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Inclusam Danaën turris ahenea,
Nocturnis ab adulteris ;
Converso in pretium Deo.
The story of Acrisius, the last king of Argos, who being warned by an oracle that he should be deprived of his kingdom, and put to death by his grandson, resolved, if possible, to hinder his daughter Danae from having any children, and thus prevent the accomplishment of the oracle, is beautifully told. Robustus signifies made of oak. Robusteus is used by Varro and Vitruvius : roboreus by Columella and Ovid: roburneus by Columella. The Latins used adulter simply for a lover. The opposition of character is beautifully managed, and Acrisius's conduct and motives comprised in the single epithet pavidum. . Horáce follows the common and ancient opinion, that Jupiter transformed himself into a shower of gold.
The character of Tigellius is among Horace's most happy and brilliant delineations. The affectation of intimacy with persons of royal and noble rank, founded on casual contact in public or mixed company, is not unknown to modern times :
Modo reges atque tetrarchas, Omnia magna loquens; modo; Sit mihi mensa tripes et Concha salis puri, et toga quæ defendere frigus Quamvis crassa queat. Decies centena dedisses Huic
parvo, paucis contento; quinque diebus Nil erat in loculis.
The table with three feet is the emblem of ancient frugality. No other was known till after the introduction of Asiatic luxury: but when tables with four feet like our own were once introduced, none but the lower classes of the people would use those of the antiquated form. The mention of the concha salis puri is a happy stroke at Tigellius's alternate adoption of extreme rusticity. The superstition attaching to salt throughout the ancient world, and in all half-civilised countries, is remarkable. Selden tells us, “that , the old Gauls (whose customs and the British were near the same) had their orbicular tables to avoid controversy of precedency, a form much commended by a late writer for the like distance of all from the salt, being centre, first, and last, of the furniture.” * We are to infer from this, that our British ancestors placed a vessel in the middle of their round table, filled with a sufficient quantity of salt to serve the whole company; we may suppose that the vessel was considerably ornamented, probably bearing some resemblance to our modern epergne.
So the Romans had their salinum, forming a leading feature in their laws of hospitality. To do an injury to any one with whom they had partaken of salt was a crime against religion, and required a peculiar expiation. But Tigelli satisfied with a mere shell, to hold as much salt as he could himself consume, and professed not to
In compliance with popular superstition, it was an ancient custom to place a quantity of salt on the breast of a corpse. Salt also entered into the composition of an oath :“He took bread and salt by this light, that he would never open his lips.” · The Honest Whore, Act 5. Scene 12.
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.
Galli, canentes Cæsarem;
Puppes sinistrorsum sitæ.
The Kwwwtelov 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 acesòs, 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