Part 6 out of 7
moral judgements; casuistry is wholly alien to his temper. It is
indignation makes the verse, and from this fact, together with his
rhetorical training, his chief merits and his chief failings spring. He
introduces no novelty into satire save the almost unvarying bitterness
and ferocity of his tone. Like Horace and Persius, he employs the
dactylic hexameter to the exclusion of other metres, while, owing in the
main to his taste for declamation, he is far more sparing in the use of
the dialogue-form than either of his predecessors.
Before further discussing his general characteristics, it is necessary
to take a brief survey of the remaining satires. The second and ninth
are savage and, as was almost inevitable, obscene denunciations of
unnatural vice. In the third, the most orderly in arrangement and the
most brilliant in execution of all his satires, he describes all the
dangers and horrors of life at Rome. Umbricius, a friend of the poet, is
leaving the city. It is no place for a man of honour; it has become a
city for Greeks; the worthless and astute _Graeculus_ is everywhere
predominant, and, stained though he be with a thousand vices, has
outwitted the native-born, and, by the arts of the panderer and the
flatterer, has made himself their master. The poor are treated like
slaves. Houses fall, or are burned with fire. Sleep is impossible, so
loud with traffic are the streets. By day it is scarcely safe to walk
abroad for fear of being crushed by one of the great drays that throng
the city; by night there are the lesser perils of slops and broken
crockery cast from the windows, the greater perils of roisterers and
thieves. Rome is no place for Umbricius. He must go.
The fourth satire opens with a violent attack on the _parvenu_
Egyptian Crispinus, so powerful at the court of Domitian, and goes on
by a somewhat clumsy transition to tell the story of the huge turbot
caught near Ancona and presented to the emperor. So large was it that
a cabinet council must needs be called to decide what should be done
with it. This affords excuse for an inimitable picture of Domitian's
servile councillors. At last it is decided that the turbot is to be
served whole and a special dish to be constructed for it. 'Ah! why,'
the poet concludes, 'did not Domitian devote himself entirely to such
trifles as these?'
In the fifth satire Juvenal returns to the subject of the hardships
and insults which the poor client must endure. He pictures the host
sitting in state with the best of everything set before him and served
in the choicest manner, while the unhappy client must be content with
food and drink of the coarsest kind. Virro, the rich man, does this
not because he is parsimonious, but because the humiliation of his
client amuses his perverted mind. But the satirist does not spare the
client, whose servile complaisance leads him to put up with such
treatment. 'Be a man!' he cries, 'and sooner beg on the streets than
degrade yourself thus.'
The sixth satire, the longest of the collection, is a savage
denunciation of the vices of womankind. The various types of female
degradation are revealed to our gaze with merciless and often revolting
portrayal. The unchastity of woman is the main theme, but ranked with
the adulteress and the wanton are the murderess of husband or of child,
the torturer of the slave, the client of the fortune-teller or the
astrologer, and even the more harmless female athlete and blue-stocking.
For vigour and skill the satire ranks among Juvenal's best, but it is
marred by wanton grossness and at times almost absurd exaggeration.
The seventh satire deals with the difficulties besetting a literary
career. It opens with a dexterous compliment to Hadrian; the poet
qualifies his complaints by saying that they apply only to the past.
The accession of Hadrian has swept all the storm-clouds from the
author's sky. But in the unhappy days but lately passed away, the
poet's lot was most miserable. His work brings him no livelihood; his
patron's liberality goes but a little way. The historian is in no less
parlous plight. The advocate makes some show of wealth, but it is, as a
rule, the merest show; only the man already wealthy succeeds at the
bar; many a struggling lawyer goes bankrupt in the struggle to
advertise himself and push his way. The teacher of rhetoric and the
school-master receive but a miserable fee, yet they have all the
drudgery of discipline and all the responsibility of moulding the
characters of the young placed upon their shoulders. They are expected
to be omniscient, and yet they starve.
The eighth satire treats the familiar theme that without virtue birth is
of small account. Many examples of the degeneracy of the aristocracy are
given, some trivial, some grave, but above all the satirist denounces
the cruelty and oppression of nobly-born provincial governors. He
concludes in his noblest vein in praise of the great plebeians of the
past, Cicero, Marius, the Decii, and Servius Tullius. It is in deeds,
not in titles, that true nobility lies. Better be the son of Thersites
and possess the valour of Achilles, than live the life of a Thersites
and boast Achilles for your sire.
The eighth satire may be regarded as the presage of a distinct change of
type. Instead of the vivid pictures of Roman life and the almost
dramatic representation of vice personified, Juvenal seems to turn for
inspiration to the scholastic declamation which had fascinated his
youth. Moral problems are treated in a more abstract way, and the old
fierce onset of indignation, though it has by no means disappeared,
seems to have lost something of its former violence. There are also
traces of declining powers, a greater tendency to digression, a lack of
concentration and vigour, and even of dexterity of language. But the
change is due in all probability not merely to advance in years nor to
the calming and mellowing influence of old age, but also to a change
that was gradually passing over the Roman world. The material for savage
satire was appreciably less. Evil in its worst forms had triumphed under
Domitian. With Nerva, Trajan, and Hadrian virtue began slowly and
uncertainly to reclaim part of her lost dominions.
The fourth book opens with the famous tenth satire on the vanity of
human wishes. What should man pray for? The theme is hackneyed and the
treatment shows no special originality. But the thought is elevated, the
rhetoric superb, and the verse has a resounding tread such as is only
found in Persius and Juvenal among the later poets of Rome. 'What shall
man pray for?' Power? Think of Sejanus, Pompey, Demosthenes, Cicero! To
each one greatness brought his doom. Think of Hannibal and Alexander,
how they, and with them all their high schemings, came to die; Long
life? What? Should we pray to outlive our bodily powers, to bewail the
death of our nearest and dearest, to fall from the high place where once
we stood? Beauty? Beauty is beset by a thousand perils in these vile
days, and rarely do beauty and chastity go hand in hand. Rather than
pray for boons like these, 'entrust thy fortune to the gods above,' or,
if pray thou must,
To health of body and content of mind;
A soul that can securely death defy,
And count it nature's privilege to die;
Serene and manly, hardened to sustain
The load of life and exercised in pain:
Guiltless of hate and proof against desire,
That all things weighs and nothing can admire;
That dares prefer the toils of Hercules,
To dalliance, banquet, and ignoble ease.
The path to peace is virtue; what I show,
Thyself may freely on thyself bestow;
Fortune was never worshipped by the wise,
But, set aloft by fools, usurps the skies.
In the eleventh satire we drop from these splendid heights of rhetoric;
to a declamatory invitation to dinner, which affords occasion for a
denunciation of the extravagant indulgence in the pleasures of the table
and for the praise of the good old days when Romans clave to the simple
life. The dinner to which Juvenal invites his friend will be of simple
fare simply served--
You'll have no scandal when you dine.
But honest talk and wholesome wine.
And instead of lewd dance and song, a slave shall read aloud Homer and
Homer's one rival, Vergil.
The twelfth satire opens with a thanksgiving for the escape of a friend,
Catullus, from a great storm at sea, and ends with a denunciation of
legacy hunters, the connecting link between these somewhat remote themes
being that Juvenal, at any rate, is disinterested in his joy at his
The thirteenth and fourteenth satires deal with more abstract themes,
the pangs of the guilty conscience and the importance of parental
example. In the first, Juvenal consoles his friend, Calvinus, who has
been defrauded of a sum of money. The loss, he says, is small, and,
after all, honesty is rare nowadays. Men have so little care for the
gods that they shrink from no perjury. Besides, what is such loss
compared with the many worse crimes that darken life. Why thirst for
revenge? It is the doctrine of the common herd. Philosophy teaches
otherwise. The torment of conscience will be a worse penalty than any
you can inflict, and at last justice will claim its own. In the next
satire, to emphasize the value of parental example, the poet illustrates
his point from the vice of avarice, and finally, forgetting his original
theme, lashes the avaricious man in words such as would never suggest
that the question of parental example had been raised at all. It is
noteworthy that throughout these two satires the poet draws his
illustrations from the themes of the schools rather than from the scenes
of contemporary life.
In the fifteenth satire, however, he returns to depict and discuss
actual occurrences, but in how altered and strange a manner. His theme
is a case of cannibalism in Egypt, the result of a collision
between religious fanatics of neighbouring townships. The aged poet
spurs himself into one last fury against the hated Oriental, regardless
of the fact that the denunciation of cannibalism to a civilized audience
must necessarily be insipid. Last comes a fragment expatiating bitterly
on the shameful advantages of a military career. The unhappy civilian
assaulted by a soldier cannot get redress, for the case must be heard in
camp before a bench of soldiers. The soldier, on the other hand, can get
summary settlement of all his disputes, and alone of Romans is exempt
from the _patria potestas_, can control his earnings and bequeath them
to whom he will. At this point the satire breaks off abruptly, and we
have no means of judging the extent of the loss. It is a striking
reversion to his earlier manner. Once more the satire takes the form of
a series of sketches from actual life.
Both of these satires, notably the fifteenth, show a marked falling off
alike in style and matter. Both, in fact, have been branded as spurious,
the latter from times as early as those of the scholia. But there is no
real ground for such a suspicion. Both satires have all the
characteristics of Juvenal, excepting only the vigour and brilliance of
his earlier days. No poet's powers are proof against the advance of old
age, and there is no vein of poetry more exhausting or more easily
exhausted than satire. And, as has already been remarked, there are
signs of a falling away before these satires are reached. Even the
famous tenth satire, for all its indisputable greatness, does not demand
or reveal, such special gifts of style and observation as the first and
third. It is less in touch with actual life: it is a theme from the
schools, and the illustrations, effective as they are, are as trite as
the theme itself. Were it his only work, the tenth satire would give
Juvenal high rank among Roman poets: it will always, thanks to the
brilliance of its rhetoric and the wide applicability of its moral, be
his most popular work: it is not his highest achievement.
It will have been obvious from this brief survey that the themes chosen
by Juvenal are for the most part of a commonplace nature. It could
hardly be otherwise. Satire, to be effective, must choose obvious
themes. But in some respects the treatment of them is surprisingly
commonplace. There is little freshness or originality about Juvenal's
way of thinking. His morality is neither satisfying nor profound. His
ideal is the old narrow Roman republican ideal of a chaste, vigorous,
and unluxurious life, wherein publicity is for man alone, while woman is
confined to the cares of the family and the household; the ideal of a
society wholly Italian and free-born, untainted by the importations of
Greece and Asia; of a state stern and exclusive, though just and
merciful, sparing the subject and beating down the proud. The nobility
of this ideal is not to be denied, but it is inadequate because it is
wholly unpractical. There is no denying that the emancipation of women
had led to gross evils, some of them imperilling the very existence of
the State; nor can it be doubted that much of the Greek influence had
been wholly for the bad, and that in many cases the introduction of the
cults of the East served merely to cloak debauchery. The rich freedman,
also, for whom Juvenal reserves his bitterest shafts, was often of
vicious and degraded character and had risen to power by repulsive
means. But there is another side to the picture, the existence of which
Juvenal sometimes, by his vehemence, seems to deny. The freedman class
supplied some of the most valuable of civil servants, and many must have
been worthy of their emancipation and of their rise to power. There
was a higher Hellenism, which Juvenal ignored. The intellectual
movements of the Empire still found their chief source in Greece, and
the great Sophistic movement was already setting in, as a result of
which Greek literature was to revive and the Greek language to supersede
the Latin as the chief vehicle of literary expression even at Rome
itself. The greater freedom accorded to women had its compensations; in
spite of Juvenal, woman does not become worse or less attractive because
she is cultured and well educated, and if there was much dissipation and
debauchery in the high society of his day, even high society contained
many noble women of fine intellect and pure character. The spread of
Roman citizenship and the breaking down of the old exclusive tradition
were potent factors for good in the history of civilization. It may be
urged in Juvenal's defence that satire must necessarily deal with the
darker side of life, that his silence as to the better and more hopeful
elements in society does not mean that he ignored them, and that it is
absurd to attack a satirist because he is not a scientific social
historian. All this is true; but it is possible to have plenty of
material for the bitterest satire and to indict gross and rampant vice
without leaving the impression that the life of the day has no redeeming
elements, without generalizing extravagantly from the vices of one
section of society, even though that section be large and influential.
The weakness of Juvenal is that he is too retrospective, both in his
praise and in his blame. He dare not satirize the living, but will
attack the dead. But it would be wrong to assume that in the dead he
always attacks types of the living. There is always the impression that
he is in reality attacking the first century rather than the second, the
reigns of Nero and Domitian rather than the society governed by Trajan
and Hadrian. He had lived through a night of terror and would not
recognize the signs of a new dawn. Directing his attention too
exclusively on Rome itself and on the past, he forgets the larger world
and the future hope. It is to the impossible Rome of the past that he
turns his eyes for inspiration. Hence comes his hatred, often merely
racial, for Greek and Asiatic importations, hence his dislike and
contempt for the new woman. Moreover, he had lived on the fringe of high
society and not in it; he had drunk in the bitterness of the client's
life, and had lived in the enveloping atmosphere of scandal that always
surrounds society for those who are excluded from it. A man of an acrid
and jealous temperament, easily angered and not readily appeased, he
yields too lightly and indiscriminately to that indignation, which, he
tells us, is the fountain-head of all he writes. Satire should be
something more than a wild torrent sweeping away obstacles great and
small with one equal violence; it should have its laughing shallows and
its placid deeps. But Juvenal's laughter rings harsh and wild, and
wounds as deeply as his invective; he drives continually before the
fierce gale of his spirit, and there are no calm havens where he may
rest and contemplate the ideal that so much denunciation implies. He
knows no gradations: all failings suffer beneath the same remorseless
lash. The consul Lateranus has a taste for driving: bad taste, perhaps,
yet hardly criminal. But Juvenal thunders at him as though he were
guilty of high treason (viii. 146):
praeter maiorum cineres atque ossa volucri
carpento rapitur pinguis Lateranus, et ipse,
ipse rotam adstringit sufflamine mulio consul,
nocte quidem, sed Luna videt, sed sidera testes
intendunt oculos. finitum tempus honoris
cum fuerit, clara Lateranus luce flagellum
sumet et occursum numquam trepidabit amici
See! by his great progenitor's remains
Fat Lateranus sweeps, with loosened reins.
Good Consul! he no pride of office feels,
But stoops, himself, to clog his headlong wheels.
'But this is all by night,' the hero cries,
Yet the moon sees! yet the stars stretch their eyes
Pull on your shame!--A few short moments wait,
And Damasippus quits the pomp of state:
Then, proud the experienced driver to display,
He mounts the chariot in the face of day,
Whirls, with bold front, his grave associate by,
And jerks his whip, to catch the senior's eye.
Elsewhere (i. 55-62) the 'horsy' youth is spoken of as worse than the
husband who connives at his wife's dishonour and pockets the reward of
her shame. Among the monstrous women of the sixth satire we come with a
shock of surprise upon the learned lady (434):
illa tamen gravior, quae cum discumbere coepit
laudat Vergilium, periturae ignoscit Elissae,
committit vates et comparat, inde Maronem
atque alia parte in trutina suspendit Homerum.
But of all plagues the greatest is untold;
The book-learned wife, in Greek and Latin bold;
The critic dame, who at her table sits,
Homer and Virgil quotes and weighs their wits,
And pities Dido's agonizing fits.
She figures strangely among the poisoners and adulteresses. Juvenal is
misogynist by temperament as well as by conviction. Nero is a matricide
like Orestes, but--
in scaena numquam cantavit Orestes,
Troica non scripsit. quid enim Verginius armis
debuit ulcisci magis aut cum Vindice Galba,
quod Nero tam saeva crudaque tyrannide fecit? (viii. 220).
Besides, Orestes in his wildest mood
Sung on no public stage, no Troics wrote.--
This topped his frantic crimes! This roused mankind!
For what could Galba, what Virginius find,
In the dire annals of that bloody reign,
Which called for vengeance in a louder strain?
It is almost a crime to be a foreigner. The Greek is a liar, a base
flatterer, a monster of lust, a traitor, a murderer. The Jew is the
sordid victim of a narrow and degrading superstition. The Oriental
is the defilement of Rome; worst of all are the Egyptians; they
even eat each other. The freedman, the _nouveau riche_, the
_parvenu_ are hated with all a Roman's hatred. The old patriotism
of the city state is not yet merged in the wider imperialism. It is
bitter to hear one of alien blood say 'Civis Romanus sum'.
This strange violence and lack of proportion are due in part to the
poet's rhetorical training, which had warped still further a naturally
biased temperament. He had been taught and loved to use the language of
hyperbole. And he had lived through the principate of Domitian; it was
that above all else which made him cry _difficile est saturam non
scribere_. To this same tendency to exaggeration may be in part
attributed the extreme grossness of so much of his work. It is true that
vices flaunted themselves before his eyes that it would be hard to
satirize without indecency. There is excuse to some extent for the
second, sixth, and ninth satires. But even there Juvenal oversteps the
mark and is often guilty of coarseness for coarseness' sake. It is easy
to plead the custom of the age, but it is doubtful whether such
pleading affords any real palliation for a writer who sets out to be a
moralist. It is easy in an access of admiration to say that Juvenal is
never prurient: but it is hard to be genuinely convinced that such a
statement is true, or that Juvenal's coarseness is never more than mere
For not a few readers, this tenseness of language, this violence of
judgement, and this occasional unclean handling of the unclean, make
Juvenal an exhausting and a depressing poet to read in any large
quantity at a time. Worse still, they lead the reader at times to
harbour doubts as to the genuineness of Juvenal's indignation. Such
doubts are not in reality justifiable. Juvenal sometimes goads himself
into inappropriate frenzies and sometimes betrays a suspiciously close
acquaintance with the most disgusting details of the worst vices of the
age. But though he had something of the unreality of the rhetorician,
and though his character may, perhaps, not have been free from serious
blemish, he is never a hypocrite; nor, though he paints exclusively the
darkest side of society, is there the least reason to accuse him of
culpable misrepresentation of actual facts. He has selected the
material most suited to his peculiar genius: we may complain of his
principle of selection, and of his tendency to generalize. There our
criticism must end.
These defects are largely the defects of his qualities and may be
readily forgiven. We have Pliny the younger and the inscriptions to
modify his sombre picture. When all is said, Juvenal had a matchless
field for satire and matchless gifts, against which his defects will not
weigh in the balance for a moment. His unrivalled capacity for
declamation, for mordant epigram and scathing wit, more than compensate
for his often ill-balanced ferocity; the extraordinary vividness of his
pictures of the life of Rome makes up for lack of perspective and
proportion, the richness and variety of his imagination for its too
frequent superficiality, the vigour and trenchancy of his blows for the
absence of the rapier thrust, the fervour of his teaching for its lack
of breadth and depth. These qualities make him the greatest of the
satirists of Rome, if not of the world.
It is, perhaps, his vividness that makes the most immediate impression.
It would be hard to find in any literature a writer with such a power to
make the scenes described live before his readers. The salient features
of a scene or character are seized at once. There is no irrelevant
detail; the picture may be crowded, but it is never obscure; if there is
a fault it is that the colouring is sometimes too crude and glaring to
please. But before such word-painting as the description of Domitian's
privy council criticism is dumb:
nec melior vultu quamvis ignobilis ibat
Rubrius, offensae veteris reus atque tacendae.
* * * * *
Montani quoque venter adest abdomine tardus,
et matutino sudans Crispinua amomo
quantum vix redolent duo funera, saevior illo
Pompeius tenui iugulos aperire susurro,
et qui vulturibus servabat viscera Dacis
Fuscus marmorea meditatus proelia villa,
et cum mortifero prudens Veiento Catullo,
qui numquam visae flagrabat amore puellae,
grande et conspicuum nostro quoque tempore monstrum,
caecus adulator, dirusque a ponte satelles
dignus Aricinos qui mendicaret ad axes
blandaque devexae iactaret basia raedae (iv. 104).
Rubrius, though not, like these, of noble race,
Followed with equal terror in his face;
* * * * *
Montanus' belly next, and next appeared
The legs on which that monstrous pile was reared.
Crispinus followed, daubed with more perfume,
Thus early! than two funerals consume.
Then bloodier Pompey, practised to betray,
And hesitate the noblest lives away.
Then Fuscus, who in studious pomp at home,
Planned future triumphs for the arms of Rome.
Blind to the event! those arms a different fate,
Inglorious wounds and Dacian vultures wait.
Last, sly Veiento with Catullus came,
Deadly Catullus, who at beauty's name
Took fire, although unseen: a wretch, whose crimes
Struck with amaze even those prodigious times.
A base, blind parasite, a murderous lord,
From the bridge-end raised to the council-board,
Yet fitter still to dog the traveller's heels,
And whine for alms to the descending wheels.
Figure after figure they live before us, till the procession culminates
with the crowning horror of the blind delator, L. Valerius Catullus
Messalinus. Equally vivid is Juvenal's description of places. There is
the rude theatre of the country town with its white-robed audience _en
festorum herboso colitur si quando theatro
maiestas tandemque redit ad pulpita notum
exodium, cum personae pallentis hiatum
in gremio matris formidat rusticus infans,
aequales habitus illic similesque videbis
orchestram et populum, clari velamen honoris
sufficiunt tunicae summis aedilibus albae (iii. 172).
Some distant parts of Italy are known,
Where none but only dead men wear a gown,
On theatres of turf, in homely state,
Old plays they act, old feasts they celebrate;
* * * * *
The mimic yearly gives the same delights;
And in the mother's arms the clownish infant frights.
Their habits (undistinguished by degrees)
Are plain alike; the same simplicity
Both on the stage and in the pit you see.
In his white cloak the magistrate appears;
The country bumpkin the same livery wears.
There is the poor gentleman's garret high on the topmost story of some
tottering _insula_, close beneath the tiles, where the doves nest:
lectus erat Codro Procula minor, urceoli sex
ornamentum abaci nec non et parvulus infra
cantharus, et recubans sub eodem marmore Chiro
iamque vetus graecos servabat cista libellos,
et divina opici rodebant carmina mures (iii. 203).
Codrus had but one bed, so short to boot,
That his short wife's short legs go dangling out
His cupboard's head six earthen pitchers graced,
Beneath them was his trusty tankard placed;
And to support this noble plate, there lay
A bending Chiron cast from honest clay;
His few Greek books a rotten chest contained,
Whose covers much of mouldiness complained;
Where mice and rats devoured poetic bread,
And on heroic verse luxuriously were fed.
There is the hurrying throng of the streets of Rome with all its dangers
nobis properantibus opstat
unda prior, magno populus premit agmine lumbos
qui sequitur; ferit hic cubito, ferit assere duro
alter, at hic tignum capiti incutit, ille metretam.
pinguia crura luto, planta mox undique magna
calcor et in digito clavus mihi militis haeret.
nonne vides quanto celebretur sportula fumo?
centum convivae, sequitur sua quemque culina.
Corbulo vix ferret tot vasa ingentia, tot res
inpositas capiti, quas recto vertice portat
servulus infelix et cursu ventilat ignem.
scinduntur tunicae sartae modo, longa coruscat
serraco veniente abies, atque altera pinum
plaustra vehunt, nutant alte populoque minantur (iii. 243).
The press before him stops the client's pace;
The crowd that follows crush his panting sides,
And trip his heels; he walks not but he rides.
One elbows him, one jostles in the shoal,
A rafter breaks his head or chairman's pole;
Stockinged with loads of fat town dirt he goes,
And some rogue-soldier with his hob-nailed shoes
Indents his legs behind in bloody rows.
See, with what smoke our doles we celebrate!
A hundred guests invited walk in state;
A hundred hungry slaves with their Dutch-kitchens wait:
Huge pans the wretches on their heads must bear,
Which scarce gigantic Corbulo could rear;
Yet they must walk upright beneath the load,
Nay run, and running blow the sparkling flames abroad,
Their coats from botching newly brought are torn.
Unwieldy timber-trees in waggons borne,
Stretched at their length, beyond their carriage lie,
That nod and threaten ruin from on high.
Even in the later satires, where with the advance of age this pictorial
gift begins to fail him and he tends to rely rather on brilliant
rhetorical treatment of philosophical commonplaces, there are still
flashes of the old power. The well-known description of the fall of
Sejanus in the tenth satire is in his best manner, while even the
humbler picture of the rustic family of primitive Rome in the fourteenth
satire shows the same firmness of touch, the same eye for vivid and
saturabat glaebula talis
patrem ipsum turbamque casae, qua feta iacebat
uxor et infantes ludebant quattuor, unus
vernula, tres domini, sed magnis fratribus horum
a scrobe vel sulco redeuntibus altera cena
amplior et grandes fumabant pultibus ollae (166).
For then the little glebe, improved with care,
Largely supplied with vegetable fare,
The good old man, the wife in childbed laid,
And four hale boys, that round the cottage played,
Three free-born, one a slave: while, on the board,
Huge porringers, with wholesome pottage stored,
Smoked for their elder brothers, who were now,
Hungry and tired, expected from the plough.
His handling of the essential weapons of satire, scathing epigram,
and impetuous rhetoric, contribute equally to his success. He has
the capacity of branding a character with eternal shame in a few
terse trenchant lines. Who can forget the Greek adventurer of the
grammaticus rhetor geometres pictor aliptes
augur schoenobates medicus magus, omnia novit
Graeculus esuriens; in caelum miseris, ibit (iii. 76);
A cook, a conjurer, a rhetorician,
A painter, pedant, a geometrician,
A dancer on the ropes and a physician;
All things the hungry Greek exactly knows,
And bid him go to heaven, to heaven he goes.
or the summary of Domitian's reign with which he dates the story of the
cum iam semianimum laceraret Flavius orbem
ultimus et calvo serviret Roma Neroni (iv. 37);
When the last Flavius, drunk with fury, tore
The prostrate world, which bled at every pore,
And Rome beheld, in body as in mind,
A bald-pate Nero rise to curse mankind.
or the curse upon the legacy-hunter Pacuvius?--
vivat Pacuvius quaeso vel Nestora totum,
possideat quantum rapuit Nero, montibus aurum
exaequet, nec amet quemquam nec ametur ab ullo (xii. 128).
Health to the man! and may he thus get more
Than Nero plundered! pile his shining store
High, mountain high: in years a Nestor prove,
And, loving none, ne'er know another's love!
Not less mordant in a different way is the savage and sceptical
melancholy of the conclusion of the second satire, where he contrasts
the degenerate Roman, tainted by the foulest lusts, with the noble
Romans of the past, and even with the barbarians, newly conquered, on
the confines of empire (149):
esse aliquos manes et subterranea regna
et contum et Stygio ranas in gurgite nigras
atque una transire vadum tot milia cumba
nec pueri credunt, nisi qui nondum aere lavantur.
sed tu vera puta: Curius quid sentit et ambo
Scipiadae, quid Fabricius manesque Camilli,
quid Cremerae legio et Cannis consumpta iuventus,
tot bellorum animae, quotiens hinc talis ad illos
umbra venit? cuperent lustrari, si qua darentur
sulpura cum taedis et si foret umida laurus.
illic heu miseri traducimur. arma quidem ultra
litora Iuvernae promovimus et modo captas
Orcadas ac minima contentos nocte Britannos,
sed quae nunc populi fiunt victoris in urbe,
non faciuut illi quos vicimus.
That angry Justice formed a dreadful hell,
That ghosts in subterranean regions dwell,
That hateful Styx his sable current rolls,
And Charon ferries o'er unbodied souls,
Are now as tales or idle fables prized;
By children questioned and by men despised.
Yet these, do thou believe. What thoughts, declare,
Ye Scipios, once the thunderbolts of war!
Fabricius, Curius, great Camillus' ghost!
Ye valiant Fabii, in yourselves an host!
Ye dauntless youths at fatal Cannae slain!
Spirits of many a brave and bloody plain!
What thoughts are yours, whene'er with feet unblest,
An unbelieving shade invades your rest?
Ye fly, to expiate the blasting view;
Fling on the pine-tree torch the sulphur blue,
And from the dripping bay dash round the lustral dew.
And yet--to these abodes we all must come,
Believe, or not, these are our final home;
Though now Ierne tremble at our sway,
And Britain, boastful of her length of day;
Though the blue Orcades receive our chain,
And isles that slumber in the frozen main.
But why of conquest boast? the conquered climes
Are free, O Rome, from thy detested crimes.
In the same bitter spirit, Umbricius is made to cry:
quid Romae faciam? mentiri nescio; librum,
si malus est, nequeo laudare et poscere; motus
astrorum ignoro; funus promittere patris
nec volo nec possum; ranarum viscera numquam
inspexi; ferre ad nuptam quae mittit adulter,
quae mandat, norunt alii; me nemo ministro
fur erit, atque ideo nulli comes exeo tamquam
mancus et extinctae, corpus non utile, dextrae (iii. 41).
What's Rome to me, what business have I there?
I who can neither lie nor falsely swear?
Nor praise my patron's undeserving rhymes,
Nor yet comply with him nor with his times?
Unskilled in schemes by planets to foreshow,
Like canting rascals, how the wars will go;
I neither will nor can prognosticate
To the young gaping heir his father's fate;
Nor in the entrails of a toad have pried,
Nor carried bawdy presents to a bride:
For want of these town-virtues, thus alone
I go conducted on my way by none;
Like a dead member from the body rent,
Maimed and unuseful to the government.
This bitterness Juvenal seasons at times with saturnine jests of a type
that is all his own. Virro gives rancid oil to his poor guests as
dressing to their salad:
illud enim vestris datur alveolis quod
canna Micipsarum prora subvexit acuta,
propter quod Romae cum Boccare nemo lavatur,
quod tutos etiam facit a serpentibus atris (v. 88).
Such oil to you is thrown,
Such rancid grease, as Afric sends to town;
So strong that when her factors seek the bath,
All wind and all avoid the noisome path.
When the blind _delator_, Catullus Messalinus, is summoned to give his
advice concerning the gigantic turbot:
nemo magis rhombum stupuit; nam plurima dixit
in laevom conversus, at illi dextra iacebat
belua. sic pugnas Cilicis laudabat et ictus
et pegma et pueros inde ad velaria raptos (iv. 119).
None dwelt so largely on the turbot's size,
Or raised with such applause his wondering eyes;
But to the left (O treacherous want of sight)
He poured his praise;--the fish was on the right.
Thus would he at the fencer's matches sit,
And shout with rapture at some fancied hit;
And thus applaud the stage machinery, where
The youths were rapt aloft and lost in air.
Grimmest of all is the jest on the mushrooms set before Virro:
vilibus ancipites fungi ponentur amicis,
boletus domino, sed quales Claudius edit
ante illum uxoris, post quem nihil amplius edit (v. 146).
You champ on spongy toadstools, hateful treat!
Fearful of poisons in each bit you eat:
He feasts secure on mushrooms, fine as those
Which Claudius for his special eating chose,
Till one more fine, provided by his wife,
Finished at once his feasting and his life!
But Juvenal is not always bitter, nor always angry. His indignation is
never absent, but takes at times a graver and a nobler tone. At times he
preaches virtue directly, instead of doing so indirectly through the
denunciation of vice. He has no new secret of morality to reveal, no
fresh lights to throw upon problems of conduct; his advice is obvious
and straightforward; neither in form nor matter is there anything
paradoxical. He was no student of philosophy, though naturally
familiar with the more important philosophic creeds and disposed by
temperament to fall in with the views of the stern Stoic school. The
conclusion of the tenth satire quoted above owes much to the Stoics.
'Leave the ordering of your fortunes to the powers above. Man is dearer
to them than to himself. The wise man is free from all desire, all anger
and all fear of death.' 'Revenge is an unworthy and degrading
passion.' 'Fate and the revolution of the stars in heaven
rule all with unchanging law.' All these maxims have their counterpart
in the Stoic creed. But there is no need of the philosophy of the
schools to guide man to the paths of virtue.
numquam aliud natura, aliud sapientia dicit (xiv. 321).
Nature and wisdom never are at strife.
Philosophy has its value, but the good man is no less good for not being
magna quidem, sacris quae dat praecepta libellis,
victrix fortunae sapientia, ducimus autem
hos quoque felices, qui ferre incommoda vitae
nec iactare iugum vita didicere magistra (xiii. 19).
Wisdom, I know, contains a sovereign charm,
To vanquish fortune or at least disarm:
Blest they who walk in her unerring rule!
Nor those unblest who, tutored in life's school,
Have learned of old experience to submit,
And lightly bear the yoke they cannot quit.
He agrees with the Stoics just because their practical teaching
harmonizes so entirely with the old _virtus Romana_, that is his ideal.
No more profound are his religious views: he hates the alien cults that
work as insidious poison in the life of Rome; he rejects the picturesque
legends of the afterworld, bred of the fertile imagination of the
Greeks. But he is no unbeliever:
separat hoc nos
a grege mutorum, atque ideo venerabile soli
sortiti ingenium divinorumque capaces
atque exercendis pariendisque artibus apti
sensum a caelesti demissum traximus arce,
cuius egent prona et terram spectantia. mundi
principio indulsit communis conditor illis
tantum animas, nobis animum quoque, mutuus ut nos
adfectus petere auxilium et praestare iuberet (xv. 142).
This marks our birth
The great distinction from the beasts of earth!
And therefore--gifted with superior powers
And capable of things divine--'tis ours
To learn and practise every useful art;
And from high heaven deduce that better part,
That moral sense, denied to creatures prone
And downward bent, and found with man alone!--
For He, who gave this vast machine to roll,
Breathed life in them, in us a reasoning soul:
That kindred feelings might our state improve,
And mutual wants conduct to mutual love.
God is over all and guides and guards the world, and has ordained
torment of conscience and slow retribution for sin. Yet Juvenal
does not definitely reject the gods of his native land; nor do these
exalted beliefs cause him to refuse sacrifice to Jupiter, Juno, Minerva,
and his household gods. It is the creed, not of a theologian, but
of a man with high ideals, a staunch patriotism, and a deep reverence
for the past.
But this lack of profundity and philosophical training does not, as may
be inferred from passages already quoted, prevent him from being
intensely effective as a moral teacher. His platitudes are none the
worse for not having a Stoic label and all the better for their
simplicity and directness of expression. They do not reveal the hunger
and thirst after righteousness that breathe from the lines of Persius,
but they have at least an equal appeal to the plain man, and they are
matchlessly expressed. His pleading against revenging the wrong done, if
not on the very highest moral plane, possesses a grave dignity and
beauty that brings it straight home to the heart:
at vindicta bonum vita iucundius ipsa.
nempe hoc indocti, quorum praecordia nullis
interdum aut levibus videas flagrantia causis.
* * * * *
Chrysippus non dicet idem nec mite Thaletis
ingenium dulcique senex vicinus Hymetto,
qui partem acceptae saeva inter vincla cicutae
accusatori nollet dare. plurima felix
paulatim vitia atque errores exuit omnes,
prima docet rectum sapientia. quippe minuti
semper et infirmi est animi exiguique voluptas
ultio. continuo sic collige, quod vindicta
nemo magis gaudet quam femina. cur tamen hos tu
evasisse putes, quos diri conscia facti
mens habet attonitos et surdo verbere caedit
occultum quatiente animo tortore flagellum?
poena autem vehemens ac multo saevior illis
quas et Caedicius gravis invenit et Rhadamanthus,
nocte dieque suum gestare in pectore testem (xiii. 180).
'Revenge,' they say, and I believe their words,
'A pleasure sweeter far than life affords.'
Who say? The fools, whose passions prone to ire
At slightest causes or at none take fire.
... ... ... Chrysippus said not so;
Nor Thales, to our frailties clement still;
Nor that old man, by sweet Hymettus' hill,
Who drank the poison with unruffled soul,
And, dying, from his foes withheld the bowl.
Divine philosophy! by whose pure light
We first distinguish, then pursue the right,
Thy power the breast from every error frees
And weeds out every error by degrees:--
Illumined by thy beam, revenge we find
The abject pleasure of an abject mind,
And hence so dear to poor, weak womankind.
But why are those, Calvinus, thought to 'scape
Unpunished, whom in every fearful shape
Guilt still alarms, and conscience ne'er asleep
Wounds with incessant strokes 'not loud but deep',
While the vexed mind, her own tormentor, plies
A scorpion scourge, unmarked by human eyes?
Trust me, no tortures which the poets feign,
Can match the fierce, the unutterable pain
He feels, who night and day, devoid of rest,
Carries his own accuser in his breast.
The same characteristics mark his praise of nobility of character as
opposed to nobility of birth:
tota licet veteres exornent undique cerae
atria, nobilitas sola est atque unica virtus.
Paulus vel Cossus vel Drusus moribus esto,
hos ante effigies maiorum pone tuorum,
praecedant ipsas illi te consule virgas.
prima mihi debes anima bona. sanctus haberi
iustitiaeque tenax factis dictisque mereris?
adgnosco procerem; salve Gaetulice, seu tu
Silanus, quocumque alio de sanguine, rarus
civis et egregius patriae contingis ovanti (viii. 19).
Fond man, though all the heroes of your line
Bedeck your halls, and round your galleries shine
In proud display: yet take this truth from me,
'Virtue alone is true nobility.'
Set Cossus, Drusus, Paulus, then, in view,
The bright example of their lives pursue;
Let these precede the statues of your race,
And these, when consul, of your rods take place,
O give me inborn worth! Dare to be just,
Firm to your word and faithful to your trust.
Then praises hear, at least deserve to hear,
I grant your claim and recognize the peer.
Hail from whatever stock you draw your birth,
The son of Cossus or the son of Earth,
All hail! in you exulting Rome espies
Her guardian power, her great Palladium rise.
This is rhetoric, but rhetoric of the noblest kind. Of pure poetry
there is naturally but little in Juvenal. Neither his temperament nor
his subject would admit it. He had too keen an eye for the hideous and
the grotesque, too strong a passion for the declamatory style. Hence it
is rather his brilliant sketches of a vicious society, his fiery
outbursts of rhetoric, his striking _sententiae_ that primarily impress
expende Hannibalem: quot libras in duce summo
invenies? (x. 147).
Great Hannibal within the balance lay,
And count how many pounds his ashes weigh.
finem animae quae res humanas miscuit olim,
non gladii, non saxa dabunt nec tela, sed ille
Cannarum vindex et tanti sanguinis ultor
anulus. i demens et saevas curre per Alpes,
ut pueris placeas et declamatio fias (x. 163).
What wondrous sort of death has heaven designed
For so untamed, so turbulent a mind?
Nor swords at hand, nor hissing darts afar,
Are doomed to avenge the tedious bloody war;
But poison drawn through a ring's hollow plate,
Must finish him--a sucking infant's fate.
Go, climb the rugged Alps, ambitious fool,
To please the boys, and be a theme at school.
nemo repente fuit turpissimus (ii. 83).
For none become at once completely vile.
summum crede nefas animam praeferre pudori
et propter vitam vivendi perdere causas (viii. 83).
si natura negat, facit indignatio versum (i. 79).
Think it a crime no tears can e'er efface,
To purchase safety with compliance base,
At honour's cost a feverish span extend,
And sacrifice for life, life's only end!
It is lines such as these that first rise to the mind at the mention of
Juvenal. But he was no mere declaimer. Here and there we may find
phrases of the purest poetry and of the most perfect form. Far above all
others come the wonderful lines of the ninth satire:
festinat enim decurrere velox
flosculus angustae miseraeque brevissima vitae
portio; dum bibimus, dum serta unguenta puellas
poscimus, obrepit non intellecta senectus (ix. 126).
For youth, too transient flower! of life's short day
The shortest part, but blossoms--to decay.
Lo! while we give the unregarded hour
To revelry and joy in Pleasure's bower,
While now for rosy wreaths our brow to twine,
While now for nymphs we call, and now for wine,
The noiseless foot of time steals swiftly by,
And, ere we dream of manhood, age is nigh!
Of a very different character, but of a beauty that is nothing less
than startling in its sombre surroundings, is the blessing that he
invokes on the good men of old who 'enthroned the teacher in the
revered parent's place'.
di maiorum umbris tenuem et sine pondere terram
spirantesque crocos et in urna perpetuum ver,
qui praeceptorem sancti voluere parentis
esse loco (vii. 207).
Shades of our sires! O sacred be your rest,
And lightly lie the turf upon your breast!
Flowers round your urns breathe sweets beyond compare,
And spring eternal shed its influence there!
You honoured tutors, now a slighted race,
And gave them all a parent's power and place.
The sensuous appeal of the 'fragrant crocus and the spring that dies not
in the urn of death' is unique in Juvenal. This slender stream of
definitely poetic imagination reveals itself suddenly and unexpectedly
in strange forms and circumstances. At the close of the passage in the
third satire describing the perils of the Roman streets, Juvenal
imagines the death of some householder in a street accident. All is
bustle and business at home in expectation of his return:
domus interea secura patellas
iam lavat et bucca foculum excitat et sonat unctis
striglibus et pleno componit lintea guto.
haec inter pueros varie properantur, at ille
iam sedet in ripa taetrumque novicius horret
porthmea nec sperat caenosi gurgitis alnum
infelix nec habet quem porrigat ore trientem (iii. 261).
Meantime, unknowing of their fellow's fate,
The servants wash the platter, scour the plate,
Then blow the fire with puffing cheeks, and lay
The rubbers and the bathing-sheets display,
And oil them first, each handy in his way.
But he for whom this busy care they take,
Poor ghost! is wandering by the Stygian lake;
Affrighted by the ferryman's grim face,
New to the horrors of the fearful place,
His passage begs, with unregarded prayer,
And wants two farthings to discharge his fare.
Out of the grotesque there gradually looms the horror of death and the
friendless ghost sitting lost and homeless by the Stygian waters.
That there is small scope in his work for such distinctively poetic
imagination is not Juvenal's fault, nor can we complain of its absence.
But in technical accomplishment he shows himself a writer of the first
rank. His treatment of the hexameter exactly suits his declamatory type
of satire. The conversational verse of Horace, with its easy-going
rambling gait, was unsuitable for the thunders of Juvenal's rhetoric.
Something more massive in structure, more vigorous in movement, was
needed as the vehicle of so much rhetoric and invective. The delicate
tripping hexameter of contemporary epic was equally unsuitable.
Unlike the majority of post-Augustan poets, Juvenal is almost untouched
by the Ovidian influence. As far as his metre has any ancestry, it is
descended from the Vergilian hexameter, though with the licence of
satire it claims greater liberty in its treatment of pauses and of
elision. The post-Augustan poet with whom in this respect Juvenal has
greatest affinity is Persius. For vigour and variety he far surpasses
all other poets of the age; while even Persius, although at his best and
in his more declamatory passages he is at least Juvenal's equal, does
not maintain the same level of excellence, and his more frequent
employment of the traditional dialogue of satire gives him fewer
opportunities for striking metrical effect.
As regards his diction Juvenal is equally remarkable. He has suffered
little from the schools of rhetoric and has gained much. He is pointed
and clear, without being either obscure or mechanical. There is no
vain striving after antithesis and no epigram for epigram's sake.
Grotesque he is not seldom, but the grotesqueness is deliberate and
effective, and no mere affectation.
His one serious weakness is his lack of constructive power and his
incapacity to preserve due proportion between the parts of his satires.
The most glaring instances of this failing are to be found in the
fourth, twelfth, and fourteenth satires, but except the third there is
hardly a satire that can be regarded as wholly successful in point of
construction. This defect, it may be admitted, is less serious in satire
than in almost any other branch of literature. Such discursiveness was
justified by the tradition and by the inherent nature of satire. But
Juvenal offends in this respect beyond due reason, and only his
extraordinary merits in other directions save him from the penalties of
Juvenal is the last of the poets of the Silver Age, and the only one of
them to whom the epithet 'great' can reasonably be applied. He is no
faultless writer, but he has genius and power, and has risen superior to
the besetting sins of the age. He is a rhetorician, it is true, but he
chose a form of literature where his rhetoric could have legitimate
play. But he is no plagiarist or imitator; though, as in any other poet,
we may find in him many traces and even echoes of his predecessors, he
is in the best sense original. He is never a mere juggler in words and
phrases, he is a true artist. Form and matter are indissolubly welded
and interfused one with another. And this is because, unlike other
writers of the age, he has something to say. He is poet by inspiration,
not by profession. His excessive pessimism, his tendency to bias and
exaggeration, cannot on the worst estimate obscure his merits either as
artist or moralist. His picture of society has large elements of truth,
and we can no more blame him for his tendency to caricature than we can
blame Hogarth. Satire, especially the satire of declamatory invective,
must be one-sided, and the satirist must select the features of life
which he desires to denounce. And if this leads us at times into
unpleasant places and among unpleasant people unpleasantly described,
that does not justify us in denouncing the satirist. It must be
remembered that the true satirist is not likely to be a man of perfect
character. He must have seen much and experienced much; if his character
has in the process become not merely unduly embittered, but perhaps
somewhat smirched, these failings may be redeemed by other qualities.
And in the case of Juvenal they are so redeemed.
He has not the lucid judgement of Horace nor the pure fervour of
Persius. He is more positive than the former, more negative than the
latter. But he has lived in a sense in which Persius never had, and
possesses the gift of direct and lucid expression; therefore, when he
strikes, he strikes home. He cannot, like Horace, 'play about the hearts
of men,' he will have nothing of compromise, he cannot and will not
adapt himself to his environment. The doctrine of [Greek: m_eden agan],
the _aurea mediocritas_, have no attractions for him. Hence his ideal is
often unpractical; 'the times were out of joint,' and Juvenal was not
precisely the man to 'set them right'. But at least he sets forth an
ideal, that any honest man must admit to be noble. It is precisely
because he is no casuist, because he hits hard and unsparingly, and is
translucently honest, and because his weapon is the most fervid and
trenchant rhetoric, that Juvenal is the most quoted and one of the most
popular of Latin poets. He has contributed little to the thought of the
world, but he has taught men to hate iniquity. He does not rise to the
height of such an immortal saying as
virtutem videant intabescantque relicta;
he is no philosopher, and his ideals have neither the exaltation nor the
stimulating power of the Stoic ideal. But he unveils vice and folly, so
that men may fly from their utter hideousness, in such burning words as
it has fallen to few poets to utter. He is 'dowered with the hate of
hate, the scorn of scorn'; had he possessed also the 'love of love', he
might have reached greater heights of pure poetry, but he would not have
been Juvenal, and the world would have been the loser.
INDEX OF NAMES
Abascantus 205 _n_, 299 _n_.
Accius 12, 71, 89.
Aeschylus 207 _n_, 212 _n_, 216 _n_.
Aetna 140-6, 156.
Afranius 12, 25.
Agrippina 25, 74, 76.
Antimachus 207 _n_, 209, 210.
Antistius Sosianus 163 _n_, 164.
Apollonius Rhodius 182 sqq.
Aquilius Regulus 256.
Arria 81, 275.
Arrius Antoninus 173 _n_.
Arulenus Rustieus 168.
Asellius Sabinus 3.
Asinius Pollio 18.
Atedius Melior 205 _n_, 230, 256, 272.
Attius Labeo 160.
Ausonius 174, 175.
Bassus, Caesius 80-2, 163-5.
Bassus, Saleius 19, 168, 169.
Caesar, C. Julius 103 sqq., 263.
Caligula 4, 5, 31, 163.
Calpurnius Piso 35, 99, 152, 156-9, 251.
Calpurnius Siculus 137, 150-9, 245.
Calpurnius Statura 80.
Carinas Secundus 4.
Cassius Rufus 256.
Cato 37, 38, 58, 101, 103 sqq., 262.
Catullus, C. Valerius 2, 123 _n_, 176, 260, 261, 263.
Catullus (writer of mimes) 24.
Catullus (friend of Juvenal) 289, 297.
Cicero 58, 172, 238.
Claudius 5, 25, 32, 36, 63.
Claudius Agathurnus 80.
Claudius Augustalis 146.
Claudius Etruscus 205 _n_, 231, 256, 299 _n_.
Clutorius Priscus 3.
Columella 137, 146-9, 180.
Cornelius Severus 144.
Cornutus 6, 79-82, 94, 95, 97, 267.
Cremutius Cordus 2, 101.
Crispinus (1) 205 _n_.
---- (2) 294.
Curiatius Maternus 30.
Decianus 257, 264.
Domitianus 19, 21, 25, 168, 176, 181, 203, 204, 228,
229, 252, 271, 287, 293, 296, 303, 305.
Einsiedeln Fragments 151, 156, 157.
Ennius 12, 23.
Epictetus 70, 238.
Euripides 45, 46, 74, 127, 207 _n_, 212 _n_, 216 _n_.
Flaccilla 251, 272.
Flaccus (father of Persius) 79.
Flaccus of Patavium 180, 281.
Fronto (rhetorician) 35.
Fronto (father of Martial) 251, 272.
Fulgentius 134, 135.
Fulvia Sisennia 79.
Gaetulicus 163, 259, 261.
Gallio L. Iunius 31.
Glaucias 230, 272.
Hadrianus 290, 291, 294, 296.
Hecato 43 _n_.
Helvidius Priscus 168.
Herennius Senecio 168.
Homer 4, 12, 160, 161, 188, 221, 227.
Horatius 10-12, 71, 83, 84, 89, 91, 92, 123 _n_, 171, 191, 241, 244,
284, 293, 317, 320.
Ilias Latina 22, 160-3.
Italicus, Babius 163.
Iulius Martialis 257, 264, 265, 270.
Iuvenalis 21, 22, 91, 92,121,168,169, 170, 174, 236, 245, 256, 260,
261, 263, 275, 278, 279, 287-320.
Latro 15 _n_.
Lentulus Sura 256.
Livilla 32, 33.
Livius Andronicus 160.
Livius, T. 4, 239, 242, 245.
Lucanus 7, 8, 20-2, 28, 31, 80, 94, 97-124, 132, 179, 180, 187, 192,
221 _n_, 226, 229, 233, 235, 238, 239, 243, 244. 251, 260, 275.
Lucilius Iunior 144, 163 _n_.
Lucilius (satirist) 10, 83, 89, 293.
Lucinianus Maternus 256.
Lucretius 123 _n_, 140, 143.
Lynceus 207 _n_.
Macrinus 80, 82.
Marius Priscus 287.
Marsus, Domitius 259, 261, 281.
Martialis 8 _n_, 134, 139, 163, 167, 169, 173-6,
180, 204, 238, 243, 250, 251-86, 289.
Matius, Cn. 160.
Maximus Vibius 204, 205.
Mela, M. Annaeus 31, 36, 97.
Meliboeus 152, 156-9.
Memor, Scaevus 30.
Messala, Vipstanus 16, 126.
Montanus, Curtius 163 _n_.
Mummius 24 _n_.
Musonius Rufus 8.
Nero 6-8, 19, 20, 28, 33, 41, 43, 74-6, 89 _n_, 97, 98, 101, 102, 119,
125-7, 131 _n_, 132, 144, 151, 236, 251, 290, 291, 302.
Nerva 21, 169, 170, 255, 296.
Ninnius Crassus 160.
Novatus, M. Annaeus 31, 30.
Novius Vindex 205 _n_.
Octavia 40, 41, 74-8.
Ovidius 11, 12, 17 _n_, 29, 46, 71, 112, 123 _n_, 143, 144, 161, 192,
207, 221 _n_, 226, 259, 260, 263.
Pacuvius 12, 23, 71, 89.
Paris, 28, 203, 291.
Passennus Paulus Propertius Blaesus 170, 171.
Passienus, Crispus 36.
Patronius Aristocrates 80.
Pedo, Albinovanus 259 _n_, 261.
Persius 20-2, 79-96, 160, 164, 191, 236, 267, 293, 318, 319.
Pervigilium Veneris 174.
Petronius Arbiter 16 _n_, 20, 103, 125-39, 239, 259.
Piso, _see_ Calpurnius.
Pisonem, Panegyricus in 156-9.
Plautus 12, 23.
Plinius (the younger) 20, 25, 163, 170-3, 232, 236, 245, 255, 268, 305.
Plotius Grypus 205 _n_.
Polla, Argentaria 100, 205 _n_.
Pollius 231, 268.
Polybius 4, 32, 161.
Pompeius 37, 101, 102 sqq.
Pomponius Bassulus 25, 170.
Pomponius Secundus 29.
Ponticus 207 _n_.
Propertius 139, 170, 171.
Pudens (friend of Martial) 257
Pudens L. Valerius (boy-poet) 14 _n_.
Pylades (1) 27.
---- (2) 291.
Quintilianus 12, 16, 20, 25, 29, 35, 116, 164, 167-9, 179, 180, 251,
Quintus Ovidius 257.
Remmius Palaemon 17 _n_, 79.
Rubrenus Lappa 30.
Rutilius Gallicus 205 _n_.
Rutilius Namatianus 174.
Scaurus, Mamercus 2.
Seneca (the elder) 15, 31, 97.
Seneca (the younger) 4, 5, 20, 31-78, 93, 94, 97, 115, 124, 132,
134, 144, 145, 161, 164, 179, 180, 185-7, 207 _n_, 221 _n_, 236,
251, 259, 260.
Sentius Augurinus 170, 171.
Serranus 168, 169.
Servilius Nonianus 80.
Severus, Cassius 4.
Silius Italicus 20, 102, 123_n_, 145, 156, 163, 168, 179, 191,
Sophocles 47 _n_, 127, 207 _n_, 216 _n_.
Statius (the elder) 169, 202, 203.
Statius (the younger) 8 _n_, 20, 22, 28, 100, 123 _n_, 164, 167-9,
179, 191, 192, 202-35, 240, 260, 268, 270-2.
Stella, Arruntius 169, 205 _n,_ 256, 280.
Stertinius Avitus 256.
Sulpicia (the elder) 174.
Sulpicia (the younger) 174-8.
Sulpicius Maximus 14 _n._
Tacitus 20, 21, 121, 125, 127, 168, 169, 170, 179, 243, 275.
Theocritus 150, 268.
Thrasea 34, 80, 168.
Tiberius 2-4, 25, 102.
Titus 167, 181, 252.
Traianus 21, 127, 169, 170, 256, 290, 291, 296.
Triarius 15 _n._
Turnus 30, 169.
Umbricius 289, 293, 294.
Vagellius 163 _n._
Valerius Flaccus 20, 123 _n,_ 167, 168, 179-201, 212 _n,_ 220, 226,
Varro (Atacinus) 183.
Varro (Reatinus) 127.
Vergilius Maro 4, 11, 12, 17 _n,_ 20, 101, 102, 115, 123 _n,_ 130,
143, 144, 146, 147, 149, 150, 151, 153, 161, 179, 186, 187, 191,
193, 194, 198, 207 _n,_ 210, 211, 220 _n,_ 221, 226, 227, 237,
238-40, 243-5, 281.
Vergilius Romanus 25, 170.
Verginius Flavus 7.
Verginius Rufus 169.
Vespasianus 144, 166, 169, 170, 180.
Vestricius Spurinna 169.
1. See Teuffel and Schwabe, Sec. 272.
2. Cf. Tac. _Ann_. i. 1. Velleius Paterculus is a good example of
the servile historian. For an example of servile oratory of. Tac.
_Ann_. xvi. 28.
3. Suet, _Tib_. 21.
4. Dion. 1 vii. 22; Tac. _Ann_. vi. 39; iv. 31.
5. Tac. _Ann_. iv. 34.
6. Dion. lviii. 24 [Greek: math_on oun touto ho Tiberios, eph' eaut_oi
tote to epos eir_esthai eph_e, Atreus dia t_en miaiphonian einai
prospoi_esamenos.] Tac. _Ann_. vi. 29.
7. 'Pulsi tum Italia histriones,' Tac. _Ann_. iv. 14.
8. III Prol. 38 sqq., Epil. 29 sqq.
9. Suet. _Tib_. 42.
10. Tac. _Ann_. iii. 49; Dion. lvii. 20.
11. Suet. _Tib_. 70
12. Suet. _Tib_. 71
13. Suet. _Tib_. 61
14. Suidas, s.v. [Greek: Kaisar Tiberios].
15. Suet. _Tib_. 70.
16. Suet. _Tib. 70._
17. Suet. _Cal. 53._
18. Suet. _Cal. 53._
19. Suet. _Cal. 16._
20. Dion. _lix. 20._
21. Suet. _Cal. 27._
22. Dion. _lix. 19._
23. Suet. _Cal._ 34 'nullius ingenii minimaeque doctrinae'.
24. Suet. _Cal. 20._
25. For his writings generally of. Suet. _Claud. 41, 42._
26. Tac. _Ann. xiii. 43._
27. Suet. _Claud. 33._
28. For his writings generally of. Suet. _Claud. 41, 42._
29. Suet _Claud. 11._
30. Suet. _Claud. 41. This is borne out by the fragments of the speech
delivered at Lyons on the Gallic franchise. _C.I. L. 13, 1668._
31. Suet. _Claud. 28._
32. Sc. in the _Apocolocyntosis_.
33. Suet. _Ner. 52._
34. Suet. _Ner. 49_ 'qualis artifex pereo!'
35. Suet. _Ner. 52_; Tac. _Ann. xiii. 3._
36. Tac. _Ann. xiv. 16._
37. Suet. _Domit. 1_; Tac. _Ann. xv. 49_; Suet. _Ner. 24._
38. Mart, ix. 26. 9; Plin. _N. H. xxxvii. 50._
39. Persius is sometimes said to quote from the Bacchae. Cf. Schol.
Pers. _Sat. i. 93-5, 99-102_. But see ch. in, p. 89.
40. Juv. viii. 221; Serv. Verg. _Georg. iii. 36, Aen. v. 370._
41. Dion. lxii. 29.
42. Dion. lxii. 18; Suet. _Ner. 38_; Tac. _Ann. xv. 39_. For fragments
of his work see Baehrens, _Poet. Rom. Fragm., p. 368._
43. Suet, Ner. 10, 21.
44. Philostr. _vit. Apoll_. iv. 39 [Greek: ad_on ta tou Ner_onos mel_e
... ep_ege mel_e ta men ex Oresteias, ta d' ex Antigon_es, ta d'
opothenoun t_on prag_odoumen_on aut_o kai _odas ekampten oposas Ner_on
elugize te kai kak_os estrephen].
45. Suet. _vita Lucani_; see chapter on Lucan, p. 97.
46. See chapter on Lucan, p. 98.
47. Suet. _Luc_.; Tac. _Ann_. xv. 49.
48. Suet. _Ner_. 39.
49. It may be urged that the damage lies not in the loss of poetry
suppressed by the Emperor, but in the generation of a type of court
poetry, examples of which survive in their most repulsive form in the
_Silvae_ of Statius and the epigrams of Martial. The objection has its
element of truth, but only affects a very small and comparatively
unimportant portion of the poetry of the age.
50. See Tacitus, _Dial._ 28 sqq. on the moral training of a young Roman
of his day. Also Juv. xiv.
51. After the death of the great Augustan authors Alexandrian erudition
becomes yet more rampant. It was a great assistance to men of
second-rate poetical talent.
52. Quint, i. 1. 12.
53. Quint, i. 8. 3; Plin. _Ep._ ii. 14.
54. Quint, i. 9. 2; Cic. _Ep. ad Fam._ vi. 18. 5; Quint. i. 8. 6; Stat.
_Silv._ ii. 1. 114; Ov. _Tr._ ii. 369.
55. Cp. Wilkins, _Rom. Education_, p. 60.
56. Op. Juv. vii. 231-6; Suet. _Tib._ 70. The result of this type of
instruction is visible throughout the poets of the age, whereas Vergil
and the best of the Greek Alexandrians had a true appreciation of the
sensuous charm of proper names and legendary allusions, as in our
literature had Marlowe, Milton, Keats, and Tennyson. Cp. Milton,
_Paradise Lost_, Bk. 1:
In fable or romance of Uther's son
Begirt with British and Armoric knights;
And all who since, baptised or infidel,
Jousted in Aspramont or Montalban,
Damasco, or Marocco, or Trebisond,
Or whom Biserta sent from Afric shore,
When Charlemain with all his peerage fell
Or compare Tennyson's use of the names of Arthur's battles, 'Agned
Cathregonion' and the 'waste sand-shore of Trath Treroit.'
57. Wilkins, _Roman Education_, p. 72.
58. See Wilkins, op. cit, p. 74.
59. Wilkins, _Roman Education_, p. 75.
60. The most striking instances of this precocity are Q. Sulpicius
Maximus, who at the age of twelve and a half won the prize for Greek
verse at the Agon Capitolinus A.D. 94 (cp. Kaibel, _Epigr_. Gr. 618),
and L. Valerius L. F. Pudens, aged thirteen, who won the prize for Latin
verse in A.D. 106. Cp. _C.I.L._ ix. 286.
61. For the importance attached to imitation sec Quint, x. 2.
62. The Greek rhetoricians of this period lay great stress on the
importance of avoiding declamatory rhetoric. They belong to the Attic
revival. But the Attic revival never really 'caught on' at Rome; by the
time of Quintilian the mischief was done.
63. Sen. _Suas_. 3.
64. Ib. 7.
65. Ib. 2. I subjoin the text of the last. The author is Triarius.' 'Non
pudet Laconas ne pugna quidem hostium, sed fabula vinci? Magnum est
alumnum virtutis nasci et Laconem: ad certam victoriam omnes
remansissent: ad certam mortem tantum Lacones. Non est Sparta lapidibus
circumdata: ibi muros habet ubi viros. Melius revocabimus fugientes
trecenos quam sequemur. Sed montes perforat, maria contegit. Nunquam
solido stetit superba felicitas et ingentium imperiorum magna fastigia
oblivione fragilitatis humanae conlapsa sunt. Scias licet non ad finem
pervenisse quae ad invidiam porducta sunt. Maria terrasque, rerum
naturam statione immutavit sua: moriamur trecenti, ut hic primum
invenerit quod mutare non posset. Si tam demens placiturum consilium
erat, cur non potius in turba fuginius?'
66. Latro is the author of the following treatment of the theme. 'Hoc
exspectastis ut capite demisso verecundia se ipsa antequam impelleretur
deiceret? id enim decrat ut modestior in saxo esset quam in sacrario
fuerat. Constitit et circumlatis in frequentiam oculis sanctissimum
numen, quasi parum violasset inter altaria, coepit in ipso quo
vindicabatur violare supplicio: hoc alterum damnatae incestum fuit,
damnata est quia incesta erat, deiceta est quia damnata erat, repetenda
est quia et incesta et damnata et deiceta est, dubitari potest quin
usque eo deicienda sit, donec efficiatur propter quod deiecta est?
patrocinium suum vocat pereundi infelicitatem. Quid tibi, importuna
mulier, precor nisi ut ne vis quidem deiceta pereas? "Invocavi,"
inquit, "deos", statuta in illo saxo deos nominasti, et miraris si te
iterum deici volunt? si nihil aliud, loco incestarum stetisti.' Sen.
_Cont_. i. 3.
67. e.g. Sen. _Cont_. i. 7 'Liberi parentes alant aut vinciant: quidam
alterum fratrem tyrannum occidit, alterum in adulterio deprehensum
deprecante patre interfecit. A piratis captas scripsit patri de
redemptione. Pater piratis epistolam scripsit, si praecidissent manus,
duplam se daturum. Piratae illum dimiserunt: patrem egentem non alit.'
68. For a brilliant description of the evils of the Roman system of
education see Tac. _Dial_. 30-5. See also p. 127 for the very similar
criticism of Petronius.
69. ce. 28-30. Cp. also Quint, i. 2 1-8.
70. The schoolmaster was not infrequently, it is to be feared, of
doubtful character. Cp. the case of the famous rhetorician Remmius
Palaemon. Cp. also Quint, i. 3. 13.
71. c. 35.
72. Tac. _Dial_. 26.
73. The influence of rhetoric was of course large in the Augustan age.
Vergil and still more Ovid testify to this fact. But the tone of
rhetoric was saner in the days of Vergil. Ovid, himself no
inconsiderable influence on the poetry of the Silver Age, begins to show
the effects of the new and meretricious type of rhetoric that flourished
under the anti-Ciceronian reaction, when the healthy influence of the
great orators of a saner age began to give way before the inroads of the
brilliant but insincere epigrammatic style. This latter style was
fostered largely by the importance assigned to the _controversia_ and
_suasoria_ as opposed to the more realistic methods of oratorical
training during the last century of the republic.
74. See Mayor on Juv. iii. 9.
75. Cp. Juv. i. 1 sqq., iii. 9. For the enormous part played in social
life by recitations cp. Plin. _Ep_. i. 13, ii. 19, iv. 5, 27, v. 12, vi.
2, 17, 21, viii. 21.
76. Cp. especially the speeches of Lucan.
77. For some very just criticism on this head cp. Quint, viii. 5. 25
78. For amusing instances of rudeness on the part of members of the
audience ep. Sen. _Ep._ cxxii. 11; Plin. _Ep._ vi. 15.
79. Petr. 83, 88-91, 115. Mart. iii. 44. 10 'et stanti legis et legis
cacanti. | in thermas fugio: sonas ad aurem. | piscinam peto: non licet
natare. | ad cenam propero: tenes euntem. | ad cenam venio: fugas
sedentem. | lassus dormio: suscitas iacentem.' Cp. also 3, 50 and
passim. Plin. _Ep._ vi. 13; Juv. i. 1-21; iii. 6-9; vii. 39 sqq.
80. Plin. _Ep._ viii. 12.
81. Suet. _Dom._ 4.
82. Tac. _Dial_. 35
83. See ch. v.
84. There had always, it may be noted, existed an archaistic section of
literary society. Seneca (_Ep._ cxiv. 13), Persius (i. 76), and Tacitus
(_Dial._ 23) decide the imitators of the early poets of the republic.
But virtually no trace of pronounced imitation of this kind is to be
observed in the poetry that has survived. Novelty and what passed for
originality were naturally more popular than the resuscitation of the
dead or dying past.
85. Boissier, _L'Opposition sous les Cesars_, p. 238.
86. Macrobius (_Sat._ 10. 3) speaks of a revival of the Atellan by a
certain Mummius, but gives no indication of the date.
87. Juv. viii. 185.
888. Suet. _Calig._ 57; Joseph. _Ant._ xix. 1. 13; Juv. viii. 187.
89. Mart. _de Spect._ 7.
90. Plutarch, _de Sollert. Anim._ xix. 9.
91. Suet. _Tib_. 45.
92. ib. _Ner_. 39.
93. Ib. _Galb_. 13.
94. Ib. _Dom_. 10.
95. Ib. _Calig_. 27; _Nero_, I. c.; Tac. _Ann_. iv. 14.
96. _C. I. L_. ix. 1165.
97. _Ep_. vi. 21.
98. Suet. _Ner_. II.
999. Quint, xi. 3. 178.
100. Juv. iii. 93.
101. x. 1, 99.
102. Lucian, _de Salt_. 27.
103. Suet. _Ner_. 24.
104. Lucian, _de Salt_. 79.
105. Suet. _ap. Hieronym_. (Roth, p. 301, 25).
106. Plut. _Qu. Conv_. vii. 8. 3; Sen. _Contr_. 3. praef. 10.
107. Lucian, op. cit., 37-61.
108. Plut, _Qu. Conv_. iv. 15. 17; Libanius (Reiske) iii, p. 381.
109. Lucian, op. cit., 69 sqq.
110. e.g. Pasiphae, Cinyras and Myrrha, Jupiter and Leda. Lucian, 1. c.;
Joseph. _Ant. Iud_. xix. 1. 13; Juv. vi. 63-6.
111. For the effect of such dancing cp. the interesting stories told by
Lucian, op. cit., 63-6. Cp. also Liban., in, p. 373. For the importance
attached to gesture in ancient times see Quint. xi. 3. 87 sqq.
112. Story of Turnus; Suet, _Ner_. 54. Dido; Macrob. Sat. v. 17. 15.
113. See p. 100.
114. Juv. vii. 92.
115. For the general history of the pantomimus see Friedlaender,
_Sittengeschicht,_ II. in. 3, and Lucian, _de Saltatione_.
116. Dion. liv. 17; Tac. _Ann_. i. 54 and 77; Dion. lvii. 14.
117. Suet. _Ner_. 46.
118. There is no clear proof of the performance on the Roman stage of
any tragedy in the strict sense of the word during the Silver Age. The
words used e.g. in Dio Chrys. (19, p. 261: 23, p. 396), Lucian
(_Nigrin_. 8), Libanius (iii, p. 265, Reiske) may refer merely to the
performance of isolated scenes. See note on Vespasian's attitude to the
theatre, p. 166.
119. Pliny the elder wrote his life. Plin. _Ep_. iii. 5. Cp. also Tac.
_Ann_. v. 8; xii. 28; Plin. _N.H_. xiii. 83.
120. Ribbeck, _Trag. Rom. Fr_. p. 268, fr. 1; p. 331 (ed. 3).
121. _Ann_. xi. 13.
122. Charis, _Gr. Lat_. i. p. 125, 23; p. 137, 23.
123. Tac. _Dial_. II.
124. Ib. 2, 3.
125. Ib. 3.
126. Ib. 3.
127. Ib. II.
128. Juv. vii. 12.
129. Juv. vii. 12.
130. Ib. vii. 72.
131. He flourished in reign of Domitian. Schol. Vall. luv. i. 20; Mart.
xi. 9 and 10; Donat. _Gramm. Lat_. iv. p. 537, 17; Apollin. Sid. ix. 266.
132. In the fragment preserved by Donatus (Ribbeck, _Trag. Rom. Fr_. p.
269) the chorus address Hecuba under the name Cisseis. 'Fulgentius
expos. serm. antiq. 25 (p. 119, 5, Helm) says _Memos_ (Schopen emends
to _Memor_) _in tragoedia Herculis ait: ferte suppetias optimi
133. xi. 2. 8.
134. Mart. _i._ 61, 7; _Poet. Lat. Min._ iv. p. 62, 19, Bachrens.
135. Tac. _Ann._ xv. 73; xvi. 17.
136. Tac. _Ann._ xv. 73; xvi. 17.
137. Sen. _ad Helv. de Cons._ xix. 2.
138. Sen. _ad Helv._ 1. c.; _Ep._ lxxviii. 1. Dion. Cass. lix. 19.
139. 5 Dion. Cass. 1. c.
140. Suet. _Calig._ 53. See ch. i. p. 4.
141. _Ep._ cviii. 17 sqq.; Hioronym. _ad ann._ 2029. That he knew and
never lost his respect for the teaching of Pythagoras is shown by the
frequency with which he quotes him in the letters.
142. _Ep._ cviii. 3 sqq.
143. Cp. the speech of Suillius, Tac. _Ann._ xiii. 42; Dion.
Cass. lxi. 10.
144. _ad Helv. de Cons._ 6 sqq.
145. _ad Polyb. de Cons._
146. The _Apocolocyntosis_--almost undoubtedly by Seneca--hardly falls
within the scope of this work. Such intrinsic importance as it possesses
is due to the prose portions. In point of form it is an example of the
_Menippean Satire_, that strange medley of prose and verse. The verse
portions form but a small proportion of the whole and are insipid and
lacking in interest.
147. He was forbidden by Agrippina to give definite philosophical
instruction. Cp. Suet. _Nero_, 52.
148. Cp. _ad Ner. de Clem._ ii. 2; Henderson, _Life of Nero_,
Notes, p. 459.
149. For what may be regarded as an academic _apologia pro vita sua_,
cp. _Ep._ 5; 17: 20; _de Ira_, in. 33; _de Const. Sap._ 1-4, 10-13; _de
Vit. Beat._ 17-28, &c.
150. Dion. Cass. lxi. 4. 5.
151. Tac. _Ann_. xvi. 28.
152. This is Dion's view, lxi. 10. For an ingenious view of Seneca's
character see Ball, _Satire of Sen. on apotheosis of Claudius_, p.
34. 'It may be that Seneca cared less for the realization of high
ideals in life than for the formulation of the ideals as such.
Sincerity and hypocrisy are terms much less worth controversy in some
minds than others.'
153. Tac. _Ann._ xv. 61-4.
154. Quint, x. 1. 125-9.
155. Fronto, p. 155, N.
156. Quint, x. 1. 129. Over and above his writings on moral philosophy
we possess seven books _ad Lucilium naturalium quaestionum._
157. _Patruos duos_ more naturally, however, refers to Gallio and Mela,
in which case Marcus is the son of Seneca himself.
158. Cp. _P.L.M._ iv. 15, 8; Plin. _N.H._ xvi. 242.
159. For these cp. _Ep._ xiv. 13; ib. civ. 29.
160. e.g. 7l 'de Atho monte', 57 'de Graeciae ruina', 50 'de bono
quietae vitae', 47, 48 'morte omnes aequari', 25 'de spe'.
161. There is, in fact, direct evidence that he wrote such verses. Plin.
_Ep._ v. 3. 5.
162. Cp. p. 263.
163. Cp. the not dissimilar situation in Sen. _Oed_. (936), where
Oedipus meditates in very similar style, as to how he may expiate his
guilt. The couplet _vivere si poteris_, &c., is nothing if not Senecan.
164. Quint, viii. 3. 31 ('memini iuvenis admodum inter Pomponium ac
Senecam etiam praefationibus esse tractatum, an "gradus eliminet" in
tragoedia dici oportuisset') shows Seneca as critic of dramatic diction;
there is no evidence to show what these _praefationes_ were, but they
_may_ have been prefaces to tragedies. The _Medea_ (453) is cited by
Quintilian ix. 2. 8. For later quotations from the tragedies, cp.
Diomedes, _gr. Lat_. i. p. 511, 23; Terentianus Maurus, ibid. vi. p.
404, 2672; Probus, ibid. iv. p. 229, 22, p. 246, 19; Priscian, ibid. ii.
p. 253, 7 and 9; Tertullian, _de An_. 42, _de Resurr_. 1; Lactantius,
_Schol. Stat. Theb_. iv. 530.
165. Cp. also the iambic translation of Cleanthes, _Ep_. cvii. 11:--
duc, o parens celsique dominator poli,
quocunque placuit: nulla parendi mora est.
adsum impiger. fac nolle, comitabor gemens
malusque patiar, facere quod licuit bono.
ducunt volentem fata, nolentem trahunt.
166. Some of the more remarkable parallels have been collected by Nisard
(_Etudes sur les poetes latins de la decadence_, i. 68-91), e.g. _Med_.
163 'qui nil potest sperare, desperet nihil'. _Ep_. v. 7 'desines
timere, si sperare desieris'. _Oed_. 705 'qui sceptra duro saevus
imperio regit, timet timentes: metus in auctorem redit'. _Ep_. cv. 4
'qui timetur, timet: nemo potuit terribilis esse secure'. de Ira_, ii.
11 'quid quod semper in auctores redundat timor, nec quisquam metuitur
ipse securus?'-_Oed_. 980 sqq.; _de Prov_. v. 6 sqq.; _Phoen_. 146, 53;
_Ep_. xii. 10; _de Prov_. vi. 7; _Herc. F_. 463, 464; _Ep_. xcii. 14.
167. The arguments against the Senecan authorship are of little weight.
It has been urged (a) that the MSS. assign the author a _praenomen_
Marcus. No Marcus Seneca is known, though Marcus was the _praenomen_ of
both Gallio and Mela, and of Lucan. Mistakes of this kind are, however,
by no means rare (cp. the 'Sextus Aurelius Propertius Nauta' of many
MSS. of that poet: both 'Aurelius' and 'Nauta' are errors), (b) Sidonius
Apollinaris (ix. 229) mentions three Senecas, philosopher, tragedian,
and epic writer (i.e. Lucan). But Sidonius lived in the fifth century
A.D., and may easily have made a mistake. Such a mistake actually occurs
(S. A. xxiii. 165) where he seems to assert that Argentaria Polla,
Lucan's faithful widow, subsequently married Statius. The mistake as
regards Seneca is probably due to a misinterpretation of Martial i. 61
'duosque Senecas unicumque Lucanum facunda loquitur Corduba'. Not being
acquainted with the works of the elder Seneca the rhetorician, Sidonius
invented a new author, Seneca the tragedian.
168. See ch. on Octavia, p.78.
169. Leo, _Sen. tragoed._ i. 89-134.
170. It is not even necessary to suppose with Leo that these were the
earliest of the plays and that these metrical experiments were youthful
indiscretions which failed and were not repeated. Leo, i. p. 133.
171. For a detailed treatment see Leo, i. p. 48. Melzer, _de H. Oetaeo
Annaeano_, Chemnitz, 1890; _Classical Review_, 1905, p. 40, Summers.
172. See p. 39 on relation of epigrams to dramas.
173. _Ann_. xiv. 52.
174. See also note on p. 42 for Leo's ingenious, but inconclusive theory
for the dates of the _Agamemnon_ and _Oedipus_.
175. There is but one passage that can be held to afford the slightest
evidence for a later date, _Med_. 163 'qui nil potest sperare, desperet
nihil' seems to be an echo of _Ep_. v. 7 'sed ut huius quoque diei
lucellum tecum communicem, apud Hecatonem nostrum inveni ... "desines",
inquit, "timere, si sperare desieris".' This aphorism is quoted as newly
found. The letters were written 62-5 A.D. This passage would therefore
suggest a very late date for the _Medea_. But Seneca had probably been
long familiar with the works of Hecato, and the epigram is not of such
profundity that it might not have occurred to Seneca independently.
176. For comparative analyses of Seneca's tragedies and the
corresponding Greek dramas see Miller's _Translation of the Tragedies of
Seneca_, p. 455.
177. The _Phaedra_ of Seneca is interesting as being modelled on the
lost _Hippolytus Veiled_ of Euripides. Phaedra herself declares her
passion to Hippolytus, with her own lips reveals to Theseus the
pretended outrage to her honour, and slays herself only on hearing of
the death of Hippolytus. Cp. Leo, _Sen. Trag_. i. 173. The _Phoenissae_
presents a curious problem. It is far shorter than any of the other
plays and has no chorus. It falls into two parts with little connexion.
I. (_a_) 1-319. Oedipus and Antigone are on their way to Cithaeron.
Oedipus meditates suicide and is dissuaded by Antigone. (_b_) 320-62. An
embassy from Thebes arrives begging Oedipus to return and stop the
threatened war between his sons. He refuses, and declares the intention
of hiding near the field of battle and listening joyfully to the
conflict between his unnatural sons. II. The remaining portion, on the
other hand, seems to imply that Oedipus is still in Thebes (553, 623),
and represents a scene between Jocasta and her sons. It lacks a
conclusion. These two different scenes can hardly have belonged to one
and the same play. They may be fragments of two separate plays, an
_Oedipus Coloneus_ and a _Phoenissae_, or may equally well be two
isolated scenes written for declamation without ever having been
intended for embodiment in two completed dramas. Cp. Ribbeck, _Gesch.
Roem. Dichtung_, iii. 70.
178. _Sen. Trag._ i. 161.
179. Leo, op. cit., i. 166 sqq.
180. 530-658. The _Oedipus_ is based on the _O. Rex_ of Sophocles, but
is much compressed, and the beautiful proportions of the Greek are lost.
In Seneca out of a total of 1,060 lines 330 are occupied by the lyric
measures of the chorus, 230 by descriptions of omens and necromancy.
181. It is also to be noted that the nurse does not make use of this
device till after Hippolytus has left the stage, although to be really
effective her words should have been uttered while Hippolytus held
Phaedra by the hair. The explanation is, I think, that the play was
written for recitation, not for acting. Had the play been acted, the
nurse's call for help and her accusation of Hippolytus could have been
brought in while Hippolytus was struggling with Phaedra. But being
written for recitation by a single person there was not room for the
speech at the really critical moment, and therefore it was inserted
afterwards--too late. See p. 73.
182. Similarly, Medea, being a sorceress, must be represented engaged in
the practice of her art. Hence lurid descriptions of serpents, dark
invocations, &c. (670-842).
183. Seneca never knows when to stop. Undue length characterizes
declamations and lyrics alike.
184. As a whole the _Troades_ fails, although, the play being
necessarily episodic, the deficiencies of plot are less remarkable. But
compared with the exquisite _Troades_ of Euripides it is at once
exaggerated and insipid.
185. Cp. Apul. _Met_. x. 3, where a step-mother in similar circumstances
defends her passion with the words, 'illius (sc. patris) enim
recognoscens imaginem in tua facie merito te diligo.'
186. This speech is closely imitated by Racine in his _Phedre_.
187. 2: Cp. esp. 995-1006: the _agnosco fratrem_ of Thyestes is perhaps
the most monstrous stroke of rhetoric in all Seneca. Better, but equally
revolting, are ll. 1096-1112 from the same play.
188. For other examples of dialogue cp. esp. _Medea_, 159-76, 490-529
(perhaps the most effective dialogue in Seneca), _Thyestes_, 205-20; H.
F. 422-38. for which see p. 62.
189. _Pro M_. 61 'Fuit enim quidam summo ingenio vir, Zeno, cuius
inventorum aemuli Stoici nominantur: huius sententia et praecepta
huiusmodi: sapientem gratia nunquam moveri, nunquam cuiusquam delicto
ignoscere; neminem misericordem esse nisi stultum et levem: viri non
esse neque exorari neque placari: solos sapientes esse, si
distortissimi sint, formosos, si mendicissimi, divites, si servitutem
serviant reges.' &c. He goes on to put a number of cases where the
Stoic rules break down.
190. Cp. Eurip. _Andr_. 453 sqq.
191. For still greater exaggeration cp. _Phoen_. 151 sqq,; _Oed_. 1020
192. Cp. Sen. _Contr_. ii. 5; ix. 4.
193. Cp. Sen. _de Proc_. iv. 6 'calamitas virtutis occasio est'.
194. Cp. Sen. _Ep_. xcii. 30, 31 'magnus erat labor ire in caelum'.
195. Cp. Sen. _Ep_. xcii. 16 sqq.
196. _Ep_. cviii. 24.
197. Cp. _Macbeth_ ii. 2. 36, Macbeth does murder sleep, &c. For other
Shakespearian parallels, cp. _Macbeth_, Canst thou not minister to a
mind diseased? _H.F._ 1261 'nemo pollute queat | animo mederi.'
_Macbeth_, I have lived long enough.... And that which should accompany
old age, As honour, love, obedience, troops of friends, I must not look
to have. _H.F._ 1258 'Cur animam in ista luce detincam amplius |
morerque nihil est; cuncta iam amisi bona, | mentem, arma, famam,