Immagini della pagina

39. (Fata.) Death, after the decrees of destiny are accomplished. Compare the whole of Hor. C. III. xxx., and especially

41, 42.

Non omnis moriar, multaque pars mei
Vitabit Libitinam:


1. Pliny1 gives the following account of parrots. Super omnia humanas voces reddunt psittaci: quidam etiam sermocinantes. India hanc avem mittit, sittacen vocat, viridem toto corpore, torque tantum miniato in cervice distinctam. Imperatores salutat, et quæ accipit verba pronuntiat, in vino præcipue lasciva. Capiti eius duritia eadem, quæ rostro. Hoc, cum loqui discit, ferreo verberatur radio: non sentit aliter ictus. Cum devolat, rostro se excipit, illi innititur, levioremque se ita pedum infirmitati facit.

Statius (Silv. II. iv.) has a poem on the death of a favourite parrot, evidently suggested by the elegy before us. Persius alludes to the practice of teaching parrots to salute visitors.

Quis expedivit psittaco suum xaige? Prol. Sat. 1.

2-6. These lines allude to the solemn funeral procession of a noble Roman, in which a troop of præficæ or hired mourning women played a conspicuous part, who chaunted the praises of the dead, beating their breasts and tearing their hair, and making every outward demonstration of extravagant grief. Thus, in a fragment of Lucilius, we read

Mercede quæ
Conductæ flent alieno in funere præficæ

Multo et capillos scindunt, et clamant magis.

A band of trumpeters also was in attendance, to which we find frequent reference, for example Prop. II. xiii. 17.

Quandocunque igitur nostros nox claudet ocellos,
Accipe quæ serves funeris acta mei.

Nec mea tunc longa spatietur imagine pompa,
Nec tuba sit fati vana querela mei.

1 H. N. X. 42.

A magpie was sometimes suspended over the threshold for the same purpose, thus Petron, 28, "Super limen cavea pendebat aurea, in qua pica varia intrantes salutabat."

and Persius speaking of a death caused by gluttony. S. III. 103.

Hinc tuba, candelæ;

3. (Exsequias ite.) Exsequiæ properly denotes a funeral procession following the bier from the mansion of the deceased to the grave or pyre; ire exsequias is to attend such a procession. Compare Terent. Phorm. V. viii. 37.

Exsequias Chremeti, quibus est commodum, ire, hem! tempus


and Silius XV. 395.

Vos ite superbæ

Exsequias animæ, et cinerem donate supremi
Muneris officio.


4. (Plangite.) See notes on Tibullus, I. vii. 28. p. 168.

7. (Ismarii......tyranni.) Tereus.

The substance of this celebrated tale, according to the account of Apollodorus, is as follows:

Pandion, king of Athens, had two daughters, Procne and Philomela. Being involved in war with his neighbour Labdacus, king of Thebes, upon a boundary question, he called in to his assistance Tereus, king of Thrace, brought the war to a happy termination through his aid, and bestowed upon him his daughter Procne in marriage. The fruit of this union was a son named Itys. Tereus became enamoured of Philomela, and having gained possession of her, under the pretext that Procne was dead, shut her up and cut out her tongue that she might be unable to disclose his villany. However, by weaving certain characters upon a web, she contrived to make her misfortunes known to her sister who, having found out her place of confinement, put Itys to death, cooked his flesh and served it up as a repast for Tereus, and then took to flight accompanied by Philomela. Tereus, on discovering the horrid truth, snatched up a hatchet and pursued the fugitives, who being overtaken at Daulias in Phocis, prayed to the gods that they might be changed into birds. Accordingly Procne became a nightingale and Philomela a swallow; Tereus was also metamorphosed and turned into an Epops or Hoopoo.

There are several variations in this story as narrated by different authors, the most important among which is that the Latin poets Virgil, Horace, Ovid, and Statius concur in representing that Philomela was changed into a nightingale and Procne into a swallow.

The most ancient form of the legend is preserved in Homer Od. XIX. 518.

As when the daughter of Pandareos sings,
Aedon, who the greenwood brakes among
Warbles her lay when spring returns anew.
Perched 'mid the leafy thickness of the grove
With many a trill she pours her long drawn notes
Wailing her boy, her Itylus beloved,
King Zethus' son, whom erst with brazen sword
She slew in error.

According to the scholiast, Aedon, (i.e. nightingale), one of the three daughters of Pandareos, son of Merops, a Milesian, was married to Zethus, and bore him a son named Itylus, but being jealous of the superior fertility of Niobe, daughter of Tantalus, wife of her brother-inlaw Amphion, she laid a plot for the destruction of the fairest among her children, who was named Amaleus, and was in the habit of sleeping with his cousin Itylus. She entered the chamber of the boys by night, to accomplish the bloody deed, but, mistaking their position, slew her own son. Overwhelmed with grief she implored the gods that she might cease to consort with mankind, and was accordingly transformed into the bird which bears her name.

7. (Ismarii,) i. e., Thracian. Ismarus was the name of one of the lateral branches of Rhodope, separating the valley of the Schoenos from the lower valley of the Hebrus, and terminating in the Ismarium Promontorium (C. Marogna.) Its slopes were celebrated for the wine which they produced, as early as the days of Homer, (Odyss. I. 197), and preserved their reputation in later times. Virg. G. II. 37.

Iuvat Ismara Baccho
Conserere, atque olea magnum vestire Taburnum.

A town Ismarus, is mentioned in the Odyssey (I. 40.), which belonged to the Cicones, and was taken and destroyed by Ulysses.

9. ( funus.) "Turn from your path to attend the obsequies." Devertere signifies to turn aside from a road for the purpose of entering a lodging or place of public entertainment, and hence deversorium means an inn, and deversari to lodge with any one.


12. (Turtur amice.) The ancients believed that a natural friendship existed between turtle-doves and parrots. Pliny, who devotes a chapter to the innate sympathies and antipathies of animals, observes.1

1 H. N. X. 74.

"Rursus amici pavones et columbæ, turtures e psittaci, merulæ et turdi &c. &c." Ovid again alludes to this idea in Her. XV. 37.

Et variis albæ iunguntur sæpe columbæ :
Et niger a viridi turtur amatur ave.

15. (Iuvenis Phoceus.) Pylades, son of Strophius king of Phocis who married one of the sisters of Agamemnon. Orestes was placed under the protection of his uncle, after being rescued from the murderous hands of Clytemnestra and Ægisthus. Pylades is represented by the Greek Tragedians as having been the firm ally and constant companion of Orestes in all his undertakings and misfortunes, and their friendship passed into a proverb.

21. (Hebetare.) Properly to make blunt, here "to dim the lustre " The figure is natural, since we always attach to light the idea of something piercing and penetrating. Hence hebetare aciem oculorum, visus, sidera, flammas, are common. Similarly it is applied to the other senses as well as that of sight, to taste, smell, hearing, and, finally, to the mental faculties. e. g. Ov. E. P. IV. i. 17.

Da mihi, si quid ea est, hebetantem pectora Lethen.

i.e., blunting the keenness of the memory.

21. (Smaragdos.) See notes on Tibullus I. i. 51. p. 143.

22. (Crocum v. Crocus.) Saffron, made from the spikes or filaments of the common blue crocus, and much valued by the ancients as a dye, a medicine, and a perfume. The colour yielded by saffron is a reddish yellow or orange tint, and hence the epithet ruber used here, in Virg. G. IV. 182, and many other passages. Also puniceus in Ov.

F. V. 317.

Lilia deciderant, violas arere videres,
Filaque punicei languida facta croci.

The most esteemed saffron was that yielded by Mount Corycus in Cilicia,1 and hence it is termed by the poets Cilissa spica. e. g. Ov. Fast. I. 75.

Cernis odoratis ut luceat ignibus æther,
Et sonet accensis spica Cilissa focis.

24. (Blæso.) Blæsus seems strictly to indicate that defect in arti

1 The words of Pliny (H. N. XXI. 6) are "Prima nobilitas Cilico, et ibi in Coryco monte: dein Lycio, monte Olympo: mox Centurpino Sicilia Aliqui Phlegræo secundum locum dedere. In the 20th chapter of the same book he enumerates the various medicinal properties of saffron. For one of its applications as a perfume, see below, note on line 4 of extract from A. A. I. 101.

culation which we call lisping, and thus Ovid enumerates it in his list of female affectations. A. A. III. 293.

Quid? cum legitima fraudatur litera voce,
Blæsaque fit iusso lingua coacta sono.

while balbus means stammering, as appears from the observation of Cicero de Orat. I. 61, on Demosthenes, ". quumque ita balbus esset, ut eius ipsius artis, cui studeret, primam literam non posset dicere, perfecit meditando, ut nemo planius esse locutus putaretur.” These two words appear, however, to be occasionally confounded with each other, as in Juv. S. XV. 47.


Adde, quod et facilis victoria de madidis, et
Blæsis, atque mero titubantibus.

and Hor. Ep. II. i. 126,

Os tenerum pueri balbumque poeta figurat.

Drunk men stammer-children lisp.

27. (Coturnices, &c.) It is well known to naturalists that quails are exceedingly irritable and pugnacious. By the Romans quail-fighting was cultivated with the same eagerness as cock-fighting by the Athenians, and our own ancestors; and even emperors themselves, did not disdain to take an interest in the combats and victories of these birds. We are told by Plutarch that one of the circumstances which led to the coolness between Octavianus and Antony, was the uniform success of the former in these contests, and we find it recorded that the son of Septimius Severus was involved in constant brawls originating in quail and cock-fights.1

29. (Pra sermonis amore.) "By reason of your love of talking," where præ indicates an obstacle which comes before an object, and so prevents it from being attained. So Cic. pro Planc. XLI. "nec loqui præ mærore potuit," and Philipp. XIII. 9. "Quorum ille nomen præ metu ferre non poterat." Frequently, however, præ simply denotes cause and not impediment,2 as in Plaut. Rud. I. ii. 85, "præ timore in genua concidit," in Stich. III. ii. 13, "præ lætitia lacrymæ præsiliunt mihi."

34. (Graculus...auctor aquæ.) Auctor, i.e., "harbinger," "pro

1 Those also who may desire to investigate the antiquities of this subject, will find the principal authorities quoted and examined in Pegge's Memoir on Cock fighting, contained in the Archæologia, Vol. III, and in the Essay of Beckmann, on Cock-fighting, in the History of Inventions. 2 See Butler's Praxis on Latin Prepositions. Cap. XXXVII.

« IndietroContinua »