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A History of Roman Literature by Charles Thomas Cruttwell

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Eripuit: fixit leges pretio atque refixit."

Besides this poem he wrote another on the praises of Augustus, for which
Horace testifies his fitness while excusing himself from approaching the
same subject. [29] From this were taken two lines [30] appropriated by
Horace, and instanced as models of graceful flattery:

"Tene magis salvum populus velit, an populum tu,
Servet in ambiguum qui consulit et tibi et Urbi,

After the pre-eminence of Virgil began to be recognised, Varius seems to
have deserted epic poetry and turned his attention to tragedy, and that
with so much success, that his great work, the _Thyestes_, was that on
which his fame with posterity chiefly rested. This drama, considered by
Quintilian [31.] equal to any of the Greek masterpieces, was performed at
the games after the battle of Actium; but it was probably better adapted
for declaiming than acting. Its high reputation makes its loss a serious
one--not for its intrinsic value, but for its position in the history of
literature as the first of those rhetorical dramas of which we possess
examples in those of Seneca, and which, with certain modifications, have
been cultivated in our own century with so much spirit by Byron, Shelley,
and Swinburne. The main interest which Varius has for us arises from his
having, in company with Plotius Tucca, edited the Aeneid after Virgil's
death. The intimate friendship that existed between the two poets enabled
Varius to give to the world many particulars as to Virgil's character and
habits of life; this biographical sketch, which formed probably an
introduction to the volume, is referred to by Quintilian [32] and others.

A poet of inferior note, but perhaps handed down to unenviable immortality
in the line of Virgil--

"Argutos inter strepere Anser olores," [33]

was ANSER. He was a partisan of Antony, and from this fact, together with
the possible allusion in the _Eclogues_, later grammarians discovered that
he was, like Bavius and Maevius, unhappy bards only known from the
contemptuous allusions of their betters, [34] an _obtrectator Virgilii_.
As such he of course called down the vials of their wrath. But there is no
real evidence for the charge. He seems to have been an unambitious poet,
who indulged light and wanton themes. [35] AEMILIUS MACER, of Verona, who
died 16 B.C., was certainly a friend of Virgil, and has been supposed to
be the Mopsus of the _Eclogues_. He devoted his very moderate talents to
minute and technical didactic poems. The _Ornithogonias_ of Nicander was
imitated or translated by him, as well as the _Thaeriaka_ of the same
writer. Ovid mentions having been frequently present at the poet's
recitations, but as he does not praise them, [36] we may infer that Macer
had no great name among his contemporaries, but owed his consideration and
perhaps his literary impulse to his friendship for Virgil.


VIRGIL (70-19 B.C.).

PUBLIUS VIRGILIUS, or more correctly, VERGILIUS [1] MARO, was born in the
village or district [2] of Andes, near Mantua, sixteen years after the
birth of Catullus, of whom he was a compatriot as well as an admirer. [3]
As the citizenship was not conferred on Gallia Transpadana, of which
Mantua was a chief town, until 49 B.C., when Virgil was nearly twenty-one
years old, he had no claim by birth to the name of Roman. And yet so
intense is the patriotism which animates his poems, that no other Roman
writer, patrician or plebeian, surpasses or even equals it in depth of
feeling. It is one proof out of many how completely the power of Rome
satisfied the desire of the Italians for a great common head whom they
might reverence as the heaven-appointed representative of their race. And
it leads us to reflect on the narrow pride of the great city in not
earlier extending her full franchise to all those gallant tribes who
fought so well for her, and who at last extorted their demand with
grievous loss to themselves as to her, by the harsh argument of the sword.
To return to Virgil. We learn nothing from his own works as to his early
life and parentage. Our chief authority is Donatus. His father, Maro, was
in humble circumstances; according to some he followed the trade of a
potter. But as he farmed his own little estate, he must have been far
removed from indigence, and we know that he was able to give his
illustrious son the best education the time afforded. Trained in the
simple virtues of the country, Virgil, like Horace, never lost his
admiration for the stern and almost Spartan ideal of life which he had
there witnessed, and which the levity of the capital only placed in
stronger relief. After attending school for some years at Cremona, he
assumed at sixteen the manly gown, on the very day to which tradition
assigns the death of the poet Lucretius. Some time later (53 B.C.), we
find him at Rome studying rhetoric under Epidius, and soon afterwards
philosophy under Siro the Epicurean. The recent publication of Lucretius's
poem must have invested Siro's teaching with new attractiveness in the
eyes of a young author, conscious of genius, but as yet self-distrustful,
and willing to humble his mind before the "temple of speculative truth,"
The short piece, written at this date, and showing his state of feeling,
deserves to be quoted:--

"Ite hinc inanes ite rhetorum ampullae...
Scholasticorum natio madens pingui:...
Tuque o mearum cura, Sexte, curarum
Vale Sabine: iam valete formosi.
Nos ad beatos vela mittimus portus
Magni patentes docta dicta Sironis,
Vitamque ab omni vindicabimus cura.
Ite hinc Camenae...
Dulces Camenae, nam (fatebimur verum)
Dulces fuistis: et tamen meas chartas
Revisitote, sed pudenter et varo."

These few lines are very interesting, first, as enabling us to trace the
poetic influence of Catullus, whose style they greatly resemble, though
their moral tone is far more serious; secondly, as showing us that Virgil
was in aristocratic company, the names mentioned, and the epithet
_formosi_, by which the young nobles designated themselves, after the
Greek _kaloi, kalokagathoi_, indicating as much; and thirdly, as evincing
a serious desire to embrace philosophy for his guide in life, after a
conflict with himself as to whether he should give up writing poetry, and
a final resolution to indulge his natural taste "seldom and without
licentiousness." We can hardly err in tracing this awakened earnestness
and its direction upon the Epicurean system to his first acquaintance with
the poem of Lucretius. The enthusiasm for philosophy expressed in these
lines remained with Virgil all his life. Poet as he was, he would at once
be drawn to the theory of the universe so eloquently propounded by a
brother-poet. And in all his works a deep study of Lucretius is evidenced
not only by imitations of his language, but by frequent adoption of his
views and a recognition of his position as the loftiest attainable by man.
[4] The young Romans at this time took an eager interest in the problems
which philosophy presents, and most literary men began their career as
disciples of the Lucretian theory. [5] Experience of life, however,
generally drew them away from it. Horace professed to have been converted
by a thunder-clap in a clear sky; this was no doubt irony, but it is clear
that in his epistles he has ceased to be an Epicurean. Virgil, who in the
_Eclogues_ and _Georgics_ seems to sigh with regret after the doctrines he
fears to accept, comes forward in the _Aeneid_ as the staunch adherent of
the national creed, and where he acts the philosopher at all, assumes the
garb of a Stoic, not an Epicurean. But he still desired to spend his later
days in the pursuit of truth; it seemed as if he accepted almost with
resignation the labours of a poet, and looked forward to philosophy as his
recompense and the goal of his constant desire. [6] We can thus trace a
continuity of interest in the deepest problems, lasting throughout his
life, and, by the sacrifice of one side of his affections, tinging his
mind with that subtle melancholy so difficult to analyse, but so
irresistible in its charm. The craving to rest the mind upon a solid
ground of truth, which was kept in abeyance under the Republic by the
incessant calls of active life, now asserted itself in all earnest
characters, and would not be content without satisfaction. Virgil was cut
off before his philosophical development was completed, and therefore it
is useless to speculate what views he would have finally espoused. But it
is clear that his tone of mind was in reality artistic and not
philosophical. Systems of thought could never have had real power over him
except in so far as they modified his conceptions of ideal beauty: he
possessed neither the grasp nor the boldness requisite for speculative
thought; all ideas as they were presented to his mind were unconsciously
transfused into materials for effects of art. And the little poem which
has led to these remarks seems to enshrine in the outpourings of an early
enthusiasm the secret of that divided allegiance between his real and his
fancied aptitudes, which impels the poet's spirit, while it hears the
discord, to win its way into the inner and more perfect harmony.

After the battle of Philippi (42 B.C.) he appears settled in his native
district cultivating pastoral poetry, but threatened with ejection by the
agrarian assignations of the Triumvirs. Pollio, who was then Prefect of
Gallia Transpadana, interceded with Octavian, and Virgil was allowed to
retain his property. But on a second division among the veterans, Varus
having now succeeded to Pollio, he was not so fortunate, but with his
father was obliged to fly for his life, an event which he has alluded to
in the first and ninth Eclogues. The fugitives took refuge in a villa that
had belonged to Siro, [7] and from this retreat, by the advice of his
friend Cornelius Gallus, he removed to Rome, where, 37 B.C., he published
his _Eclogues_. These at once raised him to eminence as the equal of
Varius, though in a different department; but even before their
publication he had established himself as an honoured member of Maecenas's
circle. [8] The liberality of Augustus and his own thrift enabled him to
live in opulence, and leave at his death a very considerable fortune.
Among other estates he possessed one in Campania, at or near Naples, which
from its healthfulness and beauty continued till his death to be his
favourite dwelling-place. It was there that he wrote the _Georgics_, and
there that his bones were laid, and his tomb made the object of
affectionate and even religious veneration. He is not known to have
undertaken more than one voyage out of Italy; but that contemplated in the
third Ode of Horace may have been carried out, as Prof. Sellar suggests,
for the sake of informing himself by personal observation about the
localities of the _Aeneid_; for it seems unlikely that the accurate
descriptions of Book III. could have been written without some such direct
knowledge. The rest of his life presents no event worthy of record. It was
given wholly to the cultivation of his art, except in so far as he was
taken up with scientific and antiquarian studies, which he felt to be
effectual in elevating his thought and deepening his grasp of a great
subject. [9] The _Georgics_ were composed at the instance of Maecenas
during the seven years 37-30 B.C., and read before Augustus the following
year. The _Aeneid_ was written during the remaining years of his life, but
was left unfinished, the poet having designed to give three more years to
its elaboration. As is well known, it was saved from destruction and given
to the world by the emperor's command, contrary to the poet's dying wish
and the express injunctions of his will. He died at Brundisium (19 B.C.)
at the comparatively early age of 51, of an illness contracted at Megara,
and aggravated by a too hurried return. The tour on which he had started
was undertaken from a desire to see for himself the coasts of Asia Minor
which he had made Aeneas visit. Such was the life and such the premature
death of the greatest of Roman bards.

Even those who have judged the poems of Virgil most unfavourably speak of
his character in terms of warmest praise. He was gentle, innocent, modest,
and of a singular sweetness of disposition, which inspired affection even
where it was not returned, and in men who rarely showed it. [10] At the
same time he is described as silent and even awkward in society, a trait
which Dante may have remembered when himself taunted with the same
deficiency. His nature was pre-eminently a religious one. Dissatisfied
with his own excellence, filled with a deep sense of the unapproachable
ideal, he reverenced the ancient faith and the opinions of those who had
expounded it. This habit of mind led him to underrate his own poetical
genius and to attach too great weight to the precedents and judgment of
others. He seems to have thought no writer so common-place as not to yield
some thought that he might make his own; and, like Milton, he loves to pay
the tribute of a passing allusion to some brother poet, whose character he
valued, or whose talent his ready sympathy understood. In an age when
licentious writing, at least in youth, was the rule and required no
apology, Virgil's early poems are conspicuous by its almost total absence;
while the _Georgics_ and _Aeneid_ maintain a standard of lofty purity to
which nothing in Latin, and few works in any literature, approach. His
flattery of Augustus has been censured as a fault; but up to a certain
point it was probably quite sincere. His early intimacy with Varius, the
Caesarian poet, and possibly the general feeling among his fellow
provincials, may have attracted him from the first to Caesar's name; his
disposition, deeply affected by power or greatness, naturally inclined him
to show loyalty to a person; and the spell of success when won on such a
scale as that of Augustus doubtless wrought upon his poetical genius.
Still, no considerations can make us justify the terms of divine homage
which he applies in all his poems, and with every variety of ornament, to
the emperor. Indeed, it would be inconceivable, were it not certain, that
the truest representative of his generation could, with the approbation of
all the world, use language which, but a single generation before, would
have called forth nothing but scorn.

Virgil was tall, dark, and interesting-looking, rather than handsome; his
health was delicate, and besides a weak digestion, [11] he suffered like
other students from headache. His industry must, in spite of this, have
been extraordinary; for he shows an intimate acquaintance not only with
all that is eminent in Greek and Latin literature, but with many recondite
departments of ritual, antiquities, and philosophy, [12] besides being a
true interpreter of nature, an excellence that does not come without the
habit as well as the love of converse with her. Of his personal feelings
we know but little, for he never shows that unreserve which characterises
so many of the Roman writers; but he entertained a strong and lasting
friendship for Gallus, [13] and the force and truth of his delineations of
the passion of love seem to point to personal experience. Like Horace, he
never married, and his last days are said to have been clouded with regret
for the unfinished condition of his great work.

The early efforts of Virgil were chiefly lyric and elegiac pieces after
the manner of Catullus, whom he studied with the greatest care, and two
short poems in hexameters, both taken from the Alexandrines, called
_Culex_ and _Moretum_, of which the latter alone is certainly, the
formerly possibly, genuine. [14] Among the short pieces called _Catalecta_
we have some of exquisite beauty, as the dedicatory prayer to Venus and
the address to Siro's villa; [15] others show a vein of invective which we
find it hard to associate with the gentle poet; [16] others, again, are
parodies or close imitations of Catullus; [17] while one or two [18] are
proved by internal evidence to be by another hand than Virgil's. The
_Copa_, "Mine Hostess," which closes the series, reminds us of Virgil in
its expression, rhythm, and purity of style, but is far more lively than
anything we possess of his. It is an invitation to a rustic friend to put
up his beast and spend the hot hours in a leafy arbour where wine, fruits,
and goodly company wait for him. We could wish the first four lines away,
and then the poem would be a perfect gem. Its clear joyous ring marks the
gay time of youth; its varied music sounds the prelude to the metrical
triumphs that were to come, and if it is not Virgil's, we have lost in its
author a _genre_ poet of the rarest power.

The _Moretum_ is a pleasing idyll, describing the daily life of the
peasant Simplus, translated probably from the Greek of Parthenius. On it
Teuffel says, "Suevius had written a _Moretum_, and it is not improbable
that the desire to surpass Suevius influenced Virgil in attempting the
same task again." [19] Trifling as this circumstance is, nothing that
throws any light on the growth of Virgil's muse can be wanting in
interest. Virgil was not one of those who startle the world by their
youthful genius. His soul was indeed a poet's from the first, but the rich
perfection of his verse was not developed until after years of severe
labour, self-correction, and even failure. He began by essaying various
styles; he gradually confined himself to one; and in that one he wrought
unceasingly, always bringing method to aid talent, until, through various
grades of immaturity, he passed to a perfection peculiarly his own, in
which thought and expression are fused with such exceeding art as to elude
all attempts to disengage them. If we can accept the _Culex_ in its
present form as genuine, the development of Virgil's genius is shown to us
in a still earlier stage. Whether he wrote it at sixteen or twenty-six
(and to us the latter age seems infinitely the more probable), it bears
the strongest impress of immaturity. It is true the critics torment us by
their doubts. Some insist that it cannot be by Virgil. Their chief
arguments are derived from the close resemblances (which they regard as
imitations) to many passages in the _Aeneid_; but of these another, and
perhaps a more plausible, explanation may be given. The hardest argument
to meet is that drawn from the extraordinary imperfection of the plot,
which mars the whole consistency of the poem; [20] but even this is not
incompatible with Virgil's authorship. For all ancient testimony agrees in
regarding the _Culex_ of Virgil as a poem of little merit. [21] Amid the
uncertainty which surrounds the subject, it seems best not to disturb the
verdict of antiquity, until better grounds are discovered for assigning
our present poem to a later hand. To us the evidence seems to point to the
Virgilian authorship. The defect in the plot marks a fault to which Virgil
certainly was prone, and which he never quite cast off. [22] The
correspondences with the mythology, language, and rhythm of Virgil are
just such as might be explained by supposing them to be his first opening
conceptions on these points, which assumed afterwards a more developed
form. [23] And this is the more probable because Virgil's mind created
with labour, and cast and re-cast in the crucible of reflection ideas of
which the first expression suggested itself in early life. Thus we find in
the _Aeneid_ similes which had occurred in a less finished form in the
_Georgics_; in both _Georgics_ and _Aeneid_ phrases or cadences which seem
to brood over and strive to reproduce half-forgotten originals wrought out
long before. Nothing is more interesting in tracing Virgil's genius, than
to note how each fullest development of his talent subsumes and embraces
those that had gone before it; how his mind energises in a continuous
mould, and seems to harp with almost jealous constancy on strings it has
once touched. The deeper we study him, the more clearly is this feature
seen. Unlike other poets who throw off their stanzas and rise as if freed
from a load, Virgil seems to carry the accumulated burden of his creations
about with him. He imitates himself with the same elaborate assimilation
by which he digests and reproduces the thoughts of others.

It is probable that Virgil suppressed all his youthful poetry, and
intended the _Eclogues_ to be regarded as the first-fruits of his genius.
[24] The pastoral had never yet been cultivated at Rome. Of all the
products of later Greece none could vie with it in truth to nature. Its
Sicilian origin bespoke a fresh inspiration, for it arose in a land where
the muse of Hellas still lingered. Theocritus's vivid delineation of
country scenes must have been full of charm to the Romans, and Virgil did
well to try to naturalise it. Not even his matchless grace, however, could
atone for the want of reality that pervades an imported type of art.
Sicilian shepherds, Roman _literati_, sometimes under a rustic disguise,
sometimes in their own person; a landscape drawn, now from the vales round
Syracuse, now from the poet's own district round Mantua; playful contests
between rural bards interspersed with panegyrics on Julius Caesar and the
patrons or benefactors of the poet; a continual mingling of allegory with
fiction, of genuine rusticity with assumed courtliness; such are the
incongruities which lie on the very surface of the _Eclogues_. Add to
these the continual imitations, sometimes sinning against the rules of
scholarship, [25] which make them, with all their beauties, by far the
least original of Virgil's works, the artificial character of the whole
composition; and the absence of that lofty self-consciousness on the
poet's part [26] which lends so much fire to his after works: and it may
seem surprising that the _Eclogues_ have been so much admired. But the
fact is, their irresistible charm outweighs all the exceptions of
criticism. While we read we become like Virgil's own shepherd; we cannot
choose but surrender ourselves to the magic influence:

"Tale tuum carmen nobis, divine poeta,
Quale sopor fessis in gramine, quale per herbam
Dulcis aquae saliente sitim restinguere rivo." [27]

This charm is due partly to the skill with which the poet has blended
reality with allegory, fancy with feeling, partly to the exquisite
language to which their music is attuned. The Latin language had now
reached its critical period of growth, its splendid but transitory epoch
of ripe perfection. Literature had arrived at that second stage of which
Conington speaks, [28] when thought finds language no longer as before
intractable and inadequate, but able to keep pace with and even assist her
movements. Trains of reflection are easily awakened; a diction matured by
reason and experience rivals the flexibility or sustains the weight of
consecutive thought. It is now that an author's mind exhibits itself in
its most concrete form, and that the power of style is first fully felt.
But language still occupies its proper place as a means and not an end;
the artist does not pay it homage for its own sake; this is reserved for
the next period when the meridian is already past.

It has already been said that the _Georgics_ were undertaken at the
request of Maecenas. [29] From more than one passage in the _Eclogues_ we
should infer that Virgil was not altogether content with the light themes
he was pursuing; that he had before his mind's eye dim visions of a great
work which should give full scope to the powers he felt within him. But
Virgil was deficient in self-reliance. He might have continued to trifle
with bucolic poetry, had not Maecenas enlisted his muse in a practical
object worthy of its greatness. This was the endeavour to rekindle the old
love of husbandry which had been the nurse of Rome's virtue, and which was
gradually dying out. To this object Virgil lent himself with enthusiasm.
To feel that his art might be turned to some real good, that it might
advance the welfare of the state, this idea acted on him like an
inspiration. He was by early training well versed in the details of
country life. And he determined that nothing which ardour or study could
effect should be wanting to make his knowledge at once thorough and
attractive. For seven years he wrought into their present artistic
perfection the technical details of husbandry; a labour of love wrought
out of study and experience, and directed, as Merivale well says, to the
glorification of labour itself as the true end of man.

Virgil's treatment is partially adapted from the Alexandrines; but, as he
himself says, his real model is Hesiod. [30] The combination of quaint
sententiousness with deep enthusiasm, which he found in the old poet, met
his conception of what a practical poem should be. And so, although the
desultory maxims of the _Works and Days_ give but a faint image of the
comprehensive width and studied discursiveness of the _Georgics_, yet they
present a much more real parallel to it than the learned trifling of
Aratus or Nicander. For Virgil, like Lucretius, is no trifler: he uses
verse as a serious vehicle for impressing his conviction; he acknowledges,
so to say, the responsibility of his calling, [31] and writes in poetry
because poetry is the clothing of his mind. Hence the _Georgics_ must be
ranked as a link in the chain of serious treatises on agriculture, of
which Cato's is the first and Varro's the second, designed to win the
nation back to the study and discipline of its youth. And that Columella
so understood it is clear both from his defending his opinions by frequent
quotation from it as a standard authority, and from his writing one book
of his voluminous manual in verses imitated from Virgil. The almost
religious fervour with which Virgil threw himself into the task of
arresting the decay of Italian life, which is the dominant motive of the
_Aeneid_, is present also in the _Georgics_. The pithy condensation of
useful experience characteristic of Cato,

"Utiliumque sagax rerum et divina futuri
Sortilegis non discrepuit sententia Delphis," [32]

the fond antiquarianism of Varro, "laudator temporis acti," unite, with
the newly-kindled hope of future glories to be achieved under Caesar's
rule, to make the _Georgics_ the most complete embodiment of Roman
industrial views, as the _Aeneid_ is of Roman theology and religion. [33]
Virgil aims at combining the stream of poetical talent, which had come
mostly from outside, [34] with the succession of prose compositions on
practical subjects which had proceeded from the burgesses themselves. Cato
and Varro are as continually before his mind as Ennius, Catullus, and
Lucretius. A new era had arrived: the systematising of the results of the
past he felt was committed to him. Of Virgil's works the _Georgics_ is
unquestionably the most artistic. Grasp of the subject, clearness of
arrangement, evenness of style, are all at their highest excellence; the
incongruities that criticism detects in the _Eclogues_, and the
unrealities that often mar the _Aeneid_, are almost wholly absent. There
is, however, one great artistic blemish, for which the poet's courage, not
his taste, is to blame. We have already spoken of his affection for
Gallus, celebrated in the most extravagant but yet the most ethereally
beautiful of the Eclogues; [35] and this affection, unbroken by the
disgrace and exile of its object, had received a yet more splendid tribute
in the episode which closed the _Georgics_. Unhappily, the beauties of
this episode, so honourable to the poet's constancy, are to us a theme for
conjecture only; the narrow jealousy of Augustus would not suffer any
honourable mention of one who had fallen under his displeasure; and, to
his lasting disgrace, he ordered Virgil to erase his work. The poet weakly
consented, and filled up the gap by the story, beautiful, it is true, but
singularly inappropriate, of Aristacus and Orpheus and Eurydice. This epic
sketch, Alexandrine in form but abounding in touches of the richest native
genius, [36] must have revealed to Rome something of the loftiness of
which Virgil's muse was capable. With a felicity and exuberance scarcely
inferior to Ovid, it united a power of awakening feeling, a dreamy pathos
and a sustained eloquence, which marked its author as the heir of Homer's
lyre, "_magnae spes altera Romae_." [37]

In a work like this it would be obviously out of place to offer any minute
criticism either upon the beauties or the difficulties of the _Georgics_.
We shall conclude this short notice with one or two remarks on that love
of nature in Latin poetry of which the _Georgics_ are the most renowned
example. Dunlop has called Virgil a landscape painter. [38] In so far as
this implies a faithful and picturesque delineation of natural scenes,
whether of movement or repose, [39] the criticism is a happy one: Virgil
lingers over these with more affection than any previous writer. The
absence of a strong feeling for the peaceful or the grand in nature has
often been remarked as a shortcoming of the Greek mind, and it does not
seem to have been innate even in the Italian. Alpine scenery suggested no
associations but those of horror and desolation. Even the more attractive
beauties of woods, rills, and flowers, were hailed rather as a grateful
exchange from the turmoil of the city than from a sense of their intrinsic
loveliness; it is the repose, the comfort, ease, in a word the _body_, not
the _spirit_ of nature that the Roman poets celebrate. [40] As a rule
their own retirement was not spent amid really rustic scenes. The villas
of the great were furnished with every means of making study or
contemplation attractive. Rich gardens, cool porticoes, and the shade of
planted trees were more to the poet's taste than the rugged stile or the
village green. Their aspirations after rural simplicity spring from the
weariness of city unrealities rather than from the necessity of being
alone with nature. As a fact the poems of Virgil were not composed in a
secluded country retreat, but in the splendid and fashionable vicinity of
Naples. [41] The Lake of Avernus, the Sibyl's cave, and the other scenes
so beautifully painted in the _Aeneid_ are all near the spot. From his
luxurious villa the poet could indulge his reverie on the simple rusticity
of his ancestors or the landscapes famous in the scenery of Greek song. At
such times his mind called up images of Greek legend that blended with his
delineations of Italian peasant life: [42]

"O ubi campi
Spercheiosque, et virginibus bacchata Lacaenis
Taygeta; o qui me gelidis in vallibus Haemi
Sistat, et ingenti ramorum protegat umbra!"

The very name _Tempe_, given so often to shady vales, shows the mingled
literary and aesthetic associations that entered into the love of rural
ease and quiet. The deeper emotion peculiar to modern times, which
struggles to find expression in the verse of Shelley or Wordsworth, in the
canvass of Turner, in the life of restless travel, often a riddle so
perplexing to those who cannot understand its source; the mysterious
questionings which ask of nature not only what she says to us, but what
she utters to herself; why it is that if she be our mother, she veils her
face from her children, and will not use a language they can understand--

"Cur natum crudelis tu quoque falsis
Ludis imaginibus? Cur dextrae iungere dextram
Non datur, et veras audire et reddere voces?"

feelings like these which--though often but obscurely present, it would
indeed be a superficial glance that did not read in much of modern
thought, however unsatisfactory, in much of modern art, however imperfect
--we can hardly trace, or, if at all, only as lightest ripples on the
surface, scarcely ruffling the serene melancholy, deep indeed, but self-
contained because unconscious of its depth, in which Virgil's poetry

At what time of his life Virgil turned his thoughts to epic poetry is not
known. Probably like most gifted poets he felt from his earliest years the
ambition to write a heroic poem. He expresses this feeling in the
_Eclogues_ [43] more than once; Pollio's exploits seemed to him worthy of
such a celebration. [44] In the _Georgics_ he declares that he will wed
Caesar's glories to an epic strain, [45] but though the emperor urged him
to undertake the subject, which was besides in strict accordance with epic
precedent, his mature judgment led him to reject it. [46] Like Milton, he
seems to have revolved for many years the different themes that came to
him, and, like him, to have at last chosen one which by mounting back into
the distant past enabled him to indulge historical retrospect, and gather
into one focus the entire subsequent development. As to his aptitude for
epic poetry opinions differ. Niebuhr expresses the view of many great
critics when he says, "Virgil is a remarkable instance of a man mistaking
his vocation; his real calling was lyric poetry; his small lyric poems
show that he would have been a poet like Catullus if he had not been led
away by his desire to write a great Graeco-Latin poem." And Mommsen, by
speaking of "successes like that of the _Aeneid_" evidently inclines
towards the same view. It must be conceded that Virgil's genius lacked
heroic fibre, invention, dramatic power. He had not an idea of "that stern
joy that warriors feel," so necessary to one who would raise a martial
strain. The passages we remember best are the very ones that are least
heroic. The funeral games in honour of Anchises, the forlorn queen, the
death of Nisus and Euryalus, owe all their charm to the sacrifice of the
heroic to the sentimental. Had Virgil been able to keep rigidly to the
lofty purpose with which he entered on his work, we should perhaps have
lost the episodes which bring out his purest inspiration. So far as his
original endowments went, his mind certainly was not cast in a heroic
mould. But the counter-balancing qualifications must not be forgotten. He
had an inextinguishable enthusiasm for his art, a heart

"Smit with the love of ancient song,"

a susceptibility to literary excellence never equalled, [47] and a spirit
responsive to the faintest echo of the music of the ages. [48] The very
faculties that bar his entrance into the circle of creative minds enable
him to stand first among those epic poets who own a literary rather than
an original inspiration. For in truth epic poetry is a name for two widely
different classes of composition. The first comprehends those early
legends and ballads which arise in a nation's vigorous youth, and embody
the most cherished traditions of its gods and heroes and the long series
of their wars and loves. Strictly native in its origin, such poetry is the
spontaneous expression of a people's political and religious life. It may
exist in scattered fragments bound together only by unity of sentiment and
poetic inspiration: or it may be welded into a whole by the genius of some
heroic bard. But it can only arise in that early period of a nation's
history when political combination is as yet imperfect, and scientific
knowledge has not begun to mark off the domain of historic fact from the
cloudland of fancy and legend. Of this class are the Homeric poems, the
_Nibelungen Lied_, the Norse ballads, the _Edda_, the _Kalewala_, the
legends of Arthur, and the poem of the _Cid_: all these, whatever their
differences, have this in common, that they sprang at a remote period out
of the earliest traditions of the several peoples, and neither did nor
could have originated in a state of advanced civilization. It is far
otherwise with the other sort of epics. These are composed amid the
complex influences of a highly developed political life. They are the
fruit of conscious thought reflecting on the story before it and seeking
to unfold its results according to the systematic rules of art. The stage
has been reached which discerns fact from fable; the myths which to an
earlier age seemed the highest embodiment of truth, are now mere graceful
ornaments, or at most faint images of hidden realities. The state has
asserted its dominion over man's activity; science, sacred and profane,
has given its stores to enrich his mind; philosophy has led him to
meditate on his place in the system of things. To write an enduring epic a
poet must not merely recount heroic deeds, but must weave into the recital
all the tangled threads which bind together the grave and varied interests
of civilized man.

It is the glory of Virgil that alone with Dante and Milton he has achieved
this; that he stands forth as the expression of an epoch, of a nation.
That obedience to sovereign law, [49] which is the chief burden of the
_Aeneid_, stands out among the diverse elements of Roman life as specially
prominent, just as faith in the Church's doctrine is the burden of
Mediaevalism as expressed in Dante, and as justification of God's
dealings, as given in Scripture, forms the lesson of _Paradise Lost_,
making it the best poetical representative of Protestant thought. None of
Virgil's predecessors understood the conditions under which epic greatness
was possible. His successors, in spite of his example, understood them
still less. It has been said that no events are of themselves unsuited for
epic treatment, simply because they are modern or historical. [50] This
may be true; and yet, where is the poet that has succeeded in them? The
early Roman poets were patriotic men; they chose for subjects the annals
of Rome, which they celebrated in noble though unskilled verse. Naevius.
Ennius, Accius, Hostius, Bibaculus, and Varius before Virgil, Lucan and
Silius after him, treated national subjects, some of great antiquity, some
almost contemporaneous. But they failed, as Voltaire failed, because
historical events are not by themselves the natural subjects of heroic
verse. Tasso chose a theme where history and romance were so blended as to
admit of successful epic treatment; but such conditions are rare. Few
would hesitate to prefer the histories of Herodotus and Livy to any
poetical account whatever of the Persian and Punic wars; and in such
preference they would be guided by a true principle, for the domain of
history borders on and overlaps, but does not coincide with, that of

The perception of this truth has led many, epic poets to err in the
opposite extreme. They have left the region of truth altogether, and
confined themselves to pure fancy or legend. This error is less serious
than the first; for not only are legendary subjects well adapted for epic
treatment, but they may be made the natural vehicle of deep or noble
thought. The _Orlando Furioso_ and the _Faery Queen_ are examples of this.
But more often the poet either uses his subject as a means for exhibiting
his learning or style, as Statius, Cinna, and the Alexandrines; or loses
sight of the deeper meaning altogether, and merely reproduces the beauty
of the ancient myths without reference to their ideal truth, as was done
by Ovid, and recently by Mr. Morris, with brilliant success, in his
_Earthly Paradise_. This poem, like the _Metamorphoses_, does not claim to
be a national epic, but both, by their vivid realization of a mythology
which can never lose its charm, hold a legitimate place among the
offshoots of epic song.

Virgil has overcome the difficulties and joined the best results of both
these imperfect forms. By adopting the legend of Aeneas, which, since the
Punic wars, had established itself as one of the firmest national beliefs,
[51] he was enabled without sacrificing reality to employ the resources of
Homeric art; by tracing directly to that legend the glorious development
of Roman life and Roman dominion, he has become the poet of his nation's
history, and through it, of the whole ancient world.

The elements which enter into the plan of the _Aeneid_ are so numerous as
to have caused very different conceptions of its scope and meaning. Some
have regarded it as the sequel and counterpart of the _Iliad_, in which
Troy triumphs over her ancient foe, and Greece acknowledges the divine
Nemesis. That this conception was present to the poet is clear from many
passages in which he reminds Greece that she is under Rome's dominion, and
contrasts the heroes or achievements of the two nations. [52] But it is by
no means sufficient to explain the whole poem, and indeed is in
contradiction to its inner spirit. For in the eleventh Aeneid [53] Diomed
declares that after Troy was taken he desires to have no more war with the
Trojan race; and in harmony with this thought Virgil conceives of the two
nations under Rome's supremacy as working together by law, art, and
science, to advance the human race. [54] Roman talent has made her own all
that Greek genius created, and fate has willed that neither race should be
complete without the other. The germs of this fine thought are found in
the historian Polybius, who dwelt on the grandeur of such a joint
influence, and perhaps through his intercourse with the Scipionic circle,
gave the idea currency. It is therefore rather the final reconciliation
than the continued antagonism that the _Aeneid_ celebrates, though of
course national pride dwells on the striking change of relations that time
had brought.

Another view of the _Aeneid_ makes it centre in Augustus. Aeneas then
becomes a type of the emperor, whose calm calculating courage was equalled
by his piety to the gods, and care for public morals. Turnus represents
Antony, whose turbulent vehemence (_violentia_) [55] mixed with generosity
and real valour, makes us lament, while we accept his fate. Dido is the
Egyptian queen whose arts fell harmless on Augustus's cold reserve, and
whose resolve to die eluded his vigilance. Drances, [56] the brilliant
orator whose hand was slow to wield the sword, is a study from Cicero; and
so the other less important characters have historical prototypes. But
there is even less to be said for this view than for the other. It is
altogether too narrow, and cannot be made to correspond with, the facts of
history, nor do the characters on a close inspection resemble their
supposed originals. [57] Beyond doubt the stirring scenes Virgil had as a
young man witnessed, suggested points which he has embodied in the story,
but the Greek maxim that "poetry deals with universal truth," [58] must
have been rightly understood by him to exclude all such dressing-up of
historical facts.

There remains the view to which many critics have lent their support, that
the _Aeneid_ celebrates the triumph of law and civilization over the
savage instincts of man; and that because Rome had proved the most
complete civilizing power, therefore it is to her greatness that
everything in the poem conspires. This view has the merit of being in
every way worthy of Virgil. No loftier conception could guide his verse
through the long labyrinth of legend, history, religious and antiquarian
lore, in which for ten years of patient study his muse sought inspiration.
Still it seems somewhat too philosophical to have been by itself his
animating principle. It is true, patriotism had enlarged its basis; the
city of Rome was already the world, [59] and the growth of Rome was the
growth of human progress. Hence the muse, while celebrating the imperial
state, transcends in thought the limits of space and time, and swells, as
it were, the great hymn of humanity. But this represents rather the utmost
reach of the poet's flight after he has thrown himself into the empyrean
than the original definitely conceived goal on which he fixed his mind. We
should supplement this view by another held by Macrobius and many Latin
critics, and of which Mr. Nettleship, in a recent admirable pamphlet [60]
recognises the justice, viz. that the _Aeneid_ was written with a
religious object, and must be regarded mainly as a religious poem. Its
burning patriotism glows with a religious light. Its hero is "religious"
(_pius_), not "beautiful" or "brave." [61] At the sacrifice even of
poetical effect his religious dependence on the gods is brought into
prominence. The action of the whole poem hinges on the Divine will, which,
is not as in Homer, a mere counterpart of the human, far less is
represented as in conflict with resistless destiny, but, cognizant of fate
and in perfect union with it, as overruling all lower impulses, divine or
human, towards the realization of the appointed end. This Divine Power is
Jupiter, whom in the _Aeneid_ he calls by this name as a concession to
conventional beliefs, but in the _Georgics_ prefers to leave nameless,
symbolised under the title Father. [62] Jupiter is not the Author, but he
is the Interpreter and Champion of Destiny (_Fata_), which lies buried in
the realm of the unknown, except so far as the father of the gods pleases
to reveal it. [63] Deities of sufficient power or resource may defer but
cannot prevent its accomplishment. Juno is represented doing this--the
idea is of course from Homer. But Jupiter does not desire to change
destiny, even if he could, though he feels compassion at its decrees
(_e.g._ at the death of Turnus). The power of the Divine fiat to overrule
human equity is shown by the death of Turnus who has right, and of Dido
who has the lesser wrong, on her side. Thus punishment is severed from
desert, and loses its higher meaning; the instinct of justice is lost in
the assertion of divine power; and while in details the religion of the
_Aeneid_ is often pure and noble, its ultimate conceptions of the relation
of the human and divine are certainly no advance on those of Homer. The
verdict of one who reads the poem from this point of view will surely be
that of Sellar, who denies that it enlightens the human conscience. Every
form of the doctrine that might is right, however skilfully veiled, as it
is in the _Aeneid_ by a thousand beautiful intermediaries, must be classed
among the crude and uncreative theories which mark an only half-reflecting
people. But when we pass from the philosophy of religion to the particular
manifestation of it as a national worship, we find Virgil at his greatest,
and worthy to hold the position he held with later ages as the most
authoritative expounder of the Roman ritual and creed. [64] He shared the
palm of learning with Varro, and sympathy inclined towards the poet rather
than the antiquarian. The _Aeneid_ is literally filled with memorials of
the old religion. The glory of Aeneas is to have brought with him the
Trojan gods, and through perils of every kind to have guarded his faith in
them, and scrupulously preserved their worship. It is not the Trojan race
as such that the Romans could look back to with pride as ancestors; they
are the _bis capti Phryges_, who are but heaven-sent instruments for
consecrating the Latin race to the mission for which it is prepared.
"_Occidit_" says Juno, "_occideritque sinas cum nomine Troja:_" [65] and
Aeneas states the object of his proposal in these words--

"Sacra deosque dabo; socer arma Latinas habeto." [66]

This then being the lofty origin, the immemorial antiquity of the national
faith, the moral is easily drawn, that Rome must never cease to observe
it. The rites to import which into the favoured land cost heaven itself so
fierce a struggle, which have raised that land to be the head of all the
earth, must not be neglected now that their promise has been fulfilled.
Each ceremony embodies some glorious reminiscence; each minute
technicality enshrines some special national blessing.

Here, as in the _Georgics_, Cato and Varro live in Virgil, but with far
less of narrow literalness, with far more of rich enthusiasm. We can well
believe that the _Aeneid_ was a poem after Augustus's heart, that he
welcomed with pride as well as gladness the instalments which, before its
publication, he was permitted to see, [67] and encouraged by unreserved
approbation so thorough an exponent of his cherished views. To him the
_Aeneid_ breathed the spirit of the old cult. Its very style, like that of
Milton from the Bible, was borrowed in countless instances from the Sacred
Manuals. When Aeneas offers to the gods four prime oxen (_eximios tauros_)
the pious Roman recognised the words of the ritual. [68] When the nymph
Cymodoce rouses Aeneas to be on his guard against danger with the words
"_Vigilas ne deum gens? Aenea, vigila!_" [69] she recalls the imposing
ceremony by which, immediately before a war was begun, the general struck
with his lance the sacred shields, calling on the god "_Mars, vigila!_"
These and a thousand other allusions caused many of the later commentators
to regard Aeneas as an impersonation of the pontificate. This is an error
analogous to, but worse than, that which makes him represent Augustus; he
is a poetical creation, imperfect no doubt, but still not to be tied to
any single definition.

Passing from the religious to the moral aspect of the _Aeneid_, we find a
gentleness beaming through it, strangely contradicted by some of the
bloody episodes, which out of deference to Homeric precedent Virgil
interweaves. Such are the human sacrifices, the ferocious taunts at fallen
enemies, and other instances of boasting or cruelty which will occur to
every reader, greatly marring the artistic as well as the moral effect of
the hero. Tame as he generally is, a resigned instrument in the divine
hands, there are moments when Aeneas is truly attractive. As Conington
says, his kindly interest in the young shown in Book V. is a beautiful
trait that is all Virgil's own. His happy interview with Evander, where,
throwing off the monarch, he chats like a Roman burgess in his country
house; his pity for young Lausus whom he slays, and the mournful tribute
of affection he pays to Pallas, are touching scenes, which without
presenting Aeneas as a hero (which he never is), harmonise far better with
the ideal Virgil meant to leave us. But after all said, that ideal is a
poor one for purposes of poetry. Aeneas is uninteresting, and this is the
great fault of the poem. Turnus enlists our sympathy far more, he is
chivalrous and valiant; the wrong he suffers does not harden him, but he
lacks strength of character. The only personage who is "proudly conceived"
[70] is Mezentius, the despiser of the gods. The absence of restraint
seems to have given the poet a more masculine touch; the address of the
old king to his horse, his only friend, is full of pathos. Among female
characters Camilla is perhaps original; she is graceful without being
pleasing. Amata and Juturna belong to the class _virago_, a term applied
to the latter by Virgil himself. [71] Lavinia is the modest maiden, a
sketch, not a portrait. Dido is a character for all time, the _chef
d'oeuvre_ of the _Aeneid_. Among the stately ladies of the imperial house
--a Livia, a Scribonia, an Octavia, perhaps a Julia--Virgil must have
found the elements which he has fused with such mighty power, [72] the
rich beauty, the fierce passion, the fixed resolve. Dido is his greatest
effort: and yet she is not an individual living woman like Helen or
Ophelia. Like Racine, Virgil has developed passions, not created persons.
The divine gift of tender, almost Christian, feeling that is his, cannot
see into those depths where the inner personality lies hidden. Among the
traditional characters few call for remark. The gods maintain on the whole
their Homeric attributes, only hardened by time and by a Roman moulding.
Venus is, however, touched with magic skill; it may be questioned whether
words ever carried such suggestions of surpassing beauty as those in
which, twice in the poem, her mystic form [73] is veiled rather than
pourtrayed. The characters of Ulysses and Helen bear the debased, unheroic
stamp of the later Greek drama; the last spark of goodness has left them,
and even his careful study of Homer, seems to have had no effect in
opening the poet's eyes to the gross falsification. Where Virgil did not
feel obliged to create, he was to the last degree conventional.

A most interesting feature in the _Aeneid_--and with it we conclude our
sketch--is its incorporation of all that was best in preceding poetry. All
Roman poets had imitated, but Virgil carried imitation to an extent
hitherto unknown. Not only Greek but Latin writers are laid under
contribution in every page. Some idea of his indebtedness to Homer may be
formed from Conington's commentary. Sophocles and the other tragedians,
Apollonius Rhodius and the Alexandrines are continually imitated, and
almost always improved upon. And still more is this the case with his
adaptations from Naevius, Ennius, Lucretius, Hostius, Furius, &c. whose
works he had thoroughly mastered, and stored in his memory their most
striking rhythms or expressions. [74] Massive lines from Ennius, which as
a rule he has spared to touch, leaving them in all their rugged grandeur
planted in the garden of his verse, to point back like giant trees to the
time when that garden was a forest, bear witness at once to his reverence
for the old bard and to his own wondrous art. It is not merely for
literary effect that the old poets are transferred into his pages. A
nobler motive swayed him. The _Aeneid_ was meant to be, above all things,
a National Poem, carrying on the lines of thought, the style of speech,
which National Progress had chosen; it was not meant to eclipse so much us
to do honour to the early literature. Thus those bards who like Naevius
and Ennius had done good service to Rome by singing, however rudely, her
history, find their _Imagines_ ranged in the gallery of the _Aeneid_.
There they meet with the flamens and pontiffs unknown and unnamed, who
drew up the ritual formularies, with the antiquarians and pious scholars
who had sought to find a meaning in the immemorial names, [75] whether of
places or customs or persons; with the magistrates, moralists, and
philosophers, who had striven to ennoble or enlighten Roman virtue; with
the Greek singers and sages, for they too had helped to rear the towering
fabric of Roman greatness. All these meet together in the _Aeneid_ as if
in solemn conclave, to review their joint work, to acknowledge its final
completion, and predict its impending fall. This is beyond question the
explanation of the wholesale appropriation of others' thought and
language, which otherwise would be sheer plagiarism. With that tenacious
sense of national continuity which had given the senate a policy for
centuries, Virgil regards Roman literature as a gradually expanded whole;
coming at the close of its first epoch, he sums up its results and enters
into its labours. So far from hesitating whether to imitate, he rather
hesitated whom not to include, if only by a single reference, in his
mosaic of all that had entered into the history of Rome. His archaism is
but another side of the same thing. Whether it takes the form of
archaeological discussion, [76] of antiquarian allusion, [77] of a mode of
narration which recalls the ancient source, [78] or of obsolete
expressions, forms of inflection, or poetical ornament, [79] we feel that
it is a sign of the poet's reverence for what was at once national and
old. The structure of his verse, while full of music, often reminds us of
the earlier writers. It certainly has more affinity with that of Lucretius
than with that of Lucan. A learned Roman reading the _Aeneid_ would feel
his mind stirred by a thousand patriotic associations. The quaint old
laws, the maxims and religious formulae he had learnt in childhood would
mingle with the richest poetry of Greece and Rome in a stream flowing
evenly, and as it would seem, from a single spring; and he who by his art
had effected this wondrous union would seem to him the prophet as well as
the poet of the era. That art, in spite of its occasional lapses, for we
must not forget the work was unfinished, is the most perfect the world has
yet seen. The poet's exquisite sense of beauty, the sonorous language he
wielded, the noble rivalry of kindred spirits great enough to stimulate
but not to daunt him, and the consciousness of living in a new time big
with triumphs, as he fondly hoped, for the useful and the good, all united
to make Virgil not only the fairest flower of Roman literature, but as the
master of Dante, the beloved of all gentle hearts, and the most widely-
read poet of any age, to render him an influential contributor to some of
the deepest convictions of the modern world.


Note I.--_Imitations of Virgil in Propertius, Ovid, and Manilius._

The prestige of Virgil made him a subject for imitation even during his
lifetime. Just as Carlyle, Tennyson, and other vigorous writers soon
create a school, so Virgil stamped the poetical dialect for centuries. But
he offered two elements for imitation, the declamatory or rhetorical,
which is most prominent in his speeches, and in the second and sixth
books; and detached passages showing descriptive imagery, touches of
pathos, similes, &c. These last might he imitated without at all unduly
influencing the individuality of the imitator's style. In this way Ovid is
a great imitator of Virgil; so to a less extent are Propertius, Manilius,
and Lucan. Statius and Silius base their whole poetical art on him, and
therefore particular instances of imitation throw no additional light on
their style. We shall here notice a few of the points in which the
Augustan poets copied him:--

(1) _In Facts._--Beside the great number of early historical points on
which he was followed implicitly, we find even his errors imitated, _e.g._
the confusion which perhaps in Virgil is only apparent between Pharsalia
and Philippi, has, as Merivale remarks, been adopted by Propertius (iv.
10,40), Ovid (M. xv, 824), Manilius (i. 906), Lucan (vii. 854), and
Juvenal (viii. 242); not so much from ignorance of the locality as out of
deference to Virgilian precedent. The lines may be quoted--Virgil (G. i.
489), _Ergo inter se paribus concurrere telis Romanas acies iterum videre
Philippi;_ Propertius, _Una Philippeo sanguine inusta nota;_ Ovid,
_Emathiaque iterum madefient caede Philippi;_ Manilius, _Arma Philippeos
implerunt sanguine campos. Vixque etiam sicca miles Romanus arena Ossa
virum lacerosque prius superastitit artus;_ Lucan, _Scelerique secundo
Praestatis nondum siccos hoc sanguine campos;_ Juvenal, _Thessaliae campis
Octavius abstulit ... famam...._ This is analogous to the way in which the
satirists use the names consecrated by Lucilius or Horace as types of a
vice, and repeat the same symptoms _ad nauseam, e.g._ the miser who
anoints his body with train oil, who locks up his leavings, who picks up a
farthing from the road, &c. The veiled allusion to the poet Anser (Ecl.
ix. 36) is perhaps recalled by Prop. iii. 32, 83, _sqq._ So the portents
described by Virgil as following on the death of Caesar are told again by
Manilius at the end of Bk. I. and referred to by Lucan (_Phars._ i.) and
Ovid. Again, the confusion between _Inarime_ and _ein Arimois_, into which
Virgil falls, is borrowed by Lucan (_Phars._ v. 101).

(2) _In Metre._--As regards metre, Ovid in the _Metamorphoses_ is nearest
to him, but differs in several points, He imitates him--(_a_) in not
admitting words of four or more syllables, except very rarely, at the end
of the line; (_b_) in rhythms like _vulnificus sus_ (viii. 358), and the
not unfrequent _spondetazontes_; (_c_) in keeping to the two caesuras as
finally established by him, and avoiding beginnings like _scilicet omnibus
| est_, &c. In all these points Manilius is a little less strict than
Ovid, _e.g._ (i. 35) _et veneranda_, (iii. 130) _sic breviantur_, (ii.
716) _altribuuntur_. He also follows Virgil in alliteration, which Ovid
does not. They differ from Virgil in--(_a_) a much more sparing employment
of elision. The reason of this is that elision marks the period of living
growth; as soon as the language had become crystallised, each letter had
its fixed force, the caprices of common pronunciation no longer
influencing it; and although no correct writer places the unelided _m_
before a vowel, yet the great rarity of elision not only of _m_ but of
long and even short vowels (except _que_) shows that the main object was
to avoid it, if possible. The great frequency of elision in Virgil must be
regarded as an archaism. (_b_) In a much lesser variety of rhythm. This
is, perhaps, rather an artistic defect, but it is designed. Manilius,
however, has verses which Virgil avoids, _e.g. Delcetique sacerdotes_ (i.
47), probably as a reminiscence of Lucretius.

Imitations in language are very frequent. Propertius gives _ah pereat!
qui_ (i. 17, 13), from the _Copa_. Again, _Sit licet et saxo patientior
illa Sicano_ (i. 16, 29), from the _Cyclopia saxa_ of _Aeneid_, i. 201;
_cum tamen_ (i. 1, 8) with the indic. as twice in Virgil; _Umbria me
genuit_ (i. 23, 9), perhaps from the _Mantua me genuit_ of Virgil's
epitaph. These might easily be added to. Ovid in the _Metamorphoses_ has a
vast number of imitations of which we select the most striking; _Plebs
habitat diversa locis_ (i. 193); _Navigat, hic summa_, &c. (i. 296); cf.
_Naviget, haec summa est_, in the 4th Aeneid; _similisque roganti_ (iii.
240), _amarunt me quoque Nymphae_ (iii. 454); _Arma manusque meae, mea,
nate, potentia, dixit_ (v. 365); _Heu quantum haec Niobe Niobe distabat ab
illa_ (vi. 273); _leti discrimine parvo_ (vi. 426); _per nostri foedera
lecti, perque deos supplex oro superosque neosque, Per si quid merui de te
bene_ (vii. 852); _maiorque videri_ (ix. 269). These striking
resemblances, which are selected from hundreds of others, show how
carefully he had studied him. Of all other poets I have noticed but two or
three imitations in him, _e.g. multi illum pueri, multae cupiere puellae_
(iii. 383), from Catullus; _et merito, quid enim...?_ (ix. 585) from
Propertius (i. 17). Manilius also imitates Virgil's language, _e.g. acuit
mortalia corda_ (i. 79), _Acherunta movere_ (i. 93), _molli cervice
reflexus_ (i. 334), and his sentiments in _omnia conando docilis solertia
vicit_ (i. 95), compared with _labor omnia vicit improbus: invictamque sub
Hectore Troiam_ (i. 766), with _decumum quos distulit Hector in annum_ of
the _Aeneid_; cf. also iv. 122, and _litora litoribus regnis contraria
regna_ (iv. 814); cf. also iv. 28, 37.

NOTE II.--_On the shortening of final o in Latin poetry._

The fact that in Latin the accent was generally thrown back caused a
strong tendency to shorten long final vowels. The one that resisted this
tendency best was _o_, but this gradually became shortened as poetry
advanced, and is one of the very few instances of a departure from the
standard of quantity as determined by Ennius. There is one instance even
in him: _Horrida Romuleum certamina pango duellum_. The words _ego_ and
_modo_, which from their frequent use are often shortened in the
comedians, are generally long in Ennius; Lucretius uses them as common,
but retains _homo_, which after him does not appear. Catullus has one
short _o_, _Virro_ (89, 1), but this is a proper name. Virgil has
_sci0_ (_Aen._ iii. 602), but _ego, homo_, when in the arsis, are
always elided, _e.g. Pulsus ego? aut; Graius homo, infectos. Spondeo_
which used to be read (_Aen._ ix, 294), is now changed to _sponde_.
_Pollio_ is elided by Virgil, shortened by Horace (O. II. i. 14). He also
has _mentio_ and _dixero_ in the _Satires_ (I. iv. 93, 104). A line by
Maecenas, quoted in Suetonius, has _diligo_. Ovid has _cito, puto_ (_Am._
iii. vii. 2), but only in such short words; in nouns, _Naso_ often,
_origo, virgo_, once each. Tibullus and Propertius are stricter in this
respect, though Propertius has _findo_ (iii. or iv. 8 or 9, 35); Manilius
has _leo, Virgo_ (i. 266), Lucan _Virgo_ (ii. 329), _pulmo_ (iii. 644),
and a few others. Gratius first gives the imperative _reponito_ (_Cyn._
56); Calpurnius, in the the time of Nero, the false quantities _quando
ambo_, the latter (ix. 17) perhaps in a spurious eclogue; so _expecto_. In
Statius no new licenses appear. Juvenal, however, gives _vigilando_ (iii.
232), an improper quantity repeated by Seneca (_Tro._ 264) _vincendo_,
Nemesianus (viii. 53) _mulcendo_, (ix. 80), _laudano_. Juvenal gives also
_sumito, octo, ergo_. The dat. and abl. sing. are the only terminations
that were not affected. We see the gradual deterioration of quantity, and
are not surprised that even before the time of Claudian a strict knowledge
of it was confined to the most learned poets.

NOTE III.--_On parallelism in Virgil's poetry._

There is a very frequent feature in Virgil's poetry which we may compare
to the parallelism well known as the chief characteristic of Hebrew verse.
In that language the poet takes a thought and either repeats it, or varies
it, or explains it, or gives its antithesis in a corresponding clause, as
evenly as may be balancing the first. As examples we may take--

(1) A mere iteration:

"Why do the nations so furiously rage together?
And why do the people imagine a vain thing?"

(2) Contrast:

"A wise son maketh a glad father:
But a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother."

This somewhat rude idea of ornament is drawn no doubt from the simplest
attempts to speak with passion or emphasis, which naturally turned to
_iteration_ or _repetition_ as the obvious means of gaining the effect.
Roman poetry, as we have already said, rests upon a primitive and rude
basis, the Greek methods of composition being applied to an art arrested
before its growth was complete. The fondness for repetition is very
prominent. Phrases like _somno gravidi vinoque sepulti; indu foro lato,
sanctoque senatu_, occur commonly in Ennius; and the trick of composition
of which they are the simplest instances, is perpetuated throughout Roman
poetry. It is in reality rather rhetorical than poetical, and abounds in
Cicero. It scarcely occurs in Greek poetry, but is very common in Virgil,
_e.g. _:

"Ambo florentes aetatibus, Arcades ambo,
Et cantare pares, et respondere parati."

Similar to this is the introduction of
corresponding clauses by the same
initial word, _e.g. ille_ (_Ecl._ i. 17):

"Namque erit _ille_ mihi semper deus: _illius_ aram
Saepe tener nostris ab ovilibus imbuet agnus.
_Ille_ meas errare boves..."

Instances of this construction will occur to every reader. Frequently the
first half of the hexameter expresses a thought obscurely which is
expressed clearly in the latter half, or _vice versa, e.g._ (G. iv. 103):

"At quum incerta volant, caeloque examina ludunt."

Again (_Aen._ iv. 368):

"Nam quid dissimulo, aut quae me ad maiora reservo?"

at times this parallelism is very useful as helping us to find out the
poet's meaning, _e.g._ (_Aen._ ii. 121):

"Cui fata parent, quem poseat Apollo."

Here interpretations vary between _fata_, n. to _parent_, and acc. after
it. But the parallelism decides at once in favour of the former "for whom
the fates are making preparations; whom Apollo demands." To take another
instance (_Aen_. i. 395):

"Nunc terras ordine longo
Aut capere, aut captas, iam despectare videntur."

This passage is explained by its parallelism with another a little further
on (v. 400):

"Puppesque tuae plebesque tuorum
Aut portum tenet aut pleno subit ostia velo."

Here the word _capere_ is fixed to mean "settling on the ground" by the
words _portum tenet_. Once more in _Aen_. xii. 725:

"Quem damnet labor, aut quo vergat pondere letum,"

the difficulty is solved both by the iteration in the line itself, by
which _damnet labor = vergat letum_; and also by its close parallelism
with another (v. 717), which is meant to illustrate it:

"Mussantque iuvencae
Quis nemori imperitet quem tota armenta sequantur."

This feature in Virgil's verse, which might be illustrated at far greater
length, reappears under another form in the Ovidian elegiac. There the
pentameter answers to the second half of Virgil's hexameter verse, and
rings the changes on the line that has preceded in a very similar way. A
literature which loves the balanced clauses of rhetoric will be sure to
have something analogous. Our own heroic couplet is a case in point. So
perhaps is the invention of rhyme which tends to confine the thought
within the oscillating limits of a refrain, and that of the stanza, which
shows the same process in a much higher stage of complexity.

NOTE IV.--_On the Legends connected with Virgil_.

Side by side with the historical account of this poet is a mythical one
which, even within the early post-classical period, began to gain
credence. The reasons of it are to be sought not so much in his poetical
genius as in the almost ascetic purity of his life, which surrounded him
with a halo of mysterious sanctity. Prodigies are said, in the lives that
have come down to us, to have happened at his birth; his mother dreamt she
gave birth to a laurel-branch, which grew apace until it filled the
country. A poplar planted at his birth suddenly grew into a stately tree.
The infant never cried, and was noted for the preternatural sweetness of
its temper. When at Naples he is said to have studied medicine, and cured
Augustus's horses of a severe ailment. Augustus ordered him a daily
allowance of bread, which was doubled on a second instance of his
chirurgical knowledge, and trebled on his detecting the true ancestry of a
rare Spanish hound! Credited with supernatural knowledge, though he never
pretended to it, he was consulted privately by Augustus as to his own
legitimacy. By the cautious dexterity of his answer, he so pleased the
emperor that he at once recommended him to Pollio as a person to be well
rewarded. The mixture of fable and history here is easily observed. The
custom of making pilgrimages to his tomb, and in the case of Silius
Italicus (and doubtless others too), of honouring it with sacrifices,
seems to have produced the belief that he was a great magician. Even as
early as Hadrian the _Sortes Virgilianae_ were consulted from an idea that
there was a sanctity about the pages of his book; and, as is well known,
this superstitious custom was continued until comparatively modern times.

Meanwhile plays were represented from his works, and amid the general
decay of all clear knowledge a confused idea sprung up that these stories
were inspired by supernatural wisdom. The supposed connection of the
fourth Eclogue with the _Sibylline Books_, and through them, with the
sacred wisdom of the Hebrews, of course placed Virgil on a different level
from other heathens. The old hymn, "Dies irae dies illa Solvet saeclum cum
favilla Teste David cum Sibylla," shows that as early as the eighth
century the Sibyl was well established as one of the prophetic witnesses;
and the poet, from the indulgence of an obscure style, reaped the great
reward of being regarded almost as a saint for several centuries of
Christendom. Dante calls him _Virtu summa_, just as ages before Justinian
had spoken of Homer as _pater omnis virtutis_. But before Dante's time the
real Virgil had been completely lost in the ideal and mystic poet whose
works were regarded as wholly allegorical.

The conception of Virgil as a magician as distinct from an inspired sage
is no doubt a popular one independent of literature, and had originally a
local origin near Naples where his tomb was. Foreign visitors disseminated
the legend, adding striking features, which in time developed almost an
entire literature.

In the _Otia Imperialia_ of Gervasius of Tilbury, we see this belief in
formation; the main point in that work is that he is the protector of
Naples, defending it by various contrivances from war or pestilence. He
was familiarly spoken of among the Neapolitans as _Parthenias_, in
allusion to his chastity. It was probably in the thirteenth century that
the connection of Virgil with the Sibyl was first systematically taught,
and the legends connected with him collected into one focus. They will be
found treated fully in Professor Comparetti's work. We append here a very
short passage from the _Gesta Romanorum_ (p. 590), showing the necromantic
character which surrounded him:--

"Refert Alexander Philosophus de natura rerum, quod Vergilius in civitate
Romana nobile construxit palatium, in cuius medio palatii stabat imago,
quae Dea Romana vocabatur. Tenebat enim pomum aureum in manu sua. Per
circulum palatii erant imagines cuiuslibet regionis, quae subiectae erant
Romano imperio, et quaelibet imago campanam ligneam in manu sua habebat.
Cum vero aliqua regio nitebatur Romanis insidias aliquas imponere, statim
imago eiusdem regionis campanam suam pulsavit, et miles exivit in equo
aeneo in summitate predicti palatii, hastam vibravit, et predictam
regionem inspexit. Et ab instanti Romani hoc videntes se armaverunt et
predictam regionem expugnaverunt.

"Ista civitas est Corpus Humanum: quinque portae sunt quinque Sensus:
Palatium est Anima rationalis, et aureum pomum Similitudo cum Deo. Tria
regna inimica sunt Caro, Mundus, Diabolus, et eius imago Cupiditas,
Voluptas, Superbia."

The above is a good instance both of the supernatural powers attributed to
the poet, and the supernatural interpretation put upon his supposed
exercise of them. This curious mythology lasted throughout the fourteenth
century, was vehemently opposed in the fifteenth by the partisans of
enlightened learning, and had not quite died out by the middle of the


HORACE (65-8 B.C.).

If Virgil is the most representative, Horace is the most original poet of
Rome. This great and varied genius, whose exquisite taste and deep
knowledge of the world have made him the chosen companion of many a great
soldier and statesman, suggesting as he does reflections neither too ideal
nor too exclusively literary for men of affairs, was born at or near
Venusia, on the borders of Lucania and Apulia, December 8, 65 B.C. [1] His
father was a freedman of the Horatia gens, [2] but set free before the
poet's birth. [3] We infer that he was a tax-gatherer, or perhaps a
collector of payments at auctions; for the word _coactor_, [4] which
Horace uses, is of wide application. At any rate his means sufficed to
purchase a small farm, where the poet passed his childhood. Horace was
able to look back to this time with fond and even proud reminiscences, for
he relates how prodigies marked him even in infancy as a special favourite
of the gods. [5] At the age of twelve he was brought by his father to Rome
and placed under the care of the celebrated Orbilius Pupillus. [6] The
poet's filial feeling has left us a beautiful testimony to his father's
affectionate interest in his studies. The good man, proud of his son's
talent, but fearing the corruptions of the city, accompanied him every day
to school, and consigned him in person to his preceptor's charge, [7] a
duty usually left to slaves called _paedagogi_, who appear to have borne
no high character for honesty, [8] and at best did nothing to improve
those of whom they had the care. From the shrewd counsels of his father,
who taught by instances not by maxims, [9] and by his own strict example,
Horace imbibed that habit of keen observation and that genial view of life
which distinguish him above all other satirists. He also learnt the
caution which enabled him to steer his course among rocks and shoals that
would have wrecked a novice, and to assert his independence of action with
success even against the emperor himself.

The life of Horace is so well known that it is needless to retrace it
here. We shall do no more than summarise the few leading events in it,
alluding more particularly to those only which affect his literary
position. After completing his education so far in the capital, he went
for a time, as was customary, to study philosophy at Athens. [10] While he
was there the death of Caesar and the events which followed roused the
fierce party spirit that had uneasily slumbered. Horace, then twenty-two
years of age, was offered a command by Brutus on his way to Macedonia,
which he accepted, [11] and apparently must have seen some hard service.
[12] He shared the defeat of the Republicans at Philippi, [13] and as the
territory of Venusium, like that of Cremona, was selected to be parcelled
out among the soldiery, Horace was deprived of his paternal estate, [14] a
fact from which we learn incidentally that his father was now dead.

Thrown upon his own resources, he sought and obtained permission to come
to Rome, where he obtained some small post as a notary [15] attached to
the quaestors. Poverty drove him to verse-making, [16] but of what kind we
do not certainly know. Probably epodes and satires were the first fruits
of his pen, though some scholars ascribe certain of the _Odes_ (_e.g._ i.
14) to this period. About this time he made the acquaintance of Virgil,
which ripened at least on Horace's part into warm affection. Virgil and
Varius introduced him to Maecenas, [17] who received the bashful poet with
distant hauteur, and did not again send for him until nine months had
elapsed. Slow to make up his mind, but prompt to act when his decision was
once taken, Maecenas then called for Horace, and in the poet's words bade
him be reckoned among his friends; [18] and very shortly afterwards we
find them travelling together to Brundisium on a footing of familiar
intimacy (39 B.C.). This circumspection of Maecenas was only natural, for
Horace was of a very different stamp from Varius and Virgil, who were warm
admirers of Octavius. Horace, though at first a Platonist, [19] then an
Epicurean, [20] then an Eclectic, was always somewhat of a "free lance."
[21] His mind was of that independent mould which can never be got to
accept on anybody's authority the solution of problems which interest it.
Even when reason convinced him that imperialism, if not good in itself,
was the least of all possible evils, ho did not become a hearty partisan;
he maintained from first to last a more or less critical attitude. Thus
Maecenas may have heard of his literary promise, of his high character,
without much concern. It was the paramount importance of enlisting so able
a man on his own side that weighed with the shrewd statesman. For Horace,
with the recklessness that poverty inspires, had shown a disposition to
attack those in power. It is generally thought that Maecenas himself is
ridiculed under the name Malthinus. [22] It is nevertheless clear that
when he knew Maecenas he not only formed a high opinion of his character
and talent, but felt a deep affection for him, which expresses itself in
the generous language of an equal friend, with great respect, indeed, but
totally without unworthy complaisance. The minister of monarchy might
without inconsistency gain his goodwill; with the monarch it was a
different matter. For many years Horace held aloof from Augustus. He made
no application to him; he addressed to him no panegyric. Until the year
29, when the Temple of Janus was closed, he showed no approval of his
measures. All his laudatory odes were written after that event. He indeed
permitted the emperor to make advances to him, to invite him to his table,
and maintain a friendly correspondence. But he refused the office of
secretary which Augustus pressed upon him. He scrupulously abstained from
pressing his claims of intimacy, as the emperor wished him to do; and at
last he drew forth from him the remorseful expostulation, "Why is it that
you avoid addressing me of all men in your poems? Is it that you are
afraid posterity will think the worse of you for having been a friend of
mine?" [23]

This appeal elicited from the poet that excellent epistle which traces the
history and criticises the merits of Latin poetry. From all this we may be
sure that when Augustus's measures are celebrated, as they are in the
third book of the Odes and other places, with emphatic commendation,
though the language may be that of poetical exaggeration, the sentiment is
in the main sincere. It is a greater honour to the prudent ruler to have
won the tardy approval of Horace, than to have enlisted from the outset
the enthusiastic devotion of Virgil.

We left Horace installed as one of Maecenas's circle. This position
naturally gained him many enemies; nor was his character one to conciliate
his less fortunate rivals. He was choleric and sensitive, prompt to resent
an insult, though quite free from malice or vindictiveness. He had not yet
reached that high sense of his position when he could afford to treat the
envious crowd with contempt. [24] He records in the satires which he now
wrote, painting with inimitable humour each incident that arose, the
attempts of the outsiders to obtain from him an introduction to Maecenas,
[25] or some of that political information of which he was supposed to be
the confidant. [26] At this period of his career he lived a good deal with
his patron both in Rome and at his Tiburtine villa. Within a few years,
however (probably 31 B.C.), he was put in possession of what he had always
desired, [27] a small competence of his own. This was the Sabine estate in
the valley of Ustica, not far from Tivoli, given him by Maecenas, the
subject of many beautiful allusions, and the cause of his warmest
gratitude. [28] Here he resided during some part of each year [29] in the
enjoyment of that independence which was to him the greatest good; and
during the seven years that followed he wrote, and at their close
published, the first three books of the Odes. [30] The death of Virgil,
which happened when Horace was forty-six years of age, and soon afterwards
that of Tibullus, threw his affections once more upon his early patrons.
He now resided more frequently at Rome, and was often to be seen at the
palace. How he filled the arduous position of a courtier may be gathered
from many, of the Epistles of the first book. The one which introduces
Septimus to Tiberius is a masterpiece; [31] and those to Scaeva and
Lellius [32] are models of high-bred courtesy. No one ever mingled
compliment and advice with such consummate skill. Horace had made his
position at court for himself, and though he still loved the country best,
[33] he found both interest and profit in his daily intercourse with the

In the year 17 B.C. Augustus found an opportunity of testifying his regard
for Horace. The secular games, which were celebrated in that year,
included the singing of a hymn to Apollo and Diana by a chorus of 27 boys
and the same number of girls, selected from the highest families in the
state. The composition of this hymn was intrusted to Horace, much to his
own legitimate pride, and to our instruction and pleasure, for not only is
it a poem of high intrinsic excellence, but it is the only considerable
extant specimen of the lyrical part of Roman worship. Some scholars
include under it besides the _Carmen Saeculare_ proper, various other
odes, some of which unquestionably bear on the same subject, though, there
is no direct evidence of their having been sung together. [34] Whether
Horace had any Roman models in this style before him is not very clear. We
have seen that Livius Andronicus was selected to celebrate the victory of
Sena, [35] and there is an ode of Catullus [36] which seems to refer to
some similar occasion. Doubtless the main lines in which the composition
moved were indicated by custom; but the treatment was left to the
individual genius of the poet. In this case we observe the poet's happy
choice of a metre. Of all the varied lyric rhythms none, at least to our
ears, lends itself so readily to a musical setting as the Sapphic; and the
many melodies attached to odes in this metre by the monks of the Middle
Ages attest its special adaptability to choir-singing. Augustus was highly
pleased with the poet's performance, and two years' afterwards he
commanded him to celebrate the victory of his step-sons Drusus and
Tiberius over the Rhaeti and Vindelici. [37] This circumstance turned his
attention once more to lyric poetry, which for six years he had quite
discontinued. [38] It is not conclusively proved that he wrote all the
odes which compose the fourth book at this period; two or three bear the
impress of an earlier date, and were doubtless improved by re-writing or
revision, but the majority were the production of his later years, and
present to us the fruits of his matured judgment and taste. They show no
diminution of lyric power, but the reverse; nor is there any ode in the
first three books which surpasses or even equals the fourth poem in this
collection. Horace's attention was, during the last few years of his life,
given chiefly to literary subjects; the treatise on poetry and the epistle
to Julius Florus were written probably between 14 and 11 B.C. That to
Augustus is the last composition that issued from his pen; we may refer it
to 10 B.C. two years before his death.

Horace's health had long been the reverse of strong. Whether from early
delicacy, or from exposure to hardships in Asia, his constitution was
never able to respond to the demands made upon it by the society of the
capital. The weariness he expresses was often the result of physical
prostration. The sketch he has left of himself [39] suggests a physique
neither interesting nor vigorous. He was at 44 short, fat, and good-
natured looking (rallied, we learn, by Augustus on his obesity), blear-
eyed, somewhat dyspeptic, and prematurely grey; and ten years, we may be
sure, had not improved the portrait. In the autumn of 8 B.C. Maecenas, who
had long been himself a sufferer, succumbed to the effects of his devoted
and arduous service. His last message confided Horace to the Emperor's
care: "_Horatii flacci ut mei esto memor_." But the legacy was not long a
burden. The prophetic anticipations of affection that in death the poet
would not be parted from his friend [40] were only too faithfully
realised. Within a month of Maecenas's death Horace was borne to his rest,
and his ashes were laid beside those of his patron on the Esquiline
(November 29, 8 B.C.).

As regards the date of publication of his several books, several theories
have been propounded, for which the student is referred to the many
excellent editions of Horace that discuss the question. We shall content
ourselves with assigning those dates which seem to us the most probable.
All agree in considering the first book of the Satires to have been his
earliest effort. This may have been published in 34 B.C.; and in 29 B.C.
the two books of Satires together, and perhaps the _Epodes_. In 24 B.C.
probably appeared the first two books of Odes, which open and close with a
dedication to Maecenas, and in 23 B.C. the three books of Odes complete;
though some suppose that all appeared at once and for the first time in
this later year. In 21 B.C. perhaps, but more probably in 20, the first
book of the Epistles was published; in 14 B.C. the fourth book of the
Odes, though it is possible that the last ode of that book was written at
a later date. The second book of Epistles, in which may have been included
the _Ars Poetica_, could not have appeared before 10 B.C. It is clear that
the latter poem is not complete, but whether Horace intended to finish it
more thoroughly it is impossible to say.

In approaching the criticism of Horace, the first thing which strikes us
is, that in him we see two different poets. There is the lyricist winning
renown by the importation of a new kind of Greek song; and there is the
observant critic and man of the world, entrusting to the tablets, his
faithful companions, his reflections on men and things. The former poet
ran his course through the _Epodes_ to the graceful pieces which form the
great majority of his odes, and culminated in the loftier vein of lyric
inspiration that characterises his political odes. The latter began with a
somewhat acrimonious type of satire, which he speedily deserted for a
lighter and more genial vein, and finally rested in the sober, practical,
and healthy moralist and literary critic of the _Epistles_. It was in the
former aspect that he assumed the title of poet; with characteristic
modesty he relinquishes all claim to it with regard to his _Epistles_ and
_Satires_. We shall consider him briefly under these two aspects.

No writer believed so little in the sufficiency of the poetic gift by
itself to produce a poet. Had he trusted the maxim _Poeta nascitur, non
fit_, he would never have written his _Odes_. Looking back at his early
attempts at verse we find in them few traces of genuine inspiration. Of
the _Epodes_ a large number are positively unpleasing; others interest us
from the expression of true feeling; a few only have merits of a high
order. The fresh and enthusiastic, though somewhat diffuse, descriptions
of country enjoyments in the second and sixteenth Epodes, and the vigorous
word-painting in the fifth, bespeak the future master; and the patriotic
emotion in the seventh, ninth, and sixteenth, strikes a note that was to
thrill with loftier vibrations in the Odes of the third and fourth books.
But as a whole the _Epodes_ stand far below his other works. Their
bitterness is quite different from the genial irony of the _Satires_, and,
though occasionally the subjects of them merited the severest handling,
[41] yet we do not like to see Horace applying the lash. It was not his
proper vocation, and he does not do it well. He is never so unlike himself
as when he is making a personal attack. Nevertheless to bring himself into
notice, it was necessary to do something of the kind. Personal satire is
always popular, and Horace had to carve his own way to fame. It is evident
that the series of sketches of which Canidia is the heroine, [42] were
received with unanimous approval by the _beau monde_. This wretched woman,
singled out as the representative of a class which was gaining daily
influence in Rome, [43] he depicts in colours detestable and ignominious,
which do credit to his talent but not to his courteous feeling. Horace has
no true respect for woman. Nothing in all Latin poetry is so unpleasant as
his brutal attacks on those _hetaerae_ (the only ladies of whom he seems
to have had any knowledge) whose caprice or neglect had offended him. [44]
This is the one point in which he did not improve. In all other respects
his constant self-culture opened to him higher and ever widening paths of

The glimpses of real feeling which the _Epodes_ allow us to gain are as a
rule carefully excluded from the _Odes_. This is at first sight a matter
for surprise. Our idea of a lyric poem is that of a warm and passionate
outpouring of the heart. Such are those of Burns; such are those of nearly
all the writers who have gained the heart of modern times. In the grand
style of dithyrambic song, indeed, the bard is rapt into an ideal world,
and soars far beyond his subjective emotions or desires; but to this
Pindaric inspiration Horace made no pretension. He was content to be an
imitator of Alcaeus and Sappho, who had attuned to the lyre their own
hopes and fears, the joys and sorrows of their own chequered life. But in
imitating their form he has altogether changed their spirit. Where they
indulged feeling, he has controlled it; what they effect by intensity of
colour, he attains by studied propriety of language. He desires not to
enlist the world to sympathy with himself, but to put himself in sympathy
with the world. Hence the many-sidedness, the culture, the broad human
stand-point after which he ceaselessly strives. If depth must be
sacrificed to attain this, he is ready to sacrifice it. He finds a field
wide enough in the network of aims, interest, and feelings, which give
society its hold on us, and us our union with society. And he feels that
the writer who shall make his poem speak with a living voice to the
largest number of these, will meet with most earnest heed, and be doing
best the poet's true work. At the same time we must not forget that
Horace's public was not our public. The unwieldy mass of labouring
millions, shaken to its depths by questionings of momentous interest,
cannot be drawn to listen except by an emotion vast as its own; but the
society for whom Horace wrote was homogeneous in tone, limited in number,
cultivated in intellect, and deeply absorbed in a race of ambition, some
of whose prizes, at least, each might hope to win. He was, has been, and
intended himself to be, the poet of men of the world.

Among such men at all times, and to an immeasurably greater extent in
antiquity than now, staunch friendship has been considered one of the
chief of virtues. Whatever were Horace's relations to the other sex, no
man whom he had once called a friend had any cause to complain. Admirable
indeed in their frankness, their constancy, their sterling independence,
are the friendships it has delighted him to record. From the devoted,
almost passionate tribute to Maecenas--

"Ibimus ibimus
Uteunque praecedes supremum
Carpere iter comites parati,"

to the raillery so gracefully flung at an Iccius or Xanthias, for whom yet
one discerns the kindest and tenderest feeling, these memorials of Roman
intercourse place both giver and receiver in a truly amiable light. We can
understand Augustus's regret that he had not been honoured with a regard
of which he well knew the value. For the poet was rich who could dispense
gifts like these.

Interspersed with the love-odes, addresses to friends and _pieces de
circonstance_, we observe, even in the earlier books, lyrics of a more
serious cast. Some are moral and contemplative, as the grand ode to
Fortune [45] and that beginning

"Non ebur neque aureum
Mea renidet in domo lacunar." [46]

Others are patriotic or political, as the second, twelfth, and thirty-
seventh of Book I. (the last celebrating the downfall of Cleopatra), and
the fifteenth of Book II. which bewails the increase of luxury. In these
Horace is rising to the truly Roman conception that poetry, like other
forces, should be consecrated to the service of the state. And now that he
could see the inevitable tendency of things, could gauge the emperor's
policy and find it really advantageous, he arose, no longer as a half-
unwilling witness, but as a zealous co-operator to second political by
moral power. The first six and the twenty-fourth Odes of the third book
show us Horace not indeed at his best as a poet, but at his highest as a
writer. They exhibit a more sustained manliness of tone than is perhaps to
be found in any passages of equal length from any other author. Heathen
ethics have no nobler portrait than that of the just man tenacious of his
purpose, with which the third ode begins; and Roman patriotism no grander
witness than the heart-stirring narrative of Regulus going forth to
Carthage to meet his doom. Whether or not the third ode was written to
dissuade Augustus from his rumoured project of transferring the seat of
empire from Rome to Troy, it expresses most strongly the firm conviction
of those best worth consulting, and, if the emperor really was in doubt,
must, in conjunction with Virgil's emphatic repetition of the same
sentiment, [47] have effectually turned him from his purpose. For these
odes carried great authority. In them the poet appears as the authorised
voice of the state, dispensing _verba et voces_ [48] "the charm of poesy"
to allay the moral pestilence that is devouring the people.

No one can read the odes without being struck with certain features
wherein they differ from his other works. One of these is his constant
employment of the Olympian mythology. Whatever view we may hold as to
their appearance in the _Aeneid_, there can he no doubt that in the _Odes_
these deities have a purely fictitious character. With the single
exception of Jupiter, the eternal Father, without second or equal even
among the Olympian choir, [49] whom he is careful not to name, none of his
allusions imply, but on the contrary implicitly disown, any belief in
their existence. In the satires and epistles he never employs this
conventional ornament. The same thing is true of his language to Augustus.
Assuming the poet's license, he depicts him as the son of Maia, [50] the
scion of kindly deities, [51] and a living denizen of the ethereal
mansions. [52] But in the epistles he throws off this adulatory tone, and
accosts the Caesar in a way befitting their mutual relations; for in
declaring that altars are raised to him and men swear by his name, [53] he
is not using flattery, but stating a fact. Another point of difference is
his fondness in the Odes for commonplaces, _e.g._ the degeneracy of the
age, [54] the necessity of enjoying the moment, [55] which he enforces
with every variety of illustration. Neither of these was the result of
genuine conviction. On the former he gives us his real view (a very noble
and rational one) in the third Satire of the first book, [56] and in the
_Ars Poetica_, as different as possible from the desponding pessimism of
ode and epode. And the Epicurean maxims which in them he offers as the sum
of wisdom, are in his _Epistles_ exchanged for their direct opposites:

"Omnem crede diem tibi diluxisse supremum,
Sperne voluptates; nocet empta dolore voluptas."

It is clear then that in the _Odes_, for the most part, he is an artist
not a preacher. We must not look to them for his deepest sentiments, but
for such, and such only, as admitted an effective lyric treatment.

As regards their form, we observe that they are moulded strictly upon the
Greek, some of those on lighter themes being translations or close
imitations. But in naturalising the Greek metres, he has accommodated them
with the rarest skill to the harmonies of the Latin tongue. The Virgilian
movement differs not more from the Homeric, than does the Horatian sapphic
or alcaic from the same metres as treated by their Greek inventors. The
success of Horace may be judged by comparing his stanzas with the sapphics
of Catullus on the one hand, and the alcaics of Statius on the other. The
former struggle under the complicated shackles of Greek prosody; the
latter move on the stilts of school-boy imitation. In language he is
singularly choice without being a purist; agreeably to their naturalised
character he has interspersed the odes with Greek constructions, some
highly elegant, others a little forced and bordering upon experiments on
language. [57] The poetry of his language consists not so much in its
being imaginative, as in its employing the fittest words in the fittest
places. Its general level is that of the best epistolary or oratorical
compositions, according to the elevation of the subject. He loves not to
soar into the empyrean, but often checks Pegasus by a strong curb, or by a
touch of irony or an incongruous allusion prevents himself or his reader
being carried away. [58] This mingling of irony and earnest is thoroughly
characteristic of his genius. To men of realistic minds it forms one of
the greatest of its charms.

Among the varied excellences of these gems of poetry, we shall select
three, as those after which Horace most evidently sought. They are
brevity, ease, life. In the first he is perhaps unequalled. It is not only
that what he says is terse; in what he omits we recognise the master hand.
He knows precisely what to dwell on, what to hint at, what to pass by. He
is on the best understanding with his reader. He knows the reader is a
busy man, and he says--"Read me! and, however you may judge my work, you
shall at least not be bored." We recollect no instance in which Horace is
prolix; none in which he can be called obscure; though there are many
passages that require weighing, and many abrupt transitions that somewhat
task thought. In condensed simplicity he is the first of Latin poets. Who
that has once heard can forget such phrases as _Nil desperandum, splendide
mendax, non omnis moriar, dulce et decorum est pro patria mori_, and a
hundred others? His brevity is equalled by his ease. By this must not be
understood either spontaneity of invention or rapidity of execution. We
know that he was a slow, nay, a laborious workman.[59] But he has the _ars
celare artem_. What can be more natural than the transition from the
praises of young Nero to Hannibal's fine lament? [60] from those of
Augustus to the speech of Juno? [61] Yet these are effected with the most
subtle skill. And even when the digression appears more forced, as in the
well-known instances of Europa [62] and the Danaides, [63] the incongruity
is at once removed by supposing that the legend in each case forms the
main subject of the poem, and that the occasional introductions are a
characteristic form of preamble, perhaps reflected from Pindar. And once
more as to his liveliness. This is the highest excellence of the _Odes_.
It never flags. If the poet does not rise to an exalted inspiration, he at
least never sinks into heaviness, never loses life. To cite but one ode,
in an artistic point of view, perhaps, the jewel of the whole collection--
the dialogue between the poet and Lydia; [64] here is an entire comedy
played in twenty-four lines, in which the dialogue never becomes insipid,
the action never flags. Like all his love odes it is barren of deep
feeling, for which reason, perhaps, they have been compared to scentless
flowers. But the comparison is most unjust. Aroma, _bouquet:_ this is
precisely what they do _not_ lack. Some other metaphor must be sought to
embody the deficiency. At the same time the want is a real one; and
exquisite as are the _Odes_, no one knew better than their author himself
that they have no power to pierce the heart, or to waken those troubled
musings which in their blending of pain and pleasure elevate into
something that it was not before, the whole being of him that reads them.

The _Satires_ and _Epistles_ differ somewhat in form, in elaboration, and
in metrical treatment, but on the whole they have sufficient resemblance
to be considered together. The Horatian satire is _sui generis_. In the
familiar modern sense it is not satire at all. The censorious spirit that
finds nothing to praise, everything to ridicule, is quite alien to Horace.
Neither Persius nor Juvenal, Boileau nor Pope, bears any real resemblance
to him. The two former were satirists in the modern sense; the two latter
have caught what we may call the _town_ side of Horace, but they are
accomplished epigrammatists and rhetoricians, which he is not, and they
entirely lack his strong love for the simple and the rural. Horace is
decidedly the least rhetorical of all Roman poets. His taste is as free
from the contamination of the basilica [65] as it is from that of
Alexandrinism. As in lyric poetry he went straight to the fountain-head,
seeking models among the bards of old Greece, so in his _prose-poetry_, as
he calls the _Satires_, [66] he draws from the well of real experience,
departing from it neither to the right hand nor to the left. This is what
gives his works their lasting value. They are all gold; in other words,
they have been dug for. Refined gold all certainly are not, many of them
are strikingly the reverse; for all sorts of subjects are treated by them,
bad as well as good. The poet professes to have no settled plan, but to
wander from subject to subject, as the humour or the train of thought
leads him; as Plato says--

_opae an o logos agoi, tautae iteon_.

Without the slightest pretence of authority or the right to dictate, he
contrives to supply us with an infinite number of sound and healthy moral
lessons, to reason with us so genially and with so frank an admission of
his own equal frailty, that it is impossible to be angry with him,
impossible not to love the gentle instructor. He has been accused of
tolerance towards vice. That is, we think, a great error. Horace knew men
too well to be severe; his is no trumpet-call, but a still small voice,
which pleads but does not accuse. He was no doubt in his youth a lax
liver; [67] he had adopted the Epicurean creed and the loose conduct that
follows it. But he was struggling towards a purer ideal. Even in the
_Satires_ he is only half an Epicurean; in the _Epistles_ he is not one at
all: and in proportion as he has outlived the hot blood of youth, his
voice becomes clearer and his faith in virtue stronger. The _Epistles_ are
to a great extent reflective; he has examined his own heart, and depicts
his musings for our benefit. Many of them are moral essays filled with
precepts of wisdom, the more precious as having been genuinely thought out
by the writer for himself. Less dramatic, less vigorous, perhaps, than the
_Satires_, they embody in choicest language the maturest results of his
reflection. Their poetical merits are higher, their diction more chaste,
their metre more melodious. With the _Georgics_ they are ranked as the
most perfect examples of the modulation of hexameter verse. Their movement
is rippling rather than flowing, and satisfies the mind rather than the
ear, but it is a delicious movement, full of suggestive grace. The
diction, though classical, admits occasional colloquialisms. [68]

Several of the _Satires_, [69] and the three Epistles which form the
second book, are devoted to literary criticism, and these have always been
regarded as among the most interesting of Horace's compositions. His
opinions on previous and contemporary poetry are given with emphasis, and
as a rule ran counter to the opinion of his day. The technical dexterity
in versification which had resulted from the feverish activity of the last
forty years, had produced a disastrous consequence. All the world was
seized with the mania for writing poetry:

"Scribimus indocti doctique poemata passim."

The young Pisos were among the number. To them the poet gave this friendly
counsel, to lock up their creations for nine years, and then publish, or
as we may shrewdly suspect he meant--destroy them. Poetry is the one thing
that, if it is to be done at all, must be done well:

"Mediocribus esse poetis
Non di, non homines, non concessere columnae."

In Horace's opinion none of the old poetry came up to this standard. When
he quotes two lines of Ennius [70] as defying all efforts to make prose of
them, we cannot help fancying he is indulging his ironical vein. He never
speaks seriously of Ennius. In fact he thoroughly disliked the array of
"old masters" that were at once confronted with him whenever he expressed
a predilection. It was not only the populace who yawned over Accius's
tragedies, or the critics who lauded the style of the Salian hymn, that
moved his resentment. These he could afford to despise. It was rather the
antiquarian prepossessions of such men as Virgil, Maecenas, and Augustus,
that caused him so earnestly to combat the love of all that was old. In
his zeal there is no doubt he has outrun justice. He had no sympathy for
the untamed vigour of those rough but spirited writers; his fastidious
taste could make no allowance for the circumstances against which they had
to contend. To reply that the excessive admiration lavished by the
multitude demanded an equally sweeping condemnation, is not to excuse
Horace. One who wrote so cautiously would never have used exaggeration to
enforce his words. The disparaging remarks must be regarded as expressing
his real opinion, and we are not concerned to defend it.

His attitude towards the age immediately preceding his own is even less
worthy of him. He never mentions Lucretius, though one or two allusions
[71] show that he knew and was indebted to his writings; he refers to
Catullus only once, and then in evident depreciation, [72] mentioning him
and Calvus as the sole literature of a second-rate singer, whom he calls
the ape of Hermogenes Tigellius. Moreover his boast that he was the first
to introduce the Archilochian iambic [73] and the lyric metres, [74]
though perhaps justifiable; is the reverse of generous, seeing that
Catullus had treated before him three at least of the metres to which he
alludes. Mr. Munro's assertion as to there being indications that the
school of Lucretius and Catullus would have necessarily come into
collision with that of the Augustan poets, had the former survived to
their time, is supported by Horace's attitude. Virgil and Tibullus would
have found many points of union, so probably would Gallus; but Horace,
Propertius, and Ovid, would certainly have been antagonistic. It is
unfortunate that the canons laid down by Horace found no followers. While
Virgil had his imitators from the first, and Tibullus and Propertius
served as models to young aspirants, Horace, strangely enough, found no
disciples. Persius in a later age studied him with care, and tried to
reproduce his style, but with such a signal want of success that in every
passage where he imitates, he caricatures his master. He has, however,
left us an appreciative and beautiful criticism on the Horatian method.

It has often been supposed that the _Ars Poetica_ was writen in the hope
of regenerating the drama. This theory is based partly on the length at
which dramatic subjects are treated, partly on the high pre-eminence which
the critic assigns to that class of poetry. But he can hardly have so far
deceived himself as to believe that any efforts of his could restore the
popular interest in the legitimate drama which had now sunk to the lowest
ebb. It should rather be considered as a deliberate expression of his
views upon many important subjects connected with literary studies,
written primarily for the young Pisos, but meant for the world at large,
and not intended for an exhortation (_adhortatio_) so much as a treatise.
Its admirable precepts have been approved by every age: and there is
probably no composition in the world to which so few exceptions have been

Here we leave Horace, and conclude the chapter with a very short account
of some of his friends who devoted themselves to poetry. The first is C.
VALGIUS RUFUS, who was consul in the year 12 B.C. and to whom the ninth
Ode of the second book is addressed. Whether from his high position or
from his genuine poetical promise, we find great expectations held
regarding him. Tibullus (or rather, the author of the poem ascribed to
him) [76] says that no other poet came nearer to Homer's genius, and
Horace by asking him to celebrate the new trophies of Augustus implies
that he cultivated an epic strain. [77] Besides loftier themes he treated
erotic subjects in elegiac verse, translated the rhetoric of Apollodorus,
[78] and wrote letters on grammar, probably in the form afterwards adopted
by Seneca's moral epistles. ARISTIUS FUSCUS to whom the twenty-second Ode
of the first book and the tenth Epistle are addressed, was a writer of
some pretensions. It is not certain what line he followed, but in all
probability the drama. He was an intimate acquaintance of Horace, and, it
will be remembered, delivered him from the intrusive acquaintance on the
Via Sacra. [79] FUNDANIUS, who is twice mentioned by Horace, and once in
very complimentary terms as the best comic poet of the day, [80] has not
been fortunate enough to find any biographer. TITUS, one of the younger
men to whom so many of the epistles are addressed, was a very ambitious
poet. He attempted Pindaric flights from which the genius of Horace
shrank, and apparently he cultivated tragedy, but in a pompous and ranting
manner. [81] ICCIUS, who is referred to in the ninth Ode of Book I., and
in the twelfth Epistle, as a philosopher, may have written poems. JULIUS
FLORUS, to whom two beautiful epistles (I. iii. II. ii.) are addressed, is
rallied by Horace on his tendency to write love-poems, but apparently his
efforts came to nothing. CELSUS ALBINOVANUS was, like Florus, a friend of
Tiberius, to whom he acted as private secretary for some time; [82] he was
given to pilfering ideas and Horace deals him a salutary caution:--

"Monitus multumque monendus
Privatas ut quaerat opes, et tangere vitet
Scripta Palatinus quaecunque recepit Apollo." [83]

The last of these friends we shall notice is JULUS ANTONIUS [84] a son of
the triumvir, who, according to Acron, [85] wrote twelve excellent books
in epic metre on the legends of Diomed, a work obviously modelled on those
of Euphorion, whose fourteen books of _Heracleia_ were extremely popular;
in a later age Statius attempted a similar task in essaying the history of
Achilles. The ode addressed to him by Horace seems to hint at a foolish
ambition to imitate Pindar. Besides these lesser known authors Horace
knew, though he does not mention, the poets Ovid and Domitius Marsus;
probably also Propertius. With Tibullus he was long on terms of
friendship, and one epistle and one ode [86] are addressed to him. His
gentle nature endeared him to Horace, as his graceful poetry drew forth
his commendation.



The short artificial elegy of Callimachus and Philetas had, as we have
seen, found an imitator in Catullus. But that poet, when he addressed to
Lesbia the language of true passion, wrote for the most part in lyric
verse. The Augustan age furnishes a series of brilliant poets who united
the artificial elegiac with the expression of real feeling; and one of
them, Ovid, has by his exquisite formal polish raised the Latin elegiac
couplet to a popularity unparalleled in imitative literature. The metre
had at first been adapted to short epigrams modelled on the Greek, _e.g._,
triumphal inscriptions, epitaphs, _jeux d'esprit_, &c., several examples
of which have been quoted in these pages. Catullus and his contemporaries
first treated it at greater length, and paved the way for the highly
specialised form in which it appears in Tibullus, the earliest Augustan
author that has come down to us.

There are indications that Roman elegy, like heroic verse, had two
separate tendencies. There was the comparatively simple continuous
treatment of the metre seen in Catullus and Virgil, who are content to
follow the Greek rhythm, and there was the more rhetorical and pointed
style first beginning to appear in Tibullus, carried a step further in
Propertius, and culminating in the epigrammatic couplet of Ovid. This last
is a peculiarly Latin development, unsuited to the Greek, and too
elaborately artificial to be the vehicle for the highest poetry, but, when
treated by one who is master of his method, admitting of a facility,
fluency, and incomparable elegance, which perhaps no other rhythm combines
in an equal degree. In almost all its features it may be illustrated by
the heroic couplet of Pope. The elegiac line is in the strictest sense a
pendant to the hexameter; only rarely does it introduce a new element of
thought, and perhaps never a new commencement in narration. It is for the
most part an iteration, variation, enlargement, condensation or antithesis
of the idea embodied in its predecessor. In the most highly finished of
Ovid's compositions this structure is carried to such a point that the
syntax is rarely altogether continuous throughout the couplet; there is
generally a break either natural or rhetorical at the conclusion of the
hexameter or within the first few syllables of the pentameter. [1] The
_rhetorical_ as distinct from the _natural_ period, which appears, though
veiled with great skill, in the Virgilian hexameter, is in Ovid's verse
made the key to the whole rhythmical structure, and by its restriction
within the _minimum_ space of two lines offers a tempting field to the
various tricks of composition, the turn, the point, the climax, &c. in all
of which Ovid, as the typical elegist, luxuriates, though he applies such
elegant manipulation as rarely to over-stimulate and scarcely ever to
offend the reader's attention. The criticism that such a system cannot
fail to awaken is that of want of variety; and in spite of the diverse
modes of producing effect which these accomplished writers, and above all
Ovid, well knew how to use, one cannot read them long without a sense of
monotony, which never attends on the far less ambitious elegies of
Catullus, and probably would have been equally absent from those of

This ill-starred poet, whose life is the subject of Bekker's admirable
sketch, was born at Forum Julii (Frejus) 69 B.C., and is celebrated as the
friend of Virgil's youth. Full of ambition and endowed with talent to
command or conciliate, he speedily rose in Augustus's service, and was the
first to introduce Virgil to his notice. For a time all prospered; he was
appointed the first prefect of Egypt, then recently annexed as a province,
but his haughtiness and success had made him many enemies; he was accused
of treasonable conversation, and interdicted the palace of the emperor. To
avoid further disgrace he committed suicide, in the 43d year of his age
(27 B.C.). His poetry was entirely taken from Alexandria; he translated
Euphorion and wrote four books of love-elegies to Cytheris. Whether she is
the same as the Lycoris mentioned by Virgil, [2] whose faithlessness he
bewails, we cannot tell. No fragments of his remain, [3] but the
passionate nature of the man, and the epithet _durior_ applied to his
verse by Quintilian, makes it probable that he followed the older and more
vigorous style of elegiac writing. [4]

Somewhat junior to him was DOMITIUS MARSUS who followed in the same track.
He was a member of the circle of Maecenas, though, strangely enough, never
mentioned by Horace, and exercised his varied talents in epic poetry, in
which he met with no great success, for Martial says [5]--

"Saepius in libro memoratur Persius uno
Quam levis in toto Marsus Amazonide."

From this we gather that _Amazonis_ was the name of his poem. In erotic
poetry he held a high place, though not of the first rank. His _Fabellae_
and treatise on _Urbanitas_, both probably poetical productions, are
referred to by Quintilian, and Martial mentions him as his own precursor
in treating the short epigram. From another passage of Martial,

"Et Maecenati Maro cum cantaret Alexin
Nota tamen Marsi fusca Melaenis erat," [6]

we infer that he began his career early; for he was certainly younger than
Horace, though probably only by a few years, as he also received
instruction from Orbilius. There is a fine epigram by Marsus lamenting the
death of his two brother-poets and friends:

"Te quoque Virgilio comitem non aequa, Tibulle,
Mors invenem campos misit ad Elysios.
Ne foret aut molles elegis qui fleret amores,
Aut caneret forti regia bella pede."

ALBIUS TIBULLUS, to whom Quintilian adjudges the palm of Latin elegy, was
born probably about the same time as Horace (65 B.C.), though others place
the date of his birth as late as that of Messala (59 B.C.). In the fifth
Elegy of the third book [7] occur the words--

"Natalem nostri primum videre parentes
Cum cecidit fato consul uterque pari."

As these words nearly reappear in Ovid, fixing the date of his own
birth, [8] some critics have supposed them to be spurious here. But there
is no occasion for this. The elegy in which they occur is certainly not by
Tibullus, and may well be the work of some contemporary of Ovid. They
point to the battle of Mutina, 43 B.C., in which Hirtius and Pansa lost
their lives. The poet's death is fixed to 19 B.C. by the epigram of
Domitius just quoted.

Tibullus was a Roman knight, and inherited a large fortune. This, however,
he lost by the triumviral proscriptions, [9] excepting a poor remnant of
his estate near Pedum which, small as it was, seems to have sufficed for
his moderate wants. At a later period Horace, writing to him in
retirement, speaks as though he were possessed of considerable wealth

"Di tibi divitias dederunt artemque fruendi."

It is possible that Augustus, at the intercession of Messala, restored the
poet's patrimony. It was as much the fashion among the Augustan writers to
affect a humble but contented poverty, as it had been among the libertines
of the Caesarean age to pretend to sanctity of life--another form of that
unreality which, after all, is ineradicable from Latin poetry. Ovid is far
more unaffected. He asserts plainly that the pleasures and refinements of
his time were altogether to his taste, and that no other age would have
suited him half so well. [11] Tibullus is a melancholy effeminate spirit.
Horace exactly hits him when he bids him "chant no more woeful elegies,"
[12] because a young and perjured rival has been preferred to him. He
seems to have had no ambition and no energy, but his position obliged him
to see some military service, and we find that he went on no less than
three expeditions with his patron. This patron, or rather friend, for he
was above needing a patron, was the great Messala, whom the poet loved
with a warmth and constancy testified by some beautiful elegies, the
finest perhaps being those where the general's victories are celebrated.
[13] But the chief theme of his verse is the love, ill-requited it would
seem, which he lavished first on Delia and afterwards on Nemesis. Each
mistress gives the subject to a book. Delia's real name as we learn from
Apuleius was Plania, [14] and we gather from more than one notice in the
poems that she was married [15] when Tibullus paid his addresses to her.
If the form of these poems is borrowed from Alexandria, the gentle pathos
and gushing feeling redeem them from all taint of artificiality. In no
poet, not even in Burns, is simple, natural emotion more naturally
expressed. If we cannot praise the character of the man, we must admire
the graceful poet. Nothing can give a truer picture of affection than the
following tender and exquisitely musical lines:

"Non ego laudari curo: mea Delia, tecum
Dummodo sim quaeso segnis inersque vocer.
Te spectem suprema mihi cum venerit hora:
Te teneam moriens deficiente manu." [16]

Here is the same "linked sweetness long drawn out" which gives such a
charm to Gray's elegy. In other elegies, particularly those which take the
form of idylls, giving images of rural peace and plenty, [17] we see the
quiet retiring nature that will not be drawn into the glare of Rome.
Tibullus is described as of great personal beauty, and of a candid [18]
and affectionate disposition. Notwithstanding his devotion Delia was
faithless, and the poet sought distraction in surrendering to the charms
of another mistress. Horace speaks of a lady named Glycera in this
connection; it is probable that she is the same as Nemesis; [19] the
custom of erotic poetry being to substitute a Greek name of similar
scansion for the original Latin one; if the original name were Greek the
change was still made, hence Glycera might well stand for Nemesis. The
third book was first seen by Niebuhr to be from another and much inferior
poet. It is devoted to the praises of Neaera, and imitates the manner of
Tibullus with not a little of his sweetness but with much less power. Who
the author was it is impossible to say, but though he had little genius he
was a man of feeling and taste, and the six elegies are a pleasing relic
of this active and yet melancholy time. The fourth book begins with a
short epic on Messala, the work of a poetaster, extending over 200 lines.
It is followed by thirteen most graceful _elegidia_ ascribed to the lovers
Cerinthus and Sulpicia of which one only is by Cerinthus. It is not
certain whether this ascription is genuine, or whether, as the ancient
life of Tibullus in the Parisian codex asserts, the poems were written by
him under the title of _Epistolae amatoriae_. Their finished elegance and
purity of diction are easily reconcilable with the view that they are the
work of Tibullus. They abound in allusions to Virgil's poetry. [20] At the
same time the description of Sulpicia as a poetess [21] seems to point to
her as authoress of the pieces that bear her name, and from one or two
allusions we gather that Messala was paying her attentions that were
distasteful but hard to refuse. [22] The materials for coming to a
decision are so scanty, that it seems best to leave the authorship an open

The rhythm of Tibullus is smooth, easy, and graceful, but tame. He
generally concludes his period at the end of the couplet, and closes the
couplet with a dissyllable; but he does not like Ovid make it an
invariable rule. The diction is severely classical, free from Greek
constructions and antiquated harshness. In elision he stands midway
between Catullus and Ovid, inclining, however, more nearly to the latter.

SEX. AURELIUS PROPERTIUS, an Umbrian, from Mevania, Ameria, Assisi, or
Hispellum, it is not certain which, was born 58 B.C. or according to
others 49 B.C., and lost his father and his estate in the same year (41
B.C.) under Octavius's second assignation of land to the soldiers. He
seems to have begun life at the bar, which he soon deserted to play the
cavalier to Hostia (whom he celebrates under the name Cynthia), a lady
endowed with learning and wit as well as beauty, to whom our poet remained
constant for five years. The chronology of his love-quarrels and
reconciliations has been the subject of warm disputes between Nobbe,
Jacob, and Lachmann; but even if it were of any importance, it is
impossible to ascertain it with certainty.

He unquestionably belonged to Maecenas's following, but was not admitted
into the inner circle of his intimates. Some have thought that the
troublesome acquaintance who besought Horace to introduce him was no other
than Propertius. The man, it will be remembered, expresses himself willing
to take a humble place: [23]

Magnum adiutorem posset qui ferre secundas
Hunc hominem velles si tradere. Dispeream ni
Submosses omnes."

And as Propertius speaks of himself as living on the Esquiliae, [24] some
have, in conformity with this view, imagined him to have held some
domestic post under Maecenas's roof. A careful reader can detect in
Propertius a far less well-bred tone than is apparent in Tibullus or
Horace. He has the air of _a parvenu_, [25] parading his intellectual
wares, and lacking the courteous self-restraint which dignifies their
style. But he is a genuine poet, and a generous, warm-hearted man, and in
our opinion by far the greatest master of the pentameter that Rome ever
produced. Its rhythm in his hands rises at times almost into grandeur.
There are passages in the elegy on Cornelia (which concludes the series)

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