Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

no more than a suspicion of virtue. Whether they were father and son or not, the young man had imitated the well-known trick of the elder Brutus, in feigning fatuity. When Domitian celebrated his annual games at Alba, in honour of Minerva, this youth fought naked with wild beasts in the amphitheatre : but Domitian was not to be deceived by such affectation of insanity; and sent him to execution with circumstances of extreme cruelty, and under various methods of torture. But Juvenal's allusions are so slight, that sometimes we cannot trace the facts in what remains of history; and, at other times, the innuendo seems to admit of more than one application. At the Quinquatria, Domitian was in the habit of exhibiting pairs of noblemen in combat with wild beasts on the stage. If they conquered, it was imputed as a crime. Dio relates either this, or a similar story. The impiety charged on so many appears to have been a propensity to what he calls Judaism, which the Romans continually confounded with Christianity : - Υφ' ής και άλλοι ες τα των Ιουδαίων ήθη έξοκέλλοντες πολλοί κατεδικάσθησαν ... τον δε δή Γλαβρίωτα τον μετά του Τραϊανού άρξαντα, κατηγορήθεντα τά τε άλλα, και οία οι πολλοί, και ότι και θηρίοις έμάχετο, απέκτεινεν. Thus did Domitian sport with the lives of his subjects. But the practice of cutting off the nobility, from jealousy, fear, or hatred, had prevailed from the days of Nero: so that the poet professes, he would prefer being a Terræ filius and a squab brother of the giants, to a descent from the most illustrious families. The fabulous sons of Titan and Tellus rebelled and fought against Jupiter ; but even that hazard is not equal to standing up against the overwhelming power of Domitian. Neither was

he to be cajoled by the stratagem of playing the fool, like Tarquin the Proud. Domitius had miscarried in the policy, which had saved Lucius Junius Brutus, when his brother and many of the nobility had been destroyed. David had recourse to a similar device at the court of Achish, king of Gath.

Juvenal professes a wish to leave Rome, and banish himself to the most inhospitable regions, rather than hear hypocrites preach morality

C

Ultra Sauromatas fugere hinc libet, et glacialem
Oceanum, quoties aliquid de moribus audent
Qui Curios simulant, et Bacchanalia vivunt.

Sat. ü.

The Sauromatæ were the people of Asiatic and European Sarmatia, the Asiatic Sauromatæ being the inhabitants of modern Tartary, the European those af modern Russia.

In the following very spirited passage of Lucan, the Northern Ocean, which was perpetually frozen, is called the Scythian Sea, as washing the shores of Scythia :

Quis furor, o cives ? quæ tanta licentia ferri,
Gentibus invisis Latium præbere cruorem ?
Cumque superba foret Babylon spolianda tropæis
Ausoniis, umbraque erraret Crassus inulta ;
Bella geri placuit nullos habitura triumphos ?
Heu ! quantum terræ potuit, pelagique, parari
Hoc, quem civiles hauserunt, sanguine, dextræ !
Unde venit Titan, et nox ubi sidera condit,
Quaque dies medius flagrantibus æstuat horis,
Et qua bruma rigens, ac nescia vere remitti,

Adstringit Scythicum glaciali frigore pontum.
Sub juga jam Seres, jam barbarus isset Araxes,
Et
gens

si

qua jacet nascenti conscia Nilo.

The popular characters of Heraclitus, and De. mocritus, as the weeping and laughing philosophers, though a vulgar error,

error, were particularly well suited to the purposes of moral satire, and are admirably handled by Juvenal :

Jamne igitur laudas, quod de sapientibus alter
Ridebat, quoties a limine moverat unum
Protuleratque pedem : flebat contrarius alter?
Sed facilis cuivis rigidi censura cachinni :
Mirandum est, unde ille oculis suffecerit humor.
Perpetuo risu pulmonem agitare solebat
Democritus, quanquam non essent urbibus illis
Prætexta, et trabeæ, fasces, lectica, tribunal.
Quid, si vidisset Prætorem in curribus altis
Extantem, et medio sublimem in pulvere circi,
In tunica Jovis, et pictæ Sarrana ferentem
Ex humeris aulæa togæ, magnæque coronäe
Tantum orbem, quanto cervix non sufficit ulla?
Quippe tenet sudans hanc publicus, et sibi Consul
Ne placeat, curru servus portatur eodem.
Da nunc et volucrem sceptro quæ surgit eburno,
Illinc cornicines, hinc præcedentia longi
Agminis officia, et niveos ad fræna Quirites,
Defossa in loculis quos sportula fecit amicos.
Tunc
quoque

materiam risus invenit ad omnes
Occursus hominum; cujus prudentia monstrat,
Summos posse viros, et magna exempla daturos,
Vervecum in patria, crassoque sub aëre nasci.

The Thracian Abdera, and Boeotia in general, laboured considerably under the stigma of stupidity, although Boeotia was in some measure redeemed from the general censure by the individual greatness of Pindar. Still however, Abdera was called the country of sheep, and Boeotia that of hogs. We also indulge occasionally in academical nicknames to particular colleges.

The satire on the various official ensigns, the fopperies of augural appendages, the patrician and consular robes, and the pompous display of the prætor as presiding at the Circensian Games furnishes as fine a specimen of the serious and severe style of invective, as any to be found in the works of this indignant poet.

The following irony on the superstitions of mythology, and particularly on the fable of Prometheus, and the sarcastic indignation expressed against the cruelties and unnatural practices occasioned by bigotry, are among the very striking passages of the author :

Hinc gaudere libet, quod non violaverit ignem,
Quem summa cæli raptum de parte Prometheus
Donavit terris: elemento gratulor, et te
Exsultare reor: sed qui mordere cadaver
Sustinuit, nihil unquam hac carne libentius edit:
Nam scelere in tanto ne quæras, aut dubites, an
Prima voluptatem gula senserit: ultimus autem
Qui stetit absumpto jam toto corpore, ductis
Per terram digitis, aliquid de sanguine gustat.
Vascones (ut fama est) alimentis talibus usi
Produxere animas: sed res diversa : sed illic
Fortunæ invidia est, bellorumque ultima, casus
Extremi, longæ dira obsidionis egestas.
Hujus enim, quod nunc agitur, miserabile debet
Exemplum esse cibi.

Sat. 15.

The contrast in the case of the Vascons, who sustained a siege from Cn. Pompey and Metellus,

and were driven by the pressure of famine to eat human flesh, is well introduced, to show that the rage of the satirist is not so indiscriminate, as to confound the cravings of nature with the wantonness of barbarous and unnatural appetite. But among all the superstitions of Rome, none had more completely taken possession of the popular mind, than the belief in astrology. It has indeed been the most universal and enduring of all credulous follies, and more or less occupies the vulgar even in these enlightened times. Women have always been peculiarly prone to a belief in the influence of the stars. Juvenal therefore takes up the subject in satire vi. which is devoted to the reprehension of female vices and weaknesses:

Præcipuus tamen est horum, qui sæpius exul,
Cujus amicitia, conducendaque tabella
Magnus civis obit, et formidatus Othoni.
Inde fides arti, sonuit si dextera ferro
Lævaque, si longo castrorum in carcere mansit.
Nemo mathematicus genium indemnatus habebit;
Sed qui pene perit: cui vix in Cyclada mitti
Contigit, et parva tandem caruisse Seripho.
Consulit ictericæ lento de funere matris,
Ante tamen de te, Tanaquil tua; quando sororem
Efferat, et patruos: an sit victurus adulter
Post ipsam: quid enim majus dare numina possunt?
Hæc tamen ignorat, quid sidus triste minetur
Saturni; quo læta Venus se proferat astro;
Qui mensis damno, quæ dentur tempora lucro.
Illius occursus etiam vitare memento,
In cujus manibus, ceu pinguia succina, tritas
Cernis ephemeridas; quæ nullum consulit, et jam
Consulitur; quæ castra viro patriamque petente,
Non ibit pariter, numeris revocata Thrasylli:
Ad primum lapidem vectari cum placet, hora

« IndietroContinua »