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A History of Roman Literature by Charles Thomas Cruttwell

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whose noble naturalness and stirring emphasis bespeak a great and
patriotic inspiration; and no small part of this effect is due to his
vigorous handling of a somewhat feeble metre. [26] Mechanically speaking,
he is a disciple in the same school as Ovid, but his success in the
Ovidian distich is insignificant; for he has nothing of the epigrammatist
in him, and his finest lines all seem to have come by accident, or at any
rate without effort. [27] His excessive reverence for the Alexandrines
Callimachus and Philetas, has cramped his muse. With infinitely more
poetic fervour than either, he has made them his only models, and to
attain their reputation is the summit of his ambition. It is from respect
to their practice that he has loaded his poems with pedantic erudition; in
the very midst of passionate pleading he will turn abruptly into the mazes
of some obscure myth, often unintelligible [28] to the modern reader,
whose patience he sorely tries. There is no good poet so difficult to read
through; his faults are not such as "plead sweetly for pardon;" they are
obtrusive and repelling, and have been more in the way of his fame than
those of any extant writer of equal genius. He was a devoted admirer of
Virgil, whose poems he sketches in the following graceful lines: [29]--

"Actia Virgilio custodit (deus) litora Phoebi,
Caesaris et fortes dicere posse rates:
Qui nunc Aeneae Troianaque suscitat arma,
Iactaque Lavinis moenia litoribus.
Cedite Romani seriptores, cedite Graii,
Nescio quid maius nascitur Iliade!
Tu canis umbrosi subter pineta Galesi
Thyrsin et attritis Daphnin arundinibus,
Utque decera possint corrumpere mala puellas,
Missus et impressis haedus ab uberibus.
Felix qui viles pomis mercaris amores!
Huic licet ingratae Tityrus ipse canat.
Felix intactum Corydon qui tentat Alexin
Agricolae domini carpere delicias.
Quamvis ille sua lassus requiescat avena,
Laudatur faciles inter Hamadryadas.
Tu canis Ascraei veteris praecepta poetae,
Quo seges in campo, quo viret uva iugo.
Tale facis carmen, docta testudine quale
Cynthius impositis temperat articulis."

The elegies that show his characteristics best are the second of the first
book, where he prays his lady to dress modestly; the seventeenth, where he
rebukes himself for having left her side; the twentieth, where he tells
the legend of Hylas with great pictorial power and with the finest
triumphs of rhythm; the beautiful lament for the death of Paetus; [30] the
dream in which Cynthia's shade comes to give him warning; [31] and the
patriotic elegy which begins the last book. Maecenas, [32] it appears, had
tried to persuade him to attempt heroic poetry, from which uncongenial
task he excuses himself, much as Horace had done.

In reading these poets we are greatly struck by the free and easy way in
which they borrow thoughts from one another. A good idea was considered
common property, and a happy phrase might be adopted without theft. Virgil
now and then appropriates a word from Horace, Horace somewhat oftener one
from Virgil, Tibullus from both. Propertius, who is less original, has
many direct imitations, and Ovid makes free with some of Virgil and
Tibullus's finest lines. This custom was not thought to detract from the
writer's independence, inasmuch as each had his own domain, and borrowed
only where he would be equally ready to give. It was otherwise with those
thriftless bards so roughly dealt with by Horace in his nineteenth

"O imitatores, servum pecus! ut mihi saepe
Bilem, saepe iocum movistis."

the Baviad and Maeviad of the Roman poet-world. These lay outside the
charmed sphere, and the hands they laid on the works of those who wrought
within it were sacrilegious. In the next age we shall see how imitation of
these great masters had become a regular department of composition, so
that Quintilian gives elaborate rules for making a proper use of it. At
this time originality consisted in introducing some new form of Greek
song. Virgil made Theocritus and Hesiod speak in Latin. Horace had brought
over the old Aeolian bards; Propertius, too, must make his boast of having
enticed Callimachus to the Tiber's banks--

"Primus ego ingredior puro de fonte sacerdos
Itala per Graios orgia ferre chores." [33]

In the Middle Ages he was almost lost; a single copy, defaced with mould
and almost illegible, was found in a wine cellar in Italy, 1451 A.D.
Quintilian tells us there were some in his day who preferred him to

The same critic's remark on the brilliant poet who now comes before us, P.
OVIDIUS NASO, is as follows: "_Ovidius utroque lascivior_" and he could
not have given a terser or more comprehensive criticism. Of all Latin
poets, not excepting even Plautus, Ovid possesses in the highest degree
the gift of facility. His words probably express the literal truth, when
he says--

"Sponte sua carmen numeros veniebat ad aptos,
Et quod tentabam scribere versus erat."

This incorrigibly immoral but inexpressibly graceful poet was born at
Sulmo in the Pelignian territory 43 B.C. of wealthy parents, whose want of
liberality during his youthful career he deplores, but by which he
profited after their death. Of equestrian rank, with good introductions
and brilliant talents, he was expected to devote himself to the duties of
public life. At first he studied for the bar; but so slight was his
ambition and so unfitted was his genius for even the moderate degree of
severe reasoning required by his profession, that he soon abandoned it in
disgust, and turned to the study of rhetoric. For some time he declaimed
under the first masters, Arellius Fuscus and Porcius Latro, [34] and
acquired a power of brilliant improvisation that caused him to be often
quoted in the schools, and is evidenced by many reminiscences in the
writings of the elder Seneca. [35] A short time was spent by him,
according to custom, at Athens, [36] and while in Greece he took the
opportunity of visiting the renowned cities of Asia Minor. He also spent
some time in Sicily, and returned to Rome probably at the age of 23 or 24,
where he allowed himself to be nominated _triumvir capitalis, decemvir
litibus iudicandis_, and _centumvir_, in quick succession. But in spite of
the remonstrances of his friends he finally gave up all active work, and
began that series of love-poems which was at once the cause of his
popularity and of his fall, His first mistress was a lady whom he calls
Corinna, but whose real name is not known. That she was a member of the
_demi-monde_ is probable from this fact; as also from the poet's strong
assertion that he had never been guilty of an intrigue with a married
woman. The class to which she belonged were mostly Greeks or Easterns,
beautiful and accomplished, often poetesses, and mingling with these
seductive qualities the fickleness and greed natural to their position, of
which Ovid somewhat unreasonably complains. To her are dedicated the great
majority of the _Amores_, his earliest extant work. These elegant but
lascivious poems, some of which perhaps were the same which he recited to
large audiences as early as his twenty-second year, were published 13
B.C., and consisted at first of five books, which he afterwards reduced to
three. [37] No sooner were they before the public than they became
universally popular, combining as they do the personal experiences already
made familiar to Roman audiences through Tibullus and Propertius, with a
levity, a dash, a gaiety, and a brilliant polish, far surpassing anything
that his more serious predecessors had attained. During their composition
he was smitten with the desire (perhaps owing to his Asiatic tour) to
write an epic poem on the wars of the gods and giants, but Corinna,
determined to keep his muse for herself, would not allow him to gratify
it. [38]

The _Heroides_ or love-letters from mythological heroines to their
(mostly) faithless spouses, are declared by Ovid to be an original
importation from Greece. [39.] They are erotic _suasoriae_, based on the
declamations of the schools, and are perhaps the best appreciated of all
his compositions. They present the Greek mythology under an entirely new
phase of treatment. Virgil had complained [40] that its resources were
used up, and in Propertius we already see that allusive way of dealing
with it which savours of a general satiety. But in Ovid's hands the old
myths became young again, indeed, younger than ever; and people wonder
they could ever have lost their interest. His method is the reverse of
Virgil's or Livy's. [41] They take pains to make themselves ancient; he,
with wanton effrontery, makes the myths modern. Jupiter, Juno, the whole
circle of Olympus, are transformed into the _hommes et femmes galantes_ of
Augustus's court, and their history into a _chronique scandaleuse_. The
immoral incidents, round which a veil of poetic sanctity had been cast by
the great consecrator time, are here displayed in all their mundane
pruriency. In the _Metamorphoses_ Jupiter is introduced as smitten with
the love of a nymph, Dictynna; some compunctions of conscience seize him,
and the image of Juno's wrath daunts him, but he finally overcomes his
fear with these words--

"Hoc furtum certe coniux mea nesciet (inquit);
Aut si rescierit, sunt O sunt iurgia tanti?"

So, in the _Heroides_, the idea of the desolate and love-lorn Ariadne
writing a letter from the barren isle of Naxos is in itself ridiculous,
nor can all the pathos of her grief redeem the irony. Helen wishes she had
had more practice in correspondence, so that she might perhaps touch her
lover's chilly heart. Ovid using the language of mythology, reminds us of
those heroes of Dickens who preface their communications by a wink of

His next venture was of a more compromising character. Intoxicated with
popularity, he devoted three long poems to a systematic treatment of the
_Art of Love_, on which he lavished all the graces of his wayward talent,
and a combination of mythological, literary, and social allusion, that
seemed to mark him out for better things. He is careful to remark at the
outset that this poem is not intended for the virtuous. The frivolous
gallants, whose sole end in life is dissipation, with the objects of their
licentious passion, are the readers for whom he caters. But he had
overshot his mark; The _Amores_ had been tolerated, for they had followed
precedent. But even they had raised him enemies. The _Art of Love
_produced a storm of indignation, and without doubt laid the foundations
of that severe displeasure on the part of Augustus, which found vent ten
years later in a terrible punishment. For Ovid was doing his best to
render the emperor's reforms a dead letter. It was difficult enough to get
the laws enforced, even with the powerful sanction of a public opinion
guided by writers like Horace and Virgil. But here was a brilliant poet
setting his face right against the emperor's will. The necessity of
marriage had been preached with enthusiasm by two unmarried poets; a law
to the same effect had been passed by two unmarried consuls; [42] a moral
_regime_ had been inaugurated by a prince whose own morals were or had
been more than dubious. All this was difficult; but it had been done. And
now the insidious attractions of vice were flaunted in the most glowing
colours in the face of day. The young of both sexes yielded to the charm.
And what was worse, the emperor's own daughter, whom he had forced to stay
at home carding wool, to wear only such garments as were spun in the
palace, to affect an almost prudish delicacy, the proud and lovely Julia,
had been detected in such profligacy as poured bitter satire on the old
monarch's moral discipline, and bore speaking witness to the power of an
inherited tendency to vice. The emperor's awful severity bespoke not
merely the aggrieved father but the disappointed statesman. Julia had
disgraced his home and ruined his policy, and the fierce resentment which
rankled in his heart only waited its time to burst forth upon the man who
had laboured to make impurity attractive. [43] Meanwhile Ovid attempted,
two years later, a sort of recantation in the _Remedia Amoris_, the
frivolity of which, however, renders it as immoral as its predecessor
though less gross; and he finished his treatment of the subject with the
_Medicamina Faciei_, a sparkling and caustic quasi-didactic treatise, of
which only a fragment survives. [44] During this period (we know not
exactly when) was composed the tragedy of _Medea_, which ancient critics
seem to have considered his greatest work. [45] Alone of his writings it
showed his genius in restraint, and though _we_ should probably form a
lower estimate of its excellence, we may regret that time has not spared
it. Among other works written at this time was an elegy on the death of
Messala (3. A.D.), as we learn from the letters from Pontus. [46] Soon
after he seems, like Prince Henry, to have determined to turn over a new
leaf and abandon his old acquaintances. Virgil, Horace, and Tibullus, were
dead; there was no poet of eminence to assist the emperor by his pen. Ovid
was beyond doubt the best qualified by his talent, but Augustus had not
noticed him. He turned to patriotic themes in order to attract favourable
notice, and began his great work on the national calendar. Partly after
the example of Propertius, partly by his own predilection, he kept to the
elegiac metre, though he is conscious of its betraying him into occasional
frivolous or amatory passages where he ought to be grave. [47] "Who would
have thought (he says) that from a poet of love I should have become a
patriotic bard?" [48] While writing the _Fasti_ he seems to have worked
also at the _Metamorphoses_, a heroic poem in fifteen books, entirely
devoted to mythological stories, mostly of transformations caused by the
love or jealousy of divine wooers, or the vengeance of their aggrieved
spouses. There are passages in this long work of exceeding beauty, and a
prodigal wealth of poetical ornament, which has made it a mine for modern
poets. Tasso, Ariosto, Guarini, Spenser, Milton, have all drunk deep of
this rich fountain. [49] The skill with which the different legends are
woven into the fabric of the composition is as marvellous as the frivolous
dilettantism which could treat a long heroic poem in such a way. The
_Metamorphoses_ were finished before 7 A.D.; the _Fasti_ were only
advanced to the end of the sixth book, when all further prosecution of
them was stopped by the terrible news, which struck the poet like a
thunderbolt, that he was ordered to leave Rome forever. The cause of his
exile has been much debated. The ostensible ground was the immorality of
his writings, and especially of the _Art of Love_, but it has generally
been taken for granted that a deeper and more personal reason lay behind.
Ovid's own hints imply that his eyes had been witness to something that
they should not, which he calls a _crimen_ (_i.e._ a crime against the
emperor). [50] The most probable theory is that Augustus took advantage of
Ovid's complicity in the younger Julia's misconduct to wreak the full
measure of his long-standing indignation against the poet, whose evil
counsels had helped to lead astray not only her but his daughter also. He
banished him to Tomi, an inhospitable spot not far from the mouth of the
Danube, and remained deaf to all the piteous protestations and abject
flatteries which for ten years the miserable poet poured forth.

This punishment broke Ovid's spirit. He had been the spoilt child of
society, and he had no heart for any life but that of Rome. He pined away
amid the hideous solitudes and the barbarous companionship of Goths and
Sarmatians. His very genius was wrecked. Not a single poem of merit to be
compared with those of former times now proceeded from his pen.
Nevertheless he continued to write as fluently as before. Now that he was
absent from his wife--for he had been thrice married--this very undomestic
poet discovered that he had a deep affection for her. He wrote her
endearing letters, and reminded her of their happy hours. As she was a
lady of high position and a friend of the Empress Livia, he no doubt hoped
for her good offices. But her prudence surpassed her conjugal devotion.
Neither she, nor the noble and influential friends [51] whom he implored
in piteous accents to intercede for him, ever ventured to approach the
emperor on a subject on which he was known to be inexorable. And when
Augustus died and Tiberius succeeded, the vain hopes that had hitherto
buoyed up Ovid seem to have quite faded away. From such a man it was idle
to expect mercy. So, for two or three years the wretched poet lingered on,
still solacing himself with verse, and with the kindness of the natives,
who sought by every means to do him honour and soothe his misfortune, and
then, in the sixtieth year of his age, 17 A.D., he died, and was buried in
the place of his dreary exile.

Much as we may blame him, the severity of his punishment seems far too
great for his offence, since Ovid is but the child of his age. In praising
him, society praised itself; as he says with natural pride, "The fame that
others gain after death, I have known in my lifetime." He was of a
thoroughly happy, thoughtless, genial temper; before his reverse he does
not seem to have known a care. His profligacy cost him no repentance; he
could not see that he had done wrong; indeed, according to the lax notions
of the time, his conduct had been above rather than below the general
standard of dissipated men. The palliations he alleges in the second book
of the _Tristia_, which is the best authority for his life, are in point
of fact, unanswerable. To regard his age as wicked or degenerate never
entered into his head. He delighted in it as the most refined that the
world had ever known; "It is," he says jokingly, "the true Golden Age, for
every pleasure that exists may be got for gold." So wedded was he to
literary composition that he learnt the Sarmatian language and wrote poems
in it in honour of Augustus, the loss of which, from a philological point
of view, is greatly to be regretted. His muse must be considered as at
home in the salons find fashionable coteries of the great. Though his
style is so facile, it is by no means simple. On the contrary, it is one
of the most artificial ever created, and could never have bea attained at
all but by a natural aptitude, backed by hard study, amid highly-polished
surroundings from childhood. These Ovid had, and he wielded his brilliant
instrument to perfection. What euphuism was to the Elizabethan courtiers,
what the _langue galante_ was to the court of Louis XIV., the mythological
dialect was to the gay circles of aristocratic Rome. [5]

It was select, polished, and spiced with a flavour of profanity. Hence,
Ovid could never be a popular poet, for a poet to be really popular must
be either serious or genuinely humorous; whereas Ovid is neither. His
irony, exquisitely ludicrous to those who can appreciate it, falls flat
upon less cultivated minds, and the lack of strength that lies beneath his
smooth exterior [53] would unfit him, even if his immorality did not stand
in the way, for satisfying or even pleasing the mass of mankind.

The _Ibis_ and _Halieuticon_ were composed during his exile; the former is
a satiric attack upon a person now unknown, the latter a prosaic account
of the fish found in the neighbourhood of Tomi.

Appended to Ovid's works are several graceful poems which have put forward
a claim to be his workmanship. His great popularity among the schools of
the rhetoricians both in Rome and the provinces, caused many imitations to
be circulated under his name. The most ancient of these is the _Nux
elegia_, which, if not Ovid's, must be very shortly posterior to him; it
is the complaint of a walnut tree on the harsh treatment it has to suffer,
sometimes in very difficult verse, [54] but not inelegant. Some of the
_Priapeia_ are also attributed to him, perhaps with reason; the
_Consolatio ad Liviam_, on the death of Drusus, is a clever production of
the Renaissance period, full of reminiscences of Ovid's verse, much as the
_Ciris_ is filled with reminiscences of Virgil. [55]

Ovid was the most brilliant figure in a gay circle of erotic and epic
poets, many of whom he has handed down in his _Epistles_, others have
transmitted a few fragments by which we can estimate their power. The
eldest was PONTICUS, who is also mentioned by Propertius as an epic writer
of some pretensions. Another was MACER, whose ambition led him to group
together the epic legends antecedent and subsequent to those narrated in
the _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_. There was a Pompeius Macer, an excellent man,
who with his son committed suicide under Tiberius, [56] his daughter
having been accused of high treason, and unable to clear herself. The son
is probably identical with this friend of Ovid's. SABINUS, another of his
intimates, who wrote answers to the _Heroides_, was equally conspicuous in
heroic poetry. The title of his poem is not known. Some think it was
_Troezen_; [57] but the text is corrupt. Ovid implies [58] that his
rescripts to the _Heroides_ were complete; it is a misfortune that we have
lost them. The three poems that bear the title of _A. Sabini Epistolae_,
and are often bound with Ovid's works, are the production of an Italian
scholar of the fifteenth century. TUTICANUS, who was born in the same year
with Ovid, and may perhaps have been the author of Tibullus's third book,
is included in the last epistle from Pontus [59] among epic bards.
CORNELIUS SEVERUS, a better versifier than poet, [60] wrote a _Sicilian
War_, [61] of which the first book was extremely good. In it occurred the
verses on the death of Cicero, quoted by the elder Seneca [62] with

Oraque magnanimum spirantia paene virorum
In rostris iacuere suis: sed enim abstulit omnis,
Tanquam sola foret, rapti Ciceronis imago.
Tunc redeunt animis ingentia consulis acta
Iurataeque manus deprensaque foedera noxae
Patriciumque nefas extinctum: poena Cethegi
Deiectusque redit votis Catilina nefandis.
Quid favor aut coetus, pleni quid honoribus anni
Profuerant? sacris exculta quid artibus aetas?
Abstulit una dies aevi decus, ictaque luctu
Conticuit Latiae tristis facundia linguae.
Unica sollicitis quondam tutela salusque,
Egregium semper patriae caput, ille senatus
Vindex, ille fori, legum ritusque togaeque,
Publica vox saevis aeternum obmutuit armis.
Informes voltus sparsamque cruore nefando
Canitiem sacrasque manus operumque ministras
Tantorum pedibus civis proiecta superbis
Proculcavit ovans nec lubrica fata deosque
Respexit. Nullo luet hoc Antonius aevo.
Hoc nec in Emathio mitis victoria Perse,
Nec te, dire Syphax, non fecerat hoste Philippo;
Inque triumphato ludibria cuncta Iugurtha
Afuerant, nostraeque cadens ferus Hannibal irae
Membra tamen Stygias tulit inviolata sub umbras.

From these it will be seen that he was a poet of considerable power.
Another epicist of some celebrity, whom Quintilian thought worth reading,
was PEDO ALBINOVANUS; he was also an epigrammatist, and in conversation
remarkable for his brilliant wit. There is an Albinus mentioned by
Priscian who is perhaps intended for him. Other poets referred to in the
long list which closes the letters from Pontus are RUFUS, LARGUS, probably
the perfidious friend of Gallus so mercilessly sketched by Bekker,
CAMERINUS, LUPUS, and MONTANUS. All these are little more than names for
us. The references to them in succeeding writers will be found in Teuffel.
RABIRIUS is worth remarking for the extraordinary impression he made on
his contemporaries. Ovid speaks of him as _Magni Rabirius oris_, [63] a
high compliment; and Velleius Paterculus goes so far as to couple him with
Virgil as the best representative of Augustan poetry! His _Alexandrian
War_ was perhaps drawn from his own experience, though, if so, he must
have been a very young man at the time.

From an allusion in Ovid [64] we gather that GRATIUS [65] was a poet of
the later Augustan age. His work on the chase (_Cynegetica_) has come down
to us imperfect. It contains little to interest, notwithstanding the
attractiveness of its subject: but in truth all didactic poets after
Virgil are without freshness, and seem depressed rather than inspired by
his success. After alluding to man's early attempts to subdue wild beasts,
first by bodily strength, then by rude weapons, he shows the gradual
dominion of reason in this as in other human actions. Diana is also made
responsible for the huntsman's craft, and a short mythological digression
follows. Then comes a description of the chase itself, and the implements
and weapons used in it. The list of trees fitted for spearshafts (128-
149), one of the best passages, will show his debt to the _Georgics_--more
than half the lines show traces of imitation. Next we have the different
breeds of dogs, their training, their diseases, and general supervision
discussed, and after a digression or two--the best being a catalogue of
the evils of luxury--the poem (as we possess it) ends with an account of
the horses best fitted for hunting. The technical details are carefully
given, and would probably have had some value; but there is scarcely a
trace of poetic enthusiasm, and only a moderate elevation of style.

The last Augustan poet we shall notice is M. MANILIUS, whose dry subject
has caused him to meet with very general neglect. His date was considered
doubtful, but Jacob has shown that he began to write towards the close of
Augustus's reign. The first book refers to the defeat of Varus [66] (7
A.D.), to which, therefore, it must be subsequent, and the fourth book
contemplates Augustus as still alive, [67] though Tiberius had already
been named as his successor. [68] The fifth book must have appeared after
the interval of Augustus's death; and from one passage which seems to
allude to the destruction of Pompey's theatre, [69] Jacob argues that it
was written as late as 22 A.D. The danger of treating a subject on which
the emperor had his own very decided views [70] may have deterred Manilius
from completing his work. Literature of all kinds was silent under the
tyrant's gloomy frown, and the weak style of this last book seems to
reflect the depressed mind of its author.

The birth and parentage of Manilius are not known. That he was a foreigner
is probable, both from the uncouthness of his style at the outset, and
from the decided improvement in it that can be traced through succeeding
books. Bentley thought him an Asiatic; if so, however, his lack of florid
ornament would be strange. It is more likely that he was an African. But
the question is complicated by the corrupt state of his text, by the
obscurity of his subject, and by the very incomplete knowledge of it
displayed by the author. It was not considered necessary to have mastered
a subject to treat of it in didactic verse. Cicero expressly instances
Aratus [71] as a man who, with scarce any knowledge of astronomy,
exercised a legitimate poetical ingenuity by versifying such knowledge as
he had. These various causes make Manilius one of the most difficult of
authors. Few can wade through the mingled solecisms in language and
mistakes in science, the empty verbiage that dilates on a platitude in one
place, and the jejune abstract that hurries over a knotty argument in
another, without regretting that so unreadable a poet should have been
preserved. [72]

And yet his book is not altogether without interest. The subject is called
_Astronomy_, but should rather be called _Astrology_, for more than half
the space is taken up with these baseless theories of sidereal influence
which belong to the imaginary side of the science. But in the exordia and
perorations to the several books, as well as in sundry digressions, may be
found matter of greater value, embodying the poet's views on the great
questions of philosophy. [73] On the whole he must be reckoned as a Stoic,
though not a strictly dogmatic one. He begins by giving the different
views as to the origin of the world, and lays it down that on these points
truth cannot be attained. The universe, he goes on to say, rests on no
material basis, much less need we suppose the earth to need one. Sun,
moon, and stars, whirl about without any support; earth therefore may well
be supposed to do the same. The earth is the centre of the universe, whose
motions are circular and imitate those of the gods. [74] The universe is
not finite as some Stoics assert, for its roundness (which is proved by
Chrysippus) implies infinity. Lucretius is wrong in denying antipodes;
they follow naturally from the globular shape, from which also we may
naturally infer that seas bind together, as well as separate, nations.
[75] All this system is held together by a spiritual force, which he calls
God, governing according to the law of reason. [76] He next describes the
Zodiac and enumerates the chief stars with their influences. Following the
teaching of Hegesianax, [77] he declares that those which bear human names
are superior to those named after beasts or inanimate things. The study of
the stars was a gift direct from heaven. Kings first, and after them
priests, were guided to search for wisdom, and now Augustus, who is both
supreme ruler and supreme pontiff, follows his divine father in
cultivating this great science. Mentioning some of the legends which
recount the transformations of mortals into stars, he asserts that they
must not be understood in too gross a sense. [78] Nothing is more
wonderful than the orderly movement of the heavenly bodies. He who has
contemplated this eternal order cannot believe the Epicurean doctrine.
Human generations pass away, but the earth and the stars abide for ever.
Surely the universe is divine. Passing on to the milky way, he gives two
fanciful theories of its origin, one that it is the rent burnt by Phaethon
through the firmament, the other that it is milk from the breast of Juno.
As to its consistency, he wavers between the view that it is a closely
packed company of stars, and the more poetical one that it is formed by
the white-robed souls of the just. This last theory leads him to recount
in a dull catalogue the well-worn list of Greek and Roman heroes. Comets
are mysterious bodies, whose origin is unknown. The universe is full of
fiery particles ever tending towards conglomeration, and perhaps their
impact forms comets. Whether natural or supernatural, one thing is
certain--they are never without effect on mankind.

In the second book he begins by a complaint that the list of attractive
subjects is exhausted. This incites him to essay an untried path, from
which he hopes to reap no stolen laurels [79] as the bard of the universe!
[80] He next expounds the doctrine of an ever-present spirit moving the
mass of matter, in language reflected from the sixth Aeneid. Men must not
seek for mathematical demonstration. Considerations of analogy are enough
to awaken conviction. The fact that, _e.g._, shell-fish are affected by
the moon, and that all land creatures depend on solar influence, should
forbid us to dissociate earth from heaven, or man's activity from the
providence of the gods. How could man have any knowledge of deity unless
he partook of its nature? The rest of the book gives a catalogue of the
different kinds of stars, their several attributes, and their astrological
classification, ending with the _Dodecatemorion_ and _Oclotopos_.

The third book, after a short and offensively allusive description of the
labours of preceding poets, sketches the twelve _athla_ or accidents of
human life, to each of which is assigned its special guardian influence.
It then passes to the horoscope, which it treats at length, giving minute
and various directions how to draw it. The extreme importance attached to
this process by Tiberius, and the growing frequency with which, on every
occasion, Chaldeans and Astrologers were now consulted, made the poet
specially careful to treat this subject with clearness and precision. It
is accordingly the most readable of all the purely technical parts of the
work. The account of the tropics, with which the book closes, is
singularly inaccurate, but contains some rather elegant descriptions: [81]
at the tropic of Cancer summer always reigns, at Capricorn there is
perpetual winter. The book here breaks off quite abruptly; apparently he
intended to compose the epilogue at some future time, but had no
opportunity of doing it.

The exordium to the fourth book, which sometimes rises into eloquence,
glorifies fate as the ultimate divine power, but denies it either will or
personality. He fortifies his argument, according to his wont, by a
historical catalogue, which exemplifies the harshness that, except in
philosophical digressions, rarely leaves his style. Then follow the
horoscopic properties of the Zodiacal constellations, the various reasons
for desiring to be born under one star rather than another, a sort of
horoscopico-zodiacal account of the world, its physical geography, and the
properties of the zones. These give occasion for some graphic touches of
history and legend; the diction of this book is far superior to that of
the preceding three, but the wisdom is questionable which reserves the
"good wine" until so late. Passing on to the ecliptic, he drags in the
legends of Deucalion, Phaethon, and others, which he treats in a
rhetorical way, and concludes the book with an appeal to man's reason, and
to the necessity of allowing the mental eye free vision. Somewhat
inconsistently with the half-religious attitude of the first and second
books, he here preaches once more the doctrine of irresistible fate, which
to most of the Roman poets occupies the place of God. The poem practically
ends here. He himself implies at the opening of Book V., that most poets
would not have pursued the theme further; apparently he is led on by his
interest in the subject, or by the barrenness of his invention which could
suggest no other. The book, which is unfinished, contains a description of
various stars, with legends interspersed in which a more ambitious style
appears, and a taste which, though rhetorical and pedantic, is more
chastened than in the earlier books.

It will be seen from the above _resume_ that the poem discusses several
questions of great interest. Rising above the technicalities of the
science, Manilius tries to preach a theory of the universe which shall
displace that given by Lucretius. He is a Stoic combating an Epicurean. A
close study of Lucretius is evidenced by numerous passages, [82] and the
earnestness of his moral conclusions imitates, though it does not approach
in impressiveness, that of the great Epicurean. Occasionally he imitates
Horace, [83] much more often Virgil, and, in the legends, Ovid. [84] His
technical manipulation of the hexameter is good, though tinged with
monotony. Occasionally he indulges in licenses which mark a deficient ear
[85] or an imperfect comprehension of the theory of quantity. [86] He has
few archaisms, [87] few Greek words, considering the exigencies of his
subject, and his vocabulary is greatly superior to his syntax; the
rhetorical colouring which pervades the work shows that he was educated in
the later taste of the schools, and neither could understand nor desired
to reproduce the simplicity of Lucretius or Virgil. [88]



Public oratory, which had held the first rank among studies under the
Republic, was now, as we have said, almost extinct. In the earlier part of
Augustus's reign, Pollio and Messala for a time preserved some of the
traditions of freedom, but both found it impossible to maintain their
position. Messala retired into dignified seclusion; Pollio devoted himself
to other kinds of composition. Somewhat later we find MESSALINUS, the son
of Messala, noted for his eloquent pleading; but as he inherited none of
the moral qualities which had made his father dangerous, Augustus
permitted him to exercise his talent. He was an intimate friend of Ovid,
from whom we learn details of his life; but he frittered away his powers
on trifling jests [1] and extempore versifying. The only other name worthy
of mention is Q. HATERIUS, who from an orator became a noted declaimer.
The testimonies to his excellence vary; Seneca, who had often heard him,
speaks of the wonderful volubility, more Greek than Roman, which in him
amounted to a fault. Tacitus gives him higher praise, but admits that his
writings do not answer to his living fame, a persuasive manner and
sonorous voice having been indispensible ingredients in his oratory. [2]
The activity before given to the state was now transferred to the
basilica. But as the full sway of rhetoric was not established until quite
the close of Augustus's reign, we shall reserve our account of it for the
next book, merely noticing the chief rhetoricians who flourished at this
time. The most eminent were PORCIUS LATRO, FUSCUS ARELLIUS, and ALBUCIUS
SILUS, who are frequently quoted by Seneca; RUTILIUS LUPUS, [3] who was
somewhat younger; and SENECA, the father of the celebrated philosopher.
[4] Fuscus was an Asiatic, and seems to have been one of the first who
declaimed in Latin. Foreign professors had previously exercised their own
and their pupils' ingenuity in Greek; Cicero had almost invariably
declaimed in that language, and there can be no doubt that this was a much
less harmful practice; but now the bombast and glitter of the Asiatic
style flaunted itself in the Latin tongue, and found in the increasing
number of provincials from Gaul and Spain a body of admirers who
cultivated it with enthusiasm. CESTIUS PIUS, a native of Smyrna, espoused
the same florid style, and was even preferred by his audience to such men
as Pollio and Messala. To us the extracts from these authors, preserved in
Seneca, present the most wearisome monotony, but contemporary criticism
found in them many grades of excellence. The most celebrated of all was
Porcius Latro, who, like Seneca himself, came from Spain. There is a
special character about the Spanish literary genius which will be more
prominent in the next generation. At present it had not sufficiently
amalgamated with the old Latin culture to shine in the higher branches.
But in the rhetorical schools it gradually leavened taste by its
attractive qualities, and men like Latro must be regarded as wielding
immense influence on Roman style, though somewhat in the background, much
as Antipho influenced the oratory of Athens.

Annaeus Seneca of _Corduba_ (Cordova), [5] the father of Novatus, Seneca,
and Mela the father of Lucan, belonged to the equestrian order, was born
probably about 54 B.C. and lived on until after the death of Tiberius. [6]
The greater part of this long life, longer even than Varro's, was spent in
the profession of eloquence, for which in youth he prepared himself by
studying the manner of the most renowned masters. Cicero alone he was not
fortunate enough to hear, the civil wars having necessitated his
withdrawal to Spain. [7] He does not appear to have visited Rome more than
twice, but he shows a thorough knowledge of the rhetoricians of the
capital, whence we conclude that his residence extended over some time.
[8] The stern discipline of Caesar's wars had taught the Spaniards
something of Roman severity, and Seneca seems to have adopted with a good
will the maxims of Roman life. [9] He possessed that _elan_ with which
young races often carry all before them when, they give the fresh vigour
of their understanding to master an existing system; his memory, as he
himself tells us, was so prodigious that he could recite 2000 names
correctly after once hearing them; [10] and, with the taste for showy
ornament which his race has always evinced, he must have launched himself
without misgiving into the competition of the schools. Nevertheless, in
his old age, when he came to look back on his life, he felt half ashamed
of its results. His sons had asked him to write a critical account of the
greatest rhetoricians he had known; he gladly acceded to their wish, and
has embodied in his work vast numbers of extracts, drawn either from
memory or rough notes, specifying the manner in which each professor
treated his theme; he then adds his own judgment on their merits, often
interspersing the more tedious discussions with _bon-mots_ or literary
anecdotes. The most readable portions are the prefaces, where he writes in
his own person in the unaffected epistolary style. We learn from them many
particulars about the lives of the great _rhetores_ and the state of taste
and literary education. But in the preface to the tenth book (the last of
the series) he expresses an utter weariness of a subject which not even
the reminiscences of happier days could invest with serious interest.
There are no indications that Seneca rose to the first eminence. His
extraordinary memory, diligence, and virtuous habits gained him respect
from his pupils and the intimacy of the great. But there is nothing in his
writings to show a man of more than average capacity, who, having been
thrown all his life in an artificial and narrowing profession, has lost
the power of taking a vigorous interest in things, and acquired the habit
of looking at questions from what we might call _the examiner's point of
view_. We have remains of two sets of compositions by him;
_Controversiae_, or legal questions discussed by way of practice for
actual cases, divided into ten books, of which about half are preserved;
and _Suasoriae_, or imaginary themes, such as those ridiculed by Juvenal:

"Consilium dedimus Sullae, privatus ut altum

These last are printed first in our editions, because, being abstract in
character and not calling for any special knowledge, they were better
suited for beginners. The style of the book varies. In the prefaces it is
not inelegant, and shows few traces of the decline, but in the excerpts
from Latro and Fuscus, (which are perhaps nearly in their own words) we
observe the silver Latinity already predominant. Much is written in a very
compressed manner, reading like notes of a lecture or a table of contents.
There is, however, a geniality about the old man which renders him, even
when uninteresting, not altogether unpleasing.

We pass from rhetoric to history, and here we meet with one of the great
names of Roman letters, the most eloquent of all historians, TITUS LIVIUS
PATAVINUS. The exact date of his birth is disputed, but may be referred to
59 or 57 B.C. at _Pataviam_ (Padua), a populous and important town, no
less renowned for its strict morals than for its opulence. [11] Little is
known of his life, but he seems to have been of noble birth; his relative,
C. Cornelius, took the auspices at Pharsalia, and the aristocratic tinge
which pervades his work would lead to the same inference. Padua was a
bustling place, where public-speaking was rife, and aptitude for affairs
common; thus Livy was nursed in eloquence and in scenes of human activity.
Nothing tended to turn his mind to the contemplation of nature--at least
we see no signs of it in his work,--his conceptions of national
development were uncomplicated by reference to the share that physical
conditions have in moulding it; man alone, and man as in all respects
self-determining, has interest for him. His gifts are pre-eminently those
of an orator; the talent for developing an idea, for explaining events as
an orderly sequence, for establishing conclusions, for moving the
feelings, for throwing himself into a cause, for clothing his arguments in
noble language, shine conspicuous in his work, while he has the good
faith, sincerity, and patriotism which mark off the orator from the mere
advocate. For some years he remained at Padua studying philosophy [12] and
practising as a teacher of rhetoric, declaiming after the manner of Seneca
and his contemporaries. Reference is made to these declamations by Seneca
and Quintilian, and no doubt they were worth preserving as a grade in his
intellectual progress and as having helped to produce the artistic
elaborateness of his speeches. In 31 B.C. or thereabouts, he came to Rome,
where he speedily rose into favour. But though a courtier, he was no
flatterer. He praised Brutus and Cassius, [13] he debated whether Caesar
was useful to the state, [14] his whole history is a praise of the old
Republic, his preface states that Rome can neither bear her evils, nor the
remedy that has been applied to them (by which it is probable he means the
Empire), and we know that Augustus called him a Pompeian, though, at the
same time, he cannot have been an imprudent one, otherwise he could hardly
have retained the emperor's friendship. As regards the date of his work,
Professor Seeley decides that the first decade was written between 27 and
20 B.C., the very time during which the _Aeneid_ was in process of
composition. The later decades were thrown off from time to time until his
death at Patavium in 17 A.D. Indications exist to show that they were not
revised by him after publication, _e.g._, the errors into which he had
been led by trusting to Valerius Antias were not erased; but he was
careful not to rely on his authority afterwards. That he enjoyed a high
reputation is clear from the fact recorded by Pliny the younger, that a
man journeyed to Rome from Cadiz for the express purpose of seeing him,
and, having succeeded, returned at once. [15] The elder Pliny [16] draws a
picture of him at an advanced age studying with undiminished zeal at his
great work. The "old man eloquent" used to say that he had written enough
for glory, and had now earned rest; but his restless mind fed on labour
and would not lie idle. When completed, his book at once became the
authoritative history of Rome, after which nothing was left but to abridge
or comment upon it.

The state of letters at Rome, while unfavourable to strictly political
history, was ripe for the production of a work like Livy's. Augustus,
Agrippa, and Pollio, had founded public libraries in which the older works
were accessible. The emperor took a keen interest in all studies; he
encouraged not merely poets but philologians and scientific writers, and
he was not indisposed to protect historical study, if only it were treated
in the way he approved. Rabirius, Pedo Albinovanus, and Cornelius Severus
had written poems on the late wars, Ovid and Propertius on the legends
embodied in the calendar; the rival jurists Labeo and Capito had wrought
the _Juris Responsa_ into a body of legal doctrine; Strabo was giving the
world the result of his travels in a universal geography; Pompeius Trogus,
Labienus, Pollio, and the Greeks Dionysius, Dion, and Timagenes, had all
treated Roman history; Augustus had published a volume of his own _Gesta_;
all things seem to demand a comprehensive dramatic account of the growth
of the Roman state, which should trace the process by which the world
became Roman, and Rome became united in the hands of Caesar.

Hitherto Roman history had been imperfectly treated. It is unfortunate
that such crude conceptions of its nature prevailed. Even Cicero says,
_opus hoc unum maxime oratorium_. [17] It had been either a register of
events kept by aristocratic pontiffs from pride of race, or a series of
pictures for the display of eloquence. Neither the flexible imagination,
nor the patient sagacity, nor the disinterested view of life necessary for
a great historian, was to be found among the Romans. There was no true
criticism. For instance, while Juvenal depicts the first inhabitants of
the city, according to tradition, as rude marauders, [18] Cicero commends
their virtues and extols the wisdom of the early kings as the Athenian
orators do that of Solon; and in his _Cato Maior_ makes of the harsh
censor a refined country gentleman and a student of Plato! Varro had
amassed a vast collection of facts, a formidable array of authorities;
Dionysius had spent twenty years in studying the monuments of Rome, and
yet had so little intelligence of her past that he made Romulus a
philosopher of the Sophistic type! Caesar and Sallust gave true narratives
of that which they had themselves known, but they did little more. No
ancient writer, unless perhaps Thucydides, has grasped the truth that
history is an indivisible whole, and that humanity marches according to
fixed law towards a determinate end. The world is in their eyes a stage on
which is played for ever the same drama of life and death, whose fate
moves in a circle bounded by the catastrophes of cities mortal as their
inhabitants, without man's becoming by progress of time either better or
more powerful. In estimating, then, the value of Livy's work, we must ask,
How far did he possess the qualifications necessary for success? We turn
to his preface and find there the moralist, the patriot, and the stylist;
and we infer that his fullest idea of history is of a book in which he who
runs can read the lesson of virtue; and, if he be a lawgiver, can model
his legislation upon its high precedents, and, if he be a citizen, can
follow its salutary precepts of conduct. An idea, which, however noble, is
certainly not exhaustive. It may entitle its possessor to be called a
lofty writer, but not a great historian. This is his radical defect. He
treats history too little as a record, too little as a science, too much
as a series of texts for edification.

How far is he faithful to his authorities? In truth, he never deserts
them, never (or almost never) advances an assertion without them. [19] His
fidelity may be inferred from the fact that when he follows Polybius
alone, he adds absolutely nothing, he merely throws life into his
predecessor's dead periods. Moreover, he writes, after the method of the
old annalists, of events year by year; he rarely conjectures their causes
or traces their connexion, he is willing to efface himself in the capacity
of exponent of what is handed down. Whole passages we cannot doubt,
especially in the early books, are inserted from Fabius and the other
ancients, only just enough changed to make them polished instead of rude;
and it is astonishing how slight the changes need be when the hand that
makes them is a skilful one. So far as we can judge he never alters the
testimony of a witness, or colours it by interested presentation. His
chief authorities for the early history are Licinius Macer, Claudius
Quadrigarius, Gn. Gellius, [20] Sempronius Tuditanus, Aelius Tubero,
Cassius Hemina, Calpurnius Piso, Valerius Antias, Acilius Glabrio, [21]
Porcius Cato, Cincius, and Pictor. [22] These writers, or at least the
most ancient of them, Cato and Pictor, founded their investigations on
such, records as treaties, public documents--_e.g._ the annals, censors'
and pontiffs' commentaries, augural books, books relating to civil
procedure kept by the pontiffs, &c.; [23] laws, lists of magistrates, [24]
_Libri Lintei_ kept in the temple of Juno Moneta; all under the
reservation noticed before, that the majority perished in the Gallic
conflagration. [25] These Professor Seeley classes as _pure_ sources. The
rest, which he calls _corrupt_, are the funeral orations, inscriptions in
private houses placed under the _Imagines_, [26] poems of various kinds,
both _gentile_ and popular, in all of which, there was more or less of
intentional misrepresentation. For the history after the first decade new
authorities appear. The chief are Polybius, Silenus the Sicilian a friend
of Hannibal, Caelius Antipater, Sisenna, Caecilius, Rutilius, and the
Fasti, which are now almost or quite continuous; and still further on he
followed Posidonius, and perhaps for the Civil Wars Asinius Pollio,
Theophanes, and others. There is evidence that these were carefully
digested, but by instalments. For instance, he did not read Polybius until
he came to write the Punic wars. Hence he missed several antiquarian
notices (_e.g._ the treaty with Carthage) which would have helped him in
the first decade. Still he uses the authors he quotes with moderation and
fidelity. When the _Fasti_ omit or confuse the names of the consuls, he
tells us so; [27] when authorities differ as to whether the victory lay
with the Romans or Samnites, [28] he notes the fact. In the early history
he is reticent, where Dionysius is minute; he is content with the broad
legendary outline, where Dionysius constructs a whole edifice of probable
but utterly uncertified particulars. In the important task of sifting
authorities Livy follows the plan of selecting the most ancient, and those
who from their position had best access to facts. In complicated cases of
divergence he trusts the majority, [29] the earliest, [30] or the most
accredited, [31] particularly Fabius and Piso. [32] He does not analyse
for us his method of arriving at a conclusion. "Erudition is for him a
mine from which the historian should draw forth the pure gold, leaving the
mud where he found it." Many of his conclusions are reached by a sort of
instinct, which by practice divines truth, or rather verisimilitude, which
is but too often its only available substitute.

So far as enthusiasm serves (and without it criticism, though it may
succeed in destroying, is helpless to construct), Livy penetrates to the
spirit of ancient times. He says himself, in a very celebrated passage
where he bewails the prevailing scepticism, [33] "Non sum nescius ab eadem
neglegentia qua nihil portendere deos volgo nunc credunt neque nuntiari
admodum ulla prodigia in publicum neque in annales referri. Ceterum et
mihi vetustas res scribenti nescio quo pacto antiquus fit animus et
quaedam religio tenet, quae illi prudentissimi viri publice suscipienda
curarint, ea pro indignis habere quae in meos annales referam." This
"antiquity of soul" is not criticism, but it is an important factor in it.
In the history of the kings he is a poet. If we read the majestic sentence
in which the end of Romulus is described, [34] we must admit that if the
event is told at all this is the way in which it should be told. We meet,
however, here and there, with genuine insertions from antiquity which
spoil the beauty of the picture. Take, _e.g._, the law of treason, [35]
terrible in its stern accents, "Duumviri perduellionem iudicent: si a
duumviris provocarit, provocatione certato: si vincent, caput obnubito:
infelici arbori reste suspendito: verberato vel intra pomoerium vel extra
pomoerium," where, as the historian remarks, the law scarcely hints at the
possibility of an acquittal. In the struggles of the young Republic one
traces the risings of political passion, not of individuals as yet, but of
parties in the state. After the Punic wars have begun individual features
predominate, and what has been a rich canvass becomes a speaking portrait.
Constitutional questions, in which Livy is singularly ill informed, are
hinted at, [36] but generally in so cursory and unintelligent a way, that
it needs a Niebuhr to elicit their meaning. And Livy is throughout led
into fallacious views by his confusion of the mob (_faex Romuli_, as
Cicero calls it) which represented the sovereign people in his day, with
the sturdy and virtuous plebs, whose obstinate insistance on their right
forms the leading thread of Roman constitutional development. Conformably
with his promise at the outset he traces with much more effect the
gradually increasing moral decadence. It is when Rome comes into contact
with Asia that her virtue, already tried, collapses almost without a
struggle. The army, once so steady in its discipline, riots in revelry,
and marches against Antiochus with as much recklessness as if it were
going to butcher a flock of sheep. [37] The soldiers even disobey orders
in pillaging Phocaea; they become cowards, _e.g._, the Illyrian garrison
surrenders to Perseus; and before long the abominable and detested
oriental orgies gain a permanent footing in Rome. Meanwhile, the senate
falls from its old standard, it ceases to keep faith, its generals boast
of perfidy, [38] and the corrupted fathers have not the face to check
them. [39] The epic of decadence proceeds to its _denouement_, and if we
possessed the lost books the decline would be much more evident. It must
be admitted that in this department of his subject Livy paints with a
master's hand. But nothing can atone for his signal deficiency in
antiquarian and constitutional knowledge. He had (it has been said) a
taste for truth, but not a passion for it. Had he gone into the _Aedes
Nympharum_, he might have read on brass the so-called royal and
tribunician laws; he might have read the treaties with the Sabines, with
Gabii and Carthage; the Senatus Consulta and the Plebi Scita. Augustus
found in the ruined temple of Jupiter Fucinus [40] the _spolia opima_ of
Cossus, who was there declared to have been consul when he won them. All
the authorities represented him as military tribune. Livy, it seems, never
took the trouble to examine it. When he professes to cite an ancient
document, it is not the document itself he cites but its copy in Fabius.
He seems to think the style of history too ornate to admit such rugged
interpositions, [41] and when he inserts them he offers a half apology for
his boldness. This _dilettante_ way of regarding his sources deserves all
the censure Niebuhr has cast on it. If it were not for the fidelity with
which he has incorporated without altering his better-informed
predecessors, the investigations of Niebuhr and his successors would have
been hopelessly unverifiable. The student who wishes to learn the value of
Livy for the history of the constitution should read the celebrated
Lectures (VII. and VIII.) of Niebuhr's history. Their publication
dethroned him, nor has he yet been reinstated. But it must be remembered
that this censure does not attach to him in other aspects, for instance as
a chronicler of Rome's wars, or a biographer of her worthies. As a
geographer, however, he is untrustworthy; his description of Hannibal's
march is obscure, and many battles are extremely involved. It is evident
he was a clear thinker only on certain points; his preface, _e.g._, is
intricate both in matter and manner.

It remains to consider him shortly as a philosophic and as an artistic
historian. On these points some excellent remarks are made by M. Taine.
[42] When we read or write a history of Rome we ask, Why was it that Rome
conquered the Samnites, the Carthaginians, the Etruscans? How was it that
the plebeians gained equal rights with the patricians? The answer to such
questions satisfies the intelligent man of the world who desires only a
clear and consistent view. But philosophy asks a yet further _why?_ Why
was Rome a conquering state? why these never-ceasing wars? why was her
cult of abstract deities a worship of the letter which never rose to a
spiritual idea? In the resolution of problems like these lies the true
delight of science; the former is but information; this is knowledge. Has
Livy this knowledge? It does not follow that the philosophic historian
should deduce with mathematical precision; he merely narrates the events
in their proper order, or chooses from the events those that are
representative; he groups facts under their special laws, and these again
under universal laws, by a skilful arrangement or selection, or else by
flashes of imaginative insight. Livy is no more a philosopher than a
critic; he discovers laws, as he verifies facts, imperfectly. The
treatment of history known to the ancients did not admit of separate
discussions summing up the results of previous narrative; for philosophic
views we are as a rule driven to consult the inserted speeches. Livy's
speeches often reveal considerable insight; Manlius's account of the Gauls
in Asia, [43] and Camillus's sarcastic description of their behaviour
round Rome, [44] go to the root of their national character and lay bare
its weakness. The Samnites are criticised by Decius in terms which show
that Livy had analysed the causes of their fall before Rome. [45] Hannibal
arraigns the narrow policy of his country as his true vanquisher. These
and the like are as effectual means of inculcating a general truth as a
set discussion. To these numerous and perhaps more striking passages
bearing on the internal history might be added. [46] But a historian
should have his whole subject under command. It is not enough to
illuminate it by flashes. The speeches, besides being in the highest
degree unnatural and unhistoric, are far too eloquent, moving the feelings
instead of the judgment. [47] "For an annalist," to quote Niebuhr, "a
clear survey is not necessary; but in a work like Livy's, it is of the
highest importance, and no great author has this deficiency to such an
extent as he. He neither knew what he had written nor what he was going to
write, but wrote at hap-hazard." To put all facts on an equal footing is
to be like a child threading beads. To know how to select representative
facts, to arrange according to representative principles is an
indispensable requisite, as its absence is an irremediable defect in a
writer who aspires to instruct the world.

To turn to his artistic side. In this he has been allowed to stand on the
highest pinnacle of excellence. Whether he paints the character of a
nation or an individual; whether he paints it by pausing to reflect on its
elements, as in the beautiful studies of Cato and Cicero, [48] or by
describing it in action, which is the poetical and dramatic mode, or by
making it express itself in speech, which is the method the orator favours
most, he is always great. He was a Venetian, and Niebuhr finds in him the
rich colouring of the Venetian school; he has also the darker shadow which
that colouring necessitates, and the bold delineation of form which
renders it not meretricious but noble. When he makes the old senators
speak, we recognise men with the souls of kings. Manlius regards the claim
of the Latins for equal rights as an outrage and a sacrilege against
Capitoline Jupiter, with a truly Roman arrogance which would be grotesque
were it not so grand. [49] The familiar conception we form in childhood of
the great Roman worthies, where it does not come from Plutarch, is
generally drawn from Livy.

The power of his style is seen sometimes in stately movement, sometimes in
lightning-like flashes. When Hannibal at the foot of the Alps sees his men
dispirited, he cries out, "_You are scaling the walls of Rome!_" When the
patricians shrink in fear from the dreaded tribunate, the consuls declare
that _their emblems of office are a funeral pageant_. [50] All readers
will remember pithy sentences like these: "_Hannibal has grown old in
Campania_;" [51] "_The issue of war will show who is in the right_." [52]

His rhetorical training discovers itself in the elaborate exactness with
which he disposes of all the points in a speech. The most artificial of
all, perhaps, and yet at the same time the most effective, is the pleading
of old Horatius for his son. [53] It might have come from the hands of
Porcius Latro, or Arellius Fuscus. The orator treats truth as a means; the
historian should treat it as an end. Livy wishes us not so much to know as
to admire his heroes.

His language was censured by Pollio as exhibiting a _Patavinitas_, but
what this was we know not. To us he appears as by far the purest writer
subsequent to Cicero. Of the great orator he was a warm admirer. He
imitated his style, and bade his son-in-law read only Cicero and
Demosthenes, or other writers in proportion as they approached these two.
He models his rhythm on the Ciceronian period so far as their different
objects permit. But poetical phrases have crept in, [54] marring its even
fabric; and other indications of too rich a colouring betray the near
advent of the Silver Age.

As the book progresses the style becomes more fixed, until in the third
decade it has reached its highest point; in the later books, as we know
from testimony as well as the few specimens that are extant, it had become
garrulous, like that of an old man. His work was to have consisted of
fifteen decades, but as we have no epitome beyond Book CXLII., it was
probably never finished. Perhaps the loss of the last part is not so
serious as it seems. We have thirty books complete and the greater part of
five others; but no more, except a fragment of the ninety-first book, has
been discovered for several centuries, and in all probability the
remainder is for ever lost. Livy was so much abridged and epitomized that
during the Middle Ages he was scarcely read in any other form. Compilers
like Florus, Orosius, Eutropius, &c. entirely supplied his place.

A word should perhaps be said about POMPEIUS TROGUS, who about Livy's time
wrote a universal history in forty-four books. It was called _Historiae
Philippicae_, and was apparently arranged according to nations; it began
with Ninus, the Nimrod of classical legend, and was brought down to about
9 A.D. We know the work from the epitomes of the books and from Justin's
abridgment, which is similar to that of Florus on Livy. Who Justin was,
and where he lived, are not clearly ascertained. He is thought to have
been a philosopher, but if so, he was anything but a talented one; most
scholars place his _floruit_ under the Antonines. He seems to have been a
faithful abbreviator, at least as far as this, that he has added nothing
of his own. Hence we may form a conception, however imperfect, of the
value of Trogus's labours. Trogus was a scientific man, and seems to have
desired the fame of a _polymath_. In natural science he was a good
authority, [55] but though his history must have embodied immensely
extended researches, it never succeeded in becoming authoritative.

Among the writers on applied science, one of considerable eminence has
descended to us, the architect VITRUVIUS POLLIO. He is very rarely
mentioned, and has been confounded with Vitruvius Cerdo, a freedman who
belongs to a later date, and whose precepts contradict in many particulars
those of the first Vitruvius. His birth-place was Formiae; he served in
the African War (46 B.C.) under Caesar, so that he was born at least as
early as 64 B.C. [56] The date of his work is also uncertain, but it can
be approximately fixed, for in it he mentions the emperor's sister as his
patroness, and as by her he probably means Octavia, who died 11 B.C., the
book must have been written before that year. As, moreover, he speaks of
one stone theatre only as existing in Rome, whereas two others were added
in 13 B.C., the date is further thrown back to at least 14 B.C. As he
expressly tells us it was written in his old age, and he must have been a
young man in 46 B.C., when he served his first campaign, the nearer we
bring its composition to the latest possible date (_i.e._ 14) the more
correct we shall probably be. He was of good birth and had had a liberal
education; but it is clear from the style of his work that he had either
forgotten how to write elegantly, or had advanced his literary studies
only so far as was necessary for a professional man. [57] His language is
certainly far from good.

He began life as a military engineer, but soon found that his personal
defects prevented him from succeeding in his career. [58] He therefore
seems to have solaced himself by setting forward in a systematic form the
principles of his art, and by finding fault with the great body of his
professional brethren. [59] The dedication to Augustus implies that he had
a practical object, viz. to furnish him with sound rules to be applied in
building future edifices and, if necessary, for correcting those already
built. He is a patient student of Greek authors, and adopts Greek
principles unreservedly; in fact his work is little more than a compendium
of Greek authorities. [60] His style is affectedly terse, and so much so
as to be frequently obscure. The contents of his book are very briefly as

Book I. General description of the science--education of the
architect--best choice of site for a city-disposition of its
plan, fortifications, public buildings, &c.

" II. On the proper materials to be used in building, preceded,
like several of Pliny's books, by a quasi-philosophical
digression on the origin and early history of man--the
progress of art--Vitruvius gives his views on the nature of

" III. IV. On temples--an account of the four orders, Doric, Ionic,
Corinthian, and Composite.

" V. On other public buildings.

" VI. On the arrangement and plan of private houses.

" VII. On the internal decoration of houses.

" VIII. On water supply--the different properties of different
waters--the way to find them, test them, and convey them
into the city.

" IX. On sun dials and other modes of measuring time.

" X. On machines of all kinds, civil and military.

As will be seen from this analysis, the work is both comprehensive and
systematic; it was of great service in the Middle Ages, when it was used
in an abridged form (sufficiently ancient, however,) which we still

Antiquarian research was carried on during this period with much zeal.
Many illustrious scholars are mentioned, none of whose works have come
down to us, except in extremely imperfect abridgments. FENESTELLA (52
B.C.-22 A.D.) wrote on various legal and religious questions, on
miscellaneous topics, as literary history, the art of good living, various
points in natural history, &c. for which he is quoted as an authority by
Pliny. His greatest work seems to have been _Annales_, which were used by
Plutarch. It is probable, however, that in these he showed his special
aptitude for archaeological research, and passed over the history in a
rapid sketch. Special grammatical studies were carried on by VERRIUS
FLACCUS, a freedman, whose great work, _De Verborum Significatu_, the
first Latin lexicon conducted on an extensive scale, we possess in an
abridgment by Festus. Its size may be conjectured from the fact that the
letter A occupied four books, P five, and so on; and that Festus's
abridgment consisted of twenty large volumes. [61] It was a rich
storehouse of knowledge, the loss of which is much to be lamented. Another
freedman, C. JULIUS HYGINUS (64 B.C.-16 A.D.?), who was also keeper of
Augustus's library on the Palatine, manifested an activity scarcely less
encyclopaedic than that of Varro. Of his multifarious works we possess two
short treatises which pass under his name, the first on mythology, called
_Fabulae_, a series of extracts from his _Genealogiae_, which we have in
an abridgment; the second on astronomy, extending, though this is also in
an abridged form, to four books. A few details of his life are given by
Suetonius. He was a Spaniard by birth, though some believed him to be an
Alexandrian, since Caesar brought him to Rome after the Alexandrine War;
he attended at Rome the lectures of the grammarian Cornelius Alexander,
surnamed Polyhistor. He was an intimate acquaintance of Ovid, [62] and is
said to have died in great poverty. It is doubtful whether the works we
possess were written by him in his youth, or are the production of an
imperfectly educated abbreviator. Bursian, quoted by Teuffel, [63] thinks
it probable that in the second half of the second century of the Christian
era, a grammarian made a very brief abridgment of Hyginus's work entitled
_Genealogiae_, and to this added a treatise on the whole mythology so far
as it concerned poetical literature, compiled from good sources. This
mythology, which retained the name of Hyginus and the title of
_Genealogiae_, came to be generally used in the schools of the

The demand for school-books was now rapidly increasing; and as the great
classical authors published their works, an abundant supply of material
was given to the ingenious and learned. The _grammaticae tribus_, whom
Horace mentions with such disdain, [64] were already asserting their right
to dispense literary fame. They were not as yet so compact or popular a
body as the rhetoricians, but they had begun to cramp, as the others had
begun to corrupt, literature. Dependence on the opinion of a clique is the
most hurtful state possible, even though the clique be learned; and Horace
showed wisdom as well as spirit in resisting it. The endeavour to please
the leading men of the world, which Horace professed to be his object, is
far less narrowing; such men, though unable to appraise scientific merit,
are the best judges of general literature.

The careful methods of exact inquiry, were, as we have said, directed also
to law, in which Labeo remained the highest authority. Capito abated
principle in favour of the imperial prerogative. They did not, however,
affect philosophy, which retained its original colouring as an _ars
vivendi_. Many of Horace's friends, as we learn from the _Odes_, gave
their minds to speculative inquiry, but, like the poet himself, they seem
to have soon deserted it. At least we hear of no original investigations.
Neither a metaphysic nor a psychology arose; only a loose rhetorical
treatment of physical questions, and a careful collection of ethical
maxims for the most part eclectically obtained.

SEXTIUS PYTHAGOREUS--there were two born of this name, father and son--
wrote in Greek, reproducing the oracular style of Heraclitus. The
_gnuomai_, which were translated and christianised by Rufinus, were
stamped with a strongly theistic character. A few inferior thinkers are
mentioned by Quintilian and Seneca, as PAPIRIUS FABIANUS, SERGIUS FLAVIUS,
and PLOTIUS CRISPINUS. Of these, Papirius treated some of the
classificatory sciences, which now first began to attract interest in
Rome. Botany and zoology were the favourites. Mineralogy excited more
interest on its commercial side with regard to the value and history of
jewels; it was also treated in a mystic or imaginative way.

From this rapid summary it will be seen that real learning still
flourished in Rome. Despotism had not crushed intellectual energy, nor
enforced silence on all but flatterers. The emperor had nevertheless grown
suspicious in his old age, and given indications of that tyranny which was
soon to be the rule of government; he had interdicted Timagenes from his
palace, banished Ovid, burnt the works of Labienus, exiled Severus, and
shown such severity towards Albucius Silo that he anticipated further
disgrace by a voluntary death. His reign closed in 14 A.D., and with it
ceases for near a century the appearance of the highest genius in Rome.


NOTE I.--_A fragment translated from Seneca's Suasoriae, showing the style
of expression cultivated in the schools._

The subject (Suas. 2) debated is whether the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae,
seeing themselves deserted by the army, shall remain or flee. The
different rhetors declaim as follows, making Leonidas the speaker:--

_Arellius Fuscus_.--What! are our picked ranks made up of raw recruits, or
spirits likely to be cowed, or hands likely to shrink from the
unaccustomed steel, or bodies enfeebled by wounds or decay? How shall I
speak of us as the flower of Greece? Shall I bestow that name on Spartans
or Eleans? or shall I rehearse the countless battles of our ancestors, the
cities they sacked, the nations they spoiled? and do men now dare to boast
that our temples need no walls to guard them? Ashamed am I of our conduct
ashamed to have entertained even the idea of flight. But then, you say,
Xerxes comes with an innumerable host. O Spartans! and Spartans matched
against barbarians, have you no reverence for your deeds, your grandsires,
your sires, from whose example your souls from infancy gather lofty
thoughts? I scorn to offer Spartans such exhortations as these. Look! we
are protected by our position. Though he bring with him the whole East,
and parade his useless numbers before our craven eyes, this sea which
spreads its vast expanse before us is pressed into a narrow compass, is
beset by treacherous straits which scarce admit the passage of a single
row-boat, and then by their chopping swell make rowing impossible; it is
beset by unseen shallows, wedged between deeper bottoms, rough with sharp
rocks, and everything that mocks the sailor's prayer. I am ashamed (I
repeat it) that Spartans, and Spartans armed, should even stop to ask how
it is they are safe. Shall I not carry home the spoil of the Persians?
Then at least I will fall naked upon it. They shall know that we have yet
three hundred men who thus scorn to flee, who thus mean to fall. Think of
this: we can perhaps conquer; with all our effort we cannot be conquered.
I do not say you are doomed to death--you to whom I address these words;
but if you are, and yet think that death is be feared, you greatly err. To
no living thing has nature given unending life; on the day of birth the
day of death is fixed. For heaven has wrought us out of a weak material;
our bodies yield to the slightest stroke, we are snatched away unwarned by
fate. Childhood and youth lie beneath the same inexorable law. Most of us
even long for death, so perfect a rest does it offer from the struggle of
life. But glory has no limits, and they who fall like us rise nearest to
the gods. Even women often choose the path of death which leads to glory.
What need to mention Lycurgus, those heroes handed down by history, whom
no peril could appal? to awake the spirit of Othryades alone, would be to
give example enough, and more than enough, for us three hundred men!

_Triarius_.--Are not Spartans ashamed to be conquered, not by blows but by
rumours? 'Tis a great thing to be born a scion of valour and a Spartan.
For certain victory all would wait; for certain death none but Spartans.
Sparta is girt with no walls, her walls are where her men are. Better to
call back the army than to follow them. What if the Persian bores through
mountains, makes the sea invisible? Such proud felicity never yet stood
sure; the loftiest exaltation is struck to earth through its forgetfulness
of the instability of all things human. You may be sure that power which
has given rise to envy has not seen its last phase. It has changed seas,
lands, nature itself; let us three hundred die, if only that it may here
find something it cannot change. If such madmen's counsel was to be
accepted, why did we not flee with the crowd?

_Porcius Latro_.--This then is what we have waited for, to collect a band
of runaways. You flee from a rumour; let us at least know of what sort it
is. Our dishonour can hardly be wiped out even by victory; bravely as we
may fight, successful as we may be, much of our renown is already lost;
for Spartans have debated whether or not to flee. O that we may die! For
myself, after this discussion, the only thing I fear is to return home.
Old women's tales have shaken the arms out of our hands. Now, now, let us
fight, among the thirty thousand our valour might have lain hid. The rest
have fled. If you ask my opinion, which I utter for the honour of
ourselves and Greece, I say they have not deserted us, they have chosen us
as their champions.

_Marillus_.--This was our reason for remaining, that we might not be
hidden among the crowd of fugitives. The army has a good excuse to offer
for its conduct: "We knew Thermopylae would be safe since we left Spartans
to guard it."

_Cestius Pius_.--You have shown, Spartans, how base it were to fly by so
long remaining still. All have their privilege. The glory of Athens is
speech, of Thebes religion, of Sparta arms. 'Tis for this Eurotas flows
round our state that its stream may inure our boys to the hardships of
future war; 'tis for this we have our peaks of Taygetus inaccessible but
to Spartans; 'tis for this we boast of a Hercules who has won heaven by
merit; 'tis for this that arms are our only walls. O deep disgrace to our
ancestral valour! Spartans are counting their numbers, not their manhood.
Let us see how long the list is, that Sparta may have, if not brave
soldiers, at least true messengers. Can it be that we are vanquished, not
by war, but by reports? that man, i' faith, has a right to despise
everything at whose very name Spartans are afraid. If we may not conquer
Xerxes, let us at least be allowed to see him; I would know what it is I
flee from. As yet I am in no way like an Athenian, either in seeking
culture, or in dwelling behind a wall; the last Athenian quality that I
shall imitate will be cowardice.

_Pompeius Silo_.--Xerxes leads many with him, Thermopylae can hold but
few. We shall be the most timid of the brave, the slowest of cowards. No
matter how great nations the East has poured into our hemisphere, how many
peoples Xerxes brings with him; as many as this place will hold, with
those is our concern.

_Cornelius Hispanus_.--We have come for Sparta; let us stay for Greece;
let us vanquish the foe as we have already vanquished our friends; let
this arrogant barbarian learn that nothing is so difficult as to cut an
armed Spartan down. For my part, I am glad the rest have gone; they have
left Thermopylae for us; there will now be nothing to mingle or compare
itself with our valour; no Spartan will be hidden in the crowd; wherever
Xerxes looks he will see none but Spartans.

_Blandus_.--Shall I remind you of your mother's command--"Either with your
shield or on it?" and yet to return without arms is far less base than to
flee under arms. Shall I remind you of the words of the captive?--"Kill
me, I am no slave!" To such a man to escape would not have been to avoid
capture. Describe the Persian terrors! We heard all that when we were
first sent out. Let Xerxes see the three hundred, and learn at what rate
the war is valued, what number of men the place is calculated to hold. We
will not return even as messengers except after the fight is over. Who has
fled I know not; these men Sparta has given me for comrades. I am thankful
that the host has fled; they had made the pass of Thermopylae too narrow
for me to move in.

S _On the other side_.

_Cornelius Hispanus_.--I hold it a great disgrace to our state if Xerxes
see no Greeks before he sees the Spartans. We shall not even have a
witness of our valour; the enemy's account of us will be believed. You
have my counsel, it is the same as that of all Greece. If any one advise
differently, he wishes you to be not brave men but ruined men.

_Claudius Marcellus_.--They will not conquer us; they will overwhelm us.
We have been true to our renown, we have waited till the last. Nature
herself has yielded before we.

The above _Suasoria_ is by no means one of the most brilliant; on the
contrary, it is a decidedly a tame one, but it is a good instance of an
ordinary declamation of the better sort, and gives passages from most of
the rhetoricians to whom reference is made in the text.

NOTE II.--_A few Observations on the Treatment of Rhetorical Questions,
taken from the Third Book of Quintilian._

"The division of the departments of rhetoric, or to use a more correct
term, the classification of causes, is three-fold: They are either
laudatory, deliberative, or judicial. This is a division according to the
subject matter, not according to the artistic treatment. Correspondingly,
there are three requisites for pleading well, nature, art, and practice;
and three objects which the orator must set before him, to teach, to move,
and to delight. Every question turns either on things or on words; or as
it may be expressed in other language, is either indefinite or definite.
The _indefinite_ is in the form of a universal proposition (_Oesis_) which
Cicero calls _propositum_, others _quaestio universalis civilis_, others
_quaestio philosopho conveniens_, and Athenaeus _pars causae_. This again
is divided under the heads of knowledge and action respectively; of
knowledge, _e.g. Is the world ruled by Providence?_ of action, _e.g., Is
political activity a duty?_ The _definite_ question regards things,
persons, times, circumstances: it is called _upothesis_ in Greek, _causa_
in Latin. It always depends on an indefinite question, _e.g., Ought Cato
to marry?_ depends on the wider one, _is marriage desirable?_ Hence it may
be a _suasoria_. And this is true even of cases in which no person is
specially mentioned, _e.g._, the question, _Ought a man to hold office
under a tyranny?_ depends on the wider one, _Ought a man to hold office at
all?_ And this question refers of necessity to some special tyrant, though
it may not mention him by name. This is the same division as that into
_general_ and _special_ questions. Thus every special includes a general.
It is true that generals often bear only remotely on practice, and
sometimes are altogether neutralised by peculiar circumstances, _e.g._,
the question, _Is political activity a duty?_ becomes inapplicable to a
chronic invalid. Still, all are not of this kind, _e.g., Is virtue the end
of man?_ is equally applicable to every human being, whatever his
capacity. Cicero in his earlier treatises disapproved of these questions
being discussed by the orator; he wished to leave them to the philosopher;
but as he grew in experience he changed his mind.

"A cause is defined by Valgius, after Apollodorus, as _negotium omnibus
suis partibus spectans ad quaestionem_, or as _negotium cuius finis est
controversia_. The _negotium_ (or business in hand) is thus defined,
_congregatio personarum locorum temporum causarum modorum casuum factorum
instrumentorum sermonum scriptorum et non scriptorum_. The cause,
therefore, corresponds to the Greek _upostasis_ (subject), the _negotium_
to _peristasis_ (surroundings). These are of course closely connected; and
many have defined the cause as though it were identical with its
surroundings or conditions.

"In every discussion three things are the objects of inquiry, _an sit_, Is
it so? _quid sit_, If so, what is it? _quale sit_, of what kind is it? For
first, there must _be_ something, about which the discussion has arisen.
Till this is made clear no discussion as to what it is can arise; far less
can we determine what its qualities are, until this second point is
ascertained. These three objects of inquiry are exhaustive; on them every
question, whether definite or indefinite, depends. The accuser will try to
establish, first, the occurrence of the act in dispute, then its
character; and, lastly, its criminality. The advocate will, if possible,
deny the fact; if he cannot do that he will prove that it is not what the
accuser states it to be; or, thirdly, he may contend--and this is the most
honourable kind of defence--that it was rightly done. As a fourth
alternative, he may take exception to the legality of the prosecution. All
these, and every other conceivable division of questions, come under the
two general heads (_status_) of _rational_ and _legal_. The rational is
simple enough, depending only on the contemplation of nature; thus it is
content with exhibiting conjecture, definition, and quality. The legal is
extremely complex, laws being infinite in number and character. Sometimes
the letter is to be observed, sometimes the spirit. Sometimes we get at
its meaning by comparison, or induction; sometimes its meaning is open to
the most contradictory interpretations. Hence there is room for a far
greater display of diverse kinds of excellence in the _legal_ than in the
_rational_ department. Thus the declamatory exercises called _suasoriae_,
which are confined to _rational_ considerations, are fittest for young
students whose reasoning powers are acute, but who have not the knowledge
of law necessary for enabling them to treat _controversiae_ which hinge on
legal questions. These last are intended as a preparation for the pleading
of actual causes in court, and should be regularly practised even by the
most accomplished pleader during the spare moments that his profession
allows him."





Augustus was not more unlike his gloomy successor than were the writers
who flourished under him to those that now come before us. The history of
literature presents no stronger contrast than between the rich fertility
of the last epoch and the barrenness of the present one. The age of
Tiberius forms an interval of silence during which the dead are buried,
and the new generation prepares itself to appear. Under Nero it will have
started forth in all its panoply of tinsel armour; at present the seeds
that will produce it are being sown by the hand of despotism. [1]

The sudden collapse of letters on the death of Augustus is easily
accounted for. As long as the chief of the state encouraged them labourers
in every field were numerous. When his face was withdrawn the stimulus to
effort was removed. Thus, even in Augustus's time, when ill health and
disappointment had soured his nature and disposed him to arbitrary
actions, literature had felt the change. The exile of Ovid was a blow to
the muses. We have seen how it injured his own genius, a decline over
which he mourns, knowing the cause but impotent to overcome it. [2] We
have seen also how it was followed up by other harsh measures, stifling
the free voice of poets and historians. And when we reflect how the
despotism was entwining itself round the entire life of the nation,
gathering by each new enactment food for future aggression, and only
veiled as yet by the mildness or caution of a prince whose one object was
to found a dynasty, our surprise is lessened at the spectacle of
literature prostrate and dumb, threatened by the hideous form of tyranny
now no longer in disguise, offering it with brutal irony the choice
between submission, hypocrisy, and death. Tiberius (whose portrait drawn
by Tacitus in colours almost too dark for belief, is nevertheless rendered
credible by the deathlike silence in which his reign was passed) had in
his youth shown both taste and proficiency in liberal studies. He had
formed his style on that of Messala, but the gloomy bent of his mind led
him to contract and obscure his meaning to such a degree that, unlike most
Romans, he spoke better extempore [3] than after preparation. In the art
of perplexing by ambiguous phrases, of indicating intentions without
committing himself to them, he was without a rival. In point of language
he was a purist like Augustus; but unlike him he mingled archaisms with
his diction. While at Rhodes he attended the lectures of Theodorus; and
the letters or speeches of his referred to by Tacitus indicate a nervous
and concentrated style. Poetry was alien from his stern character.
Nevertheless, Suetonius tells us he wrote a lyric poem and Greek
imitations of Euphorion, Rhianus, and Parthenius; but it was the minute
questions of mythology that chiefly attracted him, points of useless
erudition like those derided by Juvenal: [4]

"Nutricem Anchisae, nomen patriamque novercae
Anchemoli, dicat quot Acestes vixerit annos,
Quot Siculus Phrygibus vini donaverit urnas."

In maturer life he busied himself with writing memoirs, which formed the
chief, almost the only study of Domitian, and of which we may regret that
time has deprived us. The portrait of this arch dissembler by his own able
hand would be a good set off to the terrible indictment of Tacitus.
Besides the above he was the author of funeral speeches, and, according to
Suidas, of a work on the art of rhetoric.

With these literary pretensions it is clear that his discouragement of
letters as emperor was due to political reasons. He saw in the free
expression of thought or fancy a danger to his throne. And as the
abominable system of _delations_ made every chance expression penal, and
found treason to the present in all praise of the past, the only resource
open to men of letters was to suppress every expression of feeling, and,
by silent brooding, to keep passion at white heat, so that when it speaks
at last it speaks with the concentrated intensity of a Juvenal or a

We might ask how it was that authors did not choose subjects outside the
sphere of danger. There were still forms of art and science which had not
been worked out. The _Natural History_ of Pliny shows how much remained to
be done in fields of great interest. Neither philosophy nor the lighter
kinds of poetry could afford matter for provocation. But the answer is
easy. The Roman imagination was so narrow, and their constructive talent
so restricted, that they felt no desire to travel beyond the regular
lines. It seemed as if all had been done that could be done well. History,
national and universal, [5] science [6] and philosophy, [7] Greek poetry
in all its varied forms, had been brought to perfection by great masters
whom it was hopeless to rival. The age of literary production seemed to
have been rounded off, and the self-consciousness that could reflect on
the new era had not yet had time to arise. Rhetoric, as applied to the
expression of political feeling, was the only form which literature cared
to take, and that was precisely the form most obnoxious to the government.

Thus it is possible that even had Tiberius been less jealously repressive
letters would still have stagnated. The severe strain of the Augustan age
brought its inevitable reaction. The simultaneous appearance of so many
writers of the first rank rendered necessary an interval during which
their works were being digested and their spirit settling down into an
integral constituent of the national mind. By the time thought reawakens,
Virgil, Horace, and Livy are already household words, and their works the
basis of all literary culture.

In reading the lives of the chief post-Augustan writers we are struck by
the fact that many, if not most of them, held offices of state. The desire
for peaceful retirement, characteristic of the early Augustans, the
contentment with lettered leisure that signalises the poetry of the later
Augustans, have both given place to a restless excitement, and to a
determination to make the most of literature as an aid to a successful
career. Hitherto we have observed two distinct classes of writers, and a
corresponding double relation of politics and literature. The early poets,
and again those of Augustus's era, were not men of affairs, they belonged
to the exclusively literary class. The great prose writers on the contrary
rose to political eminence by political conduct. Literature was with them
a relaxation, and served no purpose of worldly aggrandisement. Now,
however, an unhealthy confusion between the two provinces takes place. A
man rises to office through his poems or rhetorical essays. The
acquirements of a professor become a passport to public life. Seneca and
Quintilian are striking and favourable instances of the school door
opening into the senate:

"Si fortuna volet fies de rhetore consul." [8]

But nearly all the chief writers carried their declamatory principles into
the serious business of life. This double aspect of their career produced
two different types of talent, under one or other of which the great
imperial writers may be ranged. Excluding men of the second rank, we have
on the one side Lucan, Juvenal, and Tacitus, all whose minds have a strong
political bias, the bias of old Rome, which makes them the most powerful
though the most prejudiced exponents of their times. Of another kind are
Persius, Seneca, and Pliny the elder. Their genius is contemplative and
philosophical; and though two of them were much mixed in affairs, their
spirit is cosmopolitan rather than national, and their wisdom, though
drawn from varied sources, cannot be called political. These six are the
representative minds of the period on which we are now entering, and
between them reflect nearly all the best and worst features of their age.
Quintilian, Statius, and Pliny the younger, represent a more restricted
development; the first of them is the typical rhetorician, but of the
better class; the second is the brilliant improvisatore and ingenious
word-painter; the third the cultivated and amiable but vain, common-place,
and dwarfed type of genius which under the Empire took the place of the
"fine gentlemen" of the free Republic.

Writers of this last stamp cannot be expected to show any independent
spirit. They are such as in every age would adopt the prevalent fashion,
and theorise within the limits prescribed by respectability. While a bad
emperor reigns they flatter him; when a good emperor succeeds they flatter
him still more by abusing his predecessor; at the same time they are
genial, sober, and sensible, adventuring neither the safety of their necks
nor of their intellectual reputation.

Such an author comes before us in M. VELLEIUS PATERCULUS, the court
historian of Tiberius. This well-intentioned but loquacious writer gained
his loyalty from an experience of eight years' warfare under Tiberius in
various parts of Europe, and the flattery of which he is so lavish was
probably sincere. His birth may perhaps be referred to 18 B.C., since his
first campaign, under M. Vinicius, to whose son he dedicated his work,
took place in the year 1 B.C. Tiberius's sterling qualities as a soldier
gained him the friendship of many of his legati, and Velleius was
fortunate enough to secure that of Tiberius in return. By his influence he
rose through the minor offices to the praetorship (14 A.D.), and soon
after set himself to repair the deficiencies of a purely military
education by systematic study. The fruit of this labour is the _Abridgment
of Roman History_, in two books, a mere rapid survey of the early period,
becoming more diffuse as it nears his own time, and treating the life of
Tiberius and the events of which he was the centre with considerable
fulness. The latter part is preserved entire; of the first book, which
closes with the destruction of Carthage, a considerable portion has been
lost. As, however, he is not likely to have followed in it any authorities
inaccessible to us, the loss is unimportant. For his work generally the
authorities he quotes are good--Cato's _Origines_, the _Annales_ of
Hortensius, and probably Atticus's abridgment; Cornelius Nepos, and Trogus
for foreign, Livy and Sallust (of whom he was a great admirer) for
national, history. As a recipient and expectant of court favour, he
naturally echoed the language of the day. Brutus and Cassius are for him
parricides; Caesar, the divine founder of an era which culminates in the
divine Tiberius. [9] So full was he of his master's praises that he
intended to write a separate book on the subject, but was prevented by his
untimely death. This took place in 31 A.D., when the discovery of
Sejanus's conspiracy caused many suspected to be put to death, and it
seems that Velleius was among the number.

His blind partisanship naturally obscures his judgment; but, making
allowance for a defect which he does not attempt to conceal, the reader
may generally trust him for all matters of fact. His studies were not as a
rule deep; but an exception must be made in the case of his account of the
Greek colonies in Italy, the dates at which they were founded, and their
early relations with Rome. These had never been so clearly treated by any
writer, at least among those with whom we are familiar. His mind is not of
a high order; he can neither sift evidence nor penetrate to causes; his
talents lie in the biographical department, and he has considerable
insight into character. His style is not unclassical so far as the
vocabulary goes, but the equable moderation of the Golden Age is replaced
by exaggeration, and like all who cultivate artificial brilliancy, he
cannot maintain his ambitious level of poetical and pretentious ornament.
The last year referred to in the book is 30 A.D. The dearth of other
material gives him additional value. As a historian he takes a low rank;
as an abridger he is better, but best of all as a rhetorical anecdotist
and painter of character in action.

A better known writer (especially during the Middle Ages) is VALERIUS
MAXIMUS, author of the _Facta et Dicta Memorabilia_, in nine books,
addressed to Tiberius in a dedication of unexampled servility, [10] and
compiled from few though good sources. The object of the work is stated in
the preface. It was to save labour for those who desired to fortify their
minds with examples of excellence, or increase their knowledge of things
worth knowing. The methodical arrangement by subjects, _e.g._, religion,
which is divided into religion observed and religion neglected, and
instances of both given, first from Roman, then from foreign, history, and
so on with all the other subjects, makes Teuffel's suggestion extremely
probable, namely, that it was intended for the use of young declaimers,
who were thus furnished with instances for all sorts of themes. The
constant tendency in the imperial literature to exhaust a subject by a
catalogue of every known instance may be traced to these pernicious
rhetorical handbooks. If a writer praises temperance, he supplements it by
a list of temperate Romans; if he describes a storm, he _puts down_ all he
knows about the winds. Uncritical as Valerius is, and void of all thought,
he is nevertheless pleasant enough reading for a vacant hour, and if we
were not obliged to rate him by a lofty standard, would pass muster very
well. But he is no fit company for men of genius; our only wonder is he
should have so long survived. His work was a favourite school-book for
junior classes, and was epitomised or abridged by Julius Paris in the
fourth or fifth century. At the time of this abridgment the so-called
tenth book must have been added. Julius Paris's words in his preface to it
are, _Liber decimus de praenominibus et similibus_: but various
considerations make it certain that Valerius was not the author. [11] Many
interesting details were given in it, taken chiefly from Varro; and it is
much to be regretted that the entire treatise is not preserved. Besides
Paris one Titius Probus retouched the work in a still later age, and a
third abstract by Januarius Nepotianus is mentioned. This last writer cut
out all the padding which Valerius had so largely used ("_dum se ostentat
sententiis, locis iactat, fundit excessibus_"), and reduced the work to a
bare skeleton of facts.

A much more important writer, one of whose treatises only has reached us,
was A. CORNELIUS CELSUS. He stood in the first rank of Roman scientists,
was quite encyclopaedic in his learning, and wrote, like Cato, on
eloquence, law, farming, medicine, and tactics. There is no doubt that the
work on medicine (extending over Books VI.-XIII. of his Encyclopaedia)
which we possess, was the best of his writings, but the chapters on
agriculture also are highly praised by Columella.

At this time, as Des Etangs remarks, nearly all the knowledge and practice
of medicine was in the hands of Greek physicians, and these either
freedmen or slaves. Roman practitioners seem to have inspired less
confidence even when they were willing to study. Habits of scientific
observation are hereditary; and for centuries the Greeks had studied the
conditions of health and the theory of disease, as well as practised the
empirical side of the art, and most Romans were well content to leave the
whole in their hands.

Celsus tried to attract his countrymen to the pursuit of medicine by
pointing out its value and dignity. He commences his work with a history
of medical science since its first importation into Greece, and devotes
the rest of Book I. to a consideration of dietetics and other
prophylactics of disease; the second book treats of general pathology, the
third and fourth of special illnesses, the fifth gives remedies and
prescriptions, the sixth, seventh, and eighth--the most valuable part of
the book--apply themselves chiefly to surgical questions. The value of his
work consists in the clear, comprehensive grasp of his subject, and the
systematic way in which he expounds its principles. The main points of his
theory are still valid; very few essentials need to be rejected; it might
still be taken as a popular handbook on the subject. He writes for Roman
citizens, and is therefore careful to avoid abstruse terms where plain
ones will do, and Greek words where Latin are to be had. The style is
bare, but pure and classical. An excellent critic says [12]--"Quo saepius
eum perlegebam, eo magis me detinuit cum dicendi nitor et brevitas tum
perspicacitas iudicii sensusque vorax et ad agendum accommodatus, quibus
omnibus genuinam repraesentat nobis civis Romani imaginem." The text as we
have it depends on a single MS. and sadly needs a careful revision; it is
interpolated with numerous glosses, both Greek and Latin, which a skilful
editor would detect and remove. Among the other treatises in his
_Encyclopaedia_, next to that on farming, those on rhetoric and tactics
were most popular. The former, however, was superseded by Quintilian, the
latter by Vegetius. In philosophy he did not so much criticise other
schools as detail his own views with concise eloquence. These views were
almost certainly Eclectic, though we know on Quintilian's authority that
he followed the two Sextii in many important points. [13]

The other branches of prose composition were almost neglected in this
reign. Even rhetoric sank to a low level; the splendid displays of men
like Latro, Arellius, and Ovid gave place to the flimsy ostentation of
REMMIUS PALAEMON. This dissolute man, who combined the professions of
grammarian and rhetorician, possessed an extraordinary aptitude for fluent
harangue, but soon confined his attention to grammatical studies, in which
he rose to the position of an authority. Suetonius says he was born a
slave, and that while conducting his young master to school he learnt
something of literature, was liberated, and set up a school in Rome, where
he rose to the top of his profession. Although infamous for his abandoned
profligacy, and stigmatized by Tiberius and Claudius as utterly unfit to
have charge of the young, he managed to secure a very large number of
pupils by his persuasive manner, and the excellence of his tutorial
method. His memory was prodigious, his eloquence seductive, and a power of
extempore versification in the most difficult metres enhanced the charm of
his conversation. He is referred to by Pliny, Quintilian, and Juvenal, and
for a time superintended the studies of the young satirist Persius.

Oratory, as may easily be supposed, had well nigh ceased. VOTIENUS
MONTANUS, MAMERCUS SCAURUS, and P. VITELLIUS, all held high positions in
the state. Scaurus, in particular, was also of noble lineage, being the
great-grandson of the celebrated chief of the senate. His oratory was
almost confined to declamation, but was far above the general level of the
time. Careless, and often full of faults, it yet carried his hearers away
by its native power and dignity. [14] ASINIUS GALLUS, the son of Pollio,
so far followed his father as to take a strong interest in politics, and
with filial enthusiasm compared him favourably with Cicero. DOMITIUS AFER
also is mentioned by Tacitus as an able but dissolute man, who under a
better system might have been a good speaker. A writer of some mark was
CREMUTIUS CORDUS, whose eloquent account of the rise of the Empire cost
him his life: in direct defiance of the fashionable cant of the day he had
called Cassius "the last of the Romans." The higher spirits seemed to take
a gloomy pleasure in speaking out before the tyrant, even if it were only
with their last breath; more than one striking instance of this is
recorded by Tacitus; and though he questions the wisdom of relieving
personal indignation by a vain invective, which must bring death and ruin
on the speaker and all his family, and in the end only tighten the yoke it
tries to shake, yet the intractable pride of these representatives of the
old families has something about it to which, human as we are, we cannot
refuse our sympathy. The only other prose-writer we need mention is
AUFIDIUS BASSUS, who described the Civil Wars and the German expeditions,
and is mentioned with great respect by Tacitus.

Poetry is represented by the fifth book of Manilius, by Phaedrus's
_Fables_, and perhaps by the translation of Aratus ascribed to GERMANICUS,
the nephew and adopted son of Tiberius. This translation, which is both
elegant and faithful, and superior to Cicero's in poetical inspiration,
has been claimed, but with less probability, for Domitian, who, as is well
known, affected the title of Germanicus. [15] But the consent of the most
ancient critics tends to restore Germanicus Drusus as the author, the
title _genitor_ applied to Tiberius not being proof positive the other

The only writer who mentions PHAEDRUS is Martial, [16] and he only in a
single passage. The Aesopian beast-fable was a humble form of art
peculiarly suited to a period of political and literary depression. Seneca
in his _Consolatio ad Polybium_ implies that that imperial favourite had
cultivated it with success. Apparently he did not know of Phaedrus; and
this fact agrees with the frequent complaints that Phaedrus makes to the
effect that he is not appreciated. Of his life we know only what we can
gather from his own book. He was born in Pieria, and became the slave of
Augustus, who set him free, and seems to have given him his patronage. The
poet was proud of his Greek birth, but was brought to Rome at so early an
age as to belong almost equally to both nationalities. His poverty [17]
did not secure him from persecution, Sejanus, ever suspicious and
watchful, detected the political allusions veiled beneath the disguise of
fable, and made the poet feel his auger. The duration of Phaedrus's career
is uncertain. The first two books were all that he published in Tiberius's
reign; the third, dedicated to Eutychus, and the fourth to Particulo,
Claudius's favourite, clearly show that he continued to write over a
considerable time. The date of Book V. is not mentioned, but it can hardly
be earlier than the close of Claudius's reign. Thus we have a period of
nearly thirty years during which these five short books were produced.

Like all who con over their own compositions, Phaedrus had an unreasonably
high opinion of their merit. Literary reputation was his chief desire, and
he thought himself secure of it. He echoes the boast so many greater men
have made before him, that he is the first to import a form of Greek art;
but he limits his imitation to the general scope, reserving to himself the
right to vary the particular form in each fable as he thinks fit. [18] The
careful way in which he defines at what point his obligations to Aesop
cease and his own invention begins, shows him to have had something of the
trifler and a great deal of the egotist. His love of condensation is
natural, for a fabulist should be short, trenchant, and almost proverbial
in his style; but Phaedrus carries these to the point of obscurity and
enigma. It seems as if at times he did not see his drift himself. To this
fault is akin the constant moralising tone which reflects rather than
paints, enforces rather than elicits its lesson. He is himself a small
sage, and all his animals are small sages too. They have not the life-like
reality of those of Aesop; they are mere lay figures. His technical skill
is very considerable; the iambic senarius becomes in his hands an
extremely pleasing rhythm, though the occurrence of spondees in the second
and fourth place savours of archaic usage. His diction is hardly varied
enough to admit of clear reference to a standard, but on the whole it may
be pronounced nearer to the silver than the golden Latinity, especially in
the frequent use of abstract words. His confident predictions of
immortality were nearly being falsified by the burning, by certain
zealots, of an abbey in France, where alone the MS. existed (1561 A.D.);
but Phaedrus, in common with many others, was rescued from the worthy
Calvinists, and has since held a quiet corner to himself in the temple of

A poet whose misfortunes were of service to his talent, was POMPONIUS
SECUNDUS. His friendship with Aelius Gallus, son to Sejanus, caused him to
be imprisoned during several years. While in this condition he devoted
himself to literature, and wrote many tragedies which are spoken well of
by Quintilian: "Eorum (tragic poets) quos viderim longe princeps Pomponius
Secundus." [19] He was an acute rhetorician, and a purist in language. The
extant names of his plays are _Aeneas_, and perhaps _Armorum Judicium_ and
_Atreus_, but these last two are uncertain. Tragedy was much cultivated
during the imperial times; for it formed an outlet for feeling not
otherwise safe to express, and it admitted all the ornaments of rhetoric.
Those who regard the tragedies of Seneca as the work of the father, would
refer them to this reign, to the end of which the old man's activity
lasted, though his energies were more taken up with watching and guiding
the careers of his children than with original composition. When Tiberius
died (37 A.D.) literature could hardly have been at a lower ebb; but even
then there were young men forming their minds and imbibing new canons of
taste, who were destined before long--for almost all wrote early--to
redeem the age from the charge of dulness, perhaps at too great a




We have grouped these three emperors under a single heading because the
shortness of the reigns of the two former prevented the formation of any
special school of literature. It is otherwise with the reign of Nero. To
this belongs a constellation of some of the most brilliant authors that
Rome ever produced. And they are characterised by some very special
traits. Instead of the depression we noticed under Tiberius we now observe
a forced vivacity and sprightliness, even in dealing with the most awful
or serious subjects, which is unlike anything we have hitherto met with in
Roman literature. It is quite different from the natural gaiety of
Catullus; equally so from the witty frivolity of Ovid. It is not in the
least meant to be frivolous; on the contrary it arises from an
overstrained earnestness, and a desire to say everything in the most
pointed and emphatic form in which it can be said. To whatever school the
writers belong, this characteristic is always present. Persius shows it as
much as Seneca; the historians as much as the rhetors. The only one who is
not imbued with it is the professed wit Petronius. Probably he had
exhausted it in conversation; perhaps he disapproved of it as a corrupt
importation of the Senecas.

The emperors themselves were all _literati_. CALIGULA, it is true, did not
publish, but he gave great attention to eloquence, and was even more
vigorous as an extempore speaker than as a writer. His mental derangement
affected his criticism. He thought at one time of burning all the copies
of Homer that could be got at; at another of removing all the statues of
Livy and Virgil, the one as unlearned and uncritical, the other as verbose
and negligent. One is puzzled to know to which respectively these
criticisms refer. We do not venture to assign them, but translate
literally from Suetonius. [1]

CLAUDIUS had a brain as sluggish as Caligula's was over-excitable;
nevertheless he prosecuted literature with care, and published several
works. Among these was a history, beginning with the death of Julius
Caesar, in forty-three volumes, [2] an autobiography in eight, [3] "magis
inepte quam ineleganter scriptum;" a learned defence of Cicero against
Asinius Gallus's invective, besides several Greek writings. His
philological studies and the innovations he tried to introduce have been
referred to in a former chapter. [4]

NERO, while a young man before his accession, tried his powers in nearly
every department of letters. He approached philosophy, but his prudent
mother deterred him from a study which might lead him to views "above his
station as a prince." He next turned to the old orators, but here his
preceptor Seneca intervened, Tacitus insinuates, with the motive of
turning him from the best models to an admiration of his own more
seductive style. Nero declaimed frequently in public, and his poetical
effusions seem to have possessed some real merit. At the first celebration
of the festival called _Neroniana_ he was crowned with the wreath of
victory. His most celebrated poem, the one that drew down on him the irony
of Juvenal, was the _Troica_, in which perhaps occurred the _Troiae
Halosis_ which this madman recited in state over the burning ruins of
Rome, and which is parodied with subtle mockery in Petronius. Other poems
were of a lighter cast and intended to be sung to the accompaniment of the
harp. These were the crowning scandal of his imperial vagaries in the eyes
of patriotic Romans. "With our prince a fiddler," cries Juvenal, "what
further disgrace remains?" King Lewis of Bavaria and some other great
personages of our era would perhaps object to Juvenal's conclusion. With
all these accomplishments, however, Nero either could not or would not
speak. He had not the vigour of mind necessary for eloquence. Hence he
usually employed Seneca to dress up speeches for him, a task which that
polite minister was not sorry to undertake.

The earliest poet who comes before us is the unknown author of the
panegyric on Calpurnius Piso. It is an elegant piece of versification with
no particular merit or demerit. It takes pains to justify Piso for flute-
playing in public, and as Nero's example is not alleged, the inference is
natural that it was written before his time. There is no independence of
style, merely a graceful reflection from that of the Augustan poets.

We must now examine the circumstances which surrounded or produced the
splendid literature of Nero's reign. Such persons as from political
hostility to the government, or from disgust at the flagitious conduct by
which alone success was to be purchased, lived apart in a select circle,
stern and defiant, unsullied by the degradation round them, though
helpless to influence it for good. They consisted for the most part of
virtuous noblemen such as Paetus Thrasea, Barea, Rubellius Plautus, above
all, Helvidius Priscus, on whose uncompromising independence Tacitus loves
to dwell; and of philosophers, moral teachers and literati, who sought
after real excellence, not contemporary applause. The members of this
society lived in intimate companionship, and many ladies contributed their
share to its culture and virtuous aspirations. Such were Arria, the heroic
wife of Paetus, Fannia, the wife of Helvidius, and Fulvia Sisenna, the
mother of Persius. These held _reunions_ for literary or philosophical
discussions which were no mere conversational displays, but a serious
preparation for the terrible issues which at any time they might be called
upon to meet. It had long been the custom for wealthy Romans of liberal
tastes to maintain a philosopher as part of their establishment. Laelius
had shown hospitality both to Panaetius and Polybius; Cicero had offered a
home to Diodotus for more than twenty years, and Catulus and Lucullus had
both recognised the temporal needs of philosophy. Under the Empire the
practice was still continued, and though liable to the abuse of
charlatanism or pedantry, was certainly instrumental in familiarising
patrician families (and especially their lady members) with the great
thoughts and pure morality of the best thinkers of Greece. From scattered
notices in Seneca and Quintilian, we should infer that the philosopher was
employed as a repository of spiritual confidences--almost a father-
confessor--at least as much as an intellectual teacher. When Kanus Julius
was condemned to death, his philosopher went with him to the scaffold and
uttered consoling words about the destiny of the soul; [5] and Seneca's
own correspondence shows that he regarded this relation as the noblest
philosophy could hold. Of such moral directors the most influential was
ANNAEUS CORNUTUS, both from his varied learning and his consistent
rectitude of life. Like all the higher spirits he was a Stoic, but a
genial and wise one. He neither affected austerity nor encouraged rash
attacks on power. His advice to his noble friends generally inclined
towards the side of prudence. Nevertheless he could not so far control his
own language as to avoid the jealousy of Nero. [6] He was banished, it is
not certain in what year, and apparently ended his days in exile. He left
several works, mostly written in Greek; some on philosophy, of which that
on the nature of the gods has come down to us in an abridged form, some on
rhetoric and grammar; besides these he is said to have composed satires,
tragedies, [7] and a commentary on Virgil. But his most important work was
his formation of the character of one of the three Roman satirists whose
works have come down to us.

Few poets have been so differently treated by different critics as A.
PERSIUS FLACCUS, for while some have pronounced him to be an excellent
satirist and true poet, others have declared that his fame is solely owing
to the trouble he gives us to read him. He was born at Volaterrae, 34
A.D., of noble parentage, brought to Rome as a child, and educated with
the greatest care. His first preceptor was the grammarian Virginius
Flavus, an eloquent man endued with strength of character, whose earnest
moral lectures drew down the displeasure of Caligula. He next seems to
have attended a course under Remmius Palaemon; but as soon as he put on
the manly gown he attached himself to Cornutus, whose intimate friend he
became, and of whose ideas he was the faithful exponent. The love of the
pupil for his guide in philosophy is beautiful and touching; the verses in
which it is expressed are the best in Persius: [8]

"Secreti loquimur: tibi nunc hortante Camena
Excutienda damus praecordia: quantaque nostrae
Pars tua sit Cornute animae, tibi, dulcis amice,
Ostendisse iuvat ... Teneros tu suscipis annos
Socratico Cornute sino. Tune fallere sollers
Apposita intortos extendit regula mores,
Et premitur ratione animus vincique laborat,
Artificemque tuo ducit sub pollice vultum."

Moulded by the counsels of this good "doctor," Persius adopted philosophy
with enthusiasm. In an age of licentiousness he preserved a maiden purity.
Though possessing in a pre-eminent degree that gift of beauty which
Juvenal declares to be fatal to innocence, Persius retained until his
death a moral character without a stain. But he had a nobler example even
than Cornutus by his side. He was tenderly loved by the great Thrasea, [9]
whose righteous life and glorious death form perhaps the richest lesson
that the whole imperial history affords. Thrasea was a Cato in justice,
but more than a Cato in goodness, inasmuch as his lot was harder, and his
spirit gentler and more human. Men like these clenched the theories of
philosophy by that rare consistency which puts them into practice; and
Persius, with all his literary faults, is the sole instance among Roman
writers of a philosopher whose life was in accordance with the doctrines
he professed.

Yet on opening his short book of satires, one is strongly tempted to ask,
What made the boy write them? He neither knew nor cared to know anything
of the world, and, we fear, cannot he credited with a philanthropic desire
to reform it. The answer is given partly by himself, that he was full of
petulant spleen, [10]--an honest confession,--partly is to be found in the
custom then becoming general for those who wished to live well to write
essays on serious subjects for private circulation among their friends,
pointing out the dangers that lay around, and encouraging them to
persevere in the right path. Of this kind are several of Seneca's
treatises, and we have notices of many others in the biographers and
historians. And though Persius may have intended to publish his book to
the world, as is rendered probable by the prologue, this is not absolutely
certain. At any rate it did not appear until after his death, when his
friend Caesius Bassus [11] undertook to bring it out; so that we may
fairly regard it as a collection of youthful reflections as to the
advisability of publishing which the poet had not yet made up his mind,
and perhaps had he lived would have suppressed.

Crabbed and loaded with obscure allusions as they are to a degree which
makes most of them extremely unpleasant reading, they obtained a
considerable and immediate reputation. Lucan is reported to have declared
that his own works were bagatelles in comparison. [12] Quintilian says
that he has gained much true glory in his single book; [13] Martial, that
he is oftener quoted than Domitius Marsus in all his long _Amazonis_. [14]
He is affirmed by his biographer to have written seldom and with
difficulty. All his earlier attempts were, by the advice of Cornutus,
destroyed. They consisted of a _Praetexta_, named _Vescia_, of one book of
travels, and a few lines to the elder Arria. Among his predecessors his
chief admiration was reserved for Horace, whom he imitates with
exaggerated fidelity, recalling, but generally distorting, nearly a
hundred well-known lines. The six poems we possess are not all, strictly
speaking, satires. The first, with the prologue, may be so considered. It
is devoted to an attack upon the literary style of the day. Persius sees
that the decay of taste is intimately joined with the decay of morals, and
the subtle connections he draws between the two constitute the chief merit
of the effusion. Like Horace, but with even better reason, he bewails the
antiquarian predilections of the majority of readers. Accius and Pacuvius
still hold their ground, while Virgil and Horace are considered rough and
lacking delicacy! [15] If this last be a true statement, it testifies to
the depraved criticism of a luxurious age which alternates between
meretricious softness and uncouth disproportion, just as in life the idle
and effeminate, who shrink from manly labour, take pleasure in wild
adventure and useless fatigue. In this satire, which is the most condensed
of all, the literary defects of the author are at their height. His moral
taste is not irreproachable; in his desire not to mince matters he offends
needlessly against propriety. [16] The picture he draws of the fashionable
rhetorician with languishing eyes and throat mellowed by a luscious
gargle, warbling his drivelling ditties to an excited audience, is
powerful and lifelike. From assemblies like these he did well to keep
himself. We can imagine the effect upon their used-up emotions of a fresh
and fiery spirit like that of Lucan, whose splendid presence and rich
enthusiasm threw to the winds these tricks of the reciter's art.

The second, third, and fourth poems are declamatory exercises on the
dogmas of stoicism, interspersed with dramatic scenes. The second has for
its subject the proper use of prayer. The majority, says Persius, utter
_buying_ petitions (_prece emaci_), and by no means as a rule innocent
ones. Few dare to acknowledge their prayers (_aperto vivere voto_). After
sixty lines of indignant remonstrance, he closes with a noble apostrophe,
in which some of the thoughts rise almost to a Christian height--"O souls
bent to earth, empty of divine things! What boots it to import these
morals of ours into the temples, and to imagine what is good in God's
sight from the analogies of this sinful flesh?... Why do we not offer Him
something which Messala's blear-eyed progeny with all his wealth cannot
offer, a spirit at one with justice and right, holy in its inmost depths,

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