius, Cicero,
and Varro. But the great object of his studies was, undoubtedly,
professional, and to this he made literature a handmaid.

Vitruvius served under Julius Cæsar in Africa as a military engineer;
and was subsequently employed by one of the emperors, to whom his
treatise is dedicated, in the direction and control of that department
of the public service. By his favour, and the kindness of his sister, he
was thus placed in a condition, if not of affluence, at least of
competency. Who his imperial patron was has been disputed; but the
widely extended conquests, the augmentation of the empire, the political
institutions, and, moreover, the taste for architecture which Vitruvius
attributes to him, renders it most probable that it was Augustus, the
sovereign who found the city of bricks and left it of marble. It is
clear that his work was written after the death of Julius Cæsar, and not
later than that of Titus, for the former he prefixes the word Divus,
whilst he does not mention the Coliseum; and, although he speaks of
Vesuvius,[997] he is evidently not aware of any eruptions having taken
place except in ancient times. Notwithstanding the arguments adduced by
W. Newton[998] to prove that he wrote in the reign of Titus, it is now
universally admitted that Vitruvius was a writer of the Augustan age.
The inferiority of his style to that of his contemporaries, its
occasional obscurity and want of method, the not unfrequent occurrence
of inelegant, and even barbarous expressions, notwithstanding his
classical education, may be accounted for by what has already been
stated respecting the professional object of all his studies. He himself
claims indulgence on this score,[999] and states that he writes as an
architect, and not as a literary man. So much of its difficulty as
arises from conciseness he considers a matter for boasting rather than

In forming an estimate of the Latinity of an author like Vitruvius, it
must not be forgotten that our taste is formed by authority and by a
study of the best models. Novelty is exceptional, and therefore
displeases. But technical subjects render not only the introduction of
new terms necessary, but even, owing to the poverty of language, awkward
periphrases and obscure phraseology. Nevertheless, upon the whole, the
language of Vitruvius is vigorous, his descriptions bold, and seem the
work of a true and correct hand, and a practised draughtsman.

His work consists of ten books, in which he treats of the whole subject
in a systematic and orderly manner.

The following are its principal contents:—A general view of the science
and of the education suitable to an architect; the choice of sites; the
arrangement of the buildings and fortifications of a city;[1000] an
interesting essay on the earliest human dwellings, building
materials,[1001] temples, altars,[1002] forums, basilicæ, treasuries,
jails, court-houses, baths, palæstræ, harbours, theatres, together with
their acoustic principles, and the theory of musical sounds and
harmonies.[1003] Private dwellings, both in town and country;[1004]
decoration;[1005] water, and the means of supply;[1006] chronometrical
instruments;[1007] surveying[1008] and engineering, both civil and

His work is valuable as a conspectus of the principles of Greek
architectural taste and beauty, of which he was a devoted admirer, and
from which he would not willingly have permitted any deviation. But he
was evidently deficient in the knowledge of the principles of Greek
architectural construction.[1009] His taste was pure, too pure probably
for the Romans; for, notwithstanding his theoretical excellence, we have
no evidence of his being employed, practically, as an architect, except
in the case of the Basilica,[1010] at Colonia Julia Fanestris, now Fano,
near Ancona.

                               BOOK III.
                          ERA OF THE DECLINE.

                               CHAPTER I.

With the death of Augustus[1011] commenced the decline of Roman
literature, and only three illustrious names, Phædrus, Persius, and
Lucan, rescue the first years of this period from the charge of a
corrupt and vitiated taste. After awhile, indeed, political
circumstances again became more favourable—the dangers which paralyzed
genius and talent, and prevented their free exercise under Tiberius and
his tyrannical successors, diminished, and a more liberal system of
administration ensued under Vespasian and Titus. Juvenal and Tacitus
then stood forth as the representatives of the old Roman independence;
vigour of thought communicated itself to the language; a taste for the
sublime and beautiful to a certain extent revived, although it did not
attain to the perfection which shed a lustre over the Augustan age.

The characteristic of the first literature of this epoch was declamation
and rhetoric. As liberty declined, true natural eloquence gradually
decayed. When it is no longer necessary or even possible to persuade or
convince the people, that eloquence which calms the passions, wins the
affections, or appeals to common sense and the reasoning powers, has no
opportunity for exercise. Its object is a new one—namely, to please and
attract an audience who listen in a mere critical spirit: the weapons
which it makes use of are novelty and ingenuity; novelty soon becomes
strangeness, and strangeness exaggeration; whilst ingenuity implies
unnatural study and a display of pedantic erudition—the aiming at
startling and striking effects—and at length ends in affectation.

If this was the prevailing false taste under the immediate successors of
Augustus, it is not surprising that it affected poetry as well as prose;
and that the principal talent of the poet lay in florid and diffuse
descriptions, whilst his chief fault was a style overladen with
ornament. The tragedies ascribed to Seneca are theatrical declamations;
the satires of Persius are philosophical declamations; whilst the poems
of Lucan and Silius Italicus, though epic in form, are nothing more than
descriptive poems, and their style is rather rhetorical than poetical.


Fable had been long known and popular amongst the Romans before the time
of Phædrus. Livy could not have attributed the well-known one to
Menenius Agrippa, unless it had been a familiar tradition of long
standing. Fables amused the guests of Horace, and furnished subjects to
those of Ovid. In this, as in other fields of literature, Rome was an
imitator of Greece; but nevertheless the Roman fabulist struck out a new
line for himself, and in his hands fable became, not only a moral
instructor, but a severe political satirist. Phædrus, the originator and
only author of Roman fable, flourished on the common confines of the
golden and the silver age. His mode of thought, as well as the events
which suggested both his original illustrations and his adaptations of
the Æsopean stories, belong to that epoch of transition. His works are,
as it were, isolated: he has no contemporaries. Although he was born in
the reign of Augustus, he wrote when the Augustan age had passed away.
Nevertheless his solitary voice was lifted up when those of the poet,
the historian, and the philosopher were silenced.

Phædrus, like Horace, is his own biographer; and the only knowledge
which we have respecting his life is furnished by his Fables. In the
prologue to the third book he informs us that he was a native of Thrace:
“I,” he says, “to whom my mother gave birth on the Pierian hill—

                 Ego quem Pierio mater enixa est jugo.”

And, again, he exclaims, “Why should I, who am nearer to lettered
Greece, desert for slothful indolence the honour of my fatherland, when
Thrace can reckon up her poets, and Apollo is the parent of Linus, the
muse of Orpheus, who by his song endowed rocks with motion, tamed the
wild beasts, and stopped the rapid Hebrus with welcome delay?—

                Ego literatæ qui sum propior Græciæ,
                Cur somno inerti deseram patriæ decus;
                Threïssa cum gens numeret auctores suos,
                Linoque Apollo sit parens, Musa Orpheo
                Qui saxa cantu movit, et domuit feras,
                Hebrique tenuit impetus dulci morâ?”

From the title, “Augusti Libertus,” prefixed to his fables, it is clear
that he adds one more distinguished name to that list of freedmen, who
were celebrated in the annals of literature. Although, in the preface to
his work, he modestly terms himself only a translator of Æsop,

                Æsopus auctor quam materiam repperit
                Hanc ego polivi versibus senariis,[1012]

still, for many of his fables, he deserves the credit of originality.
Probably he enlarged and extended his original plan; for he afterwards
speaks of simply adopting the style and not the matter of the Æsopean

He does not appear to have gained much fame or popularity; for he is
only twice mentioned by ancient authorities, namely, by Martial[1014]
and Seneca.[1015] The latter, writing to Polybius, a favourite freedman
of Claudius, encourages him to enter upon the field which Phædrus
already occupied, asserting that fables in the style of Æsop constituted
a work hitherto unattempted by Roman genius (_intentatum Romanis
ingeniis opus_.) Either, therefore, the fables of Phædrus were little
known and appreciated, or Seneca purposely concealed from the Emperor’s
favourite the fact of their existence, in order to flatter him with the
hopes of his thus becoming the first Roman writer in his style. The
persecution to which literary men were subject under the worst Emperors,
of which Phædrus hints obscurely that he was a victim[1016]—the perils
to which he would have been exposed by strictures upon persons in power,
which, concealed under the veil of fiction, appear now dark and
enigmatical, but which might have spoken plainly to the consciences of
the actors themselves—probably rendered it a wise precaution to conceal
his works during his lifetime; hence they would be little known, except
to a chosen few, and the few copies made of them would account for the
rarity of the extant manuscripts.

Owing to the deficiency of ancient testimony, the genuineness of the
Fables has been disputed; but the purity of style, and the natural
allusions to contemporary events render it almost certain that they
belong to the age in which they were supposed to have been written. No
one but a contemporary could have written the fable commencing—

               Narrabo memoria quod factum est mea.[1017]

The prologue to the third book evidently speaks of the author’s own
calamities; and the way in which the name of Sejanus is connected with
the event, hints, although obscurely, that that prime minister of
tyranny was the author of his sufferings. It is scarcely probable that
he would have ventured to attack Sejanus during his lifetime. It may,
therefore, be assumed that Phædrus lived beyond the eighteenth year of
the reign of Tiberius, in which year Sejanus died.

The original manuscript followed in the early editions of Phædrus was
discovered in the tenth century: it contained ninety-seven fables,
divided into five books. But N. Perotto, an archbishop of Manfredonia,
in the fifteenth century, published a miscellaneous collection of Latin
fables, and amongst them were thirty-two new fables attributed to
Phædrus, which were not found in the older editions. These were at first
supposed to have been written by Perotto himself; but the manifest
inferiority of some poems known to be the work of the archbishop, and
the Augustan purity of style which marks the newly-discovered fables,
leave little doubt of their genuineness. Consequently, they were
published by Angelo Mai as supplementary to those which had already

The circumstances of the times in which he lived suggested the moral and
prudential lessons which his fables inculcated. The bane of Rome, under
the empire, was the public informer (_delator_,) as the sycophant had
been the pest of Athens. Life and conduct, private as well as public,
were exposed to a complete system of espionage: no one was safe from
this formidable inquisition; a man’s familiar associate might be in
secret his bitterest enemy. But the principal victims were the rich:
they were marked out for destruction, in order that the confiscation of
their property might glut the avarice of the Emperor and the informers.
For this reason, Phædrus himself professes always to have seen the peril
of acquiring wealth—

                  Periculosum semper reputavi lucrum.

And we cannot be surprised that the danger of riches, and the
comparative safety of obscurity and poverty, should sometimes form the
moral of his fables.

That of the Mules and the Thieves, which is entirely his own, teaches
this lesson:—

              Muli gravati sarcinis ibant duo;
              Unus ferebat fiscos cum pecuniâ,
              Alter tumentes multo saccos hordeo.
              Ille, onere dives, celsâ cervice eminet,
              Clarumque collo jactat tintinnabulum;
              Comes quieto sequitur et placido gradu.
              Subito latrones ex insidiis advolant,
              Interque cædem ferro mulum sauciant,
              Diripiunt nummos, negligunt vile hordeum.
              Spoliatus igitur cum casus fleret suos,
              Equidem, inquit alter, me contemptum gaudeo,
              Nam nihil amisi nec sum læsus vulnere.
              Hoc argumento tuta est hominum tenuitas;
              Magnæ periclo sunt opes obnoxiæ.[1018]

“Two mules, laden with heavy burdens, were journeying together: one
carried bags of money; the other, sacks filled with barley. The former,
proud of his rich load, carried his head high, and made the bell on his
neck sound merrily; his companion followed with quiet and gentle paces.
On a sudden, some thieves rush from an ambuscade, wound the
treasure-mule, strip him of his money-bags, but leave untouched the
worthless barley. When, therefore, the sufferer bewailed his sad
case—‘For my part,’ replied his companion, ‘I rejoice that I was treated
with contempt; for I have no wounds, and have lost nothing.’ The subject
of this fable proves that poverty is safe, whilst great wealth is
exposed to peril.”

The fable of the Man and the Ass teaches a salutary lesson to another
class of wealthy men, namely, those favourites of the emperor and his
creatures, who owed their wealth to plunder and confiscation. Every
day’s experience proved that those who battened on the spoils of the
oppressed one day, became themselves the victims of the same tyrannical
system the next. Like that of the prime minister, Sejanus himself, the
sun of their prosperity was destined to set, and their ill-gotten spoil
to enrich others as unworthy as themselves. Those fortunes were indeed
built upon a rotten foundation, which the same system had power to raise
up and to overthrow:—

             Quidam immolasset verrem quum sancto Herculi,
             Cui pro salute votum debebat sua,
             Asello jussit reliquias poni hordei.
             Quas aspernatus ille sic locutus est:
             Tuum libenter prorsus appeterem cibum
             Nisi, qui nutritus illo est, jugulatus foret.

                    *       *       *       *       *

             Majorem turbam punitorum reperies;
             Paucis temeritas est bono, multis malo.[1019]

“A man who had sacrificed a boar to Hercules, which he had vowed as a
thank-offering for his recovery from sickness, ordered the remains of
the barley to be given to his ass. The ass rejected it with scorn, and
said, ‘I would gladly eat of the food you give me, had not he who was
fattened on it had his throat cut.’

“You will find that the majority of those who grow rich by violence and
rapine are punished; audacity succeeds with few, but ruins many.”

The continued succession of tyrannical emperors must have taught their
oppressed subjects that they had nothing to hope for from a change of
those who wore the purple. This truth is imbodied in the fable of the
old Peasant and his Ass:——

             In principatu commutando civium
             Nil, præter domini nomen, mutant pauperes.
             Id esse verum parva hæc fabula indicat.
             Asellum in prato timidus pascebat senex.
             Is, hostium clamore subito territus,
             Suadebat asino fugere, ne possent capi.
             At ille lentus; quæso, num binas mihi
             Clitellas impositurum victorem putas?
             Senex negavit. Ergo quid refert mea
             Cui serviam, clitellas dum portem meas?[1020]

“In a change of princes the poor change nothing but the name of their
master. The truth of this is shown by the following little fable. A
timid old man was feeding his ass in a meadow. Alarmed by the shouts of
an advancing enemy he urged the ass to fly for fear they should be taken
prisoners. But the ass loitered, and said, ‘Pray, do you think that the
conqueror will put two pack-saddles on my back?’ ‘No,’ replied the old
man. ‘What, then, does it matter to me in whose service I am, so long as
I have to carry my load?’”

The well known fable of the Wolf and the Lamb (i. 1) illustrates the
unscrupulousness of the informers; and that of the Wolf and the
House-dog (iii. 7) teaches how preferable is liberty, even under the
greatest privations, to luxury and comfort purchased by submission to
the caprices of a master.

Of such a kind were the moral and political lessons which Phædrus
enforced in the attractive garb of fables. They were of a general
character, suggested by the evils of the times in which he lived.

Another class were suggested by historical events: they were
nevertheless severe satirical strictures on individuals. Two may be
pointed out as examples which are evidently directed against Tiberius
and Sejanus. These are—The Frogs demanding a King, (i. 2;) and the Frogs
and the Sun, (i. 6.) Neither of the fables are original; they are
apposite applications of two by Æsop.

The Romans,[1021] like the frogs in the first of these fables, had
exchanged their liberty for the slavery of the empire. In Tiberius, now
an imbecile dotard, wholly given up to sensual indulgence in his retreat
at Capreæ, they had a perfect King Log. He was utterly careless of the
sufferings of his subjects and the administration of his kingdom.

To his odious minister, Sejanus, he intrusted the toils of government,
to which his own indolence indisposed him. All tyranny and cruelty were
ascribed to the ministers; whilst the effeminate debauchery of the
Emperor rendered him, even in that demoralized age, an object of
contempt and insult rather than of abhorrence and fear. L. Sejanus, a
kinsman of Ælius,[1022] employed bald-headed persons, and children with
their heads shaved, in the procession of the Floral games, in order to
hold up to scorn and derision the bald-headed Emperor, and he dared not
take notice of the insult. The infamous Fulcinius Trio in his last will
declared that Tiberius had become childish in his old age, and that his
continued retirement was nothing else but exile.[1023] Pacuvianus was
the author of pasquinades against the Emperor. In the same way Phædrus
describes the frogs as treating “King Log” with scorn, and as defiling
him in the most offensive manner.

But after the death of Sejanus a change took place in the Emperor’s
conduct, though not in his character. He left Capreæ for a time, and
took up his abode in the Vatican, close to the very walls of Rome. He
now gave vent to his savage disposition, and displayed the temper of the
water-snake in the fable. His natural cruelty was equalled by his
activity. “His sharp tooth seized his unresisting victims one after the
other: in vain they fly from death; fear prevents them from uttering a
word in defence or expostulation.” No longer a vast expanse of sea and
land intervened between the tyrant and his victims. There was nothing to
delay the pompous and verbose missives of his bloody purposes: his
rescripts could reach the consuls the same day, or at least after the
interval of a night: he could behold, as it were, with his own eyes, the
reeking hands of the executioners, and the waves of blood which deluged
every dwelling.[1024] Vengeance not only fell on the guilty Sejanus and
his unoffending family, the vilest and the noblest blood of Rome alike
flowed at the tyrant’s command. The fable of the Frogs and the Sun was a
covert attack upon the ambitious designs of Sejanus. It is sufficiently
short to be quoted:

             Uxorem quandam Sol quum vellet ducere,
             Clamorem Ranæ sustulere ad sidera.
             Convicio permotus, quærit Jupiter
             Causam querelæ. Quædam tum stagni incola,
             Nunc, inquit, omnes unus exurit lacus
             Cogitque miseras arida sede emori;
             Quidnam futurum est, si creârit liberos?[1025]

“Once upon a time the Sun determined to marry; and the Frogs raised a
cry of alarm to Heaven. Jupiter, moved by their complaints, asked the
cause of them. One of the denizens of the pond answered:—‘Now the Sun by
himself dries up all the lakes, and causes us to die a miserable death
in our parched-up dwellings. What then will become of us if he has

Now let us examine the application. The fawning yet ambitious Sejanus
had always aspired to ally himself with the imperial family. The first
attempt which he made to accomplish his design was procuring the
betrothal of his daughter to Drusus, the son of Claudius, afterwards
emperor. This prince died young, and consequently the marriage never
took place;[1026] but this first opened the eyes of the Romans to the
audacious projects of the favourite. Later in his career,[1027] he, by a
similar step, endeavoured to pave his way to the imperial purple. He
seduced Livilla, the sister of the amiable Germanicus, poisoned her
husband, divorced his own wife, and asked the sanction of Tiberius to
his marriage with the widow of the murdered man. The emperor, with his
usual finesse and dissimulation, refused. The demand awoke the
suspicions of the court, and was a commencement of that coolness between
Sejanus and his patron which eventually ended in the fall of the latter.
The influence of Sejanus alone was sufficiently baneful; what would it
be if multiplied by a race of princes descended from him? The mere
probability of such an event naturally filled Rome with alarm and
consternation; and this Phædrus endeavoured to encourage by a fable,
which, if it had not some such object as this, would scarcely be

The quotations which have been given from the fables of Phædrus are
sufficient, as examples of his ingenuity in imitation and adaptation, as
well as of his original genius, whenever he trusts to his powers of
invention. Some of his pieces, although, like the rest, they are
entitled fables, are, in fact, narratives of real events, and show that
he possessed a charming talent for telling anecdotes, besides skill as a
fabulist in the proper sense of the term. His style has great merits: it
combines the simple neatness and graceful elegance of the golden age
with the vigour and terseness of the silver one. Phædrus has the
facility of Ovid, and the brevity of Tacitus. Thus standing in the epoch
between two literary periods, he, as far as the humble nature of his
walk admits, unites the excellencies of both. Between the age of Horace
and Juvenal, Cicero and Tacitus, there was a gap, and a long one, not
less than half a century: it was a period in which Roman genius was
slumbering. Phædrus proves that that sleep was not the sleep of death.
Tacitus has partially accounted for this cold and dark interval. He
tells us[1028]—“that although the affairs of the ancient Roman republic,
whether in prosperity or in adversity, were related by illustrious
writers—and even the times of Augustus were not deficient in historians
of talent and genius—nevertheless the gradual growth of a spirit of
adulation deterred all who were qualified for the task from attempting
it. Fear, during the lifetime of Tiberius, Caius, Claudius, and Nero,
and hatred, still fresh after their deaths, rendered all accounts of
their reigns false.”

It was thus, according to him, fear and hatred, and a spirit of
flattery, that silenced the voice of history. Doubtless what he says of
history applies with equal force to poetry, and oratory likewise. The
same cause which crushed political liberty rendered the truthfulness of
the historian fraught with danger, and all poetry, except it spoke the
language of adulation, treason; a crime which was no longer one against
the majesty of the people, but was transferred to the person of the
emperor. The very term παρρησια (boldness of speech) was a word, the
utterance of which was as perilous as to speak of liberty.[1029] The
danger had scarcely passed away when Juvenal, notwithstanding his
fearless spirit, wrote:—

                      Unde illa priorum
     Scribendi quodcunque animo flagrante liberet,
     Simplicitas, cujus non audeo dicere nomen.
                                                    _Juv._ i. 153.

  Where the plain times, the simple, when our sires
  Enjoyed a freedom which I dare not name,
  And gave the public sin to public shame,
  Heedless who smiled or frowned.

But there was a negative as well as a positive cause, the withdrawal of
patronage. Literature, in order to flourish, requires the genial
sunshine of human sympathy: it needs either the patronage of the great
or the favour of the people. In Greece it enjoyed the latter in the
highest possible degree; in Rome, from the time of the Scipios to that
of Augustus, it was fostered by the former. Immediately after his death
patronage was withdrawn, and there was not public support to supply its
place. Tiberius was first a soldier; then a dark and reserved
politician; lastly, a blood-thirsty and superstitious sensualist. The
enjoyments of Gaius Caligula were the extravagancies of a madman,
although he was responsible for his moral insanity, because he had, by
vicious indulgence, been the destroyer of his moral principle; and not
only did he not encourage literature, but he even hated Homer and
Virgil. Lastly, the stupid and dozing Claudius wrote books[1030] as
stupid as himself, and was at once the butt and tool of his courtiers.
It was not, therefore, until the reign of Nero that literature revived;
for, though the bloodiest of tyrants, he had an ambition to excel in
refinement, and had a taste for art and poetry.

In the construction of his fables, Phædrus displays observation and
ingenuity. Nothing escapes his watchful eye which can be turned to
account in his little poems. A rude sketch in charcoal on the wall of a
low tavern[1031] suggested to him the idea of the Battle between the
Rats and the Weasels. His animals are grouped, and put in attitudes,
just as a painter would arrange them. His accurate eye has noted and
registered the habits of the brute creation, and he has adapted them to
the delivery of noble and wise sentiments with the utmost ingenuity. But
there his genius stops. He is deficient in imagination. He makes his
animals the vehicles of his wisdom; but he does not throw himself into
them, or identify himself with them. The true poet is lost in his
characters: carried away by the enthusiasm of an inspired imagination,
his spirit is transfused into his heroes;—you forget his existence. The
characters of Phædrus look and act like animals, but talk like human
beings: the moralist and the philosopher can always be detected speaking
under their mask and in their disguise.

In this consists the great superiority of Æsop to his Roman imitator.
His brutes are a superior race, but they are still brutes. The reader
could almost fancy that the fabulist had lived amongst them as one of
themselves—had adopted their modes of life, and had conversed with them
in their own language. In Phædrus we have human sentiments translated
into the language of beasts—in Æsop we have beasts giving utterance to
such sentiments as would be naturally theirs, if they were placed in the
position of men. Skilful adaptation and happy delineation are the
triumphs of ingenuity and observation: the creative power is that of the

The style of Phædrus, notwithstanding a few provincialisms,[1032] is
pure and classical. He does not often indulge in the use of metaphors,
but the few which are met with are striking and appropriate. He is not
entirely free from some of that far-fetched affectation which
characterizes the decline of Roman literature. But his fault is
exaggerated conciseness, and the concentration of many ideas within a
brief space, rather than the rhetorical ornament which now began to be
admired and popular. His endeavour after brevity led him to use abstract
substantives far more profusely than is consistent with the practice of
the best classical writers. These faults, however, do not interfere with
that clearness and simplicity, which, quite as much as the subjects,
have rendered the fables of Phædrus a popular book for the young
student, and please even those who have the opportunity of comparing his
iambics with the liveliness of Gay, the politeness of Florian, the
philosophy of Lessing, the sweetness of Cowper, and the unequalled
versatility of La Fontaine.

                              CHAPTER II.

Of Roman tragedy in its earliest period, so far as the fragments of it
which remain allow a judgment to be formed, an account has already been
given; and if circumstances forbade it to flourish then, still less can
it be expected that the boldness and independence of Greek tragedy would
be found under the empire.

Nevertheless, there were not wanting some imitators of Greece in this
noblest branch of Greek poetry, however unsuitable it was to the genius
of the Roman people, and unlikely to be appreciated by them.

But their productions were rather literary than dramatic; they were
intended to be read, not acted. They were poems composed in a dramatic
form, because Athens had set the example of that form to her devoted
imitators. Although, therefore, they contain noble philosophical
sentiments, lively descriptions, vigorous conceptions and delineations
of character, and passages full of tenderness and pathos, they are
deficient in dramatic effect, and positively offend against those laws
of good taste, which, not arbitrarily assumed, but founded on the
principles of the human mind, regulated the Athenian stage.

We have seen that, in the Augustan age, a few writers attained some
excellence in tragedy, at least in the opinion of ancient critics.
Besides Ovid and Varius, whose tragedies have been already mentioned,
Asinius Pollio acquired a high reputation as a tragic poet, and
Virgil[1033] declares that he is the only one worthy of being compared
with Sophocles:—

               Sola Sophocleo tua carmina digna cothurno.

On the revival of letters under that professor of a love of
poetry,[1034] the tyrant Nero, dramatic literature reappeared, and
perfect specimens are extant in the ten tragedies attributed to Seneca.
Various and opposite opinions have been entertained respecting their
merits; but there can be no doubt that the genius of the author never
can grasp in their wholeness the characters which he attempts to copy;
they are distorted images of the Greek originals; the awful and shadowy
grandeur of the god-like heroes of Æschylus stand forth in corporeal
vastness, and appear childish and unnatural, like the giants of a
story-book. The marvels of Greek tragedy and Greek mythology, though
merely the unreal conceptions of the imagination, do not appear
exaggerated, because the connexion between the theory and the result,
the causes and the effects, is so skilfully maintained; but in these
Roman tragedies the legends of Greece appear extravagant and absurd:
they are as unreal, and therefore seem as affected, as the classical
garb in which English poetry was arrayed in the age of Anne. The Greeks
believed in the gods and heroes whose agency and exploits constituted
the machinery of tragedy—the Romans did not; and thus we cannot
sympathize with them, because we see that they are insincere. The style,
moreover, of the tragedies, which bear the name of Seneca, is spoiled by
that inflated language and redundancy of ornament, the constant effect
of which is, as Aristotle observes, frigidity. They bear the visible
marks of an age in which genius had given place to an artificial and
scholastic rhetoric; and the author seems to have been striving not for
tragic pathos so much as brilliant declamation. In the female
characters, especially, the Roman tragic poet fails; for, although he
can understand heroism, he is unable to accomplish that most difficult
of all tasks, the combining it with feminine delicacy. Perhaps the best
and noblest of his country-women did not furnish him with such ideals.
The Roman matron was the counterpart of her warlike lord. The Lucretias,
Porcias, Cornelias, Arrias, though devoted and affectionate, were of
sterner mould than Antigone and Deianira.

The tragedies which bear the name of Seneca have been attributed to L.
Annæus Seneca, the philosopher, as early as the time of
Quintilian,[1035] who quotes as Seneca’s a verse from the Medea. The
improbability of this being the case is also diminished by the fact that
both Tacitus[1036] and Pliny the younger[1037] speak of him as a poet.
Nevertheless, their authorship has been considered a very doubtful
question. A passage in an epigram of Martial, in which he speaks of
Cordova as the birthplace of two Senecas and one Lucan—

                   Duosque Senecas unicumque Lucanum
                     Facunda loquitur Corduba[1038]—

has been interpreted as implying that Seneca the philosopher was a
different person from Seneca the tragedian. There can, however, be
scarcely any doubt that he was speaking of M. Annæus Seneca the
rhetorician, and his son Lucius the philosopher. Sidonius
Apollinaris,[1039] the son-in-law of the Emperor Flavius Avitus, and
Bishop of Clermont,[1040] in the last years of the Roman empire,
unhesitatingly draws a distinction between them. He enumerates three
members of the Cordovan family:—

     Quorum unus colit hispidum Platonem,
     Incassumque suum monet Neronem,
     Orchestram quatit alter Euripidis
     Pictum fæcibus Æschylum sequutus,
     Aut plaustris solitum sonare Thespim
     Pugnam tertius ille Gallicanam
     Dixit Cæsaris.
                                                  _Carm._ ix. 231.

But, notwithstanding the celebrity which Sidonius enjoyed as a poet at
the imperial court, his opinion is of no authority when weighed against
the internal evidence derived from the tragedies themselves. This
renders it almost morally certain, that they are the work of no other
writer than Seneca the philosopher.

Although the Romans, as being imitators of the Greeks, and not original
thinkers, were eclectics in philosophy, their favourite doctrines were
those of the Stoics. They suited the rigid sternness of their character:
they imbodied that spirit of self-devotion and self-denial with which
the Roman patriot, in the old times of simple republican virtue, threw
himself into his public duties; and Seneca, with all his faults, was a
real Roman: with all his finesse and artful policy, he retained, in the
midst of a debased age and a profligate court, a large portion of the
old Roman character. In life and in death his was a true specimen of the
Stoic creed.

Still he was by no means a consistent man: his theory was perfect, but
his practice often fell short of it. The lessons of morality contained
in his philosophical works are excellent, and persuasively enforced, and
wear an appearance of honesty and sincerity; but, nevertheless, in his
philosophy, as well as in his life, we can discover that his moral
principles were unstable and wavering. These two features can be traced
in his tragedies: they abound in philosophical dogmas and moral
sentiments, and they display the same Stoicism mingled with occasional
habits of inconsistency. Suicide is painted in the most attractive
colours: death is met not only with courage, but with the same
indifference with which Seneca himself, together with other victims of
imperial tyranny, met it in his own day. It is not welcomed, as in the
Greek tragedians, as a relief from the burden of earthly sorrows; but
there is a manifest departure from the Greek model: the natural beauty
of that model is violated, and the features of the original character
sacrificed to Stoical coldness and want of feeling.

But not only are these tragedies filled with philosophical reflections;
even the sentiments enunciated in the acknowledged works of Seneca, in
his Essays and Epistles, are transferred to them, and the peculiar turns
of expression used by the philosopher are repeated by the poet. A
brilliant French author[1041] has ingeniously brought together and
compared parallel passages, which illustrate this similarity of
sentiment and style. A few of these are sufficient as examples. Two in
the “Phœnissæ,” in which Œdipus insists on “the liberty of dying,”
imbody the same doctrine as two others, one in the epistles to Lucilius,
the other in the treatise on Providence.

  He (says Œdipus) who compels one who is unwilling to die does the same
  as he who hinders one who is eager for death; nay, I consider the
  latter treats me the worse of the two. I had rather that death were
  forced upon me than that the privilege of dying should be torn from

           Qui cogit mori
         Nolentem, in æquo est, quique properantem impedit.
         Nec tamen in æquo est; alterum gravius reor,
         Malo imperari quam eripi mortem mihi.
                                                     _Phœnis._ 98.

And again the same favourite sentiment appears:—

  I cannot be prevented from dying; of what availeth all that care of
  thine? Death is everywhere. Most wisely has God provided for this.
  There is no one who cannot rob a man of life, but no one can rob him
  of death; to this a thousand roads are open.

                         Morte prohiberi haud queo.
     Quid ista tandem cura proficit tua?
     Ubique mors est. Optime hoc _cavit_ Deus.
     Eripere vitam nemo non homini potest;
     _At nemo mortem_; mille ad hanc aditus _patent_.
                                                    _Phœnis._ 146.

With these are compared the following sentences of the philosopher, in
which not only the doctrines, but also the language in which they are
expressed, are so strikingly parallel as scarcely to admit of a doubt
that the authors are identical:—

  To live under compulsion is an evil; but there is no compulsion to
  live under compulsion. Many roads to liberty lie open on all sides,
  short and easy. Let us thank God that no one can be retained in life.

And, again, Divine Providence is represented as declaring to mankind:—

  Before all things I have provided that no one should detain you
  against your will—an exit is open to you.

  Malum est in necessitate vivere, sed in necessitate vivere necessitas
  nulla est. _Patent_ undique ad libertatem _viæ multæ_, breves,
  faciles. Agamus Deo gratias, quod nemo in vitâ teneri potest.—Ep. xii.

     Ante omnia _cavi_, ne quis vos teneret invitos, patet exitus.
                                               _De Provident._ vi.

How exactly in accordance with these sentiments, whether expressed in
poetry or prose, is the closing scene of Seneca’s life; the almost
business-like way in which he entered upon the road which was appointed
to lead him from the dominion of necessity to the enjoyment of
liberty—the imperturbable coolness with which he could contemplate the
death of his wife, whom he loved with the greatest affection![1042] How
calculated, moreover, were they to engage the sympathies of his
contemporaries! It was an age in which, amidst its various corruptions,
the only virtue which survived was the knowing how to meet death with a
courageous spirit, in which many of the best and the noblest willingly
died by their own hands at the imperial mandate, in order to save their
name from infamy, and the inheritance of their children from

Again, an awful belief in destiny, and the hopeless, yet patient,
struggle of a great and good man against this all-ruling power, is the
mainspring of Greek tragedy. This is not transferred into the imitations
of the Romans. Its place is supplied by the stern fatalism of the
Stoics. The principle of destiny entertained by the Greek poets is a
mythological, even a religious one: it is the irresistible will of God.
God is at the commencement of the chain of causes and effects by which
the event is brought about which God has ordained; his inspired prophets
have power to foretell, and mortals cannot resist or avoid. It is rather
predestination than destiny. The doctrine implies an intelligent agent,
not a mere abstract principle.

The fatalism of the Stoics, on the other hand, is the doctrine of
practical necessity. It ignores the almighty power of the Supreme Being,
although it does not deny his existence. It strips him of his attributes
as the moral Governor of the universe. These doctrines are found both in
the philosopher and tragic poet. Translate the subjoined prose passage
into the conventional language of poetry, adopt as a mere matter of
embellishment the fables of Greek mythology, personify the Stoical
principle of necessity by the Greek Fates, and it becomes the Chorus in
the Latin tragedy Œdipus. Both these passages are quoted by Nisard:—

  _Nihil cogor nihil patior invitus_; nec servio Deo, sed assentior; eo
  quidem magis, quod scio _omnia certa_ et in æternum dicta lege
  decurrere. _Fata nos ducunt_, et quantum cuique restat, _prima
  nascentium hora disposuit. Causa pendet ex causa_; privata ac publica
  _longus ordo_ rerum trahit. Ideo fortiter omne ferendum est; quia non,
  ut putamus, incidunt cuncta, sed veniunt. Olim constitutum est quid
  gaudeas, quid fleas; et quamvis magna videatur varietate singulorum
  vita distingui, summa in unum venit; accepimus peritura perituri.

                                                         _De Provid._ v.

  I am neither compelled to do or to suffer anything against my will. I
  am not a slave to God, but I bow to his will. The more so because I
  know that all things are fixed and proceed according to an everlasting
  law. Destiny is our guide, and the hour of our birth has disposed all
  the remainder of our lives. Each cause depends upon a preceding one; a
  long chain of circumstances links together all things, both public and
  private. Therefore we must bear all things with fortitude, since all
  things _come to pass_, and do not, as we suppose, _happen_. Our joys
  or sorrows have been determined long ago; and although a great variety
  of items distinguishes the lives of individuals, the sum total is the
  same. Perishable creatures ourselves, that which we have received is
  perishable likewise.

A comparison of the above with the following passage exhibits a
similarity which could only have proceeded from the same mind and the
same pen; for it is to be remembered, that though the Romans were
imitators of the Greeks, they did not copy one another; and throughout
the whole field of Roman literature no example could be found of a poet
transferring to his works the exact sentiments, tone of thought, and
turn of expression of another Latin author:—

     _Fatis agimur, cedite fatis_:
     Non sollicitæ possunt curæ
     Mutare rati stamina fusi.
     _Quicquid patimur_, mortale genus,
     _Quicquid facimus_, venit ex alto;
     Servatque suæ decreta colus
     Lachesis, dura revoluta manu.
     _Omnia certo tramite_ vadunt
     _Primusque dies dedit extremum_.
     Non illa Deo vertisse licet
     _Quæ nexa suis currunt causis_.
     It cuique ratus, prece non ulla
     Mobilis, _ordo_.
                                                      _Œdip._ 980.

  We are led by destiny—yield then to its power. Anxious care cannot
  change the thread spun by the distaff of the Fates. Whatever we
  mortals do or suffer comes from on high; and Lachesis observes the
  decrees of the wheel which revolves beneath her pitiless hand. All
  things proceed in a fixed path, and the first day of life has
  determined the last. God has not power to change the chain of causes
  and effects. Each has its fixed order, which no prayers can alter.

Even the philosophical inconsistencies[1043] traceable in the prose
treatises are repeated in the tragedies. In one letter[1044] he affirms
his belief that the soul of Scipio Africanus has ascended into heaven as
a reward of his virtue and piety; in another[1045] he asserts the gloomy
doctrine that death is annihilation: “Mors est non esse.” In like manner
in the “Troades” the Chorus declares that the happy Priam wanders
amongst pious souls in the “safe Elysian shades;”[1046] and yet, with an
inconsistency which the Letters of the philosopher alone account for,
another passage in the same tragedy declares that the spirit vanishes
like smoke, that after death is nothingness, and death itself is

On such internal evidence as this rests the probability, almost
amounting to certainty, that Seneca the philosopher, and the author of
the ten tragedies, are one and the same.[1048]

Notwithstanding their false rhetorical taste, and the absence of all
ideal and creative genius, the tragedies of Seneca found many admirers
and imitators in modern times. The French school of tragic poets took
them for their model: Corneille evidently considered them the ideal of
tragedy, and Racine servilely imitated them. Their philosophy captivated
an age which thought that nothing was so sublime as heathen philosophy;
and yet that same age derived its notions of ancient philosophy from the
Romans instead of from the original Greek sources; and its poetical
taste, as far as it was classical, was formed on a study of Roman
dramatic literature, before the excellence of the Attic drama was
sufficiently known to be appreciated.

                              CHAPTER III.

                 AULUS PERSIUS FLACCUS (BORN A. D. 34.)

Roman satire subsequently to Horace is represented by Aulus Persius
Flaccus and Decimus Junius Juvenalis. Persius was a member of an
equestrian family, and was born, according to the Eusebian Chronicle,
A. D. 34, at Volaterræ in Etruria. He was related to the best families
in Italy, and numbered amongst his kindred Arria, the noble-minded wife
of Pætus. His father died when he was six years old, and his mother,
Fulvia Sisenna, married a second time a Roman knight named Fusius. In a
few years she was again a widow. Persius received his elementary
education at his native town; but at twelve years of age he was brought
to Rome, and went through the usual course of grammar and rhetoric,
under Remmius Palæmon[1049] and Virginius Flavus.[1050] The former of
these was, like so many men of letters, a freedman, and the son of a
slave. He was, according to Suetonius,[1051] a man of profligate morals,
but gifted with great fluency of speech, and a prodigious memory. He was
rather a versifier than a poet, and, like so many modern Italians,
possessed the talent of improvising. He was prosperous as a
schoolmaster, considering the very small pittance which the members of
that profession usually earned, for his school brought him in forty
sestertia per annum (about 325_l._[1052]) Virginius Flavus is only known
as the author of a treatise on Rhetoric.

Persius himself gives[1053] an amusing picture of his schoolboy
idleness, his love of play, and his tricks to escape the hated
declamation which, in Roman schools, formed a weekly exercise:[1054]—

  Sæpe oculos, memini, tangebam parvus olivo,
  Grandia si nollem morituri verba Catonis
  Discere non sano multum laudanda magistro,
  Quæ pater adductis sudans audiret amicis.
  Jure; etenim id summum, quid dexter senio ferret,
  Scire erat in voto; damnosa canicula quantum
  Raderet; angustæ collo non fallier orcæ;
  Neu quis callidior buxum torquere flagello.

  Oft, I remember yet, my sight to spoil,
  Oft, when a boy, I bleared my eyes with oil:
  What time I wished my studies to decline,
  Nor make great Cato’s dying speeches mine;
  Speeches my master to the skies had raised,
  Poor pedagogue! unknowing what he praised;
  And which my sire, suspense ’twixt hope and fear,
  With venial pride, had brought his friends to hear.

  For then, alas! ’twas my supreme delight
  To study chances, and compute aright
  What sum the lucky dice would yield in play,
  And what the fatal aces sweep away;
  Anxious no rival candidate for fame
  Should hit the long-necked jar with nicer aim;
  Nor, while the whirling top beguiled the eye,
  With happier skill the sounding scourge apply.

At sixteen, Persius attached himself to the Stoic philosopher Annæus
Cornutus, by whom he was imbued with the stern philosophical principles
which occupy so prominent a place in his Satires. The friendship which
he formed thus early in life continued until the day of his death. The
young Lucan was also one of his intimate associates, whose philosophical
and poetical tastes were similar to his own, and who had a profound
admiration for his writings. He was acquainted with Seneca, but had no
very great regard either for him or his works. Cæsius Bassus, to whom he
addressed his sixth Satire, was also one of his intimates.[1055] It
redounds greatly to his honour that he enjoyed the friendship of Pætus
Thrasea, one of the noblest examples of Roman virtue.[1056] Persius died
prematurely of a disease in the stomach, at the age of twenty-eight. He
left a large fortune to his mother and sister; and his library,
consisting of seven hundred volumes, together with a considerable
pecuniary legacy, to his beloved tutor, Cornutus. The philosopher,
however, disinterestedly gave up the money to the sister of his deceased

Pure in mind and chaste in life, Persius was free from the corrupt taint
of an immoral age. He exhibited all the self-denial, the control of the
passions, and the stern uncompromising principles of the philosophy
which he admired, but not its hypocrisy. Stoicism was not, in his case,
as in that of so many others, a cloak for vice and profligacy.

Although Lucretius was, to a certain extent, his model, he does not
attack vice with the biting severity of the old satirist. He rather
adopts the caustic irony of the old Greek comedy, as more in accordance
with that style of attack which he himself terms—

                    petulanti splene cachinno.[1057]

Nor do we find in his writings the fiery ardour, the enthusiastic
indignation, which burn in the verses of Juvenal; but this resulted from
the tenderness of his heart and the gentleness of his disposition, and
not from any disqualification for the duties of a moral instructor, such
as weak moral principle, or irresolute timidity.

Although he must have been conscious that the dangerous times during
which his short life was passed rendered caution necessary, still it is
far more probable that his purity of mind and kindliness of heart
disinclined him to portray vice in its hideous and loathsome forms, and
to indulge in bitterness of invective which prevalent enormities of his
times deserved. It may be questioned whether obscenities like those of
Juvenal, notwithstanding purity of intention, best promote the interests
of virtue. It is to be feared that often the passions are excited and
the human heart rendered more corrupt by descriptions of vice, whilst
the moral lesson is disregarded.

Persius evidently believed that reserve and silence, or those
abominations which make the pure-minded shudder with horror, and call up
a blush upon the cheek of innocence, would more safely maintain the
dignity and purity of virtue, than the divesting himself of that virgin
modesty (_virgineus ille pudor_) which constituted the great charm of
his character. His uprightness and love of virtue are shown by the
uncompromising severity with which he rebukes sins of not so deep a die;
and the heart which was capable of being moulded by his example, and
influenced by his purity, would have shrunk from the fearful crimes
which defile the pages of Juvenal.

The greatest defect in Persius, as a satirist, is, that the philosophy
in which he was educated rendered him too indifferent to the affairs
which were going on in the world around him. Politics had little
interest for him: he lived within himself a meditative life; wealth and
splendour he despised. His contemplative habits led him to criticise, as
his favourite subjects, false taste in poetry and empty pretensions to
philosophy. His modest and retiring nature found little sympathy with
the passions, the tumults, the business, or the pleasures which agitated
Rome. He was more a student of the closet than a man of the world.
Horace mingled in the society of the profligate; he considered them as
fools; and laughed their folly to scorn. Juvenal looked down upon the
corruption of the age from an eminence, where, involved in his virtue,
he was safe from moral pollution, and punished it like an avenging
deity. Persius, pure in heart and passionless by education, whilst he
lashes wickedness in the abstract, almost ignores its existence, and
modestly shrinks from laying bare the secret pollutions of the human
heart, and from probing its vileness to the bottom. The amiability, and
above all the disinterestedness, which characterize his Satires, fully
account for the popularity which they attained immediately on their
publication by Cornutus, and the panegyrics of which he was the subject
in later times. “Persius,” writes Quintilian,[1058] “multum et veræ
gloriæ, quamvis uno libro meruit.” Many of the early Christian writers
thought that his merits fully compensated for the obscurity of his
style; and Gifford[1059] observes, “The virtue he recommends he
practised in the fullest extent; and, at an age when few have acquired a
determinate character, he left behind him an established reputation for
genius, learning, and worth.”

The works of Persius are comprised within the compass of six Satires,
containing, in all, about 650 lines. And from the expression of
Quintilian, already cited, and supported by a passage of Martial, there
is reason to suppose that all he wrote is now extant. To his Satires is
prefixed a short but spirited introduction in choliambics, _i. e._ lame
iambics, in which, for the iambus in the sixth place, there is
substituted a spondee.

This proëmium bears but little relation to his work; but he was
accustomed to similar irrelevancy in the parabases of the old Attic
comedy, which he had studied. In his first Satire he exposes and
accounts for the false and immoral taste which affected poetry and
forensic eloquence, attacks the coxcombry of public recitation, and
parodies the style of contemporary writers, in language which our
ignorance of them prevents us from appreciating. In the second, which is
a congratulatory address to his dear friend Macrinus on his birthday, he
imbodies the subject-matter of the second Alcibiades of Plato;[1060] a
dialogue which Juvenal also had in view in the composition of his tenth
Satire. In this poem, the degrading ideas which men have formed
respecting the Deity, the consequent selfishness and even impiety of
their prayers, are followed by sentiments on the true nature of prayer,
which even a Christian can read with admiration:—

           Quin damus id superis, de magna quod dare lance
         Non possit magni Messalæ lippa propago;
         Compositum jus fasque animo sanctosque recessus
         Mentis et incoctum generoso pectus honesto:
         Hæc cedo, ut admoveam templis, et farre litabo.[1061]

         No, let me bring the immortals what the race
         Of great Messala, now depraved and base,
         On their huge charger cannot,—bring a mind
         Where legal and where moral sense are joined
         With the pure essence; holy thoughts that dwell
         In the soul’s most retired and sacred cell;
         A bosom dyed in honour’s noblest grain—
         Deep-dyed;—with these let me approach the fane,
         And Heaven will hear the humble prayer I make,
         Though all my offering be a barley-cake.

In the third, he endeavours to shame the ingenuous youth out of an idle
aversion to the pursuit of wisdom, and contrasts the enjoyments of a
well-regulated mind with ignorance and sensuality: the picture which he
draws of the fate of the sensualist is very powerful:—

       Turgidus hic epulis atque albo ventre lavatur,
       Gutture sulfureas lente exhalante mephites;
       Sed tremor inter vina subit, calidumque trientem
       Excutit e manibus; dentes crepuere retecti;
       Uncta cadunt laxis tunc pulmentaria labris.
       Hinc tuba, candelæ; tandemque beatulus, alto
       Compositus lecto, crassisque lutatus amomis,
       In portam rigidos calces extendit; at illum
       Hesterni capite induto subiere Quirites.[1062]

       Now to the bath, full gorged with luscious fare,
       See the pale wretch his bloated carcass bear;
       While from his lungs, that faintly play by fits,
       His gasping throat sulphureous steam emits!
       Cold shiverings seize him, as for wine he calls,
       His grasp betrays him, and the goblet falls!
       From his loose teeth the lip, convulsed, withdraws,
       And the rich cates drop through his listless jaws.
       Then trumpets, torches come, in solemn state;
       And my fine youth, so confident of late,
       Stretched on a splendid bier and essenced o’er,
       Lies, a stiff corpse, heels foremost at the door;
       Romans of yesterday, with covered head,
       Shoulder him to the pyre, and—all is said.      _Gifford._

One more quotation must be made from this noble Satire, which is alluded
to by St. Augustine,[1063] and in which Persius enunciates the sublime
truth, that the most fearful punishment which can befall the profligate
is the consciousness of what they have lost in rejecting virtue:—

       Magne pater divûm, sævos punire tyrannos
       Haud alia ratione velis, quum dira libido
       Moverit ingenium ferventi tincta veneno;
       Virtutem videant intabescantque relicta![1064]

       Dread sire of gods! when lust’s envenomed stings
       Stir the fierce natures of tyrannic kings—
       When storms of rage within their bosoms roll,
       And call in thunder for thy just control—
       O, then relax the bolt, suspend the blow,
       And thus, and thus alone, thy vengeance show.
       In all her charms, set Virtue in their eye,
       And let them see their loss, despair, and—die.  _Gifford._

In the fourth Satire, Nero is represented in the character of
Alcibiades; and Plato’s first Dialogue, which bears the name of the
Athenian Libertine, furnished the foundation and many of the sentiments.

The fifth is the most elaborate of all the poet’s works. It is addressed
to Cornutus, and is in the form of a dialogue between the philosopher
and his pupil. The style is more finished than usual, and more adorned
with the graces of poetry; his amiable nature beams forth in all the
warmth of a grateful heart; and although he does not display any
original philosophical research, he exhibits great learning, and an
accurate acquaintance with the Stoic philosophy.

If the fifth Satire is the most elaborate, the sixth is, without doubt,
the most delightful of the works of Persius. It is addressed to his dear
friend Cæsius Bassus, and overflows with kindness of heart. The poet
speaks of the duties of contentment, and of ministering to the
distresses of others; the hatefulness of envy; the meanness of avarice,
beneath whatever disguise it may be veiled; his own determination to use
and not abuse his fortune; whilst there may be traced through the whole
a foreboding, yet a cheerful one, that his weary course will soon be
run, and that his heir will soon succeed to his possessions.[1065]

Such was the character of Persius as mirrored in his little volume. The
gloomy sullenness of Stoicism was not able to destroy the natural
amiability and placid cheerfulness of his temper. Its darkness affected
his style, but not his disposition. The fault which has been universally
found with the style of Persius, is difficulty and obscurity. This would
be the natural consequence of his Stoical education. The Stoics were
proverbially obscure and dark in their teaching; and Persius, who had
not imbibed all the profoundness of their philosophy, had still caught
their language and their manner of expression, and whilst he was
infected by their faults he acquired also their picturesqueness and
liveliness of illustration. Nor does it appear that his style was
considered obscure enough by his contemporaries to interfere with its
popularity. It is probable that his obscurity is not absolute, but only
relative to the knowledge of the language possessed in modern times. His
was the conversational Latin of the days in which he lived; and as a
great change had taken place from the Latin of Cicero and Livy to that
of Tacitus and Seneca, doubtless the conversational Latin of Horace, and
even of Juvenal, would differ from that of Persius. If this be the case,
the Satires of Persius constitute the only example of this Latin, and we
have no other by a comparison of which we can explain and illustrate his
modes of expression. Whatever, therefore, is unusual becomes at once a
source of difficulty and obscurity.[1066] The short description which
Persius represents his preceptor as giving of his style, supports this

  Verba togæ sequeris junctura callidus acri
  Ac teres modico, pallentes radere mores
  Doctus et ingenuo culpam defigere ludo.[1067]

  Confined to common life, thy numbers flow,
  And neither soar too high, nor sink too low;
  There strength and ease in graceful union meet,
  Though polished, subtle, and though poignant, sweet;
  Yet powerful to abash the front of crime,
  And crimson error’s cheek with sportive rhyme.

As the _toga_ had, since the time of Augustus, been only worn by the
higher orders, whilst the common people were content with the _tunica_,
it is clear that the words _verba togæ_ signify the language of polished
society. One cause, therefore, of the difficulty of the style of Persius
may be our want of familiarity with the conversational Latin used in his
time by the superior classes. Excessive subtlety may have been mistaken
for refinement; and an affectation of philosophy, and an enigmatical
style, may cause obscurity to us which was quite intelligible to his

It is evident that Persius had carefully studied, and was quite well
acquainted with, the Satires of Horace; but the influence which Horace
produced upon his mind went no further than to impress upon his memory
certain phrases which he reproduced in a more perplexed form, more in
unison with the fashionable Latin of his day. The expression of Horace—

                       —— naso suspendis _adunco_

becomes, in the Satires of Persius—

                _Excusso_ populum suspendere naso.[1069]

                      Si vis me flere, dolendum est
                Primum ipse tibi ——,[1070]

becomes, when paraphrased by his imitator—

            Plorabit qui me volet incurvasse querela.[1071]

The simplicity of Horace in the words—

                   Totus teres atque rotundus
             Externi ne quid valeat per læve morari,[1072]

is exchanged for the more involved phrase—

                          Ut per læve severos
                    Effundat junctura ungues.[1073]

He adopts Horace’s wish,[1074] preserving every idea in the passage—

                        —— O si
              Sub rastro crepet argenti mihi seria dextro

Horace’s acquirements in geometry—

           Scilicet ut possem curvo dignoscere rectum,[1076]

are thus awkwardly rendered—

                     —— rectum discernis, ubi inter
                     Curva subit.[1077]

And, not to multiply examples which, whilst they show that Persius was
an admirer of Horace, prove that what was pure, natural inspiration in
the latter, required effort in the former. The idea of Horace—

                          Clamant periisse _pudorem_
                    Cuncti pene patres,[1078]

is exchanged by Persius for the forced metaphor——

                          Exclamet Melicerta perisse
                    _Frontem_ de rebus.[1079]

Rhetorical affectation infected all the literature of this age; we can
scarcely, therefore, be surprised to find that it is one of the
characteristics of the Satires of Persius. The age of public recitation
had already begun, of which Juvenal speaks some years later. When in one
place he describes the ardour and enthusiasm which pervaded Rome, on the
announcement of a new work by a popular author[1080]—

               Curritur ad vocem jucundam et carmen amicæ
               Thebaidos lætam fecit cum Statius urbem
               Promisitque diem!

               When Statius fixed a morning to recite
               His Thebaid to the town with what delight
               They flocked to him!

In another,[1081] like Horace, he complains of the annoyance of these
recitations; and in a third,[1082] he considers it one of the causes
which rendered the most desolate and solitary country-place preferable
to Rome.

The style of writing, therefore, suitable to this practice, was a
declamatory one, as the practice itself was in accordance with the
oratorical tastes of the Roman people.


Decimus Junius Juvenalis, according to the few lines of biography
generally attributed to Suetonius, was the son, or the adopted son, of a
wealthy freedman. He amused himself with rhetoric and declamation until
middle life; but having, on one occasion, written a short satire upon
Paris, the pantomime, he was tempted to apply himself to this species of
writing. After some time he recited his piece with such success to a
large audience, that he inserted it in one of his later
compositions.[1083] He thus exposed himself to the enmity of the court,
because his lines were supposed figuratively to apply to an actor who
was a court favourite, and he was exiled to Egypt, under pretence of
being appointed to the command of a cohort. There in a short time he
died of grief at the age of eighty.

The time of his birth is unknown, but he must have flourished in the
reign of Domitian, towards the close of the first century after Christ;
and it is generally assumed that he was either born, or resided, at the
Volscian town which subsequently gave birth to the eminent schoolman,
Thomas Aquinas.[1084] Thus the greater portion of the life of Juvenal
was passed during a period of political horror and misery. The short
reign of Vespasian was doubtless a blessing to Rome, but it was only a
brief temporary respite: the dark period of the last ten Cæsars saw the
utter moral degradation of the people, and the bloodiest tyranny and
oppression on the part of their rulers. If, which is most probable, he
lived to see the reigns of Nerva, Trajan, and Hadrian, the spirits of
the noble-minded satirist must have revived at seeing again a promise of
national glory and prosperity. In the period gone by, rich as it was in
material for his pen, it was fatally perilous to give utterance to his
burning indignation; but an opportunity, not to be lost, was then
offered when emperors ruled, who were distinguished for ability and
virtue, when justice and the laws were constitutionally administered,
and the empire, wisely governed, enjoyed security and tranquillity.

The picture of Roman manners, as painted by the glowing pencil of
Juvenal, is truly appalling. The fabric of society was in ruins. The
popular religion was rejected with scorn, and its place was not occupied
even by the creed of natural religion. Nothing remained but the empty
pomp, pageant and ceremonial. The administration of the state was a mass
of corruption: freedmen and foreigners, full of artful cunning, but
destitute of principle, had the ear of the sovereign, and filled their
coffers with bribes and confiscation. The grave and decent reserve which
was characteristic of every Roman, in olden times, was thrown off even
by the higher classes; and emperors took a public part in scenes of
folly and profligacy, and exposed themselves as charioteers, as dancers,
and as actors. Nothing was respected but wealth—nothing provoked
contempt but poverty.[1085] A vote was only valued for its worth in
money; that people, whose power was once absolute, would now sell their
souls for bread and the Circensian games.

Players and dancers had all honours and offices at their disposal. The
city swarmed with informers who made the rich their prey: every man
feared even his most intimate friend. To be noble, virtuous, innocent,
was no protection: the only bond of friendship was to be an accomplice
in crime. Philosophy was a cheat, and moral teaching an hypocrisy. The
moralists “preached like Curii, but lived like bacchanals.”[1086] The
very teacher would do his best to corrupt his pupil: the guardian would
defraud his ward. Luxury and extravagance brought men to ruin, which
they sought to repair by flattering the childless, legacy-hunting, and
gambling; and even patricians would cringe for a morsel of bread. The
higher classes were selfish and cruel, grinding and insolent to their
inferiors and dependants.[1087] Gluttony was so disgusting that six
thousand sesterces (50_l._) would be given for a mullet; and the glutton
would artificially relieve his stomach of its load, in order to prepare
for another meal.[1088] Crimes which cannot be named were common: men,
for the worst of purposes, endeavoured to make themselves look like
women; and even an emperor personated a female, and was given in
marriage to one of his Greek favourites.[1089] The streets of Rome were
as dangerous as the Pomptine marshes or the Italian forests, from
constant robbery, assault, and assassination.

The morals of the female sex were as depraved as those of men: ladies of
noble and royal blood would have lovers in their pay, and when they had
lost the attraction of personal charms, would supply their place by the
temptation of gold. One empress publicly celebrated her nuptials with an
adulterer in the absence of her lord; another gratified her wantonness
by prostitution. Even those who were not so profligate aped the manners
and habits of men, and would even meet in mock combat; and there was no
public amusement so immoral or so cruel as not to be disgraced by the
presence of the female sex. Licentiousness led to murder; and poisoning
by women was as common as it was in France and Italy in the sixteenth

Times like these would even have shocked the urbane and gentle Horace.
Had he then lived, he would probably have thought such vice beyond
ridicule, and his tone might have approached more nearly to the
thundering indignation of Juvenal. “Society in the age of Horace was
becoming corrupt; in that of Juvenal it was in a state of

In this period of moral dearth the fountains of genius and literature
were dried up. The orator dared not impeach the corrupt politician, or
defend the victim of tyranny, when every one thought the best way to
secure his own safety was by trampling on the fallen favourite, now
Cæsar’s enemy.[1092] The historian dared not utter his real sentiments.
Poetry grew cold without the genial, fostering encouragement of noble
and affectionate hearts. There was criticism, grammar, declamation,
panegyric and verse-writing, but not oratory, history, or poetry.
Juvenal, though himself not free from the declamatory affectation of the
day, attacked the false literary taste of his contemporaries as
unsparingly as he did their depraved morality. From Sejanus to Cluvienus
he allowed no one to escape.

But noble as Juvenal’s hatred of vice must be allowed to be, and
fearless as are his denunciations, we look in vain throughout his poetry
for indications of an amiable and kind-hearted disposition. He was not
one to recall the lost and erring to a love of virtue, or to inspire a
pure and enthusiastic taste for literature. His prejudices were violent;
he could see nothing good in a Greek or a freedman: he hated the new
aristocracy with as bitter a hatred as Sallust. As a critic he is
ill-natured; as a moralist he is stern and misanthrophic. Mark, for
example, the gloomy bitterness with which he speaks of old age,[1093]
and contrast it with the bright side of the picture, as drawn by the
gentle Cicero in his incomparable treatise.

Deficient, however, as he was in the softer affections, his sixteen
Satires exhibit an enlightened, truthful, and comprehensive view of
Roman manners, and of the inevitable result of such corruption. Those
whose moral taste was utterly destroyed would read and listen without
profit, but they could not but tremble: his words are truth. The
conclusion of the thirteenth Satire is almost Christian. It is
unnecessary to quote from an author who is in every scholar’s memory: it
would even occupy too much space to make a fair selection from so many
fine passages. The eleventh Satire is the most pleasing, and most
partaking of the playfulness of Horace. The seventh displays the
greatest versatility and the richest fund of anecdote. The twelfth is
the most amiable. The description of the origin of civil society in the
conclusion of the fifteenth is full of sound sense and just sentiments;
whilst the way in which he speaks of the insane bigotry of the
Egyptians, exhibits his power of combining pleasantry with dignity. But
the two finest Satires are those[1094] which our own Johnson has thought
worthy of imitation: one of which (the tenth) Bishop Burnet, in his
Pastoral Charge, recommended to his clergy; and the noblest passage in
them is that which describes the fall of the infamous Sejanus.[1095] Few
men could be so well adapted to transfer the spirit of Juvenal into
English as Dr. Johnson. He had the same rude, plain-spoken,
uncompromising hatred of vice; and, though not unamiable, did his best
to conceal what amiability he possessed under a forbidding exterior. He
was not without gayety and sprightliness; but he concealed it under that
stateliness and declamatory grandeur which he attributes to Juvenal.

The historical value of Juvenal’s Satires must not be forgotten. Tacitus
lived in the same perilous times as he did; and when they had come to an
end, and it was not unsafe to speak, he wrote their public history.
Juvenal illustrates that history by displaying the social inner life of
the Romans.[1096] Their works are parallel, and each forms a commentary
upon the other. When such were the lives of individuals, one cannot
wonder at the fate of the nation.

The style of Juvenal is, generally speaking, the reflex of his mind: his
views were strong and clear: his style is vigorous and lucid also. His
morals were pure in the midst of a debased age: his language shines
forth in classic elegance in the midst of specimens of declining and
degenerate taste. His style is declamatory, but it is not artificially
rhetorical. He could not restrain himself from following the example of
Lucilius: he could not dam up the torrent of his vehement and natural
eloquence. Whether his subject is noble or disgusting, his word-painting
is perfect: we feel his sublimity—we shudder at his fidelity. The nature
of the subject causes his language to be frequently gross and offensive;
but his object always is to lay bare the deformity of vice, and to
render it loathsome. He never indulges in indecency, in order to pander
to a corrupt taste or to gratify a prurient imagination. For this reason
his pages are less dangerous than those of more elegant and less
indecent writers, who throw a veil over indelicacy, whilst they leave
those qualities which blind the moral vision and inflame the passions.
It must be remembered, also, that neither the dress, manners, nor
conversation of ancient Rome were so decent and modest as those of
modern times; and, therefore, Roman taste would not be so shocked by
plain speaking as would be the case in an age of greater social
refinement. Juvenal closes the list of Roman satirists, properly
speaking: the satirical spirit animates the piquant epigrams of his
friend Martial; but their purpose is not moral or didactic: they sting
the individual, and render him an object of scorn and disgust, but they
do not hold up vice itself to ridicule and detestation.

                              CHAPTER IV.
                        DESCRIPTION OF THE ALPS.

                   M. ANNÆUS LUCANUS (BORN A. D. 39.)

At the head of the epic poets who flourished during the silver age
stands Lucan. He was a member of the same family as the Senecas, for the
same rhetorician of that name was his grandfather, and the Stoic
philosopher his uncle. Another of his uncles, also, L. Junius Gallio, is
mentioned in the Eusebian Chronicle as a celebrated rhetorician. This
Gallio derived his surname from being the adopted son of Jun. Gallio,
who, by some, is supposed to have been the proconsul of Achaia,
mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles.[1097]

The father of Lucan, M. Annæus Mela, was a Roman knight, who made a
large fortune as a collector of the imperial revenue. He is supposed by
some to have been identical with the geographer Pomponius Mela, who was
the author of a brief description, in three books, of the coasts of
Europe, Asia, and Africa. The style of this writer is concise, as is
suitable to a mere sketch or abridgment; and his matter, although
derived from other sources, and not from personal observation, is
accurate and interesting. The poet was born at Corduba (Cordova,) on the
beautiful banks of the Bætis (Guadalquiver.) His birthplace is thus
elegantly alluded to by Statius, in a poem addressed to his widow, on
the anniversary of his birth:—

     Vatis Apollinei magno memorabilis ortu
       Lux redit, Aonidum turba favete sacris.
     Hæc meruit, cum te terris Lucane dedisset
       Mixtus Castaliæ Bætis ut esset aquæ.
                                                  _Stat. Genethl._

Pliny tells us that on his infant lips, as on those of Hesiod, a swarm
of bees settled, and thus gave presage of his poetical career; a tale
which owes its origin entirely to the Greek tradition. Much which rests
upon no foundation has been mixed up with the extant lives of Lucan; for
example, the favour shown to him, whilst a child, by Nero; his
consequent elevation in his boyhood to the rank of a senator; and his
defeat of the emperor in a poetical contest at the quinquennial games,
instituted by the latter, in which no one entered with any other view
than that their royal antagonist might have the credit of a mock
victory.[1098] The enmity of the jealous emperor can be accounted for
without having recourse to so insane a competition.

It is probable that Lucan was very young when he came to Rome; that his
literary reputation was soon established; and that Nero, who could not
bear the idea of a rival, forbade him to recite his poems, which was now
the common mode of publication. Nor was he content with silencing him as
a poet, but also would not allow him to plead as an advocate.[1099]
Smarting under this provocation he hastily joined a conspiracy against
the emperor’s life, and signalized himself by the bitterness of his
hatred against his powerful enemy. The ringleader of this plot was
Piso,[1100] a tragic poet of some talent, a skilful orator, and a
munificent man. But he was deficient in decision and infirm of purpose:
the plot therefore failed. When Lucan’s passion cooled he as quickly
repented, and was pardoned on condition of pointing out his
confederates. In the vain hope of saving himself from the monster’s
vengeance, he actually impeached his mother. The upright historian
contrasts this stain on the poet’s character with the courage which
Epicharis displayed. This noble woman was incapable of treason. Tacitus
describes the resolution with which she scorned the question.[1101] “The
scourge, the flames, the rage of the executioners, who tortured her the
more savagely, lest they should be scorned by a woman, were powerless to
extort a false confession.” Lucan never received the reward which he
purchased by treachery. The warrant for his death was issued, and he
caused his veins to be cut asunder. As the stream of his life’s blood
flowed away, he repeated from his own poem the description of a soldier
expiring from his wounds.[1102] He died in the twenty-seventh year of
his age; and the following inscription to his memory has been attributed
to Nero:—

                    M. Annæo Lucano Cordubensi Poetæ
                    Beneficio Neronis. Fama servata.

The sentiments contained in the Pharsalia, so far as he dared express
them, breathe a love of freedom, and an attachment to the old Roman
republicanism. Although the imperial patronage which he at first
enjoyed, and, perhaps, the better promise of the commencement of Nero’s
reign, tempted him to indulge in courtly flattery; still, even at that
time, his praises of liberty evidently came from the heart. As the poem
proceeds his sentiments become more exalted; his virtuous indignation
gradually rises, until it pours forth a torrent of burning satire on the
inhuman tyrant. This poem, the only one of his works which survives, is
an epic in ten books; its subject, the civil war between Cæsar and
Pompey. It bears evident marks of having been left unfinished, and of
not having received the last touches from the hand of the author. It was
preceded by four other shorter poems—the first on the Death of Hector;
the second on the Visit of Orpheus to the Infernal Regions; the third,
on the Burning of Rome; the fourth addressed to his wife Polla
Argentaria. He also wrote some prose works; and Martial attributes to
him some poems on lighter subjects.[1103]

Lucan is an unequal poet: his Pharsalia is defaced with great faults and
blemishes; but at the same time it possesses peculiar beauties. Its
subject is a noble one and full of historic interest, and is treated
with spirit, brilliance, and animation. Its arrangement is that of
annals, and therefore it wants the unity of an epic poem: it has not the
connectedness of history, because the poet naturally selected only the
most striking and romantic incidents; and yet, notwithstanding these
defects in the plan, the historical pictures themselves are beautifully
drawn. The characters of Cæsar and Pompey, for example, are
master-pieces. Again, some passages have neither the dignity of prose
nor the melody of poetry; whilst others are scarcely inferior to any
written by the best Latin poets. This inequality has caused the great
diversity of opinions which have been held by critics respecting the
merits of Lucan. Some have unjustly depreciated him; others, as
groundlessly, have lauded him to the skies. Quintilian commended his
ardent enthusiasm and lucidity of expression,[1104] but qualified his
praise by adding, that he would be admired by orators rather than by
poets. Corneille preferred him to Virgil, of whom he was obviously a
warm admirer. His poem furnishes materials and reason for this diversity
of judgment; but it may safely be asserted that his faults are due to
the age in which he lived, whilst his beauties were the fruits and
developments of his own native genius. His principal merit is
originality: although he was not great enough to lead the taste of the
age, and to rise superior to its false principles, he did not condescend
to be a servile imitator even of those poets whose reputation was firmly
established. There are many parallelisms between his poetry and that of
Virgil, but they are the parallelisms of a student, not of a plagiarist.

Without adopting the unauthorized assumptions, found in some of his
biographies, that he was educated under the immediate superintendence of
his uncle Seneca, that Remmius Palæmon taught him grammar, Virginius
Flaccus rhetoric, and Cornutus philosophy, it is clear that his taste
was formed and his talents drawn out in an age, the characteristics of
which were pedantic erudition, inflated rhetoric, and dogmatic
philosophy. It is clear, also, that even though Seneca was not his
tutor, still the conceit and affectation which dimmed the transcendent
abilities of the philosopher, exercised a baneful influence over the
literary taste of his contemporaries. In the midst of these influences
Lucan was educated, and for that reason his poem is disfigured by
commonplace maxims, pompous diction, an affectation of learning, a
rhetorical exuberance which outstripped its subjects, and therefore
produces the effect of frigidity. In a poem, the characters and events
of which are historical, the real is in too strong contrast to the
ideal, hence the effect of both is marred. The fidelity expected of the
historian circumscribes the creative power of the poet. To the poet who
constructs his work out of the materials of epochs which are beyond the
reach of history, the whole field of the past is open. The only limits
within which he must restrain his genius are those of the probable:
within these bounds he may conjure up the most magnificent ideal forms;
he may use the most gorgeous imagery, the most supernatural machinery:
the whole wears an air of historic truth; as there are no realities with
which his ideal can be compared and tested, truth never appears to be

But in history, almost contemporaneous with the age of the poet, every
circumstance is recorded, every character well known and estimated. If
an act of bravery is exaggerated into one of superhuman heroism, or one
who is known to have been a man, although a great man, recast in the
heroic mould, we are struck at once with the falsehood: and therefore
the poet cannot venture on such efforts of genius. In a train of events,
which the page of history enables us to trace from the beginning to the
end, no difficulties can occur deserving of supernatural machinery, no
_dignus vindice nodus_; and thus, in the place of the Olympian Pantheon
of Homer and Virgil, Lucan can only deify the popular but unpoetical
principle of chance, and personify Fortune.

This position may appear inconsistent with the charm which confessedly
belongs to the modern historical romance; but then it is to be
remembered, that the interest we take in the historical portions is
purely historical, enlivened by the events grouping themselves round the
hero: in fact, the interest of biography is united with that of history.
The strictest accuracy, therefore, in matters which fall within the
range of history is perfectly compatible. The romantic interest depends
on the inner or social life of the characters—which forms no part of
history—in which, as there is no standard of comparison, the imagination
of the poet is quite free and unfettered. But this is totally different
from the plan on which such a poem as the Pharsalia is constructed. The
vision of the genius of Rome which appeared to Cæsar at the fatal
Rubicon, those which haunt the slumbers of the Cæsareans in the
plundered camp of Pompey, and the dream of Pompey, in which the secrets
of the infernal regions are laid open by the shade of his departed wife
Julia, are the nearest approaches to that invisible world which the
imagination of Homer disclosed, and which Virgil reproduced;[1105] but
these are only isolated passages.

It is impossible to be at once an historian and a poet: in the one
character the author must restrain the flights of his imagination; in
the other, he must sacrifice truth. Nor is there any doubt of which
character we demand the conservation, when matters of history are
concerned. We desiderate truth: we wish moot points to be settled and
doubts solved. All imaginative pictures we look upon as interruptions,
and cast them aside as warping the judgment and giving prejudiced views.
Hence, our admiration of Lucan is called forth, not by considering his
poem as an epic, but for the sake of isolated scenes, such as the naval
victory off Marseilles; splendid descriptions, such as that of the
cruelties of Marius and Sulla; felicitous comparisons, that, for
example, of Pompey to an aged oak; and the epigrammatic terseness which
gives force, as well as beauty, to his sayings. In a single line, for

               Pauperiorque fuit tunc primum Cæsare Roma—

he describes the wealth and avarice of the conqueror, and in the
well-known verse—

              Victrix causa Diis placuit sed victa Catoni—

he depicts the disinterestedness of Cato. To this may be added, that the
subject of the Pharsalia is, although a period of the deepest historical
interest, ill adapted to poetry. Events so nearly contemporary were
fitter for history and panegyric than for poetry; and although they give
scope for descriptive power and bold imagery, they are deficient in that
mysterious and romantic character which is required for an epic poem.
His imagination was rich—his enthusiasm refused to be curbed. They were
such as we might suppose would be nurtured by the warm and sunny climate
of Spain. His sentiments often exhibit that chivalrous tone which
distinguishes the Spanish poets of modern times. We may discern the
nobleness, the liberality, the courage, which once marked the high-born
Spanish gentleman; and the grave and thoughtful wisdom which makes
Spanish literature so rich in proverbs, and which peeps out even from
under the unreal conventionalisms of the contemporary Roman philosophy.

Description forms the principal feature in the poetry of Lucan; it
occupies more than one half of the Pharsalia; so that it might almost as
appropriately be termed a descriptive as an epic poem. Description, in
fact, constitutes one of the characteristic features of Roman literature
in its decline, because poetry had more than ever become an art, and the
epoch one of erudition; and thus a treasure of imagery was stored up
suitable for descriptive embellishment. The finest parts of Persius are
descriptive: even Martial, brief though his pieces are, delights in it;
and facility in this department is the strong point of Silius Italicus,
and the sole merit of Valerius Flaccus. Owing to the enthusiasm with
which Lucan throws himself into this kind of writing, he abounds in
minute detail. He reminds one of the descriptive talent possessed in so
eminent a degree by our own Thomson. Not a feature escapes his notice,
whether it suggest ideas of the beautiful, the sublime, or the terrible.
He is not content, as Virgil is, with a sketch—with broad lights and
shadows; he delights in a finished picture; he possesses the power of
placing his subject strongly before the eyes, leaving little or nothing
for the imagination to supply. He omits no means of attaining
descriptive truth;[1106] the inward state of feeling, the character of
each passion, is presented, not so much in its moral and psychical as in
its physical developments; that which is internal is exhibited in its
external symptoms, with the hand of a painter and the skill of the
physiognomist. Virgil sketches, Lucan paints; the latter describes
physically—the former philosophically. The following passages, which
describe the passage of the Rubicon and the death of Pompey, are noble
specimens of Lucan’s style:—

        Jam gelidas Cæsar cursu superaverat Alpes,
        Ingentesque animo motus, bellumque futurum
        Ceperat. Ut ventum est parvi Rubiconis ad undas,
        Ingens visa duci patriæ trepidantis imago,
        Clara per obscuram vultu mœstissima noctem
        Turrigero canos effundens vertice crines,
        Cæsarie lacera, nudisque adstare lacertis,
        Et gemitu permixta loqui! Quo tenditis ultra?
        Quo fertis mea signa, viri? Si jure venitis,
        Si cives, huc usque licet. Tunc perculit horror
        Membra ducis, riguere comæ, gressumque coercens
        Languor in extrema tenuit vestigia ripa.

               *       *       *       *       *

        Cæsar ut adversam superato gurgite ripam
        Attigit, Hesperiæ vetitis et constitit arvis,
        Hic, ait, hic, pacem, temerataque jura relinquo;
        Te, Fortuna, sequor; procul hinc jam fœdera sunto.
        Credidimus fatis, utendum est judice bello.

        Now Cæsar, marching swift with winged haste,
        The summits of the frozen Alps had past;
        With vast events and enterprises fraught,
        And future wars revolving in his thought.
        Now near the banks of Rubicon he stood;
        When lo! as he surveyed the narrow flood,
        Amidst the dusky horrors of the night,
        A wondrous vision stood confessed to sight.
        Her awful head Rome’s reverend image reared,
        Trembling and sad the matron form appeared;
        A towering crown her hoary temples bound,
        And her torn tresses rudely hung around;
        Her naked arms uplifted ere she spoke,
        Then, groaning, thus the mournful silence broke:
        Presumptuous men! oh, whither do you run?
        Oh, whither bear you these my ensigns on?
        If friends to right, if citizens of Rome,
        Here to your utmost barrier are you come.
        She said; and sunk within the closing shade.
        Astonishment and dread the chief invade;
        Stiff rose his starting hair; he stood dismayed,
        And on the bank his slackening steps were stayed.

               *       *       *       *       *

        The leader now had passed the torrent o’er,
        And reached fair Italy’s forbidden shore;
        Then rearing on the hostile bank his head,
        Here farewell peace and injured laws! he said:
        Since faith is broke, and leagues are set aside,
        Henceforth thou, goddess Fortune, art my bride!
        Let fate and war the great event decide.        _Rowe._

                         Jam venerat horæ
           Terminus extremæ, Phariamque ablatus in alnum
           Perdiderat jam jura sui. Tum stringere ferrum
           Regia monstra parant. Ut vidit cominus enses
           Involvit vultus; atque indignatus apertum
           Fortunæ præbere caput, tunc lumina pressit,
           Continuitque animam, ne quas effundere voces
           Posset et æternam fletu corrumpere famam.
           At postquam mucrone latus funestus Achillas
           Perfodit, nullo gemitu consensit ad ictum.

           Now in the boat defenceless Pompey sat,
           Surrounded and abandoned to his fate.
           Nor long they hold him in their power aboard,
           E’en every villain drew his ruthless sword:
           The chief perceived their purpose soon, and spread
           His Roman gown, with patience, o’er his head;
           And when the cursed Achillas pierced his breast,
           His rising indignation close repressed.
           No signs, no groans, his dignity profaned,
           No tear his still unsullied glory stained.
           Unmoved and firm he fixed him on his seat,
           And died, as when he lived and conquered, great.

                          C. SILIUS ITALICUS.

C. Silius Italicus was born in the reign of Tiberius, A. D. 25. The
place of his birth is unknown. His surname, Italicus, has led some to
suppose that he was a native of Italica, in Spain. But it is not
probable that, if this were the case, his friend and fellow-courtier
Martial, when he compared his eloquence to that of Cicero, and his
poetry to that of Virgil,[1107] called him the glory of the Castalian
sisters,[1108] and felicitated him on his political honours, would have
forgotten to claim him as a countryman. Others, with somewhat more show
of reason, have imagined that his birthplace was the city of Corfinium,
in Pelignia, which was called Italica,[1109] because it was the
head-quarters of the confederates in the social war; whilst Stephens
mentions a little town in Sicily, of the same name, which might have
been his native place.[1110]

Silius was celebrated as an advocate; but in that age of affected and
rhetorical display, a high reputation does not prove that his eloquence,
although it might have displayed a similar elegance of language, was
more lively and stirring than his poetry. He was consul A. D. 68; an
office which was also filled by his son,[1111] and by another member of
his family.[1112] He was afterwards proconsul of Asia; the duties of
which lucrative office he appears to have performed with credit to
himself. He was very wealthy; and, as he grew old, retired from the
perils of public life to enjoy his affluence, and the retirement of
literary ease in his numerous villas. One cannot be surprised that an
orator and a poet especially delighted in the house of Virgil, near
Naples, and the Academy of Cicero, of both which he was the fortunate
possessor. He lived to the age of seventy-five, and then starved himself
to death, because he could not bear the pain of disease. “I have just
been informed,” writes Pliny the Younger, to his friend Caninius,[1113]
“that Silius Italicus has put an end to his existence by starvation, at
his Neapolitan villa. He had an incurable carbuncle, from the annoyance
of which he took refuge in death, with a firm and irrevocable constancy.
He enjoyed happiness and prosperity to his dying day, if we except the
loss of the younger of his two sons; but the elder and superior one
survived him in the enjoyment of prosperity, and even of consular rank.
The belief that he had voluntarily come forward as a public accuser
injured his reputation in the reign of Nero; but, as a friend of
Vitellius, his conduct was wise and his behaviour courteous. His career
in the proconsulate of Asia was an honourable one, for he washed out the
stain of his former activity by a praiseworthy abstinence from public
affairs. He had no influence with the great; but then he was safe from
envy. All courted him, and were assiduous in paying their respects to
him; and as ill health confined him to his bed, his chamber was thronged
with visitors, beyond what might have been expected from his rank and
station. Whenever he could spare time for writing, he passed it in
learned conversation. His poems display elaborate care rather than
genius: sometimes he invited criticism by recitations. Yielding to the
suggestion of advancing years, he at length retired from Rome, and
resided in Campania; nor had the accession of a new emperor (Trajan)
power to entice him from his retirement. High praise to the monarch
under whose rule he was free to act so!—high praise to him who had
courage to use that freedom! His love of virtù caused in him a
reprehensible passion for buying: he was the possessor of more than one
villa in the same localities; and he so delighted in the newest purchase
as to neglect that which he inhabited before. He had a vast collection
of books, besides statues and busts, which he not only possessed, but
almost worshipped. He kept Virgil’s birthday more religiously than his
own, and had more busts of him than any one else, especially at Naples,
where he was in the habit of visiting his tomb, as if it were a temple.
In this tranquil retirement he exceeded his seventy-fifth year, his
constitution being delicate rather than weakly. As he was the last
consul made by Nero, so he died the last of those whom he had made. It
is also worthy of remark that the consul, in whose year of office Nero
died, died the last of Nero’s consuls. When I call this to mind, I feel
compassion for human frailty: for what is so brief as the longest span
of human life!”

Little interest attaches to the biography of one who owed a life of
uninterrupted prosperity to his being the favourite and intimate of two
emperors; the one, a blood-thirsty tyrant—the other, a gross
sensualist.[1114] His ponderous work survives—the dullest and most
tedious poem in the Latin language. Its title is “_Punica_:” it consists
of seventeen books, and contains a history in heroic verse of the second
Punic war. The Æneid of Virgil was his model, and the narrative of Livy
furnished his materials. Niebuhr states that he read through the whole
of his works with great care, and that he was quite convinced that he
had taken every thing from Livy, of whose work his is only a
paraphrase.[1115] The criticism of Pliny the Younger is, upon the whole,
just: “_Scribebat carmina majori cura quam ingenio_;” for, although it
is impossible to read his poem with pleasure as a whole, his
versification is harmonious, and will often, in point of smoothness,
bear comparison with that of Virgil. The following passage is quoted by
C. Barthius as one of the most favourable specimens of his sentiments
and style; and Cellarius, whose praise is extravagantly fulsome, gives
it the epithet of “Aurea:”—

             Ipsa quidem virtus sibimet pulcherrima merces;
             Dulce tamen venit ad manes quem gloria vitæ
             Durat apud superos, nec edunt oblivia laudem.

Some of his episodes, if considered as separate pieces, will repay the
trouble of perusal; and the following passage, which Addison thought
worthy of translation, may be taken as a fair specimen of his
descriptive powers:—

                        THE ALPS.

      Cuncta gelu canâque æternum grandine tecta,
      Atque ævi glaciem cohibent: riget ardua montis
      Ætherii facies, surgentique obvia Phœbo
      Duratas nescit flammis mollire pruinas.
      Quantum Tartareus regni pallentis hiatus
      Ad manes imos atque atræ stagna paludis
      A supera tellure patet; tam longa per auras
      Erigitur tellus et cœlum intercipit umbrà.
      Nullum ver usquam, nullique æstatis honores;
      Sola jugis habitat diris sedesque tuetur
      Perpetuas deformis hyems: illa undique nubes
      Huc atras agit et mixtos cum grandine nimbos.
      Nam cuncti flatus ventique furentia regna
      Alpinâ posuere domo caligat in altis
      Obtutus saxis, abeuntque in nubila montes.

      Stiff with eternal ice, and hid in snow,
      That fell a thousand centuries ago,
      The mountain stands; nor can the rising sun
      Unfix her frosts and teach them how to run:
      Deep as the dark infernal waters lie
      From the bright regions of the cheerful sky,
      So far the proud ascending rocks invade
      Heaven’s upper realms, and cast a dreadful shade.
      No spring, no summer, on the mountain seen,
      Smiles with gay fruits or with delightful green,
      But hoary winter, unadorned and bare,
      Dwells in the dire retreat and freezes there,
      There she assembles all her blackest storms,
      And the rude hail or rattling tempests forms;
      Thither the loud tumultuous winds resort,
      And on the mountain keep their boisterous court,
      That in thick showers her rocky summit shrouds,
      And darkens all the broken view with clouds.      _Addison._

                               CHAPTER V.

                          C. VALERIUS FLACCUS.

C. Valerius Flaccus flourished in the reign of Vespasian; and, according
to an epigram of Martial, in which the poet advises his friend to leave
the Muses for the drier but more profitable profession of a pleader, he
was born at Patavium[1116] (Padua.) The frequent addition of the
surnames Setinus Balbus have caused it to be supposed that he was a
native of Setia, in Campania (Sezzo;) but it is impossible to form any
satisfactory conjecture as to their signification, and the statement of
Martial is too definite to admit of a doubt. Quintilian[1117] asserts
that, when he wrote, V. Flaccus had _lately_ died: he was, therefore,
probably cut off prematurely about A. D. 88.

His only poem which is extant is entitled “_Argonautica_,” and is an
imitation, and, in some parts, a translation, of the Greek poem of
Apollonius Rhodius on the same subject. It is addressed to the Emperor,
and in the proëmium he pays a compliment to Domitian on his poetry, and
to Titus on his victories over the Jews.

He evidently did not live to complete his original design: even the
eighth book is unfinished; and, from the events still remaining to be
related, he probably planned an epic poem of the same length as that of
Virgil, whose style and versification he endeavoured to imitate. An
Italian poet, John Baptista Pius, continued the subject, by an addition
to the eighth book, and by subjoining two more, the incidents of which
were partly borrowed from Apollonius.

Of his merits Quintilian speaks favourably in the passage already
alluded to, and says, that in him literature had sustained a severe
loss. The severer criticism of Scaliger is more precise and more
judicious:—“Immaturâ morte præreptus acerbum item poëma suum nobis
reliquit. Est autem omnino duriusculus, penitus vero nudus Gratiarum
comitate.” The defects of the Argonautica are, in fact, rather of a
negative than a positive character. There are no glaring faults or
blemishes; none of the affectation or rhetorical artifices which belong
to the period of the decline. There may be a little occasional hardness,
and a few awkward expressions and paraphrases, but there is no bombast
to outrage good taste, and no unmetrical cadences to offend the ear. But
there is no genius, no inspiration, no thrilling fervour, no thoughts
that breathe or words that burn. He never rises above a dead level.
Every thing is in accordance with decent and direct propriety. He has
some talent as a descriptive poet: his versification is harmonious, and
he attains to those superficial excellencies which are found in the
prize poem of a pains-taking, ingenious, and well-educated scholar.
Virgil was an imitator: that is, his taste, like Roman taste,
universally was formed and trained by imitation; but his spirit
disdained these trammels, and soared to originality. V. Flaccus is
scarcely ever original except when he is commonplace: he imitates Virgil
successfully, as far as the outward graces of style are concerned; but
in the charm of natural simplicity, he always falls short of his great

                  P. PAPINIUS STATIUS (BORN A. D. 61.)

Towards the middle of the first century of the Christian era,[1118]
there arrived at Rome, from Naples, a grammarian, named P. Papinius
Statius. He opened a school, and soon became so celebrated as a public
instructor, that he became tutor to the young Domitian, whose favour and
affection continued after he became emperor. Some of his fame was also
founded on gaining, in his boyhood, the prize in many public contests of
poetry. Every year between the age of thirteen and nineteen, he is said
to have been crowned. These contests were partly of an improvisatorial
character; and in an age when public readings and recitations were in
vogue, and were the means which poets had of gaining fame and patronage,
success of this kind was highly valued. The subject of one of his poems
is said to have been the conflagration of the Capitol, during the
struggle between the Vitellians and the supporters of Vespasian.[1119]
Statius, however, seems to have possessed no higher degree of poetical
power than a happy facility in versification, for he died[1120] and left
no works which have stood the test of time.

A son, however, inherited poetical talents of the same kind, but of a
far higher order than those of his father, and although, for a long
time, he was entirely dependent upon his works for the means of living,
and, notwithstanding thunders of applause, must starve, unless he can
sell his play to the manager Paris,[1121] the sunshine of imperial
favour, which his father had enjoyed, shone upon him.[1122] He purchased
patronage, however, at the expense of grossly flattering the tyrant.
This son, who bore the same name as his father, was the author of the
Silvæ, Thebaid, and Achilleid. He was born A. D. 61, and died in the
prime of life, A. D. 95, at Naples, his native city. As no interesting
particulars are recorded respecting his life, and as he is never
mentioned by any classical author except Juvenal,[1123] it is impossible
to say how the opinion arose which was entertained by his admirer Dante,
and others, that he was in secret a defender of the Christians, and also
himself a believer.[1124]

He was a true Italian in the character of his genius. He had a thorough
perception of the beauties of nature. His Silvæ are full of truthful
pictures. He possessed ready facility in versification, which was
surpassed by no poet of classic antiquity except Ovid, and that
improvisatorial power for which his countrymen in the present day are so
often celebrated. As long as he was content to be a poet on a small
scale he was eminently successful. His Sylvæ contain many poetical
incidents which might stand by themselves as perfect fugitive
pieces,—brief effusions, suggested by statues[1125] and buildings,[1126]
verses of compliment[1127] and delicate flattery,[1128] or
condolence[1129] or congratulation. It matters not how light or trifling
the subject, he can raise it and adorn it. He writes with equal beauty
on the tree of his friend Atedius;[1130] the death of a parrot; of the
emperor’s lion;[1131] the locks of Flavius Earinus;[1132] the rude
freedom of the Saturnalia.[1133] It is in these unpretending poems that
we see his natural and unaffected elegance, his harmonious ear, and his
truthfulness of perception. But the case is totally different when the
subject is above him.[1134] He had neither grasp of mind, nor vigour of
imagination, to fit him for the task of an epic poet; and, hence, his
great work, the Thebaid, and his other unfinished epic, the Achilleid,
are complete failures.

In his minor poems he seems to trust to the natural powers of his
genius; he never strains at producing effect, nor is he too solicitous
about exact finish and laborious polish. Although not improvisatorial,
they partake of that character, and have all its freshness combined with
the advantage of written and corrected performances. His thoughts are
inspired by his subject; and its reality, which he was capable of
appreciating, gives a life to his compositions. But the principal fault
in his Silvæ is too great a display of Greek learning. Every page is
full of mythological allusions, which sometimes render his graceful
verses dry and wearisome, and must have rendered them acceptable to
those only who were well versed in Greek literature: they never could
have been universally popular. The qualities which recommended his Silvæ
do not adorn his epic poetry. His imaginary heroes do not inspire and
warm his imagination: he is not affected by their personality in the
same way in which he is by the lawns and groves, and sun, and forests,
and skies of Italy.

For this deficiency he attempts to compensate by extravagant bombast,
totally out of keeping with the action of the poem, and by an attention
to the theoretical principles of art, and an elaborate finish which must
have cost him many hours of toil. Yet this perseverance is thrown away,
and the effect produced by the contrast between the action and essence
of the poem, and the language in which it is externally clothed,
produces an effect contrary to that which was intended.

He was a skilful draughtsman, a gorgeous colourist, a pleasing
landscape-painter, and a diligent student of the rules of art; but his
genius could not rise to the highest departments of art—he could not
give the mind or the _morale_ to those characters whose external
features he was so apt in delineating. He owes the estimation in which
he is held as an epic poet not to his absolute but his relative merit.
He was the best of the heroic poets of his day. Statius, notwithstanding
his defects, was evidently a profound student as well as an admirer of
the Homeric poems; and there are two points in which he has proved
himself a successful imitator. These are his battles and his similes.
His descriptions of the former are stirring and dramatic, and some of
his similes will bear comparison with the best Latin specimens of this
kind of illustration. When it is remembered that no epic poet has
approached more nearly to Homer in the use of the simile than Dante, and
that he equals the Greek bard in sublime and picturesque description, it
may easily be imagined that these were the qualities in the poems of
Statius which especially called forth his admiration.

A few words only are necessary to describe the nature and subject-matter
of the poems of Statius. The Silvæ consist of thirty-two separate
pieces. They are all hexametrical, with the exception of four in
hendecasyllabics,[1135] one in Alcaic,[1136] and one in Sapphic
metre.[1137] Each of the five books in which these poems are arranged
has a prose dedication to some friend prefixed; the first being
addressed to the poet Stella, the common friend of himself and
Martial.[1138] The title Silvæ was given to these poems, on account of
the very quality which constitutes their especial charm. They are the
rude materials of thought, springing up spontaneously in all their wild
luxuriance from the rich natural soil of the poet’s imagination,
unpruned, untrimmed, ignorant of that cultivated art which an affected
and artificial age thought necessary to constitute a finished poem.
“Such extemporaneous performances as these,” says Quintilian, “are
called Silvæ: the author subsequently re-examines and corrects his
effusions.”[1139] The Thebaid is comprised in twelve books, and its
subject is the ancient Greek legends respecting the war of the Seven
against Thebes. The composition of this work preceded the publication of
the Silvæ. Achilleid was intended, doubtless, to embrace all the
exploits of Achilles, but only two books were completed.


A paraphrase of the Phænomena of Aratus belongs to this age. It has been
ascribed to Germanicus, but its real author was Domitian, who, as well
as Nero, wrote verses.[1140] As far as language and versification are
concerned, it is not without merit; but the subject is unsuitable to
poetry.[1141] Domitian had taste, although his talents did not deserve
the adulatory commendations of Quintilian;[1142] but he encouraged
learned men: and to his encouragement we owe those distinguished
contemporary writers who, for one generation, arrested the downward
progress of Roman literature.


The Greek Epigram was originally, as the word implies, simply an
inscription. It was therefore short and concise; its metre elegiac, as
especially suited to the periodic structure of the sentiment, and its
characteristic qualities, terseness and neatness. So long as it retained
this character it was free from bitterness; and the principal element of
success in this species of composition was tact rather than genius, and
a cultivated taste rather than poetical inspiration. Not only were
Catullus, Virgil, and Ovid epigrammatists, but some Roman _literati_,
arrived at mediocrity, or even excellence, in epigram, who were not
capable of becoming great poets. Julius Cæsar wrote one on Terence, and
perhaps the following neatly-turned lines; although they have been
ascribed to Augustus and Germanicus:—

             Thrax puer astricto glacie dum ludit in Hebro
               Pondere concretas frigore rupit aquas;
             Dumque imæ partes rapido traherentur ab amne,
               Abscidit tenerum lubrica testa caput.
             Orba quod inventum mater dum conderet urna,
               Hoc peperi flammis, cetera, dixit, aquis.

Lutatius Catulus was the author of a quatrain on Roscius the comedian;
and the Anthology, amongst numerous others, contains one by
Augustus,[1143] and four of no merit by Mæcenas,[1144] together with
those beautiful lines addressed by Hadrian to his soul, which Pope has
imitated in his “Dying Christian:”—

                       Animula vagula blandula,
                       Hospes comesque corporis,
                       Quæ nunc abibis in loca?
                       Pallidula rigida nudula
                       Nec ut soles dabis jocos.

To the original characteristics of epigram the Romans added that which
constitutes an epigram in the modern sense of the term, pointedness
either in jest or earnest, and the bitterness of personal satire. Common
sense, shrewdness, and an acute observation of human nature were thus
superadded to Greek gracefulness and elegance; and the same nation which
reduced the wild and unpremeditated sarcasms of the Greek stage into the
symmetrical form of satire, produced also the epigram as written by the
pen of Martial. The same characteristics of the Roman mind which mark
satire are visible also in epigram. Epigram is the concentration of
satire. The desultory vagueness which is allowable in the latter, the
variety of subjects, which are touched upon with irregular and
unrestrained freedom, are, in the former, limited and defined. One idea
is selected, and to this all the powers of the writer’s acute mind are
directed, and made to converge as to a point. It is not often that the
harmless elements of Greek wit, such as the pun, or the pleasantry by
surprise or unexpected turn (although these sometimes occur,[1145]) are
found in the Roman epigram. Smartness is generally connected with
severity. The same bitter spirit which dictated the Archilochian epodes
of Horace, which breathes throughout the indignant lines of Juvenal,
points the shafts of Martial. The blows, however, which he aimed at vice
could not be deadly, because he had no faith in virtue, and because he
delighted to grovel in the impurity which he described.

                 M. VALERIUS MARTIALIS (BORN A. D. 43.)

All that is known of the life of Martial is derived from his own works;
and this is but little, for he says nothing of his early years, and did
not begin to write until the reign of Domitian. Of his parents he
undutifully tells us that they were fools for teaching him to
read.[1146] He was born at Bilbilis, a Spanish town in the province of
Tarragon,[1147] of the position of which nothing is known for certain,
except that its site was an elevated one,[1148] overlooking the river
Salo, which flowed round its walls. It appears to have prided itself on
its manufactures in gold and iron;[1149] to have been particularly
famous for its arms;[1150] and to have been one of the Roman colonies
dignified with the title of Augusta.[1151] As Vespasian had conferred on
the poet’s native town, in common with the rest of Spain, the _jus
Latii_,[1152] Martial was by birth a Roman citizen; and in the days of
his popularity obtained this privilege for many of his friends.[1153]
His birthday was March 1,[1154] A. D. 43, the third year of the reign of

In the twenty-second year of his age, the twelfth year of the reign of
Nero,[1155] he migrated to Rome. He was a great favourite of Titus and
Domitian, by whom the “_jus trium liberorum_” was conferred upon
him,[1156] together with the rank of a Roman knight,[1157] and the
honorary title of tribune.[1158] In the reign of the latter he was
appointed to the office of court poet, and received a pension from the
imperial treasury.[1159] Hence during the latter part of his residence
in Rome it is almost certain that, although not rich, he enjoyed a
competency. He had a house in the city, and a little villa at Nomentum
given him by Domitian.[1160] Nevertheless, he is constantly complaining
of his poverty, and thinks that every one grows rich but himself. He
laments that poets receive nothing but compliments for their verses,
whilst lawyers, and even common criers, gain an ample maintenance:—that
“Minerva was a better patron than Apollo; a fuller stream of wealth
flowed through the Forum than from the fountain of Helicon, or the
channel of Permessus.”[1161] He complains that he spends all he has, and
either borrows money from his friends, or takes to another the presents
he has given him, and querulously asks him to purchase them back
again.[1162] The roof of his villa lets in the rain; and when his friend
Stella sends him some tiles to mend it he reproaches him for not sending
also a toga to protect the poor inmate.[1163]

All this may have proceeded from the discontented feelings which poets
and literary men so often indulge at seeing genius unrewarded, and
affluence attending talents which, although if not so high an order, are
of more general utility. Perhaps, too, though not absolutely poor, he
was straitened in his circumstances, considering his social position and
the demands which this entailed upon him. During thirty-five years he
lived at Rome the life of a flatterer, and a dependant,[1164] and then
returned to his native town.[1165] As Horace, when in his quiet country
retirement, sometimes regrets the enjoyments of the capital, although
when at Rome he sighs for the pleasures of rural life, so Martial, when
at Rome, longed for Bilbilis, and when he returned to Bilbilis regretted
Rome. At this late period of his life he married a Spanish lady, named
Marcella, whose property was amply sufficient to maintain him in
affluence. Her estate he considers a little kingdom; her gardens he
would not exchange for those of Alcinous; he praises her bowers, groves,
fountains, streamlets, fish-ponds, and meadows; and tells us the climate
is so genial that the olive-grounds are green in January, and the roses
blow twice in the year, like those of Pæstum.[1166] His wife he praises
for her rare genius and sweet manners; he tells her that no one could
discover her provincial origin; that her equal could not be found
amongst the most elegant ladies in the capital; and when inclined to
forget Rome she alone is all that Rome ever was to him:—

             Tu desiderium dominæ mihi mitius urbis
               Esse jubes; Romam tu mihi sola facis.[1167]

But, notwithstanding the delicate compliment which he pays to his rich
wife—a compliment dictated probably more by his habit of courtly
flattery than by sincerity of affection—he evidently pined for Rome. He
was fitted for crowds and not for solitude: his spirit was not pure
enough to commune with itself. His delight had been so long to study the
human heart in its worst developments, to drag forth to public view its
blackest plague-spots, that he would miss the foul models which he had
so long studied. Provincial life was therefore utter dulness to him; his
only enjoyment was to reproduce the results of his observations on the
life of the capital. Combining in himself the apparently inconsistent
characters of the flatterer and the satirist, he needed great men to
whom he might look up for patronage and approbation, as well as moral
wounds to probe and subjects to anatomize. Rome alone supplied these;
and when he lost them he lost the intellectual food necessary for his
existence. The absence of his accustomed pursuits, and the irremediable
void thus created, is evident in many of his epigrams.

The time of his death is uncertain, as the date of Pliny’s elegant
epistle to Priscus, in which it is mentioned, cannot be
determined.[1168] But as it is probable that the eleventh book of his
Epigrams was published in the year in which he left Rome for Bilbilis,
and as he apologizes in the dedication of his twelfth book to Priscus
for his obstinate indolence during a period of three years, his death
cannot have taken place before A. D. 104. It is, however, generally
supposed that his life was not prolonged much beyond this date. His
death may have been hastened by his distaste for a provincial life, and
by the malice and envy of his new neighbours.[1169]

According to his own account, in an epigram,[1170] in which he contrasts
himself with an effeminate fop, his appearance was rough and unpolished,
his shaggy hair refused to curl, his cheeks were well-whiskered, and his
voice was louder than the roar of a lioness.[1171] It is impossible to
believe the assertion which he makes respecting his own moral character,
namely, that although his verses are licentious his life was virtuous,

            Lasciva est nobis pagina, vita proba est.[1172]

—although, measured by the corrupt standard of morals which disgraced
the age in which he lived, he was probably not worse than most of his
contemporaries. The fearful profligacy which his powerful pen describes
in such hideous terms spread through Rome its loathsome infection. As no
language is strong enough to denounce the impurities of his
age—impurities, in the description of which, the poet evidently revels
with a cynical delight—so they were not merely creatures of a prurient
imagination, but had a real existence.

It may be said in extenuation of his crime, that the prevalence of vice
produced the obscenity of the poet; but no more can be said in defence
of works in which the characters of vice are emblazoned in such
shameless and unnatural deformity. Had he lived in better times, his
talents, of which no doubt can be entertained, might have been devoted
to a purer object; as it was, his moral taste must have been thoroughly
depraved not to have turned with loathing and disgust from the
contemplation of such subjects, instead of voluntarily seeking them; for
“out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” In Martial we
observe that paradoxical but still not unusual combination of varied
wit, poetical imagination, and a happy power of graceful expression, not
only with strong sensual passions, but with a delight in vice in its
most hateful forms and attributes.

Although the new feature which Martial added to the Greek epigram is
such as has been described, and although his pages are polluted and
defiled, not all his poems are spiteful or obscene. Amidst some
obscurity of style and want of finish, many are redolent of Greek
sweetness and elegance. Here and there are pleasing descriptions of the
beauties of nature;[1173] and, setting aside those which are evidently
dictated by the spirit of flattery, many are kind-hearted, as well as
complimentary. The few lines which were intended to accompany such
trifling offerings of friendship as the poet could afford to give, and
which, doubtless, rendered a flower or a toy doubly acceptable, are
equal in neatness to many of the Greek Anthology. When he sends a rose
to Apollinaris, it is accompanied by the following elegant lines:—

                I felix rosa, mollibusque sertis
                Nostri cinge comas Apollinaris;
                Quas tu nectere candidas sed olim,
                Sic te semper amet Venus, memento.[1174]

  Go, happy rose, and with thy delicate garlands wreathe the locks of my
  Apollinaris; and remember, so may Venus ever love thee! to entwine
  them when gray: but may it be long ere that time comes.

The fourteenth book contains numerous ingenious couplets, sent, together
with pencases, dice, tablets, toothpicks, and other little presents, at
the Saturnalian festival.

In so vast a collection of pieces it is natural to expect that there
would be great inequality, and that some of his wit would be commonplace
and puerile. That such was the case, he himself confesses more than
once;[1175] and in one place he states that this inequality constitutes
one of the merits of his work.[1176]

He knew that his works were appreciated, not only at Rome, but also
throughout the empire:—

                  Toto notus in orbe Martialis
                  Argutis epigrammaton libellis;[1177]

and this consciousness is some excuse for the vanity which occasionally
shows itself,[1178] and which does not hesitate to account blemishes as

The following are favourable specimens of his poetry:—

  Indignas premeret pestis cum tabida fauces,
    Inque ipsos vultus 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 præferre Catonis
    Fama potest; hujus Cæsar amicus erat.

  When the dire quinsey choked his noble 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.
  Nor meager famine’s slowly-wasting force,
    Nor hemlock’s gradual chillness he endured;
  But closed his life a truly Roman course,
    And with one blow his liberty secured.
  The Fates gave Cato a less glorious end,
    For Cæsar was his foe, Festus was Cæsar’s friend.[1179]

  Casta suo gladium cum traderet Arria Pæto
    Quem de visceribus traxerat ipsa suis,
  Si qua fides, vulnus, quod feci, non dolet, inquit;
    Sed quod tu facies, hoc mihi, Pæte, dolet.

  When Arria to her Pætus gave the steel,
    Which from her bleeding side did newly part;
  “From my own stroke,” she said, “no pain I feel,
    But, ah! thy wound will stab me to the heart.”

  Dum nos blanda tenent jucundi stagna Lucrini
    Et quæ pumiceis fontibus antra calent,
  Tu colis Argivi regnum Faustine coloni
    Quo te bis decimus ducit ab urbe lapis.
  Horrida sed fervent Nemeæi pectora monstri
    Nec satis est Baias igne calere suo.
  Ergo sacri fontes et littora sacra valete
    Nympharum pariter Nereidumque domus!
  Herculeos colles gelida vos vincite bruma,
    Nunc Tiburtinis cedite frigoribus.

  While near the Lucrine lake, consumed to death,
  I draw the sultry air and gasp for breath,
  Where streams of sulphur raise a stifling heat,
  And thro’ the pores of the warm pumice sweat;
  You taste the cooling breeze where, nearer home,
  The twentieth pillar marks the mile from Rome.
  And now the Sun to the bright Lion turns,
  And Baia with redoubled fury burns;
  Then briny seas and tasteful springs, farewell,
  Where fountain Nymphs confused with Naiads dwell.
  In winter you may all the world despise,
  But now ’tis Tivoli that bears the prize.

                              CHAPTER VI.
                        TACITUS—HIS EXTANT WORKS

The earliest prose writers belonging to this epoch were Aufidius Bassus
and Cremutius Cordus. The former wrote a history of the German and civil
wars, which was continued by the elder Pliny; of the latter only a few
fragments have been preserved by Seneca.[1180] They were published in
the reign of Tiberius; and it is evident that they contained a history
of the civil wars, for his praise of Brutus and Cassius was made the
pretext for his impeachment. It is also clear that he treated of
contemporary events; for the real cause of the emperor’s hostility was
an attack which he made upon the favourite Sejanus. In vain he tendered
an apology; and seeing there was no hope of escape he starved himself to
death.[1181] His histories were publicly burned, but his daughter, to
whom Seneca addressed his “_Consolatio_,” concealed some copies, and
afterwards published them, with the approbation of Caligula.[1182]

                        M. VELLEIUS PATERCULUS.

Together with these flourished M. Velleius Paterculus. He was a soldier
of equestrian family, served his first campaign in Asia, and
subsequently, after passing through the various steps of promotion,
acted as _legatus_ to Tiberius in Germany. His services recommended him
to the favour of the prince, on whose accession he was made prætor, and
proved himself a stanch supporter of him and his favourite minister
Sejanus. In the fall of that unworthy man,[1183] Paterculus was
involved, and was most probably put to death.

The short historical work by which he is known as an author is a history
of Rome, and of the nations connected with the foundation of the
imperial city, in two books. It is dedicated to M. Vinucius, consul; and
as it carries on the history to the death of Livia, the mother of
Tiberius, in the year of his consulate,[1184] it must have been
finished, perhaps almost entirely written within that year. Assuming
that it was wise to undertake the task of comprising within such narrow
limits events extending over so large a field, it is not unskilfully
performed. The most striking events are selected and told in a lively
and interesting manner; but he had one fault fatal to his character as
an historian, who professed to treat of his own times. He is partial,
prejudiced, and adulatory. He had not courage to be a Thucydides or a
Sallust. The perilous nature of the times, and the personal obligations
under which he was to the emperor, made him a courtier, and from this
one-sided point of view he viewed contemporary history.

He was, however, a man of lively talents though of superficial
education: his taste was formed after the model of the Augustan writers,
especially Sallust, of whose style, so far as the outward form, he was
an imitator. But although he was one of the earliest writers of the so
called silver age, his language shows signs of degeneracy. It is, at
times, overstrained and unnatural; there is the usual affectation of
rhetorical effect, and an unnecessary use of uncommon words and
constructions; still, whenever he keeps his model in view, he is
scarcely inferior to him in conciseness and perspicuity. The first book
of his history is in a very imperfect state; in fact, the commencement
is entirely lost. Only one manuscript of it has been discovered, and
even this is now nowhere to be found.

                           VALERIUS MAXIMUS.

Valerius Maximus can scarcely be termed an historian, although the
subject of which he treated is historical. His work is neither one of
original research, nor is it a connected abridgment of the investigation
of his predecessors. It is a collection of anecdotes, entitled _Dictorum
Factorumque Memorabilium_, Libri IX. His object is a moral one; namely,
to illustrate, by examples, the beauty of virtue and the deformity of
vice; but he is influenced in the selection less by historical truth
than by the striking and interesting character of the narrative. The
arrangement of the anecdotes resembles that of a commonplace book,
rather than of history, the only principle observed being, that
anecdotes of Romans and foreigners are kept distinct from one another.

Nothing is known, for certain, respecting his personal history. He
himself states[1185] that he accompanied Sextus Pompeius into Asia; and,
from a comparison of different passages, it is probable that, like
Velleius Paterculus, he flourished and wrote during the reign of
Tiberius. His style is prolix and declamatory, and characterized by
awkward affectation and involved obscurity.

                         C. CORNELIUS TACITUS.

For the reasons already stated, Rome, for a long period, could boast of
no historian; but, under the genial and fostering influence of the
Emperor Trajan,[1186] not only the fine arts, especially architecture,
flourished, but also literature revived. The choice of Nerva could not
have fallen on a better successor to his short reign. He was a Spaniard,
but his native town was a flourishing Roman colony: the whole country
round about it had experienced the effects of Roman civilization, and
the language of all the towns in the south of Spain was Latin. The
glories of war and the duties of peace divided his attention. By the
former, he gave employment to his vast armies; by the latter he refined
the tastes and improved the character of his people. No better testimony
can be desired than the correspondence between him and Pliny to the
mildness and wisdom of his domestic and foreign administration. The
influence, also, of his empress, Plotina, and his sister, Marciana,
exercised a beneficial influence upon Roman society; for they were the
first ladies of the imperial court who by their example checked the
shameless licentiousness which had long prevailed amongst women of the
higher classes. The same taste and execution which are visible in the
bas-reliefs on the column of Trajan adorn the literature of his age, as
illustrated by its two great lights, Tacitus and the younger Pliny.
There is not the rich, graceful ornament which invests with such a charm
the writers of the golden age; but the absence of these qualities is
amply compensated by dignity, gravity, honesty and truthfulness. There
is a solidity in the style of Tacitus which makes amends for its
difficulty, and justifies the intense admiration with which he was
regarded by Pliny. Truthfulness beams throughout the writings of these
two great contemporaries; and incorruptible virtue is as visible in the
pages of Tacitus as benevolence is in the letters of Pliny. They
mutually influenced each other’s character and principles: their tastes
and pursuits were similar: they loved each other dearly; corresponded
regularly, corrected each other’s works, and accepted patiently and
gratefully each other’s criticisms. If, however, on all occasions, their
observations were such as appear in the letters of Pliny, it is probable
that their mutual regard, and the unbounded admiration which Pliny
entertained for the superior genius of his friend caused them to be
rather laudatory than severe.

The exact date of the birth of Tacitus is not known; but from one of the
many letters extant, addressed to him by Pliny,[1187] it may be inferred
that the former was not more than one or two years senior to his friend.
In it he reminds him that in years they are almost equals, and adds that
he himself was a young man when Tacitus had already obtained a brilliant
reputation. There is a tradition which assigns the birth of Tacitus to
the year of Nero’s accession; but as Pliny the Younger was born A. D.
61, and Nero assumed the imperial purple A. D. 54, this date would make
the difference in age between him and Pliny too great to be consistent
with the expressions of the latter. Tacitus was of equestrian rank, and
was procurator of Belgic Gaul in the reigns of Vespasian and Titus, from
whom, as well as from Domitian, he received many marks of esteem. In
A. D. 78, he married the daughter of C. Julius Agricola. He was one of
the fifteen commissioners appointed for the celebration of the Ludi
Seculares, A. D. 88, and was also prætor the same year. In A. D. 97, he
served the office of consul. To this magistracy he was elected in order
to supply the place of Virginius Rufus, who had died during his year of
office, and over him Tacitus pronounced the funeral oration. In A. D.
99, he was associated by the Senate with Pliny[1188] in the impeachment
of Marius Priscus, proconsul of Africa, for maladministration of his
province; and his friend Pliny praises his reply to the acute subtleties
of Salvius Liberalis, the advocate of Marius, as distinguished, not only
for oratorical power, but for that which he considers the most
remarkable quality of his style, _gravity_. His words are, “Respondit
Corn. Tacitus eloquentissime et quod eximie orationi ejus inest,
σεμνως.”[1189] It is not known when Tacitus died, nor whether he left
any descendants; but there can be no doubt that he survived the
accession of Hadrian.[1190]

The works of Tacitus which are extant, are:—(1.) A Life of his
father-in-law, Agricola. (2.) A tract on the Manners and Nations of
Germany. (3.) A small portion of a voluminous work, entitled Histories.
(4.) About two-thirds of another historical work, entitled Annals. (5.)
A dialogue on the Decline of Eloquence is also ascribed to him; and
although doubts have been entertained of its genuineness, they do not
rest upon any strong foundation. It is impossible to do more than
approximate to the dates at which each work of Tacitus was composed. The
imminent peril of writing or speaking plainly on events or individuals
renders it almost certain that none of them could have been published
before the accession of Trajan. Niebuhr[1191] entertains no doubt that
the first edition of the Life of Agricola was published towards the end
of Domitian’s reign, and that, subsequently, it was revised and an
introduction prefixed. But is it not more probable that, although the
work was then written, it was not published until after revision?

Great as were the moral worth and the amiable gentleness of Agricola,
his courage as a soldier, his skill and decision as a general, his
prudence and caution as a politician, and, therefore, however deserving
he may be of the pleasing light in which his character is portrayed,
still the life of Tacitus is a panegyric rather than a biography. The
near relation in which Tacitus stood to him, the affectionate admiration
which Agricola must necessarily have commanded from one who knew him so
well, unfitted him for the work of an impartial biographer. The fine
points of Agricola’s character outshine all its other features; but we
cannot suppose that he had no defects, no weaknesses. These, however, do
not appear in the little work of Tacitus. His son-in-law either could
not or would not see them. Still the brief sketch is a beautiful
specimen of the vigour and force of expression with which this greatest
painter of antiquity could throw off any portrait which he attempted.
Even if the likeness be somewhat flattered, the qualities which the
writer possessed, his insight into character, his pathetic power, and
his affectionate heart, render this short piece one of the most
attractive biographies extant.[1192]

With what simple pathos does he tell us of the obligation which
Agricola, like so many other great men, owed to the educating care of
his pure-minded, prudent, and indulgent mother, and the gratitude with
which he was wont constantly to speak of that obligation! With what
affection does he speak of one bound to him, not only by the ties of
affinity, but by the stronger ties of a congenial temper and
disposition! In his reflections on his death, there is no affected
attempt at dramatic display. The few words devoted to so mournful a
subject simply breathe the overwhelming sense of bereavement, unassuaged
by the consolation of being present at his last moments. “Happy wert
thou, Agricola, not only because thy life was glorious, but because thy
death was well-timed! All who heard thy last words bear witness to the
constancy with which thou didst welcome death as though thou wert
determined manfully to acquit the emperor of being the cause. But the
bitterness of thy daughter’s sorrow and mine for the loss of a parent is
enhanced by the reflection, that it did not fall to our lot to watch
over thy declining health, to solace thy failing strength, to enjoy thy
last looks, thy last embraces. Faithfully would we have listened to thy
parting words and wishes, and imprinted them deeply on our memories.
This was our chief sorrow, our most painful wound. Owing to our long
absence from Rome, thou hadst been lost to us four years before.
Doubtless, O best of parents! enough, and more than enough, of honour
was paid to thee by the assiduous attention of thy affectionate wife;
still the last offices were paid thee amidst too few tears, and thine
eyes were conscious that some loved object was absent just as their
light was dimmed for ever.” To this tribute of dutiful affection,
succeed sentiments of noble resignation, joined with an humble
conviction of the transitory nature of human talents, and an earnest
looking-for of immortality. To us, the biography of Agricola is
especially interesting, because Britain was the scene of his glory as a
military commander, and of his success in civil administration. His army
first penetrated beyond the Friths of Forth and Clyde into the Highlands
of Scotland, and his fleet first circumnavigated the northern
extremities of the British island.

The treatise on the geography, manners and nations of Germany (_De Situ
Moribus et Populus Germaniæ_) is but little longer than the Life of
Agricola. The information contained in it is exactly of that character
which might be expected, considering the sources from which it was
derived. Tacitus was never in Germany, and therefore his knowledge was
collected from those who had visited it for the purposes either of war
or commerce. Hence his geographical descriptions are often vague and
inaccurate; a mixture of the marvellous shows that some of his
narratives consist in mere travellers’ tales, whilst the salient points
and characteristic features of the national manners bear the impress of
truth, and are supported by the well-known habits and institutions of
Teutonic nations.

He tells of their bards, and explains the etymology of the term by the
word Barditum, which signified the recitation of their songs.[1193] He
hints at wild legends and dark superstitions with which the German
imagination still loves to people the dark recesses of their
forests.[1194] He describes their pure and unmixed race, and,
consequently, the universal prevalence of the national features—blue
eyes, red or sandy hair, and stalwart and gigantic frames.[1195]
According to his account, their political constitutions were elective
monarchies, but the monarch was always of noble birth and his power
limited;[1196] and all matters of importance were debated by the estate
of the people.[1197] In the solemn permission accorded to a German youth
to bear arms, and his investiture with lance and shield, is seen the
origin of knighthood;[1198] and in the sanctity of the marriage-tie, the
chastity of the female sex, their social influence, and the respect paid
to them—the rarity of adultery and its severe punishment, and the total
absence of polygamy—we recognise the germ of the distinguishing
characteristics of chivalry.[1199] They were hospitable and constant to
their hereditary friendships, but stern in perpetuating family
feuds;[1200] passionately fond of gambling, and strict in their regard
for debts of honour;[1201] inveterate drinkers, and their favourite
potation was beer;[1202] they could not consult on important matters
without a convivial meeting;[1203] if they quarrelled over their cups,
they had recourse rarely to words, usually to blows.[1204] Their slaves
were in the condition of serfs or villains, and paid to the lord a fixed
rent in corn, or cattle, or manufactures.[1205] They reckoned their time
by nights instead of days,[1206] just as we are accustomed to use the
expressions se’nnight and fortnight.

After having sketched the manners and customs of the nation as a whole
he proceeds to treat of each tribe separately.[1207] In speaking of our
forefathers, the _Angli_, who inhabited part of the modern territory of
Sleswick Holstein, and whose name is still retained in the district of
Angeln, one word which he uses is an English one. The Angli, he says,
together with the conterminous tribes, worship Herthus, _i. e._
Terra.[1208] Even in these early times he mentions the naval superiority
of the Suiones, who were the ancestors of the Normans and Sea-kings.
With these he affirms that the continent of Europe terminates, and all
beyond is a motionless and frozen ocean.[1209] Truth in these distant
climes mingles with fable. Daylight continues after the sun has set, but
a hissing noise is heard as his blazing orb plunges into the sea, and
the forms of the gods, and the radiant glories which surround their
heads, are visible.[1210] The list of marvels ends with fabulous beings,
whose bodies and limbs are those of wild beasts, whilst their heads and
faces are human.

The earliest historical work of Tacitus is his “_Historiæ_,” of which
only four books and a portion of the fifth are extant. Their contents
extend from the second consulship of Galba[1211] to the commencement of
the siege of Jerusalem. The original work concluded with the death of
Domitian.[1212] He purposed also, if his life had been spared, to add
the reigns of Nerva and Trajan, as the employment of his old age. “The
materials for which,” he says, “are more plentiful and trustworthy,
because of the unusual felicity of an age in which men were allowed to
think as they pleased, and to give utterance to what they
thought.”[1213] It is plain from the word Divus (the deified) being
prefixed to the name of Nerva, and not to that of Trajan, in the passage
above quoted, that this work was written after Trajan had put on the
imperial purple.[1214]

According to St. Jerome it originally consisted of thirty books; and the
minuteness with which each event is recorded in the portion extant
renders it highly probable that the original work was as extensive as
this assertion would imply. The object which he proposed to himself was
worthy of his penetrating mind, from the searching gaze of which even
the hypocrisy and dissimulation of a Tiberius were powerless to veil the
foul darkness of his crafty nature. He intended “to investigate the
political state of the commonwealth, the feelings of its armies, the
sentiments of the provinces, the elements of its strength and weakness,
the causes and reasons for each phænomenon.”[1215] The principal fault
which diminishes the value of his history as a record of events, is his
too great readiness to accept evidence unhesitatingly, and to record
popular rumours without taking sufficient pains to examine into their
truth. Still these blots are but few, scattered over a vast field of
faithful history. Perhaps the most lamentable instance is presented in
his incorrect account of the history, constitution, and manners of the
Jewish people. Wanting either the opportunity or the inclination to
consult the sacred books of the nation, he mixes up vague traditions of
their early history with the fables of Pagan mythology; and, like the
Greeks and Romans, gives names to imaginary patriarchs, taken from
localities connected with their history.

According to his account the Jews originally inhabited Crete,[1216] and
from Mount Ida, in that Island, received the name of Idæi, which
afterwards became corrupted into Judæi. From Crete, when Saturn was
expelled by Jove, they took refuge in Egypt; and thence under two
leaders, Juda and Hierosolymus, again migrated to the neighbouring
country of Palestine. A second tradition attributes to them an Assyrian
origin; a third an Æthiopian; a fourth asserts that they were descended
from the Solymi which Homer celebrated in his poems.[1217]

The next tradition which he mentions approaches nearer to the true one.
Egypt being afflicted with a plague, the king Bocchoris, by the advice
of the oracle of Ammon, purged his kingdom of them, and under the
guidance of Moses they began their wanderings. When they were dying on
their way for want of water, their leader followed a herd of wild asses,
by which he was led to a copious well of water. Thus was their drought
relieved; and, after journeying six days, they obtained possession of
the land in which they built their capital and temple. Moses introduced
new religious rites contrary to those of other nations. He set up the
image of an ass in the Holy of Holies—a statement which afterwards
Tacitus virtually contradicts by saying that they allow no images in
their temples,[1218] that they preferred taking up arms to admitting the
statue of Caligula into the temple;[1219] and that when Pompey took
Jerusalem,[1220] he found no image of any deity, and the sanctuary
empty. He adds, that they sacrifice rams in order to show contempt to
Jupiter Ammon, and oxen, because, under that form, Apis was worshipped
by the Egyptians; that they abstain from pork in remembrance of their
having been afflicted with leprosy, to which that animal is subject, and
eat unleavened bread as a memorial of their once having stolen food. On
the seventh day, which terminated their wanderings, they do no work, and
in like manner the seventh year they devote to idleness. This Sabbath,
some assert that they keep holy in honour of Saturn. They believe in the
immortality of the soul, and in future rewards and punishments, and
embalm their dead like the Egyptians. Such are the various traditions
respecting the Jews which Tacitus incorporates in his Histories.

The Annals, which were written subsequently to the Histories, were so
called, because each historical event is recorded in historical order
under the year to which it belongs.[1221] They consist of sixteen books;
commence with the death of Augustus,[1222] and conclude with that of
Nero.[1223] The only portions extant are—the first four books, part of
the fifth, the sixth, part of the eleventh, the twelfth, thirteenth,
fourteenth, fifteenth, and the commencement of the sixteenth book. The
Annals are rather histories of each successive emperor than of the Roman
people; but this is the necessary condition of narrating the fortunes of
a nation which now possessed only the bare name, and not the reality of
constitutional government. The state was now the emperor; the end and
object of the social system his security; and every political event must
therefore be treated in relation to him.

But a history of this kind in the hands of one who had such skill in
diving into the recesses of man’s heart, who could read so shrewdly and
delineate so vigorously human character, who possessed as a writer such
picturesque and dramatic power, becomes the more interesting from its
biographical nature, and its philosophical importance as a moral rather
than a political study. It is not, owing to circumstances over which the
author had no control, the history of a great nation, for the Romans, as
a whole, were no longer great. Neither does it paint the rise, progress
and development of constitutional freedom, for it had reached its
zenith, had declined, become paralyzed, and finally extinct. But still
there existed bright examples of heroism, and courage, and
self-devotion, truly Roman, and instances not less prominent of
corruption and degradation. Individuals stand out in bold relief,
eminent for the noblest virtues or blackened by the basest crimes. These
appear either singly or in groups upon the stage: the emperor forms the
principal figure; and the moral sense of the reader is awakened to
admire instances of patient suffering and determined bravery, or abject
slavery and remorseless despotism.

The object of Tacitus, therefore, was not, like that of the great
philosophical historian of Greece, to describe the growth of political
institutions, or the implacable animosities which raged between opposite
political principles—the struggles for supremacy between a class and a
whole people—but the influence which the establishment of tyranny on the
ruins of liberty exercised for good or for evil in bringing out the
character of the individual. Rome, the imperial city, was the
all-engrossing subject of his predecessors; Romans were but subordinate
and accessary. Tacitus delineated the lives and deaths of individuals,
and showed the relation which they bore to the fortunes of their

It would have been impossible to have satisfied a people whose taste had
become more than ever rhetorical, without the introduction of orations.
Those of Tacitus are perfect specimens of art; and probably, with the
exception of Galgacus,[1224] far more true than those of other Roman
historians. Still he made use of them, not only to imbody traditional
accounts of what had really been said on each occasion, but to
illustrate his own views of the character of the speaker, and to convey
his own political opinions.

Full of sagacious observation and descriptive power, Tacitus engages the
most serious attention of the reader by the gravity of his condensed and
comprehensive style, as he does by the wisdom and dignity of his
reflections. The purity and gravity of his sentiments remind the reader
even of Christian authors.

Living amidst the influences of a corrupt age he was uncontaminated; and
by his virtue and integrity, his chastened political liberality,
commands our admiration as a man, whilst his love of truth is reflected
in his character as an historian. Although he imitated, as well as
approved, the cautious policy of his father-in-law, he was not destitute
of moral firmness.

It derogates nothing from his courage that he was silent during the
perilous times in which great part of his life was passed, and spoke
with boldness only when the happy reign of Nerva had commenced, and the
broken spirit of the nation had revived. Like the rest of his
fellow-countrymen he exhibited a remarkable example of patient
endurance, when the imperial jealousy made even the praise of those who
were obnoxious to the tyrant treason; when it was considered a capital
crime for Arulenus Rusticus to praise Pætus Thrasea, and Herennius
Senecio to eulogize Priscus Helvidius.

In those fearful times he himself says, that “as old Rome had witnessed
the greatest glories of liberty, so her descendants had been cast down
to the lowest depths of slavery; and would have been deprived of the use
of memory, as well as of language, if it were equally in man’s power to
forget as to be silent.”[1225] In such times prudence was a duty, and
daring courage would have been unavailing rashness. In his praise of
Agricola, and his blame of Pætus, he enunciates the principles which
regulate his own conduct—that to endanger yourself without the slightest
prospect of benefiting your country is mere ostentatious ambition.
“Sciant,” he writes, “quibus moris illicita mirari, posse etiam sub
malis principibus magnos viros esse; obsequiumque ac modestiam, si
industria ac vigor adsint, eo laudis excedere quo plerique per abrupta,
sed in nullum reipublicæ usum ambitiosa morte inclaruerunt.”[1226]
Again, “Thrasea Pætus sibi causam periculi fecit, cæteris libertatis
initium non præbuit.”[1227]

In the style of Tacitus the form is always subordinate to the matter;
the ideas maintain their due supremacy over the language in which they
are conveyed. There is none of that striving after epigrammatic
terseness which savours of affectation. His brevity, like that which
characterizes the style of Thucydides, is the necessary condensation of
a writer whose thoughts flow more quickly than his pen can express them.
Hence his sentences are suggestive of far more than they express: they
are enigmatical hints of deep and hidden meaning, which keep the mind
active and the attention alive, and delight the reader with the
pleasures of discovery and the consciousness of difficulties overcome.
Nor is this natural and unintentional brevity unsuitable to the cautious
reserve with which all were tutored to speak and think of political
subjects in perilous times. It is extraordinary how often a similarity
between his mind and that of Thucydides inadvertently discovers
itself—not only in his mode of thinking, but also in his language, even
in his grammatical constructions, especially in his frequent
substitution of attraction for government, in instances of condensed
construction, and in the connexion of clauses grammatically different,
although they are metaphysically the same.

Nor is his brevity dry or harsh—it is enlivened by copiousness, variety,
and poetry. He scarcely ever repeats the same idea in the same form. No
author is richer in synonymous words, or arranges with more varied skill
the position of words in a sentence. As for poetic genius, his language
is highly figurative; no prose writer deals more largely in prosopopœia:
his descriptions of scenery and incidents are eminently picturesque; his
characters dramatic; the expression of his own sentiments and feelings
as subjective as lyric poetry.

                              CHAPTER VII.

                       C. SUETONIUS TRANQUILLUS.

C. Suetonius Tranquillus[1228] was the son of Suetonius Lenis, who
served as tribunus angusticlavus of the thirteenth legion at the battle
of Bedriacum, in which the Emperor Otho was defeated by Vitellius. The
time of his birth is uncertain; but from a passage at the end of his
Life of Nero[1229] it may be inferred that he was born very soon after
the death of that emperor, which took place A. D. 68; for in it he
mentions that, when twenty years subsequent to Nero’s death, a false
Nero appeared, he was just arriving at manhood (_adolescens_.) The
knowledge of language and rhetorical taste displayed in the remains of
his works on these subjects prove that he was well instructed in these
branches of a Roman liberal education: and a letter of the younger
Pliny,[1230] whose intimate friend he was, speaks of him as an advocate
by profession. This letter represents him as unwilling to plead a cause,
which he had undertaken, because he was frightened by a dream. It is
probable that this anecdote is an authentic one, because so many
examples occur in his memoirs of his superstitious belief in dreams,
omens, ghosts, and prodigies.[1231]

The affectionate regard which Pliny entertained for his friend was very
great, and led him to form too high an estimate of his talents as a
writer and an historian. On one occasion he used his influence at court
to get him a tribuneship; which, however, he did not accept.[1232] On
another he obtained for him, from Trajan,[1233] the “_jus trium
liberorum_,” although he had no children. But this privilege, as in the
case of Martial, was sometimes granted under similar circumstances. In
this letter, which he wrote to the Emperor, he speaks of Suetonius as a
man of the greatest probity, integrity, and learning; and adds that,
after the experience of a long acquaintance, the more he knows of him
the more he loves him.

Subsequently Suetonius became private secretary (_Magister Epistolarum_)
to Hadrian,[1234] but was deprived of the situation. Owing to the only
sources of information respecting Suetonius being his own works, and the
few scattered notices in the letters of Plinius Secundus, nothing more
is known respecting his life.

A catalogue of his numerous writings is given by Suidas:[1235] but, with
the exception of the Lives of the Twelve Cæsars, it does not contain his
chief extant works. These are notices of illustrious grammarians and
rhetoricians, and the lives of the poets Terence, Horace, Persius,
Lucan, and Juvenal.

Niebuhr[1236] believed that the history, or rather the biography of the
Cæsars was written when Suetonius was still young, before he was
secretary to Hadrian, and previous to the publication of the Histories
of Tacitus. If so, he neither enjoyed the opportunities of consulting
the imperial records which his situation at court would have given him,
nor of profiting by the accurate guidance and profound reflection of
Tacitus. Krause,[1237] on the other hand, adduces many parallelisms
between the language of Tacitus and Suetonius; and as Tacitus did not
publish his earliest historical work before A. D. 117,[1238] assumes
that Suetonius did not write his biographies until after the accession
of Hadrian.

It is very difficult to determine which of these theories is the correct
one; but there can be no doubt that the sources from which he derived
his information are quite independent of the authority of Tacitus; and
that the Lives of the Twelve Cæsars would have contained all that we
find in them, even if the Annals and Histories had never been written.
He does not only trust to the works of the Roman historians, but his
exact quotations from acts of the senate and people, edicts, fasti, and
orations, and the use which he makes of annals and inscriptions, prove
that he was a man of diligent research, and that he examined original
documents for himself.

Again, as a writer of biographical memoirs rather than of regular
history, and fond of anecdote and scandal, he availed himself largely of
such private letters of Emperors and their dependants as fell in his
way, of testamentary documents, and of the information he could collect
in conversation. Many of the lives which he wrote were those of his
contemporaries. Some of the events recorded were passing under the eyes
of the public, and were matters of notoriety. He himself asserts in
three several places[1239] that he received some of the accounts which
he gives from the testimony of eye-witnesses. The more secret habits of
the Emperors, either truly told or exaggerated by an appetite for
scandal, would ooze out. Anecdotes of the reigning Emperor’s private
life would be eagerly sought for, and be the favourite topic of gossip
in all circles of Roman society. Nor would he have any difficulty in
procuring copious stores of information respecting those Emperors who
reigned before he was born from those of his contemporaries who were a
generation older than himself, and who were spectators of, or actors in,
many of the scenes which he describes. As a biographer, there is no
reason to doubt his honesty and veracity; he is industrious and careful;
he indulges neither in ornament of style nor in romantic exaggeration;
the picture which he draws is a terrible one, but it is fully supported
by the contemporary authority of Juvenal and Tacitus. Nevertheless, his
mind was not of that comprehensive and philosophical character which
would qualify him for taking an enlarged view of political affairs, or
for the work of an historian. He has no definite plan formed in his
mind, without which an historian can never hope to make his work a
complete whole; he wanders at will from one subject to another, just as
the idea seizes him, and is by no means careful of committing offences
against chronological order.

Niebuhr accuses him of inconsistency in the character which he draws and
the praise which he bestows on Vespasian:[1240] but adds what may, in
some sort, be considered a defence, namely, that Vespasian was,
negatively speaking, a good, upright, and just man, and that the dark
side of his character must be considered in reference to the fearful
times in which he reigned. He also mentions, as an example of his
deficiencies as an historian, the bad accounts which he has left of his
own times, especially of the anarchy which followed Nero’s death, and
the commencement of the reign of Vespasian. But in his praise it may be
said that Suetonius has formed a just estimate of his own powers in
undertaking to be a biographer and not an historian; and it is scarcely
fair to criticise severely his unfitness for a task to which he made no

One great fault pollutes his pages. The dark pictures which he draws of
the most profligate Emperors, the disgusting annals of their unheard-of
crimes, are dwelt upon as though he took pleasure in the description,
and loved to wallow in the mire of the foulest debauchery. Truth,
perhaps, required that they should not have been passed over in silence,
but they might have been lightly touched, and not painted in detail with
revolting faithfulness. He is often brief, sometimes obscure: in such
passages of his narrative we would have gladly welcomed both brevity and

                           Q. CURTIUS RUFUS.

The doubts which have always been entertained respecting the time when
the biographer of Alexander the Great flourished, and which no
investigations have been sufficient to dissipate, render it impossible
to pass him by unnoticed, although he may, perhaps, belong to an age
beyond the chronological limits of this work. The purity of his style
has, in the opinion of some critics, entitled him to a place among the
writers of the silver age; whilst Niebuhr, judging by the internal
evidence, thinks that he must have lived as late as the reign of
Caracalla or Septimius Severus.

No valid argument, however, can be based upon his style, because it is
evidently artificial: it is, indeed, infected with a love of declamatory
ornament; it is sometimes more like poetry than prose; it abounds in
metaphors, and therefore proves that he lived in a rhetorical age; but
it is upon the whole an imitation of the Latinity of Livy. This
rhetorical character of his style gives some value to the opinion of F.
A. Wolf, that he was the Q. Curtius Rufus mentioned by Suetonius in his
treatise on Illustrious Orators. If so, he was probably a contemporary.

With respect to internal evidence, reference has been made to two
passages as containing allusions to his times. (1.) Multis ergo casibus
defuncta (sc. Tyrus,) nunc tamen longa pace cuncta refovente, sub tutela
Romanæ mansuetudinis acquiescit.[1241] (2.) Proinde jure meritoque P. R.
salutem se principi suo debere profitetur, qui noctis, quam pæne
supremam habuimus, novum sidus illuxit, hujus hercule, non solis ortus,
lucem caliganti reddidit mundo, cum sine suo capite discordia membra
trepidarent.[1242] The former has been considered descriptive of many
periods in Roman history: although Niebuhr[1243] makes the unqualified
assertion, that it has no meaning, unless it alludes to the times of
Septimius Severus and Caracalla. The latter is equally vague: Niebuhr
thinks it might refer to Aurelian: Gibbon considers that it alluded to
Gordian. But to how many Emperors might a spirit of eulogistic flattery
make it applicable! Upon the whole, it is most probable that he lived
towards the close of the first century.

The biography of Alexander is deeply interesting; for, although Curtius
evidently disdains historic reality, his hero always seems to have a
living existence: it is a romance rather than a history. He never loses
an opportunity by the colouring which he gives to historical facts of
elevating the Macedonian conqueror to a superhuman standard. He has no
inclination to weigh the merits of conflicting historical testimonies:
he selects that which supports his partial predilections; nor are his
talents for story-telling checked by a profound knowledge of either
tactics or geography, or other objective historical materials, for
correct details in which he is too frequently negligent.[1244] His
florid and ornamented style is suitable to the imaginary orations which
are introduced in the narrative, and which constitute the most striking
portions of the work. The sources from which he derived his information
are various, the principal one being the account of Alexander’s exploits
by the Greek historian Clitarchus, who accompanied the Macedonian
conqueror in his Asiatic expedition. He is, however, by no means a
servile follower; for in one instance he does not hesitate to accuse him
of inaccuracy. They were, however, kindred spirits: both would sacrifice
truth to romantic interest; both indulged in the same tale-telling
tendency. His work originally consisted of ten books. Two of these are
lost, and their places have been supplied, in a very inferior manner, by
Cellarius and Freinsheim. Even in the eight books which are extant, an
hiatus of more or less extent occasionally occurs.

                           L. ANNÆUS FLORUS.

Brief as the epitomes are which bear the name of L. Annæus Florus, the
style is characterized by the rhetorical spirit of the age to which they
belong. They are diffuse and declamatory, and their author is rather the
panegyrist of his countrymen than the grave and sober narrator of the
most important events contained in their history. This short summary,
entitled “_Rerum Romanarum_, Libri IV.,” or “_Epitome de Gestis
Romanorum_,” is a well-arranged compilation from the authorities extant;
but it is probable that, like all other Roman historians except Velleius
Paterculus, he derived his materials principally from Livy. Such a dry
skeleton of history, however, must be uninteresting. Who the author was
is by no means certain. Some have supposed him to be the same with
Annæus Florus, who wrote three trochaic verses to Hadrian. Titze[1245]
imagines that it is the work of two authors, one a contemporary of
Horace,[1246] the other belonging to a later literary period.

It is generally assumed that the author[1247] of the Epitomes was either
a Spaniard or a Gaul; and, if we may consider the introduction to the
work as genuine, he lived in the reign of Trajan.

                             CHAPTER VIII.

                           M. ANNÆUS SENECA.

The family of the Senecas exercised a remarkable influence over
literature; they may, in fact, be said to have given the tone to the
taste of their age.

M. Annæus Seneca was born at Corduba (Cordova.) The precise date of his
birth is unknown; but Clinton places it about B. C. 61. This is not
improbable, for he asserts[1248] that he had heard all the eminent
orators except Cicero, and that he might have enjoyed that privilege
also if the civil wars had not compelled him to remain in his native
country. After this hinderance was removed by the accession of Augustus
he came to Rome, and, as a professional rhetorician, amassed a
considerable fortune. Subsequently he returned to Cordova, and married
Helvia, by whom he had three sons, of whom L. Annæus Seneca, the
philosopher, was the eldest.

He left behind him two works, the composition of which was the
employment of his old age. They are the results of his long and
successful experience as a teacher of rhetoric, the gleanings of his
commonplace book, the stores accumulated by his astonishing memory,
which enabled him to repeat two thousand unconnected words after once
hearing them, and to report literally any orations which he had heard
delivered. They are valuable as showing how a hollow and artificial
system, based upon the recollection of stock-passages and commonplaces,
had supplanted the natural promptings of true eloquence. They explain
the principles and practice of instruction in the popular schools of
rhetoric, the means by which the absence of natural endowments could be
compensated. They exhibit wit, learning, ingenuity, and taste to select
and admire the best literary specimens of earlier periods; but it is
plain that matter was now subordinate to form—that the orator was
content to borrow the phraseology of his predecessors in which to clothe
sentiments which he could neither feel nor understand. The ear still
yearned for the language of sincerity, although the heart no longer
throbbed with the ardour of patriotism. It is this want of conformity of
ideas to words which causes the coldness of a declamatory and florid
style. It is a mere representation of warmth: it disappoints like a mere
painted fire.

The first work of M. Seneca was entitled _Controversiæ_: it was divided
into ten books, of which, with the exception of fragments, only the
first, second, seventh, eighth, and tenth are extant. It contains a
series of exercises or declamations in judicial oratory on fictitious
cases. The imaginary causes were probably sketched out by the professor.
The students composed their speeches according to the rules of rhetoric:
they were then corrected, committed to memory, and recited, partly with
a view to practice, partly in order to amuse an admiring audience. The
cases are frequently as puerile as a schoolboy’s theme, sometimes
extravagant and absurd.

His other work, the _Suasoriæ_, contains exercises in deliberative
oratory. The subjects of them are taken from the historians and poets:
they are as harmless as tyranny could desire: there is no danger that
languid patriotism should revive, or the empire be menaced, by such
uninteresting discussions. Nor were they confined to mere students.
Public recitations had, since the days of Juvenal, been one of the
crying nuisances of the times. The poets began it, the rhetoricians
followed, and the most absurd trash was listened to with patience, being
ushered into popular notice by partial flatterers or hired claqueurs.

                           L. ANNÆUS SENECA.

L. Seneca was born at his father’s native town about the commencement of
the Christian era. He was brought to Rome when very young, and there
studied rhetoric and philosophy. He soon displayed great talents as a
pleader; and by his success is said to have provoked the jealousy of
Caligula. In the reign of Claudius he was accused by the infamous
Messalina of improper intimacy with Julia, the emperor’s niece, and was
accordingly banished to Corsica.[1249] He solaced his exile with the
study of the Stoic philosophy; and although its severe precepts
exercised no moral influence over his conduct, he not only professed
himself a Stoic, but sincerely imagined that he was one. Eight years
afterwards Agrippina caused his recall,[1250] in order to make him tutor
to her son Nero.

His pupil was naturally vicious; and Seneca, though wise and prudent,
was too unscrupulous a man of the world to attempt the correction of his
propensities, or to instil into him high principles. After the accession
of Nero,[1251] Seneca endeavoured to arrest his depraved career; but it
was too late: all he could do was to put into his mouth specious words
of clemency and mercy. He saw how dangerous was the unprincipled
ambition of Agrippina; and dreadful though it was to sanction parricide,
there was scarcely any other course to be pursued, except the consenting
to her death. When the deed was done, he had the pitiful meanness to
screen the murderer by a falsehood. He wrote a letter, which Nero sent
to the senate, accusing his mother of treason, and asserting that she
had committed suicide.[1252]

Seneca had by usury and legacy-hunting, amassed one of those enormous
fortunes, of which so many instances are met with in Roman history. This
had already exposed him to envy,[1253] and caused his temporary
banishment to the Balearic isles.[1254] But after that Burrus was dead,
who shared his influence over the Emperor, he felt the dangers of
wealth, and offered his property to Nero.[1255] The Emperor refused; but
Seneca retired from public life. Being now under the influence of new
favourites, Nero wished to rid himself of Seneca; and although there was
no evidence of his being privy to the conspiracy of Piso, it furnished a
pretext for his destruction.[1256] In adversity his character shone with
brighter lustre. Though he had lived ill, he could die well. His
firmness was the result, not of Stoical indifference, but of Roman
courage. He met the messengers of death without trembling. His noble
wife Paullina determined to die with him. The veins of both were opened
at the same time. The little blood which remained in his emaciated and
enfeebled frame refused to flow: he suffered excruciating agony: a warm
bath was applied, but in vain; and a draught of poison was equally
ineffectual. At last he was suffocated by the vapour of a stove, and

Seneca lived in a perilous atmosphere. The philosophy in which he
believed was hollow, and, being unsuited to his court life,[1258] he
thought it expedient to allow himself some relaxation from its severity.
His rhetorical taste led him to overstate even his own real convictions;
and hence the incongruity of his life appeared more glaring. He was not
insincere; but he had not firmness to act up to the high moral standard
which he proposed to himself. In his letters, and his treatise “_De
Consolatione_,” addressed to Polybius, he even convicts himself of this
defect. He had difficult questions to decide, and had not sufficient
moral principle to lead him in the right course. He was avaricious; but
it was the great sin of his times. Tacitus is not blind to his
weaknesses;[1259] but he estimates his character with more candour and
fairness than Dio.[1260] He is neither a panegyrist nor an accuser. The
education of one who was a brute rather than a man was a task to the
discharge of which no one would have been equal. He, therefore, retained
the influence which he had not uprightness to command by miserable and
sinful expedients. He had great abilities, and some of the noble
qualities of the old Romans. Had he lived in the days of the Republic he
would have been a great man.

Seneca was the author of twelve ethical treatises, the best of which are
entitled “_De Providentiâ_,” “_De Constantiâ Sapientis_,” and “_De
Consolatione_.” The latter was addressed to his mother Helvia, and
written during his exile in Corsica. In the treatise on Providence he
discusses the question why, since there is a Divine Providence, good men
are liable to misfortunes. Although the difficulty is explained by the
doctrine that the remedy, “_suicide_,” is always in man’s power, it
asserts the omnipresence of the Deity, and the existence of a moral
Governor of the universe.

Great as are the inconsistencies in his ethical philosophy (nor could it
be otherwise, as his life was always doing despite to his moral sense of
right and wrong,) his views are generally clear and practical. In this
he was a true Roman; he cared little for abstract speculation; he did
not value, except as subordinate aids, either mental or natural
philosophy. He delighted to inculcate precepts rather than investigate
principles. It is for this reason that his works are not satisfactory as
a whole, whilst they furnish a rich mine for quotations. The fault which
pervades all Roman philosophy exists in an exaggerated form in his
works: they are ethical digests of didactic precepts; but there is no
system, no developement of new truths. His studies taught him that
general principles are the foundations of morals, and that casuistry is
the application of those principles;[1261] but the Romans were naturally
inclined to be casuists rather than moralists; and in this preference
Seneca went beyond all his countrymen. He writes like a teacher of youth
rather than as a philosopher; he inculcates, without proof, maxims and
instructions, and impresses them by repetition, as though they
recommended themselves by their intrinsic truthfulness to the
consciences of his hearers.

Seneca was always a favourite with Christian writers; he is in fact a
better guide to others than he was to himself. Some of his sentiments
are truly Christian; there is even a tradition that he was acquainted
with St. Paul, and fourteen letters to that apostle have been, though
without grounds, attributed to him. He may, however, unconsciously have
imbibed some of the principles of Christianity. The gospel had already
made great and rapid strides over the civilized world, and thoughtful
minds may have been enlightened by some of the rays of divine truth
dispersed through the moral atmosphere, just as we are benefited by the
light of the sun, even when its disc is obscured by clouds.

His Epistles, of which there are one hundred and twenty-four, are moral
essays in an epistolary form, and are the most delightful of his works.
Although addressed to a disciple named Lucilius, they are evidently
written for the public eye: they are rich in varied thought, and the
reflections flow naturally and without effort. Letters were perhaps the
most appropriate vehicle for his preceptive philosophy, because such a
desultory style is best adapted to convey isolated and unconnected
maxims. They contain a free and unconstrained picture of his mind. We
see in them how he despised verbal subtleties,[1262] the external badges
of a sect or creed, and insisted that the great end of science is to
learn how to live and how to die.

In his old age he wrote seven books on questions connected with natural
phenomena (_Quæstionum Naturalium_, Libri vii.) Why he did so it is
impossible to say, since he had so often argued against the utility of
physical studies.[1263] The declamatory praise which he bestows upon
them in this work would lead us to suppose that it was a mere exercise
for amusement and relaxation. But in this case he is not so inconsistent
as might be supposed—he treats the subject like a moralist, and makes it
the occasion of ethical reflections.[1264]

Once he indulged in the playfulness of satire. He had written a fulsome
funeral oration on Claudius, which Nero delivered in the midst of
laughter and derision; but for this abject flattery he afterwards made
compensation by composing, as a parody on the apotheosis of the stupid
Emperor, the _Apocolocyntosis_, or his metamorphosis into a pumpkin. The
pun was good enough, but the execution miserable.

In the style of Seneca we see the result of that false declamatory taste
of which the works of his father furnish specimens. Thought was
subordinate to expression. The masters of rhetoric were all in all. His
style is too elaborate to please; it is generally affected, often florid
and bombastic: he seems always striving to produce striking effects,
either by antithesis or ornament; of course he defeats his object, for
there is no light and shade. There is too much sparkle and glitter, too
little repose and simplicity.

                              CHAPTER IX.

                          C. PLINIUS SECUNDUS.

Pliny the Elder was born A. D. 23, either at Verona[1265] or
Novo-Comum[1266] (Como.) As he possessed estates at the latter town, and
his nephew, the younger Pliny, whom he adopted, was undoubtedly born
there, it was most probably the family residence and the place of the
elder Pliny’s nativity. He was educated at Rome; and serving Claudius in
Germany, employed the opportunities which this campaign afforded him in
travelling. Afterwards he returned to Rome and practised at the bar;
filled different civil offices, amongst them that of augur, and was
subsequently appointed procurator in Spain.[1267]

Some interesting particulars respecting his life and habits are
contained in a letter of the younger Pliny to his friend Macer,[1268]
illustrative of his studies, his temper, his thirst for knowledge, and
his strict economy of time. The letter is also valuable for another
reason—namely, as giving a catalogue of all the writings of his uncle.
“It is a great satisfaction to me,” he writes, “that you so constantly
and diligently read my uncle’s works, that you wish to possess them all,
and ask me for a list of them. I will therefore perform the duty of an
index; and will also tell you the order in which they were written.” He
then subjoins the following titles:—(1.) The Art of using the Javelin on
Horseback; composed when he was commander of cavalry in Germany. (2.)
The Life of his friend Pomponius Secundus. (3.) A History of all the
Wars, twenty in number, which the Romans had carried on with the
Germans. This was commenced during his German campaign, in obedience to
the suggestions of a dream:—“There appeared to him whilst sleeping the
shade of Drusus; commended his memory to his care, and besought him to
rescue it from undeserved oblivion.” In accordance with his
superstitious and credulous temper, he obeyed the call of his
supernatural visitant. (4.) A treatise on Eloquence, entitled
“Studiosus,” in three books, but subdivided, on account of its length,
into six volumes. In it he traces the education of an orator from the
very cradle. (5.) Eight books on Grammatical Ambiguity, which he wrote
during the reign of Nero, a period when imperial tyranny rendered
studies of a freer kind too perilous. (6.) Thirty books in continuation
of the History of Aufidius Bassus, dedicated to the Emperor Titus.[1269]
(7.) Thirty-seven books on Natural History—a work, not only, as Pliny
the Younger describes it, as full of variety as Nature herself, but, as
will be shown hereafter, a treasure-house of the arts, as well as of
natural objects.

“You will wonder,” he continues, “how a man occupied with official
business could have completed so many volumes filled with such minute
information. You will be still more surprised to learn that he practised
sometimes as a pleader; that he died in his fifty-sixth year; and that
the intermediate time was distracted and interrupted by the friendship
of princes and most important public affairs. But he was a man of
vigorous intellect, incredible application, and unwearied activity.
Immediately after the festival of the Vulcanalia (August 23d,) he used
to begin to study in the dead of the night; in the winter at one o’clock
in the morning, at the latest at two, often at midnight. No one ever
slept so little—sometimes he would snatch a brief interval of sleep in
the midst of his studies. Before dawn he would wait upon the Emperor,
for he also used the night for transacting business. Thence he proceeded
to the discharge of his official duties; and whatever time remained he
devoted to study.

“After a light and frugal meal, which, according to the old fashion, he
partook of by day, he would in summer, if he had any leisure time,
recline in the sun whilst a book was read to him, from which he took
notes and made extracts. In fact, he never read any book without making
extracts; for he used to say that no book was so bad but that some
profit could be derived from it. After sunset he generally took a cold
bath, then a slight repast, and afterwards slept for a very short time.
When he awoke, as if it were a new day, he studied till supper; during
which a book was read, on which he made annotations as the reading
proceeded. I remember that one of his friends interrupted the reader,
because he had mispronounced a word, and compelled him to repeat it;
upon which my uncle asked, ‘Did you understand him?’ and when he
answered in the affirmative, he continued—‘Why did you interrupt him? we
have lost more than ten lines;’—so frugal was he of his time. In summer
he rose from the supper-table by daylight, in winter at nightfall; and
this custom was a law to him.

“These were his habits amidst the toils and bustle of a town-life. In
the retirement of the country the bath was the only interruption to his
studies. But only the bath itself, for whilst he was rubbed and wiped
dry, he either dictated to an amanuensis or had a book read to him. On
journeys, as he was then relieved from all other cares, study was the
only employment of his leisure. He had a precis-writer at his side, with
books and tablets, who in the winter wore gloves, so that his master’s
studies might not be interrupted by the severity of the cold. For the
same reason, when at Rome, he always used a sedan. I remember once
having been chid by him for walking: ‘You might,’ said he, ‘avoid
wasting all this time.’ For he thought all time was lost which was not
devoted to study. By this intense application he completed so many
volumes, and bequeathed to me, besides, one hundred and sixty rolls of
commentaries, written in the smallest possible hand and on both sides.
He used to say that when he was procurator in Spain, he was offered for
a portion of them 400,000 sesterces (about 3,200_l._) by Lartius
Licinius.... I cannot help laughing when people call me studious, for,
compared with him, I am the idlest fellow in the world.”

Pliny perished a martyr to the cause of science, in the terrible
eruption of Vesuvius, which took place in the first year of the reign of
Titus.[1270] Had he been as ardent an original observer in all other
respects, instead of a mere plodding student, and collector, and
transcriber of other men’s observations, his works would have been less
voluminous, but more valuable. The eruption in which he perished was the
first of which there is any record in history. It is probable that none
of any consequence had occurred before; and that the lava had never
before devastated the smiling slopes and green vineyards which Martial
has described.[1271] The circumstances of his death are thus described
by his nephew[1272] in two letters to Tacitus:—“He was at Misenum, in
command of the fleet. On the 24th of August, about one o’clock P. M., my
mother pointed out to him a cloud of unusual size and appearance. He had
lain in the sunshine, bathed, and taken refreshment, and was now
studying. He forthwith asked for his shoes; and ascended an eminence
from which he could best see the phenomenon. The distance was too great
to know for certain from what mountain the cloud arose, but it was
afterwards ascertained to be Vesuvius. Its form resembled that of a pine
tree more than anything else. It rose into the air in the form of a tall
trunk, and then diffused itself like spreading branches. The reason of
this I take to be that it was at first carried upwards by a fresh
current of air, which as it grew older and weaker was unable to support
it, or perhaps its own gravity caused it to vanish in a horizontal
direction. Sometimes it was white, sometimes solid and spotted,
according to the quantity of earth and ashes which it threw up.

“The phenomenon appeared to him, as a learned man, deserving of closer
investigation. He ordered a light galley to be fitted out, and gave me
permission to accompany him. I replied that I preferred studying, and as
it chanced he himself had given me something to write. Just as he was
leaving the house with his note-book in his hand, the troops stationed
at Retina, a village at the foot of the mountain, from which there was
no escape except by sea, alarmed by the imminent peril they were in,
sent to entreat him to rescue them. Notwithstanding this circumstance
his determination was unaltered; but the task which he had commenced
with earnestness he went through with the greatest resolution.

“He launched some quadriremes, and embarked for the purpose of
assisting, not Retina only, but others; for the beauty of the coast had
attracted a large population. He hastened to the spot whence others were
flying, and steered a direct course to the point of danger, so
fearlessly that he observed all the phases and forms of that sad
calamity, and dictated his remarks on them to his secretary. Soon ashes
fell on the decks, and the nearer he approached the hotter and thicker
they became. With them were mingled scorched and blackened
pumice-stones, and stones split by fire. Now the sudden reflux of the
sea, and the fragments of the volcano which covered the coast, presented
an obstacle to his progress, and he hesitated for awhile whether he
should not return. At length, when his sailing-master recommended him to
do so, he exclaimed, ‘Fortune favours the brave—steer for the villa of

“This was situated at Stabiæ, and was divided from the coast near
Vesuvius by an inlet or gulf formed by the sea. His friend, although
danger was not yet imminent, yet, as it was within sight, and would be
very near if it increased, had put his baggage on board of a ship, and
had determined on flight if the wind, which was then contrary, should
lull. A fair wind carried my uncle thither. He embraced his trembling
friend, consoled and encouraged him. In order to assuage his fears by
showing his own unconcern, he caused himself to be carried to a bath:
after bathing, he sat down to supper with cheerfulness, or, what is
almost the same thing, with the appearance of it. Meanwhile from many
parts of the volcano broad flames burst forth: the blaze was reflected
from the sky, and the glare and brightness were enhanced by the darkness
of the night. He, to soothe the alarm of Pomponianus, endeavoured to
persuade him that what he saw was only the burning villages which the
country people had deserted in their consternation. He then retired to
rest and slept soundly; for his snoring, which on account of his broad
chest was deep and resonant, was heard by those who were watching at the

“Soon the court through which there was access to his apartment was so
choked with cinders and pumice that longer delay would have rendered
escape impossible. He was awakened; and went to Pomponianus and the
rest, who had sat up all night. They then held a consultation whether
they should remain in the house or go into the open fields. For repeated
shocks of an earthquake made the houses rock to and fro, and seemed to
move them from their foundations; whilst in the air the fall of
half-burnt pumice, though light, menaced danger. After balancing the two
dangers, he chose the latter course: with him, however, it was a
comparison of reasons, with others of fears. They tied cushions over
their heads with towels, to protect them from the falling stones.
Although it was now day elsewhere, the darkness here was denser than the
darkest night, broken only by torches and lights of different kinds.
They next walked out to the coast to see whether the sea was calm enough
to venture upon it, but it was still a waste of stormy waters. Then he
spread a linen cloth and lay down upon it, asked for two or three
draughts of cold water; and, afterwards, flames, and that sulphureous
smell which is the forerunner of them, put his companions to flight and
aroused him.

“He arose by the assistance of two slaves, and immediately fell down
dead, suffocated as I imagine by the dense vapour, and the functions of
his stomach being disordered, which were naturally weak, and liable to
obstructions and difficulty of digestion. On the morning of the third
day after his body was found entire, uninjured, and in the clothes in
which he died: its appearance was rather that of sleep than death.”

Pliny the Younger was left with his mother at Misenum; and in another
letter he gives an account of the appearance of the eruption at that

“After my uncle’s departure, I spent some time in study (for that was my
object in remaining behind:) I then bathed and supped, and had some
broken and restless sleep. For many days previously shocks of an
earthquake had been felt; but they caused less alarm because they are
usual in Campania; but on that night they were so violent that it was
thought they would not only shake but overturn everything. My mother
burst into my bed-chamber—I was just rising in order to arouse her, in
case she should be asleep. We sat down in the court which divided the
house from the sea. I know not whether to call this courage or
imprudence, for I was only in my eighteenth year. I asked for a volume
of Livy, and began to read it leisurely and to make extracts.

“Well! a friend of my uncle came in who had lately arrived from Spain,
and when he saw us sitting together, and me reading, he rebuked his
patience and my ‘insouciance.’ Still I was not the less for that
absorbed in my book. It was now seven o’clock, and the dawn broke
faintly and languidly. The surrounding buildings were tottering; and the
space in which we were, being limited in extent, there was great reason
to fear their fall. We then resolved to leave town. The populace
followed in alarm.

“When at a sufficient distance from the buildings we halted, and
witnessed many a wonderful and alarming phenomenon. The carriages which
we had ordered to be brought out, although the ground was very level,
rolled in different directions, and even stones placed under the wheels
could not stop them. The sea ebbed and seemed to be repelled by the
earthquake. The coast certainly had advanced, and detained many marine
animals on dry land. On the other side of the heavens hung a dark and
awful cloud, riven by wreathed and quivering lines of fiery vapour, in
long flashes resembling lightning, but larger. Then our friend from
Spain exclaimed, with eagerness and vehemence, ‘If your relative lives,
he doubtless wishes your safety; if he has perished, he wished you to
survive him. Why then do you delay to escape?’ Our answer was, ‘We will
not think of our own safety so long as we are uncertain of his.’ Without
any more delay he hurried off, and was soon beyond the reach of danger.
Soon the cloud descended to the earth, and brooded over the sea; it
shrouded Capreæ, and hid from our eyes the promontory of Misenum. My
mother besought, entreated, nay, commanded me to fly by all means; she
felt that, weighed down by years and infirmity, she should die contented
if she had not been the cause of my death. I, on the other hand,
persisted that I would not seek safety except with her. I took her by
the hand and forced her to go forward. She obeyed reluctantly, and
blamed herself for delaying me. Ashes now began to fall, though as yet
in small quantities. I looked back; behind us was thick darkness, which
poured over the earth like a torrent. ‘Let us turn aside from the road,’
said I, ‘whilst we can see, for fear we should be thrown down and
trampled under foot by the crowd in the darkness.’ We had scarce time to
[think about it] [sit down] when we were enveloped in darkness, not like
that of a moonless night, or clouds, but like that of a room shut up
when the lights are extinguished. Then were heard the shrieks of women,
the wailings of infants, the shouts of men; some were calling for their
parents, others for their children, others for their wives, whom they
could only recognise by their voices. Some bewailed their own
misfortune, others that of their family; some even from the fear of
death prayed for death. Many lifted up their hands to the gods; still
more believed that there were no gods, and that the last eternal night
had overwhelmed the world. There were not wanting some to increase the
real danger by fictitious and imaginary terrors; and some brought word
that the conflagration was at Misenum: the false intelligence met with
credence. By degrees the light returned; but it seemed to us not the
return of day, but the indication that the fire was approaching. Its
progress, however, was arrested at some distance: again darkness
succeeded with showers of ashes. Every now and then we got up and shook
them off from us, otherwise we should have been overwhelmed and bruised
by their weight. I might boast that not a groan or unmanly expression
escaped me in the midst of my dangers, were it not that my firmness was
founded on the consolatory belief that all mankind was involved,
together with myself, in one common ruin. At length the darkness cleared
up, and dispersed like smoke or mist. Real daylight succeeded; even the
sun shone forth, but with a lurid light as when eclipsed. The aspect of
everything which met our astonished eyes was changed: ashes covered the
ground like a deep snow. We returned to Misenum, and refreshed
ourselves, and passed an anxious night in alternate hopes and fears: the
latter, however, predominated. The earthquake still continued; and many,
in a state of frenzy, made a mockery of their own and their neighbours’
misfortunes by terrific prophecies.” The above letters, though long,
have been quoted because they detail, in the most interesting manner,
the circumstances of the elder Pliny’s death, and at the same time
illustrate the simple and graphic power of the nephew’s pen.

The Natural Philosophy of Pliny is, to say the least, an unequalled
monument of studious diligence and persevering industry. It consists of
thirty-seven books, and contains, according to his own account,[1274]
20,000 facts (as he believed them to be) connected with nature and art:
the result, not of original research, but, as he honestly confessed,
culled from the labours of other men. It must, however, be allowed that
the confused arrangement is owing partly to the indefinite state of
science, and the consequent mingling together of branches which are
separate and distinct.[1275]

Owing to the extent and variety of his reading, his credulous love of
the marvellous, and his want of judgment in comparing and selecting, he
does not present us with a correct view of the degree of truth to which
science had attained in his own age. He does not show how one age had
corrected the errors of a preceding one; but reproduces errors,
evidently obsolete and inconsistent with facts and theories which had
grown up afterwards and replaced them.

With him mythological traditions appear to have almost the same
authority as modern discoveries. The earth teems with monsters, not
miracles, or exceptions to the regular order of nature, but specimens of
her ingenuity. In his theory of the universe he assumes such causes and
principles as lead him to admit, without question, the existence of
prodigies, however impossible they may be. They are wonderful because
unusual; but they are effects which might result from the natural causes
which he believed to be in operation. His theory, that Nature acted not
only by regular laws but often by actual interferences, (for this was
the character of his pantheism, ii. 5, 7,)—his belief that the various
germs of created things were scattered in profusion throughout the
universe, and accidentally mingling in confusion produced monstrous
forms, (3)—prepared him to consider nothing incredible (xi. 3;) and his
temper inclined him to go further, and to admit almost every thing which
was credible as true.[1276]

Deficient as the work is in scientific value and philosophical
arrangement, the author evidently wished to stamp it with a character of
practical utility. It is an encyclopædia of the knowledge which could be
brought together from different sources; and for such a work there are
two important requisites—facility of reference, and the citation of
authorities. With this view the whole is preceded by a summary, and to
each book is added a table of contents, together with the names of
authors to whom he is indebted.

The work commences with the theory of the universe;[1277] the history
and science of astronomy; meteorological phenomena; and the geological
changes which have taken place on the earth by volcanic and aqueous
action. Geography, both physical and political, occupy the four next
books.[1278] Here truth and error are mingled in dire confusion.
Accounts which are based solely on the traditions of remote antiquity
are given side by side with the results of modern investigation, and yet
no distinction is drawn as to authenticity; and, owing to his confusing
together such different accounts, measurements and distances are
generally wrong.

But in the zoological division of the work, which next follows,[1279] he
gives unrestrained scope to his credulity and love of the marvellous. He
tells of men whose feet were turned backwards; of others whose feet were
so large as to shade them when they lay in the sun. He describes beings
in whom both sexes were united; others in whom a change of sex had taken
place; others without mouths, who fed on the fragrance of fruits and
flowers.[1280] Such are some of the marvels of the human race recorded
by him. Amongst the lower animals he enumerates horned horses furnished
with wings;[1281] the Mantichora, with the face of a man, three rows of
teeth, a lion’s body, and a scorpion’s tail;[1282] the unicorn with a
stag’s head, a horse’s body, the feet of an elephant, and the tail of a
boar;[1283] the basilisk, whose very glance is fatal. The seas are
peopled not only with sea-goats and sea-elephants, but with real Nereids
and Tritons.[1284] Mice, according to his account, produce their young
by licking each other; and fire produces an insect (pyralis) which
cannot live except in the midst of the flames.

Sixteen books[1285] are devoted to botany, both general and medical; and
the medicinal properties of the human frame, and of other animal
substances, as well as of different waters, are next discussed.[1286] An
account of minerals and metals concludes the work; and this portion
embraces an account of their various uses in the fine arts, intermingled
with interesting anecdotes and histories of art and artists. This is the
most valuable as well as the most pleasing section of the work.

He was pre-eminently a collector of stories and anecdotes and supposed
facts, and he was only accidentally a naturalist, because natural
history furnished the most extensive variety of marvellous and curious
materials. The naturalist, Cuvier,[1287] observed his want of judgment,
his credulity, his defective arrangement, and the inappropriate nature
of his observations. Notwithstanding all these faults this elaborate
work contains many valuable truths, much entertaining information, and
the style in which it is written is, when not too florid, full of vigour
and expression. The philosophical belief can scarcely be considered that
of any particular school, although tinctured by the prevalent Stoicism
of the day; but its pervading character is querulous and melancholy.
Believing that nature is an all-powerful principle, and the world or
universe itself, instinct with Deity, he saw more of evil than of good
in the Divine dispensations; and the result was a gloomy and
discontented pantheism.

                   PLINY THE YOUNGER (BORN A. D. 61.)

C. Plinius Cæcilius Secundus was sister’s son to the elder Pliny. Most
of the information which we possess respecting his life and character is
derived from his letters. He was born at Novo-Comum, on the Lake Larius
(Como;) and as he was in his eighteenth year[1288] at the time of the
eruption of Vesuvius, which took place A. D. 79, the date of his birth
must have been A. D. 61.

On the death of his father, C. Cæcilius, he was adopted by his uncle,
and therefore took the name of Plinius. He was educated under the
guardianship of Virginius Rufus, who felt for him the affection of a
parent. The regard was evidently mutual. “I loved him,” writes Pliny to
Voconius,[1289] with that tenderness which so frequently adorns his
letters, especially those to his wife Calphurnia, “as much as I admired
him;” and he thus concludes his letter: “I had wished to write to you on
many other subjects, but my thoughts are fully occupied on this one
subject of contemplation. I see, I think of no one but Virginius. In
fancy I seem to hear his voice, to address him, to hold him in my arms.
We may perhaps have, and shall continue to have, men equal to him in
virtue, but no one equal to him in glory.” In belles-lettres and
eloquence[1290] he attended constantly the lectures of Quintilian and
Nicetes Sacerdos, of whom favourable mention is made by Seneca.[1291]

Under the care of such tutors and such an uncle, his literary tastes
were cultivated early, and before he had completed his fifteenth year he
gave proof of his love of poetry, by writing what he modestly says _was
called_ a Greek tragedy. This taste for poetry remained to him in after
life: once when weather-bound at the island of Icaria, he celebrated the
event in an elegiac poem. He wrote hexameters, of which he gives a short
specimen, and also a birth-day ode in hendecasyllables, and he tells us
he wrote with quickness and facility.[1292]

He was called to the bar in his nineteenth year, and attained great
celebrity as a pleader.[1293] He stood high in favour with Trajan; and
filled with distinction high offices, both military and civil. He was
military tribune in Syria; and besides being prætor and consul at home,
he served as procurator of the province of Bithynia abroad. He was
gentle, liberal, refined, and benevolent; and his zeal for the interests
of literature, and his wish that the youths of Como might not be forced
to resort to Milan for education, but might owe that blessing to their
native place,[1294] led him to offer help in founding a school, in
forming a public library, and in establishing exhibitions for ingenuous
students.[1295] He thought with justice, such acts of munificence nobler
than gaudy spectacles and barbarous shows of gladiators.

His works consist of a Panegyric on Trajan and a collection of Letters
in ten books. The Panegyric is a piece of courtly flattery, for the
fulsomeness of which the only defence which can be made, is the cringing
and fawning manners of his times. It was written and delivered in the
year in which he was consul.[1296] The Letters are very valuable, not
only for the insight which they give into his own character, but also
into the manners and modes of thought of his illustrious contemporaries,
as well as the politics of the day. Many of them bear evident marks of
having been expressly intended for publication. This of course detracts
from their value as fresh and truthful exponents of the writer’s
thoughts, which all letters ought to be; but they are most delightful to
read, and for liveliness, descriptive power, elegance and simplicity of
style, are scarcely inferior to those of Cicero, whom he evidently took
for his model.

The tenth book, which consists of his despatches to Trajan, together
with the Emperor’s rescripts, will be read with the greatest interest;
and the notices of public affairs contained in them are most valuable to
the historian. The despatch respecting the Christians, written from
Bithynia, A. D. 104, and the Emperor’s answer,[1297] are well worthy of
transcription; both because reference is so often made to them, and
because they throw light upon the marvellous and rapid propagation of
the gospel; the manners of the early Christians; the treatment to which
their constancy exposed them, even under favourable circumstances, and
the severe jealousy with which even a governor of mild and gentle temper
thought it his duty to regard them. “It is my constant practice, sire,
to refer to you all subjects on which I entertain doubt. For who is
better able to direct my hesitation or to instruct my ignorance? I have
never been present at the trials of Christians, and therefore I do not
know in what way, or to what extent, it is usual to question or to
punish them. I have also felt no small difficulty in deciding whether
age should make any difference, or whether those of the tenderest and
those of mature years should be treated alike; whether pardon should be
accorded to repentance, or whether, where a man has once been a
Christian, recantation should profit him; whether, if the name of
Christian does not imply criminality, still the crimes peculiarly
belonging to the name should be punished. Meanwhile, in the case of
those against whom informations have been laid before me, I have pursued
the following line of conduct. I have put to them, personally, the
question whether they were Christians. If they confessed, I interrogated
them a second and third time, and threatened them with punishment. If
they still persevered, I ordered their commitment; for I had no doubt
whatever that, whatever they confessed, at any rate dogged and
inflexible obstinacy deserved to be punished. There were others who
displayed similar madness; but, as they were Roman citizens, I ordered
them to be sent back to the city. Soon persecution itself, as is
generally the case, caused the crime to spread, and it appeared in new
forms. An anonymous information was laid against a large number of
persons, but they deny that they are, or ever have been, Christians. As
they invoked the gods, repeating the form after me, and offered prayers,
together with incense and wine, to your image, which I had ordered to be
brought, together with those of the deities, and besides cursed Christ,
whilst those who are true Christians, it is said, cannot be compelled to
do any one of these things, I thought it right to set them at liberty.
Others, when accused by an informer, confessed that they were
Christians, and soon after denied the fact; they said they had been, but
had ceased to be, some three, some more, not a few even twenty years
previously. All these worshipped your image and those of the gods, and
cursed Christ. But they affirmed that the sum total of their fault or
their error was, that they were accustomed to assemble on a fixed day
before dawn, and sing an antiphonal hymn to Christ as God: that they
bound themselves by an oath, not to the commission of any wickedness,
but to abstain from theft, robbery, and adultery; never to break a
promise, or to deny a deposit when it was demanded back. When these
ceremonies were concluded, it was their custom to depart, and again
assemble together to take food harmlessly and in common. That after my
proclamation, in which, in obedience to your command, I had forbidden
associations, they had desisted from this practice. For these reasons I
the more thought it necessary to investigate the real truth, by putting
to the torture two maidens, who were called deaconesses; but I
discovered nothing but a perverse and excessive superstition. I have
therefore deferred taking cognizance of the matter until I had consulted
you. For it seemed to me a case requiring advice, especially on account
of the number of those in peril. For many of every age, sex, and rank,
are and will continue to be called in question. The infection, in fact,
has spread not only through the cities, but also through the villages
and open country; but it seems that its progress can be arrested. At any
rate, it is clear that the temples which were almost deserted begin to
be frequented; and solemn sacrifices, which had been long intermitted,
are again performed, and victims are being sold everywhere, for which up
to this time a purchaser could rarely be found. It is therefore easy to
conceive that crowds might be reclaimed if an opportunity for repentance
were given.”

                           _Trajan to Pliny._

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

Pliny’s accurate and judicious mind, his political and administrative
prudence, his taste for the beautiful, his power of description, his
unrivalled neatness, his skill in investing with a peculiar interest
every subject he takes in hand, may be amply proved by a perusal of his
Letters. His touches are neither too many nor too few. A mere note of
thanks for a present of thrushes[1298] shows as much skill, in its way,
as his numerous elaborate despatches to the Emperor.[1299] His brief
biographical notice of Silius Italicus contains, in a few short
sentences, all that can be said favourably of the life and character of
his correspondent. The sympathy which he felt for his friends, as well
as the delicacy of his panegyric, are exhibited in the few lines which
he penned to Germinius on the death of the wife of Macrinus;[1300] his
honesty in the case of the inheritance of Pomponia;[1301] his legal
skill in passages too numerous to specify; his descriptive power in the
narrative of the eruption of Vesuvius,[1302] in which his uncle
perished; and in the full and minute description of his villa, its
rooms, furniture, works of art, garden, and surrounding scenery.

                               CHAPTER X.

                        M. FABIUS QUINTILIANUS.

In this peculiarly rhetorical age, the most distinguished teacher of
rhetoric was M. Fabius Quintilianus. He attempted to restore a purer and
more classical taste; and although to a certain extent he was
successful, the effect which he produced was only temporary. He was,
like Martial, a Spaniard, born[1303] at Calagurris, the modern
Calahorra.[1304] At an early age he came to Rome, and had the advantage
of hearing the celebrated orators Domitius Afer and Julius Africanus,
whose eloquence he considered superior to that of their
contemporaries.[1305] How long he remained at Rome is uncertain; but he
appears to have gone back to his native country, and then returned to
the capital together with the Emperor Galba.

Although he practised as a pleader, he was far more eminent as an
instructor. Domitian intrusted to him the education of his two
great-nephews;[1306] and the younger Pliny was also one of his
pupils.[1307] The Emperor’s favour conferred on him that reward to which
Juvenal alludes in the following lines:—

             Si Fortuna volet fies de rhetore consul;[1308]

and besides this he held one of the professorships which were endowed by
Vespasian with 100,000 sestertia per annum (800_l._[1309]) He thus
formed an exception to the larger number of instructors and grammarians
who swarmed in Rome, who, depending on the fees of their pupils, earned
a precarious subsistence,[1310] and was even able to purchase estates
and accumulate property.

But though more fortunate than many deserving members of his profession,
he was not esteemed a wealthy man by the rich and luxurious Romans of
his day; for his grateful pupil, Pliny, when he presented him with
400_l._ towards his daughter’s portion, spoke of him as a man of
moderate means.[1311] His expressions are:—“Te porro, animo beatissimum,
modicum facultatibus scio.” The probability is that he was twice
married. His first wife died at the early age of nineteen, leaving two
sons, of whom death bereaved him in a few years.[1312] For the
instruction of the elder of these, who survived his younger brother for
but a short time, he wrote his great work. His second wife was the
daughter of one Tutilius, and the fruit of this marriage was an only
daughter who married Nonius Celer, and to whom the liberal present of
Pliny was made. For twenty years he discharged the duties of his
professorship, and then retired from active life; and died, as is
generally supposed, about A. D. 118. His countryman, Martial,[1313]
speaks of him as the glory of the Roman bar, and the head of his
profession as an instructor:—

               Quintiliane, vagæ moderator summe juventæ,
                 Gloria Romanæ, Quintiliane, togæ.[1314]

Quintilian’s great work is entitled _Institutiones Oratoriæ_, or a
complete instruction in the art of oratory: and in it he shows himself
far superior to Cicero as a teacher, although he was inferior to him as
an orator. The rhetorical works of the great orator will not, in point
of fulness and completeness, bear a comparison with the elaborate
treatise of Quintilian. When engaged in its composition he had retired
from the duties of a public professor, and was only occupied, as he
himself states,[1315] with his duties as tutor to the great-nephew of
Domitian. He professes to have undertaken the task reluctantly, and at
the earnest solicitations of his friends. He thought that the ground was
already pre-occupied, both by Greek and Latin writers of eminence. But
seeing how wide the field was, and that such a work must treat of all
those qualifications without which no one can be an orator, he complied
with their entreaties, and dedicated his book to his friend Marcellus
Victorius, as a token of his regard, and a useful contribution towards
the education of his son. Two rhetorical treatises had already appeared
under his name, but not published by himself. One consisted of a lecture
which occupied two days in delivery; the other a longer course: and both
had been taken down in notes, and given to the public, as he says, by
his excellent but too partial pupils: (boni juvenes, sed nimium amantes

On the Institutiones he professes to have expended the greatest pains
and labour. He traces the progress of the orator from the very cradle
until he arrives at perfection.[1317] He speaks of the importance of
earliest impressions, of the parental, especially the maternal care, and
illustrates this by the example of Cornelia, to whom the Gracchi owed
their eminence; and brings forward, as instances of female eloquence,
the daughters of Lælius and Hortensius. He believes that education must
commence, and the tastes be formed, and the moral character be
impressed, even in infancy. The choice, therefore, of a nurse is, in his
opinion, as important, as of early companions, pedagogues, and

Both on account of the positive good to be acquired, and the evil
resulting from the corrupt state of Roman society which the boy would
thus avoid, he prefers a school to a home education.[1318] As we
consider the classical languages the best preparation for the study of
the vernacular tongue,[1319] so he lays down as an axiom that education
in Greek literature should precede Latin. Grammar[1320] is to be the
foundation of education, together with its subdivisions, declension,
construction,[1321] orthography,[1322] the use of words,[1323] rhythm,
metre, the beauties and faults of style,[1324] reading,[1325] delivery,
action;[1326] and to these are to be added music and geometry.[1327]

Primary education being completed, the young student is to be
transferred to the care of the rhetorician.[1328] The choice of a proper
instructor,[1329] as well as his duties and character,[1330] are
described; the necessary exercises, the reading and study of orations
and histories are recommended,[1331] and the nature, principles,
objects, and utility of oratory are accurately investigated. In the
third book, after a short notice of the principal writers on
rhetoric,[1332] he divides his subject into five parts,[1333] namely,
invention, arrangement, style, memory, both natural and artificial, and
delivery or action. Closely following Aristotle, he then discusses the
three kinds of oratory, the demonstrative, deliberative, and
judicial.[1334] In the fourth, he treats of the physical divisions of
all orations, namely, the exordium,[1335] the narration,[1336]
excursions or digressions,[1337] the question proposed,[1338] the
division of topics.[1339] In that part of his treatise which discusses
the next division, namely, proofs, Aristotle is his chief guide, as
meeting, in his opinion, the universal assent of all mankind. The sixth
book analyzes the peroration, and also discusses the passions,[1340]
moral habits,[1341] ridicule,[1342] and other topics, which complete the
subject of invention. The seventh treats of arrangement and its kindred
topics; the eighth and ninth of style and its essential qualities, such
as perspicuity,[1343] ornament[1344] tropes,[1345] amplification,[1346]
figures of speech.[1347]

Facility, or as we, in common with the Romans, frequently term it,
“_copia verborum_,”[1348] is the next division of the subject; and as
original invention has already occupied so large a portion of his work,
he now endeavours to guide the student in imitating the excellencies of
the best Greek and Latin writers; and tells him that the next duty, in
point of importance, is to profit by the inventions of others.[1349] A
wide field is thus opened before him, affording an opportunity for the
display of his extensive learning, his critical taste, his penetrating
discrimination, and his great power of illustration.[1350]

He passes over in rapid review the whole history of Greek and Roman
literature. His remarks, though brief, are clear and decided, and are
marked with an attractive beauty and sound judgment, which have stood
the test of ages, and recommend themselves to all who have been
distinguished for pure classical taste. So adroit is he in catching the
leading features, that the portraits of great authors of antiquity,
though only sketches and outlines, stand forth in bold and tangible
shape, each exhibiting marked and distinct characteristics. There are
few specimens of criticism so attractive, so suggestive, and which lay
such hold on the memory, as this portion of the Institutions of
Quintilian. Other subjects are also briefly handled in the tenth book,
such as the necessity of pains and elaborate corrections, in order to
form a polished style.[1351] The choice of materials,[1352] original
thought,[1353] the means of acquiring and perfecting a habit of
extemporaneous speaking.[1354]

The eleventh book is devoted to the subjects of appropriateness,
memory,[1355] and delivery.[1356]

The twelfth opens with what the author designates[1357] as the most
grave and important portion of the whole work, well worthy of the
dignified character of true Roman virtue. Its subject is the high moral
qualifications necessary for a perfect orator.[1358] Talent, wisdom,
learning, eloquence are nothing, if the mind is distracted and torn
asunder by vicious thoughts and depraved passions.[1359] The orator,
therefore, must learn studies by what his moral character can alone be
formed;[1360] he must possess that firmness of principle which will
cause him fearlessly to practise what he knows. “Neque erit perfectus
orator nisi qui honeste dicere et sciet et audebit.”

A knowledge of history[1361] and the principles of jurisprudence,[1362]
he also considers indispensably necessary, notwithstanding the slighting
way in which Cicero speaks of the antiquarian learning of the
jurisconsults. Some practical rules[1363] are also added as to the time
of commencing practice in the courts, the rules to be observed in
undertaking causes,[1364] and the cautions to be attended to in
preparing and pleading them.[1365] He deprecates the undertaking such
important duties early, although the call to the bar at Rome took place
as soon as the manly gown was assumed: tradition spoke of boys clothed
with the prætexta pleading. Cæsar Augustus, at twelve years old,
publicly pronounced a eulogy on his grandmother, as did Tiberius at the
early age of nine over the body of his deceased father.[1366]

Enough has been said to show the fulness and completeness with which
Quintilian has exhausted his subject, and left, as a monument of his
taste and genius, a text-book of the science and art of nations, as well
as a masterly sketch of the eloquence of antiquity.

There have been attributed to Quintilian, besides his great work,
nineteen declamations or judicial speeches relating to imaginary suits;
also one hundred and forty-five sketches of orations, the remains of a
larger collection, consisting of three hundred and eighty-eight. But
there is no evidence in favour of their being his, and their style seems
to show that they were the work of different authors and different ages.
Neither is there any good reason for considering that the treatise on
the Causes of Corrupt Eloquence is the same as that to which he alludes
in the proëmium to the sixth and the conclusion of the eighth book[1367]
of the Institutions. Indeed, the almost unanimous opinion of scholars
assigns it to Tacitus. His works were discovered by Poggius, together
with those of Silius Italicus and L. Valerius Flaccus, in the monastery
of St. Gall, twenty miles from Constance, during the sitting of the
celebrated ecclesiastical council.

The disposition of Quintilian was as affectionate and tender as his
genius was brilliant, and his taste pure. Few passages throughout the
whole range of Latin literature can be compared to that in which he
mourns the loss of his wife and children. It is the touching eloquence
of one who could not write otherwise than gracefully; and if he murmurs
at the divine decrees, it must be remembered that his dearest hopes were
blighted, and that he had not the hopes, the consolation, or the
teaching of a Christian. “I had a son,” he says, “whose eminent genius
deserved a father’s anxious diligence. I thought that if—which I might
fairly have expected and wished for—death had removed me from him, I
could have left him, as the best inheritance, a father’s instructions.
But by a second blow, a second bereavement, I have lost the object of my
highest hopes, the only comfort of my declining years. What shall I do
now? Of what use can I suppose myself to be, as the gods have cast me
off? It happened that when I commenced my book on the Causes of Corrupt
Eloquence, I was stricken by a similar blow. It would surely have been
best then to have flung upon the funeral pile—which was destined
prematurely to consume all that bound me to life—my unlucky work, and
the ill-starred fruits of all my toils, and not to have wearied with new
cares a life to which I so unnaturally clung. For what tender parent
would pardon me if I were able to study any longer, and not hate my
firmness of mind, if I, who survived all my dear ones, could find any
employment for my tongue except to accuse the gods, and to protest that
no Providence looks down upon the affairs of men? If I cannot say this
in reference to my own case, to which no objection can be made except
that I survive, at least I can with reference to theirs—condemned to an
unmerited and untimely grave.

“Their mother had before been torn from me, who had given birth to two
sons before she had completed her nineteenth year; and though her death
was a cruel blow to me, to her it was a happy one. To me the affliction
was so crushing, that fortune could no longer restore me to happiness.
For not only did the exercise of every feminine virtue render her
husband’s grief incurable, but, compared with my own age, she was but a
girl, and therefore her loss may be accounted as that of a child. Still,
my children survived, and were my joy and comfort, and she since I
survived (a thing unnatural, although she wished it,) escaped by a
precipitate flight the agonies of grief. In my younger son, who died at
five years old, I lost one light of my eyes. I have no ambition to make
much of my misfortunes, or to exaggerate the reasons which I have for
sorrow; would that I had means of assuaging it! But how can I conceal
his lovely countenance, his endearing talk, his sparkling wit, and (what
I feel can scarcely be believed) his calm and deep solidity of mind? Had
he been another’s child he would have won my love. But insidious
fortune, in order to inflict on me severer anguish, made him more
affectionate to me than to his nurses, his grandmother, who brought him
up, and all who usually gain the attachment of children of that age.

“Thankful therefore do I feel for that sorrow in which but a few months
before I was plunged by the loss of his matchless, his inestimable
mother; for my lot was less a subject for tears than hers was for
rejoicing. One only hope, support, and consolation, had remained in my
Quintilian. He had not, like my younger son, just put forth his early
blossoms, but entering on his tenth year had shown mature and well-set
fruit. I swear by my misfortunes, by the consciousness of my
unhappiness, by those departed spirits, the deities who preside over my
grief, that in him I discerned such vigour of intellect, not only in the
acquisition of learning (and yet in all my extensive experience I never
saw it surpassed,) such a zeal for study, which, as his tutors can
testify, never required pressing, but also such uprightness, filial
affection, refinement, and generosity, as furnished grounds for
apprehending the thunder-stroke which has fallen. For it is generally
observed that a precocious maturity too quickly perishes; and there is I
know not what envious power which deflowers our brightest hopes, lest we
soar higher than human beings are permitted to soar. He possessed also
those gifts which are accidental—a clear and melodious voice, a sweet
pronunciation, a correct enunciation of every letter both in Greek and
Latin. Such promise did he give of future excellence; but he possessed
also the far higher qualities of constancy, earnestness, and firmness to
bear sorrow and to resist fear. With what admiration did his physicians
contemplate the patience with which he endured a malady of eight months’
duration! What consolation did he administer to me in his last moments!
When life and intellect began to fail, his wandering mind dwelt on
literature alone. O! dearest object of my disappointed hopes! could I
behold thy glazing eyes, thy fleeting breath? Could I embrace thy cold
and lifeless form, and live to drink again the common air? Well do I
deserve these agonizing thoughts, these tortures which I endure!”

                              CHAPTER XI.

Such were the principal writers who adorned and illustrated the
literature of the silver age: it remains only to speak briefly of those
whose works, although of minor interest, must not be passed over without

                       AURELIUS CORNELIUS CELSUS.

Celsus was the author of many works on various subjects, of which one,
in eight books, on Medicine, is now extant. The place of his birth and
the age at which he flourished are unknown, but he probably lived in the
reign of Tiberius. He was a man of comprehensive, almost encyclopædic
knowledge, and wrote on philosophy, rhetoric, agriculture, and even
strategy. It has been doubted whether he ever practised medicine, or was
only theoretically acquainted with the subject; but the independence of
his views, the practical as well as the scientific nature of his
instructions, are inconsistent with any hypothesis except that he had
himself patiently watched the phenomena of morbid action and
experimented upon its treatment. Above all, his knowledge of surgery,
and his clear exposition of surgical operations, necessarily imply that
practical experience and reality of knowledge which never could have
been acquired from books.

If we compare the masterly handling of the subject by Celsus with the
history of medicine by Pliny,[1368] it is easy to distinguish the man of
practical and experimental science from the collector and transcriber of
others’ views. His manual of medicine embraces the following subjects:
Diet,[1369] Pathology,[1370] Therapeutics,[1371] Surgery;[1372] and
without entering into its peculiar merits, a task which could only be
performed satisfactorily by a professional writer, the highest testimony
is borne to its merits by the fact of its being used as a text-book even
in the present advanced state of medical science.

The study of medicine has a tendency to predispose the mind for general
scientific investigations in other departments not immediately connected
with it. Hence the medical profession has numbered amongst its members
many men of general scientific attainments; and Celsus was an example of
this versatility. The taste of the age in which he lived turned his
attention also to polite literature; and to this may be ascribed the
Augustan purity of his style, which gained for him the appellation of
“Cicero Medicorum.”


The “Cicero of physicians” was followed by Scribonius, an obsequious
court physician, in the reign of Claudius. He was the author of several
works, one of which, a large collection of prescriptions, is extant. In
the language of impious flattery, he calls the imbecile emperor a god.
He is said to have accompanied him in his expedition to Britain.

                            POMPONIUS MELA.

Pomponius Mela may be considered as the representative of the Roman
geographers. He was a native of Tingentera, a town in Spain, and lived
in the reign of Claudius. His treatise is entitled, “De Situ Orbis,
Libri iii.” It is systematic and learned. The stores of information
derived from the Greek geographers are interspersed with entertaining
myths and lively descriptions. The knowledge, however, contained in it
is all taken from books: it is an epitome of former treatises, and is
not enriched by the discoveries of more recent travellers. The
simplicity of the style, and the almost Augustan purity of the Latinity,
prevent even so bare a skeleton and list of facts from being dry and

                     L. JUNIUS MODERATUS COLUMELLA.

The didactic work of Columella gives, in smooth and fluent, though
somewhat too diffuse, a style, the fullest and completest information on
practical agriculture amongst the Romans, in the first century of the
Christian era. Pliny is the only classical author who mentions him; but
he refers to him as a competent authority. Columella himself informs us
that he was born at Gades (Cadiz,[1373]) and resided at Rome,[1374] but
had travelled in Syria and Cilicia.[1375] It is generally supposed that
he died and was buried at Tarentum.

His work, “_De Re Rusticâ_,” is divided into twelve books. It treats of
all subjects connected with the choice and management of a farm,[1376]
the arrangement of farm buildings,[1377] the propagation and rearing of
stock,[1378] the cultivation of fruit trees,[1379] and household
economy.[1380] A calendar is attached to the eleventh book, pointing out
the cosmical risings and settings of the constellations, which marked
the successive seasons for various labours and other practical points of
rustic astronomy. The tenth book, the subject of which is horticulture,
is in hexameters. It never rises quite to the height of poetry: it is
rather metrical prose, characterized, like the rest of his work, by
fluency, and also expressed in correct versification. The reason which
he gives for this variation from his plan is, that it is intended as
supplementary to the Georgics of Virgil, and that in so doing he is
following the great poet’s own recommendations. In his preface to his
friend Silvinus he thus expresses his intention:—“Postulatio tua
pervicit ut poeticis numeris explerem Georgici carminis omissas partes,
quas tamen et ipse Virgilius significaverat posteris se memorandas

                        SEXTUS JULIUS FRONTINUS.

Sex. Jul. Frontinus deserves a place amongst Roman classical writers as
the author of two works, both of which are still extant. The first,
entitled, “Stratagematicon, Libri iv.,” was a treatise on military
tactics. The form in which he has enunciated his doctrines is that of
precepts and anecdotes of celebrated military commanders. In this way
the necessary preparations for a battle, the stratagems resorted to in
fighting, the rules for conducting sieges, and the means of maintaining
discipline in an army, are explained and illustrated in a
straight-forward and soldier-like style.

As the object which he had in view in adducing his anecdotes is
scientific illustration rather than historic truth, he is not very
particular as to the sources from which his examples are derived. It is
interesting, however, to the antiquarian, if not of practical utility to
the tactician, as displaying the theory and practice of ancient warfare.
This subject had in early times been treated of by Cato and Cincius, and
afterwards by Hyginus in a treatise on Field Fortification (_de
Castrametatione_,) and also in the epitome of Vegetius.

His other work, which has descended to modern times in a perfect state,
is a descriptive architectural treatise, in two books, on those
wonderful monuments of Roman art, the aqueducts. But besides these,
fragments remain of other works, which assign Frontinus an important
place in the estimation of the student of Roman history. These are
treatises on surveying, and the laws and customs relating to landed
property. They were partly of a scientific, partly of a jurisprudential
character, and are to be found amongst the works of the _Agri-mensores_,
or _Rei Agrariæ Scriptores_. The difficulty and obscurity of everything
connected with Roman agrarian institutions is well known; and every
fragment relating to them is valuable, because of the probability of its
throwing light upon so important a subject. Niebuhr[1381] saw their
value, and pronounced that “the fragments of Frontinus were the only
work amongst the _Agri-mensores_ which can be counted a part of
classical literature, or which was composed with any legal knowledge.”
These fragments, therefore, may be taken as a favourable specimen of
this class of writers, amongst whom were Siculus Flaccus, Argenius
Urbicus, and Hyginus (Grammaticus.)

Of the life of Frontinus himself very few facts are known. He was city
prætor in the reign of Vespasian,[1382] and succeeded Cerealis as
governor of Britain. He made a successful campaign against the
Silures[1383] (S. Wales,) and was succeeded by Agricola, A. D. 78. He
was subsequently _curator aquarum_,[1384] an office which probably
suggested the composition of his practical manual on aqueducts. He also
had a seat in the college of augurs, in which, after his death,[1385] he
was succeeded by the younger Pliny.

With this third epoch a history of Roman classical literature comes to a
close. In the silver age taste had gradually but surely declined; and
although the Roman language and literature shone forth for a time with
classic radiance in the writings of Persius, Juvenal, Quintilian,
Tacitus, and the Plinies, nothing could arrest its fall. In vain
emperors endeavoured to encourage learning by pecuniary rewards and
salaried professorships: it languished together with the death of
constitutional freedom, the extinction of patriotism, and the decay of
the national spirit. Poetry had become declamation. History had
degenerated either into fulsome panegyric, or the fleshless skeletons of
epitomes; and at length Romans seemed to disdain the use of their native
tongue—that tongue which laborious pains had brought to such a height of
polish and perfection, and wrote in Greek, as they had in the infancy of
the national literature, when Latin was too rude and imperfect to imbody
the ideas which they had derived from their Greek instructors.

The Emperor Hadrian resided long at Athens, and became imbued with a
taste and admiration for Greek; and thus the literature of Rome became
Hellenized. From this epoch the term Classical can no longer be applied
to it, for it did not retain its purity. To Greek influence succeeded
the still more corrupting one of foreign nations. Even with the death of
Nerva the uninterrupted succession of emperors of Roman or Italian birth
ceased. Trajan himself was a Spaniard; and after him not only barbarians
of every European race, but even Orientals and Africans were invested
with the imperial purple. The empire also over which they ruled was an
unwieldy mass of heterogeneous materials. The literary influence of the
capital was not felt in the distant portions of the Roman dominions.
Schools were established in the very heart of nations just emerging from
barbarism—at Burdegala (Bourdeaux,) Lugdunum (Lyons,) and Augusta
Trevirorum (Treves;) and, although the blessings of civilization and
intellectual culture were thus distributed far and wide, still literary
taste, as it filtered through the minds of foreigners, became corrupted,
and the language of the imperial city, exposed to the infectious contact
of barbarous idioms, lost its purity.[1386]

The Latin authors of this period were numerous, and many of them were
Christians; but few had taste to appreciate and imitate the literature
of the Augustan age. The brightest stars which illuminated the darkness
were A. Gellius, L. Apuleius, T. Petronius Arbiter, the learned author
of the Saturnalia; the Christian ethical philosopher, L. Cœlius
Lactantius; and that poet, in whom the graceful imagination of classical
antiquity seems to have revived, the flattering and courtly Claudian.

                          CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE.

         │        │                          │
         │        │                          │
         │        │        FIRST ERA.        │
         │        │                          │
  753–510│   1–244│Chant of the Arvalian     │Regal period.
         │        │  Brotherhood; Saturnian  │
         │        │  measure; Salian hymn;   │
         │        │  Pontifical annals; Libri│
         │        │  Lintei.                 │
      449│     305│Laws of the Twelve Tables;│The Decemvirs deposed.
         │        │  the so-called Leges     │
         │        │  Regiæ.                  │
      390│     364│     -      -      -      │Rome taken by Gauls.
      364│     390│Stage-players sent for    │The year following the
         │        │  from Etruria.           │  death of Camillus.
  326–304│ 428–450│The Tiburtine inscription │Second Samnite War.
         │        │  -                       │
      280│     474│Appius Claudius Cæcus; Ti.│The year following the
         │        │  Coruncanius.            │  arrival of Pyrrhus.
      264│     490│     -      -      -      │Commencement of first
         │        │                          │  Punic war.
      260│     494│The Columna Rostrata;     │Fifth year of the first
         │        │  epitaphs on the Scipios.│  Punic war.
      241│     513│     -      -      -      │CONCLUSION OF THE FIRST
         │        │                          │  PUNIC WAR.
      240│     514│Livius Andronicus.        │
      239│     515│Birth of Ennius.          │
      235│     519│Cnæus Nævius flourished.  │The Temple of Janus closed
         │        │                          │  for the second time.
      227│     527│Birth of Plautus; funeral │
         │        │  oration of Q. Metellus. │
      219│     535│Q. Fabius Pictor; L.      │
         │        │  Cincius Alimentus; birth│
         │        │  of Pacuvius             │
      204│     550│Ennius brought to Rome;   │
         │        │  Corn. Cethegus; P.      │
         │        │  Licinius Crassus.       │
      201│     553│Speech of Fabius          │Conclusion of second Punic
         │        │  Cunctator; Sextus Ælius │  war.
         │        │  Catus.                  │
      195│     559│M. Porcius Cato consul;   │
         │        │  Licinius Tegula.        │
      186│     568│Senatus-consultum         │The year following the
         │        │  respecting the          │  condemnation of L.
         │        │  Bacchanals.             │  Scipio.
      184│     570│Cæcilius Statius          │Censorship of M. Porcius
         │        │  flourished; he died     │  Cato.
         │        │  A. U. C. 586; death of  │
         │        │  Plautus.                │
      183│     571│     -      -      -      │Deaths of Hannibal and
         │        │                          │  Scipio Africanus.
      181│     573│The (so-called) books of  │
         │        │  Numa found.             │
      179│     575│     -      -      -      │Accession of Perseus.
      170│     584│Attius born.              │
      168│     586│     -      -      -      │Defeat of Perseus at
         │        │                          │  Pydna.
      166│     588│Terence exhibits the      │
         │        │  Andrian; Sp. Carvilius; │
         │        │  C. Sulpicius Gallus;    │
         │        │  Lavinius Luscius; T.    │
         │        │  Manlius Torquatus.      │
      155│     599│The three Attic           │
         │        │  philosophers visit Rome;│
         │        │  C. Acilius Glabrio;     │
         │        │  Crates Mallotes.        │
      154│     600│M. Pacuvius; Scipio       │
         │        │  Æmilianus; Lælius.      │
      150│     604│L. Afranius; S. Sulpicius │
         │        │  Galba.                  │
      148│     606│Birth of C. Lucilius;     │Second year of the third
         │        │  Cassius Hemina; A.      │  Punic war.
         │        │  Postumius Albinus       │
      146│     608│     -      -      -      │End of third Punic war;
         │        │                          │  Carthage and Corinth
         │        │                          │  taken.
      138│     616│L. Attius flourished; Q.  │Dec. Jun. Brutus consul.
         │        │  F. M. Servilianus; C.   │
         │        │  Fannius; Vennonius; C.  │
         │        │  Sempronius              │
      133│     621│M. Junius Brutus; P.      │Murder of Tib. Gracchus;
         │        │  Mucius Scævola; L.      │  Numantia taken.
         │        │  Cælius Antipater; Cn. S.│
         │        │  and A. Gellii; L.       │
         │        │  Calpurnius Piso Frugi;  │
         │        │  Papirius Carbo; Lepidus │
         │        │  Porcina; Ælius Tubero.  │
      129│     625│     -      -      -      │Death of Scipio Æmilianus;
         │        │                          │  æt. 56.
      123│     631│C. Sempronius Gracchus;   │
         │        │  Sextus Turpilius; C.    │
         │        │  Lucilius flourished;    │
         │        │  Lævius; (?) C. Junius   │
         │        │  Gracchanus; M. Julius   │
         │        │  Pennus.                 │
      119│     635│L. Licinius Crassus       │
         │        │  accuses Carbo; M.       │
         │        │  Antonius (born B. C.    │
         │        │  144.)                   │
      113│     641│     -      -      -      │War begun with the Cimbri.
      111│     643│     -      -      -      │First year of Jugurthine
         │        │                          │  war.
      109│     645│Publius Sempronius        │
         │        │  Asellio; M. Æmilius     │
         │        │  Scaurus; P. Rutilius    │
         │        │  Rufus; Q. Lutatius      │
         │        │  Catulus.                │
      106│     648│Birth of Cicero           │Birth of Cn. Pompeius.
      100│     654│L. Ælius Stilo            │Birth of Julius Cæsar.
       95│     659│Cotta; the Sulpicii;      │
         │        │  Hortensius; Q. Mucius   │
         │        │  Scævola; Lucretius born.│
       91│     663│Death of the orator       │
         │        │  Crassus.                │
       90│     664│C. Licinius Macer; Q.     │Commencement of the Social
         │        │  Claudius Quadrigarius;  │  war.
         │        │  Q. Valerius Antias; L.  │
         │        │  Lucullus; Sulla; Plotius│
         │        │  Gallus.                 │
       87│     667│M. Antonius killed;       │Massacres by Cinna and
         │        │  Catullus born.          │  Marius.
       86│     668│Birth of Sallust          │Death of Marius.
       84│     670│Attius probably died about│
         │        │  this time, and Latin    │
         │        │  acting tragedy          │
         │        │  disappeared; L.         │
         │        │  Cornelius Sisenna.      │
       82│     672│Births of Varro Atacinus  │Sulla’s proscription.
         │        │  and Licinius Calvus     │
         │        │  Valerius Cato.          │
       78│     676│Commencement of Sallust’s │Death of Sulla.
         │        │  history.                │
       76│     678│Birth of Asinius Pollio.  │
         │        │                          │
         │        │                          │
         │        │       SECOND ERA.        │
         │        │                          │
       74│     680│Roman prose literature    │Third Mithridatic war
         │        │  arrived at its greatest │  began.
         │        │  perfection; Cicero      │
         │        │  twenty-two years of age.│
       72│     682│     -      -      -      │Murder of Sertorius.
       71│     683│     -      -      -      │Defeat of Spartacus.
       70│     684│Cicero accuses Verres;    │
         │        │  Virgil born.            │
       67│     687│C. Aquilius Gallus; C.    │Pompey, entrusted with the
         │        │  Juventius; Sext.        │  war against the Pirates.
         │        │  Papirius; L. Lucilius   │
         │        │  Balbus.                 │
       65│     689│Birth of Horace           │First Catilinarian
         │        │                          │  conspiracy.
       63│     691│Pomponius Atticus; M.     │Consulship of Cicero;
         │        │  Terentius Varro         │  birth of Augustus;
         │        │  Reatinus; L. Lueceius;  │  Jerusalem taken by
         │        │  Nigidius Figulus;       │  Pompey.
         │        │  Orbilius came to Rome in│
         │        │  the fiftieth year of his│
         │        │  age (Suet. de Ill. Gram.│
         │        │  9;) Q. Cornificius.     │
       61│     693│Oration for Archias       │Acquittal of Clodius.
       60│     694│     -      -      -      │First triumvirate.
       59│     695│Birth of T. Livius.       │
       55│     699│     -      -      -      │Cæsar’s first invasion of
         │        │                          │  Britain.
       54│     700│Julius Cæsar; Lucretius   │Cæsar’s second invasion of
         │        │  Carus; C. Val. Catullus;│  Britain.
         │        │  Æsopus; Q. Roscius;     │
         │        │  Licinius Calvus; Helvius│
         │        │  Cinna; Ticida;          │
         │        │  Bibaculus; Varro        │
         │        │  Atacinus; Cornelius     │
         │        │  Nepos; A. Hirtius; C.   │
         │        │  Oppius; S. Sulpicius    │
         │        │  Rufus.                  │
       52│     702│Death of Lucretius.       │
       49│     705│D. Laberius; C. Matius; P.│J. Cæsar appointed
         │        │  Syrus.                  │  Dictator.
       48│     706│     -      -      -      │Battle of Pharsalia;
         │        │                          │  murder of Pompey.
       46│     708│     -      -      -      │Cæsar reforms the
         │        │                          │  calendar.
       44│     710│C. Sallustius Crispus;    │Murder of Julius Cæsar.
         │        │  Atteius Philologus;     │
         │        │  Asinius Pollio.         │
       43│     711│Death of Cicero; Valgius  │Second triumvirate formed.
         │        │  Rufus; birth of Ovid;   │
         │        │  death of Laberius.      │
       42│     712│Horace at Philippi.       │
       40│     714│     -      -      -      │Treaty of Brundisium.
       34│     720│Death of Sallust.         │
       32│     722│Death of Atticus.         │War declared against
         │        │                          │  Antony.
       31│     723│Virgilius Maro (born B. C.│Battle of Actium.
         │        │  70;) Mæcenas; Horatius  │
         │        │  Flaccus; L. Varius;     │
         │        │  Albius Tibullus;        │
         │        │  Cornelius Gallus;       │
         │        │  Plotius Tucca;          │
         │        │  Bathyllus; Pylades;     │
         │        │  Trogus Pompeius.        │
       29│     725│     -      -      -      │The three triumphs of
         │        │                          │  Octavius; temple of
         │        │                          │  Janus closed.
       28│     726│Palatine library founded; │
         │        │  death of Varro.         │
       27│     727│     -      -      -      │Octavius receives the
         │        │                          │  title of Augustus.
       25│     729│J. Hyginus; S. Aurelius   │
         │        │  Propertius; Æmilius     │
         │        │  Macer; Ovidius Naso;    │
         │        │  Gratius Faliscus; Pedo  │
         │        │  Albinovanus; A. Sabinus;│
         │        │  T. Livius; Ateius       │
         │        │  Capito; Vitruvius; Q.   │
         │        │  Cæcilius Epirota.       │
       19│     735│Death of Virgil.          │
       18│     734│Death of Tibullus.        │
       17│     737│Carmen seculare of        │Ludi sæculares. Porcius
         │        │  Horatius;               │  Latro.
       15│     739│     -      -      -      │Tiberius and Drusus
         │        │                          │  conquer the Vindelici.
        9│     745│History of Livy           │
         │        │  terminates.             │
        8│     746│Death of Horace           │The month Sextilis named
         │        │                          │  Augustus.
        4│     750│     -      -      -      │BIRTH OF OUR LORD JESUS
         │        │                          │  CHRIST.
         │        │                          │
    A. D.│        │                          │
        4│     758│Death of Asinius Pollio.  │
        9│     763│Exile of Ovid             │Defeat of Quintilius
         │        │                          │  Varus.
       14│     767│     -      -      -      │Death of Augustus.
         │        │                          │
         │        │                          │
         │        │THIRD ERA.                │
         │        │                          │
       16│     769│T. Phædrus                │Sejanus the imperial
         │        │                          │  favourite.
       18│     771│C. Asinius Gallus; deaths │
         │        │  of Ovid and Livy;       │
         │        │  Valerius Maximus.       │
       23│     776│Birth of C. Plinius       │Murder of Drusus.
         │        │  Secundus.               │
       25│     778│Birth of Silius Italicus; │
         │        │  death of Cremutius      │
         │        │  Cordus; M. Annæus       │
         │        │  Seneca; A. Cornelius    │
         │        │  Celsus; Arellius Fuscus;│
         │        │  Valerius Maximus.       │
       30│     783│Velleius Paterculus writes│
         │        │  his history.            │
       31│     784│     -      -      -      │Fall of Sejanus.
       34│     787│A. Persius Flaccus born.  │
       37│     790│     -      -      -      │Death of Tiberius.
       40│     793│Lucan brought to Rome.    │
       41│     794│Exile of Seneca           │Caligula assassinated;
         │        │                          │  Claudius emperor.
       43│     796│Birth of Martial;         │Expedition of Claudius to
         │        │  Pomponius Mela; L.      │  Britain.
         │        │  Junius Columella;       │
         │        │  Remmius Fannius Palæmon.│
       49│     802│Recall of Seneca.         │
       54│     807│L. Annæus Seneca; M.      │Accession of Nero.
         │        │  Annæus Lucanus;         │
         │        │  Cornutus; Persius;      │
         │        │  Cæsius Bassus; C. Silius│
         │        │  Italicus; Q. Curtius    │
         │        │  Rufus.                  │
       59│     812│     -      -      -      │Murder of Agrippina.
       61│     814│Pliny the Younger born    │Boadicea conquered by
         │        │                          │  Suetonius Paullinus.
       62│     815│Death of Persius.         │
       65│     818│Deaths of Seneca and      │
         │        │  Lucan.                  │
       66│     819│Martial came to Rome.     │
       69│     822│     -      -      -      │Accession of Vespasian.
       70│     823│Saleius Bassus; C.        │Jerusalem taken by Titus.
         │        │  Valerius Flaccus.       │
       74│     827│The dialogue _De          │
         │        │  Oratoribus_ supposed to │
         │        │  have been written.      │
       77│     830│C. Plinius Secundus Major │
         │        │  flourished.             │
       78│     831│     -      -      -      │Agricola Governor of
         │        │                          │  Britain.
       79│     832│Death of Pliny the Elder  │Destruction of Herculaneum
         │        │                          │  and Pompeii.
       80│     833│     -      -      -      │The Coliseum built.
       81│     834│     -      -      -      │Accession of Domitian.
       90│     843│M. F. Quintilianus; the   │
         │        │  Philosophers expelled by│
         │        │  Domitian; Papinius      │
         │        │  Statius; Martialis.     │
       93│     846│     -      -      -      │Death of Agricola.
       96│     849│     -      -      -      │Assassination of Domitian.
       98│     851│C. Cornelius Tacitus; C.  │Accession of Trajan.
         │        │  Plinius Minor; Julius   │
         │        │  Frontinus; Suetonius    │
         │        │  Tranquillus; Annæus     │
         │        │  Florus; Julius          │
         │        │  Obsequens; D. Junius    │
         │        │  Juvenalis.              │
      104│     857│Pliny’s letter respecting │
         │        │  the Christians.         │
      117│     870│     -      -      -      │Accession of Hadrian.
      138│     891│S. Pomponius; Gaius       │Accession of Antoninus
         │        │                          │  Pius.
      161│     914│L. Appuleius; Minucius    │Accession of M. Aurelius.
         │        │  Felix; Tertullian.      │

                                THE END.


Footnote 1:

  B. C. 210; A. U. C. 514.

Footnote 2:

  A. D. 138; A. U. C. 891.

Footnote 3:

  See Forster’s Essay on Greek Quantity, c. vi.

Footnote 4:

  Pol. Hist. iii. 22; see Donaldson’s Varron.

Footnote 5:

  Plin. N. H. iii. 14.

Footnote 6:

  See Thucyd. ii. 6.

Footnote 7:

  Lib. v. 33.

Footnote 8:

  Müller, Etrusk. iv. 7, 8.

Footnote 9:

  See authorities quoted by Dennis, Cities of Etruria, i. xxiv.

Footnote 10:

  Lib. i. 94.

Footnote 11:

  Tac. Ann. iv. 55.

Footnote 12:

  Lib. i. p. 22, 24.

Footnote 13:

  Lib. i. 93.

Footnote 14:

  Cistell. II. iii. 20.

Footnote 15:

  A Cyclopean or Pelasgian wall, built of polygonal stones, without
  mortar, exists so far north as Düsternbrook, near Kiel, in

Footnote 16:

  Ueber die Tyr. Pel. in Etr. Leips. 1842.

Footnote 17:

  Varronianus, i. sec. 10.

Footnote 18:

  Heyne, Exc. Virg. Æn. iii.

Footnote 19:

  The religion of Rome furnishes many other traces of Etruscan
  influence:—_ex. gr._, the ceremonies of the augurs and haruspices were
  Etruscan, and the lituus, or augur’s staff, may be seen on old
  Etruscan monuments. The Tuscan Fortune, Nortia, the etymology of whose
  name (ne-verto) coincides with that of the Greek Ἀτροπος (the
  unchangeable,) had the nails, the emblem of necessity, as her device;
  and hence the consul marked the commencement of the year by driving a

  The Roman Hymen, the god of marriage, was Talassius; a fact which
  illustrates one of the incidents in the tradition which Livy (book i.
  c. ix.) adopts respecting the rape of the Sabine virgins.

  The name Talassius was evidently derived from the Tuscan name Thalna,
  or Talana, by which was designated the Juno Pronuba of the Romans, and
  the Ἡρη τελειά of the Greeks.

Footnote 20:

  Owing to the existence of the Pelasgian element in Latin, as well as
  in Greek, an affinity can be traced between these languages and the
  Sanscrit in no fewer than 339 Greek and 319 Latin words.

Footnote 21:

  See Donaldson’s Varron., c. iii.

Footnote 22:

  Leps. de Tab. Eug., p. 86.

Footnote 23:

  B. C. 354.

Footnote 24:

  Varronianus, c. iii.

Footnote 25:

  See Grotefend, Rud. Ling. Umbr. Hanov. 1835; and Lassen. Beitrage zur
  Eug. Tafeln. Rhein. Mus. 1833.

Footnote 26:

  Liv. vii. 11.

Footnote 27:

  A. U. C. 361; B. C. 393.

Footnote 28:

  Liv. x. 20.

Footnote 29:

  Lect. on Rom. Hist. l. xxxiii.

Footnote 30:

  A. U. C. 664; B. C. 90.

Footnote 31:

  Pp. 86–89.

Footnote 32:

  Micali, Tav. cxx.

Footnote 33:

  Orellii Inscr. 1384.

Footnote 34:

  Cities of Etruria, i. p. 225.

Footnote 35:

  See Etrusc. Alphabet. Lanzi, Saggio di L. E. i. 208.

Footnote 36:

  Herod. i. 167.

Footnote 37:

  Virg. Æn. viii. 597.

Footnote 38:

  Dennis, ii. 44.

Footnote 39:

  Ibid. ii. 53.

Footnote 40:

  Ibid. ii. 55.

Footnote 41:

  Varron., p. 127.

Footnote 42:

  Etrusk. i. p. 451.

Footnote 43:

  Schoell. Hist. de Lit. Rom. i. p. 42; Orell. Insc. 2270.

Footnote 44:

  Circ. A. D. 218.

Footnote 45:

  De L. L. vii. 26, 27, or vi. 1–3.

Footnote 46:

  Varronianus, vi. 4.

Footnote 47:

  See _ex. gr._ Liv. i. 26.

Footnote 48:

  S. V. V. Plorare, Occisum, Pellices, Parricidi, Quæstores, &c.

Footnote 49:

  Lib. i. 26

Footnote 50:

  H. N. xxxii. 2.

Footnote 51:

  Ch. vi.

Footnote 52:

  Dionys. x. 57.

Footnote 53:

  Liv. iii. 54, A. D.

Footnote 54:

  Nieb. R. H. iii. 264.

Footnote 55:

  A. U. C. 428–50, Arnold; 423–44, Niebuhr.

Footnote 5