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Sumitur ex libro; si prurit frictus ocelli
Petosiris is mentioned by Suidas under the respectable title of a philosopher. It is a common proverb, that extremes meet: and its truth is strikingly exemplified in the fate of the mathematical sciences. It might have been supposed that their severity, and the strictness of proof required by them, would have operated as a prohibition against wild and irregular fancies: yet we find that the extravagant pursuit of truth itself leads to error; a result which also takes place in the enthusiastic study of religion. The mathematicians of the middle ages, and still lower, were all astrologers, though the lower class of astrologers probably were not mathematicians. To such an excess was this pretended science carried, that not only were the leading secrets of men's lives predicted, but the practising physicians prescribed with reference to them; and the stars were consulted to ascertain the propitious hour, at which the patient was to take a fresh egg or a basin of soup.
The following caution against such a course of conduct as shall make a man dependent on the secrecy of others, especially of mean persons and menials, is given with profound knowledge of the world:
Illos ergo roges, quicquid paulo ante petebas
Præcipue causis, at linguas mancipiorum
This satire has been severely condemned for its subject, which is indeed thoroughly disgusting ; but the mode in which that disgusting subject has been treated, is ably vindicated by Mr. Gifford in the argument to his translation of it, against the sweeping censure of Julius Scaliger and others. Scaliger is indeed so indiscriminate as to propose the rejection of all Juvenal's works, including the moral tenth satire, on account of this proscribed subject. But surely this is carrying delicacy and refinement to extravagance; and comes too near to what an ancient friend of mine once characterised as the temper of the present age; to be more shocked at strong language than at bad actions. Mr. Gifford has vindicated his author both by reasoning, and by translating him ; and my friend Mr. Hodgson, though he could have been better pleased to omit it altogether, has executed his task with perfect decency, and yet with strong impression. There are certainly many passages in this satire which one would not quote; but there are many also, the suppression of which would lessen the stock of useful moral reprobation. Mr. Hodgson in his argument quotes one passage as a beautiful example of musical cadence ; and refers to the elegant complaint of the shortness of youth. In fact, the offensive passages occur principally in Nævolus's part of the dialogue; and I would add the following lines in the opening of aim at that more stately furniture, which would have been necessary for the reception of guests.
The Roman reckoning by sesterces was extremely troublesome. Decies centena means decies Centena millia. Another expression was, decies millia : sometimes decies alone, or decies sestercium. The lesser sesterce was twopence all but half a farthing of our money. This makes the reduction of a large sum to our denominations a delicate operation in arithmetic. A million of sesterces amounted to 78121. 10s.
Horace's courtly principles are evinced in the following line:
Principibus placuisse viris, non ultima laus est.
Epist. lib. i. ep. 17.
Horrida tempestas coelum contraxit; et imbres
Nivesque deducunt Jovem.
In this little piece, nothing can be more pleasant than the manner in which Epicurean suggestions are delivered with all the pomp and gravity of the Stoic school. The real drift seems to be, condolence with some friend on a reverse of fortune. The preceptor of Achilles is introduced as delivering the oracles of wisdom to his pupil, which far from being the lecture of a pedagogue, turn out to be an invitation to reflect on the shortness of life, not for the purpose of enhancing care, but of expelling it by music, wine, and company.
Horace speaks with indignation of the effeminacy prevalent in the camp of Antony and Cleopatra : and its effect in occasioning the desertion of the Gallogræci :
Interque signa turpe militaria
Sol aspicit conopeum.
Puppes sinistrorsum sitæ.
The Kwwwntio was a sort of tent-bed, in common use with the Egyptians as a protection against mosquitos, from the Greek xúywnes, in Latin culices; but queens and princesses were very splendid and luxurious in the furniture of those beds.
The following protest in the Art of Poetry, against destroying the probability of dramatic representation by the introduction of such chimæras as nurses and foolish mothers frighten children with, is well pointed by the spectre which was supposed after seducing to devour young persons, and derived its name from the Greek asos, meaning the gullet or gluttony :
Ficta, voluptatis causa sint proxima veris;
Horace seems to think that who drives fat oxen must himself be fat; and that Homer and Ennius: must have acquired gout as well as fame by their praises of wine:
Laudibus arguitur vini vinosus Homerus.
Epist. lib. i. ep. 19.
MISCELLANEOUS PASSAGES FROM JUVENAL.
Proximus ejusdem properabat Acilius ævi
THE Acilius here mentioned was Acilius Glabrio, of whom little is known, but that he was a senator of singular prudence and fidelity. The victim of Domitian's cruelty, alluded to in the following lines, is supposed by some of the commentators, and most of the translators, to have been Domitius, the son of Acilius. They were both charged with designs against the emperor, and condemned to death. The father's sentence was changed into banishment, with a show of mercy, substantially designed as an aggravation, that at the advanced age of eighty, when a good man is prepared to die, he might linger out some superfluous days in the remembrance of his son's undeserved suffering for treason, which, like his own, amounted probably to