Immagini della pagina

The portion of his works which has been preserved, consists of six hymns addressed to different deities, a collection of epigrams, and a few disjointed fragments. The patronymic Battiades is applied to Callimachus, either because the name of his father was Battus, which is uncertain, or because he was a native of Cyrene, the founder of which city was Battus, who led thither a Spartan colony from the island of Thera, about 630 B.C. The romantic legends connected with this event are well known to the readers of Herodotus and Pindar.

15. (Sophocleo...cothurno.) Sophocles, who, in the opinion of many, holds the first place among the Greek Tragedians, was a native of Attica, was born B. C. 495, and died B. C. 405, being younger than Eschylus and older than Euripides, with both of whom he had frequent contests for the prize. Of his numerous dramas seven only have been preserved, forming one of the proudest monuments of Athenian genius.

(Cothurno.) The Cothurnus was a thick-soled, high-heeled boot, worn by tragic actors to give additional height and majesty to their figures, and was a characteristic feature in their costume, just as the soccus or slipper distinguished the comedian. Hence, cothurnus and soccus are constantly employed as equivalent to tragedy and comedy, and in English, likewise, we talk of "heroes of the sock and buskin." 16. Aratus, who flourished about B.C. 260, was born at Soli, (afterwards Pompeiopolis), a sea-port town of Cilicia Campestris. He settled at the Court of Antigonus Gonnatas, king of Macedonia, under whose patronage he is said to have composed his principal work, which is still extant, a poem divided into two parts, entitled Darowɛva nal Aoonusia, the materials for which were derived from the works of the renowned mathematician Eudoxus of Cnidus. It contains an exposition of the knowledge possessed by his contemporaries of astronomy and meteorology, and was held in high esteem by the ancients. We are acquainted with no less than three translations of it into Latin verse; one by Cicero, of which a few fragments remain; another by Cæsar Germanicus, a considerable portion of which has been preserved; and a third by Rufus Festus Avienus, which is entire. Virgil borrowed largely from Aratus in those portions of his Georgics which contain references to the appearances and movements of the heavenly bodies, and particularly in that section of the first Georgic which is devoted to the prognostics of the weather. This is the poem from which St. Paul quotes, in his address to the Athenians, "For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain of your own poets have said, for we are also his offspring,” τοῦ γὰρ καὶ γένος ἐσμέν, part of the fifth line of

the Phænomena.

18. (Menandros.) Menander, the most distinguished among the authors of the New Comedy, was born at Athens, B. C. 342, exhibited

his first play B.C. 321, and, after having written above a hundred dramas and gained the prize eight times, died B.C. 291, having, as some state, been drowned while bathing in the harbour of the Piræus, an event to which the author of the Ibis is supposed to allude

Comicus ut mediis periit dum nabat in undis.

The eulogium pronounced by Quinctilian deserves well to be recorded, “Menander, qui vel unus, meo quidem iudicio, diligenter lectus, ad cuncta, quæ præcipimus, efficienda, sufficiat : ita omnem vitæ imaginem expressit: tanta in eo inveniendi copia, et eloquendi facultas: ita est omnibus rebus, personis, affectibus, accommodatus.


Ego tamen plus adhuc quiddam collaturum esse declamatoribus puto, quoniam his necesse est, secundum conditionem controversiarum, plures subire personas, patrum, filiorum, maritorum, militum, rusticorum, divitum, pauperum, irascentium, deprecantium, mitium, asperorum: in quibus omnibus mire custoditur ab hoc poeta decorum. Atque ille quidem omnibus eiusdem operis auctoribus abstulit nomen, et fulgore quodam suæ claritatis tenebras obduxit." I. O. X. 1.

As a commentary upon the couplet before us, in which the staple characters of the New Comedy are enumerated, we may quote Manilius V. 470.

At si quis studio scribendi mitior ibit,
Comica componet lætis spectacula ludis.
Ardentes iuvenes, raptasque in amore puellas,
Elusosque senes, agilesque per omnia servos,
Quis in cuncta suam produxit secula vitam
Doctor in urbe sua linguæ sub flore Menander,
Qui vitæ ostendit vitam, chartisque sacravit.

Of the hundred dramas nothing remains but detached fragments; we may, however, form an accurate conception of his plots and general style from Terence, all of whose plays, with the exception of the Hecyra and the Phormio, are translations or adaptations from the works of Menander.1

19. (Ennius,) noster Ennius, our own Ennius, as he was often called by his countrymen, may justly be regarded as the founder of Roman literature

Ennius ut noster cecinit qui primus amœno
Detulit ex Helicone perenni fronde coronam
Per gentes Italas hominum quæ clara clueret."

I For other authorities, with regard to Menander, see "Theatre of the Greeks" ed. fourth p. 122. 2 Lucret. 1. 119.

He was born B. C. 239, at Rudiæ, in Calabria, whence he is styled by Cicero, homo Rudius, and Horace refers to his poetry by the title of Calabræ Pierides. While a young man, he served in the army, and came from Sardinia in the train of M. Porcius Cato, (B. C. 201.) The remainder of his life was passed at Rome, with the exception of the period occupied by the campaign against the Etolians, in which he accompanied M. Fulvius Nobilior, (B. C. 189.) He died B.C. 169, at the age of seventy, and was buried in the tomb of the Scipios, having lived upon terms of the closest intimacy with many members of that illustrious family.

Ennius emeruit, Calabris in montibus ortus,
Contiguus poni, Scipio magne, tibi.'

No portion of his writings has been preserved entire, but detached fragments to the extent of several hundred lines have been collected from quotations to be found in the Classics and the old Grammarians. His principal work was composed in Hexameter verse, a measure which he first introduced from the Greek, and consisted of a history of Rome in eighteen books, commencing with the loves of Mars and Rhea, and reaching down to his own time. It is thus described by Prop. III. iii. 5, when alluding to his own efforts.

Parvaque tam magnis admoram fontibus ora,
Unde pater sitiens Ennius ante bibit,
Et cecinit Curios fratres, et Horatia pila,
Regiaque Emilia vecta tropaa rate:
Victricesque moras Fabii, pugnamque sinistram
Cannensem, et versos ad pia vota deos :
Hannibalemque Lares Romana sede fugantes
Anseris et tutum voce fuisse Iovem.

The subject was chosen with so much judgment, and the task executed with so much spirit, that the success was triumphant. For a long series of years his verses were read aloud to applauding multitudes both in the metropolis and in the provinces, and a class of men arose who, in imitation of the Homerista, devoted themselves exclusively to the study and recitation of the works of Ennius, from whom they were styled Ennianistæ. In the days of Cicero he was still considered the prince of Roman song,2 and even Virgil was not ashamed to borrow many of his thoughts, and, it is said, not a few of his expressions. His language betrayed somewhat of the rudeness of the age in which he lived, but this was fully compensated by its lofty energy. The criticism of Ovid,

Ennius ingenio maximus arte rudis,3

1 Ov. A. A. III. 409. Compare Trist. II. 424.

"Summus poeta noster," Pro Balb. 22. Trist. II. 259. Prop. IV. 1.

may be received as temperate and just, being free from the extravagant and unqualified praise which was lavished upon him by the antiquarians of the Augustan age, and which seems to have provoked Horace to speak somewhat disparagingly of his powers.1

In addition to his Annales, Ennius was highly distinguished as a dramatic author, he published four books of "Satiræ,” a translation of the celebrated work of Euhemerus on the history of the Gods, besides Epigrams and minor pieces, the titles alone of which have been preserved.

19. (Accius.) Pacuvius and Accius (more accurately Attius) were the immediate successors of Ennius in tragic composition. The former was born B. C. 219, and died after B.C. 140; the latter was born B.C. 170, and died after B.C. 103. Both enjoyed a widely extended reputation among their contemporaries, and were spoken of with great enthusiasm even by the critics of the Augustan age. Horace, when complaining of the somewhat unreasonable taste for ancient compositions prevalent in his day, tells us that the comparative merits of these two formed a common subject of discussion, Ep. II. i. 55.

Ambigitur quoties uter utro sit prior, aufert
Pacuvius docti famam senis, Accius alti.

It is worthy of remark, that the titles of three of the tragedies of Accius, Brutus, Decius, Marcellus, prove that he selected the subject of his plays from the history of his own country, an example little followed by those who came after him, inasmuch as they generally had recourse to Greek originals.

(Animosi.) Had commentators paid attention to the lines of Horace, quoted above, they would have at once seen the true meaning of animosi, regarding which there have been some disputes; it is clearly equivalent to alti, and must be translated, "high-souled," "majestic," "sublime." See note on Ov. Her. XIII. 91, p. 242.

21. (Varronem.) Publius Terentius Varro, surnamed Atacinus, from the river Atax (Aude,) in Gallia Narbonnensis, on the banks of which he was born, about B. C. 82. He was the author of a translation or close imitation of the work of Apollonius Rhodius, on the Argonautic Expedition, of a poem on the war of Cæsar with the Sequani, and of satires, elegies, and epigrams. Of all these a few unimportant fragments only remain. He is mentioned by Horace as having failed in Satire, S. I. x. 46.

Hoc erat, experto frustra Varrone Atacino,
Atque quibusdam aliis, melius quod scribere possem,

1 Compare A. P. 258. S. I. x. 53. But, on the other hand, A. P. 58.

while Propertius alludes to his elegies, II. xxxiv. 85.

Hæc quoque perfecto ludebat Iasone Varro,
Varro Leucadiæ maxima flamma suæ.

and the following judgment is pronounced by Quinctilian (x. 1.) "Atacinus Varro in iis per quæ nomen est assecutus, interpres operis alieni non spernendus quidem, verum ad augendam facultatem dicendi parum locuples."

22. (Esonio...duci,) i.e., Jason, the leader of the Argonauts, son of Æson King of Iolchos.

23. (Lucreti.) Lucretius, the author of the poem "De rerum natura," which is an exposition of the physical system Epicurus, was born about 95 B.C., and is supposed to have died 52 B.C., in his forty-fourth year. Of his life no particulars are known. The epithet here applied by Ovid is well merited, for, notwithstanding the abstruse and technical discussions inseparable from his theme, he has lighted up his work with some of the grandest bursts of poetry to be found in any language.

24. (Exitio terras, &c.) Ovid seems here to refer to the words of Lucretius, V. 93.

Principio maria ac terras cœlumque tuere,
Horum naturam triplicem, tria corpora, Memmi,
Tres species tam dissimiles, tria talia texta,
Una dies dabit exitio,, multosque per annos
Sustentata ruet moles et machina mundi.

25. Virgil. Born B.C. 70. Died B.C. 19. 29, 30.

63. v. 64.

34. (Auriferi...Tagi.) See note on Tibullus, Eleg. III. iii. 29. 36. (Castaliæ aquæ.) The waters of the Castalian spring, the favourite resort of Apollo, the Muses, and the Nymphs, pour down from Parnassus through a chasm of the rifted crag, which rises perpendicularly behind Delphi, and are received in a large square bason hewn out of the marble rock.

Gallus...Lycoris.) See note on extracts from Ovid, p.

38. (Multus...legar.) In this and similar expressions multus is equivalent to multum, in the sense of "frequently," ever and anon." Compare Sall. Jug. 86.

"Marius antea iam infestus nobilitati, tum veromultus atque ferox instare." And again, c. 101.

"In operibus, in agmine, atque ad vigilias multus adesse."

« IndietroContinua »