Immagini della pagina

they represented as desperate, and fond of dying. They ought therefore to be met by the common soldiery. He was commander in chief, and lord of the habitable globe, on whose safety the public interests all hung: his fortunes were too important to be risked in sudden skirmishes with the enemy. These suggestions Titus seemed not even to hear ; but opposed those who ran on him, and smote them on the face; forced them back, and slew them. He fell upon great numbers as they marched down the hill, and thrust them forward. His opponents were so astonished at his courage and his strength, that they could not fly directly to the city, but declined from him on both sides, and pressed after those that fled up the hill. Still he fell upon their flank, and arrested their fury. In the mean time, disorder and terror fell upon the Romans, who were fortifying their camp at the top of the hill, on seeing the flight of those who had deserted Titus. The whole legion was dispersed, as thinking that the sallies of the Jews were insupportable, and that Titus was himself put to flight: for they conceived that had it been otherwise, the body would never have been dispersed. This, however, was soon retrieved : Titus continued to press on those that were near him, and enabled the legion to return and fortify their camp. He and his chosen few still opposed the enemy, and prevented them from doing farther mischief. Josephus says, that if he may be allowed neither to add any thing out of flattery, nor to diminish any thing out of envy, but to speak the plain truth, Cæsar twice delivered that entire legion out of jeopardy. The moral he inculcates is, that the success of wars and the danger of kings are under the providence of When we see a senate thus enslaving itself, and voting idolatry by Act of Parliament, we cannot wonder that the gay satellites of a court should follow the example of the conscript fathers, the potent, grave, and reverend Seniors, though at a respectful distance from the exaggerations of their flattery.*

* The length and general scope of this article will not admit of any present review of Horace as a lyric poet. Lipsius says in a letter to Cruquius, “ Horatio, mi Cruqui, in Lyricis merito illud Homericum dabimus, . . . rls xolpovos ésw."--Epistolicarum Quæstionum, lib. ii.



Tacitus and Josephus are the two authors from whom the character of Titus is principally to be drawn. Tacitus is supposed to have been raised to the office of quæstor, and probably to the rank of senator, by Vespasian. His gradation through the magistracy was progressive under Titus, till he reached the functions either of tribune or ædile. He tells us in his annals, that he was one of the college of fifteen, and invested with the office of prætor, in the time of Domitian. Both these historians painted from the life, and under personal obligation. Tacitus had been promoted by Titus, Josephus had been treated with mildness and generosity by him, and had submitted to him his history of the Jewish war, which the conqueror of Jerusalem not only approved, but subscribed with his own hand, and gave orders for its publication. Tacitus commences the second book of his history, by remarking that fortune was preparing an important scene in another quarter of the world, and laying the foundation of a new imperial family, destined at first to flourish in prosperity, and in the end, after a disastrous reign, to be hurled from its pre-eminence by a dreadful catastrophe. The fate of the people, alternately beneficial and calamitous, was identified with the destinies of its successive sovereigns. Rome prospered under Vespasian and Titus, but suffered severely during the reign of Domitian. The tyrant was stopped in his career, and the Flavian family became extinct.

At the beginning of this book, Tacitus describes in an interesting manner, but with his usual brevity, the talents, accomplishments, person, and character of Titus. He was at this time in his twenty-eighth year. By the favour of Narcissus, to whom his father Vespasian paid court, he was educated in the palace with Britannicus, the son of Claudius. The destined heir to the empire was cut off by Nero's villany: but Titus, who then' seemed to be stationed far below the seat of imperial ambition, survived to reign in glory, and with the high esteem of the Roman people. On this subject there is a story in Suetonius, that Claudius's favourite freedman, Narcissus, Titus's early patron, consulted a fortune-teller about the destiny of Britannicus. The huckster of futurity obstinately persisted in his prediction, that the young prince would never reign, but that Titus, who was standing by, was born to sovereignty.

While Galba was supposed to be still in possession of supreme power, Vespasian sent his son from Judea to congratulate that emperor. Corinth, Titus received intelligence of Galba's murder. An uncertain, probably a disputed sućcession, presented but a choice of difficulties. He resolved to proceed no farther than Greece. On setting sail from Corinth, he directed his course


towards Rhodes and Cyprus.

“ Inde Syriam audentioribus spatiis petebat.” At Cyprus he visited the temple of the Paphian Venus, and consulted her Oracle. The answer was auspicious, and he returned to his father. Tacitus mentions a prevailing impression, that his connection with Berenice, sister to Agrippa the Second, and wife of Herod, king of Chalcis in Syria, secretly influenced this retrograde movement. This part of Titus's history will be looked into hereafter. *

On the death of Vitellius, a decree passed the Senate, appointing Titus his father's colleague in the consulship. When Vespasian began to turn his thoughts towards Italy, he determined to leave his son Titus in the command of the army, and to confer on him the prosecution of the war against the Jews. The speech of Titus to his father at parting, places his character in a most amiable point of view. Its sole object seems to have been, to plead in favour of Domitian. He cautioned Vespasian against being rashly incensed by insinuations of criminality. Towards his own son, it were but just to be unprejudiced and mild. A numerous issue affords more firm support to the imperial dignity than fleets and armies. Friends drop off by death, and abandon us to follow more inviting fortunes: they renounce us in disgust at the disappointment of unreasonable or impossible expectations. But blood forms an indissoluble tie, especially between princes, in whose fate all their kindred must be involved : nor can brothers be

* Fuere, qui accensum desiderio Berenices Reginæ, vertisse iter crederent. Neque abhorrebat a Berenice juvenilis animus : sed gerendis rebus nullum ex eo impedimentum. - Historiarum, lib. ii. cap. 2.

« IndietroContinua »