Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

Non me carminibus vincet nec Thracius Orpheus
Nec Linus, huic mater quamvis atque huic pater adsit,
Orphei Calliopea, Lino formosus Apollo.

Hesiod made Urania the mother of Linus, others made him the son of Apollo and Psammathe.

The death of each was tragical. Orpheus, after the loss of his wife Eurydice, retired from the society of men into pathless wilds, and was torn to pieces by the Bacchanalian Mænades. At the same time he is said by Apollodorus to have invented these orgies. Linus instructed Hercules in music, and was struck dead by a blow which his pupil, in a moment of passion, dealt him with a lyre.

23. (Aelinon.) The lamentation of Apollo for the death of Linus, (ai Aivos woe is me for Linus,) and hence a dirge in general. Athenæus, however, when detailing the names of different songs and chaunts, tells us that the alinos sometimes bore a more cheerful character. A song of misfortune or death was called, he says, ¿λopuguòs, a miller's song ἱμαῖος, a marriage song ὑμέναιος, a song in sorrow ιἄλεμος. Λίνος δὲ καὶ αἴλινος οὐ μόνον ἐν πένθεσιν ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐπ ̓ εὐτυχεῖ μολπᾷ κατὰ τὸν ̓Ευριπίδην.

26. (Pieriis aquis.) Pieria, the region pointed out by Greek tradition as the first seat of the Muses, was a narrow strip of land stretching along the Thermaic gulf from the mouth of the Haliacmon to the mouth of the Peneus, being separated from the rest of Macedonia by the ridges of Mount Olympus. Within its limits were the towns of Pimplea and Libethra; the former was said to have been the birth place of Orpheus, at the latter they showed his tomb. Hence the titles Pierides; Pimpleides; Libethrides; applied to the nine.

30. (Telaque, &c.) Penelope's web. The details with regard to this well known stratagem are to be found in the Odyssey, II. 93—110.

34. (Sistra.) See note on Tibullus I. iii. 24, p. 151.

45. (Erycis.) At the distance of about a mile to the south-east of Drepanum (Trapani) the lofty cliffs of Mount Eryx rise abruptly from the plain. Crowning its level summit, at an elevation of more than two thousand feet, stood the temple of Venus Erycina, one of the most celebrated fanes not merely of Sicily but of the whole ancient world. Lower down, accessible only by a long and difficult path, was the city Eryx, renowned in the annals of the first Punic war as the scene of one of the most brilliant and daring of the exploits of Hamilcar. The name, according to ancient legends, was derived from a Sicilian hero, (son of Venus and a native prince Butes, or according to others, of

1 XIV. p. 619.

Venus and Neptune) who was vanquished and slain by Hercules in an athletic contest. Of him Entellus speaks, when displaying his gauntlets to Æneas. E. V. 412.

Hæc germanus Eryx quondam tuus arma gerebat,
Sanguine cernis adhuc fractoque infecta cerebro,
His magnum Alciden contra stetit

.........

Roman tradition told that the shrine was dedicated by the Trojan after the death of Anchises E. V. 759.

Tum vicina astris Erycino in vertice sedes
Fundatur Veneri Idaliæ: tumuloque sacerdos
Ac lucus late sacer additur Anchiseo.

while by other authorities it was attributed to Eryx himself. Venus was believed to quit her temple every year for the purpose of making an excursion to Africa, an event which was announced by the departure of all the wild pigeons, vast numbers of which roosted in the crags. After an absence of nine days they returned in the train of their mistress. Two magnificent festivals were celebrated in honour of these events, the first called ̓Αναγώγια, the second Καταγώγια.

Mount Eryx has now become Mount St. Julian, from a Catholic Saint who did good service on this spot in a struggle with the Saracens ; the ancient hero, however, still keeps his ground under a new form, having been canonized as S. Quirico, and the doves still haunt the hill, although efforts have been made to extirpate them as relics of Pagan superstition.

It would be tedious and unprofitable to enumerate all the authors who have made mention of this holy spot, but authority for the above statements will be found in Polybius I. 55. 58. II. 7. Diodorus IV. 83. Apollonius Rhod. IV. 917. Apollodorus I. II. Dionysius Halic. I. Strabo VI. Ælian. V. H. I. 15, and H. A. IV. 2. Virg. E. V. 412. 759., and the notes of Servius. more have been quoted by Cluverius in his Sicilia Antiqua.

Athenæus IX. 51.
These and many

47. (Phæacia tellus.) See notes on Tibullus I. iii. 3, p. 147. 62. Licinius Calvus is spoken of with great respect by Cicero' as an orator. Of his character as a poet we know little or nothing, except that he is usually classed along with Catullus, as by Ovid in the passage before us,2 by Pliny the younger in his epistles,3 and somewhat contemptuously by Horace S. I. x. 19.

1 Brut. LXXXI. and Epist. ad Fam. XV. 2. 2 Again in Trist. II. 431, as an amatory and not over decent writer.

Par fuit exigui similisque licentia Calvi
Detexit variis qui suà facta modis.

31. 16, and IV. 27.

Nil præter Calvum et doctus cantare Catullum.

An epithalamium from his pen is mentioned by Priscian. Suetonius in his life of Cæsar speaks2 of his abusive epigrams, a part of one of which he has preserved, levelled against the dictator, to which Cicero also seems to refer in Ep. ad Fam. VII. 24. Servius and Probus quote four disjointed lines from a poem called Io, but we possess only one complete piece, a jeu d'esprit in two lines upon Pompey scratching his head.

62.

Caius Valerius Catullus, descended from an ancient and honourable family, was born in the neighbourhood of Verona, perhaps, in the peninsula of Sirmio, on the Lacus Benacus (Lago di Garda,) in the year B. C. 87.

Leaving his native province in early youth, he settled at Rome, where he spent the greater part of his life, enjoying the society of Cicero, Cornelius Nepos, and other distinguished men of that brilliant epoch. The period of his death is uncertain. A collection of his poems has been preserved, consisting of one hundred and sixteen pieces, most of them very short, written in a great variety of metres and in many different styles, but excellent in all. Some are lyrical, some descriptive, some epigrammatic, some elegiac, some dithyrambic. The epithet doctus, by which he is here distinguished, refers to his familiarity with Greek literature, and the Grecian tone and spirit which pervade his compositions.

64. C. Cornelius Gallus, who follows next to Catullus, in chronological order, among the Roman Elegiac Poets, was born at Forum Julii (Frejus,) in the south of Gaul, in the year B.C. 66. After the battle of Actium and the death of Cleopatra, he was appointed by Augustus praefect of Egypt, the most important of all the imperial provinces; but was recalled on a charge of treason (temerati crimen amici,) and committed suicide in the fortieth year of his age. He was the author of four books of Elegies, celebrating his love for a mistress named Lycoris, and translated from the Greek the poems of Euphorion of Chalcis. No portion of these works remain, the elegies now extant bearing the name of Gallus being the production of Maximianus Gallus Etruscus, who flourished under the Emperor Anastasius; other pieces are sometimes attributed to him, but upon no good evidence. He appears to have been the intimate friend and patron of Virgil, whose tenth Eclogue is devoted to a description of the perfidy of Lycoris and the misery of her lover. Honourable mention is made of him in the sixth Eclogue also in describing the song of Silenus,

1 p. 658, ed. Putsch. 2 XLIX. LXXIII.

N

Tum canit errantem Permessi ad flumina Gallum
Aonas in montes ut duxerit una sororum
Utque viro Phoebi chorus assurrexerit omnis, &c. &c.

68. (Et sit humus, &c.) The Greeks and Romans entertained some strange idea that the bodies, or, at all events, the Manes of the dead were sensible of the weight of the earth which pressed upon their graves. Hence we frequently find prayers such as that expressed in the line before us, and nothing is more common in sepulchral inscriptions than the characters S. T. T. L., i. e., Sit tibi terra levis.

The student may compare Juv. S. vii. 207.

Di maiorum umbris tenuem et sine pondere terram,
Spirantesque crocos, et in urna perpetuum ver,
Qui præceptorem sancti voluere parentis
Esse loco

and Pers. S. I. 36.

Adsensere viri: nunc non cinis ille poetæ
Felix? non levior cippus nunc imprimit ossa.

and Prop. I. xvii. 23.

Illa meum extremo clamasset pulvere nomen,
Ut mihi non ullo pondere terra foret.

and Eurip. Alcest. 477

Κούφα σοι χθὼν ἐπάνωθεν πέσει, γύναι!

OVID. ARS AMATORIA. BOOK I. 101.

THE best illustration we can offer of this extract and of the passage in the Fasti III. 187, where Ovid tells the story again in different words, is the chapter in the first Book of Livy, which contains the formal record of the tradition.

Iam res Romana adeo erat valida ut cuilibet finitimarum civitatium bello par esset; sed penuria mulierum, hominis ætatem duratura mag

nitudo erat. quippe quibus nec domi spes prolis, nec cum finitimis, connubia essent. Tum ex consilio Patrum Romulus legatos circa vicinas gentes misit, qui societatem connubiumque novo populo peterent. "Urbes quoque, ut cetera, ex infimo nasci: deinde quas sua virtus ac Dii iuvent, magnas opes sibi magnumque nomen facere. Satis scire, origini Romanæ et Deos adfuisse, et non defuturam virtutem. proinde ne gravarentur homines cum hominibus sanguinem et genus miscere." Nusquam benigne legatio audita est: adeo simul spernebant, simul tantam in medio crescentem molem sibi ac posteris suis metuebant. A plerisque rogitantibus dimissi, "Ecquod feminis quoque asylum aperuissent? id enim demum compar connubium fore." Ægre id Romana pubes passa, et haud dubie ad vim spectare res cœpit. cui tempus locumque aptum ut daret Romulus, ægritudinem animi dissimulans, ludos ex industria parat, Neptuno Equestri sollemnes: Consualia vocat. Indici deinde finitimis spectaculum iubet: quantoque adparatu tum sciebant, aut poterant, concelebrant: ut rem claram expectatamque facerent. Multi mortales convenere, studio etiam videndæ novæ urbis; maxime proximi quique, Caninenses, Crustumini, Antemnates. Iam Sabinorum omnis multitudo cum liberis ac coniugibus, venit, invitati hospitaliter per domos, quum situm mæniaque et frequentem tectis urbem vidissent mirantur tam brevi rem Romanam crevisse. Ubi spectaculi tempus venit, deditæque eo mentes cum oculis erant, tum ex composito orta vis: signoque dato iuventus Romana ad rapiendas virgines discurrit. magna pars forte, ut in quem quæque inciderat, raptæ; quasdam forma excellente, primoribus Patrum destinatas, ex plebe homines, quibus datum negotium erat, domos deferebant. Unam, longe ante alias specie ac pulchritudine insignem, a globo Talassii cuiusdam raptam ferunt, multisque sciscitantibus, cuinam eam ferrent, identidem, ne quis violaret, Talassio ferri clamitatum. inde nuptialem hanc vocem factam. Turbato per metum ludicro, mosti parentes virginum profugiunt, incusantes violati hospitii fœdus, Deumque invocantes, cuius ad sollemne ludosque per fas ac fidem decepti, venissent. Nec raptis aut spes de se melior aut indignatio est minor: sed ipse Romulus circuibat, docebatque: "patrum id superbia factum, qui connubium finitimis negassent: illas tamen in matrimonio, in societate fortunarum omnium civitatisque, et, quo nihil carius humano generi sit, liberûm fore. Mollirent modo iras; et quibus fors corpora dedisset, darent animos. Sæpe ex iniuria postmodum gratiam ortam: eoque melioribus usuras viris, quod adnisurus pro se quisque sit, ut quum suam vicem functus officio sit, parentum etiam patriæque expleat desiderium." Accedebant blanditiæ virorum, factum purgantium cupiditate atque amore: quæ maxime ad muliebre ingenium efficaces preces sunt.

:

« IndietroContinua »