The Project Gutenberg eBook, A History of Roman Literature, by Harold North Fowler

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Title: A History of Roman Literature

Author: Harold North Fowler

Release Date: February 22, 2014 [eBook #44975]

Language: English

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E-text prepared by Juliet Sutherland, Turgut Dincer,
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Bust in the Museum of Fine Arts. Boston.




Printer's mark


Copyright, 1903



This book is intended primarily for use as a text-book in schools and colleges. I have therefore given more dates and more details about the lives of authors than are in themselves important, because dates are convenient aids to memory, as they enable the learner to connect his new knowledge with historical facts he may have learned before, while biographical details help to endow authors with something of concrete personality, to which the learner can attach what he learns of their literary and intellectual activity.

Extracts from Latin authors are given, with few exceptions, in English translation. I considered the advisability of giving them in Latin, but concluded that extracts in Latin would probably not be read by most young readers, and would therefore do less good than even imperfect translations. Moreover, the texts of the most important works are sure to be at hand in the schools, and books of selections, such as Cruttwell and Banton’s Specimens of Roman Literature, Tyrrell’s Anthology of Latin Poetry, and Gudeman’s Latin Literature of the Empire, are readily accessible. I am responsible for all translations not accredited to some other translator. In making my translations, I have employed blank verse to represent Latin hexameters; but the selections from the Æneid are given in Conington’s rhymed version, and in some other cases I have used translations of hexameters into metres other than blank verse.

In writing of the origin of Roman comedy, I have not mentioned the dramatic satura. Prof. George L. Hendrickson has pointed out (in the American Journal of Philology, vol. xv, pp. 1-30) that the dramatic satura never really existed, but was invented in Roman literary history because Aristotle, whose account of the origin of comedy was closely followed by the Roman writers, found the origin of Greek comedy in the satyr-drama.

The greater part of the book is naturally taken up with the extant literary works and their authors; but I have devoted some space to the lives and works of authors whose writings are lost. This I have done, not because I believe that the reader should burden his memory with useless details, but partly in order that this book may be of use as a book of reference, and partly because the mention of some of the lost works and their authors may impress upon the reader the fact that something is known of many writers whose works have survived, if at all, only in detached fragments. Not a few of these writers were important in their day, and exercised no little influence upon the progress of literature. Of the whole mass of Roman literary production only a small part—though fortunately in great measure the best part—now exists, and it is only by remembering how much has been lost that the modern reader can appreciate the continuity of Roman literature.

The literature of the third, fourth, and fifth centuries after Christ is treated less fully than that of the earlier times, but its importance to later European civilization has been so great that a summary treatment of it should be included even in a book of such limited scope as this.

The Bibliography will, I hope, be found useful. It is by no means exhaustive, but may serve as a guide to those who have not access to libraries. The purpose of the Chronological Table is not so much to serve as a finding-list of dates as to show at a glance what authors were living and working at any given time. In the Index the names of all Latin writers mentioned in the book are to be found, together with references to numerous topics and to some of the more important historical persons.

Besides the works of the Roman authors, I have consulted the general works mentioned in the Bibliography and numerous other books and special articles. I have made most use of Teuffel’s History of Roman Literature, Schanz’s Römische Litteraturgeschichte, and Mackail’s admirable Latin Literature.

My thanks are due to my colleague, Prof. Samuel Ball Platner, who read the book in manuscript and made many valuable suggestions, and to Professor Perrin, who read not only the manuscript, but also the proof, and suggested not a few desirable changes.

Harold N. Fowler.

Cleveland, Ohio.


I.— Introduction—Early Roman literature—Tragedy 1
II.— Comedy 17
III.— Early prose—The Scipionic Circle—Lucilius 32
IV.— Lucretius 47
V.— Catullus—Minor poets 56
VI.— Cicero 65
VII.— Cæsar—Sallust—Other prose writers 83
VIII.— The patrons of literature—Virgil 97
IX.— Horace 114
X.— Tibullus—Propertius—The lesser poets 128
XI.— Ovid 143
XII.— Livy—Other Augustan prose writers 156
XIII.— Tiberius to Vespasian 169
XIV.— The Flavian emperors—The silver age 194
XV.— Nerva and Trajan 211
XVI.— The emperors after Trajan—Suetonius—Other writers 226
XVII.— Literary innovations 235
XVIII.— Early Christian writers 244
XIX.— Pagan literature of the third century 253
XX.— The fourth and fifth centuries 259
XXI.— Conclusion 278
Appendix I.—Bibliography 285
Appendix II.—Chronological table 297
Index 303


Augustus, bust in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Frontispiece
Cicero, bust in the Vatican Museum, Rome 65
Cæsar, bust in the Museum at Naples 83
Virgil and two Muses, mosaic in the Bardo Museum, Tunis 113

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Importance of Roman literature—The Romans a practical people—The Latin language—Political purpose of Roman writings—Divisions of Roman literature—Elements of a native Roman literature—Appius Claudius Cæcus—Imitation of Greek literature—L. Livius Andronicus, about 284 to about 204 B. C.—Gnæus Nævius, about 270-199 B. C.—Q. Ennius, 239-169 B. C.—His Tragedies—The Annales—M. Pacuvius, 220 to about 130 B. C.—L. Accius, 170 to after 100 B. C.—The Decay of Tragedy—The Roman theatre, actors and costumes.

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Importance of Roman literature. Roman literature, while it lacks the brilliant originality and the delicate beauty which characterize the works of the great Greek writers, is still one of the great literatures of the world, and it possesses an importance for us which is even greater than its intrinsic merits (great as they are) would naturally give it. In the first place, Roman literature has preserved to us, in Latin translations and adaptations, many important remains of Greek literature which would otherwise have been lost, and in the second place, the political power of the Romans, embracing nearly the whole known world, made the Latin language the most widely spread of all languages, and thus caused Latin literature to be read in all lands and to influence the literary development of all the peoples of Europe.

The Romans were a practical race, not gifted with much poetic imagination, but with great ability to organize their state and their army and to accomplish whatever they determined to do. The Romans practical. They had come into Italy with a number of related tribes from the north and had settled in a place on the bank of the Tiber, where they were exposed to attacks from the Etruscans and other neighbors. They were thus forced from the beginning to fortify their city, and live close together within the walls. This made the early development of a form of city government both natural and necessary, and turned the Roman mind toward political organization. Attention to political and military affairs. At the same time, the attacks of external enemies forced the Romans to pay attention to the organization and support of an army. So, from the time of the foundation of their city by the Tiber, the Romans turned their attention primarily to politics and war. The effect upon their language and literature is clearly seen. Their language is akin to Greek, and like Greek is one of the Indo-European family of languages, to which English and the other most important languages of Europe belong. The Latin language. It started with the same material as Greek, but while Greek developed constantly more variety, more delicacy, and more flexibility, Latin is fixed and rigid, a language adapted to laws and commands rather than to the lighter and more graceful kinds of utterance. Circumstances, aided no doubt by the natural bent of their minds, tended to make the Romans political, military, and practical, rather than artistic.

Roman literature, as might be expected after what has just been said, is often not the spontaneous outpouring of literary genius, but the means by which some practical ends or purposes are to be attained. Almost from first to last, the writings of Roman authors have a political purpose, and the influence of political events upon the literature[Pg 3] is most marked. Political purpose of Roman writings. Even those kinds of Roman literature which seem at first sight to have the least connection with political matters have nevertheless a political purpose. Plays were written to enhance the splendor of public festivals provided by office holders who were at the same time office seekers and hoped to win the favor of the people by successful entertainments; history was written to teach the proper methods of action for future use or (sometimes) to add to the influence of living leaders of the state by calling to mind the great deeds of their ancestors; epic and lyric poems were composed to glorify important persons at Rome, or at least to prove the right of Rome to the foremost place among the nations by giving her a literature worthy to rank with that of the Greeks.

The development of Roman literature is closely connected with political events, and its three great divisions correspond to the divisions of Roman political history. Divisions of Roman literature. The first or Republican Period extends from the beginning of Roman literature after the first Punic war (240 B. C.) to the battle of Actium in 31 B. C. The second or Augustan Period, from 31 B. C. to 14 A. D., is the period in which the institutions of the republic were transformed to serve the purposes of the monarchy. The “Golden Age” of Roman literature comprises the last part of the Republican Period and the whole Augustan Period, from 81 B. C. to 14 A. D. The third or Imperial Period lasts from 14 A. D. to the beginning of the Middle Ages. The first part of this period, from 14 to 117 A. D., is called the “Silver Age.” In the first period the Romans learn to imitate Greek literature and develop their language until it is capable of fine literary treatment, and in the latter part of this time they produce some of their greatest works, especially in prose. The second period, made illustrious by Horace and Virgil, is the time when[Pg 4] Roman poetry reaches its greatest height. The third period is a time of decline, sometimes rapid, sometimes retarded for a while, during which Roman literature shows few great works and many of very slight literary value. Throughout the first and second periods, and even for the most part in the third period, Latin literature is produced almost entirely at Rome, is affected by changes in the city, and reflects the sentiments of the city population. It is therefore proper to speak of Roman literature, rather than Latin literature, for that which interests us is the literature of the city by the Tiber and of the civilization with which the city is identified, rather than works written in the Latin language.

The beginning of a real literature at Rome was made by a foreigner of Greek birth, and naturally took the form of an imitation of Greek works. Elements of native Roman literature. This would undoubtedly have been the case, even if the first professional author had been a native Roman, for the Romans had for some time been in close touch with the Greeks of Italy, and Greek literature presented itself to them as a finished product, calling for their admiration and inciting them to imitate it. Nevertheless there were in existence at Rome in early times materials from which a native literature might have arisen if the Greek influence had not been so strong as to prevent their development. The early Romans sang songs at weddings and at harvest festivals, chanted hymns to the gods, and were familiar with rude popular performances which might have given rise to a native drama. The words of such songs and performances were of course, for the most part at least, rhythmical, but few if any of them were committed to writing until much later times. The art of writing was, however, known to the Romans as early as the sixth century B. C., for the Greek colonies on the coast of Italy must have had trade connections with the Romans at a very early time, and wri[Pg 5]ting was thoroughly familiar to the Greeks by the time Rome was two centuries old.

From early times the Romans kept lists of officials, records of prodigies, lists of the dies fasti, i.e., of the days on which it was lawful to conduct public business, and other simple records. The twelve tables of the laws are said to have been written in 451 and 450 B. C., and these had some influence on Roman prose, for they were the first attempt at connected prose in the Latin language. No doubt other laws and probably also treaties were written in Latin and preserved at an early date. Funeral orations called for some practise in oratory, but probably not for careful preparation, and certainly not for composition in writing in the early days of Rome. Appius Claudius Cæcus. The first Roman speech known to have been written out for publication is the speech delivered in 280 B. C., by the aged Appius Claudius Cæcus, in which he urged the rejection of the terms of peace offered by Pyrrhus. This speech was known and read at Rome for two centuries after the death of its author. A collection of sayings or proverbs was also current under the name of Claudius, and he was actively interested in adapting more perfectly to the Latin language the alphabet which the Romans had received from the Greeks, and in fixing the spelling of Latin words.

All this is, however, not so much literature as the material from which literature might have developed if Rome had been removed from the sphere of Greek influence. Since that was not the case, these first steps toward a national literature led to nothing, though they show that the Romans had some originality, and help us to understand some of the peculiarities of Roman literature as distinguished from its Greek prototype. Still Roman literature is a literature of imitation, and the beginning of it was made by a Greek named Andronicus, who was brought to Rome after the capture of Tarentum in

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272 B. C. when he was still a boy. At Rome he was the slave of M. Livius Salinator, whose children he instructed in Greek and Latin. When set free, he took the name of Lucius Livius Andronicus, and continued to teach. L. Livius Andronicus. As there were no Latin books which he could use in teaching, he conceived the idea of translating Homer’s Odyssey into Latin, thereby making the beginning of Latin literature. His translation of the Odyssey was rude and imperfect. Andronicus made no attempt to reproduce in Latin the hexameter verse of Homer, but employed the native Saturnian verse (see page 7), probably because it seemed to him better fitted to the Latin language than the more stately hexameter. After the first Punic war, at the Ludi Romani in 240 B. C., Andronicus produced and put upon the stage Latin translations of a Greek tragedy and a Greek comedy. In these and his later dramas he retained the iambic and trochaic metres of the originals, and his example was followed by his successors. He also composed hymns for public occasions. Of his works only a few fragments are preserved, hardly more than enough to show that they had little real literary merit. But he had made a beginning, and long before his death, which took place about 204 B. C., his successors were advancing along the lines he had marked out.

Gnæus Nævius, a freeborn citizen of a Latin city in Campania, was the first native Latin poet of importance. Gnæus Nævius. He was a soldier in the first Punic war, at the end of which, while still a young man, he came to Rome, where he devoted himself to poetry. He was a man of independent spirit, not hesitating to attack in his comedies and other verses the most powerful Romans, especially the great family of the Metelli. For many years he maintained his position, but at last the Metelli brought about his imprisonment and banishment, and he died in exile in 199 B. C., at about[Pg 7] seventy years of age. His dramatic works were numerous, both tragedies and comedies, for the most part translations and adaptations from the Greek, but alongside of these he produced also plays based upon Roman legends. These were called fabulæ prætextæ or prætextatæ, “plays of the purple stripe,” because the characters wore Roman costumes. In one of these plays, the Romulus (or in two, if the Lupus or “Wolf” is not the Romulus under another title), he dramatized the story of Romulus and Remus, and in another, the Clastidium, the defeat (in 222 B. C.) of the Insubrians by M. Claudius Marcellus and Cn. Cornelius Scipio. In his later years he turned to epic poetry and wrote in Saturnian verse the history of the first Punic war, introduced by an account of the legendary history of Rome from the departure of Æneas for Italy after the fall of Troy. This poem was read and admired for many years, and parts of it were imitated by Virgil in the Æneid. Nævius also wrote other poems, called Satires, on various subjects, partly, but not entirely, in Saturnian metre. Of all these works only inconsiderable fragments remain. They show, however, that Nævius was a poet of real power, and that with him the Latin language was beginning to develop some fitness for literary use. His epitaph, preserved by Aulus Gellius, will serve not only to show the stiff and monotonous rhythm of the Saturnian verse, but also, since it was probably written by Nævius himself, to exhibit his proud consciousness of superiority:

Immórtalés mortáles sí forét fas flére
Flerént divaé Caménae Naéviúm poétam.
Itáque póstquam est Órci tráditús thesaúro
Oblíti súnt Romái loquiér linguá Latína.

If it were right that mortals be wept for by immortals,
The goddess Muses would weep for Nævius the poet.
And so since to the treasure of Orcus he’s departed,
The Romans have forgotten to speak the Latin language.

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Nævius had a right to be proud. He had made literature a real force at Rome, able to contend with the great men of the city; he had invented the drama with Roman characters, and had written the first national epic poem. In doing all this he had at the same time added to the richness and grace of the still rude Latin language. But great as were the merits of Nævius, he was surpassed in every way by his successor.

Quintus Ennius, a poet of surprising versatility and power, was born at Rudiæ, in Calabria, in 239 B. C. Quintus Ennius. While he was serving in the Roman army in Sardinia, in 204 B. C., he met with M. Porcius Cato, who took him home to Rome. Here Ennius gave lessons in Greek and translated Greek plays for the Roman stage. He became acquainted with several prominent Romans, among them the elder Scipio Africanus, went to Ætolia as a member of the staff of M. Fulvius Nobilior, and obtained full Roman citizenship in 184 B. C. His death was brought on by the gout in 169 B. C.

Various works of Ennius. The works of Ennius were many and various, including tragedies, comedies, a great epic poem, a metrical treatise on natural philosophy, a translation of the work of Euhemerus, in which he explained the nature of the gods and declared that they are merely famous men of old times,1 a poem on food and cooking, a series of Precepts, epigrams (in which the elegiac distich was used for the first time in Latin), and satires. His most important works were his tragedies and his great epic, the Annales.

The tragedies were, like those of Nævius, translations of the works of the great Greek tragedians and their less great, but equally popular, successors. His dramatic works. The titles and [Pg 9]some fragments of twenty-two of these plays are preserved, from which it is evident that Ennius sometimes translated exactly and sometimes freely, while he allowed himself at other times to depart from his Greek original even to the extent of changing the plot more or less. For the most part, however, the invention of the plot, the delineation of character, and the poetic imagery of his plays were due to the Greek dramatists whose works he presented in Latin form. To Ennius himself belong the skillful use of the Latin language, the ability to express in a new language the thoughts rather than the words of the Greek poets, and also such changes as were necessary to make the Greek tragedies appeal more strongly to a Roman audience. It is impossible to tell from the fragments just what changes were made, but the popularity of the plays, which continued long after the death of Ennius, proves that the changes attained their object and pleased the audience. The titles of two fabulæ prætextæ by Ennius are known, the Sabine Women, a dramatic presentation of the legend of the Rape of the Sabines, and Ambracia, a play celebrating the capture of Ambracia by M. Fulvius Nobilior. His comedies seem to have been neither numerous nor especially successful.

The Annales. The most important work of Ennius is his great epic in eighteen books, the Annales, in which he told the legendary and actual history of the Romans from the arrival of Æneas in Italy to his own time. In this work, as in his tragedies, he may be said to have followed in the way pointed out by Nævius, but the Annales mark an immense advance beyond the Bellum Punicum of Nævius. The monotonous and unpolished Saturnian metre could not, even in the most skillful hands, attain the dignity or the melodious cadences appropriate to great epic poems. Ennius therefore gave up the native Italian metre and wrote his[Pg 10] epic in hexameter verse in imitation of Homer. This was no easy matter, for the laws of the verse as it existed in Greek could not be applied without change to Latin, but Ennius modified them in some particulars and thus fixed the form of the Latin hexameter, at the same time establishing in great part the rules of Latin prosody. Only about six hundred lines of the Annales remain, and many of these are detached from their context, yet from these we can see that Ennius had much poetic imagination, great skill in the use of words, and great dignity of diction. The line At tuba terribili sonitu taratantara dixit shows at once his ability to make the sound of his words imitate the sound he wishes to describe (in this case that of a trumpet) and his liking for alliteration. This last quality is found in many Roman poets, but in none more frequently than Ennius.

The Annales continued to be read and admired even after the time of Virgil, though the Æneid soon took rank as the greatest Roman epic. Some of the lines of Ennius breathe the true Roman spirit of military pride and civic rectitude, as

Moribus antiquis res stat Romana virisque,2


Quem nemo ferro potuit superare nec auro,3


Nec cauponantes bellum sed belligerentes.4

Among the existing fragments are several which seem to have suggested to Virgil some of the passages in the Æneid, and there is no doubt that Virgil found Ennius worthy of imitation.

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We may learn something of the character of Ennius from a passage of the Annales in which he is said,5 on the authority of the grammarian L. Ælius Stilo, to be describing himself: “A man of such a nature that no thought ever prompts him to do a bad deed either carelessly or maliciously; a learned, faithful, pleasant man, eloquent, contented and happy, witty, speaking fit words in season, courteous, and of few words, possessing much ancient buried lore; a man whom old age made wise in customs old and new and in the laws of many ancients, both gods and men; one who knew when to speak and when to be silent.”

Ennius was the first great epic poet at Rome. After him epic poetry was neglected, until it was taken up again a hundred years later. Continued production of tragedies, but not of epics. Tragedy, however the other branch of literature in which Ennius chiefly excelled, was cultivated without interruption, for it had become usual to produce tragedies at the chief festivals of the city and on other public occasions, and new plays were therefore constantly in demand. But as gladiatorial shows grew more frequent and more magnificent, tragedy declined in popularity, though tragedies continued to be written, and even acted. The development of Roman tragedy is, however, contained within a few generations, the professional authors of tragedies about whom we have any information are few, and their works are lost, with the exception of such fragments as have happened to be quoted by later writers. It is therefore best to continue the account of Roman tragedy now, even at the sacrifice of strict chronological order.

The successor of Ennius as a writer of tragedies was his nephew, Marcus Pacuvius, who was born at Brundusium in 220 B. C., but spent most of his life at Rome. Marcus Pacuvius. As an old [Pg 12]man he returned to southern Italy, and died at Tarentum about 130 B. C. He was a painter, as well as a writer of tragedies, and it may be due to his activity as a painter that his plays were comparatively few. The titles of twelve tragedies are known, in addition to one fabula prætexta, the Paulus, written in honor of the victory of L. Æmilius Paulus over King Perseus in the battle of Pydna (168 B. C.). These plays are all lost, and the existing fragments (about 400 lines) are unsatisfactory. Cicero considered Pacuvius the greatest Roman tragic writer, and Horace speaks of him as “learned.” Probably this epithet refers to his careful use of language as well as to his knowledge of the less popular legends of Greek mythology. The extant fragments show more ease and grace of style than do those of Ennius, and great richness of vocabulary. Some of the words used are not found elsewhere, and seem to have been invented by Pacuvius himself; at any rate they did not come into ordinary use. Of the real dramatic ability of Pacuvius we can not judge, but his literary skill is evident even from the poor fragments we have. We may therefore believe that Cicero’s favorable judgment of him was in some measure justified.

The last important writer of tragedies, and probably the greatest of all, was Lucius Accius, of Pisaurum, in Umbria. Lucius Accius. He was born in 170 B. C., and one of his first tragedies was produced in 140 B. C., when Pacuvius produced one of his last. Accius lived to a great age, but the date of his death is not known. Cicero, as a young man, was well acquainted with him, and used to listen to his stories of his own early years. The shortness of the life of Roman tragedy, and the rapidity with which Roman literature developed, may be seen by observing that Cicero, the, great master of Latin prose, knew Accius, whose birth took place only thirty-four years after the death of Livius Andronicus.[Pg 13] Of the plays of Accius somewhat more than 700 lines are preserved, and about fifty titles are known. The fragments are for the most part detached lines, but some are long enough to let us see that the poet had a vigorous and graceful style, and a vivid imagination. Like most of his predecessors, Accius wrote various minor poems, and was interested in the development of the Latin language. He proposed a number of innovations, including some changes in the alphabet, but these last were not adopted by others. Besides his tragedies translated from the Greek, he wrote at least two fabulæ prætextæ, the Brutus, in which he dramatized the tale of the expulsion of the Tarquins, and Æneadæ, glorifying the death of Publius Decius Mus at the battle of Sentinum in 295 B. C. Even in his regular tragedies he departed occasionally from the original Greek so far as to show his own power of invention, though these plays were for the most part mere free translations. One of the longer fragments,6 in which a shepherd, who has never seen a ship before, describes the coming of the Argo, may give some idea of Accius’s skill in description:

So great a mass glides on, roaring from the deep with vast sound and breath, rolls the waves before it, and stirs up the whirlpools mightily. It rushes gliding forward, scatters and blows back the sea. Now you might think a broken cloud was rolling on, now that a lofty rock, torn off, was being swept along by winds or hurricanes, or that eddying whirlwinds were rising as the waves rush together; or that the sea was stirring up some confused heaps of earth, or that perhaps Triton with his trident overturning the cavern down below, in the billowy tide, was raising from the deep a rocky mass to heaven.

With Accius, Roman tragedy reaches its height. Contemporary with him were C. Titius and C. Julius Cæsar Strabo (died 87 B. C.), both of whom were orators as well [Pg 14]as tragic poets. Of their works only slight traces remain. Decay of tragedy. After this time tragedies were written by literary men as a pastime, or for the entertainment of their friends, and some of their plays were actually performed. The Emperor Augustus began a play entitled Ajax, Ovid wrote a Medea, and Varius (about 74-14 B. C.) was famous for his Thyestes, but none of these works has left more than a mere trace of its existence. The tragedies of Seneca (about 1-65 A. D.) were rather literary exercises than productions for the stage. With the growth of prose literature, especially of oratory, on the one hand, and the increased splendor of the gladiatorial shows on the other, tragedy ceased to be a living branch of Roman literature.

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Before passing on to the treatment of comedy, it would be well to try to picture to ourselves the Roman theatre and the manner of producing a play. The Roman theatre. In the early days of Livius Andronicus there was no permanent theatre building, and the spectators stood up during the performance, but, as time went on, arrangements for seating the audience were made, and finally, in 55 B. C., a stone theatre was erected. Stone theatres had long been in use in Greece, and in course of time they came to be built in all the large cities of the Roman empire. The Roman theatre differed somewhat from the Greek theatre, though resembling it in its general appearance. The stage. The Roman stage was about three or four feet high, and long and wide enough to give room for several actors, usually not more than four or five at a time, one or two musicians, a chorus of indefinite number, and as many supernumeraries as might be needed. These last were sometimes very numerous, when kings appeared with their body-guards, or generals led their armies or their hosts of prisoners upon the stage. At the back of the stage was a building, usually three stories high, representing a palace. In the middle was a door leading into the royal apartments, and two other doors, one at each side, led to the rooms for guests. At each end of the stage was a door, the one at the right leading to the forum, the other to the country or the harbor. Changes of scene were imperfectly made by changing parts of the decoration. In comedies, the background represented not a palace, but a private house or a street of houses.

In front of the stage was the semicircular orchestra or arena, in which distinguished persons had their seats. The orchestra and the cavea. This semicircle was flat and level. The front of the stage formed the diameter. From the curve of the orchestra rose the cavea, consisting of seats in semicircular rows, rising from the orchestra at an angle sufficient to enable those who sat in any row to see over those who sat in front of them. The theatre had no roof, but in the luxurious times of the empire, and even before the end of the republic, a covering of canvas or silk was stretched like a tent between the spectators and the sun.

In the early days of the Roman drama, the actors did not wear masks, but before the end of the republic masks were introduced. Masks and costumes. These were useful in the large theatres of the time, as they added to the volume of the actor’s voice, and since the expression of the actor’s face could be seen by only a small proportion of the spectators, little was lost by hiding it with a mask. The masks themselves were carefully made, and were appropriate to the different characters. The costumes were conventional, kings wearing long robes and holding sceptres in their left hands, all tragic actors wearing boots with thick soles to raise them above the stature of the chorus, and all comic actors wearing low shoes without heels. The actors were, as a rule at least, slaves, but the profits of the profession were so great that a successful actor can have had but little difficulty in buying his freedom.

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In Roman tragedies, as in their Greek originals, the dialogue was carried on in simple metres, mostly trochaic and iambic, and a chorus of trained singers sang between the acts, but probably took little part in the action of the play. Dialogue and song. The songs of the chorus were composed in more elaborate metres than the dialogue, and were sung to the accompaniment of the flute. In Roman comedy there was no chorus, but parts of the play were sung as solos or duets. These were called cantica, while the dialogue parts of the comedy were called diverbia.

Plays were performed at Rome on various occasions when the people were to be entertained, and the ædiles and other officials and public men vied with each other in showing their wealth and in courting popularity. Brilliancy of dramatic performances. We must, therefore, imagine, that when a play was performed in the latter part of the republican period the actors, chorus, and supernumeraries were dressed in the richest and most gorgeous costumes, and everything possible was done to add to the spectacular effect of the performance, while the audience, excited by the scene and the action, lost no opportunity of cheering their favorite actors, or hissing those who failed to please.

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Comedy imported—Plautus, about 254 to 184 B. C.—Plots of Roman comedies—Extant plays of Plautus—Degree of originality in Plautus—Statius Cæcilius, birth unknown, death about 165 B. C.—Other comic writers—Terence, about 190 to 159 B. C.—Plays of Terence—Plautus and Terence compared—Turpilius, died 103 B. C.—Fabula togata—Titinius, about 150 B. C. (?)—Titus Quinctius Atta, died 77 B. C.—Lucius Afranius, born about 150 B. C.—Fescennine verses—Fabulæ Atellanæ—Pomponius and Novius, about 90 B. C.—Mimes—Decimus Laberius and Publilius Syrus, about 50 B. C.

Comedy, like tragedy, was an imported product, not an original growth, at Rome. Comedy an imported product. There had, to be sure, been improvised dialogues of more or less dramatic nature even before Livius Andronicus, but these, about which a few words will be said later, have nothing to do with the origin of Roman comedy, which is an imitation of the new Attic comedy as it existed at Athens after the time of Alexander the Great, being at its best from about 320 to about 280 B. C. No plays of the new Attic comedy are preserved in the original Greek, but there are fragments which supplement the knowledge we derive from the Latin imitations. The poets of the new comedy, Menander, Philemon, Diphilus, and others, avoided historical and political subjects and drew their comedies from private life, finding in petty intrigues, interesting situations, and unexpected complications, some compensation for the general meagreness of the plot. This kind of play was [Pg 18] called at Rome fabula palliata because the actors wore the pallium, or Greek costume. Another kind of comedy, in which Roman characters and scenes were represented, though even in this kind of plays the plots were derived from Greek originals, was called fabula togata, because the actors wore the Roman toga. Of this latter kind of plays only a few fragments are preserved, and it seems never to have been so popular as the fabula palliata.

Livius Andronicus, Ennius, and Pacuvius, all produced comedies at Rome, as did other writers of tragedies, but of these works only scanty fragments remain. Three writers, Plautus, Cæcilius, and Terence, devoted themselves exclusively to comedy, and it is from the extant plays of the eldest and the youngest of these, Plautus and Terence, that most of our knowledge of Roman comedy is derived.

Titus Maccius Plautus (Flatfoot) was born at Sarsina, a town of Umbria, about 254 B. C. T. Maccius Plautus. He went to Rome while still a boy, and seems to have earned so much as a servant or assistant of actors, that he was able to leave the city and engage in trade at some other place. His business venture was a failure; he lost his money, and returned to Rome, where he hired himself out to a miller, in whose service he was when he wrote his first three plays. His first appearance with a play was probably about 224 B. C. Further details of his life are unknown. He died in 184 B. C., at the age of about seventy years. He was, therefore, a younger contemporary of Livius Andronicus and Nævius, but older than Ennius and Pacuvius.

Of the plays of Plautus twenty are extant, besides extensive fragments of another. His total production is said to have been one hundred and thirty plays, though some of these were probably wrongly ascribed to him. The plots of his plays, as of those of Terence, are usually[Pg 19] founded upon a love affair between a young man of good family and a girl of low position and doubtful character. The plots and characters of Roman comedies. The young man is aided by his servant or a parasite, but his father is opposed to his having anything to do with the girl. The girl’s mother or mistress usually aids the lovers, but often has to be won over by money, which the young man and his servant have to get from his father. Sometimes the characters mentioned are duplicated, and we have two pairs of lovers, two irate fathers, two cunning slaves, etc. Other typical characters are the procurer, the parasite, the boastful soldier, and a few more, who help to bring about amusing situations, and serve as the butt of many jokes. In the end, the lovers are usually united, and the girl turns out to be of good birth, often the long-lost daughter of one of the older men in the play. Sometimes other plots are chosen, as in the Amphitruo, which is founded on the story that Jupiter, when he visited Alcmene, used to take the form of her husband Amphitryon, and the fun of the play is caused by the confusion between the real husband and the disguised god. In a few plays the plot is less decidedly a love plot, but, as a general rule, the Roman comedies had love stories for their foundation. There is, however, room for considerable variety, as may be seen by a brief sketch of the contents of the extant plays of Plautus.

The Amphitruo, bringing the “Father of gods and men” into comic confusion with a mortal, and under very suspicious circumstances at that, is a burlesque, full of rather broad fun and amusing situations, perhaps the most interesting of all Latin comedies. The extant plays of Plautus. In the Asinaria, the Casina, and the Mercator, father and son are rivals for the affection of the same girl. Of these three, the Casina is the worst in its indecency, while the other two lack interest. These plays, however, like all the comedies of Plautus, are full[Pg 20] of animal spirits, plays on words, and clever dialogue. The Aulularia, or Pot of Gold, has a plot of little interest, but is famous for the brilliant and lifelike presentation of the chief character, the old miser Euclio. The Captivi, one of the best of the plays, has for its subject the friendship between a master and his slave. There are no female characters, and the piece is entirely free from the coarseness and immorality which disfigure most of the others. The Trinummus, or Three-penny Piece, has also friendship, not love, as its leading motive, though it ends with a betrothal. This play also is free from coarseness, and gives an attractive picture of the good old days when friend was true to friend. The Curculio is interesting chiefly through the cleverness of the parasite, who succeeds in making the rival of his employer furnish the money needed to obtain the girl. The Epidicus, the Mostellaria, and the Persa, also owe their interest to the tricks and rascalities of the parasite or the valet. The Cistellaria, only part of which is preserved, contains a love affair, but has for its chief interest the recognition between a father and his long-lost daughter. The Vidularia, too, which exists only in fragments, leads up to a recognition, this time between a father and his son. The Miles Gloriosus, a play of very ordinary plot, is distinguished for the somewhat exaggerated and farcical portrait of the braggart soldier. So the Pseudolus is a piece of character drawing, in which the perjured go-between, Ballio, is the one important figure. In the Bacchides the plot is more intricate and interesting, and the execution more brilliant, but the life depicted is that of loose women and immoral men. The Stichus has little plot, but several attractive scenes. Two women, whose husbands have disappeared, remain faithful to them, and are rewarded by having them return with great wealth. The Pœnulus is chiefly interesting on account of passages in the Cartha[Pg 21]ginian language, which have for centuries attracted the attention of linguists. In the Truculentus, a countryman comes to the city and changes his rustic manners for city polish. The scenes are witty and effective, but the plot is weak. In the Menæchmi, twin brothers come to the town of Epidamnum, and their likeness to each other causes most laughable confusion. This is the original of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors and many other modern plays of similar plot. The Rudens, or Cable, has for its subject the restoration of a long-lost daughter to her father and her union with her lover, but is distinguished from the other plays of Plautus by the evident love of nature and the fresh breath of the sea and open air that breathe through it, making it one of the most attractive of his comedies.

How much of the plots of these plays can be attributed to Plautus himself it is hard to tell. Degree of originality in Plautus. In some instances nearly all the details seem to be Greek, and probably the plays in which this is the case are simply free translations with just enough changes to make them easily understood at Rome. In other cases, as in the Stichus, the play as we have it seems to be made up of scenes only loosely strung together, arranged apparently rather for a Roman audience which cared chiefly for spectacular effect and stage by-play than for a Greek audience accustomed to weigh and criticize the excellence of the plot. In some instances, too, the Latin play is known to be made up of scenes taken from two Greek plays and put together in order to produce a single piece of more action than either of the originals. The importance of the work of the Latin playwright varies therefore considerably. There are, however, numerous passages containing references to details of Roman life, which must be in great measure original with the Roman writer; there are many plays on Latin words which could not be introduced in a mere translation from[Pg 22] a foreign language; and in other respects also the comedies show Roman rather than Greek qualities. We must therefore attribute to Plautus a considerable share of originality, and the metrical form of his plays is naturally due to him alone.

The following passage, whatever it may owe to the Greek original, doubtless owes part of its unusual liveliness to Plautus:7

Sceparnio. But, O Palæmon, holy companion of Neptune, who art said to be a sharer in the labors of Hercules, what’s that I see? Two shipwrecked women.   Dæmones.What do you see?  Scep. I see two women folk sitting all alone in a boat. How the poor things are tossed about! Ah! ha! Bully for that! The current has turned the boat from the rock to the shore. No pilot could have done it better. I think I never saw bigger waves. They are safe, if they have escaped those billows. Now, now’s the danger! Oh! It has thrown one of them out. But she’s in shallow water; she’ll swim out easily. Whew! Do you see how the water threw that other one out? She’s come up again; she’s coming this way. She’s safe!

A second passage8 will give an idea of the style of some of the dialogue of Plautus. The speakers are a boy, Pægnium, and a maid-servant, Sophoclidisca:

Sophoclidisca. Pægnium, darling boy, good day. How do you do? How’s your health?  Pægnium. Bantering talk. Sophoclidisca, the gods bless me!  Soph. How about me?  Pæg. That’s as the gods choose; but if they do as you deserve, they’ll hate you and hurt you.  Soph. Stop your bad talk.  Pæg. When I talk as you deserve, my talk is good, not bad.  Soph. What are you doing?  Pæg. I’m standing opposite and looking at you, a bad woman.  Soph. Surely I never knew a worse boy than you.  Pæg. What do I do that’s bad, or to whom do I say anything bad?  Soph. To whomever you get a chance.  Pæg. No man ever thought so.  Soph. But many know that it is so.  Pæg. Ah!  Soph. Bah!  Pæg. You judge other people’s characters by your own nature.  Soph. I confess I am as a pimp’s maid [Pg 23]should be.  Pæg. I’ve heard enough.  Soph. What about you? Do you confess you’re as I say?  Pæg. I’d confess if I were so.  Soph. Go off now. You’re too much for me.  Pæg. Then you go off now.  Soph. Tell me this: where are you going?  Pæg. Where are you going?  Soph. You tell; I asked first.  Pæg. But you’ll find out last.  Soph. I’m not going far from here.  Pæg. And I’m not going far, either.  Soph. Where are you going, then, scamp?  Pæg. Unless I hear first from you, you’ll never know what you ask.  Soph. I declare you’ll never find out to-day, unless I hear first from you.  Pæg. Is that so?  Soph. Yes, it is.  Pæg. You’re bad.  Soph. You’re a scamp.  Pæg. I’ve a right to be.  Soph. And I’ve just as good a right. Pæg. What’s that you say? Have you made up your mind not to tell where you’re going, you wretch?  Soph. How about you? Have you determined to conceal where you’re bound for, you scoundrel?  Pæg. Hang it, you answer like with like. Go away now, since it’s settled so. I don’t care to know. Good-by.

Statius Cæcilius, an Insubrian by birth, probably came to Rome as a slave—that is, a captive—at some time not far from 200 B. C. Statius Cæcilius. Here he became a writer of comedies, was set free by his master, and lived in the same house with Ennius. He died about 165 B. C. The titles of some forty plays by Cæcilius are known; but the extant fragments are too short to afford much information as to his style, his ability, or the contents of his plays. As many of the titles of his pieces are known also as titles of plays by Menander, it is clear that Cæcilius presented plays of the Greek new comedy in Latin form. Other writers of comedies. He appears to have followed the Greek originals rather more closely than Plautus, and to have cultivated elegance of style rather than brilliant dialogue. Other comic writers of the same time were Trabea, Atilius, Aquilius, Licinius Imbrex, and Luscius Lanuvinus, of whose works few fragments exist, and who are mentioned here merely to show that there were writers of comedies at Rome between Plautus and Terence. No one of them, however, seems to [Pg 24] have possessed the originality and exuberant wit of Plautus, or to have attained the elegance and polish of Terence.

Publius Terentius Afer, called Terence in English, was born at Carthage and brought to Rome as a slave. P. Terentius Afer. He can not have come as a captive to Rome, for his birth took place between the second and third Punic wars, at a time when the Romans were waging no war in Africa. He was the slave of the senator Terentius Lucanus, by whom he was carefully educated and soon set free. From him he derived his name Terentius, and he was called Afer on account of his African origin. He became intimate with Scipio Africanus the younger, his friend Lælius, and others of the most cultivated and prominent men of Rome. It was even said by some that the plays of Terence were really written by Scipio, while others thought Lælius was their author. This goes to prove that Terence was intimate with Scipio, Lælius, and the rest, and may be regarded as an indication of his age; for if he was much older than Scipio he would hardly have been charged with passing off Scipio’s work as his own. If he was of the same age as Scipio he was born in 185 B. C., and in that case was only nineteen years old when the Andria, his first play, was produced in 166. It is therefore likely that he was a few years older than Scipio, and was born about 190 B. C. After he had produced six comedies he went to Greece in 160 B. C. to study, and died in the next year either on his way back to Rome or in Greece. His popularity with the most cultivated men of Rome testifies to his good breeding and agreeable manners. Suetonius tells us that he was of moderate height, slender figure, and dark complexion, that he had a daughter who was afterwards married to a Roman knight, and that he left property amounting to twenty acres. The six plays of Terence are all preserved to us, together with the dates of the first performance of each.

[Pg 25]

The Andria, produced at the Ludi Megalenses, 166 B. C., is adapted from the Andria of Menander, with additions from his Perinthia. The Andria. A young man, Pamphilus, is in love with a girl from Andros, but his father, Simo, has arranged a marriage for him with the daughter of a neighbor, Chremes. Pamphilus’s servant, Davus, succeeds in breaking off the match, and the girl from Andros is finally found to be a daughter of Chremes. Pamphilus and his beloved are united, and a second young man comes forward to marry the other daughter.

The Hecyra (Mother-in-law), first produced at the Ludi Megalenses, 165 B. C., is adapted from the Greek of Apollodorus. The Hecyra. Pamphilus is a young man who has recently married Philumena, for whom he has no affection. He goes on a journey to attend to some property, and Philumena returns to her mother. Upon Pamphilus’s return, a child born to Philumena in his absence is shown to be his, and he and Philumena are reconciled. This play was unsuccessful, and deservedly so, as it is the least interesting Latin comedy extant.

The Heauton-Timorumenos (Self-tormentor), after Menander’s play of the same title, was produced at the Ludi Megalenses in 163 B. C. The Heauton-Timorumenos. Menedemus has by his harshness driven his son Clinias, who is in love with Antiphila, to take service in a foreign army. He therefore torments himself on account of remorse, and he confides his troubles to his friend Chremes, whose son, Clitipho, is in love with Bacchis. When Clinias comes back from the wars, he and Clitipho get Chremes to receive Antiphila and Bacchis in his house, in the belief that Clinias is in love with Bacchis, and that Antiphila is her servant. Finally Antiphila is found to be the daughter of Chremes and is betrothed to Clinias. Clitipho gives up the spendthrift Bacchis. The comic personage of the play is the slave Syrus, who helps the young men to get the money they[Pg 26] need. The character of Chremes is well drawn, but the action of the play is weak.

The Eunuchus, produced at the Ludi Megalenses in 161 B. C., is adapted from the “Eunuch” of Menander, with additions from the “Flatterer” of the same author. The Eunuchus. The plot is complicated and interesting, involving a love affair between Thais and Phædria, who has a soldier as his rival, and a second love affair between Pamphila, who had been brought up as foster sister to Thais, and Phædria’s brother, Chærea. In order to approach Pamphila, Chærea disguises himself as a eunuch. In the end Pamphila’s brother Chremes appears, proclaims her free birth, and sanctions her marriage to Chærea. The characters are well drawn, Chærea, perhaps, the best of all, and the action is amusing.

The Phormio, first performed at the Ludi Romani, in 161 B. C., is adapted from the Greek of Apollodorus. The Phormio. Two brothers, Chremes and Demipho, have gone on a journey, leaving their two sons, Phædria and Antipho, in charge of a slave, Geta. Antipho marries a poor girl named Phanium, from Lesbos, and Phædria falls in love with a slave girl, whose owner sells her to some one else, but agrees to give her to Phædria if he brings the sum of thirty minæ in one day. The two fathers return, and the parasite, Phormio, from whom the play takes its name, now has to get the money for Phædria and to secure the consent of Demipho to the marriage of Antipho and Phanium. He gets the money from Demipho by telling him that he will himself marry Phanium for thirty minæ, but just at the right moment Phanium is found to be the daughter of Chremes, and her marriage with Antipho is accepted by all parties. The plot is well carried out, and the two old men and their sons are well portrayed.

The Adelphœ (Brothers), after Menander’s play of the same name, with additions from a play by Diphilus[Pg 27] was first performed at the funeral games of Æmilius Paulus, in 160 B. C. The Adelphœ. Demea had two sons, and gave his brother, Micio, one of them, named Æschinus, keeping the other, Ctesipho, himself. Micio is a bachelor, and treats Æschinus with the greatest indulgence, whereas Demea is very strict toward Ctesipho, but the result is about the same. Ctesipho falls in love with a harpist, whom Æschinus, to please his brother, carries off from her master. Æschinus himself is engaged in an affair with the daughter of a poor widow. The girl is, however, of good Attic parentage, and Æschinus has promised to marry her. In the end this marriage takes place, Ctesipho gets his harpist and Micio is persuaded to marry the widow.

The plays of Terence are written in a style far more advanced, more refined, and more artistic than those of Plautus, but they show much less originality, wit, and vigor. Terence and Plautus compared. Plautus wrote at a time when Greek culture was already known to the Romans, but when it was less thoroughly appreciated than later, and he wrote not for any one class of Romans, but for the people. The language of Plautus is therefore the language of every-day life as it was spoken by the average Roman; his wit is of the kind that appealed to ordinary men, and his plays have much action, that the common man might enjoy them. Plautus took Greek plays and made them over to suit the average Roman. The position of Terence was different. In his day a cultivated class of Romans existed, who knew Greek literature well, who admired and loved Greek culture, but were none the less patriotic Romans. These men wished to introduce all that was best in Greece into Rome. So far as literature was concerned, they wished to make Latin literature as much like Greek literature as possible, and therefore encouraged imitation rather than originality,[Pg 28] purity and grace of language rather than vigor of thought or expression. These were the men among whom Terence lived, and whose taste influenced him most. His plays contain few indications that they are written for a Roman audience (except, of course, that they are written in Latin), but are Greek in their refinement of language, gentle humor, and polished excellence of detail. There is less variety of metre than in the plays of Plautus, as, indeed, there is less variety of any kind, for Terence relies for his effect, not upon variety, but upon finished elegance. He is the earliest Latin author who tries to equal the Greeks in stylistic refinement, and few of those who came after him were as successful as he.

Many of the qualities of the style of Terence are lost in translation; but something of the air of ease, naturalness, and good humor that pervades his plays is seen in the short scene in the Phormio, in which Demipho asks Nausistrata, the wife of Chremes, to persuade Phanium to marry Phormio.9

Demipho. Come then, Nausistrata, with your usual good nature make her feel kindly toward us, so that she may do of her own accord what must be done.  Nausistrata. I will.  De. You’ll be aiding me now with your good offices, just as you helped me a while ago with your purse.  Na. You’re quite welcome; and upon my word, it’s my husband’s fault that I can do less than I might well do.  De. Why, how is that?  Na. Because he takes wretched care of my father’s honest savings; he used regularly to get two talents from those estates. How much better one man is than another!  De. Two talents, do you say?  Na. Yes, two talents, and when prices were much lower than now.  De. Whew!  Na. What do you think of that?  De. Oh, of course—  Na. I wish I’d been born a man, I’d soon show you—  De. Oh, yes, I’m sure. Na. The way—  De. Pray do save yourself up for her, lest she may wear you out; she’s young, you know.  Na. I’ll do as you tell me. But there’s my husband coming out of your house.

[Pg 29]

The comedies of Plautus and Terence have served as the originals for almost countless plays in later times, and through them the Greek comedy has survived until our own day. Turpilius. There were other Latin writers of comedies derived from the Greek after Terence, most noted of whom was Turpilius, who died in 103 B. C., but of their works, which were unimportant, little remains. Of the fabula togata, Roman comedy in Roman dress, little need be said. It never attained great popularity, and it lasted but a comparatively short time. Fabula togata. Titinius, Atta, Afranius. The first writer of comedies of this sort was Titinius. About one hundred and eighty lines of fragments and fifteen titles of his plays are preserved, from which we can learn little about the quality of his works. He seems to have written a little later than Terence. Titus Quinctius Atta has left to us the titles of eleven plays and about twenty-five lines of fragments. Little is known of him except the date of his death, 77 B. C. Lucius Afranius, the last and most important writer of this kind of comedies, was born probably not far from 150 B. C. Forty-two titles and more than four hundred lines of fragments now remain to attest his activity. The scenes of the plays are laid in the smaller towns of Italy, and the characters belong for the most part to the lower social classes. In these respects Afranius seems to have differed little from Titinius and Atta, but his plays had apparently less local color than theirs, and thus approached more nearly the character of the fabula palliata as developed by Terence.

Three other kinds of dramatic composition deserve brief mention, though little now remains of them and their literary importance was never very great. Fescennine Verses. The Fescennine Verses, named from the town of Fescennium in Etruria, were originally sung at rustic festivals and weddings and consisted of jokes and sarcasms directed by the country folk at each other. [Pg 30] Fabulæ Atellanæ. They never became regular stage performances, and gradually lost their dramatic qualities, until they were nothing more than wedding songs. The Fabulæ Atellanæ, named from the Oscan town of Atella, in Campania, had some sort of plot, carried out with more or less dramatic unity. The characters were conventional—Maccus, the fool, Pappus, the old man, Bucco, the talker and liar, Dossenus, the clever man and boaster, and the like—and the whole performance was a popular burlesque comedy, somewhat like our Punch and Judy. This sort of performance was introduced at Rome after the conquest of Campania, in 211 B. C., and Roman youths of good family took the parts for amusement. Somewhat later, the custom arose of performing an Atellan piece at the end of a tragedy. The performers were now regular actors, and presently the Fabulæ Atellanæ became a regular branch of literature, the chief writers of which were Lucius Pomponius, from Bononia, and Novius, both of whom flourished in the time of Sulla, about 90 B. C. Few fragments of their works remain. The Atellan plays continued to be performed even after the beginning of the empire, but the words became less and less important, and the performance became mere pantomime. Mimes. Another kind of burlesque performance was the Mime, which was introduced into Rome from the Greek cities of Italy and Sicily. It had less consistent plots than comedy, and was more popular in its character. Though doubtless introduced at Rome as early as comedy itself, it hardly appears as a branch of literature until about the time of Cicero, when mimes serve as afterpieces at tragic performances. In imperial times mimes were performed independently. The chief authors of mimes were Decimus Laberius (105-43 B. C.), a Roman knight, and Publilius Syrus, a slave from Antioch, both belonging to the time of Cæsar, about the middle of the first century B. C. No mimes are extant, nor is their[Pg 31] loss to be greatly regretted, for their humor was generally coarse, their plots often indecent, and their literary qualities of a low order. Some of the fragments of the mimes of Laberius show, however, considerable merit, and in those of Publilius so many sensible precepts and wise utterances were embodied that a collection of his sayings was made, part of which is preserved to us.

[Pg 32]



Greek influence upon Roman prose—Fabius Pictor, 216 B. C.—Cincius Alimentus, 210 B. C.—Cato, 234-149 B. C.—Cato’s works—Orators—Jurists—Latin annalists—Scipio Africanus the younger, 185-129 B. C.—The Scipionic circle—Lucilius, 180(?)-126 B. C.—Satire—Satires of Lucilius—Literature in the fifty years before Cicero—Poetry—History—Learned works—General writers—Jurists—Oratory—Rhetoric addressed to Herennius—Great development of prose in this period.

Tragedy and comedy began, reached their full development, and decayed in the short period of a century and a half between the first play of Livius Andronicus and the death of Accius. It was therefore advisable to give a connected account of dramatic literature at Rome for this entire period, and to reserve for separate treatment the beginnings of prose literature, which, though less rapid in its growth, had a far longer life and was a much truer expression of the national genius.

The rudiments of a strictly native prose literature, the twelve tables of the laws, the various lists and records, and the speeches delivered on public and private occasions, mark the lines along which Roman prose was destined to advance—history, jurisprudence, and eloquence. Greek influence upon Roman prose. But Roman prose, like Roman poetry, came under the influence of Greek literature as soon as the Romans began to pay any attention to literary style. It was when the conquest of southern Italy brought Rome into closer contact than before with the cities of Magna Græcia that Livius [Pg 33] Andronicus was brought to Rome, and it was in the years immediately after the first Punic war that he produced the first Latin plays in imitation of Greek originals. To about the same or a little later time belong the earliest Roman prose writers. Some of these men, regarding the Latin language as too imperfect for use in prose literature, wrote in Greek, recording the events of Roman history for the enlightenment of foreigners and of educated Romans. Q. Fabius Pictor. Such was Quintus Fabius Pictor, a man of much distinction at Rome, who was sent by the state to consult the oracle at Delphi after the battle of Cannæ in 216 B. C. He wrote in Greek prose a history of Rome from the days of Æneas to his own times, selecting the same subject chosen by his contemporary Ennius for his Annales in Latin verse. This work of Fabius Pictor was very soon translated into Latin, and remained one of the chief sources from which later historians, such as Livy, derived their information. L. Cincius Alimentus. Lucius Cincius Alimentus, who was prætor in command of a Roman army in the second Punic war, wrote Roman history in Greek prose, as did also Publius Cornelius Scipio, the son of the elder Africanus, Aulus Postumius Albinus, and Gaius Acilius, about the middle of the second century B. C. Their works, being in Greek, had little direct influence on Latin literature, but show how powerful the Greek influence was among the cultivated men at Rome in the years following the second Punic war. Greek influence. This influence was not confined to literature, but affected dress, manners, ways of thinking—in short, all sides of life—especially among the upper classes. The Greeks of this time were no longer the hardy citizen-soldiers of the old days of Marathon and Thermopylæ, but were now distinguished for culture, refinement, and scholarship, too often accompanied by effeminacy, luxury, and dishonesty. Not by any means all the[Pg 34] Romans were ready to profit by contact with Greek civilization, with its mixture of good and bad qualities, and there was naturally a party at Rome which opposed everything Greek, and wished to preserve the old Roman simplicity. The most important man of this party was Cato.

Marcus Porcius Cato was born at Tusculum, in 234 B. C., and died in 149 B. C. Throughout his life he was active in public affairs. M. Porcius Cato. He was quæstor (204 B. C.), ædile (199 B. C.), consul (195 B. C.), and censor (184 B. C.), and in all his offices showed his honesty, efficiency, singleness of purpose, and sincere, though somewhat narrow-minded, patriotism. He believed that the influence of Greek art, literature, philosophy, and ways of life was bad, though in his old age he learned the Greek language, and studied Greek literature. In a letter to his son, he says: “I shall speak about those Greeks in their proper place, son Marcus, and tell what I discovered at Athens, and that it is good to look into their literature, but not to learn it thoroughly. I shall convince you that their race is most worthless and unteachable.”10

Cato was opposed to the prevailing tendencies in literature—the tendencies which were destined to prevail—but in spite of that he was one of the most productive literary men of his time. Cato as an orator. His active political life gave him many occasions for public speaking, in the senate or before the people, and he spoke often in courts of law, either in suits of his own or as an advocate for others. One hundred and fifty of his speeches existed in Cicero’s, time, and some, at least, were read and admired long after Cicero. About eighty scattered fragments now exist, some of which belong to political, others to legal speeches. These show vigor [Pg 35]and terseness of expression, a sort of dry humor, and straightforward freedom of speech, but no elegance of style.

Cato’s most important work was the Origines, in seven books, the first Roman history in Latin prose. In style and method this work was very uneven. The Origines. Sometimes events were narrated in brief, annalistic fashion, at other times Cato devoted much space to details. One book, from which the whole work derived its name, told of the origins and early history of the various towns of Italy. The work treated of Roman and Italian history from the earliest times to Cato’s own day, and in the latter part Cato took pains to give his own actions at least as much prominence as was their due, even inserting in his narrative the speeches he had delivered on various occasions. In the form of letters to his son, Cato composed treatises on agriculture, the care of health, eloquence, and the art of war. He also wrote a series of rules of conduct in verse, and made a collection of wise and witty sayings.

Of all his works the only one extant is a treatise On Agriculture. Born and brought up in the small town of Tusculum, and full of admiration for the simple virtues of the early Romans, Cato saw with deep disapproval the tendency of the men of his own day to give up agriculture for commercial and financial occupations. The treatise On Agriculture. “It would sometimes be better to seek gain by commerce, if it were not so dangerous; and likewise by money-lending, if it were so honorable. For our ancestors held this matter thus, and put it in the laws in this way, that a thief be punished by a double fine, a money-lender by a fourfold one. From this one can see how much worse citizen they considered a money-lender than a thief. And when they praised a good man, it was a good farmer, a good colonist. They thought that a man was most amply praised who was praised in this[Pg 36] way. Now I think a merchant is energetic and diligent in seeking gain; but, as I said above, he is exposed to danger and ruin. But from farmers both the bravest men and most energetic soldiers arise, and the business they follow is most pious and surest, and least exposed to envy; and those who are occupied in that pursuit are least given to evil thoughts.”11 In other parts of the book Cato gives in short, simple sentences, practical rules to be followed by the farmer. “Be sure to do everything early. For this is the way with farming: if you do one thing late, you will do all the work late.” This style of short, sharp sentences, is characteristic of Cato. He despises all appearance of literary polish, as if he wished to show that the arts of elegance cultivated by most other Roman writers were unnecessary and undesirable.

Cato was one of the most famous orators of his time, but his competitors were many, among them some of the most noted men of Rome. Other orators. Most of these orators were men of natural ability, whose eloquence was trained in the school of public life and owed its effect in great measure to the weight of the speaker’s dignity or the glory of his deeds. Their speeches are lost, and the reputation they had survives only to remind us that during and after the second Punic war Roman eloquence was growing in power, preparing, as it were, for the brilliant oratory of the Gracchi in the second half of the second century B. C., and the superb productions of Cicero in the century to follow. Among orators of Cato’s time should be mentioned Quintus Fabius Maximus Cunctator, five times consul, censor, and dictator, the conqueror of Hannibal, then Quintus Cæcilius Metellus, consul in 206 B. C., Marcus Cornelius Cethegus (died in 196 B. C.), Publius Licinius Crassus (died 183 B. C.), and Scipio Africanus the elder (died 183 B. C.).

[Pg 37]

In the field of jurisprudence there was considerable activity in the days of Cato. Jurists. Publius Ælius (consul 201, died 174 B. C.) and his brother Sextus (consul 198 B. C.) published the most systematic work on jurisprudence. This work was called Tripertita, and was for centuries regarded with reverence as the beginning from which grew the great system of Roman law. Scipio Nasica (consul 191 B. C.), Lucius Acilius, Quintus Fabius Labeo (consul 183 B. C.), and Cato’s son (born about 192, died in 152 B. C.) were all distinguished jurists whose interpretation of the Twelve Tables and whose wisdom in regard to legal matters are mentioned with praise by later writers. Their writings have perished, but the results of their studies were incorporated in the later works on Roman law.

The annalists who wrote in Greek, such as Fabius Pictor, were followed, soon after the middle of the second century B. C., by several writers whose works differed from theirs chiefly by being written in Latin. Latin annalists. They derived their general views and methods, as well as some of their facts, from earlier Greek historians, such as Ephorus and Timæus. The first of these Latin annalists was Lucius Cassius Hemina, who wrote a history of Rome to his own time. Somewhat more important was Lucius Calpurnius Piso Frugi, who was consul in 133 B. C. His annals covered the same ground as those of Hemina, and are said to have been written in an artless, somewhat rude style. A similar lack of elegance seems to have belonged to the works of the other annalists of this time. Evidently the Romans had not yet learned to write artistic prose. Yet this is the period when, under the guidance of Greek teachers, the Romans were paying more attention than ever before to grammar and rhetoric, purity of language, and nicety of expression.

The man about whom the best literary life of the city[Pg 38] centred was Scipio Africanus the younger, who lived from 185 to 129 B. C. Scipio. He was the son of the distinguished Lucius Æmilius Paulus, whose victory at Pydna, in 168 B. C., had destroyed the last foreign power capable of making serious resistance to the Roman legions, and he had been adopted by the son of the elder Scipio Africanus. He was himself a distinguished soldier, for as a simple officer (tribunus militum) he had saved the Roman army in Africa, after which he had been made consul and commander of the army which brought the third Punic war to a close by the capture and destruction of Carthage (146 B. C.). It might have been expected that he would take an active part in the government, especially as in his time the state needed the help of her best citizens. But Scipio seems to have felt that the internal troubles, which beset the state now that all external dangers were over, were too serious to be cured. He used his influence for good wherever he was able, but made no systematic attempt to correct the abuses of the government, which led at last to the revolutionary disorders of the days of the Gracchi (133-121 B. C.). Instead of being a party leader, he occupied a position somewhat apart from the aristocratic and the popular parties, lending his influence and his eloquence to the causes that seemed to him good, and in this way preserving a reputation for independence and good judgment. His patriotism was undoubted, and his influence as great as that of any man in Rome.

Scipio had been carefully educated, and employed his leisure in literary and intellectual pursuits. The Scipionic circle. He was not an author himself, except in so far as he published his speeches, which were much admired, but he loved to be surrounded by men of letters, to profit by their conversation, and lend them the support of his social position and influence. His somewhat older friend, Gaius Lælius, who was consul in[Pg 39] 140 B. C., shared his literary tastes, though he, too, refrained from publishing other works than speeches. From 167 to 150 B. C. a thousand Greeks of prominent position in their native country were kept as hostages in Italy. Among these was the historian Polybius, who was assigned a residence in Rome, and who became a member of the circle of literary friends who surrounded Scipio and Lælius. The Stoic philosopher Panætius, who afterward became the head of the Stoic school, was another Greek belonging to the Scipionic circle. The influence of Panætius upon Roman philosophy was great, as was that of Polybius upon the writing of Roman history. But Latin writers also gathered about Scipio. Among them were Terence (see page 24), the most polished writer of comedies; Hemina and Piso, the annalists; Gaius Fannius, a nephew of Lælius, who was consul in 122 B. C., and achieved distinction as an orator, besides writing a history of Rome; Sempronius Asellio, whose history of his own times was continued at least to 91 B. C.; Lucius Furius Philus, consul in 136 B. C., orator and jurist, and many others. Among them all, the most original genius was the father of Roman satire, Gaius Lucilius.

Lucilius was born, probably in 180 B. C., at Suessa Aurunca, in Campania. Gaius Lucilius. He was a member of a wealthy equestrian family, and when he went to live at Rome he kept himself free from the cares of business as well as of politics, devoting himself to social life and to literature. He lived as a wealthy bachelor, not holding himself aloof from the pleasures of the capital, but not indulging in excesses. Most of his life was passed in the city, but in 134 B. C. he followed Scipio to the war in Spain, and in 126 B. C., when all who were not Roman citizens were obliged to leave Rome, he made a journey to Sicily, from which he did not return until 124 B. C. He died at Naples in 103 B. C.[Pg 40]

The name satire, (satura) may be derived from the lanx satura, a dish full of all sorts of fruits, and as applied to poems by Ennius (see p. 8), designates poems of mixed contents. Satire. Perhaps all the poems of Ennius, except his dramas and his great epic, may have been classed together as satires. At any rate, Lucilius is the first writer who gave to satire the definite character it has possessed ever since his time. He made his poems the vehicle for the expression of sharp and biting attacks upon persons, institutions, and customs of his day, for genial and humorous remarks about the failings of his neighbors, and for much information about himself. Ever since Lucilius, satire has been at once sharp and humorous, bitter and sweet. This kind of poetry, which takes the form of dialogue, familiar conversation, or letters, is not Greek, but is the invention of him who must be regarded as the most original of all Roman poets.

The Satires of Lucilius were contained in thirty books, each book containing several satires. The Satires of Lucilius. The subjects treated were of all sorts—the faults and foibles of individuals, the defects of works of literature, the ridiculous imitation of Greek manners and dress, the absurdities of Greek mythology, the folly of expensive dinner parties, the author’s journey to Sicily, Latin grammar, the proper spelling of Latin words, and Scipio’s journey to Egypt and Asia. The personality of the writer, his mode of life, and his views on all subjects were so clearly brought before his readers that the Satires were a complete autobiography. They were written for the most part in hexameters, the metre which was adopted by all later Roman satirists, but some of them were in iambic senarii and trochaic septenarii, others in elegiacs.12 They were not written at one [Pg 41]time, but their composition was continued at intervals through many years, for Lucilius was not a professional poet, but a man of letters who expressed himself in verse whenever he felt inclined. His form of expression was unconventional, resembling conversation (in fact he called the poems sermones, “conversations”), with free use of dialogue. Careful literary finish was not attempted, and Horace, whose satires are imitations of those of Lucilius, blames the older poet for carelessness. But the easy and [Pg 42]natural tone of the poems must have more than made up for any lack of polish.

The extant fragments amount to more than eleven hundred lines, but are for the most part short and disconnected. The extant fragments. In one,13 Lucilius seems to accept with pleasure an invitation to dinner “with good conversation, well cooked and seasoned”; in another,14 he reproves the luxury which leads to greed of gain: “For if that which is enough for a man could be enough, it would be enough. Now, since this is not so, how can we think that any riches can satisfy my soul?” Again,15 he describes a miser as one who has no cattle nor slaves nor any attendant, but keeps his purse and all the money he has always with him. “He eats, sleeps, and bathes with his purse; the man’s whole hope is in his purse alone. This purse is fastened to his arm.” One of the longest fragments16 is a description of virtus (virtue):

Virtue, Albinus, is being able to pay the true price for the things in and by which we live; virtue is knowing to what each thing leads for a man. Virtue is knowing what is right, useful, honorable for a man, what things are good, what bad likewise, what is useless, base, dishonorable; virtue is knowing the limit and measure in seeking anything; virtue is giving to riches their true value; virtue is giving to honor what is really due to it; is being an enemy and opponent of bad men and morals, on the other hand a defender of good men and morals, regarding them as of much importance, wishing them well, living as their friend; moreover, considering the advantages of one’s country first, of one’s relatives second, of ourselves third and last.

Other fragments contain direct attacks upon individuals, but these which have been quoted serve to give an idea of the freedom of speech, good sense, and serious purpose of the first great satirist.

[Pg 43]

The life of Lucilius fell in a period of many changes. Literature in the fifty years before Cicero. As a boy, he saw the Roman power established in the east, before he reached middle life he witnessed the destruction of Carthage, then he lived through the troublous years before and after the death of Tiberius Gracchus in 133 B. C. and that of his brother Gaius in 121 B. C., and in the year before his death he saw the consulship in the hands of Gaius Marius. It was not until the long struggle between Marius and Sulla was over that any measure of tranquility returned to the Roman state. Then came the Golden Age of Roman literature. But for fifty years before the time of Cicero circumstances at Rome were not favorable to literary production of every kind. Lucilius, Accius, Afranius and a few other poets lived on until about the end of the second century B. C., but there was little new life in poetry. Gnæus Matius translated the Iliad, and Lævius Melissus imitated some of the lighter Greek poems. Poetry. The epic poem of Hostius on the Istrian war and that of Aulus Furius from Antium (Furius Antias) on an unknown subject have left hardly any traces. It is not worth while to mention in detail the occasional love songs and epigrams written by various authors. Aside from Lucilius and the dramatists already mentioned, there are no poets of note in this period.

In history, the production was greater and more important. History. Fannius and Asellio were emulated by Cœlius Antipater, whose history of the second Punic war was of some importance, and he was followed by Quintus Claudius Quadrigarius, who wrote a history of Rome in at least twenty-three books, coming down to the year 82 B. C. Another more voluminous but less trustworthy historian was Valerius Antias, who wrote annals in at least seventy-five books. His date is uncertain, but he seems to have lived early in the first century B. C. Two other historians of the latter part of this period were[Pg 44] Lucius Cornelius Sisenna (119-67 B. C.), who wrote a history of his own times in an antiquated style, and Gaius Licinius Macer, whose annals, beginning with the earliest times, were probably continued until near the date of his death (66 B. C.). The dictator Sulla (138-78 B. C.) wrote memoirs, which must have possessed great historical value. Gaius Sempronius Tuditanus (consul in 129 B. C.) was not only an annalist, but also an antiquarian.17

Jurists.Important writers on legal subjects were Publius Mucius Scævola (consul in 133 B. C.) and his brother Publius Licinius Crassus Mucianus (consul in 131 B. C.), but more important than either was Quintus Mucius Scævola (consul in 95 B. C.), whose systematic treatment of Roman law served as the foundation for all later works on the subject. Quintus Scævola was also distinguished as an orator.

Oratory.Throughout the period from the third Punic war to [Pg 45]the dictatorship of Sulla—and, in fact, until the death of Cicero—nearly every public man at Rome was an orator, and many of them published their speeches. In the times of the Gracchi, Rome contained, perhaps, more excellent speakers than at any other period, among whom none equalled in force, brilliancy and oratorical power the great, though unsuccessful, statesman and patriot Gaius Gracchus, (154-121 B. C.), who far surpassed his elder brother Tiberius (163-133 B. C.) in eloquence, though he, too, was an orator of distinction. After the Gracchi the most distinguished orators were Marcus Antonius (143-87 B. C.) and Lucius Licinius (140-91 B. C.), the first of whom excelled in vigor and liveliness of delivery, the second in wit, elegance and variety of composition. These orators were not merely men with natural ability to speak, but were carefully trained in accordance with the precepts of Greek rhetoric.

Of all the works mentioned so far in this chapter, only one—Cato’s treatise On Agriculture—has come down to us entire, and only the satires of Lucilius are known to us by numerous fragments. These works lost. The other works and their authors have left little more than their names. There is, however, one work, now usually ascribed to Cornificius, an author of whom nothing is known, which is preserved entire. Rhetorica ad Herennium. This is the Rhetoric Addressed to Herennius, which was preserved because it was falsely included among Cicero’s works. The treatise goes over much the same ground as Cicero’s youthful essay On Invention, which is evidently intended to be little more than a new and improved edition of the earlier work.

The importance of the period immediately preceding the time of Cicero can not be judged by the extant literature, but must be estimated by the number of works and authors mentioned by later writers and the qualities[Pg 46] assigned to them. It is at once evident that poetry made little progress, while prose writing of all kinds advanced with rapid strides. Great progress of prose. It is only natural, therefore, that the age of Cicero should be the most brilliant period of Latin prose, and that the highest general development of poetry should be reserved for the Augustan age. Yet, even the Augustan age can only equal, not surpass, the immortal poems of two of Cicero’s contemporaries, Lucretius and Catullus.

[Pg 47]



The Ciceronian period—Lucretius, 99(?)-55(?) B. C.—Philosophy at Rome—The poem of Lucretius—Its purpose, contents, and style.

It was in the dictatorship of Sulla, 81 B. C., that Cicero made his first appearance as an orator, and almost from that time until his death, in 43 B. C., he was the most prominent orator and man of letters in Rome. The age of Cicero a time of unrest. It is but right that in the history of literature this period of nearly forty years is called the age of Cicero. In political and external matters this was a time of great unrest. Sulla’s dictatorship, which seemed to put an end to strife, served only to strengthen the power of the senate, not to diminish its abuses; the increase of the slave population of Italy still continued to drive the freeborn farmers to Rome to swell the number of the city rabble; the slaves themselves broke out into open war; the provinces were discontented on account of the extortions of their governors; the Cilician pirates became so powerful that their suppression was a matter of some difficulty; Mithridates aroused a war in the east, and was overcome only by great exertion; while in Rome itself the conspiracy of Catiline and the struggle between Pompey and Cæsar clearly foreshadowed the end of the republic.

This period was at the same time one of great material prosperity at Rome. In spite of disturbing influences, wealth increased, interest in art and literature was wide-[Pg 48]spread, and there was, alongside of much vulgar extravagance and display, a steady growth in culture and refinement. Wealth and culture. Progress of literature. By the beginning of this period the Latin language had become a proper medium of expression in prose and verse, though its natural qualities of rigidity and precision made it always better adapted to the needs of the commander, orator, jurist, and historian than to the lighter and more varied uses of the poet. Among the poets of the time, some followed in the footsteps of Ennius, while others imitated the poems of the Alexandrian Greeks, characterized by mythological learning, elegance of execution, and emptiness of contents. Of this latter school Catullus was the only one who rose to greatness, breathing into his verse the fire of poetic genius, while Lucretius stands out as the one great and commanding figure among the poets who continued the technical traditions of Ennius.

Of the life of Lucretius little is known. Life of Lucretius. Jerome, under the year 95 B. C., says: “Titus Lucretius, the poet, was born, who afterwards was made insane by a love potion, and, when he had in the intervals of his madness written several books, which Cicero corrected, killed himself by his own hand in the forty-fourth year of his age.”18 Donatus, in his Life of Virgil,19 says that Lucretius died on the day when Virgil was fifteen years old, i. e., October 15, 55 B. C. This does not agree with the statement of Jerome. Cicero, in a letter written in February, 54 B. C.,20 mentions the poems of Lucretius, but says nothing about correcting or editing them. This is the only contemporary reference to Lucretius or his work. Now the great poem of Lucretius was evidently never entirely finished by its author, who was therefore probably dead when Cicero [Pg 49]wrote this letter. The date (55 B. C.) for his death is thus corroborated. The date of his birth must remain uncertain, but it was probably not far from 99 B. C. Jerome’s statement that Lucretius was insane and committed suicide is not in itself improbable. His work shows him to have been a man of passionate and intense feelings, and gives some ground for the belief that in the course of his life he was subjected to great emotional strain. Of his friends and his daily life we know nothing. His poem is dedicated to Memmius, who is generally supposed to be the Gaius Memmius who was proprætor in Bithynia in 57 B. C.

The only work of Lucretius is a didactic poem of six books, in hexameter verse, On the Nature of Things (De Rerum Natura), in which he expounds the doctrines of Epicurus. Philosophy known to the Romans. The Romans had been for many years acquainted with Greek philosophical teachings, especially with those of the Stoic and Epicurean schools. The Stoic doctrines had been taught by one of the most eminent philosophers of the second century B. C., Panætius, the friend of the younger Scipio Africanus, and were clearly congenial to the Roman temperament; for the Stoics taught that virtue is the highest good, that nothing else is worth striving for, and that the ordinary pleasures of life are mere interruptions of the philosopher’s peace. The Epicurean doctrine, that pleasure is the highest good, was popular only with those who wished to devote themselves to selfish and physical enjoyment, for the higher aspects of the doctrines of Epicurus were not understood. As early as 161 B. C. the senate had passed a vote banishing philosophers and rhetoricians from Rome, and six years later, when three famous philosophers—Diogenes the Stoic, Critolaus the Peripatetic, and Carneades of the Academic school—came to Rome, they aroused so much interest that the senate decided to remove them from the city as soon as possible. Greek philosophy was, then, not a new thing at[Pg 50] Rome, but the poem of Lucretius is the first systematic presentation of the Epicurean doctrines.

The purpose of the poem is to free men from superstition and the fear of death by teaching the doctrines of Epicurus. The reason for writing in verse. This is a most serious purpose, and Lucretius is thoroughly in earnest. If he adopts the poetic form, it is in order to make his presentation of the doctrines more attractive, in the hope that it will thus have greater influence. This point of view, and at the same time the poet’s sense of the difficulty of his theme and his power to cope with it, is clearly expressed in the following passage:

Come now, and what remaineth learn and hear
More clearly. Well in my own mind I know
The doctrine is obscure; but mighty hope
Of praise has struck my heart with maddening wand,
And with the blow implanted in my breast
The sweet love of the Muses, filled with which
I wander with fresh mind through pathless tracts
Of the Pierides, untrod before
By any mortal’s foot. ’Tis sweet to go
To fountains new and drink; and sweet it is
To pluck new flow’rs and seek a garland thence
For my own head, whence ne’er before a crown
The Muses twined for any mortal’s brow.
’Tis first because I teach of weighty things
And guide my course to set the spirit free
From superstition’s closely knotted bonds;
And next because concerning matters dark
I write such lucid verses, touching all
With th’ Muses’ grace. Then, too, because it seems
Not without reason; but as when men try
In curing boys to give them bitter herbs,
They touch the edges round about the cups
With yellow liquid of the honey sweet,
That children’s careless age may be deceived
As far as to the lips, and meanwhile drink
The juice of bitter herb, and though deceived
[Pg 51]
May not be harmed, but rather in such wise
Gain health and strength, so I now, since my theme
Seems gloomy for the most part unto those
To whom ’tis not familiar, and the crowd
Shrinks back from it, have wished to treat for thee
My theme with sweetly speaking poetry’s verse
And touch it with the Muses’ honey sweet.21

The arrangement of the poem is as follows: Book i sets forth the atomic theory, invented by Democritus and held by Epicurus, that the world consists of atoms—infinitely small particles of matter—and void, i. e., empty space. Arrangement and contents of the poem. The theories of other Greek philosophers, such as Heraclitus, Empedocles, and Anaxagoras, are refuted. In Book ii it is explained how the atoms combine to form the various things in the world, because as they fall through space they depart from a straight line and come in contact with each other. It is also shown that the atoms, although infinite in number, are limited in variety. In Book iii the mind and the soul, or principle of life, are shown to be material and to die when the body dies. Religion and the fear of death, which Lucretius regards as a result of religion, are attacked. Since the soul dies with the body, there is no reason to fear death, because after death we shall feel no lack of anything, shall have no troubles, but shall be as if we had not been born, or as if we lay wrapped in dreamless sleep:

So death to us is naught, concerns us not,
When the soul’s nature is as mortal known.22

Book iv shows how the impressions made upon our senses are caused by minute images detached from the objects about us. We see, for instance, because minute images of the object seen strike our eyes. Dreams and love are also treated in this book. In Book v the origin of the earth, sun, moon, and stars is described, the beginning of [Pg 52]life is explained, and the progress of civilization, from the time when men were savages, is depicted. Some passages in this book anticipate in a measure the modern doctrine of the survival of the fittest. Since our world was not created, but came into being naturally by the combinations of atoms, it will also come to an end at some time by the separation of the atoms. In Book vi various striking phenomena are treated, such as thunder, lightning, earthquakes, tempests, and volcanoes. The book ends with a description of the plague at Athens, derived from the account of Thucydides.

Ethical doctrine.Since the main purpose of the poem is to free men from religion and the fear of death by showing that all things, including the soul, came into being and are to pass away without any action of the gods, ethical doctrines are not systematically treated. Lucretius accepts, however, the Epicurean dogma that pleasure is the chief good, “the guide of life,”23 but the pleasure he has in mind is not the common physical pleasure, but the calm repose of the philosopher:

Oh wretched minds of men, oh blinded hearts!
Within what shades of life and dangers great
Is passed whate’er of age we have! Dost thou
Not see that nature makes demand for naught
Save this, that pain be absent from our frame,
That she, removed from care at once and fear,
May have her pleasure in the joys of mind?24

Again, in the splendid praise of Epicurus, which opens the fifth book, he says that we may live without grain or wine,

But well one can not live without pure heart.25

The only Greek philosophers, besides Epicurus, of whom Lucretius speaks in terms of praise are Democritus, from whom Epicurus borrowed the atomic theory, and [Pg 53] Empedocles. Perhaps Lucretius imitates in his work the poem of Empedocles, which bore the same title. At any rate, Empedocles was a man of exalted modes of thought and dignified, poetic expression, qualities which would naturally awaken admiration in the mind of Lucretius. His reading, observation, and love of nature. That Lucretius was well acquainted with the great works of Greek literature and with the writings of Nævius, Ennius, Pacuvius, Lucilius, and Accius, is evident from direct references to them, or imitations of them. But he was not merely a student of books. His power of observation and his love of nature are shown in many passages, as where he describes the raging winds and rivers,26 the life and motion of an army,27 the striking features of the island of Sicily,28 the echo in the mountains,29 or pleasant repose under a shady tree on the grass by the river side.30

Two famous passages.The poem opens with an invocation to Venus, which is justly famous. The first lines are:

Goddess from whom descends the race of Rome,
Venus, of earth and heaven supreme delight,
Hail, thou that all beneath the starry dome—
Lands rich with grain and seas with navies white—
Blessest and cherishest! Where thou dost come
Enamelled earth decks her with posies bright
To meet thy advent; clouds and tempests flee,
And joyous light smiles over land and sea.31

Another famous passage is the beginning of Book ii, which has been translated into English hexameters as follows:

Sweet, when the great sea’s water is stirred to its depth by the storm winds,
Standing ashore to descry one afar off mightily struggling;
[Pg 54]
Not that a neighbor’s sorrow to you yields dulcet enjoyment;
But that the sight hath a sweetness, of ills ourselves are exempt from.
Sweet ’tis too to behold, on a broad plain mustering war-hosts
Arm them for some great battle, one’s self unscathed by the danger;
Yet still happier this: To possess, impregnably guarded,
Those calm heights of the sages which have for an origin Wisdom;
Thence to survey our fellows, observe them this way and that way
Wander amid Life’s paths, poor stragglers seeking a highway;
Watch mind battle with mind, and escutcheon rival escutcheon;
Gaze on that untold strife, which is waged ’neath the sun and the starlight,
Up as they toil on the surface whereon rest Riches and Empire.32

Lucretius was perfectly aware that his subject was not an easy one to treat in verse, but was confident of his own power. His work shows that his confidence was justified. Yet even he could not, in explaining the details of the philosophy of Epicurus, move always in the upper realms of poetry. Style. The result is that the poem is uneven. In parts it rises to heights hardly attained by any other Latin author, but in other parts long passages are dull and monotonous. Yet even in these parts the verses have a serious, dignified music, the language is carefully chosen, and the subject is treated with consistency, clearness, and vigor. In the more animated portions of his work, Lucretius speaks almost like an inspired prophet. His thought hurries his lines along with increasing impetus, until their flow seems almost irresistible. Strength, rapidity, and power are the most striking features of his style. Minor elements are frequent assonances of various kinds, such as alliteration, repetition, the use of two or more words from one root, and the like, elaborate similes, and occasionally the form of direct address. With all these, the style is characterized by an austere dignity.

[Pg 55]

In his discussion of the development of the universe, and especially in the part dealing with living creatures, man, and the progress of civilization, Lucretius expresses conclusions not unlike some of those reached in our own day by modern science. Anticipation of modern science. But his processes are not scientific. He reasons, to be sure, from concrete facts to theories and from theories again to concrete facts, but the method of his reasoning is unlike that of modern science. Lucretius, like other philosophers of ancient times, having once accepted a theory which explains certain phenomena, makes his theory the rule by which all phenomena are to be measured and in accordance with which they are to be understood. It is interesting to note that Lucretius, following Democritus and Epicurus, anticipates to a certain extent the modern atomic theory, the theories of the evolution of species, of the survival of the fittest, and of the continual progress of mankind from a condition of savagery to civilization, but his conclusions are reached, not by the patient toil of modern scientific research, but by abstract theorizing, to which his poetic imagination gives vividness and almost convincing power.

The greatness of Lucretius as a poet has always been recognized by critical readers; but he has never been a popular author. His subject is too abstruse and his style too austere and dignified to appeal to the taste of the masses, which probably accounts for the fact that his poem has come down to us through only one copy, from which all the existing manuscripts are derived.

[Pg 56]



Catullus, about 84-54 B. C.—His life—The book of poems—The longer poems—The shorter poems—Minor poets—Gnæus Matius—Lævius—Sueius—Gaius Licinius Calvus, 87-47 B. C.—Gaius Helvius Cinna—Varro Atacinus, 82 to after 37 B. C.—Publius Valerius Cato—Marcus Furius Bibaculus—Gaius Memmius, proprætor in 57 B. C.—Ticidas—Quintus Cornificius—Cornelius Nepos—Marcus Tullius Cicero—Quintus Cicero.

The greatest lyric poet of the Ciceronian period is Gaius Valerius Catullus. The exact dates of his birth and death are uncertain. Life of Catullus. According to Jerome he was born in 87 B. C., and died in 57 B. C., at the age of thirty years. But in one poem33 he refers to Pompey’s second consulship (55 B. C.), and in two others34 he mentions Cæsar’s expedition to Britain (55 B. C.). It is therefore evident that his death can not have taken place in 57 B. C. But as his poems contain no references to any event later than 55 or 54 B. C., it is reasonably certain that he died not much after the latter date. As he is known to have died young, his birth may be assigned to about 85 B. C., or perhaps a year or two later. His birthplace was Verona, and his family was wealthy and of good position. He went to Rome while still hardly more than a boy, and began to write love poems soon after taking the toga virilis, that is to say, at the age of seventeen. Rome was then a brilliant capital, in which Greek [Pg 57] culture, with all its intellectual vivacity and all its vices, had taken firm root. The family connections of the young Catullus, whose father was a friend of Julius Cæsar, introduced him to the aristocratic society of the capital, and his personal qualities doubtless contributed to make him a prominent figure among the gay youth of the city.

About 61 B. C. began his passionate love for the brilliant but dissolute woman whom he has immortalized in his poems under the name of Lesbia. Lesbia. Her real name was Clodia, and when he met her she was the wife of Quintus Cæcilius Metellus Celer. For a time she seemed at least to return the love of her young adorer, but almost immediately after her husband’s death, which took place in 59 B. C., she is reproached by Catullus for faithlessness. In the spring of 57 B. C., Catullus went to Bithynia as a member of the staff of the proprætor C. Memmius, and by this time his connection with Clodia seems to have been at an end. In the spring of 56 B. C., Catullus returned to Rome, after visiting the tomb of his brother, who had died in the Troad. From this time on his poems are still in part poems of love, but they lack the passionate fire of the lines addressed to Lesbia. Most of the poems belonging to the last years of his life, when they contain personal allusions, are inspired rather by the political events of the time than by love.

The poems of Catullus, as they have been handed down to us, form a small book of 2,280 lines. The Book of Poems. They are not arranged chronologically, but rather according to contents and style. The first sixty are short poems in various lyric metres, and have to do with the poet’s love, with his friends and enemies, and with the experiences of his life. These are followed by seven longer poems in imitation of Alexandrian originals, and the rest of the collection consists of short pieces, all in elegiac verse. This arrangement is doubtless due to some editor, not to Catullus himself, but[Pg 58] gives the book a certain artistic unity which would be lacking if the poems were arranged in chronological order. A few quotations from Catullus which can not be identified with passages in the extant poems are found in the works of other writers, but they are so few as to indicate that nearly all he ever wrote is contained in the existing book.

In the longer poems Catullus shows himself a consummate master of language and versification and a skillful imitator of the Alexandrian poetry most popular among the younger literary men of his time. The epithalamia. The first epithalamium, or wedding song, composed for the marriage of Manlius Torquatus and Vinia Arunculeia, is written in lyric metre of short lines. It is supposed to be sung as the bride is escorted to her new home, the first part by a chorus of maidens, the second by youths. Such songs were traditional among the Greeks as well as among the Romans, and there is little originality in the subject or its general treatment, but the brilliant versification and the charming tender passages it contains make this the most attractive of all the longer poems of Catullus. The second epithalamium, in hexameter verse, was apparently composed for no special occasion. A chorus of youths and a chorus of maidens sing responses, calling upon Hymenæus, the god of marriage, and describing by allusion the passage of the bride from maidenhood to wifehood. So the maidens compare her to a flower that has grown in a secluded garden, and the youths compare her to a vine that twines about an elm.

The third of the longer poems, the sixty-third of the whole collection, is the only existing Latin poem in the difficult and complicated galliambic metre. It describes the madness of the youth Attis, who mutilates himself and gives himself up to the service of the goddess Cybele. The despair of Attis when he recovers from his madness and yearns for his country, his friends, and his past happi[Pg 59]ness, is depicted with admirable power, and the ecstatic worship of Cybele is most vividly portrayed. The other long poems. The longest poem of all describes in hexameter verse the marriage of Peleus with the sea-goddess Thetis. This is not in any sense a lyric poem, but an epyllion, or little epic. It contains passages of great beauty, but offers little opportunity for the display of the peculiarly lyric genius of Catullus, and is, on the whole, the least successful of his poems. This is followed by The Lock of Berenice, a translation of a poem of the same name by the Alexandrian Callimachus. Queen Berenice had cut off a lock of her hair in accordance with a vow when her husband returned safe from war. The lock disappeared from the temple in which it had been offered, and the astronomer Conon discovered it as a new constellation in the heavens. The lock of hair is supposed to speak and to yearn for its former place upon the forehead of the queen. In the preface to this poem, which is addressed to the orator Hortensius Hortalus, Catullus speaks in beautiful lines of the death of his brother:

Oh, is thy voice forever hushed and still?
Oh, brother, dearer far than life, shall I
Behold thee never? But in sooth I will
Forever love thee, as in days gone by:
And ever through my songs shall ring a cry
Sad with thy death, sad as in thickest shade
Of intertangled boughs the melody,
Which by the woful Daulian bird is made,
Sobbing for Itys dead her wail through all the glade.35

The Lock of Berenice is followed by a conversation with a door, which hints at several immoral stories. The last of the longer poems is an elegy on the death of the poet’s brother, joined with the praises of his friend M’. Allius and of his beloved. This poem is remarkable for the[Pg 60] number of digressions it contains, and in this, as in its general tone, it is an imitation of the Alexandrian style.

The seven poems just described contain many beautiful passages, but they show us Catullus chiefly as the learned, skillful, and successful imitator of Alexandrian Greek models. The short poems. His real genius appears in the shorter poems, which deal with the feelings of his own heart. In these also he is an imitator, so far as his metres are concerned, but the feelings are his own, and he expresses them in words that burn. No translation can do justice to the sharp, quick strokes of his invectives or to the passionate outpourings of his love. One of his favorite metres is the “hendecasyllable” or eleven syllable verse, which, by its quick movement, helps to create an impression of great swiftness of thought and flashing outbursts of emotion. At the same time, the numerous diminutive suffixes employed give a light and graceful, almost playful, tone to the verse. Some of the lines directed against those whom Catullus hated or despised, are scurrilous and indecent; but that is the fault of the age rather than of the poet himself. In general the thoughts and emotions expressed range from passionate love to violent invective, while through many of the poems there runs a vein of half satirical playfulness. Some of the qualities of Catullus’ poetry may be made clear by translations of a few of the short poems. The first shows at once his passionate love for Lesbia, and something of his half-satirical humor:

My Lesbia, let us live and love,
Nor let us count it worth above
A single farthing if the old
And carping greybeards choose to scold.
The suns that set and fade away
May rise again another day.
When once has set our little light
We needs must sleep one endless night.
[Pg 61]
A thousand kisses give me, then
A hundred, then a thousand, when
I bid you give a hundred more;
When many thousands o’er and o’er
We’ve kissed, we’ll mix them, so that we
Shall lose the count, and none shall be
Aroused to evil envious hate
Through knowing that the sum’s so great.36

A well-known and especially attractive poem is the playful lament for the sparrow:

Let mourning fill the realms of Love;
Wail, men below and Powers above!
The joy of my beloved has fled,
The Sparrow of her heart is dead—
The Sparrow that she used to prize
As dearly as her own bright eyes.
As knows a girl her mother well,
So knew the pretty bird my belle,
And ever hopping, chirping round,
Far from her lap was never found.
Now wings it to that gloomy bourne
From which no travellers return.
Accurs’d be thou, infernal lair!
Devourer dark of all things fair,
The rarest bird to thee is gone;
Take thou once more my malison.
How swollen and red with weeping, see,
My fair one’s eyes, and all through thee.37

Like most educated Romans, Catullus had a great love for the country. His joy in returning to his country seat on the peninsula of Sirmio forms the subject of a charming little poem:

Gem of all isthmuses and isles that lie,
Fresh or salt water’s children, in clear lake
Or ampler ocean; with what joy do I
Approach thee, Sirmio! Oh! am I awake,
[Pg 62]
Or dream that once again mine eye beholds
Thee, and has looked its last on Thracian wolds?
Sweetest of sweets to me that pastime seems,
When the mind drops her burden, when—the pain
Of travel past—our own cot we regain,
And nestle on the pillow of our dreams!
’Tis this one thought that cheers us as we roam.
Hail, O fair Sirmio! Joy, thy lord is here!
Joy too, ye waters of the Golden Mere!
And ring out, all ye laughter-peals of home!38

Of the lesser poets of the Ciceronian period little need be said. Their works are lost, but for scattered fragments, except in so far as a few anonymous poems are to be ascribed to this period. The writers of mimes, Decimus Laberius and Publilius Syrus, have already been mentioned (p. 30). Matius, Lævius, Sueius. Gnæus Matius, who appears to belong to this time, wrote mimiambics in the manner of Herondas and other Alexandrian poets—lively reproductions of scenes of ordinary life—in choliambic verse, that is, iambic trimetres, the last foot of which is a spondee; Lævius wrote sportive love-poems (Erotopægnia); and Sueius composed idylls, two of which, the Moretum and the Pulli, are known by name, besides a book of annals. Matius also made a free translation of Homer’s Iliad.

More important in their own day were two friends of Catullus, Gaius Licinius Calvus and Gaius Helvius Cinna. Calvus and Cinna. Calvus, who lived from 87 to 47 B. C., was a distinguished orator and politician, who devoted his leisure hours to poetry. His poems included epithalamia, elegies, epigrams, and at least one mythological epyllion, entitled Io. Cinna appears to have come, like Catullus, from northern Italy, but of his life little is known beyond the fact that he was with Catullus on the staff of Memmius in Bithynia. His chief work was[Pg 63] a poem entitled Smyrna, which, although it was of moderate length, occupied him for nine years. The subject was the unnatural love of the maiden Smyrna for her father and the birth of their son Adonis. The poem was so learned and obscure as to be almost incomprehensible, and was similar in this respect to the Alexandra of the Alexandrian Lycophron. The admiration expressed by Catullus for this work shows how highly the younger Roman poets esteemed successful imitations of even the worst faults of their Alexandrian models.

A poet who continued the national traditions of Ennius and also imitated the Alexandrians was Publius Terentius Varro, called Varro Atacinus. Varro Atacinus. He was born at Atax, in Gallia Narbonensis, in 82 B. C. He wrote a poem in hexameters on Cæsar’s war with the Sequani, and some satires, probably in the manner of Lucilius, In his thirty-fifth year he is said to have turned to the study of the Greek poets, and it is probably about this time that he translated into Latin hexameters the Argonautica of the Alexandrian epic poet Apollonius Rhodius. A geographical poem, probably entitled Chorographia, and a series of elegiac poems in the Alexandrian manner probably belong to the time after the year 37 B. C. The few fragments of his poems show that he was a poet of more than ordinary gifts.

Valerius Cato.The intellectual leader of the school of poets who found their inspiration in the works of the Alexandrians was the grammarian and teacher, P. Valerius Cato, whom Eurius Bibaculus calls “Cato the grammarian, the Latin Siren, who alone reads and makes poets.” Cato’s influence was exerted to lead his followers to imitate their Greek models carefully, to perfect their Latin style, and probably to introduce the new metres into Latin poetry. His own writings were grammatical treatises, poems, and a revision and correction of the works of Lucilius. The poem entitled Diræ,[Pg 64] which is contained in manuscripts of Virgil, and really consists of two distinct poems, Diræ and Lydia, has been ascribed with some probability to Cato. In the first poem the writer curses a veteran named Lycurgus, who has deprived him of his property and his beloved Lydia; in the second he addresses a touching farewell to Lydia, who has remained in the country. Other poets. Other poets of this period are M. Furius Bibaculus, who wrote satirical verses, Gaius Memmius, the proprætor of Bithynia in 57 B. C., Ticidas, Quintus Cornificius, and Cornelius Nepos—all of whom belonged to the new school and imitated the Alexandrians. Nepos we shall meet again among the prose writers. Others also, whose chief activity was in other fields, wrote poetry occasionally. Among these Cicero and his brother Quintus may be mentioned.

The names of these lesser poets are of little importance to us, but it is worth while to mention them to call attention to the fact that poetry was cultivated by many of the younger men in the Ciceronian period. Through their efforts the various styles and metres of the Greek poets, especially those of the Alexandrian period, were made familiar to the Romans, and thus the way was prepared for Horace, Virgil, and Ovid in the Augustan age.


Bust in the Vatican Museum, Rome.

[Pg 65]



Cicero, 106-43 B. C.—His importance—His life—Periods of his literary activity—His works—The orations—Philosophical works—Letters—His character.

Marcus Tullius Cicero, orator, statesman and philosopher, is the great commanding figure of the literary period which is designated by his name. With him Latin prose reaches a height never before attained and never afterward surpassed. Importance of Cicero. The cooler and more critical judgment of our northern natures and later age may find his eloquence too exuberant, and our scholars, trained in the study of the Greek philosophers, may deny him the title of an original thinker, but no one can fail to appreciate the power of his utterance, the clearness of his exposition, or the lucid elegance of his diction. He found the Latin language the chief dialect of Italy, the speech of a great and mighty city; he made it the language of the world for centuries.

To write the life of Cicero in all the known details would be to write the history of Rome during the entire period of his manhood. The historian of literature must content himself with a mere sketch. Education and early years. Cicero was born at Arpinum, a small town in the hills of eastern Latium, on the third of January, 106 B. C. The town was also the birthplace of Marius, whose fame no doubt fired the imagination of the young Cicero and helped to rouse his ambition. His father de[Pg 66]termined to give him the best possible education and sent him to Rome, where he knew the two great orators, M. Antonius and L. Crassus, and also the aged M. Accius and the Greek poet Archias. Since legal knowledge was a necessary part of an orator’s education, he studied with the jurist Q. Scævola (p. 44), and the Augur of the same name. He also paid attention to philosophy, studying with the Epicurean Phædrus, the Academic philosopher Philo, who was a pupil of Clitomachus, and the Stoic Diodotus. His teacher of rhetoric was Molo, of Rhodes, and he also received instruction from the rhetorician M. Antonius Gnipho and the actors Roscius and Æsopus. He acquired a great reputation as an advocate by several speeches, especially by his defense of Quinctius (81 B. C.) and Roscius of Ameria (80 B. C.); but his health failed, and at the same time he wished to perfect his education. He therefore left Rome and spent two years (79-77 B. C.) in Greece and Asia. At Athens he studied under the Academic Antiochus, the Epicurean Zeno, his old teacher Phædrus, and the instructor in oratory, Demetrius. In Asia he became acquainted with the florid Asian style of eloquence, and at Rhodes he studied again under his former teacher Molo, who exerted himself to chasten the exuberance of his style, which had been encouraged by the Asiatic orators. At Rhodes he also became acquainted with the famous Stoic Posidonius.

In 77 B. C. he returned to Rome and continued his career as an orator. His political career. It was soon after his return that he married Terentia, a lady of noble birth, with whom he lived for thirty-two years. In 75 B. C. he began his official career as quæstor of Lilybæum in Sicily, an office which he filled with great credit. He was elected ædile in 69 and prætor in 66 B. C. In 63 B. C. he was chosen consul, with Antonius as his colleague, and truthfully claimed that, although he was a novus homo, a man who had no family influence or prestige[Pg 67] to aid him, he had obtained each of the important offices of the state at the earliest legally admissible age. The conspiracy of Catiline. In his consulship the conspiracy of Catiline occurred, which Cicero suppressed with relentless vigor, although it was supposed to be favored by some of the most powerful men in Rome, including Crassus and Cæsar. The conspirators were not sentenced to death by regular legal process, but the senate decreed that the consul should defend the safety of the state, and Cicero gave the order for their execution. To this year belong the four speeches against Catiline.

In 60 B. C. the first triumvirate was formed. Cicero’s banishment. The triumvirs found the influence of Cicero unfavorable to their plans, and encouraged his enemy, P. Clodius Pulcher, who had been adopted into a plebeian family and been elected tribune of the people, to propose a bill that any one who had put a Roman citizen to death without due process of law be banished. Cicero, finding that he could not defend himself with success, withdrew from Rome, and his banishment was decreed. He remained in exile from April, 58 B. C., until August, 57 B. C., when he was recalled and received with great honors.

In 53 B. C. he was elected to fill the place in the college of augurs made vacant by the death of the younger Crassus. His later years. In 51 and 50 B. C. Cicero was again absent from Rome, as proconsul of Cilicia. On his return he found Cæsar and Pompey in open strife. Cicero had never been a party man. He was always a sincere patriot, full of pride in the glorious past of his country, and more than ready to do his duty, and now, when he could not fail to see that both parties were ruled by selfish ambition rather than by disinterested patriotism, it was hard for him to attach himself to either. After some hesitation, he joined the party of Pompey and the senate, and, in 49 B. C., followed Pompey to Epirus,[Pg 68] but was not present at the battle of Pharsalus. After Pompey’s defeat he waited at Brundusium until Cæsar allowed him to return to Rome in 47 B. C. Here he lived in retirement, devoting himself to literary pursuits. In 46 B. C. he divorced his wife, Terentia, and married his young ward, Publilia, from whom he parted the following year. The year 45 B. C. was saddened by the death of his only daughter, Tullia. The death of Cæsar, in 44 B. C., recalled Cicero for a short time to public life, but he seems to have left the city in April and to have spent some months at his various villas. In July he decided to visit Athens, where his son was studying, but after he had reached Sicily he heard that he was needed at Rome, gave up his plan, and returned to the capital. Here he took a leading part in the opposition to Antony, against whom he delivered the fourteen orations known as the Philippics. When the triumvirs came to terms with one another, Cicero was included by Antony among those whose death he demanded. His death. After moving first to Tusculum, and then to Formiæ, he went aboard a ship at Caeta, but turned back to land, resolved to die in his native country. On his way between his villa and the sea he was overtaken by a party of Antony’s soldiers and killed, on the seventh of December, 43 B. C. His head and hands were cut off and exposed upon the rostra in the Roman forum.

Periods of Cicero’s literary activity.Cicero’s oratorical and literary activity falls naturally into four chronological divisions: his earlier years, to the beginning of his career as a political orator (81-66 B. C.); the period of his greatest power, lasting until just before his banishment (66-59 B. C.); from his return from banishment until his departure for Cilicia (57-51 B. C.); and from his return from Cilicia until his death (50-43 B. C.).

To the first period belong several speeches delivered in different kinds of lawsuits, the most remarkable of which are the seven orations in the suit against Verres (70 B. C.)[Pg 69] for extortion and misgovernment in Sicily. At the earnest request of the Sicilians, Cicero undertook the prosecution. The first period. The first speech, the Divinatio in Cæcilium, was delivered to determine whether Cicero or Q. Cæcilius Niger, who had been quæstor under Verres in Sicily, should conduct the prosecution. The first speech in the prosecution itself settled the case. Cicero had prepared all the evidence and summoned the witnesses, and instead of giving the defence an opportunity for delay, brought forward his overwhelming evidence at the beginning, after a mere introduction. Hortensius, Verres’ advocate, gave up the defence after hearing the evidence, and Verres was banished. The five remaining orations, called the Actio Secunda in Verrem, were published by Cicero in order that the facts might be universally known, but were never delivered in court. They show not only that Cicero was at this time a consummate master of eloquence, but also that his diligence in the collection and preparation of his material was remarkable. In addition to his speeches, Cicero wrote in this period several translations from the Greek, which are lost, and also a handbook of oratory, the De Inventione, in two books. This work was written when the author was only twenty years old, and is based upon the treatise addressed to Herennius (p. 45). In it Cicero treats of the various divisions of oratory and their uses. The work is greatly inferior to his later rhetorical writings.

The second period opens with the superb oration For the Manilian Law or De Imperio Gnæi Pompei (66 B. C.), in which Cicero advocates the appointment of Pompey with extraordinary powers to carry on the war against Mithridates. The second period. The four brilliant and vehement speeches Against Catiline belong to the year of Cicero’s consulship, 63 B. C. To the same year belongs the witty and able speech For Muræna, in which Cicero defends Muræna against a charge of bribery.[Pg 70] The delightful speech For the Poet Archias was delivered in 62 B. C. in support of the poet’s claim to the Roman citizenship. Throughout this period Cicero’s time and energy were so fully occupied with affairs of state and with the suits in which he was engaged as to leave him little leisure for purely literary production. In 60 B. C., however, when the troubles that led to his banishment were thickening about him, he made a metrical version of the astronomical poems of Aratus, portions of which are preserved in his later work On the Nature of the Gods, and wrote a poem in three books On His Consulship, which is lost.

The third period.The speeches of the third period were delivered for the most part in private cases, though one of them, On the Consular Provinces (B. C. 56), urging that Cæsar retain his proconsulship of Gaul and that Gabinius and Piso be recalled from Syria and Macedonia, is political, while political considerations have an important place in several others. In the year 55 B. C. the dialogue On the Orator (De Oratore) was written, in which the two great orators of the generation before Cicero, Lucius Crassus and Marcus Antonius, discuss the proper qualities of an orator. The dialogue is supposed to have taken place shortly before the death of Crassus (91 B. C.). The lesser parts are taken by some of the younger statesmen of the day, and in the beginning Cicero’s teacher, the augur Scævola, appears. This is one of the most attractive of Cicero’s works. The technical discussions are enlivened by anecdotes and conversation, and the whole dialogue has a grace and sprightliness not often found in Latin prose. The dialogue On the State (De Re Publica), in six books, was published before 51 B. C. Only about one third of this is preserved in a fragmentary condition, and for many centuries the entire work was lost with the exception of the Dream of Scipio (Somnium Scipionis), from the sixth book. The[Pg 71] discussion of the state was followed by a dialogue On Laws (De Legibus), which was begun apparently in 52 B. C., but was never finished. In this period we find Cicero turning his attention to technical works on rhetoric and also to philosophy.

[Pg 72]

The last period was for the most part a time of quiet literary work for Cicero. The fourth period. Only after Cæsar’s death did he return to public life. In 46 B. C. he thanked Cæsar, in the oration For Marcellus, for allowing Marcellus, who had been consul in 51 B. C., to return to Rome; later in the same year he pleaded the case of Quintus Ligarius in the speech For Ligarius, and in 45 B. C. he spoke in behalf of Deiotarus, tetrarch of Galicia, who had been accused of treachery to Cæsar (For King Deiotarus), but these are the only speeches of this period except the fourteen Philippics, directed against Antony, all of which belong to the short time between the second of September, 44 B. C., and the twenty-second of April, 43 B. C. In these Cicero shows his old energy and fire, but not quite his earlier power. The name Philippics was given to these speeches almost from the very first, and was in fact authorized by Cicero himself, who welcomed the parallel between himself, arousing and encouraging the Romans against Antony, and Demosthenes urging the Athenians to oppose Philip. But these orations were the work of a few months; by far the greater part of the years after 50 B. C. was occupied with other things. Rhetorical and philosophical works. In the three years 46-44 B. C. appeared the rhetorical writings Brutus, the Orator, the Divisions of Oratory, the essay On the Best Kind of Orators, and the long series of philosophical dialogues and treatises, the most important of which are the De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum, a discussion of the different theories respecting the highest good, in five books; the Academics, two books of which are preserved; the Tusculan Disputations, in five books, treating of the chief essentials for happiness; the treatise On the Nature of the Gods, in three books; and the three books On Duties (De Officiis); to which should be added, on account of their beauty of style and sentiment, the Cato Maior (On Old Age) and the Lælius (On Friendship).

Cicero’s extant works comprise fifty-seven orations and fragments of twenty more, seven rhetorical treatises, thirteen philosophical treatises, including those On the State and On Laws, and about eight hundred and sixty letters, among which are ninety addressed to him by his correspondents. Among the lost works are a few historical writings and several translations from the Greek.

Cicero’s chief ambition was to be a great orator, and he spared no pains to attain his end. Richly endowed by nature, he was not content to employ his natural gifts without careful cultivation. Cicero as an orator. He studied the orators of earlier times, especially the great masters of Greek eloquence, made many translations from the Greek for the sake of perfecting his style, and was a diligent student of rhetorical theories. His conception of the proper qualities of the orator was high and noble. In the essay De Oratore, he makes Crassus say:

Wherefore, if one wishes to define and embrace the proper power of an orator in all its extent, that man will be, in my opinion, an orator worthy of this great name, who can speak wisely, in an orderly and polished manner, from memory, and even with some dignity of action, upon whatever subject arises that needs to be set forth in speech.39

And again:

I assert that by the moderation and wisdom of the perfect orator not only his own dignity, but the welfare of very many persons and of the entire commonwealth is preserved.40

In short, the orator should be, in Cicero’s opinion, not only a great and practised speaker, but a man of varied [Pg 73]learning, and at the same time a man of the highest character. This was the ideal he set before himself and strove throughout his life to attain. Certainly it was no low ideal, nor was the man who strove to attain it a character to be despised.

Cicero’s oratorical style is always careful and finished, but is far from that monotonous smoothness which study often gives to the speech of those who are not by nature gifted orators. Oratorical style. In the narrative parts of his speeches he is clear, straightforward, and lucid; in his arguments he is logical, incisive, and full of force; in his appeals to the feelings of his hearers he is vivid, quick and powerful, sometimes, according to the demands of the occasion, violent or pathetic. Irony. The elaborate periodic structure of his sentences is varied by many short questions or exclamations, and the habitual dignity of his utterance is softened and enlivened by frequent touches of wit, humor, and irony. So in his defence of Quintus Ligarius, who had served in the senatorial army in Africa, although he knew that Cæsar, before whom the case was argued, was perfectly acquainted with the facts, he began his speech as follows:

A new charge, Gaius Cæsar, and one never heard of before this day, my relative, Quintus Tubero, has brought before you: that Quintus Ligarius was in Africa; and Gaius Pansa, a man of excellent character, trusting, perhaps, in his friendship with you, has dared to confess that it is true. Therefore I know not where to turn. For I had come prepared, since you could not know it by yourself, and could not have heard it from any one else, to take advantage of your ignorance for the salvation of the unfortunate man.41

After this ironical introduction, which serves to make his opponents seem ridiculous, Cicero appeals to Cæsar’s well-known clemency before proceeding to his argument.

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In his own political life Cicero constantly showed his reverence for the dignity of the Roman people, the established forms of government, and the traditions and great deeds of the earlier days of Rome. Patriotic feeling. The same feeling is evident in nearly all his orations. References to the Roman people, the majesty of the Roman people, the Roman empire, the dignity of the senate, the customs or institutions of the ancestors, are found on almost every page. The oration On the Manilian Law is not merely a panegyric of Pompey and an argument for giving him new and greater powers, but at the same time a hymn of praise to the glory of the Roman republic and the virtues of the men of old:

Our ancestors often engaged in wars because our merchants or ship-owners had been somewhat unjustly treated; what, pray, should be your feelings when so many thousands of Roman citizens have been slaughtered by one edict and at one time? Because our envoys had been too haughtily addressed it pleased your fathers that Corinth, the light of all Greece, be blotted out; will you let that king go unpunished who has slain an ex-consul and envoy of the Roman people, after subjecting him to imprisonment, and scourging, and all kinds of torture? They did not endure it when the liberty of Roman citizens was curtailed; will you be negligent when their lives have been taken? They followed up the verbal violation of the right of embassies; will you desert the cause of an ambassador slain with all torments? Be on your guard, lest, just as it was most honorable for them to hand down to you so great and glorious an empire, so it be most disgraceful for you to fail to guard and preserve what you have received.42

Here the orator’s effort is to arouse his hearers to maintain the dignity and glory of the republic, whose greatness is brought home to their minds by the references to the deeds of their ancestors. This passage is also a good example of the effective use of repeated contrasts.

In the speech For the Manilian Law Cicero addresses [Pg 75]the assembled Roman people on a political question of immediate and great importance. His tone is exalted and earnest, his eloquence stirring and inspiring. The same qualities are found in all the political orations, and in many of the private speeches, delivered in cases involving the life of the accused or Cicero’s own character. Gentler and more graceful style. In speeches dealing with less urgent matters the tone is more gentle and the effect more graceful. Quotations from the poets are numerous, and the rhythmical structure of the sentences is more marked than in the stirring and excited passages of the political harangues. The oration For the Poet Archias is the best example of Cicero’s less stirring and more graceful oratory. After establishing by a brief statement the fact that Archias had a valid claim to the citizenship, Cicero devotes the remainder of his speech to the praise of literary pursuits:

These studies nourish youth, delight old age, adorn prosperity, furnish a refuge and solace in adversity, gladden us at home, are no hindrance abroad, spend the nights with us, are with us in our foreign travels, and at our country seats.43

In this oration Cicero appears as the man of letters whose literary interest was not bounded by the career of the politician or the orator, and who, in spite of political successes and disappointments, was to achieve greater fame as an author than any other writer of Latin prose.

Few passages are more striking or characteristic in the orations of Cicero than those in which he turns to address directly either the opposing party in the case or his advocate. Direct address. In these passages, which vary in length from a brief exclamation to an elaborate invective, the stinging words shoot forth with quick and passionate directness. One of the longer passages of this kind, in which additional force is [Pg 76]lent to the words by the suggestion that they are uttered by the culprit’s own father, is the following:

Here you will even dare to say, “Among the judges, that one is my friend, that one a friend of my father.” Is not every one, the more closely he is connected with you in any way, the more ashamed of you for being subject to a charge of this kind? He is your father’s friend. If your father himself were a judge, what, in the name of the immortal gods, could you do when he said to you: “You, the prætor of the Roman people in a province, when you had to carry on a naval war, excused the Mamertines for three years from supplying the ship which they were bound by treaty to supply; for your private use a freight ship of the largest size was built at public expense by those same Mamertines; you exacted money from the cities under the pretext of the fleet; you dismissed rowers for bribes; you, when a pirate vessel had been captured by the quæstor and the lieutenant, removed the leader of the pirates from the sight of all; you could put under the headsman’s axe men who were said to be Roman citizens, who were known as such by many; you dared to take pirates to your house, and to bring the pirate captain to the court from your own dwelling; you, in that splendid province, in the sight of our most faithful allies, of most honorable Roman citizens, lay for days together on the shore at festive banquets at a time when the province was in fear and danger; during those days no one could find you at your house, no one could see you in the forum; you brought to those banquets the wives of allies and friends; among women of that sort you placed your youthful son, my grandson, that his father’s life might offer him examples of wickedness at the age which is especially unsteady and lacking in fixed principles; you, the prætor, were seen in the province in a tunic and purple cloak; you, for the gratification of your passion and lust, took away the command of the ships from a lieutenant of the Roman people and gave it to a Syracusan; your soldiers in the province of Sicily were in want of food and grain; owing to your luxury and avarice a fleet of the Roman people was captured and burned by pirates; in your prætorship pirates sailed their ships in that harbor which no enemy had ever entered since the foundation of Syracuse; and these disgraces of yours, so many and so great, you did not care to hide by concealment on your part, nor by making men forget them and [Pg 77] keep silent about them, but you tore away to death and torture even the captains of the ships, without any cause, from the embraces of their parents, your own friends, nor in seeing the grief and tears of those parents did any memory of me soften you; to you the blood of innocent men was not only a pleasure, but even a source of profit.” If your father should say this to you, could you ask pardon from him? could you entreat him to forgive you?44

These few examples, perhaps not the most striking to be found in the great body of his orations, may give some idea of the variety of Cicero’s oratory. In his youth the Roman orators were divided into two parties on the question of style; the elder men, chief among whom was Hortensius, favored the Asian style, with its wealth of rhetorical adornment, while the younger men, the Atticists, as they called themselves, aimed at extreme simplicity, taking Lysias as their model. Cicero perceived that a middle course was best. His natural tendency was toward exuberance, but he tempered it by careful study. He does not avoid rhetorical adornment, but he seldom uses it to excess. Like Demosthenes, whom he regarded as the greatest of the Greek orators, he varies his style to suit the occasion, and, like him, he stands forth as the greatest orator of his nation.

Philosophical works.In his philosophical writings Cicero’s purpose was to be useful to his fellow citizens by making them acquainted with the results of Greek speculative thought. As he himself says:

As I sought and pondered much and long by what means I could be of use to as many men as possible, that I might never cease to care for the welfare of the republic, nothing greater occurred to me than if I should make accessible to my fellow citizens the paths of the noblest learning.45

With this end in view he wrote his treatises, for the most part in the dialogue form, after the manner of Plato, in which he set forth the doctrines of the Greek philoso[Pg 78]phers on the most important subjects, such as the chief end of life, the means of attaining happiness, duty, the nature of the gods, and the like, laying the chief stress upon what he believed to be true and correct. He lays no claim to great originality of thought, but only to independence of judgment. In general, he regards himself as a disciple of the Academic school, which did not claim to establish absolute truth, but to show what was most probable. He uses, however, the works of Stoic and even of Epicurean philosophers, whenever they express views in accordance with his own, as well as when he wishes to refute their teachings. He is not entirely consistent in all his writings, but his high moral sense, his belief in the divine government of the world, and his hope of immortality are the foundations of his philosophy. His style in these writings is, as befits his subject, dignified and serene, but enlivened by the occasional interruptions incident to the dialogue form.

Importance of Cicero’s philosophical works. To the professional student of ancient philosophy these treatises are of great importance chiefly because of the information they contain concerning the writings and doctrines of Greek philosophers whose works have been lost; to the student of literature they offer admirable examples of learned works in popular form, with all the charm of exquisite literary workmanship; and their influence upon later ages was so great that no one who is interested in the progress of human thought can disregard them. St. Augustine, and many other writers of the early Christian Church, acknowledge their indebtedness to them; they are the foundation of the speculative thought of the middle ages; and it is in great measure due to their influence that the Latin language has remained, almost to our own day, the great medium for the expression of philosophical and scientific speculation. Cicero made “the paths of the noblest learning” acces[Pg 79]sible not only to his Roman fellow citizens, but to countless generations of men of all lands. His noble purpose was accomplished more grandly than he ever hoped or dreamed. Let those who will, accuse him of shallowness and superficiality; mankind owes him an immeasurable debt of gratitude.

Cicero’s orations have served as models for many generations of orators, his rhetorical treatises may be regarded as the foundation of nearly all later theories of style, his philosophical works exerted an influence which permeated the thought of centuries. Cicero’s letters. It remains to speak of his letters. These are in some respects the most interesting of his writings, because they show the feelings of the man as he disclosed them to his intimate friends, they make us acquainted with the personal relations between the prominent Romans of the time, and shed many rays of light upon the dark pages of contemporary history. The first of the extant letters is dated in 68 B. C., the last July 28, 43 B. C. The collection was made by Cicero’s friends, and edited probably by his freedman, Tiro, and his publisher and most intimate friend, Atticus. They fall into four groups; sixteen books addressed to various persons (Ad Familiares), three books to Cicero’s brother Quintus (Ad Quintum Fratrem), sixteen books to Atticus (Ad Atticum), and two books to Brutus (Ad Brutum). There were originally nine books of letters to Brutus, but only the eighth and the ninth are preserved.

The letters differ greatly in importance, in length, and in interest. Some are mere greetings or brief introductions, while others are carefully composed treatises; some are expressions of Cicero’s inmost feelings to his intimate friends, while others are business notes or occasional letters to men with whom he was on a less familiar footing; some are addressed to the great leaders of the political parties, others to comparatively obscure persons;[Pg 80] some are on literary subjects, others on private business, and still others on matters that pertain to the history of the world. Variety of contents. The style and language vary with the contents of the letters, but are in general less careful than in any of Cicero’s other writings. The language is evidently that of common speech rather than of literary composition. In the letters written during his exile Cicero betrays unmanly discouragement, and breaks out into pitiful lamentation, just as in many of his orations he betrays great vanity, and extols overmuch his own courage and patriotism in the matter of the Catilinarian conspiracy; but these letters are the confidential utterances of momentary feelings, not the deliberate expressions of the man’s character, and we must not forget that Cicero was an Italian, a man of easily aroused emotions, whose vanity might overflow or whose grief might break forth without affecting his real earnestness or steadfastness. One of the briefer letters to Atticus is the following, written from Thurium, in April, 58 B. C., soon after Cicero’s banishment began:

Terentia thanks you frequently and very warmly. That is a great comfort to me. I am the most miserable man alive, and am being worn out with the most poignant sorrow. I don’t know what to write to you. For if you are at Rome, it is now too late for me to reach you; but if you are on the road, we shall discuss together all that needs to be discussed when you have overtaken me. All I ask you is to retain the same affection for me, since it was always myself you loved. For I am still the same man; my enemies have taken what was mine, they have not taken myself. Take care of your health.46

A letter to Marcus Terentius Varro, written in 46 B. C., among the troubles of the civil war, shows Cicero consoling himself with literature:

From a letter of yours, which Atticus read to me, I learnt what you were doing and where you were; but when we were [Pg 81] likely to see you, I could gain no idea at all from the letter. However, I am beginning to hope that your arrival is not far off. I wish it could be any consolation to me! But the fact is, I am overwhelmed by so many and such grave anxieties, that no one but the most utter fool ought to expect any alleviation; yet, after all, perhaps you can give me some kind of help, or I you. For allow me to tell you that, since my arrival in the city, I have effected a reconciliation with my old friends—I mean my books; though the truth is that I had not abandoned their society because I had fallen out with them, but because I was half ashamed to look them in the face. For I thought, when I plunged into the maelstrom of civil strife, with allies whom I had the worst possible reason for trusting, that I had not shown proper respect for their precepts. They pardon me; they recall me to our old intimacy, and you, they say, have been wiser than I for never having left it. Wherefore, since I find them reconciled, I seem bound to hope, if I once see you, that I shall pass through with ease both what is weighing me down now, and what is threatening. Therefore, in your company, whether you choose it to be in your Tusculan or Cuman villa, or, which I should like least, at Rome, so long only as we are together, I will certainly contrive that both of us shall think it the most agreeable place possible.47

Cicero’s letters give us a more complete insight into his private character than could be gained from his other writings. Cicero’s character. He was a faithful and affectionate friend, a genial companion, a good husband and father, and a devoted patriot. In his political career he exhibited a lack of that insight which enables the great statesman to foresee inevitable changes, and therefore he strove to preserve the old system of government at a time when its usefulness had passed away. He could not sympathize thoroughly with Pompey and his party, still less with the revolutionary policy of Cæsar. The result was indecision and apparent fickleness, but his indecision was not so much that of weakness as of the inability to choose between what he must have regarded [Pg 82]as two evils. When he saw his duty clearly before him, as in the year of his consulship, he did not flinch, and again, when Antony was arrayed in arms against the state, he stood forth boldly as the defender of the republic. He showed his courage and firmness also when, in 50 B. C., after Pompey’s flight from Italy, he exposed himself to Cæsar’s displeasure by refusing to come to Rome except as an avowed partizan of Pompey.48 In all the relations of life he was honorable and conscientious, and in the field of literature he stands among the great men of the world.


Bust in the museum at Naples.

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Cæsar, 102(?)-44 B. C.—Hirtius,?-43 B. C.—Oppius, died after 44 B. C.—Continuations of Cæsar’s Commentaries—Sallust, 86-35 B. C.—Cornelius Nepos, before 100 B. C. to after 30 B. C.—Varro, 116-27 B. C.—Atticus, 109-32 B. C.—Hortensius, 114-50 B. C.—Calidius, died 47 B. C.—Calvus, 87-47 B. C.—Brutus, 78 (?)-42 B. C.—Cornificius,?-41 B. C.—Quintus Cicero, 102-43, B. C.—Tiro—Nigidius Figulus, died 45 B. C.—Aurelius Opilius—Antonius Gnipho—Pompilius Andronicus—Santra—Servius Sulpicius Rufus.

What has been said of Cicero applies with at least equal force to Cæsar—the story of his life belongs to the history of Rome rather than to that of literature. We must therefore content ourselves with a brief sketch.

Gaius Julius Cæsar was born, according to the common account, in 100 B. C., but the real date is probably two years earlier. Cæsar’s early life. He was of patrician birth and his family claimed descent from Ascanius; or Iulus, the son of Æneas. Marius, his uncle by marriage, made him a priest of Jupiter at the age of not more than fifteen. While still little more than a boy he married Cornelia, the daughter of Cinna, and barely escaped the proscription of Sulla when he refused to divorce her. The young Cæsar was thus, in spite of his patrician birth, identified with the popular party. In 67 B. C. he was quæstor in Farther Spain, in 65 B. C. he became curule ædile, in which office he distinguished himself by the magnificence of his public games and exhibitions, and in 63 B. C. he was elected pontifex maximus,[Pg 84] thereby becoming for life the official head of the Roman religion.

In 62 B. C. he was chosen prætor, and the next year was sent as proprætor to Farther Spain. His government in Spain. Up to this time he was known chiefly as a dissolute man and an unscrupulous demagogue. His extravagance had involved him in debts amounting to more than a million dollars. But in the government of his province he distinguished himself by military successes and excellent civil administration, besides amassing sufficient wealth to pay his debts.

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The first triumvirate.In 60 B. C. he returned to Rome, and soon formed with Pompey and Crassus the agreement known as the first triumvirate, by which he was assured of the consulship in 59 B. C., and the government of Gaul for the following five years. To strengthen the alliance he married his young and beautiful daughter Julia to Pompey. In 56 B. C. he met Pompey and Crassus at Lucca, in the presence of a great concourse of senators and their followers, and an agreement was made that Cæsar should continue to hold the province of Gaul through 49 B. C., while Pompey and Crassus were to be consuls in 55 B. C., after which Syria and Spain were to be given to Crassus and Pompey respectively for five years. The agreement was duly carried out, and in 54 B. C. Crassus want to Syria, where he lost his life after the battle of Carrhæ, in 53 B. C. In the same year Pompey’s wife, Julia, died. Pompey had not gone to Spain to take possession of his province, but remained at Rome, and soon became openly hostile to Cæsar. When the Gallic war was ended, the senatorial party, with Pompey at its head, demanded that Cæsar disband his army. The civil war. This he refused to do unless Pompey also gave up his military command. Hereupon the civil war broke out, Cæsar crossed the Rubicon, the boundary of his province, and Pompey fled to Greece, where he was defeated in 48 B. C., at Pharsalus, then to Egypt, where he was murdered. In 46 B. C. the senatorial party was finally defeated in the battle of Thapsus, in Africa, and their leader, Cato, committed suicide at Utica.

Cæsar now returned to Rome, where he was made imperator and perpetual dictator, thus uniting in one person all the political power of the state. Henceforth the forms of republican government were but a thin mask disguising a real monarchy. Cæsar’s dictatorship and death. In the brief period of his power Cæsar accomplished the reform of the calendar, and carried through numerous important changes for the improvement of the government, but nothing could placate the hatred of those who wished to restore the rule of the senate, whatever its abuses had been. On the Ides of March (March 15), 44 B. C., he was murdered in the senate-house by a band of conspirators headed by Brutus.

Cæsar’s extant writings are seven books of Commentaries on the Gallic War, covering the years 58-52 B. C., and three books of Commentaries on the Civil War, covering the years 49-48 B. C. Cæsar’s writings. He also wrote some poems, a book On the Stars, two books Against Cato, and a few grammatical or rhetorical essays, all of which are lost, as are also his orations, which were greatly admired. Collections of his letters existed in antiquity, but these also have been lost, and the only extant letters of Cæsar are a few which are preserved in the correspondence of Cicero. Cæsar doubtless intended to publish commentaries on the years between 52 and 49 B. C., as well as on his wars in Egypt and elsewhere, but did not carry out his intention.

Cæsar’s Commentaries on the Gallic War were written apparently in the year 51 B. C., when he was still on good terms with Pompey. The energy of this pale, slender, delicate man sufficed not only to make him the conqueror of the warlike tribes of the north, and afterward of the[Pg 86] trained armies of the republic, but also to gain him an eminent position among the great narrative and descriptive writers of the world. The Commentaries were written rapidly,49 for the double purpose of showing what Cæsar had done to increase the glory and power of Rome, and to prove to his detractors that his conquest of Gaul had not been an act of unprovoked aggression, but had been forced upon him by circumstances. The facts narrated are drawn, in all probability, from the official army records, supplemented from Cæsar’s own recollections, and perhaps from his private journals. In striking contrast to the transparent vanity which led Cicero to extol his own merits on all possible occasions, Cæsar keeps his personality in the background, and writes of himself always in the third person, as if the deeds he narrates were those of another than the writer. This gives his narrative the appearance of great impartiality, but the careful reader can hardly fail to notice that Cæsar’s conduct is always put in the most favorable light, that his victories are made as important as possible, and his reverses are more lightly passed over. The Commentaries are not to be regarded as accurate history, but rather as a justification of Cæsar’s actions, presented in historical form.

Cæsar’s style.Cæsar’s style is clear, simple, and unaffected, and free from all obtrusive rhetorical adornment, but the narrative of his campaigns is varied and enlivened by the insertion of descriptions, speeches, dialogues, and all sorts of interesting details. He frequently takes occasion to signalize the brave deeds of his men. So in his account of the siege of Gergovia, he describes the heroic death of one of his centurions:

Marcus Petronius, a centurion of the same legion, in trying to break down the gate, was overwhelmed by numbers and despaired of his life. When he had already been wounded many [Pg 87] times, he said to his comrades, who had followed him: “Since I can not save myself together with you, I will at least provide for your safety, since through my greed for glory I have led you into danger. When an opportunity is given you, do you look out for yourselves.” At once he rushed into the midst of the enemy, and after killing two, drove the rest a little away from the gate. When his comrades tried to succour him, “In vain,” he said, “do you try to save my life, since my blood and my strength are ebbing away. So go away, while you have the opportunity, and retreat to the legion.” Thus fighting he soon fell and saved his comrades.

The history of the Gallic war was published under the unassuming title of Commentarii, or “notes”; but such is the perfection of its simple style that no one ever thought of rewriting it.

The three books of Commentaries on the Civil War show the same qualities as those On the Gallic War, but in a less admirable degree. The Civil War. In one external matter they differ from the history of the Gallic War, for in the latter each book contains the account of a year’s campaign, while the story of the first year of the Civil War occupies two books. The historical interest of this work is at least as great as that of the books on the Gallic War, but it does not compete with them in literary merit, and contains some positive misstatements. Probably the work was written in haste and was never revised by its author. This supposition would account for some of its defects. It may have been prepared for publication by one of Cæsar’s officers, perhaps by one of those who undertook to furnish histories of the campaigns which Cæsar had left unrecorded.

Among those who continued Cæsar’s record of his wars, the best writer is Aulus Hirtius. He was one of Cæsar’s lieutenants in Gaul, and was sent by him to Rome as a trusted agent. In 49 B. C. he was with Cæsar in Rome. What share he had in the civil war is not known, but he himself says that he was not present in the Alexandrian[Pg 88] and African wars. Continuations of Cæsar’s Commentaries. He was prætor, on Cæsar’s nomination, in 46 B. C., and was consul in 43 B. C., when he was killed in the battle of Mutina, fighting against Antony. The only work ascribed to him with certainty is the eighth book of the Commentaries on the Gallic War, in which he shows himself far inferior to Cæsar as a writer, but not without some ability. The book is well written, in a style evidently intended to resemble that of Cæsar. Whether the book on the Alexandrian War was written by Hirtius or by Gaius Oppius is uncertain. Oppius was a man of equestrian rank, a supporter and agent of Cæsar at Rome. After Cæsar’s death he attached himself to the party of Octavius, and urged Cicero to do the same. He appears not to have lived long after 44 B. C. The Alexandrian War is written in a style similar to that of the eighth book of the Gallic War. The books on the African War and the Spanish War are by unknown authors. The style of the first is tasteless and turgid, while that of the latter is hesitating and crabbed. These books possess a certain literary interest, because they show the immense difference between Cæsar’s literary ability and that of the average Roman of his day.

Cæsar’s inimitable Commentaries are the records of their author’s own deeds, written from the point of view of the chief actor in the events narrated. They are not the results of wide historical research, nor do they attempt to give the reader a broad general knowledge of the course of events, with all their causes and consequences. They are not, strictly speaking, history, but a masterly presentation of the material from which history is made. The earlier records of the past by Roman writers, such as Valerius Antias, Cornelius Sisenna, and others (see page 43), were mere annals, deficient alike in careful research and literary finish. The first real historian of Rome was Sallust.

[Pg 89]

Gaius Sallustius Crispus was born of a plebeian family, at Amiternum, in the Sabine country, in 86 B. C. Sallust. At some unknown date he obtained the office of quæstor, and in 52 B. C. he was tribune. In the earlier part of his life he was dissolute, and he is said to have brought his father in sorrow to the grave. In 50 B. C. he was expelled from the senate by the censors Appius Claudius and Lucius Piso. In the following year he was reappointed quæstor by Cæsar and thus regained his place in the senate. In 48 B. C. he was in command of a legion in Illyria, in the year following he was sent by Cæsar to suppress a mutiny among the soldiers in Campania, and in 46 B. C. served as prætor in the African war. At the end of the year he was made proconsul of Numidia, where he enriched himself by plundering the province. He then bought a villa and gardens on the Quirinal, and devoted himself to historical writing until his death in 35 B. C.

Sallust’s works are The Conspiracy of Catiline, The Jugurthine War, and the Histories. Sallust’s works. The first two are preserved entire, but of the Histories, which treated of the events from 78 to 67 B. C., only fragments are preserved, in addition to four speeches and two letters, which were inserted in the narrative, but were collected and published for use in rhetorical teaching. The two letters to Cæsar and the speech against Cicero, published under the name of Sallust, are spurious.

In his writings Sallust appears as an opponent of the nobility and a champion of the popular party. Character of Sallust’s works. He depicts in glaring colors the corruption and greed of the senate, and describes in glowing terms the successes and virtues of the popular hero Marius. At times his political bias leads him even to distort the truth, though the distortion is not so great as to deprive his works of historical value. He is not content to state the bare facts of history, but exerts[Pg 90] himself to depict the sentiments and motives underlying the actions of the chief persons about whom he writes, and even of mankind in general. He prefaces his narrative with introductions of a philosophical nature, sometimes not strictly relevant to the subject in hand. His style is rhetorical and piquant, and he uses many archaic words, chosen in great part from Cato’s works. He evidently imitates the style of Thucydides, and, like him, he introduces speeches and letters composed to suit the occasion on which they are supposed to have been delivered or written. These peculiarities give his works the interest of individuality, and have caused them to be much admired, and also severely criticised, in ancient and modern times. Some of the qualities of Sallust’s writing may appear in translations of a few brief extracts. The opening words of the Catiline are as follows:

All men, who desire to excel the other animals, ought to strive with all their power not to pass their lives in silence, like the cattle which nature has made prone and obedient to their appetite. But all our power is situated in the spirit and the body; our spirit is more for command, our body for obedience; the one we have in common with the gods, the other with the beasts; wherefore it seems to me more fitting to seek glory by the resources of the mind than by physical strength, and, since the life which we enjoy is itself brief, to make the memory of us as lasting as possible.50

His account of the terror at Rome when the greatness of the danger from the conspiracy of Catiline became known, shows his power of vivid description:

By these things the state was deeply moved and the face of the city was changed. From the greatest gaiety and wantonness, which long peace had brought forth, suddenly utter sadness came in; people hurried, ran trembling about, had no confidence in any place or man, neither waged war, nor were at peace; each one measured the danger by his own fear.51

[Pg 91]

The beginning of the speech of Marius to the Romans exhibits Sallust’s rhetorical style, his liking for antitheses and for descriptive epithets:

I know, Quirites, that not by the same conduct do most men seek power from you and use it after they have obtained it, that at first they are industrious, humble, and moderate, but afterward pass their lives in sloth and haughtiness. But to me the opposite seems right, for by as much as the entire state is more important than the consulship or the prætorship, with so much greater care ought the former to be administered than these latter to be sought. Nor am I ignorant how much trouble I am taking upon myself at the same time with the greatest honor from you. To make ready for war, and at the same time spare the treasury, to force to military service those whom one does not wish to offend, to care for everything at home and abroad, and to do this among envious, opposing, seditious men, is harder, Quirites, than you think.

Artificial though the style of Sallust is, it is interesting, lively, often concise and vivid. It had no little influence upon the style of subsequent writers, especially upon that of Tacitus, the greatest of Roman historians. We must remember, too, that the Catiline and the Jugurtha were of much less importance than the lost Histories. In this greater and more mature work Sallust may have avoided some of the faults of style that appear in the extant treatises.

A much less interesting writer than Sallust is Cornelius Nepos. Like Catullus and several other authors of this period, he came to Rome from the north. His birthplace was probably Ticinum, on the river Po. Cornelius Nepos. Little is known of his life, which appears to have extended from a little before 100 B. C. to a little after 30 B. C. He was a friend of Catullus and of Cicero’s friend Atticus, probably also of other literary men at Rome. His works were all, with the exception of some love poems, historical and biographical. The Chronica, in three books, treating of universal history,[Pg 92] was probably written before 52 B. C. The Exempla, in five books, was a history of Roman manners and customs. Three other works were a Life of Cato (the elder), a Life of Cicero, and a treatise on geography. His latest work, published apparently between 35 and 33 B. C., was a great collection of biographies of distinguished men (De Viris Illustribus), dedicated to Atticus. An addition to the life of Atticus was made between 31 and 27 B. C. This work contained at least sixteen books, and was divided into sections of two books each, so that each section contained one book on Romans and one on foreigners. The sections treated of Kings, Generals, Statesmen, Orators, Poets, Philosophers, Historians, and Grammarians.

Of all the works of Nepos, there remain to us only the book on foreign generals, and from the book on Roman historians the lives of Cato the elder and of Atticus, besides fragments of the letters of Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi. Qualities of the works of Nepos. The book on foreign generals contains biographies of twenty Greek generals, a brief sketch of kings who were also generals, and biographies of Hamilcar and Hannibal. Nepos draws his facts from good sources, such as Thucydides, Xenophon, Theopompus, Polybius, and the writings of Hannibal, but is careless and uncritical, and does not employ all the important sources of information on each subject. He makes mistakes in matters of history and geography, arranges his material badly, and gives to trivial anecdotes the space that might better have been devoted to more important matters. His style, though generally clear, is without elegance. The structure of his sentences is simple, and his subject-matter is interesting. For these reasons, rather than on account of any literary merit, his Lives have been much used as a text-book for beginners in Latin.

One of the most productive and learned writers of the age of Cicero was Marcus Terentius Varro, who was born[Pg 93] in 116 B. C. at Reate, in the Sabine country. He studied at Rome under Lucius Ælius Stilo, and at Athens under Antiochus of Ascalon. Varro. In 76 B. C. he was in the army in Spain, in 67 B. C. he distinguished himself in the war against the pirates. Perhaps he continued to serve under Pompey in the war with Mithridates. In the civil war he was on the side of Pompey, and was forced to surrender to Cæsar the legion under his command. He was afterward in Epirus, at Corcyra, and at Dyrrhachium. After Cæsar’s victory, Varro accepted the new government and was placed in charge of the public libraries. He was proscribed by Antony after Cæsar’s death, but his life was saved through the devotion of his friends, and he spent his remaining years in peace, continuing his literary activity until the end. He died in his ninetieth year, 27 B. C.

Varro’s works.Varro’s works were many and varied. Some seventy-four titles are known, and the total number of single books amounted to about six hundred and twenty. These included poems, works on grammar, history, geography, law, rhetoric, philosophy, mathematics, literary history and education, miscellaneous essays, orations, and letters. Of all these there remain one complete work, On Agriculture (De Re Rustica), in three books, six (v-x) of the original twenty-five books of the treatise On the Latin Language (De Lingua Latino), numerous short fragments of the Menippean Satires (Saturæ Menippeæ), and a few fragments of some of the other works. The collection of maxims that passes under Varro’s name is probably spurious.

Varro’s extant works. The Menippean Satires were written in prose interspersed with verses, in imitation of the works of the Cynic Menippus, who lived about 300 B. C., and probably belong to Varro’s earlier years. They treat of almost all the relations of human life in a satirical vein. The extant verses[Pg 94] show some ability in metrical composition and no little humor. It is evident, however, that Varro was not a great poet, and the loss of his other poems is little to be regretted. The three books On Agriculture give, in the form of a dialogue, a systematic treatment of agriculture proper, of stock-raising, and of poultry, game, and fish. The dialogue is stiff, and the arrangement of the different parts of the subject artificial. The work is valuable for the information it contains, but its literary form is unattractive. The extant books of the treatise On the Latin Language are chiefly concerned with the derivation of words and with inflections. Syntax was treated in books xiv-xxv. Varro’s etymologies are often incorrect, and his ideas concerning inflections unscientific; but the work contains much that is of value to the student of the Latin language and of Roman antiquities. The style is dry and often dull. In fact, this is hardly a work of literature, but rather a technical treatise. Varro was a man of great learning and prodigious industry, but not a literary artist. The Antiquitates and the Imagines. Among his lost works the most important were probably the Human and Divine Antiquities (Antiquitates Rerum Divinarum Humanarumque), in forty-one books, and the Portraits (Hebdomades, or Imagines), in fifteen books. The latter work contained brief accounts in prose and verse of seven hundred famous Greeks and Romans, with their portraits. Varro’s works were vast treasure-houses of information, but there is no reason to suppose that they possessed any great literary qualities.

The remaining prose writers of this period may be passed over with a brief mention. Atticus. Many of them are little more than names to us, and the works of all are lost. One of the most interesting is Titus Pomponius Atticus (109-32 B. C.), whose biography was written by Cornelius Nepos. He was a wealthy man, who abstained from public life and devoted himself to[Pg 95] literature by publishing the works of others and giving friendly aid to literary men as well as by writing. His friendship with Cicero has already been mentioned. His works were historical, the most important being the Annals (Liber Annalis), a chronological sketch of Roman history from the foundation of the city to the year 49 B. C. His other works were biographies or genealogies, and descriptive verses written to accompany portraits of distinguished men.

Minor orators.The orator Quintus Hortensius Hortalus (114-50 B. C.) is chiefly known through Cicero. He was the advocate of Verres when Cicero conducted the prosecution, he spoke against the Manilian Law, which Cicero supported, and in several suits he was engaged by the same client who secured Cicero’s services. Hortensius was the chief representative of the florid and ornamental “Asian” style of oratory at Rome. Among the orators who adopted the simple Attic style, the most important were Marcus Calidius, who was prætor in 57 B. C. and died in 47 B. C.; Gaius Licinius Calvus (87-47 B. C.), who has been mentioned above (page 62) as a poet; Marcus Junius Brutus, the leader of the conspirators who murdered Cæsar; and Quintus Cornificius, who was also a poet (see page 64).

Quintus Tullius Cicero (102-43 B. C.), the brother of Marcus, was also a literary man, though far inferior to his brother. Quintus Cicero. When he was Cæsar’s lieutenant in Gaul, in 54 B. C., he wrote several tragedies, apparently translations from the Greek, and he was also the author of annals and of an epic poem on Cæsar’s expedition to Britain. The only writings of Quintus Cicero now existing are three letters to Tiro and one to Marcus Cicero, besides an Essay on Candidature for the Consulship, in the form of a letter to Marcus, written when he was a candidate for that office in 64 B. C. This gives some interesting information about the methods of Roman[Pg 96] politicians,but has little literary interest. The first of Marcus Cicero’s Letters to Quintus is a similar treatise on the government of a province, written when Quintus was beginning his third year as proprætor of Asia, 59 B. C. Tiro. Another writer closely connected with Cicero was his freedman and friend Tiro, who wrote Cicero’s biography, made editions of his speeches and letters, and collected his witticisms, besides writing on grammar and inventing a system of shorthand.

The grammatical, theological, and scientific works of Publius Nigidius Figulus, who was prætor in 58 B. C., and died in banishment in 45 B. C., have little to do with literature, and are lost. Writers on special subjects. Nor is it necessary to devote even a brief space to the grammatical and rhetorical works of Aurelius Opilius, Antonius Gnipho, Marcus Pompilius Andronicus, and others, whose teachings helped to inform some of the great writers and orators of the time, but whose works have not been preserved. A philologist, historian, and poet, whose writings were considered important, was Santra, who seems to have been somewhat younger than Varro, but we are now unable to determine wherein their importance consisted. Among the jurists of this period the most distinguished was Servius Sulpicius Rufus, two letters from whom are preserved in Cicero’s correspondence (Ad Familiares, iv, 5, and iv, 12). These give a high idea of his style, but are the only remains of his writings. All branches of knowledge, so far as they existed at that time, were treated by various writers, but a discussion of their lost works has no place in a brief history of literature.

The last years of the republic are made illustrious by the great names of Lucretius, Catullus, Cicero, and Cæsar. In the Augustan age, poetry attained a still greater height of perfection with Virgil and Horace, but the age of Cicero is the golden age of Latin prose.

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Effect of the Empire upon literature—Augustus, 63 B. C.-14 A. D.—Agrippa, 63-12 B. C.—Pollio, 67 B. C.-5 A. D.—Messalla, 64 B. C.-8 A. D.—Mæcenas, 70 (?)-8 B. C.—Virgil, 70-19 B. C.—His life—The Eclogues—The Georgics—The Æneid.

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Effect of the Empire upon literature.With the battle of Actium the Roman Republic came to an end. Julius Cæsar had, to be sure, gathered all the power of the state into his own hand, but he had held it only a short time; Octavius—after 27 B. C., Augustus—held the full power until his death, and left it unimpaired to his successors. The change from a free government, whatever its corruption and decay, to what was really an unlimited monarchy could not fail to have some influence upon literature. Henceforth the great orator might hope to win cases in the courts, but he could no longer change the policy of the nation; the historian might search the records of the past and describe the deeds of those who were no longer living, but if he wrote of the history of his own times, he must have the fear of the master always before his eyes; the poet could sing of love and wine and nature without let or hindrance, but poems of national and political importance could hardly be written except by those in sympathy with the empire. The emperor might exert his influence to put down all literary expression not agreeable to him without encouraging literature of any kind, or he might encourage certain kinds of literature and certain writers without treating with severity even those whose works displeased him, or he might at the same time encourage some and suppress others. Under an imperial master literary expression could not be so free as in the days of the republic, but the degree of restraint at any time depended upon the character of the emperor. It is due to the enlightened liberality of Augustus that the period of his rule was the most brilliant epoch of Roman literature.

Augustus (63 B. C.-14 A. D.) had received a careful education in his youth, and had a genuine and intelligent admiration for literature. Augustus. His own literary productions comprised an epic poem entitled Sicily, some short epigrams, an unfinished tragedy entitled Ajax, orations, memoirs, and letters. Before his death he directed that an account of his deeds (Index Rerum Gestarum) should be engraved on bronze tablets and affixed to his tomb. He probably composed this account himself, and the copy of it found inscribed upon the wall of the temple of Augustus and Rome at Ancyra (the Monumentum Ancyranum), containing in simple and dignified language the record of his life, his political measures, and his military activity, shows the good taste of the first Roman emperor, for he who had become the ruler of the civilized world was not led to praise himself or speak in extravagant terms of any of his deeds, but composed the record of his wonderful life in terms of simplicity so grave and dignified as to inspire veneration. It was not, however, through his own compositions but through his influence that Augustus made his name great in the history of literature. He encouraged Virgil, Horace, and other poets, he attended the recitations of authors who wished to bring their new works before an enlightened public, and he surrounded himself with friends who delighted in aiding and honor[Pg 99]ing those whose genius could give glory to their patrons and add lustre to the empire.

Agrippa. Among these friends of literature was Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa (63-12 B. C.), who caused the first map of the world to be set up in the porticus Polæ and was himself the author of geographical works. More important was Gaius Asinius Pollio (67 B. C.-5 A. D.), who established the first public library in Rome. Pollio. His example was followed by Augustus, who established two libraries, one in the porch of Octavia, the other in the temple of the Palatine Apollo, under the care of the learned Varro. Pollio was a soldier, statesman, and orator, but also wrote tragedies and a history of the years 60-42 B. C., in which he criticized boldly the statements of Julius Cæsar, the adoptive father of Augustus. Pollio was the first to hold and encourage public and private recitations of new literary works. Mesalla. Less closely connected with the emperor was Marcus Valerius Messalla (64 B. C.-8 A. D.), who had originally been a partizan of Brutus, but had made his peace with Augustus. He was, like Pollio, an orator, but occupied himself also with antiquarian and grammatical researches, and in his earlier years made translations from the Greek and wrote Greek prose and verse. His house was a gathering place for the younger poets of the period.

But of all the patrons of literature under Augustus, the most distinguished was Gaius Mæcenas, the friend of Augustus, of Virgil, and of Horace. Mæcenas. He was born about 70 B. C., and died in 8 B. C. A member of an ancient and noble Etruscan family, he had been carefully educated, and developed the most refined literary taste. His attractive and winning personality made him of great service to Octavius in his negotiations with Antony and Sextus Pompey, and after the power of Augustus was established Mæcenas was the close friend and constant adviser of the emperor. In spite of his fine liter[Pg 100]ary taste, he was without talent as a writer, and his works, both prose and verse, were severely criticized by his contemporaries and by later readers. It is little to be regretted that his writings, like those of the other patrons of literature who have been mentioned, are lost. And yet the name of Mæcenas will always occupy an honored place in the history of literature, for it was he who made possible the poems of Virgil and Horace.

The greatest of Roman poets is Virgil. Publius Vergilius Maro was born of humble parents, at Andes, a village in the territory of Mantua, October 15, 70 B. C. Mæcenas. His parents can not have been poor, for they gave him a good education, first at Cremona, then at Milan, and later at Rome. He was trained chiefly in rhetoric and philosophy, but the only teacher whose influence seems to have been lasting was the Epicurean philosopher Siro. For oratory Virgil developed no taste. After the battle of Philippi (42 B. C.) the triumvirs recompensed their veterans by a distribution of farm lands, and Virgil’s farm was given to a new owner. At that time Asinius Pollio, who had admired Virgil’s poetry and had encouraged him to write the Bucolics or Eclogues, was governor of the region beyond the Po, and through his influence the poet was reinstated in his property. But in the following summer a new distribution of lands was made, and Pollio was no longer governor of the province. Virgil was dispossessed, and had to take refuge at the villa of his teacher Siro. Through the influence of Cornelius Gallus and Mæcenas, Augustus was led to recompense the poet for his loss, and from this time Virgil was in close relations to the imperial circle. Hereafter he lived at Rome and on an estate near Naples, which he received from Augustus.

In 37 or 36 B. C. and the following years he wrote the Georgics in honor of Mæcenas, and the Æneid, written at the request of Augustus, was begun in 29 B. C. When the poem was finished and the poet had reached his fifty-first[Pg 101] year, he went to Athens, intending to devote three years to the final revision of his work, and then to give himself up to the study of philosophy. But at Athens he met with Augustus, who was on the point of returning to Rome from the East and invited him to join the imperial party. Virgil was already ill from exposure to the heat during a visit to Megara, but accepted the invitation. On the voyage his illness increased, and a few days after his arrival at Brundusium he died, September 21, 19 B. C. He was buried at Naples, where he had passed most of his later years.

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Virgil’s undisputed works are three: the Eclogues, called, on account of their pastoral nature, the Bucolics; the Georgics; and the Æneid. The Eclogues are a series of ten idylls in imitation of the poems of the Greek poet Theocritus. The Greek word “idyll” means “little picture,” and since all Virgil’s idylls, except the fourth, and most of those of Theocritus, depict the life of herdsmen in the country, the word is generally applied to pastoral poems. Virgil’s Works. The Eclogues. Virgil’s Eclogues are little pictures of pastoral life, but contain many allusions to the poet’s own circumstances and to his friends and patrons, Pollio, Gallus, Varus, Mæcenas, and Augustus. Pastoral poems, written for the cultivated circle of an imperial court, are necessarily artificial, and to this rule the Eclogues are no exception. Yet the charm of their diction, the polish of their verse, the genuine love of nature and appreciation of rural life which they display, have given these poems a well-deserved place among the most famous productions of Roman literature. In the Eclogues Virgil is, even more than in his other poems, dependent on Greek originals. Not only scattered lines, but whole passages are almost literal translations from the idylls of Theocritus, and less noticeable adaptations from other poets also occur. Sometimes Virgil’s version is less beautiful than the original poem from which he borrows, and some of the most admired passages are not his own inventions; but even in the Eclogues, the earliest of his authentic works, written when he was about thirty years of age, amid the distress that accompanied his ejection from his little property, Virgil succeeds in making from his Greek originals new and great poems of genuinely Roman character. From first to last Virgil is a national poet.

The poem which stands first in the series, but which was not the first in order of composition, has the form of a dialogue between two herdsmen, Melibœus and Tityrus. In it the poet expresses his gratitude to Augustus, whom he calls a god. The poem begins:

Melibœus. Stretched in the shadow of the broad beech, thou
Rehearsest, Tityrus, on the slender pipe
Thy woodland music. We our fatherland
Are leaving, we must shun the fields we love:
While, Tityrus, thou, at ease amid the shade,
Bidd’st answering woods call Amaryllis “fair.”
Tityrus. O Melibœus! ’tis a god that made
For me this holiday: for a god I’ll aye
Account him; many a young lamb from my fold
Shall stain his altar. Thanks to him, my kine
Range as thou seest them: thanks to him, I play
What songs I list upon my shepherd’s pipe.52

In the dialogue that follows, Tityrus, who represents Virgil himself, speaks of his visit to Rome and his meeting with Augustus:

There, Melibœus, I beheld that youth
For whom each year twelve days my altars smoke.
Thus answered he my yet unanswered prayer,
“Feed still, my lads, your kine, and yoke your bulls.”53

The fourth Eclogue, addressed to Pollio, and written in the year of his consulship (40 B. C.), celebrates in pro[Pg 103]phetic and lofty language the birth of a child. As the child grows the world is to become better, until the golden age of peace and good-will among men shall come again. This poem was, curiously enough, long supposed to be an inspired prophecy of the coming of Christ. Who the child really was is uncertain, but there is some evidence that Gaius Asinius Gallus, Pollio’s son, is meant. The lofty tone is struck with the very opening of the poem:

Muses of Sicily, a loftier song
Wake we! Some tire of shrubs and myrtles low.
Are woods our theme? Then princely be the woods.
Come are those last days that the Sibyl sang;
The ages’ mighty march begins anew.
Now comes the virgin, Saturn reigns again;
Now from high heaven descends a wondrous race.
Thou on the new-born babe—who first shall end
That age of iron, bid a golden dawn
Upon the broad world—chaste Lucina, smile:
Now thy Apollo reigns. And Pollio, thou
Shalt be our Prince, when he that grander age
Opens, and onward roll the mighty moons:
Thou, trampling out what prints our crimes have left,
Shalt free the nations from perpetual fear.
While he to bliss shall waken; with the Blest
See the Brave mingling, and be seen of them,
Ruling that world o’er which his father’s arm shed peace.54

But the atmosphere of the Eclogues is generally that of the country, and the form that of dialogue, with competitive songs by the herdsmen. The opening lines of the fifth Eclogue may serve as an example. The characters are Menalcas and Mopsus:

  Men. Mopsus, suppose now two good men have met—
You at flute-blowing, as at verses I—
We sit down here, where elm and hazel mix.
  Mop.[Pg 104] Menalcas, meet it is that I obey
Mine elder. Lead, or into shade—that shifts
At the wind’s fancy—or (mayhap the best)
Into some cave. See, here’s a cave, o’er which
A wild vine flings her flimsy foliage.
  Men. On these hills one—Amyntas—vies with you.
  Mop. Suppose he thought to out-sing Phœbus’ self?
  Men. Mopsus, begin. If aught you know of flames
That Phyllis kindles, aught of Alcon’s worth,
Or Codrus’ ill-temper, then begin;
Tityrus meanwhile will watch the grazing kids.
  Mop. Ay, I will sing the song which t’other day
On a green beech’s bark I cut; and scored
The music as I wrote. Hear that, and bid
Amyntas vie with me.
  Men.                 As willow lithe
Yields to pale olive; as to crimson beds
Of roses yields the lowly lavender,
So, to my mind, Amyntas yields to you.55

The Eclogues were published not later than 38 B. C. In 29 B. C. the four books of the Georgics were completed. The Georgics. One of the most important tasks of the new government, now that the civil strife was ended, was to ensure the continuance of tranquility by settling the veterans in the country and encouraging agriculture, which had been sadly neglected in Italy for many years. It was therefore with a practical end in view that Mæcenas suggested to Virgil the composition of a poem on agriculture. This was a subject which Virgil was especially qualified to treat with success, and the poem, to which he devoted seven years, is the most perfect of his works. It is a very free imitation of the Works and Days of Hesiod, and contains many passages derived from Aratus and other Greek poets, but in its composition and its poetic beauty it is independent of all but Virgil’s own genius. It is dedicated to Mæcenas. The first book treats [Pg 105]of the tilling of the soil, the beginning of agriculture, the instruments needed by the farmer, the tasks appropriate to the different seasons, and the signs of the weather, ending with a splendid passage describing the portents at the time of Cæsar’s death, and a prayer that Augustus may put an end to the wars and disorders of the times. This passage is closely connected with the preceding lines in which the signs of the weather given by the appearance of the sun are described. It begins:

And last, what evening brings, and when the wind
Bears placid clouds, and also with what thoughts
The wet south wind is moved, of all these things
The sun will give thee signs. Who dares to say
The sun is false? He even warns ofttimes
That strife unseen and treason are at hand
And hidden wars are swelling to break forth.
He even, pitying Rome for Cæsar’s fall,
In pitchy darkness veiled his shining head;
The impious age feared endless night. Yet then
Earth also and the waters of the sea
And obscene dogs and evil-omened birds
Gave signs. How often did we see boil forth
From bursting furnace of the Cyclopes
The waves of Ætna o’er the fertile fields
And roll her balls of flame and molten rocks!
Germania heard through all the sky the sound
Of arms; the Alps with unused tremblings shook.
Then, too, by many through the silent groves
A mighty voice was heard, and pallid forms
In wondrous wise appeared in dusky night,
And dumb beasts spake (oh, horror!), and the streams
Stood still, and earth yawned open, and the sad
Carved ivory wept within the sacred fanes,
And sweat poured forth from statues wrought of bronze.
Eridanus, the king of rivers, rushed
Whirling the woods along on eddies mad,
And through the fields bore stables with the herds.56

[Pg 106]

The second book treats of the culture of trees and of the vine, and includes a description of the properties of different kinds of soil. Among its beautiful passages one is the praise of Italy,57 another the description of the blessings of the farmer’s life, beginning—

O blessed farmers, if they only might
Their blessings know! For whom the bounteous earth
Herself, afar from strife of clashing arms,
Pours forth an easy livelihood.58

The third book is devoted to the care of horses and cattle. A beautiful passage, near the beginning of the book, expresses the poet’s love for his native Mantua and his homage to Augustus. The first lines of this passage are as follows:

I first, if life be granted, coming back,
Will lead the Muses from Aonian heights
To my own land; I first will bring to thee,
My Mantua, Idumæan palms, and in
Thy verdant mead will build a marble fane
Beside the water, where the mighty stream
Of Mincius wanders slow with winding curves
And clothes with tender reeds the river banks.
There in the midst for me shall Cæsar stand
And hold the temple. Then to him will I
As victor, clad in Tyrian purple garb,
Drive to the stream a hundred four-horse cars.59

The fourth book treats of the culture of bees. It contains several passages of singular beauty, one of the most striking of which is the description of the life of the hive.60 The poem ends with an epic description of the visit of Aristæus, the mythical founder of bee culture, to his mother, the sea-nymph Cyrene. This includes an account of the struggle of Aristæus with the sea-god Proteus and [Pg 107]the death of Eurydice, the wife of Orpheus. A tradition exists that the poem originally ended with a passage in praise of Gallus; but before its publication Gallus had died in disgrace, and the present ending was substituted. In its final form the close of the Georgics shows that Virgil was already tending to become an epic poet.

At the request of Augustus, Virgil began, in 29 B. C., the composition of his greatest work, the Æneid, in which he tells of the mythical origin of the Roman race and of the greatness and glory of the Rome that was to arise and reach its height under the leadership of the Julian family, which claimed direct descent from Æneas. The Æneid. As early as the sixth century B. C. the Sicilian poet Stesichorus had sung of the coming of Æneas to Italy. Nævius and Ennius had connected Æneas with the origin of Rome, and had fixed some of the details of the story. Upon the foundations thus prepared for him Virgil erected the splendid structure of his poem. In the Eclogues he had followed, closely for the most part, in the footsteps of Theocritus; the Works and Days of Hesiod had served as the prototype of the Georgics, though here Virgil was so far from slavish imitation that his work surpasses the Works and Days in every respect. In the Æneid the imitation of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey is constantly evident, and certain passages are clearly derived from Euripides, Sophocles, and Apollonius of Rhodes; but the Æneid is by no means a mere imitation. In some respects it is far inferior to the Homeric poems. It lacks their simplicity, their rapidity of movement, and their fresh joyousness; it can not be compared with them in narrative power or brilliancy of imagery. In these qualities Homer is unapproachable. But as a national epic, as the expression in prophetic form of the national greatness and of the poet’s deep-seated passion for his country’s glory the Æneid had no prototype, as it has had no successor. Virgil is not Homer; he is reflective, filled with the deep[Pg 108] thoughts that centuries of speculation had implanted in the serious minds of his age; and his great poem is more than a mere narrative. In execution the Æneid is uneven. At times it is polished to the highest degree, at other times it falls to a level hardly, if at all, above mediocrity; some passages breathe a poetic fervor unsurpassed, while others might almost as well be written in prose. So conscious was Virgil himself of the unevenness and imperfections of his work that he wished it to be burned after his death, and could hardly be persuaded to leave its fate in the hands of his friends. His death came before he had perfected the poem, and its most perfect parts show what he wished it all to be and what it might have become had his life been spared. Even though it lacks the master’s final revision, it remains the greatest poem of Roman times and one of the greatest poems of all ages.

The Æneid was to be for the Romans what the Iliad and the Odyssey together were for the Greeks. The first six books are modelled chiefly on the Odyssey. Imitation of Homer. As the Odyssey tells of the wanderings and adventures of Odysseus before he reaches his home, so these books of the Æneid tell of the adventures of Æneas on his voyage from Troy to Italy, and more than one passage shows how constantly the Odyssey was in the poet’s mind. The last six books tell of the struggles of Æneas and his followers against the warriors who opposed their settlement in Italy; and here the combats described in the Iliad are imitated, sometimes even in details. In the final struggle Æneas is a second Achilles, and the brave but unfortunate Turnus is an Italian Hector.

In the first book, after a brief introduction, the poem begins in the midst of the story. The fleet of Æneas is off the coast of Sicily, when Juno causes the wind-god, Æolus, to rouse a storm. The Trojan vessels are driven on the rocks, and the sea is stirred to its lowest depths. Then Neptune, angered that his waters are thus tossed[Pg 109] about without his consent, rebukes Æolus, and puts the waves to rest:

He said, and ere his words were done,
Allays the surge, brings back the sun:
Triton and swift Cymothoë drag
The ships from off the pointed crag:
He, trident-armed, each dull weight heaves,
Through the vast shoals a passage cleaves,
Makes smooth the ruffled wave, and rides
Calm o’er the surface of the tides.
As when sedition oft has stirred
In some great town the vulgar herd,
And brands and stones already fly—
For rage has weapons always nigh—
Then should some man of worth appear
Whose stainless virtue all revere,
They hush, they hist: his clear voice rules
Their rebel wills, their anger cools:
So ocean ceased at once to rave,
When, calmly looking o’er the wave,
Girt with a range of azure sky,
The father bids his chariot fly.61

The Trojans reach the African coast, where Æneas meets his mother, Venus, and is directed to the city of Carthage, which the Phœnician princess Dido has just founded. Æneas and his comrade, the faithful Achates, enter the city wrapped in a cloud, which makes them invisible. When they are revealed to Dido, she receives them kindly, and takes them to her palace. Æneas sends to the ships for his son Ascanius, also called Iulus, but Venus substitutes for him the god of love, Cupid, who fills Dido’s heart with love for Æneas. In the second book Æneas begins the story of his adventures with a superb account of the fall of Troy, his own valiant but ineffectual struggle against the Greeks, and his final [Pg 110]flight. In the third book he continues his story to the time of his arrival at Carthage. The fourth book is devoted to the love and fate of Dido. Æneas and Dido, with their followers, go hunting in the forest; a storm arises, and the two, separated from the rest, take refuge in a cave, where only the woodland nymphs witness the union of their loves. Dido looks forward to a joint reign over Trojans and Tyrians alike. But Æneas is warned by Mercury, at the command of Jupiter, to fulfil his destiny and sail to Italy. Dido overwhelms him with loving reproaches, but in vain; he remains steadfast in his obedience to the divine will. Then Dido determines to die. She erects a funeral pyre, places upon it the mementoes of her former husband, Sychæus, and mounts it to end her life. But before she dies she calls down curses upon Æneas and his race:

Eye of the world, majestic Sun,
Who seest whate’er on earth is done,
Thou, Juno, too, interpreter
And witness of the heart’s fond stir,
And Hecate, tremendous power,
In cross-ways howled at midnight hour,
Avenging fiends, and gods of death
Who breathe in dying Dido’s breath,
Stoop your great powers to ills that plead
To heaven, and my petition heed.
If needs must be that wretch abhorred
Attain the port and float to land;
If such the fate of heaven’s high lord,
And so the moveless pillars stand;
Scourged by a savage enemy,
An exile from his son’s embrace,
So let him sue for aid and see
His people slain before his face;
Nor, when to humbling peace at length
He stoops, be his or life or land,
But let him fall in manhood’s strength
And welter tombless on the sand.
[Pg 111]
Such malison to heaven I pour,
A last libation with my gore.
And, Tyrians, you through time to come
His seed with deathless hatred chase:
Be that your gift to Dido’s tomb.
No love, no league ’twixt race and race.
Rise from my ashes, scourge of crime,
Born to pursue the Dardan horde
To-day, to-morrow, through all time,
Oft as our hands can wield the sword,
Fight shore with shore, fight sea with sea,
Fight all that are or e’er shall be!62

These lines are the poetic and mythological justification for the long and disastrous wars between Rome and Carthage. In the fifth book the Trojans reach Sicily, and celebrate at Eryx funeral games in honor of Anchises, the father of Æneas, who had died there the year before. In the sixth book they reach Cumæ, in Italy. Æneas descends to Hades to consult with the shade of Anchises. Here he sees the fabled monsters of the lower regions, and the shades of many departed heroes. Then there pass before him the forms of those as yet unborn. This gives the poet an opportunity to praise the great men of Rome, among them Julius Cæsar and Augustus. Here he sees the form of the young Marcellus, son of Octavia, the sister of Augustus. When this book was written, Marcellus had recently died in his twentieth year. Virgil read his lines63 on Marcellus to Augustus and Octavia, and the bereaved mother was so moved that she fainted. Virgil’s description of the realm of the dead is in some parts unusually beautiful, and is especially interesting, because it stands, not only in date but also in many other respects, midway between the eleventh book of Homer’s Odyssey and Dante’s Divine Comedy.

The last six books of the Æneid, recounting the [Pg 112]struggles of the Trojans in Italy, contain many fine passages, but are for the most part less interesting to the modern reader than the earlier books. The last six books. In many parts they are finished with most exquisite art, even showing that Virgil’s technical ability increased as the poem drew toward its close, but many other passages show the lack of the final revision. To the Roman the ancient legends of the origin of the Roman power must have been of surpassing interest, but most modern readers remember, amid the successive scenes of strife, only the heroic Turnus, the lovely Lavinia, the warlike maidens Camilla and Juturna, and the brave and devoted friends, Nisus and Euryalus, who were slain when endeavoring to carry a message in the night through the hostile camp to the absent Æneas:

Blest pair! if aught my verse avail,
No day shall make your memory fail
From off the heart of time,
While Capitol abides in place,
The mansion of the Æneian race,
And throned upon that moveless base
Rome’s father sits sublime.64

The Æneid closes with the death of Turnus, the chief opponent of the Trojans in Italy. Virgil in the Middle Ages. In spite of its obvious imperfections, it is the greatest poem in the Latin language; and no later epic poem in any language equalled or even approached it in excellence until the appearance of Dante’s Divine Comedy. It is not to be wondered at that throughout the Middle Ages Virgil was regarded as the impersonation of all that was great in poetry; nor is it strange that the poet whose verses breathe such an indescribable, sweet sadness, who sings in lofty, inspired language of that Roman greatness which was ever present to the mediæval [Pg 113] imagination, who describes the dwellings of the dead, and who was even believed to have foretold the coming of the Messiah, should have become in mediæval legends the possessor of all wisdom and all magic power. It is natural that Dante chose Virgil as his guide through hell and purgatory, and would gladly have admitted him to paradise had his theology allowed him to do so.


Mosaic in the Bardo Museum, Tunis.

[Pg 114]



Quintus Horatius Flaccus, 65-8 B. C.—Virgil and Horaces—Life of Horace—The first book of Satires—The Epodes—The second book of Satires—The first three books of Odes—The first book of Epistles—The literary Epistles—The Carmen Sæculare—The fourth book of Odes—Conclusion.

[Pg 115]

Throughout the Middle Ages Virgil was regarded as incomparably the greatest of Roman poets. In modern times his greatness has been called in question, and some scholars have even gone so far as to deny that he was a great poet at all. Virgil and Horace. The difference is due, in great measure, to the fact that in the Middle Ages the poems of Homer, Theocritus, and the other Greek poets whom Virgil imitated, were unknown, and Virgil was regarded as the great epic and pastoral poet of antiquity. That Virgil imitated the Greek poets is evident, but in the last chapter enough has been said to show that his poetry contains qualities not to be found in the works of the Greeks, and that although his poems are in many respects not equal to those of Homer, he must still be regarded as one of the greatest poets of the world. The increase of knowledge which has led to the undue depreciation of Virgil tended to make the second great poet of the Augustan period more highly appreciated. The odes of Horace, which are the best known and the most popular of his poems, are imitations of the poetry of the Greek lyrists, Alcæus, Sappho, Anacreon, and their followers, but the Greek originals are for the most part lost, so that Horace can not suffer by comparison with them. Moreover, modern taste is less pleased with epic than with lyric verse, and the delicate, highly finished, and charming odes of Horace appeal strongly to the cultivated modern reader. In his satires and epistles, too, Horace, whatever his indebtedness to Lucilius and others, displays undoubted originality. It is, therefore, natural that he is sometimes called the greatest of Roman poets. But Virgil wrote of greater themes; he was the great national poet, who sang in grand, prophetic tones of the greatness of Rome and her destinies, while Horace appealed to a narrower circle of cultured readers. Yet Horace is, in his own field, unsurpassed, and deserves all the admiration that has been accorded him.

Quintus Horatius Flaccus was born at Venusia, in Apulia, near the border of Lucania, December 8, 65 B. C. His father was a freedman, the owner of a small farm, but he determined to give his son the best education possible. The school at Venusia was unsatisfactory, and Horace’s father moved with his family to Rome, where he gained his livelihood as a coactor or collector of the money offered by bidders at auctions. Life of Horace. This was a business of some importance at Rome, and must have been lucrative, for Horace attended the best schools, where he came in contact with the sons of wealthy and noble parents. His father exercised personal supervision over the boy’s education, accompanying him to the school, and calling his attention to what went on about him, pointing out the evil effects of bad conduct, and giving him practical advice. In school, under a strict master, Orbilius, who did not spare the rod, Horace read the translation of the Odyssey by Livius Andronicus, and also the Iliad, the latter, perhaps, in the original Greek. From Rome, he went to Athens to study philosophy, and was there when Brutus arrived in 44 B. C., after the death[Pg 116] of Cæsar. Like many another patriotic young Roman, he joined the army of Brutus, in which he was given the rank of tribunus militum. He took part in the battle of Philippi and the flight that followed it. In the distribution of lands among the soldiers of the victorious armies, Horace’s farm was confiscated, and the young man, whose father had died during his absence, returned to Rome, where he obtained, perhaps with the last remnants of his father’s savings, a small position as a clerk of the quæstors.

This position gave him a livelihood and some leisure for poetry. Poverty, he says,65 drove him to write verses, and certainly his poems brought him prosperity, for they led Virgil and Varius to introduce him to Mæcenas in the spring of 38 B. C., and in the following winter Mæcenas admitted him to the circle of his familiar friends. Horace, with his short, rotund figure, his witty, genial conversation, and his poetic genius, became socially very intimate with Mæcenas, without, however, being his confidant in political matters. When Mæcenas went to Brundusium to negotiate an agreement between Augustus and Antony, Horace, with Virgil, Varius, Plotius, and the Greek rhetorician Heliodorus, was in his train.66 In 34 or 33 B. C. Mæcenas gave him a country seat in the Sabine hills not far from Tibur (Tivoli), so large that it contained five farmhouses. Here the poet spent a great part of his remaining years. Mæcenas also introduced him to Augustus, who wished to make him his private secretary, but Horace refused the honor, probably because he preferred to retain his freedom. The emperor was not offended by the refusal, but continued to regard him as a friend. Honored by Augustus and his circle, Horace lived in comfort and peace. He died November 27, 8 B. C., and was buried near the tomb of Mæcenas, on the Esquiline. He made Augustus his heir.

[Pg 117]

Upon his return to Rome after the battle of Philippi, Horace employed his leisure in writing verse. To this period belong the Epodes and the first book of the Satires. These poems were originally not intended for publication, but were read to the author’s friends. About 35 B. C. ten Satires were collected and published. Horace himself calls these poems not Satires, but Sermones or “Talks.” He even disclaims the title of poet, though his “Talks” are in hexameters. The first book of Satires. The first Satire is addressed to Mæcenas, and serves to dedicate the entire collection to the poet’s chief patron, though its subject is the general discontent of every man with his own lot and the foolishness of heaping up wealth. In general, the Satires are not, as were those of Lucilius, attacks upon individuals, but rather criticisms of the follies and foibles of the times. In the second Satire the dangers to which adulterers expose themselves are set forth; in the third, those who carp at and criticize their neighbors are held up to ridicule; the fourth praises the wit, but criticizes sharply the style of Lucilius, the defects of which are attributed to the rapidity with which Lucilius wrote great quantities of verse. In the same Satire Horace defends himself against the charge of malice, maintaining that his verse is far less malicious than private gossip, and describes the way his father took to train him in his youth:

But if I still seem personal and bold,
Perhaps you’ll pardon when my story’s told.
When my good father taught me to be good,
Scarecrows he took of living flesh and blood.
Thus, if he warned me not to spend, but spare
The moderate means I owe to his wise care,
’Twas, “See the life that son of Albius leads!
Observe that Barrus, vilest of ill weeds!
Plain beacons these for heedless youth, whose taste
Might lead them else a fair estate to waste”:

[Pg 118]

If lawless love were what he bade me shun,
“Avoid Scatanius’ slough,” his words would run:
“Wise men,” he’d add, “the reason will explain
Why you should follow this, from that refrain:
For me, if I can train you in the ways
Trod by the worthy folks of earlier days,
And, while you need direction, keep your name
And life unspotted, I’ve attained my aim:
When riper years have seasoned brain and limb,
You’ll drop your corks, and like a Triton swim.”67

The fifth Satire is an account of the journey to Brundusium in the train of Mæcenas with Virgil, Varius, and others; the sixth, again addressed to Mæcenas, tells us how the poet became acquainted with the great man, reverts to his father’s attentive care, and declares that Horace has no reason to be ashamed of his origin or discontented with his lot. The seventh tells of a joke in a lawsuit between Publius Rupilius Rex and a banker, Persius; the eighth, of some interrupted magic rites before a statue of the god Priapus; and the ninth, of the poet’s ineffectual efforts to get rid of a bore, who stuck to him until he was dragged off to the court by a plaintiff. In the tenth Satire, which serves as an epilogue to the collection, Horace returns to his criticism of Lucilius, maintaining that what he had said in the fourth Satire was really not too severe, and at the same time he expresses his opinion of some of the other Roman poets and of his own ability:

No hand can match Fundanus at a piece
Where slave and mistress clip an old man’s fleece;
Pollio in buskins chants the deeds of kings;
Varius outsoars us all on Homer’s wings;
The Muse that loves the woodland and the farm
To Virgil lends her gayest, tenderest charm.
For me, this walk of satire, vainly tried
By Atacinus and some few beside,
[Pg 119]
Best suits my gait; yet readily I yield
To him who first set footstep on that field,
Nor meanly seek to rob him of the bay
That shows so comely on his locks of gray.68

The Epodes were written in the same period as the first book of Satires, and, like them, are on various subjects. The Epodes. About 31 B. C. Horace yielded to the persuasions of Mæcenas and published a collection of seventeen pieces which he had written at various times since 40 B. C. The first ten are in the epodic metre, that is, an iambic trimeter followed by an iambic dimeter, as in the lines:

Beatus ille, qui procul negotiis
Ut prisca gens mortalium,
Paterna rura bobus exercet suis,
Solutus omni fenore,69

the following translation of which shows approximately the rhythm of the original:

Oh blest is he, who far from troubles, fears and cares,
As did the early mortal race,
With oxen of his own through fields ancestral fares,
And knows not usury’s disgrace.

The shorter line is called an epode, or appendix, to the longer, and it is from this that the collection of poems gets its name. The last seven poems of the collection are in various metres, though most of these are in alternating long and short lines. Horace himself calls these poems Iambics simply. In them he imitates the Greek poet Archilochus, but though several of the poems are somewhat aggressive, they all lack the intense and violent tone of invective attributed by the ancients to Archilochus, of which, however, the extant fragments of

[Pg 120]

Archilochus show few traces. In one of his Epistles70 Horace claims to be the first who introduced the iambics of Archilochus into Latin literature, but this is not strictly true, for Catullus and his contemporaries had written invectives in iambics. Horace did, however, introduce the epodic metre, and he is also the first to employ his iambics to castigate the follies of his time rather than individuals. In subject the Epodes range from the praise of rural life (ii) and encouragement to live a life of ease and pleasure (xiii) to invectives against a rich upstart (iv) or a woman who deals in poisons (v, xvii), and a rebuke of the Romans who are eager to stir up a civil war (xvi). The last Epode (xvii) has the form of a dialogue between the poet and the poisoner Canidia, but the others are the simple expressions of the poet’s sentiments, often in the form of a letter or address to a friend. In this they differ from the Satires, which have something of the dialogue form, either between two persons mentioned by name or between the poet and some indefinite person, perhaps the reader.

The second book of Satires, finished about 30 B. C., contains eight pieces, most of which are in the form of a dialogue between the poet and one other person. The second book of Satires. The most amusing is the fifth, a dialogue between Ulysses and Tiresias, in which Tiresias tells Ulysses how he can repair his fortunes by paying court to rich men and getting them to mention him in their wills. This Satire is directed against a class of men only too numerous in Rome. Others treat of various subjects, such as the serious study bestowed upon dinners (viii, iv), certain Stoic doctrines (iii, vii), the criticisms of the earlier Satires (i), or the joys of the farmer’s simple life (ii). In almost every case, the thoughts and theories expressed are put into the [Pg 121]mouth of some one other than the poet, whereas in the first book of Satires the poet expressed the opinions himself. Horace’s Satires differ from those of Lucilius in being less bitter and less political, more carefully composed and written, and far more genial. The kindly, gentlemanly spirit of the man is everywhere visible. His “talks” are the witty, amusing conversation of a man of the world, often dealing with serious subjects, but always in a light and easy way. They are full of sententious remarks, which have been frequently quoted from Horace’s time to our own.

Catullus and his contemporaries had imitated almost exclusively the poems of the Alexandrians, of the Greek poets, that is to say, who flourished after Greece had lost her independence. The Odes. Horace in his Epodes went farther back and imitated Archilochus, and in his Odes, without altogether neglecting the Alexandrians, he follows for the most part in the footsteps of Alcæus, Sappho, and Anacreon. Among his odes are several which are in part translations of extant fragments of these poets, and it is certain that if the poems of the early Greek lyrists were not almost entirely lost, we could recognize many of them in Latin version in the Odes of Horace. The Odes contain also lines that remind one of similar passages in the poems of Euripides, Bacchylides, and other Greek poets, but in form as well as in contents they are for the most part imitations of the three great early lyrists. Most of the Odes are divided into stanzas of four lines each, and in all such a division is possible, with perhaps one exception. The first three books of the Odes were published in 23 B. C., but their composition belongs in part as early as 30 B. C. The first book contains thirty-eight poems, the second twenty, the third thirty. The first ode of Book I serves as a dedication to Mæcenas, and in the odes immediately following nearly all the metres employed in the three books are used one after the other. Throughout the three books variety of[Pg 122] metre governs the arrangement. The second book opens with an ode addressed to Pollio, and at the beginning of the third book are six odes celebrating in various tones the Roman glory. The last ode of Book III, beginning

Exegi monumentum ære perennius,
I’ve reared a monument than bronze more lasting,

serves as an epilogue to the finished collection.

The subjects of the odes are so various as to touch upon almost every circumstance of human life and every mood of human feeling. Friendship, love, the gods, patriotism, conviviality, the pleasures of country life, events of the day, and philosophical thoughts, all find their place. In tone the odes are grave and gay, lively and serene, sometimes fantastic, more often thoughtful or at least reasonable. More than once the thought that life is short and we should pluck its blossoms ere they fade occurs in one form or another. The workmanship of the odes is wonderful in its perfection. Horace is not one of those who believe that perfect poetry comes purely by inspiration, without labor. He writes no word without being sure that it is the best word in its place. His metres are adapted to the thought he wishes to express, and the perfection of the metre makes even simple or common thoughts beautiful. The odes are not the ardent outpourings of a passionate spirit, as are some of the poems of Catullus, but they are the carefully elaborated expressions of the thoughts and sentiments of a gentle, kindly, thoughtful, but gay and humorous man of the world. They do not stir our blood, but they arouse our admiration, satisfy our taste, and please us by their tone of cultured and refined sentiment. The variety of their contents can not be presented in selections, nor can all the qualities of any ode be adequately rendered in a translation. One of the shortest but not the least attractive odes is the following, addressed to his cup-bearer:

[Pg 123]

Persia’s pomp, my boy, I hate;
No coronals of flowerets rare
For me on bare of linden plait,
Nor seek thou to discover where
The lush rose lingers late.
With unpretending myrtle twine,
Naught else! It fits your brows
Attending me; it graces mine
As I in happy ease carouse
Beneath the thick-leaved vine.71

The following ode offers more variety, and is perhaps more representative:

One dazzling mass of solid snow,
Soracte stands; the bent woods fret
Beneath their load, and, sharpest set
With frost, the streams have ceased to flow.
Pile on great fagots and break up
The ice; let influence more benign
Enter with four-years-treasured wine,
Fetched in the ponderous Sabine cup;
Leave to the gods all else. When they
Have once bid rest the winds that war
Over the passionate seas, no more
Gray ash and cypress rock and sway.
Ask not what future suns shall bring;
Count to-day gain, whatever it chance
To be; nor, young man, scorn the dance,
Nor deem sweet Love an idle thing,
Ere Time thy April youth have changed
To sourness. Park and public walk
Attract thee now, and whispered talk
At twilight meetings prearranged.
Hear now the pretty laugh that tells
In what dim corner lurks thy love,
And snatch a bracelet or a glove
From wrist or hand that scarce rebels.72

The first book of Epistles. After the three books of Odes were published in 23 B. C., Horace returned to his previous manner of composition in hexameters, but gave to the collection of twenty poems which he published in 20 B. C., the form of letters or Epistles. These are sometimes real letters to his friends, sometimes satires or “talks” in the form of letters. The subjects of these poems are as various as those of the Satires, but it is evident that the poet is turning more toward philosophy. He advises his friends to take things as they find them, without allowing themselves to be troubled or excited (vi), he teaches the Stoic doctrine that virtue suffices to make men happy (xvi), he advocates calmness and the avoidance of care, and urges Tibullus (iv, 13) to live as if each day were to be his last. But he also sings the praise of wine (v, 16 ff.) and of the quiet life in the country (x, xiv). In two epistles he gives practical advice concerning intercourse with persons of high station, and various practical suggestions are found scattered through the other poems. In a letter to Mæcenas (xix) he ridicules his imitators and mocks at his critics. The twentieth poem is an address to his book as he sends it into the world. In it he foretells the various fortunes of the book, and at the end he gives his age, saying that he has seen four times eleven Decembers in the year of the consulship of Lepidus and Lollius. In these letters Horace reveals his character more fully and with a more delicate touch than in any of his other works. The Odes are the works by which he will always be best known, and to which he owes his great fame as a poet, but nowhere so fully as in the [Pg 125] Epistles does he disclose his kindly and genial, yet serious views of life as they ripened with his advancing years.

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In the seventh Epistle of the first book Horace refuses, at least for the present, an invitation of Mæcenas, on the ground that his health is poor and that he needs the repose of the country and the seashore. At the same time he explains the manner in which he wishes his relation to his patron to be understood. He is not a parasite, and openly says that he must retain his freedom, and can not be at the beck and call even of Mæcenas. In the first Epistle (lines 4 and 10) he refuses to write more odes, because he is no longer young and is turning toward philosophy. The second book of Epistles. The same attitude is disclosed in the second Epistle of the second book (lines 25 and 141 ff.). The poet wished to retire and pursue the study of philosophy; but he had gained much experience in literary matters, and in three letters, written probably between 19 and 14 B. C., he records the results of this experience. The first letter is addressed to Augustus, the second to Julius Florus. These two form the second book of the Epistles. The Ars Poetica. The third letter, addressed to the Pisos, father and two sons, was originally published with the others, but was soon separated from them, and is known as the Ars Poetica. This is not a systematic treatise on poetry, but Horace’s views, derived in part from his own experience, in part from his reading, are set forth in the easy style of a letter or talk. He insists that each poem must have a consistent fundamental idea or plot, that the characters of a drama must speak as befits their age and station, and must be drawn from life, he advises care in the choice of a subject, points out that nobody cares for mediocre poets, and that what is once published can not be recalled. Throughout the letter or treatise he constantly impresses upon his readers his conviction that good poetry is the result of hard work. Many critical and historical remarks are scattered through the Ars Poetica as well as through the two other letters.

In spite of his desire to give up the writing of poetry and to devote himself to philosophy, Horace did not finish his career as a lyric poet with the completion of three books of odes. In 17 B. C. it was decided that the Sibylline books required the celebration of the ludi sæculares, which were supposed to recur at the end of every sæculum, or period of one hundred and ten years. An important part of the celebration was the singing of a hymn in honor of Apollo and Diana. This was to be sung by a chorus of boys and girls of pure Roman birth, both of whose parents were living, and whose mothers had married only once. Horace was asked by Augustus to compose this hymn, and could not refuse the honor, which distinguished him as the official poet laureate of the Roman Empire. The Carmen Sæculare. The hymn, called the Carmen Sæculare, is a somewhat formal poem, as is fitting for the solemn occasion at which it was first sung, but it shows real religious feeling, mingled with pride and confidence in the Roman greatness. It is the work of a masterly artist and an inspired poet.

In addition to appointing him to write the Carmen Sæculare, Augustus demanded of Horace a song, or songs, in honor of his stepsons, Tiberius and Drusus. The fourth book of Odes. Horace could not refuse, and composed odes in honor of the victories of Drusus (IV, iv) and Tiberius (IV, xiv), to which he added thirteen other poems, making a fourth book of fifteen odes, written apparently in the years 17-13 B. C. The fourth book of Odes is in no way inferior to its predecessors in variety of form or perfection of workmanship, and it contains a larger proportion of exalted, patriotic poems. The sixth ode, addressed to Apollo, seems to be a proœmium to the Carmen Sæculare, or at any rate to have some connection with the ludi sæculares. The fifth ode, to[Pg 127] Augustus, urging his return to Rome, and the fifteenth, also to Augustus, on the restoration of peace, celebrate the greatness of Rome as well as its ruler. Horace, as well as Virgil, though in a different way, was a poet of the Roman Empire.

As we look back upon the literary activity of Horace, we find that he turned at first to satires in hexameters and epodes in the simple epodic metre. The literary activity of Horace. Then he enriched Roman literature by odes in imitation of the early Greek lyrists, to return afterward to his original style in the more refined form of epistles. It was only at the command of Augustus that he once more composed elaborate lyrics. His lyric poems are not natural outpourings of sentiment, but deliberate attempts to add to the beauty of Roman literature and thereby to the glory of the Roman Empire. And it is chiefly to these poems that he owes his fame. They are not equal in merit, but they are the most perfect productions of Roman lyric poetry. As such they were recognized in Horace’s own lifetime, and as such they have been admired and loved through the succeeding ages, never more than in recent times. Countless scholars, poets, and men of letters have read them with delight, and many have been the attempts to render their inimitable charm in translations. But their subtle beauty defies the translator’s art. None but Horace himself has been able to express his delicate feeling and poetic fancy in such perfect form. The Satires and the Epistles are full of brilliant and witty sayings, of critical and historical remarks; they throw much light upon the social and literary life of the period, and make us acquainted with the character of the poet; but the Odes are “a monument more enduring than bronze,” testifying to the genius, the industry, the good taste, and, in some cases, to the patriotic spirit of the most perfect of Roman lyric poets.

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Roman society—The amorous elegy—Cornelius Gallus, 70-27 B. C.—Gaius Valgius Rufus, consul 12 B. C.—Albius Tibullus, about 54 to about 19 B. C.—Lygdamus, born 43 B. C.—Sulpicia—Sextus Propertius, about 50 to about 15 B. C.—Domitius Marsus, about 54 to about 4 B. C.—Albinovanus Pedo—Ponticus—Macer—Grattius—Rabirius—Cornelius Severus—Gaius Melissus and the Fabula Trabeata—Manilius—The Priapea—Poems ascribed to Virgil and Ovid.

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During the last century of the republic Rome had grown from a powerful Italian city to be the mistress of the world, and this growth of power had been accompanied by many changes. The wealth of the governing classes had increased enormously. Greek art and Greek literature had become familiar in the form of original works and of Roman imitations, and with the increase of wealth and luxury the growth of immorality went hand in hand. The early profligacy of Cæsar and Sallust, and the love of Catullus for a married woman have already been mentioned. These were not isolated cases, but merely examples of what was only too common. In fact, the man whose life was pure was an exception in the latter days of the republic. The condition of society. Nor were the women of the wealthier classes better than the men. The Roman matron, who was betrothed at twelve and married at fourteen years of age, naturally found herself in many instances united to a man with whom she had no sympathy, and whose distasteful society she gladly exchanged for that of a clandestine lover. Divorces were numerous, and were accompanied with little disgrace. When Augustus established his power, he brought about many reforms in the government of the city and the provinces and caused laws to be passed to ensure the sanctity of marriage and of family life, but his success in stemming the tide of immorality was slight. To be sure, the life of his chosen friends and of the court circle in general was pure, and even perhaps puritanical; but the spirit of the times was so corrupt that even his own family did not escape. The immorality of his daughter Julia became at last so notorious that she was banished from Rome and ended her life in exile. Her daughter Julia resembled her in character and met with a similar fate. In the later years of Augustus banishments for moral reasons were numerous, but it was impossible to bring order into the life of a society in which immorality had ceased to be disgraceful.

It was in and for this society that the Roman elegists composed their poems. Elegiac verse had been employed in the seventh and sixth centuries B. C. by Mimnermus, Tyrtæus, Solon, and others, for the expression of all sorts of personal sentiments, as well as for political purposes; but in the Alexandrian period it had been appropriated almost exclusively to poems of love. The elegy. This Alexandrian elegiac poetry had been introduced at Rome by some of the contemporaries of Catullus, and in the Augustan period it attained a remarkable development. The Roman elegists imitate the Alexandrians, and, like them, insert in their love poems countless mythological allusions and even mythological stories. The fashion demanded that the elegist be learned in Greek mythology. Cornelius Gallus received from the Greek Parthenius a compendium of mythological tales to aid him in selecting proper allusions to the myths. The poet’s beloved is compared to Juno, Minerva, or Venus, Antiope or Helen; the lover gazes upon his mistress as[Pg 130] Argus gazed upon Io; faithful wives are compared with Penelope or Alcestis, faithless lovers with Ulysses who deserted Calypso, and Jason who left Medea for another wife. These and similar allusions are mingled with figures drawn from rustic life or from war. The god Amor and his mother Venus play important parts in the poems. Amor transfixes the poet’s heart with his arrows, plants his foot upon the poet’s neck, makes him his slave. The poet sings of the beauty of his mistress, designating her by a fictitious name, but one which has the same length of syllables as the real name of the woman to whom the poems are addressed. The poet is usually poor, but offers his songs as the most valuable of offerings, and is filled with indignation if his mistress seems to care for wealth or jewels. No adornments are necessary for the beautiful woman, and love of wealth is disgraceful. The woes of lovers, false promises, faithlessness, the troubles of the lover who spends whole nights waiting at the door, the torments which love inflicts upon the heart, all these are repeated over and over again. So much of all this is conventional that it is hard to tell what part of the contents of these poems has any truth. Occasionally a line is evidently intended to give information about the writer, and in general it is certain that the poems were really addressed to some particular person, but how much of the feeling expressed is genuine, and how much mere affectation, it is impossible to determine. The details—the nights spent in wind and rain before the door, the quarrels or reconciliations, the voyages and returns—may or may not be founded upon real events in the poet’s life. Whether they are to be regarded as historical or not depends upon their context; but it is evident that many details are purely imaginary.

The three chief elegists are Tibullus, Propertius, and Ovid. Of Ovid, the youngest and most voluminous, and one of the most gifted among the Augustan poets, it will[Pg 131] be better to treat in a separate chapter. Cornelius Gallus. Somewhat older than Tibullus and Propertius was Cornelius Gallus, whose elegies were greatly admired by his contemporaries, but of which hardly a trace remains. Gallus was born at Forum Julii (Fréjus), in 70 B. C. He was a schoolmate of Augustus, commanded some troops in the war against Antony, and held the town of Parætonium when Antony attacked it. He was afterwards prefect of Egypt, but indulged in offensive remarks about Augustus, and showed his pride by setting up statues of himself in various places in Egypt, and having his name carved upon the pyramids. When he was recalled in disgrace by Augustus his creditors brought suits against him, he was condemned to exile, and his property was confiscated. Unable to bear his troubles, he committed suicide at the age of 43 years. His greatest claim to remembrance is his friendship for Virgil, who expressed his gratitude to him in the sixth and tenth Eclogues, and, perhaps, in the original ending of the Georgics. The elegies of Gallus, in four books, were addressed to Lycoris, an actress of low birth and loose morals, whose stage name was Cytheris. In addition to his elegies, Gallus wrote translations from the Greek of Euphorion. Valgius. Another writer of elegies was Gaius Valgius Rufus, a friend of Horace, who was consul suffectus in 12 B. C. Of his elegies on a boy named Mystes little remains, but they are spoken of by Horace and admired by the author of a panegyric on Messalla. Valgius also wrote some learned works, among them a treatise on medicine and a translation of the rhetoric of Apollodorus.

Albius Tibullus was born near Pedum, in Latium, probably about 54 B. C., and was, if the “Life of Tibullus,” contained in the best manuscripts of his works, is to be trusted, of equestrian rank. Tibullus. He inherited a large property, but lost the greater part of it, perhaps in the confiscations of 41 B. C. Apparently[Pg 132] it was restored to him by Messalla, of whom he speaks with great affection. He followed Messalla to the East soon after the battle of Actium, but was detained by illness at Corcyra. He also accompanied Messalla in his campaign in Aquitania. Nothing further is known of his life, except his love for Delia, who appears to have been a married woman of low birth (libertina), and for Nemesis, who is apparently identical with the Glycera mentioned by Horace (Od. I, xxxiii, 2). Tibullus died about 19 B. C. He was a friend of Horace and was admired by Ovid, but there is no evidence that he and Propertius knew one another.

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Four books of elegies are ascribed to Tibullus, but not all of these are really his work. Apparently the collection was made in the literary circle of Messalla, and poems by less noted members of the circle were added to those of Tibullus. Elegies to Delia and Nemesis. The ten elegies of the first book, addressed to Delia and to a youth named Marathus, are undoubtedly by Tibullus, and were published during his lifetime. The six elegies of Book II, addressed to Nemesis, seem to have been written several years later. They were left unfinished by Tibullus, and were published after his death. The six elegies published as Book III are by a poet who calls himself Lygdamus. Lygdamus. No poet of that name is known, and probably this is a pseudonym. Whoever the author of these poems was, he was a member of the circle of Messalla, was born in 43 B. C., and was familiar with the poems of Tibullus, Horace, Propertius, and Ovid. These elegies are addressed to Neæra, who was probably the poet’s cousin, and either married or betrothed to him. They are greatly inferior to those of Tibullus. They lack variety and imagination, and in technical execution they want the graceful charm for which the genuine poems of Tibullus are distinguished. The remaining poems ascribed to Tibullus are printed in most editions as Book IV, though in the manuscripts they form a part of Book III. The first of these is a Panegyric on Messalla, written in honor of his consulship, 31 B. C. This poem, which is written in hexameters, shows a lack of taste and a love of rhetorical exaggeration entirely foreign to Tibullus. Lygdamus can not be its author, for he was only twelve years old at the time of Messalla’s consulship. It was doubtless written by some member of Messalla’s circle, and included in the collection with the poems of Tibullus on account of its subject. The other poems of Book IV have for their subject the love of Messalla’s niece Sulpicia for a young Greek named Cerinthus. Sulpicia. The five elegies numbered viii-xii are by Sulpicia to Cerinthus. These are very short poems—none having more than eight lines—but they express genuine feeling in beautiful form, though without delicacy or reserve. The seventh elegy—of ten lines—seems rather to be by Tibullus than Sulpicia. Elegies ii-vi and xiii are apparently by Tibullus, and the epigram of four lines, with which the book closes, is of doubtful authorship.

The elegies of Tibullus are less learned than those of his contemporaries. They contain many mythological allusions, but these are simply expressed and do not form too large a part of the poems. The sentiments expressed are not virile or powerful, but gentle and pensive. Tibullus loves the life of the country and hates war; he feels deeply the woes that oppress the lover; the thought of death weighs upon him; but love is ever in his heart. His poems are masterpieces of expression and versification, though they lack the fire of passionate emotion. Two brief selections73 from the third elegy of Book I may give at least some idea of the quality of his sentiment:

While you, Messalla, plough th’ Ægean sea,
O sometimes kindly deign to think of me;
[Pg 134]
Me, hapless me, Phæacian shores detain,
Unknown, unpitied, and oppressed with pain.
Yet spare me, Death, ah, spare me and retire;
No weeping mother’s here to light my pyre;
Here is no sister, with a sister’s woe,
Rich Syrian odors on the pile to throw;
But chief, my soul’s soft partner is not here,
Her locks to loose, and sorrow o’er my bier.

So the poem begins. The poet laments his enforced delay at Corcyra, where he is detained by illness. There follows a list of the bad omens that warned Tibullus not to set out from Rome, then a prayer to Isis for aid. A brief description of the Golden Age is introduced, and the poet prays that Jove may grant him life:

But, if the Sisters have pronounced my doom,
Inscribed be these upon my humble tomb:
“Lo! here inurn’d a youthful poet lies,
Far from his Delia and his native skies,
Far from the lov’d Messalla, whom to please
Tibullus followed over land and seas.”

The remainder of the poem consists of a description of the lower world and an appeal to Delia. No translation can render exactly the qualities of expression which make Tibullus one of the greatest among the lesser Roman poets. It is only after repeated reading of his poems that one learns to appreciate the lightness of touch and the technical perfection of this sweet singer of soft themes.

Sextus Propertius was born in Umbria, probably at Asisium (Assisi), about 50 B. C., for he was younger than Tibullus and older than Ovid, whose birth was in 43 B. C. Propertius. His family was of some importance and must have been wealthy, for although Propertius, whose father was already dead, lost part of his property in the confiscations of 41 B. C., enough remained to support him and give him a good education. His mother took him to Rome, where he studied law for a short time,[Pg 135] but abandoned it for the pursuit of poetry. After the publication of the first book of his elegies, Propertius was introduced to Mæcenas, to whom he afterward addressed two poems (II, i; and III, ix). He appears, however, to have been less intimate with him than were Horace and Virgil. Propertius nowhere mentions Horace, and if Horace refers to him at all it is without mentioning his name. He was a warm admirer of Virgil and a friend of Ovid. Little is known of his life, and it is only because his poems contain no allusions to events later than 16 B. C. that his death is supposed to have taken place about 15 B. C. From two passages in the letters of the younger Pliny, in which a certain Passenus Paullus is said to be descended from Propertius, it appears that the poet married and left at least one child.

Propertius is a poet of love, who expresses as few poets have done the tender emotions of the heart. The poems of Propertius. His poems are passionate and sensual, without the pensive melancholy of Tibullus or the frivolity of Ovid. The object of his love is Cynthia, whose real name was Hostia. She was a courtesan, but educated and refined in taste, beautiful and attractive. She it was who inspired his first poems, and only in the last book does she cease to be the chief theme of his verses. The poems are handed down to us in four books, the second of which is, however, made up of two incomplete books. The appearance of the first book made Propertius famous and introduced him to the circle of Mæcenas. Naturally Mæcenas wished him to sing the praises of Augustus and the Roman Empire, and from this time Cynthia is no longer the exclusive subject of his poems. In the fourth book (the fifth in many editions) there are four poems on Roman antiquities, in imitation of the Αἴτια (Causes) of Callimachus. Love is, however, throughout the subject to which Propertius naturally turns. His poems are full of learned mythological allusions, and the situa[Pg 136]tions described or depicted are doubtless for the most part imaginary, yet the passionate nature of the poet’s love is manifest through all his learning and his invention. Even though he did not pass through all the hopes and fears, the changes of love and hate, the joy and sorrow, the jealousy and the reconciliations which the poems depict with such wealth of illustration and such beauty of language, he knew as few have known them the varying passions of the lover’s heart. For the modern reader his passion is too sensuous and his erudition too obtrusive; but the genuine feeling expressed makes his poems beautiful in spite of occasional coarseness and constant display of mythological learning. Propertius is remarkable for the sonorous richness of his lines, and in the technical execution of his verse he is careful and accurate. His earlier poems admit words of three and four syllables at the end of the pentameter without scruple, but in the later poems the pentameter usually ends with a word of two syllables, showing that Propertius was disposed to follow Ovid’s rule in this particular. Like other Roman poets, Propertius is professedly an imitator of the Greeks. Those whom he claims to imitate especially are Callimachus and Philetas, both poets of the Alexandrian period.

One of the shortest of his poems, free alike from coarseness and display of learning, is the following, on Cynthia’s absence:

Why ceaselessly my fancied sloth upbraid,
As still at conscious Rome by love delay’d?
Wide as the Po from Hypanis is spread
The distance that divides her from my bed.
No more with fondling arms she folds me round,
Nor in my ear her dulcet whispers sound.
Once I was dear; nor e’er could lover burn
With such a tender and a true return.
Yes—I was envied—hath some god above
Crush’d me? or magic herb that severs love,
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Gather’d on Caucasus, bewitch’d my flame?
Nymphs change by distance; I’m no more the same.
Oh, what a love has fleeted like the wind,
And left no vestige of its trace behind!
Now sad I count the ling’ring nights alone;
And my own ears are startled by my groan.
Happy! the youth who weeps, his mistress nigh;
Love with such tears has mingled ecstasy:
Blest, who, when scorned, can change his passing heat;
The pleasures of translated bonds are sweet.
I can no other love; nor hence depart;
For Cynthia, first and last, is mistress of my heart.74

In an age of great poets many lesser poets are sure to be found. Ovid, in one of his letters,75 mentions twenty-three poets of the Augustan age, and his list is not exhaustive. Lesser Augustan poets. Little is known of these lesser writers, and few of their works are preserved, even in fragments. Domitius Marsus, who lived from about 54 to about 4 B. C., and belonged to the circle of Mæcenas, wrote a series of epigrams, entitled Cicuta (poisonous hemlock), which enjoyed considerable reputation, some elegies on Melænis, an epic poem on the Amazons, and a treatise De Urbanitate (on refinement of expression). Albinovanus Pedo was also an author of epigrams and an epic poet. One of his epics, the Theseis, narrated the deeds of Theseus, another gave an account of a voyage to the ocean, probably the voyage of Germanicus, in 16 B. C. A fragment of twenty-three lines contains a vivid description of the stranding of some vessels in the night, which shows that the author was a poet of some ability. Of a poem on hunting (Cynegetica) by Grattius, five hundred and forty-one hexameters are preserved, which show little poetic merit. Only a few brief fragments remain of a poem on the Egyptian war of

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Augustus, by Rabirius. Cornelius Severus wrote a poem on Roman history (Res Romanæ), and perhaps other epics. The longest extant fragment consists of twenty-five lines on the death of Cicero, and shows rhetorical rather than poetic ability. Ovid’s friends, Ponticus and Macer, and several others, wrote mythological epics. Iambic verses were composed by Bassus, and other poets gained more or less reputation for various kinds of poetry.

Gaius Melissus, a freedman of Augustus, from Spoletum, was by profession a librarian. The Fabula Trabeata. He was the originator of the fabula trabeata, named from the trabea, the distinctive costume of the equestrian rank. This was a national comedy, differing from the fabula togata of Titinius and Atta (see page 29) in the rank of the persons represented, for the fabula togata had chosen its characters from the lower classes, while the fabula trabeata was a comedy of high life. Its popularity was brief, and it disappeared, leaving hardly a trace of its existence. Melissus also made a collection of humorous tales (Ineptiæ) in one hundred and fifty books, and appears to have been the author of some learned treatises.

A poem on astronomy and astrology (Astronomica), ascribed in some of the manuscripts to an otherwise unknown Marcus or Gaius Manilius, is a didactic poem of unusual merit. Manilius. As preserved it consists of five books, the last of which is incomplete. If, as is probable, a sixth book once existed, the whole work contained about five thousand lines. Even in its present condition it is the longest didactic Latin poem except the De Rerum Natura of Lucretius. The poem is, as a whole, rather uninteresting, but contains passages of great vigor, showing independence of thought and remarkable power of expression. The author has an easy mastery of hexameter verse, in which he is superior to[Pg 139] Lucretius; but with all his skill in versification, his earnestness, his learning, and his originality, he can not entirely overcome the prosaic nature of his subject. The poem is uneven, at times prosaic, sometimes rhetorical, not often, if ever, rising to lofty heights of poetic fancy, but serious and thoughtful. A large part of it is occupied with astrology, and other portions describe the heavenly bodies. In the introductions to the several books, and in digressions, theories concerning the origin of the world, the nature of man, and the power of fate are introduced, showing that the author accepts in the main the Stoic doctrines as opposed to the Epicurean teachings of Lucretius. So he maintains that the world is not the product of blind forces but of a divine will:

Who can believe that masses of such size
Were formed from particles without God’s aid,
And that the world did blindly come to pass?
If mere Chance gave it us, let mere Chance rule.
But why do we perceive in stated turn
The constellations rise and, as it were
By order giv’n, run through their course prescribed,
Nor any hastening leave the rest behind?
Why do the selfsame stars adorn the nights
Of summer ever, and the selfsame stars
The winter nights? And why does every day
Return the world its form and leave it fixed?76

Various mythological tales are inserted with a view to enlivening the poem, but the author lacks narrative skill. The most elaborate of these episodes, in which the story of Perseus and Andromeda is told,77 shows, however, good descriptive ability and lively rhetoric. Manilius is not a great poet, but he treats, not without success, a subject new to Roman poetry, and shows him[Pg 140]self to be a man of original power of mind and of serious purpose. With all its defects, the Astronomica has also great merits.

Many Augustan poets are known by name whose works have perished. On the other hand, some poems by unknown authors are preserved. Priapea. A curious collection of eighty short poems in elegiac and lyric metres, all addressed to the god Priapus, or at least written with reference to him, belongs for the most part to this period. Statues of Priapus, the god of gardens and of fruitfulness of all sorts, were set up in public parks, in orchards, and other places, and most of the Priapea, as these short poems are called, are supposed to have been inscribed upon or affixed to such statues. Many of the poems are extremely indecent, but many are well written and witty.

Far more interesting than the Priapea are the poems falsely ascribed to Virgil, and contained in manuscripts of his works. Culex. Three of these are “epyllia,” or short epics, composed, like Virgil’s genuine works, in hexameter verse. The first, entitled Culex, “The Gnat,” tells in four hundred and fourteen lines how a herdsman, lying asleep in the noonday heat, was on the point of being killed by a poisonous serpent, when a gnat stung him, and, by arousing him to his danger, saved his life. As he awoke, the herdsman killed the gnat, whose soul afterward appears to him in a dream and reproaches him. Finally the herdsman erects a funeral mound in honor of the gnat. The poem is a mock epic, intended to be humorous, but is not very successful. In versification it shows great similarity to the genuine works of Virgil, but also in some respects to those of Ovid. A poem entitled Culex is ascribed to Virgil’s youthful days by Martial and Statius, but the metrical qualities of the existing poem show that it can not have been written until a later date. Either, there[Pg 141]fore, Martial and Statius were mistaken, or this is not the poem to which they refer.

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The second piece, entitled Ciris, is a little longer than the Culex. Ciris. This poem, evidently written by some member of the circle of Messalla, tells the story of Scylla, who caused the death of her father, Nisus, and betrayed her native town, on account of her love for Minos, the leader of an invading army. She was dragged through the water at the stern of a vessel, but the gods pitied her and changed her into a seabird called ciris. Her father was restored to life and made a sea eagle. Moretum. The third poem, the Moretum (the word denotes a sort of salad eaten by the peasants), contains only one hundred and twenty-four lines. It is a slight poem, idyllic in character, and admirably written. It describes how a poor peasant and his slave, a negress, make the moretum in the early morning. This poem is said to be an imitation of a Greek original by Parthenius. It is possible, though not probable, that it is by Virgil. Copa. The fourth poem is the Copa (barmaid), consisting of only thirty-eight lines of elegiac verse. It has to do with the barmaid of a wayside tavern, and is clever and interesting, but has none of the qualities of Virgil’s poems. It belongs, however, without doubt, to the Augustan period. The Diræ, which is also included in the manuscripts of Virgil, belongs, as has been said (page 63), to an earlier time, and the Ætna belongs to the subsequent period. Ætna. This consists of six hundred and forty-six hexameters, describing volcanic eruptions, and attempting to account for them. It has little poetic merit, but shows that even an indifferent poet could write good hexameters. The remaining short poems ascribed to Virgil are of little interest or importance, though one of them—a comic ode in honor of an old muleteer—is an excellent parody of the poem of Catullus addressed to his old yacht.

Nux. Consolatio ad Liviam.The elegy entitled Nux (nut tree), and the Consolatio ad Liviam (Consolation to Livia), both ascribed to Ovid, are imitations by writers of a slightly later time, and have little merit. The Nux is the complaint of a tree on account of the bad treatment it receives from passers-by. The Consolatio ad Liviam purports to be addressed to Livia, wife of Augustus, on the death of her son Drusus, in 9 B. C.

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Ovid, 43 B. C.-18 A. D.—His life—Poems of love—Fasti—Metamorphoses—Poems written after his banishment—His qualities and influence.

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Publius Ovidius Naso was born at Sulmo, in the country of the Pæligni, in 43 B. C., on the 20th of March. Life of Ovid. He belonged to a wealthy equestrian family and received, along with his elder brother, a good education at Rome, practising rhetoric under Arellius Fuscus and Porcius Latro. He also studied at Athens, and at some time traveled with the poet Macer in Asia and Sicily. After assuming the toga virilis he held two of the minor offices incidental to the beginning of the senatorial career, and was employed as arbitrator in private cases. But in spite of his father’s remonstrances, he withdrew from public life and devoted himself to poetry. This decision was, according to his own statement, due in part to his delicate physique, but the chief reason was probably his love of poetry and pleasure, and his aversion to serious affairs. His social position was excellent. He was intimate with Messalla and his circle, and had many friends among the literary men of the capital. Virgil, he says, he only saw, but he was intimate with Tibullus, Propertius, Ponticus, and Bassus. He was married three times. His first wife, whom he married in his early youth, was “neither worthy nor useful,”78 and he was soon separated from the second also, though he charges her with no fault. His third wife, of the Fabian family, remained faithful to him, and he to her. He had one daughter, who in turn had two children. His life of ease and social pleasure at Rome was brought to a sudden close in 8 A. D. by an imperial edict banishing him to Tomi, on the shore of the Pontus (Black Sea). “Two charges,” he writes, “wrought my ruin, a poem and an error, but I must be silent about the fault of one of these acts. I am not important enough to renew thy wounds, Cæsar, since it is more than enough that thou hast suffered once. The other part remains, in which, as author of a vile poem, I am charged with being a teacher of obscene adultery.”79 The poem referred to can be no other than the Ars Amatoria; but this was published ten years before the poet’s banishment. The real cause of his sentence must be sought in the charge about which he keeps silence through fear of wounding Augustus. Perhaps he was privy to an intrigue between Julia, the granddaughter of Augustus, and Decimus Silanus. Ovid remained in banishment at Tomi until his death in 18 A. D.

Ovid’s poems fall into three divisions: poems of love, in elegiac metre, the works of his earlier years; antiquarian and mythological poems (the Fasti, in elegiacs, and the Metamorphoses, in hexameters), written before his banishment; and the poems written, in elegiac verse, at Tomi. Ovid’s Poems. The exact chronological order of the love poems is hard to fix, as the first series of elegies, the Amores, appeared in two editions, at first in five books, later in three. The later edition is preserved. Most of these elegies were probably written between 22 and 15 B. C. The Heroides, letters from mythical heroines to their absent husbands or lovers, were written soon after the Amores, then followed the poem On the Care of the Face (De Medicamine Faciei), then the Ars Amatoria (The Art of Love) [Pg 145]and the Remedia Amoris (Cures for Love). The last two seem to have been published between the beginning of 1 B. C. and the end of 1 A. D., but need not have been entirely written in the space of those two years.

The three books of the Amores contain forty-nine elegies, nearly all of which are love poems. The Amores. Among the comparatively small number on other subjects the best known and most interesting are the elegy on the death of Tibullus (III, ix) and the description of a festival of Juno (III, xiii). The love poems are in great part addressed to Corinna, who seems to be a mere figment of the poet’s imagination, not, like the Lesbia of Catullus, the Delia of Tibullus, and the Cynthia of Propertius, a real person under a fictitious name. Ovid’s love poems are not expressions of his own feelings for any individual, but the means by which he exhibits his astonishing facility in versification and his lively imagination. From beginning to end the poems show an utter lack of serious purpose. All the vicissitudes of a long love affair are treated with equal lightness and grace. Corinna is ill, she goes away, she receives a letter, to which she replies unfavorably, her parrot dies, and her lover laments it in an elegy; but nowhere does any real feeling make itself manifest. The poet seems to wish to give a complete series of pictures of the feelings and conduct of a lover under all possible circumstances, and his lively imagination plays lightly with all the varying phases of passion, but it is all play. Some of the poems are based upon Greek originals, many contain mythological allusions, a few are heavy with Alexandrian learning, some are harmlessly sportive, others extremely indecent, but all alike are masterly in technical execution, and empty of real sentiment. In these, his earliest poems, Ovid is already the most brilliant of Roman elegists. The easy flow of his verse is admirable. The rules that each distich must form a complete sentence, or at least express an independ[Pg 146]ent thought, and that each pentameter must end with a word of two syllables, give great uniformity to the cadence of the verses, but in spite of this the variety of expression and the clever rhetoric employed preserve the poems from monotony. Only the sameness of subject and the lack of real feeling make the Amores tedious to the modern reader.

The subject of the Amores is continued in the Heroides, but in a different form. The Heroides. Here the elegies are supposed to be letters from fifteen famous women of antiquity—Penelope, Briseïs, Phædra, and others—to their absent lovers or husbands. The form of poetic love-letter was known to the Alexandrians and had been employed once (IV, iii) by Propertius, but was first made popular at Rome by Ovid, who was also, apparently, the first to write in the character of mythological persons. Soon after the publication of Ovid’s letters from heroines, replies to some, at least, were written by Sabinus.80 These replies are lost, but at the end of the Heroides we now have three pairs of letters. Paris, Leander, and Acontius write respectively to Helen, Hero, and Cydippe, and each woman writes a reply. These six letters are so nearly in the style of Ovid that only careful study has led the best critics to the opinion that they are not his work, but clever imitations by some unknown contemporary. In the Heroides, as in the six letters just mentioned, the fact that the writers are well-known mythological persons lends an interest and a dramatic quality to the poems, which is wanting in the Amores, but the general character of the work remains the same.

The book On the Care of the Face is imperfectly preserved, for it breaks off after one hundred lines. The introduction compares the highly developed culture of the Augustan period with the rough simplicity of earlier [Pg 147]times. On the Care of the Face. The maids and matrons of old may not have bestowed any care upon their personal beauty, but the Roman girls of the present must act differently, since even the men are no longer careless of their persons. To be sure, the character is more important than personal beauty, for character remains while beauty is fleeting. Up to this point the poem is attractive, but the remainder, consisting of recipes for cosmetics, with accurate directions concerning weights and measures of the various ingredients, is so uninteresting that the loss of the latter part of the poem is hardly to be regretted.

The Art of Love is one of the most immoral poems in existence. The Art of Love. The first book gives instruction to young men to aid them in finding and seducing desirable mistresses, the second tells them how to keep the girls’ affection, and the third instructs girls in the art of gaining lovers. The love of which Ovid writes is mere sensual passion, not the union of souls, and his three books of systematic instruction in the arts of seduction would be utterly tedious were they not enlivened by some striking descriptive passages and myths, as well as by sententious lines of worldly wisdom. A remarkable passage in the first book81 celebrates the praise of Roman greatness and of Augustus, in order to lead up to the mention of a triumphal procession; and this is mentioned, because in the crowd of spectators the young man may scrape acquaintance with a girl. Of the Roman women at the theatre, Ovid says:

Spectatum veniunt, veniunt spectentur ut ipsæ,
They come to see, and to be seen themselves,

and many other lines show keen observation, knowledge of humanity, and no little humor; but, in spite of these [Pg 148]beauties of detail, the poem is, as a whole, so uninteresting that its immorality has probably done little harm.

The Cure of Love offers various means for freeing oneself from the bonds of passion. The Cure of Love. Activity and travel are recommended; the lover who longs for freedom is advised to consider the faults of his mistress, and the expense she causes him; he is told to make her show her faults; is urged to fall in love with another, to avoid reminders of the beloved when she is absent, and to shun poetry, music, and the dance. All this is uninteresting enough; but this poem, like the Ars Amatoria, contains many fine details. The Remedia Amoris is the last of Ovid’s poems on the subject of love. From beginning to end his love poems show the greatest ease and fluency of expression, superb mastery of technique, much imagination, wit, and humor, but an almost absolute lack of real feeling and serious purpose.

With the Fasti, or calendar of Roman festivals, Ovid’s poetry becomes more serious. The Fasti. When this work was begun can not be determined, but it probably occupied part of the poet’s time for several years. The description of the festival of Juno in the Amores (III, xiii) shows an interest in religious ritual, and it may be that Ovid conceived the idea of writing the Fasti even before the Ars Amatoria was published. However that may be, the Fasti never reached completion. The poem as planned was to consist of twelve books, one for each month of the year, and was dedicated to Augustus; but, when six books had been written, the work was interrupted by Ovid’s banishment. After the death of Augustus, Ovid began a revision of the poem, and prefixed to it a dedication to Germanicus; but the revision progressed no further than the first book. As this book contains references to events as late as 17 A. D., the entire work as we possess it must have been published after Ovid’s death.

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Poetic descriptions of festivals, with accounts of their origin, had been written by the Alexandrians, notably by Callimachus, and four elegies of Propertius (see p. 135) had introduced such subjects into Roman poetry. Ovid undertook to treat systematically all the Roman festivals, arranging them according to the days on which they occurred. This arrangement often causes related myths to be widely separated, and the same myth to be treated in several places, thus destroying the poetic unity of the work. The poet is also obliged by his subject to regard the astronomical as well as the antiquarian aspects of the calendar, and this double interest destroys the harmony of the poem. Ovid was not a careful student of astronomy, and the astronomical parts of his work contain some serious mistakes; but they are interesting on account of their clear descriptions, their variety of expression, and the myths connected with the stars which are introduced. The days that mark important events in Roman history are treated with especial fulness, and the poet takes every opportunity for the expression of patriotic sentiments, and for the praise of Augustus and the Julian family. The descriptions of festivals are lively and beautiful pictures of Roman life. Events of the poet’s own times, or of the early, mythical period, are described with great variety, sometimes in elaborate detail, sometimes more briefly, but always with easy and attractive grace. The causes or origins of festivals and customs are introduced in various ways; sometimes a god appears and reveals them, sometimes they are narrated by a friend or contemporary of the poet, or again the poet tells them without adducing any authority. The Greek myths narrated are derived from some of the many collections of such material familiar to the Romans of Ovid’s day; and even in the matter of Roman legends Ovid probably made no original researches. The grammarian Verrius Flaccus had compiled a prose calendar, with explanations of the established[Pg 150] customs pertaining to each day, and it is probably from this that Ovid derived much of his antiquarian lore. The books from which Ovid derived his information are lost, and his work is now one of the chief sources from which we can gain knowledge of Roman ritual, belief, religious antiquities, and even topography, for Ovid frequently mentions the relative positions of temples and other buildings. To the student of Roman life the six books of the Fasti are therefore of great importance. And their importance is not less to the student of Roman poetry, for they teem with beautiful and lively descriptions and interesting stories, and the patriotic sentiments eloquently expressed in several passages show that Ovid was something more than the careless, frivolous writer of corrupt love poems. In beauty of workmanship, vividness of description, and fluent grace of narrative, many portions of the Fasti are equal to any works of Roman literature, not even excepting the Metamorphoses of Ovid himself.

The Metamorphoses.The fifteen books of the Metamorphoses are Ovid’s greatest achievement. When he began the work we do not know, but, according to his own statement,82 he had finished it at the time of his banishment, though he had not revised and perfected it to his own satisfaction. In his grief he put the manuscript in the fire and burned it, but several copies must have been made, so the work survived. The opening lines of the poem explain its purpose:

Of forms transmuted into bodies new
My spirit moves to tell. Ye gods (for ye
Did change them), lend my task your favoring breath,
And to my times continuous lead the song.

This great collection of myths became almost immediately, and has remained ever since, the chief source of [Pg 151]popular knowledge of mythology. Poets and artists alike have drawn their conceptions of the ancient gods and heroes from Ovid even more than from Homer. The myths selected are those in which a metamorphosis, or change of form, takes place. Collections of the same sort had been made by several Alexandrian writers; but Ovid was apparently the first to arrange these stories in continuous order from the beginning of the world to his own time. The astonishing skill with which the transition from one tale to the next is accomplished, the rapidity and fluency of the narrative, the abundance of charming descriptive passages, and the never-failing variety of expression, make this one of the most remarkable of poems. The number of stories told is so great that a list of them would be tedious, but a brief mention and characterization of some of the more important among them will serve to show the scope and variety of the work.

After describing the creation, Ovid gives an account of the four ages (of gold, silver, bronze, and iron) of mankind’s deterioration and of the flood, from which only Deucalion and Pyrrha survived. Contents of the Metamorphoses. The story of Phaëthon’s attempt to drive the chariot of the Sun is told with great animation, though the poet’s display of geographical knowledge is somewhat out of place. The tale of the founding of Thebes by Cadmus is a striking example of narrative skill. More tragical in subject, and more dramatic in composition, are the stories of Pentheus, torn in pieces by the maddened worshipers of Bacchus, led by his own mother and sisters, and of Athamas, who is driven mad by Juno and kills his eldest son, while his wife Ino casts herself, with her son Melicerta, into the sea. Between these two stories are several less dramatic tales, among them the sentimental idyll of Pyramus and Thisbe, which is burlesqued in Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.[Pg 152] The deeds of Perseus, his rescue of Andromeda from the sea-monster, their wedding, with the quarrel that arose, and the turning into stone of Perseus’s enemies by means of the terrible Gorgon’s head, are narrated with vivid detail. The story of Proserpine, carried off by Pluto and sought all over the world by her mother Ceres, is enriched and retarded by the insertion of all manner of geographical, antiquarian, and mythological details. The tale of the pride and grief of Niobe is told with tragic pathos. In telling of Medea’s love for Jason, Ovid imitates to some extent the portrayal of her mental torments given by Apollonius of Rhodes,83 and at the same time displays his own liking for rhetorical argument. The adventures of Cephalus and Procris, Nisus and Scylla, Dædalus and Icarus, and others, are more simply told. The story of the Calydonian boar-hunt and the death of Meleager, enables Ovid to show his ability in description, narrative, and psychological analysis. The charming idyll of the pious and hospitable rustics, Philemon and Baucis, rests the mind of the reader after the preceding tales of violence. The deeds of Hercules follow, then the story of Orpheus, in which are inserted numerous tales, as if told by Orpheus himself. The account of the terrible death of Orpheus is followed by the story of Midas, who turned all things to gold by his touch, and whose ears were changed into those of an ass because he declared Pan to be a better musician than Apollo. The transformation of Ceyx and Alcyone into sea-gulls gives the poet an opportunity to tell of and praise conjugal fidelity. The combat of the centaurs and Lapithæ is told at some length, with too many names and too little unity. Many tales are told in connection with the Trojan war. Among these, the strife of Ajax and Ulysses for the armor of

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Achilles occupies a prominent position, and Ovid shows his rhetorical tendency by introducing set speeches by the two rivals in support of their claims. With the fall of Troy and the escape of Æneas, the poem begins to deal with Roman rather than Greek subjects. The earlier adventures of Æneas and others after the fall of Troy are, to be sure, still derived from Greek sources, but the stories of the combats in Italy and of the founding of Rome are no longer Greek. Near the end of the poem the Pythagorean doctrine of the transmigration of souls is set forth in considerable detail. Several Roman stories follow, and at last comes the account of Julius Cæsar’s ascent to the gods, and a prophecy of a similar fortune for Augustus. Then the poem ends with the lines:

And now my work is done; which not Jove’s wrath,
Nor fire, nor sword, nor all-consuming age
Can e’er destroy. Let when it will that day,
Which only o’er this body’s frame has power,
Make ending of my life’s uncertain space;
Yet shall the better part of me be borne
Above the lofty stars through countless years,
And ever undestroyed shall be my name.
Where’er the Roman power o’er conquered lands
Extends, shall I be read by many tongues,
And through all ages, if there’s aught of truth
In prophecies of bards, my fame shall live.

Certainly Ovid had written a most remarkable poem. At times the lack of earnestness so noticeable in his earlier works appears also in the Metamorphoses, but frequently he is carried along by his subject to utterances of real power and pathos. His hexameters have not the swelling grandeur of Virgil’s, but they have a fluent rapidity and easy grace that no other Latin writer ever attained. Nor does any other Roman poet equal Ovid in the art of telling a story. He is a master of direct, simple narrative and of clear, vivid description, and he excels also in[Pg 154] dramatic presentation and in the analysis of human thoughts and feelings.

In the Metamorphoses Ovid’s power is at its height. His later poems, written after his banishment, show a constant deterioration in every respect, even in technique. The long series of laments over his exile is tedious and wearisome. The five books entitled Tristia consist of elegies addressed for the most part to no one person, while the four books of Letters from the Pontus (Ex Ponto) have the form of real letters to the poet’s friends. The second book of the Tristia is one long letter of appeal to Augustus. The short poem entitled Ibis is an elaborate heaping up of curses and maledictions against an enemy to whom the fictitious name of Ibis is given, and the Halieutica is a fragment (134 lines) of a poem on fishes. Among all these poems those in which Ovid refers to his own circumstances are the most interesting. It is from these84 that most of our information about his life is derived. In some of these elegies the tone of genuine feeling, which is wanting in the earlier poems, is evident:

When in my mind of that night the sorrowful vision arises,
Which was the end of my life spent in the city of Rome,
When I remember the night when I parted from all that was dearest,
Sadly a piteous tear falls even now from my eyes.85

So Ovid sings of his departure from Rome. His letters to his wife86 and the letter to his daughter Perilla87 are among the most attractive of these poems of bitter exile and grief. But even upon these the bitterness of the exile’s lot casts its shadow. A greater poet, or a poet of greater character, might have soared above his grief and [Pg 155]disappointment; but Ovid wearies us with his continued complaints.

Several works by Ovid have been lost. The most important was probably his tragedy Medea, which was regarded as one of the greatest of Roman tragedies. Only two fragments of this play remain, from one of which we learn that Ovid represented Medea in a state of excitement bordering upon madness. Of a work in hexameters on the constellations, entitled Phœnomena, and a series of epigrams, a few brief fragments remain. Not even fragments are preserved of a bridal song (Epithalamium) for Fabius Maximus, an elegy on the death of Messalla, a poem on the triumph of Tiberius (January 16, 13 A. D.), a poem on the death of Augustus, a medley on bad poets, made up of lines from Macer’s Tetrasticha, and a poem in the Getic language in honor of the imperial family.

Ovid’s one defect as a poet is his lack of character. No other Roman wrote more polished verse, no other employed the Latin language more effectively for his purposes; but the want of moral earnestness and power makes Ovid, with all his genius, the least among the great Roman poets. His weakness is most noticeable in his earlier and later works, and the Metamorphoses and the Fasti are therefore the most admirable of his poems. Ovid was read throughout the Middle Ages, and the mythological allusions in writings of the Renaissance period and modern times are, for the most part, traceable to him. He was one of Milton’s favorite authors, and several passages in Paradise Lost show his influence. Shakespeare, too, was acquainted, directly or indirectly, with the Metamorphoses, and numerous echoes of Ovid’s poems are heard in the strains of other English poets.

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Livy, 59 B. C.-17 A. D.—His qualities as historian and writer—Pompeius Trogus, about 20 B. C.—Justin, second or third century after Christ—Fenestella, 52 B. C.-19 A. D.—Oratory—Seneca the elder, about 55 B. C. to about 40 A. D.—Verrius Flaccus, about 1 A. D.—Festus, third or fourth century after Christ—Hyginus, about 64 B. C. to about 17 A. D.—Extant works under the name of Hyginus—Labeo and Capito—Vitruvius, about 70 B. C. to after 16 B. C.

The Augustan period is the golden age of Latin poetry. Prose reached its greatest height in the age of Cicero and began to deteriorate soon after his death. Prose inferior to poetry of this period. One reason for this is the great development of poetry, which led to the introduction of poetic words and phrases into prose; another is the fashionable rhetoric of the day, which aimed not at simplicity and clearness, nor dignity and grandeur, but at novel or striking expressions, artificial arrangement, and subtlety of thought. The influence of the rhetorical schools is seen in some of the poetry of Ovid and Manilius, but is much more evident in the prose of this period and the succeeding times.

The only great prose writer of the Augustan period is Livy. Livy. Titus Livius was born at Patavium (Padua) in 59 B. C., and died in his native place in 17 A. D. Little is known of his life, but the tone of his writing indicates that he was not poor and belonged to a family of some position. He is said to have written philosophical works, probably popular treatises in the form of dialogues, and a treatise on rhetoric in the form[Pg 157] of a letter to his son. These works are lost, and can never have possessed much importance in comparison with the great history to which Livy devoted more than forty years of his life. About 30 B. C. Livy moved to Rome, where he lived the greater part of the time until his death. Probably he visited his native Padua more than once, and he travelled also to other places in Italy. He was a republican in principle, but accepted the rule of Augustus without reserve. In fact, he was a personal friend of Augustus, who called him in jest a Pompeian, on account of his criticisms of Julius Cæsar and his admiration for the old republic. Livy appears in his work as a man of conservative tendencies, content to live under whatever government happened to exist, provided it was not too oppressive, willing to accept the state religion, with all its beliefs in signs and omens, while recognizing that some, at least, of the omens reported were inventions. His one great enthusiasm was for the greatness of Rome. This sentiment it was which led him to devote his life to the composition of a great history of Rome from the earliest times to his own day.

The title of Livy’s history was Libri ab Urbe Condita (Books from the Foundation of the City). Livy’s History. It consisted of 142 books, the first of which was written between 29 and 25 B. C., while the last twenty-two were published after the death of Augustus. The last book ended with the death of Drusus, in 9 A. D. Whether Livy intended to carry his work still further is unknown. The division into books is Livy’s own, but the division into decades, or groups of ten books, was made later, though it may perhaps have been suggested by the original publication of some of the books in groups. For the earlier parts of the work comparatively little material was available; consequently the history of the early years of Rome is less detailed than that of later periods. Fifteen books carry the[Pg 158] narrative from the foundation of the city to the beginning of the Punic wars, a period of nearly five hundred years, while the war with Hannibal occupies ten books, and ten books are devoted to the eight years from the death of Marius to the death of Sulla (86-78 B. C.).

Of this immense work only thirty-five books are extant: Books I-X, from the beginning into the third Samnite War (753-293 B. C.), and XXI-XLV, from the second Punic War to the Macedonian triumph of Lucius Æmilius Paulus (218-167 B. C.). In Books XXI-XLV numerous gaps occur. The contents of the remaining books are known to us through a series of abstracts made not directly from Livy, but from an epitome. Such an epitome existed as early as the time of Martial, not many years after Livy’s death.

Livy derived his material from earlier historians, such as Fabius Pictor, Valerius Antias, Licinius Macer, Claudius Quadrigarius, and Polybius, following sometimes one and sometimes another, but seldom trying to reconcile conflicting statements of his authorities. Qualities of Livy’s History. When they did not agree, he usually accepted the statement that seemed to him most probable. He did not try to discover new truths by the study of original sources, such as inscriptions and other monuments, nor did he make careful studies of battlefields, routes of march, or the like. He did not, as most modern historians do, try to establish facts by independent research, but he worked over the accounts of his predecessors with the intention of presenting the whole of Roman history in an attractive literary form. In this he was so successful that his history soon became the one source from which all subsequent writers drew their information. His lack of military knowledge makes his description of battles and other military matters somewhat untrustworthy, and the early part of his work suffers from his inability to understand the gradual growth of Roman[Pg 159] civilization, but such defects are more than compensated for by the admirable literary qualities of his history. He is, moreover, truthful, so far as he knows the truth, and any incorrect statements are due rather to insufficient knowledge than to any desire to conceal or pervert the truth. In his accounts of the dealings of the Romans with other peoples he is partial to the Romans, but that is because his sincere admiration for the Roman greatness leads him to believe that the Romans were in the right and acted rightly, and his partiality to the Scipios is to be accounted for in a similar way.

It is evident from what has been said above that Livy is far from being a perfect historian; yet his history is true in the main, and is based upon broad knowledge and insight into the underlying principles of human character and human actions. He is less interested in accuracy of detail than in broader and more general truth and dramatic presentation. Livy’s speeches. So in the speeches with which he enlivens his work, he does not pretend to repeat what the speakers actually said, nor even in every instance to put in their mouths words that express their individual characters, but rather to say in good rhetorical form what the circumstances seem to him to demand. In this he follows Thucydides, and his speeches, like those of Thucydides, serve not merely to give variety to the narrative, but also to bring vividly before us and to explain the circumstances and motives that led up to the actions narrated. These speeches are the most brilliant parts of his work. In them he shows the fruit of his training in the rhetorical schools and of careful study of Demosthenes and Cicero; but his rhetoric does not end in mere declamation. The speeches are not written merely to exhibit his rhetorical training, but to explain and enlighten.

Throughout his work Livy appears as the enemy of extremes. His admiration for Pompey does not lead him[Pg 160] to become hostile to the ruling family; he is opposed alike to royalty and to unbridled democracy. At the same time he treats his subject with sympathy and warmth of feeling, and makes the ethical side of history prominent, seeking to present in a strong light such actions as may serve as models for conduct, not merely to give a record of events.

Livy is unrivalled as a narrator and a painter in words. His style is clear and straightforward, although his periods are often long and sometimes made complicated by the insertion in the sentence of numerous subordinate ideas, often expressed in the form of participles. Livy’s style. As is natural for one who wrote when Roman poetry was at its height, he introduces poetical words which are foreign to the prose of Cicero and Cæsar, and some of his phrases show poetic coloring. But his Latin is pure, and it is difficult to see what Asinius Pollio meant by accusing him of “Patavinitas” or Paduanism. In later prose writers the striving for poetic effect becomes a disagreeable mannerism, but such traces of poetry as are found in Livy are not the result of conscious effort, but of the literary atmosphere of the time. His style is not everywhere of uniform excellence; for it is inevitable that in such a long historical work the different qualities of the subject and the advancing age of the writer affect the mode of presentation, but there is no part of the work in which the style is dull or without charm. It is perhaps at its best in the books dealing with the Punic wars.

Livy’s work was even in his lifetime regarded as the most perfect example of historical writing. The younger Pliny tells us that a citizen of Cadiz travelled all the way to Rome merely to see Livy, and when he had seen him returned at once to Cadiz, feeling that the other sights of Rome were of no further interest. Livy’s influence upon later Roman writers was of the utmost importance, and his work has served as a model for more than one histo[Pg 161]rian in more recent times. His enthusiasm for what is good and noble, his admiration for the great men of Rome, and his worship of Rome itself, give to his work something of the exalted character that belongs to a hymn of praise or a panegyric. His great history served, like Virgil’s Æneid, to give permanent literary expression to the greatness of the past days of the Roman commonwealth.

It would occupy too much space to try to give specimens of all the varieties of Livy’s style and composition. His descriptions of battles, among which that of the defeat of Antiochus at Magnesia88 deserves special mention, are masterpieces of painting in words, even when they betray his lack of military knowledge, and his summaries of the characters of important persons are admirable. The introduction to the history of the war with Hannibal, with the description of the siege of Saguntum, the hesitation at Rome, and the scene in the Carthaginian senate, is unsurpassed. Speech of Hanno. The speech of Hanno, who alone among the Carthaginian senators wished to preserve peace by relinquishing Saguntum and delivering Hannibal into the hands of the Romans, is one of the most remarkable of the many striking passages in this wonderful history:89

You have sent to the army, adding, as it were, fuel to the fire, a youth who burns with the desire of ruling, and who sees only one way to his end, if he lives girt with arms and legions, sowing from wars the seed of wars. You have therefore nourished this fire with which you are now burning. Your armies are now surrounding Saguntum, which the treaty forbids them to approach; presently the Roman legions will surround Carthage under the leadership of those same gods by whom in the last war the broken treaties were avenged. Do you not know the enemy, or yourselves, or the fortune of the two peoples? Your good general refused to admit to his camp envoys who came from allies in behalf of allies; [Pg 162] they, nevertheless, though refused admittance where even the envoys of enemies are not forbidden to enter, have come to us; they demand restitution in accordance with the treaty; that there may be no deceit on the part of the state, they ask that the author of the wrong and the accused person be delivered up. The more gently they act, the more slowly they begin, the more persistently, I fear, they will rage when once they have begun. Place before your eyes the Ægates islands and Eryx and what you suffered by land and sea for twenty-four years. And that leader was no boy, but his father Hamilcar himself, a second Mars, as his partisans will have it. But we had not kept our hands off from Tarentum, that is from Italy, in obedience to the treaty, as now we are not keeping them off from Saguntum. Therefore the gods overcame men, and in the question at issue, which people had broken the treaty, the event of war, like a just judge, gave the victory to that side on which right stood. It is against Carthage that Hannibal is now moving up his screens and towers; he is shaking the walls of Carthage with his battering-ram. The ruins of Saguntum (may I prove a false prophet!) will fall upon our heads, and the war begun against the Saguntines must be carried on against the Romans. “Shall we then give up Hannibal?” some one will say. I know that in his case my influence has little weight on account of my enmity to his father; but I have been glad that Hamilcar is dead, because if he were living we should already be at war with the Romans, and I hate and detest this youth as the fury and fire-brand of this war, as one who ought not only to be given up as an expiation for the broken treaty, but if no one demanded him, should be carried away to the uttermost shores of sea and land, removed to such a distance that his name and fame could not reach to us nor he disturb the condition of our quiet state. I make this motion: That ambassadors be sent at once to Rome, to give satisfaction to the senate; other envoys to announce to Hannibal that he withdraw his army from Saguntum, and to hand Hannibal himself over to the Romans in pursuance of the treaty; I move a third embassy to restore their property to the Saguntines.

This speech, composed with powerful rhetoric and placed in a dramatic setting, serves not only to bring before our eyes the fruitless errand of the Roman envoys at Carthage, but to emphasize the justice of the Roman[Pg 163] cause and to predict the ultimate success of the Romans, on whose side the gods that watch over treaties were enlisted. It is an example of Livy’s oratorical composition, of his dramatic power, of his desire to show that historical events are the result of moral causes, and of his conviction that the Roman power was founded upon right and justice.

Livy’s great work was the first complete history of Rome composed in fine literary form. The time was ripe for such a work. The Roman people had spread its power over the whole civilized world, and the peace and order established by Augustus made it natural that men should wish to read the history of the long struggles of the republic that led up to the present peace of the empire. Livy’s history, therefore, appealed directly to a large circle of readers. But in extending its power over the world, the Roman people had come in contact with various nations, and it was natural that the history of those nations should be of interest to the Romans. The task of writing this history was undertaken by Pompeius Trogus. By descent he was a Vocontian, of the province of Gallia Narbonensis, but his grandfather had received the Roman citizenship from Pompey, and his father had served under Cæsar in Gaul. Pompeius Trogus. Pompeius Trogus himself is mentioned as a writer on zoology, but his most important work was his universal history entitled Historiæ Philippicæ, in forty-four books. Trogus began with the history of the Oriental empires, Assyria, Media, and Persia, passing from the Persians to the Scythians and the Greeks. The greater part of his work was taken up with the account of the Macedonian Empire founded by Philip, and of the kingdoms that arose from it after the death of Alexander the Great. The history of each of these kingdoms is continued to its absorption in the Roman Empire. It is from this part of the work (Books VII-XL) that the[Pg 164] whole received its title. The forty-first and forty-second books contained the history of the Parthians, the forty-third told of the beginnings of Rome and treated of affairs in Gaul, and the forty-fourth book contained the history of Spain, ending with the victory of Augustus over the Spaniards.

The history of Trogus is not preserved in its original form, but only in a brief summary made in the second or third century after Christ by an otherwise unknown Marcus Junianus Justinus. Justin’s summary. It is evident that Trogus was not an original investigator, and his work was probably little more than a translation of a Greek original, perhaps by Timagenes of Alexandria, who came to Rome in the time of the civil wars. Nevertheless, the work was important, as it was based on good authorities. It never became so popular as Livy’s history, but it was evidently much used by later writers, and Justin’s summary was much read in the Middle Ages. Of the style of Trogus it is difficult to judge, but so far as it can be appreciated in Justin’s abridgment, it was clear and lively, with a good deal of rhetorical adornment. Even the abridgment is a valuable work on account of the importance of its contents.

Several other historians of the Augustan period are known by name, but their works are lost and have left few traces. Fenestella. The most important of these writers was probably Fenestella, who lived from 52 B. C. to 19 A. D. He wrote Annals in at least twenty-two books, and probably also a variety of works on antiquarian subjects.

The oratory of this period was far inferior to that of the age of Cicero. Oratory. It was for the most part without serious purpose, and the productions of the orators were little more than school exercises to show their skill and serve as models for their pupils. Messalla, Pollio, and some others continued the earlier[Pg 165] style of oratory in the Augustan age, but they found few imitators or successors. Among other early Augustan orators was Titus Labienus, who wrote a history as well as speeches. He was so bitterly opposed to the rule of Augustus that his works were burned by decree of the senate. Cassius Severus made in his speeches and writings such violent attacks upon the aristocracy that he was banished by Augustus, and his property was confiscated under Tiberius. He died in great poverty at Seriphus in 32 A. D. Other orators, whose speeches were almost exclusively school exercises, were Marcus Porcius Latro, Gaius Albucius Silus, Quintus Haterius, Lucius Junius Gallio, and the two Asiatic Greeks, Arellius Fuscus and Lucius Cestius Pius. Seneca the elder. Little or nothing is known about any of these men except what is derived from the works of Annæus Seneca, the father of the philosopher Lucius Annæus Seneca and grandfather of the epic poet Lucan. Of the life of the elder Seneca little is known. He was born at Corduba, in Spain, probably as early as 55 B. C., and spent part of his life in Rome. He lived to a great age, for his only extant work was written as late as 37 A. D. This is a series of recollections of famous orators and rhetoricians, written at the request of the author’s sons, Novatus, Seneca, and Mela. It originally contained ten books of Controversiæ or arguments, and one book of Suasoriæ or speeches advising some particular course of conduct. The most important parts of the work are the introductions, which contain much information on the history of oratory. The ten books of Controversiæ treated of seventy-four subjects, the book of Suasoriæ of seven. The beginning of the Suasoriæ is now lost, and of the Controversiæ only thirty-five are preserved. The subject-matter is throughout insipid and dull. Such things are discussed as this: “A man and his wife swore that if anything happened to one of them[Pg 166] the other would die. The man went on a journey and sent a message to his wife that he was dead. The wife threw herself down from a high place. She was brought to herself again, and her father ordered her to leave her husband. She refused.” The utterances of the masters of rhetoric on such matters as this are given by Seneca, whose prodigious memory made him able to repeat them almost, if not quite, in the original words. The most interesting single theme is the sixth Suasoria, in which the question is answered whether Cicero should beg Antony to spare his life. The answers given contain several judgments on Cicero, among them those of Asinius Pollio and Livy. But the folly and emptiness of the sort of oratorical study with which Seneca makes us acquainted can not fail to impress every reader. Seneca himself expresses his disgust. His remarkable memory enabled him to hand down to later ages specimens of the oratorical teaching which, even in the Augustan age, began to corrupt Latin style. Seneca’s own style is not far removed from that of Cicero’s time, and Seneca, though he wrote under Caligula, probably acquired his style in the early part of the Augustan period. The specimens he has preserved show, however, that the influential teachers of his early days had far less taste than he.

Among the learned writers on special subjects one of the most important was Verrius Flaccus, of whose life little is known, except that he was chosen by Augustus to educate his grandsons Gaius and Lucius, and that he died in old age during the reign of Tiberius. Verrius Flaccus. Of his numerous works on grammatical and antiquarian subjects one only, On the Meaning of Words (De Verborum Significatu), is partially preserved in an abridgment by Pompeius Festus, who seems to have lived in the third or fourth century after Christ. Only part of this abridgment remains, but this[Pg 167] is important for the information it contains concerning Roman antiquities and early Latin words. A further abridgment of Festus was made in the eighth century by Paulus, and even this is of value, though it is a mere skeleton of the original work of Verrius Flaccus. Another scholar was Gaius Julius Hyginus, a freedman of Augustus and librarian of the Palatine library. Hyginus. His life extended from about 64 B. C. to about 17 A. D. He composed works on agriculture, history, geography, and antiquities, besides commentaries on Virgil and on Cinna’s poem to Asinius Pollio. Of all these works nothing remains; but two works under the name of Hyginus are extant. One of these is a treatise on astronomy, including myths relating to the stars, the other a mythological handbook entitled Fabulæ, to which a series of genealogies is appended. The handbook is valuable chiefly because the myths told in it are taken from Greek tragedies for the most part, and through them we learn the plots of many lost works of Greek authors. These extant works are, however, not by the librarian Hyginus, but by a later writer, who lived probably in the second century after Christ. Labeo and Capito. Of the legal writings of Marcus Antistius Labeo and Gaius Ateius Capito nothing remains. Each was the head of a school of writers and teachers on legal subjects. Labeo tried to explain changes and growth in legal matters, as well as in grammar, by the principle of analogy or likeness, while Capito regarded anomaly or difference as more important.

A work of no literary excellence, but of great value on account of the information it contains, is the treatise On Architecture (De Architectura), in ten books, by Vitruvius Pollio. Vitruvius. Vitruvius was a practical architect, who built a basilica at Colonia Fanestris and had charge of the construction of machines of[Pg 168] war under Augustus.90 His books appear to have been written between 16 and 13 B. C., and dedicated to Augustus. They form the only systematic treatise on architecture preserved to us from antiquity, and are for that reason of the greatest importance to architects and archæologists. The style is, however, inelegant and obscure, though its obscurity is due in part to the necessary employment of technical expressions. Vitruvius was evidently a man of no great literary education or ability, however able he may have been as an architect.

The age of Augustus is marked by the highest development of Roman poetry. Virgil, Horace, Tibullus, Propertius and Ovid are, each in his own way, the greatest of the Roman poets. Only Catullus and Lucretius can be compared with any one of them. The only great prose writer of the period is Livy. His style is still pure, and is certainly very charming; but even Livy departs somewhat from the dignity and beauty of the sermo urbanus, the Latin of Cicero and Cæsar. The extracts preserved by Seneca show that the rhetorical teaching of the time was artificial and tasteless, and was leading the way to decline, to the so-called silver Latin of the imperial epoch.

[Pg 169]




The emperors (Tiberius, 14-37 A. D.; Caligula, 37-41 A. D.; Claudius, 41-54 A. D.; Nero, 54-68 A. D.)—Phædrus, about 40 A. D.—Germanicus, 15 B. C.-19 A. D.—Velleius Paterculus, 30 A. D.—Valerius Maximus, about 47 B. C. to about 30 A. D.—Celsus about 35 A. D.—Votienus Montanus, died 27 A. D.—Asinius Gallus, 40 B. C.-33 A. D.—Mamercus Scaurus, died 34 A. D.—Publius Vitellius, died 31 A. D.—Domitius Afer, 14 B. C.-59 A. D.—Cremutius Cordus, died 25 A. D.—Aufidius Bassus—Remmius Palæmon—Julius Atticus—Julius Gracchinus—Marcus Apicius—Philosophers—Lucius Annæus Seneca, about 1 A. D. to 65 A. D.—Persius, 34-62 A. D.—Lucan, 39-65 A. D.—Calpurnius, about 60 A. D.—Pomponius Secundus, about 50 A. D.—Petronius, died 66 A. D.—Quintus Curtius, about 50 (?) A. D.—Columella, about 40 A. D.—Mela, about 40 A. D.—Other writers.

[Pg 170]

With the death of Augustus the greatest period of Roman literature comes to an end. Literature after Augustus. From this time its history is a record of decay, not regularly progressive, to be sure, and not always manifested in the same way, but almost constant, and hardly interrupted even by the appearance of a few writers of genuine ability. With the establishment of peace throughout the Roman Empire, and with the ease and security of travel from province to province, men from all parts of the empire came to Rome for a time and returned to their homes, after, perhaps, imbibing something of the culture of the capital, while others took up their residence permanently in the imperial city. Some men of each class devoted themselves to literature. The elder Seneca belongs to one of these classes, the younger Seneca certainly to the latter. The influence of the provincials upon Roman literature could not fail to be great. In the hands of Spaniards like the Senecas, Latin could hardly remain the city speech, sermo urbanus, of the time of Cicero. The evil influence of even the best rhetorical teaching of the time of Augustus has already been mentioned, and as time went on the rhetorical teaching became constantly worse. Moreover, the circumstances of the empire, and especially of the city of Rome, were not favorable to the growth of literature. The peace that followed the unrest of the civil wars had led in the time of Augustus to great literary activity, but the continued peace in the subsequent years, when men’s minds were no longer moved by the remembrance of stirring events, tended to deaden the imagination and to dry up the springs of literary life. In the early part of the first century after Christ there are few important writers either in Greek or Latin. In the city itself the character of the emperor had a powerful effect upon literature.

Tiberius (14-37 A. D.) was a pupil of the Greek rhetorician, Theodorus of Gadara, and was familiar with Greek and Latin literature. The relations of the emperors to literature. He wrote Greek verses in the learned Alexandrian manner, a Latin poem on the death of Lucius Cæsar, and autobiographical memoirs in prose; but his own literary interest did not make him a patron of literature. His suspicious nature caused him to seek out and punish all real or imaginary allusions to himself in the works of contemporary authors, with the natural result that authorship became a pursuit too dangerous to be popular. Caligula (37-41 A. D.) had some ability as a speaker, and wished to be considered an orator, but his insanity led[Pg 171] him to wish to destroy the works of Homer, and to remove the works and the busts of Virgil and Livy from the public libraries, on the ground that one of them was without genius or learning and the other was diffuse and careless. Although he did not systematically repress literature, his brief reign was certainly not favorable to its cultivation. Claudius (41-54 A. D.), who came to the throne at the age of fifty years, was a dull and learned pedant. He began to write a history from the death of Cæsar, but stopped at the end of the second book, owing to the objections of his mother and grandmother. He then wrote a history in forty-one books, probably beginning with the bestowal of the title of Augustus upon Octavian (27 B. C.), and continuing for forty-one years. He also wrote a history of the Etruscans in twenty books and a history of Carthage in eight books. Of all these works nothing remains. Some idea of his style may be derived from two inscriptions found at Lyons and Trent. The first is a speech delivered in the senate in 48 A. D., advocating the extension to the Gallic nobility of the ius honorum, or right to hold offices, the second a decree renewing the grant of citizenship to the inhabitants of the regions in the Rhætian Alps about Trent, and regulating their affairs. In both cases the style is confused and entirely without elegance or merit. Claudius also wrote a defense of Cicero against Asinius Gallus, the son of Asinius Pollio, who had maintained that Pollio was the greater orator. The addition by Claudius of three letters to the Latin alphabet shows his interest in linguistic matters, but was without permanent effect. Under this ruler literature revived somewhat after the persecutions under Tiberius. Nero (54-68 A. D.), the pupil of Seneca, wrote various short poems and an epic, entitled Troica, on the Trojan War. His jealousy caused him to be the enemy of other poets, but he paid little attention to literary attacks upon himself. On the whole,[Pg 172] literature was not repressed during his reign, though after the discovery of the conspiracy of Piso, in 65 A. D., his wrath fell upon philosophers and men of letters.

The literature of the times of Tiberius and Caligula is less important than that of the following years. Phædrus. The only poet of importance is Phædrus, a freed-man of Augustus, who wrote fables in iambic verse. These are for the most part not original with Phædrus, but are the so-called fables of Æsop, tales of Oriental origin, which migrated in writing or in oral form to Europe. The Greeks thought them the inventions of Æsop, but modern investigations have proved that they belong to the migratory folk-lore of India. After the first book of his fables, Phædrus introduces fables and tales of his own among those ascribed to Æsop. The whole collection now consists of ninety-three fables, divided into five books; but it originally contained a greater number, especially in Books II and V. The fables are still, many of them, at least, familiar to most children. Such are the stories of the Wolf and the Lamb, the Frog who tried to be as big as an Ox, the Fox and the Crane, and many others. Phædrus tells the fables in well-composed verses, but sometimes overdoes his love of brevity so as to be obscure. He also points out the moral of his tales too plainly, leaving nothing to the imagination of his readers. His language is the simple and easy Latin of the early Augustan period, without the rhetorical flourishes popular in the following years. Yet it is evident from references in the prologue to the third book that, although Sejanus was powerful after the appearance of the first two books, the third was written after his fall, that is to say, after 31 A. D. Probably Phædrus wrote at least as late as 40 A. D. Of his personal history little is known. He was born in Pieria, in Macedonia, but went to Italy and probably to Rome, at an early age. Something in the first two books of[Pg 173] fables brought down upon the poet the wrath of Sejanus, but how serious its effects were is not known. The Eutychus to whom the third book is addressed is probably the charioteer who was an important personage in the last years of Caligula. Particulo and Philetes, whom Phædrus addresses in the epilogue and the last fable of the fifth book, are unknown. The Fables of Phædrus have been much used as a text-book, because they are interesting to young readers and are written in simple, classical Latin.

A poem belonging to the first years after the death of Augustus is the Aratea, by Germanicus, the son of Drusus (15 B. C.-19 A. D.). Germanicus. This is a translation and adaptation of the Phænomena of Aratus, and shows that the author was not only a talented writer of hexameters, but also a well-educated astronomer. This poem contains 725 lines. Of a poem on the stars and constellations in their relation to the weather and the like, entitled Prognostica, only a few fragments remain. Besides these astronomical poems of Germanicus, the last book of Manilius (see p. 138) belongs to this period. So also do some of the poems wrongly ascribed to Virgil and Ovid, and for that matter, the later poems of Ovid himself.

The only prose writers of the years before Claudius whose works are extant are Velleius Paterculus, Valerius Maximus, and Celsus. Velleius Paterculus. Gaius Velleius Paterculus was an officer who had served under Tiberius; he was tribunus militum in 1 A. D. and prætor-elect in 14 A. D. The latest date mentioned in his Roman History is the consulship of Vinicius, 30 A. D. The dates of his birth and death are unknown. The Roman History consists of two books, the first of which is imperfectly preserved. Velleius does not confine himself strictly to Roman affairs, but begins his work with a brief sketch of the foundation of the Greek cities in Italy. The early part of the work is a mere summary, but more[Pg 174] details are introduced as the narrative approaches the author’s own times; yet it is, even in the latter part, by no means an exhaustive history. Throughout the work Velleius introduces his own opinions and is governed by his own prejudices; his history is therefore not especially trustworthy. His praise of Tiberius is so excessive that it can not be excused even as the enthusiasm of a veteran for his old general, and the almost equally exaggerated praise of Sejanus is without the shadow of excuse. A noteworthy peculiarity is that Velleius pays attention to the history of Greek and Roman literature, which would hardly be expected in so short a work. The style is clumsy, but shows a desire for rhetorical effect. The vocabulary is that of the Augustan age, but the pretentious rhetoric and the evident striving for variety are characteristic of the later time. The chief interest of Velleius is in the character of the persons of whom he writes, and his whole work has something personal about it which distinguishes it from a mere record of events. In the early part of the work he follows good authorities, though he often disagrees with Livy, perhaps on account of Livy’s republican sympathies. In the latter part of the history he is untrustworthy, owing to his servile partiality for Tiberius and those connected with him.

The nine books of Memorable Doings and Sayings (Facta et Dicta Memorabilia), by Valerius Maximus, were written not far from 30 A. D., and dedicated to Tiberius. Valerius Maximus. Of the writer little is known except that he accompanied Sextus Pompeius to Asia, about 27 B. C. He was, then, born probably as early as 47 B. C., and can hardly have lived long after the completion of his books. Many of the anecdotes contained in his work are interesting, but the style is artificial, pompous, and dull. The most servile flattery is given to Tiberius, Julius Cæsar, and Augustus. The anecdotes cover a wide range of subjects—religion, ancient customs,[Pg 175] all varieties of character, fortune, old age, remarkable deaths, and many more. Naturally, the work contains some valuable information, but this is thinly distributed through the nine books. The work was, however, popular in the Middle Ages, and is preserved in many manuscripts. A book on words, especially names (De Prænominibus, etc.), contained in the manuscripts of Valerius Maximus, is by some unknown author and is of little value.

Aulus Cornelius Celsus wrote an encyclopedia, which contained treatises on agriculture, medicine, the art of war, oratory, jurisprudence, and philosophy. Celsus. Part, at least, of this great work was written under Tiberius, but other parts may have been written later, for there is no definite indication of the date of the author’s birth or death. Only the treatise on medicine (Books VI-XIII of the entire work) is preserved. This shows that Celsus was well versed in the medical science of his day, and that medical science had at that time reached a high degree of perfection. Celsus writes in a simple, straightforward style, without the artificial rhetoric or the poetic phraseology common among post-Augustan prose writers. His work was deservedly popular among those who wished for scientific knowledge in the Middle Ages, was one of the first books printed after the invention of the printing-press, and was used as a text-book for medical students until recent times. Whether the other parts of the encyclopedia were as good as the treatise on medicine can not now be determined. The treatise on agriculture is mentioned with respect by Columella, but Quintilian speaks slightingly of Celsus, perhaps on account of defects in the rhetorical parts of his work.

The names of several orators of this period are handed down, chiefly in the reminiscences of the elder Seneca. The most noteworthy are, perhaps, Votienus Montanus, who was banished by Tiberius and died in 27 A. D.;[Pg 176] Asinius Gallus (40 B. C.-33 A. D.) the son of Asinius Pollio; Prose writers whose works are lost. Mamercus Scaurus, who was forced by Tiberius to commit suicide in 34 A. D.; Publius Vitellius, who brought about the condemnation of Piso for the murder of Germanicus in 19 A. D., and who died in 31 A. D.; and Domitius Afer, from Nemausus (14 B. C.-59 A. D.), who held important offices under Tiberius, Caligula, and Nero. Among these orators, Domitius Afer was most prominent as a speaker in court, while Montanus was a teacher of oratory and a declaimer. Historians whose works are lost were Aulus Cremutius Cordus and Aufidius Bassus. The former published under Augustus a historical work in which he praised Brutus and spoke of Cassius as “the last of the Romans.” For this his books were burned by decree of the senate in 25 A. D., and he committed suicide by starving himself. Bassus wrote a contemporary history in rhetorical style, probably embracing the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius, and possibly the end of the republic. Among the grammarians of this time, the most important was Quintus Remmius Palæmon, whose grammar (Ars Grammatica) was much used by the later writer Charisius. There were also several writers on special subjects, such as Cæpio and Antonius Castor, who wrote on botany, Julius Atticus and Julius Gracchinus, who wrote on vine culture, and Marcus Apicius, who wrote on cookery, though the extant cook-book ascribed to him is a work of the third century. These names show that even under Tiberius prose writing, although not so important as at other times, was not entirely neglected.

Philosophy was much cultivated at Rome in this time, as it had been for at least a century, but the philosophical teachers under Tiberius and Caligula wrote for the most part, when they wrote at all, in Greek. Philosophy. Among them were the Sextii and Sotion, whose activity was in the later years of Augustus and the[Pg 177] earlier years of Tiberius, Lucius Annæus Cornutus, and Gaius Musonius Rufus, both of whom were banished by Nero in 65 A. D. These men, and others of less note, whose doctrines were chiefly Stoic, exercised great influence upon Roman thought, but as their teachings were chiefly oral and their written works were in Greek, they must be passed over with a brief mention by no means commensurate with their real importance. Sotion was one of the teachers of the younger Seneca, the most important writer of the time of Nero, while Cornutus was the teacher of the satirist Persius, and Musonius of the powerful ethical preacher Epictetus.

Lucius Annæus Seneca. Lucius Annæus Seneca, the son of the rhetor Seneca, whose work on the oratorical teachers of the period of Augustus and the subsequent years has already been mentioned, was born at Corduba, in Spain, about the beginning of the Christian era, but was educated in Rome, where he studied under Sotion, the Stoic Attalus, and a follower of the Sextii, Papirius Fabianus, besides attending schools of rhetoric. His mother, Helvia, was a lady of noble birth, whose sister married Vitrasius Pollio, who was for some years governor of Egypt. Seneca appears to have spent some time in Egypt with his aunt, through whose influence he obtained the quæstorship after his return to Rome, at some time between 42 and 37 A. D. A speech which he delivered in the senate nearly caused his death by arousing the jealousy of Caligula in 39 A. D. In 41 A. D. he was banished to Corsica through the influence of Messalina, on the charge of too great intimacy with Julia Livilla, Caligula’s younger sister. Such stories were circulated about all the members of the imperial family, and we have now no means of knowing whether there was any truth in the charge against Seneca and Livilla. Probably the real reason for Seneca’s banishment was his connection with the faction of Agrippina. At any rate,[Pg 178] Agrippina recalled him from Corsica eight years later, after the execution of Messalina, obtained for him the prætorship, and made him tutor to her son Domitius Nero. His influence over his young pupil was so great that when Nero came to the throne, Seneca, with the aid of his friend Afranius Burrus, commander of the prætorian guards, directed the imperial government. He restrained the ferocity of Nero and checked the ambition and vengefulness of Agrippina. Owing to his influence the early years of Nero’s reign were long remembered as a period of rest and peace at Rome. But Seneca obtained and held his influence in great measure by yielding consent to Nero’s wishes, even when they were opposed to his better judgment or his conscience. He was probably privy to the murder of Claudius, by which Nero became emperor, there is no indication that he opposed the murder of Germanicus in 55 A. D., and he probably had some connection with the murder of Agrippina in 59 A. D. It is natural that in spite of his remarkable intellectual and social gifts, he was unable to maintain his moral ascendency over the emperor. With the death of Burrus, in 62 A. D., Seneca’s power was broken. He recognized the fact, withdrew so far as he could from the life of the court, and in 64 A. D. offered to give up his great wealth. But his retirement did not save him from Nero’s cruelty, and in 65 A. D. he was accused of sharing in the conspiracy of Piso and compelled to commit suicide.

Seneca’s philosophy did not forbid him to have a share of worldly wealth and honors. At the height of his prosperity he was immensely wealthy, possessing estates in Italy and abroad, and having money out at interest as far away as Britain. His total wealth was estimated at more than $15,000,000. He held all the regular offices, attaining the consulship in 57 A. D. Of his private life little is known. He was twice married,[Pg 179] His first wife bore him at least two sons, one of whom died shortly before his father’s banishment. His second wife, Pompeia Paulina, whom he married in 57 A. D., wished to commit suicide at the time of her husband’s death, but was prevented by Nero.

Seneca was an extremely voluminous writer, and though many of his works are lost, those that remain still exceed in bulk the extant works of almost any other ancient writer. Seneca’s tragedies. They comprise tragedies, philosophical treatises, a satire on the death of Claudius, and a few epigrams. The exact dates of individual works can be established only in comparatively few instances, and no attempt will be made here to treat them in chronological order. Since, however, it is probably that the tragedies are works of his earlier years, they may be mentioned first. Nine of these are extant.91 The subjects are all derived from Greek mythology, and had all been used as the subjects of tragedies by Greek dramatists. No originality of plot is therefore to be expected in Seneca’s tragedies. Nor is there any great originality of treatment. Seneca imitates Euripides and some of the later Greek tragic poets, not simply translating their work, yet inventing few if any new situations, and differing from the Greek dramatists chiefly in his greater realism and his declamatory rhetoric. In fact, his tragedies are a succession of speeches, hardly interrupted by choral songs, which differ from the speeches of the actors chiefly in metre. In themselves these tragedies are feeble imitations and perversions of their Greek prototypes, though in them, as in his other works, Seneca shows great mastery of language and vigor of expression; but their real importance to the modern [Pg 180]reader is due to their great influence upon the English dramatists of the sixteenth century and upon the whole course of the French classical drama. At a time when Latin was far more familiar than Greek these tragedies were regarded as the highest expression of ancient dramatic art, and were studied and imitated by the dramatists of the modern nations.

The best known among them is, perhaps, the Medea. In this play, as in the Medea of Euripides, the part of the myth is treated in which Jason deserts his wife Medea to marry Creüsa, daughter of Creon, king of Corinth. The Medea. Medea sends her two sons to Creüsa to give her a poisoned robe, which causes her death and that of her father Creon. Then Medea, in order to pain Jason, kills the two children. The following passage is taken from Medea’s reply to her nurse, who urges her to flee when the news is brought that Creon and Creüsa have been killed by the poisoned robe she had sent:

Shall I fly? I? Were I already gone
I would return for this, that I might see
These new betrothals. Dost thou pause, my soul?
This joy’s but the beginning of revenge.
Thou dost but love if thou art satisfied
To widow Jason. Seek new penalties;
Honor is gone and maiden modesty—
It were a light revenge pure hands could yield.
Strengthen thy drooping spirit, stir up wrath,
Drain from thy heart its all of ancient force,
Thy deeds till now call honor; wake, and act,
That they may see how light, how little worth,
All former crime—the prelude of revenge!
What was there great my novice hands could dare?
What was the madness of my girlhood days?
I am Medea now, through sorrow strong.
Rejoice, because through thee thy brother died;
Rejoice, because through thee his limbs were torn,
Through thee thy father lost the golden fleece;
Rejoice, that armed by thee his daughters slew
[Pg 181]
Old Pelias! Seek revenge! No novice hand
Thou bring’st to crime; what wilt thou do; what dart
Let fly against thy hated enemy?
I know not what my maddened spirit plots,
Nor yet dare I confess it to myself!
In folly I made haste—would that my foe
Had children by this other! Mine are his.
We’ll say Creüsa bore them! ’Tis enough;
Through them my heart at last finds full revenge.
My soul must be prepared for this last crime.
Ye who were once my children, mine no more,
Ye pay the forfeit for your father’s crimes.
Awe strikes my spirit and benumbs my hand;
My heart beats wildly; mother-love drives out
Hate of my husband; shall I shed their blood—
My children’s blood? Demented one, rage not,
Be far from thee this crime! What guilt is theirs?
Is Jason not their father?—guilt enough!
And worse, Medea claims them as her sons.
They are not sons of mine, so let them die!
Nay, rather let them perish since they are!
But they are innocent—my brother was!
Fear’st thou? Do tears already mar thy cheek?
Do wrath and love like adverse tides impel
Now here, now there? As when the winds wage war,
And the wild waves against each other smite,
My heart is beaten; duty drives out fear,
As wrath drives duty. Anger dies in love.92

Seneca’s philosophical writings fall naturally into three divisions: the formal treatises on ethical subjects, the twenty books of Ethical Letters (Epistulæ Morales), addressed to Lucilius93, and the Studies of Nature (Quæstiones Naturales), in seven books. Seneca’s philosophical writings. The last-mentioned work, addressed to Lucilius, and written between 57 and 64 A. D., is by no [Pg 182]means a complete treatise on nature. Two books treat of astronomy, two of physical geography, and four of meteorology; for Book IV should properly be divided into two books, one on physical geography, the other on meteorology. These subjects are treated from the point of view of the Stoics, without any original investigation by Seneca, who derives his information entirely from books. The work was very popular in the Middle Ages, but is of no scientific value. Seneca’s chief interest was in ethics, and he uses the phenomena of nature as texts for his ethical views. The formal treatises on ethics discuss such subjects as Anger (De Ira, in three books), The Shortness of Life (De Brevitate Vitæ), Clemency (De Clementia). The Happy Life (De Vita Beata), Consolation (De Consolatione, three independent treatises addressed to different persons), and The Giving and Receiving of Favors (De Beneficiis, an elaborate treatise in seven books). The Letters treat of similar subjects in a somewhat less formal way. These works show that Seneca had studied with great diligence the works of previous writers on such subjects, especially those of the Stoics, though the writings of Epicureans had been by no means neglected. The moral teaching is, in the main, sound and wise, but there is little originality of thought. The style is vigorous and effective, though artificial and rhetorical; but these latter qualities were so natural to Seneca, in common with other writers of his day, that they do not detract from the sincerity of the sentiments expressed. Seneca is the most complete exponent of the Stoic philosophy as it developed at Rome. He is not so much a speculative thinker as a giver of practical advice for the conduct of life. Like most, if not all, the Roman Stoics, he is a preacher and teacher; and as such he is of the highest interest and importance. His works were much read in his own time and in the years immediately following, though Quintilian and others who wished to[Pg 183] revive the Latin of Cicero found fault with their style. Their popularity continued unabated for centuries, and their high moral tone led to the belief that Seneca was a Christian. This belief was strengthened by the composition, at a comparatively early date, of a series of fourteen letters supposed to have been exchanged between Seneca and the Apostle Paul. These letters are, however, obviously forgeries, and possess no literary merit. Seneca’s influence did not die with the death of the ancient civilization, but has continued even to our own times, and is very marked in the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

In the Apocolocyntosis Seneca appears as a political satirist. The title may be translated Pumpkinification, for the word is made from the Greek apotheosis, with the word for “pumpkin” substituted for the word meaning “god.” This joke does not, however, appear in the pamphlet itself. The Apocolocyntosis. The Emperor Claudius, who had just died, is supposed to arrive at Olympus and claim admittance among the gods. The gods hold a meeting, at which Augustus speaks against the admission of Claudius, who is finally sent off to Hades, where he is met by those whom he has unjustly put to death. This is the only extant specimen of a complete Menippean Satire, a work written in prose for the most part, but containing also metrical portions. For that reason it has a certain interest, but its literary merit is slight. Nor are Seneca’s epigrams of any great importance. They are merely such verses as any cultivated man of letters like Seneca can write when the occasion offers.

The age of Seneca produced no great poets, and few whose works have survived. Persius. The earliest of these is Aulus Persius Flaccus, who was born at Volaterræ, December 4, 34 A. D., and died at the age of twenty-eight, November 24, 62 A. D. At the age of twelve, Persius left his native town for Rome,[Pg 184] where he attended various schools, among them that of the grammarian Remmius Palæmon. At the age of sixteen he attached himself to the Stoic Cornutus and became an enthusiastic adherent of the Stoic school. He was acquainted with many of the distinguished men of the time, among them Seneca and the epic poet Lucan. He was related to Arria, the wife of Pætus Thrasea, and his intimacy with Thrasea and his family doubtless strengthened his interest in the Stoic philosophy; for Thrasea was one of the many noble Romans who found in the Stoic doctrines some moral support amid the vice and corruption of their degenerate times. Persius belonged to a family of equestrian rank, and at his death left a large property. His library he left to Cornutus, who edited his poems, consisting of six Satires. Persius had written some notes of travel and a tragedy of the kind called prætexta, but these were not published. In the first satire he attacks the literary production of the time, and the prevailing love of notoriety. This is a real satire, in imitation of those of Lucilius or, rather, of Horace. In the remaining poems Persius discourses on subjects drawn from the doctrines of the Stoics. The second satire treats of prayer, the third of the contradiction between our conduct and what we know is right, the fourth of self-knowledge; in the fifth Persius gratefully praises Cornutus, who had trained him in Stoic philosophy, and passes on to describe true freedom, which delivers men from the tyranny of the passions; in the sixth he addresses his friend, the poet Cæsius Bassus, speaks of his own pleasant life in retirement at Luna, and discusses the true use of this world’s goods.

The poems of Persius were much admired by his contemporaries, and later generations, even throughout the Middle Ages, read them and wrote commentaries upon them. This admiration was due to the moral and ethical contents of the poems, though the style also no doubt[Pg 185] pleased the perverted taste of the poet’s own times. But neither the contents nor the style merits admiration. Quality of the poems of Persius. Persius was a young man of little originality, who expressed in his poems only what he learned from his teachers. The Stoic doctrines he teaches are trite, even the examples he cites being derived from books, not from his own experience; and the style has all the faults of the period. Persius had studied Horace with diligence, and his poems are full of Horatian words and phrases, but they have nothing of the grace and charm of Horace. Persius aims at striking expressions and novelty of form. He therefore avoids as much as possible all that is natural, employs unusual words in unnatural order, and succeeds in being obscure without being profound. Few authors have so undeservedly gained long-enduring reputation.

A far abler poet was Marcus Annæus Lucanus, the nephew of Seneca. He was born at Corduba in 39 A. D., but was taken to Rome when only eight months old. Lucan. There he was well-educated, especially in rhetoric, and acquired a reputation as a declaimer in Greek and Latin. One of his teachers was the philosopher Cornutus, and among his friends was Persius, whom he admired greatly. He went to Athens to complete his education, and was called back to Rome by Nero, who made him one of his circle of friends. In 60 A. D. he wrote a poem in praise of Nero, which led to his political advancement. But Nero’s favor was short-lived, either because Lucan was guilty of some impoliteness in public declaiming, or because Nero was jealous of his reputation as a poet, and forbade him to write or recite. Lucan joined the conspiracy of Piso, and was forced to commit suicide, April 30, 65 A. D.

Lucan wrote several works, chiefly in verse, but the only, one extant is an epic poem in ten books, entitled De Bello Civili (On the Civil War), ordinarily called[Pg 186] Pharsalia, in which he tells the story of the civil war to the time when Cæsar was besieged at Alexandria. The Pharsalia. The narrative is prosaic and somewhat dull, but the tedium is relieved by vivid descriptions and really eloquent speeches. The chief historical source is Livy, though other writers seem to have been consulted. Some inaccuracies detract from the historical value of the poem. The diction is in the main Virgilian, though it is evident that Lucan had studied Horace and Ovid. Geographical and mythological lore is sometimes needlessly displayed, and the author’s rhetorical training and ability are too evident. In Books I-III Lucan is still friendly to Nero, whom he flatters in Book I, 33-66, though throughout the entire work Cæsar, the founder of the empire, is the constant object of the poet’s hostility. In the first three books Pompey is the hero, and Cato and Brutus are spoken of with admiration. The opposition to Cæsar does not, however in Lucan’s case, indicate hostility to the empire and a desire to return to the republican form of government; in fact, Lucan’s participation in the conspiracy of Piso, which had for its purpose the overthrow of Nero and the substitution of a good emperor in his place, shows that he accepted the imperial form of government as the only one possible. As a specimen of Lucan’s spirit, and of the speeches which lend brilliancy to his pages, we may take the address of Cato to the Roman soldiers of Pompey’s army in Egypt after Pompey’s death, when the army was on the point of joining Cæsar:

So for no higher cause you waged your wars?
You, too, youths, fought for masters, and you were
No Roman force, but only Pompey’s band?
Since not for royalty you’re toiling now,
Since for yourselves, not for your leaders’ gain
You live and die, since not for any man
You seek to gain the world, since now for you
[Pg 187]
’Tis safe to conquer, you shrink back from wars,
And seek a yoke to press your empty necks,
And know not how to live without a king!
Yet now you have a cause worth risk for men.
Your blood could be for Pompey shed in streams,
And do you now refuse your country’s call
For lives and swords when liberty is nigh?
Of three lords Fortune now has left but one.
O shame! The royal palace of the Nile
And Parthian soldier’s bow have more than you
Upheld the Roman laws. Go now, despise
The merit Ptolemy by arms has won!
Degenerate soldiers! Who will think that e’er
Your hands were red with any battle’s blood?
He will believe you quickly turned your backs
In flight before him; he will think that you
Fled first from dire Philippi’s Thracian field.
So go in safety! You have saved your lives,
In Cæsar’s judgment, not subdued by arms,
Nor yet by siege. O base, unmanly slaves!
Your former master dead, go to his heir!
Why will you not earn more than life and more
Than pardon? Let great Pompey’s wretched wife
And let Metellus’ offspring o’er the waves
Be borne in chains; take captive Pompey’s sons;
Let Ptolemy’s deserts be less than yours!
My own head, too, whoever brings and gives
The hateful tyrant, reaps no mean reward.
Those men will know by my head’s price that they
Served no mean standard when they followed mine.
Then come, and by great slaughter gain deserts.
Mere flight is a base crime.94

Lucan is certainly the chief poet of the time of Nero. Less important is Titus Calpurnius Siculus, the author of seven Eclogues in imitation of Virgil and Theocritus. Calpurnius. Formerly eleven eclogues were attributed to him, but it is now evident that he was the author of only seven, the remainder being probably the [Pg 188]work of Nemesianus, who lived in the first half of the third century. The Eclogues of Calpurnius are close imitations of those of Virgil, but are far inferior to their prototypes. They are attractive, but so much less attractive than Virgil’s Eclogues that they are little read. A poem In Praise of Piso (De Laude Pisonis) is attributed with great probability to Calpurnius. The Piso whose praise is sung is without doubt Calpurnius Piso, the rich and influential man who headed the conspiracy against Nero and committed suicide in 65 A. D. This poem is full of imitations of Virgil, Ovid, and Horace. Other poems. The poem entitled Ætna (see p. 141) and many of the anonymous poems preserved in manuscripts, some of which are not without merit, are to be ascribed to this period. The prætexta entitled Octavia, preserved among Seneca’s tragedies, undoubtedly belongs to a slightly later time, as Seneca and Nero appear in it. So far as its style is concerned, it might almost be by Seneca, though the rhetoric displayed is somewhat less effective than that of Seneca’s tragedies. The play is interesting, chiefly because it is the only extant play of its class. Only a few unimportant fragments remain of the tragedies by the distinguished general, Publius Pomponius Secundus.

A work of unique interest is the novel by Petronius. Petronius. This author is without much doubt identical with the Gaius Petronius, who was proconsul of Bithynia and afterwards consul, whom Nero admitted to his friendship and regarded as the arbiter elegantiæ or judge of good taste, but who was accused by Tigellinus in 66 A. D., and committed suicide to avoid execution. The novel, known as Satiræ, originally consisted of some twenty books, and contained an account of the adventures of a Greek freedman, Encolpius, as told by himself. The adventures were strung together with no plot, except as the wrath of the god Priapus (a parody of the wrath of Poseidon in Homer’s Odyssey) may have[Pg 189] served as a plot to some extent. The extant parts are from the fifteenth and sixteenth books. The form is that of a Menippean Satire, prose and verse in combination, but the longer parts are exclusively in prose.

The chief of these is the Cena Trimalchionis (Trimalchio’s Banquet), the description of an elaborate entertainment given by a rich and purse-proud freedman, Trimalchio. Trimalchio’s banquet. The scene of the banquet is laid at Cumæ, or Puteoli. The house is large and full of costly things, but shows utter lack of taste. Trimalchio himself is a fat old fellow, who comes to the dinner after all the guests have been seated for some time. He informs them that it was inconvenient for him to come, but that he did not wish to disappoint them. At first he plays checkers with an attendant, but presently takes part in the feast and the conversation. The first course brought in is a wooden fowl sitting on eggs, which prove to be made of paste, and to contain finely seasoned birds. When a silver dish falls on the floor, Trimalchio orders it to be swept up with the rubbish. Another course consists of a great boar, out of which, when it is cut open by a slave in hunting costume, fly live thrushes. Again a roast pig is cut open, and sausages of all kinds fall out. The entertainment has other than gastronomical surprises, for a troupe of Homeric actors appear and perform scenes of the Trojan War, speaking in Greek. At the end of their performance a boiled calf is brought in, and the actor who takes the part of Ajax hacks it with his sword in imitation of the attack made by Ajax in his madness upon the cattle at Troy, and offers the astonished guests pieces of meat on his sword point. Acrobats also come in, and when one of them falls from a ladder upon Trimalchio, he is at once freed from slavery, lest it be said that so great a man as Trimalchio was injured by a slave. Presently the ceiling rolls apart, and a great hoop is let down, upon which are[Pg 190] jars of perfumes as keepsakes for the guests. All these astonishing performances are made more amusing by the naive pride of Trimalchio, who prates much of his great wealth, and exhibits his ignorance by trying to make a show of learning. One of the guests tells a ghost story and another a tale of an adventure with a werewolf. Further excitement is caused by a fight between a fat little dog brought by Trimalchio’s friend, the stone-cutter Habinnas, and a large dog belonging to Trimalchio. The slaves then take part in the banquet, Trimalchio has his will read, and all weep. After a bath, the company passes to a second dining-room. Here Trimalchio has a furious quarrel with his wife, who is jealous of a favorite slave boy. Trimalchio finally has his grave-clothes brought in, and lies down as if dead, ordering his horn-blowers to play funereal music. The noise is so great that the police, thinking something is the matter, break into the house, whereupon the guests escape. All this, with many more details of the lavish and tasteless expenditure, the pride of the vulgar Trimalchio, and the absurd features of the banquet, is described with much satirical humor. The language of the narrative is refined, evidently that of a highly cultivated man. Trimalchio, however, and some of the other characters speak the popular dialect of southern Italy, which contains many words strange to literary Latin. Their speech is not without mistakes in grammar, and is full of proverbs, like the speech of Sancho Panza in Don Quixote.

Among the poems contained in the novel, the longest, entitled De Bello Civili (On the Civil War), consists of two hundred and ninety-five hexameters, in imitation of Lucan, with touches of parody; the next in length is the Troiæ Halosis (Capture of Troy), in sixty-five senarii, probably a parody of Nero’s poem of the same title. The novel of Petronius is, in some places, extremely indecent, but is interesting on account of the specimens of popular[Pg 191] speech it contains, and still more, as the only known example of the satirical novel in Latin. It is, moreover, full of wit and humor, and shows keen observation and much knowledge of human nature as well as of literature. The loss of the greater part of the work is greatly to be regretted.

The only extant historical work of this period is the History of Alexander the Great (De Gestis Alexandri Magni), by Quintus Curtius Rufus, of whose personality nothing is known, but who seems to have written under Claudius. Quintus Curtius. The work originally consisted of ten books, the first two of which are lost. The style is modelled upon that of Livy, and is clear and simple for the most part, though not entirely free from the affectation of elegance customary at the time. Some of the descriptions and speeches are exceptionally fine. Curtius is not a critical historian, and follows Greek authorities selected without much attention to their accuracy. Of the other historical works of this period nothing remains. Memoirs. The memoirs composed by various more or less important persons are also lost. Among them may be mentioned those of the Empress Agrippina and of the generals Gnæus Domitius Corbulo, who was consul suffectus in 39 A. D., and was put to death by Nero in 86 A. D., and Suetonius Paulinus, who was twice consul, once soon after 42, and again in 66 A. D.

Many scientific treatises were written at this time, as in the previous period, but two only are extant: the treatise On Agriculture (De Re Rustica), by Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella, and the Geography (Chorographia), by Pomponius Mela. Columella. Columella was born at Gades (Cadiz), and served in the army in Syria. He possessed land in Italy, and in his work he has the agriculture of Italy chiefly in mind. The work is divided into twelve books, and is the most complete ancient[Pg 192] treatise on agriculture extant—more complete than those of Cato and Varro. It is written in a simple and dignified style, more like the prose of the Augustan period than the artificial rhetoric of most contemporary writings. In this respect Columella is a precursor of the classical revival under the Flavian emperors. The tenth book, on gardening, is written in hexameters, to serve as a fifth book of Virgil’s Georgics, because Virgil had hardly touched upon this branch of his subject.95 The entire work is dedicated to Publius Silvinus, and it was due to a suggestion from him and another friend that the tenth book was written in verse. Columella’s verse is simple and classical, but is greatly inferior to that of Virgil, and less admirable than his prose. Mela. Mela, like Columella, was a Spaniard. His native place was Tingentera. His three books on geography were written soon after 40 A. D., and form the earliest systematic treatise on the subject extant. The style is far inferior to that of Columella, for Mela writes in the affected manner of his times. The work is enlivened by descriptions of peoples, places, and customs, and is valuable as a source of information, since it is based upon good authorities.

Historical explanations of five orations of Cicero by Quintus Asconius Pedianus (about 3-88 A. D.) are preserved in a fragmentary condition. Various writers. They show great care and diligence, and are written in simple classical style. Of other works by Asconius some fragments are preserved in the commentary of Servius on Virgil. The works of the orators of this period are all lost, as are the legal writings of Proculus and Gaius Cassius Longinus (consul in 30 A. D.), who continued the schools of Labeo and Capito. The most important grammarian of this time was Marcus

[Pg 193]

Probus.Valerius Probus, of Berytus, to whom Jerome assigns the date 56 A. D. He prepared and published editions of Terence, Lucretius, Virgil, Horace, and Persius, paying attention to various readings, punctuation, and the like, and commenting upon the text. He also wrote grammatical treatises, though the grammar preserved under his name is not his work. His only extant works are a list of abbreviations and parts of the commentaries on Virgil.

[Pg 194]



Vespasian, 69-79 A. D.—Titus, 79-81 A. D.—Domitian, 81-96 A. D.—Valerius Flaccus, died about 90 A. D.—Silius Italicus, 25-101 A. D.—Statius, about 40 to about 95 A. D.—The father of Statius, about 15-80 A. D.—Saleius Bassus, about 70 A. D.—Curiatius Maternus, about 70 A. D.—Martial, about 40 to about 104 A. D.—Pliny the elder, 23-79 A. D.—Frontinus, prætor 70 A. D.—Quintilian, about 35 to about 100 A. D.

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The death of Nero was followed by a year of disorder, in which Galba, Otho, and Vitellius were successively raised to the highest power, overthrown, and killed. The Flavian emperors. But the terror which had brooded over Rome in the latter years of Nero’s rule passed away with the coming of the Flavian emperors. Vespasian (69-79 A. D.) and Titus (79-81 A. D.) were firm but gentle rulers. Both were chiefly known as brave soldiers and able generals, but neither was uncultured or without literary interests. Vespasian wrote memoirs and Titus composed in 76 A. D. a poem on a comet. Their interest in literature and intellectual pursuits was, however, exhibited less by their own productions than in other ways. Vespasian was liberal to poets and artists; he paid attention to dramatic performances; he caused the three thousand bronze tablets destroyed in the burning of the capitol to be replaced by copies; and provided for the payment of rhetors, or instructors in oratory, by the state, being thus the first to establish a system of public education. The banishment of philosophers and astrologers during his reign was due to the reactionary politics of the philosophers, not to any opposition to philosophy on his part. Domitian (81-96 A. D.) was a very different character. Before his accession to the imperial power he exhibited a taste for poetry which led the writers of the day to flatter him as if he were one of the greatest of poets; but when he became emperor he relinquished all literary pursuits. No works by him are mentioned except a poem on the battle that took place at the capitol in 69 A. D. and a treatise on the care of the hair, a subject in which he was interested on account of his baldness. Nevertheless he restored the libraries which had been burned, and instituted public games in which dramatists, poets, and orators took part. But his jealousy and cruelty were greater than his literary interests. Twice, in 89 and 93 A. D., the philosophers and astrologers were banished from Rome, and though these acts may be excused on the ground of political expediency, no such excuse can be found for the cruelty which led him to persecute authors and put them to death on the flimsiest pretexts. The last years of his reign were a period of terror for men of letters even more than for his other subjects.

Under Vespasian, the mad terror of the reign of Nero was succeeded by a period of calm. In literature also greater dignity and better taste succeeds to the exaggerated rhetoric of the preceding years. The writers of the Flavian period—the so-called Silver Age of Roman literature—revert to the manner of the great Augustan writers. Tacitus alone develops a style of marked originality, and Tacitus is the only really great writer of this period. The others, foremost among whom are Quintilian, Statius, and the elder Pliny, show learning and judgment, but not genius.

The earliest poet of the Flavian epoch is Gaius Valerius Flaccus, whose only known work is an epic poem entitled Argonautica, on the adventures of Jason and his comrades in quest of the golden fleece. A reference to the capture of Jerusalem by Titus shows that the[Pg 196] earlier part of the poem was written not long after 70 A. D., and the mention of the eruption of Vesuvius proves that Valerius Flaccus. it was not completed until after 79 A. D. The poet died shortly before 90 A. D. Further than this nothing is known of his life. The story of the Argonautic expedition was told in the Argonautica of the Greek poet Apollonius Rhodius in the third century B. C., and Valerius Flaccus imitates Apollonius in his general treatment of the subject, sometimes even translating his words; but he amplifies some scenes which Apollonius had treated briefly and adds some new elements to the tale, while on the other hand he omits much of the superfluous learning displayed by Apollonius and narrates briefly parts of the story which the Greek poet had told at greater length. In general, when Valerius changes the treatment of Apollonius the change is for the better. For instance, in the Latin poem, when Jason reaches Colchis, he finds Æetes hard pressed by a hostile army, and receives from him the promise of the golden fleece in return for his assistance in the war. When the enemy is defeated Æetes breaks his promise, and Jason is thus justified in accepting the aid of Medea and her magic arts. Nothing of all this is to be found in Apollonius, and the Roman poet has made a decided addition to the plot of the story. Valerius pays more attention to character painting than Apollonius, and is especially successful in making the characters of Æetes and Jason stand out in strong relief. His description of the mental struggles of Medea, torn between her love for Jason and her duty to her father and her country, is far more effective than that of Apollonius or even than Virgil’s description of Dido’s love for Æneas, which is founded upon Apollonius. In diction Valerius imitates Virgin, though his style is far less simple and clear than Virgil’s, and in the treatment of many episodes of the poem he copies Virgil’s[Pg 197] treatment of similar themes; the work shows also the influence of Ovid and of Seneca’s tragedies. In its present condition the Argonautica breaks off in the eighth book, leaving the tale incomplete; but whether the remainder of the poem is lost or was never written can not be determined.

Silius Italicus, whose whole name was Tiberius Cattius Silius Italicus, chose for the subject of his epic a Roman theme, the second Punic War. Silius Italicus. He was born in 25 A. D. and starved himself to death on account of an incurable disease in 101 A. D. He is said to have been an informer (delator) under Nero, but rose to the consulship in 68 A. D., and was afterwards governor of Asia under Vespasian. The latter part of his life was spent in honorable retirement in Campania. Here he devoted himself to literature and wrote the seventeen books of the Punica, in which he tells the story of the second Punic War to the decisive battle of Zama, in 202 B. C. His historical information is derived from Livy, and is therefore correct in all essential matters. The events of the war are described in chronological order. The style is an imitation of Homer and Virgil, and the imitation extends to more than mere style, for the traditional epic machinery of gods, prophecies, heroes, and the like, is employed as freely as if the second Punic War were as mythical as the adventures of Æneas. So Juno strives to give Hannibal the victory, while Venus aids the Romans. The sea-god Proteus foretells the course of the war to a Carthaginian fleet, and Hannibal, with his crested helmet, his sword, and his spear “fatal to thousands,” rages about the walls of Saguntum like Achilles at the siege of Troy. In short, Silius, having no poetic inspiration or imagination of his own, uses in his account of the Punic War the methods which had been appropriately applied to the myths of earlier days by Homer and Virgil. As a result, the[Pg 198] Punica, though written in good hexameters, is hopelessly dull and uninteresting. The so-called Homerus Latinus, or Ilias Latina, an epitome of the Iliad in one thousand and seventy hexameters, is attributed to the earlier years of Silius Italicus. It attained considerable popularity, but is a work of little merit.

The most eminent poet of this period was Publius Papinius Statius. Statius. He was born at Naples, probably about 40 A. D., but spent most of his life at Rome, though he returned to Naples, probably in 94 A. D. The last date to which reference is made in his poems is 95 A. D. His father was of a distinguished but not wealthy family, and attained some distinction as a poet and teacher, first at Naples, and later at Rome, where Domitian was among his pupils. He had intended to write a poem on the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A. D., but was prevented by death, which must therefore have come upon him about 80 A. D. From him Statius received his early education and his first impulse toward poetry. Statius won prizes for poetry at the Augustalia at Naples, and at Alba, but failed to win a prize at the Capitolia in Rome. This was probably in 94 A. D., and his retirement to Naples may have been due to his disappointment. He was married to a widow named Claudia, who had a daughter by her former husband; but Statius had no children of his own. Domitian regarded him with favor, gave him a supply of running water for his country house at Alba, and invited him to his table. These few details of his life are derived from his poems, chiefly from a poem in honor of his father’s memory, which is published as the third in the fifth book of the Silvæ.

The chief work of Statius is the Thebais, an epic poem in twelve books, the subject of which is the strife between the two sons of Œdipus, Eteocles and Polynices, and the legendary history of Thebes to the death of[Pg 199] Creon. This work occupied the poet for twelve years, probably about 80-92 A. D. Works of Statius. His other extant works are the Silvæ, a collection of shorter poems on various subjects, divided into five books, and the Achilleis. None of the poems contained in the Silvæ appears to have been written before 91 or 92 A. D., and the fifth book, which has no preface and which contains some incomplete poems, was probably published after the poet’s death. The Achilleis was to be an account of the life of Achilles, embracing the story of the Trojan War, but it breaks off in the second book, before Achilles reaches Troy. The only lost works of Statius to which any reference exists are a pantomime entitled Agave, and an epic on Domitian’s German war; but the latter work was probably never completed.

Statius was an ardent admirer of Virgil, and the Thebais is an elaborate imitation of the Æneid. The Thebais. Not only Virgil’s language is imitated, but the division of the poem into twelve books, the general chronological sequence of events, the arrangement by which the scenes of combat begin with the seventh book, and the treatment of many individual scenes are adopted from the Æneid. The subject of the Thebais had been treated by many previous poets, and Statius could find the story in various mythological handbooks. It is therefore not certain, though not improbable, that he followed the version given by Antimachus in his Thebais, written in the fifth century B. C. Statius is not a great epic poet. He lacks the sense of proportion and has little dramatic power, in spite of the fact that he evidently aims at dramatic effect. He excels in descriptions and similes, but devotes far too much space to each; his similes especially become wearisome. The entire poem lacks the charm of true poetic inspiration. It is learned and correct, but artificial, imitative, and[Pg 200] tedious. One of the briefest of the powerful descriptions in the Thebais, and one which shows Statius’s liking for what is horrible and painful, is that of Œdipus, when he hears of the death of his sons and comes forth to lament over their bodies:

But when their father heard the tale of crime,
He rushed from the deep shadows where he dwelt,
And on the cruel threshold brought to view
His half-dead form; his hoary locks unkempt
Were vile with ancient filth, and stiff with gore
The hair that veiled his Fury-driven head;
His mouth and cheeks were sunken deep, and clots
Of blood were remnants of his torn-out eyes.96

The Achilleis has much the same good and bad qualities as the Thebais, and is less wearisome only because it is less long. The Achilleis and the Silvæ. In the Silvæ Statius shows to better advantage. These occasional poems were evidently written for the most part in haste. In fact Statius says in his preface to the first book that none of the poems contained in it occupied him more than two days, and one of these poems contains 277 lines. The poems were written chiefly to please some noble or wealthy patron, and the subjects are in many cases trivial, such as a parrot, a fine bath-house, or a beautiful tree belonging to the person addressed. Such works call for little poetic fervor, but merely for skill in writing verses, and that Statius possessed in remarkable measure. Nearly all the poems are in hexameters, only six, among them one in celebration of Lucan’s birthday, being in other metres. There is more or less padding in the poems; invocations of the Muses or of gods take up considerable space, and mythological allusions are needlessly multiplied; but these things are excusable in a poet who writes to order to please a patron. Of all the poems of Statius the most pleasing is one of only nine[Pg 201]teen lines addressed to Sleep, the “youth, most gentle of the gods.” The wakeful poet begs Sleep to come, but does not ask him to spread all his wings over his eyes, but merely to touch him with his wand, or pass lightly over him. The Thebais and the Achilleis attained immediate popularity, and continued to be much read and admired in the Middle Ages; but modern times have reversed the former judgment, and such admiration as is still accorded to Statius is given him on account of the Silvæ.

The epics of Saleius Bassus and of Statius’s father, both of whom wrote under Vespasian, have disappeared, as have the tragedies and orations of Curiatius Maternus, who lived at the same time. Other poets. The lyric poet, Arruntius Stella, and the poetess, Sulpicia, wrote under Domitian, but their works also are lost, for the extant short poem attributed to Sulpicia is a product of a later time. The only Flavian poet, besides Valerius Flaccus, Silius Italicus, and Statius, whose works remain, is Martial.

Marcus Valerius Martialis was born at Bilbilis, in the northeastern part of Spain, on the first of March, about 40 A. D. Martial. His parents, Fronto and Flacilla, gave him the usual grammatical and rhetorical education at Bilbilis, or some neighboring town, and in 64 A. D. he went to Rome, where he became a client or hanger-on of the family of Seneca, and some other important families. He may have practised law for a time, but lived chiefly from the bounty of his patrons. The ius trium liberorum granted him by Titus, was ratified by Domitian. He received the title of tribune, which carried with it equestrian rank. He owned a small country estate near Nomemtum, perhaps a gift from Argentaria Polla, Lucan’s widow; and at one time he had a house of his own at Rome and kept some slaves. Still he can never have been rich, for he complains constantly of poverty. In 98 A. D. he returned to Spain, and died in[Pg 202] his native place not later than 104 A. D., for the younger Pliny, in a letter written about that date, speaks of his recent death.

Martial’s poems comprise fourteen books of epigrams, the last two books of which, consisting of lines intended to accompany xenia and apophoreta, gifts which it was customary to present to friends at the Saturnalia, were not published as books by their author. One book of Spectacula celebrates the theatrical performances and other shows in which the Romans delighted; the remaining books are Epigrammata, each book revised and published with an introduction by the author. The longest poem contains fifty-one lines, the shortest consists of one hexameter. Most of the poems are in elegiac verse, but many are in hendecasyllables, and a few other metres occur. Martial is the master of epigram. His verses are sententious and to the point, often bitter, not infrequently indecent, but never stilted, dull, or unnatural. In an age of many imitative poets, Martial was original. This does not mean that no traces of imitation are to be found in his poems, for his obligations to Catullus are evident and frankly acknowledged, while the influence of Virgil, Ovid, and Juvenal is plainly to be seen; but his pointed wit, his candor, and his sententious brevity are his own. He has no lofty poetic inspiration, and exhibits no greater height of character than what is needed to let him see and acknowledge his own limitations. In spite of the bitterness of many of his verses, he seems to have been a man of genial nature. He was a friend of Silius Italicus, Quintilian, the younger Pliny, and Juvenal, but does not mention Statius by name, though his sneers at epic poets are probably directed against him. The younger Pliny says of him: “He was a talented, acute, and spirited man, whose writings are full of wit and gall, and not less candor.”97

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Martial is not to be ranked among great poets, but his ability to express well-defined thoughts in brief, sententious, pointed words, has made his epigrams the models for all later times. The following lines commemorate the death of Arria, who, when her husband Pætus was ordered to kill himself, showed him the way:

The poniard, with her life-blood dyed,
When Arria to her Pætus gave,
“’Twere painless, my beloved,” she cried,
“If but my death thy life could save.”98

Another brief epigram is on some fishes, supposed to be the work of the great sculptor Phidias:

These fishes Phidias wrought; with life by him
They are endowed; add water and they swim.99

These lines also refer to a work of art:

That lizard on the goblet makes thee start.
Fear not; it lives only by Mentor’s art.100

The daily life of Rome is described in the following lines:

Visits consume the first, the second hour;
When comes the third, hoarse pleaders show their power;
At four to business Rome herself betakes;
At six she goes to sleep, by seven she wakes;
By nine well breathed from exercise we rest,
And in the banquet hall the couch is pressed.
Now, when thy skill, greatest of cooks, has spread
The ambrosial feast, let Martial’s rhymes be read,
With mighty hand while Cæsar holds the bowl,
When drafts of nectar have relaxed his soul.
Now trifles pass. My giddy Muse would fear
Jove to approach in morning mood severe.101

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Among the many learned writers of this period the most important is the elder Pliny. Pliny the elder. Gaius Plinius Secundus was born at Novum Comum, in northern Italy, in 23 A. D. At an early age he went to Rome, where he came under the influence of Pomponius Secundus, whose example may have led him to combine public service with diligent study and authorship. Pliny’s life was passed in the service of the state. He was an officer in the cavalry, serving in Germany and perhaps also in Syria; he was a trusted counsellor and agent of Vespasian, and held at different times the important post of procurator or governor in several provinces. His nephew mentions especially his procuratorship in Spain. These various and important official duties did not, however, withdraw Pliny’s mind from his studies. When he was carried in the litter through the streets in the evening, after his official duties were performed, while he was bathing, and at his meals, he read or was read to constantly. He believed that no book was so poor as not to contain something worth recording, and therefore he took notes of all he read. At his death he left one hundred and sixty rolls of manuscript notes, closely written on both sides. With all this reading Pliny was not a mere bookworm, but a practical man of affairs and an interested observer of men and things about him. His zeal for knowledge cost him his life; for when the great eruption of Vesuvius took place, in 79 A. D., Pliny, who was in command of the fleet at Misenum, went in a war galley to the neighborhood of the volcano to investigate the strange phenomenon and to aid those in peril, landed, and finally succumbed to the ashes and noxious gases. The description of this event is the most interesting of the letters of his nephew, the younger Pliny.

The result of Pliny’s diligence is seen in his great encyclopædic work, the Natural History, in thirty-seven books. In this he undertakes to describe the whole realm[Pg 205] of nature in a systematic way. The first book consists of a table of contents with a list of the authors consulted. The Natural History. Then follow in order the general mathematical and physical description of the universe, geography and ethnology, anthropology, zoology, botany, and mineralogy. Under mineralogy the uses of metals and stones are described, and this leads to a valuable history of painting and sculpture. The Natural History is written for the most part in a simple, straightforward style, though with occasional lapses from good taste, but it is not a great work of literature. Its importance lies in the information it contains. In the first book, Pliny mentions nearly five hundred authors from whom his information is derived, but as he also speaks of one hundred chosen ones whose works he consulted, it is evident that his authorities fall into two classes. Apparently he really consulted about one hundred, but recorded in the first book the names of other writers to whom his real authorities referred. Pliny is almost the only ancient writer who tries to give much information about the sources of his knowledge, but it is often difficult, if not impossible, even in his case to be sure from what source a particular statement is derived. In general, it is clear that Pliny was a careful worker, and his statements can, as a rule, be accepted as true. The great work was ready for publication in 77 A. D. and was sent to Titus with an interesting preface. But even after this, Pliny continued to add the results of further reading or observation. His death came upon him in the midst of his work. Pliny’s other works. Pliny was also the author of several other works, the most important of which were the History of the German Wars, in twenty books, and a history From the End of the History of Aufidius Bassus, in thirty-one books. Just what period this work embraced is not certain, but the suggestion that each book treated of one[Pg 206] year and that the whole was a history of the years 41-71 A. D. is not improbable. These works, as well as Pliny’s lesser writings, are lost, but they served at least to supply material to Tacitus, who cites the German Wars, and to other historians.

Of the technical writings of this period only two now exist: the Stratagems (Strategemata) and the treatise on the Roman aqueducts (De Aquis Urbis Romæ Libri II), by Sextius Julius Frontinus, a man of some distinction, who was prætor in 70 A. D., consul several times, and was appointed Curator Aquarum, or overseer of the water supply of Rome, in 97 A. D. Frontinus. Various writers. His writings belong rather to the history of technical studies than to that of literature. The names of several authors of memoirs of travels, legal treatises, speeches, histories, and technical writings of various kinds are known to us, but their works are lost or only partially preserved as unsatisfactory fragments. The schools of grammar and rhetoric continued to exist, and many teachers of these subjects enjoyed considerable reputation. The greatest among them, and the only one whose work has survived to modern times, is Quintilian, the last, and in some respects the greatest, of the Spanish writers of Rome.

Marcus Fabius Quintilianus was born at Calagurris, in Spain, about 35 A. D. He was educated at Rome under the most distinguished teachers of the time, and when his education was completed returned to his native place. Quintilian. But in 68 A. D., Galba, who had been governor in Spain before he became emperor, called Quintilian to Rome. Here he became a teacher of rhetoric, and received a salary from the imperial treasury. At the same time he was a prominent barrister, but published only one speech, though others were published without his authority from shorthand reports. He was a man of great influence, and was even raised to the consul[Pg 207]ship by Domitian, who had appointed him tutor of his grandnephews. After teaching for twenty years he gave up his school and devoted himself to the composition of his great work, the Institutio Oratoria. This was published about 93 A. D. An earlier work, On the Reasons for the Decay of Oratory (De Causis Corruptæ Eloquentiæ), is lost. Quintilian’s private life was not free from trouble. He married at an advanced age, but his wife died when only eighteen years old, his younger son soon after at the age of five, and his elder son after a brief interval at the age of nine. When Quintilian died is not known, but he can hardly have lived long after 100 A. D.

The title Institutio Oratoria, given by Quintilian to his work, designates it as a text-book of oratory. Institutio Oratoria. But it is no mere technical treatise on the art of speaking. Quintilian was an enthusiastic lover of his profession, and believed that oratory was the highest expression of human thought and human life. Like Cato, he demanded that the orator be not merely a good speaker, but also, and first of all, a good man. He must also have a general literary education before proceeding to the technical study of oratory.

Owing to this large conception of the qualities of the orator, Quintilian’s great work became a general and very important treatise on education. Its arrangement is as follows: the first book treats of the elements of education and contains many interesting observations upon family life; the fundamental principles of rhetoric are treated in the second book, which carries on the discussion of the purposes and methods of education; the next five books (III-VII) deal exhaustively with the matter of oratory under the main heads of invention and disposition or arrangement, and are for the most part strictly technical; four books (VIII-XI) treat of expression and all that is included in the word style with a discussion of memorizing and delivery; and the last book (XII), now[Pg 208] that the theory of oratory is expounded, reverts to the orator himself, and discusses the moral qualities and the continuous self-discipline which alone can make the orator great.

The technical part of the Institutio Oratoria, is now, since the study of formal rhetoric is no longer an important part of a liberal education, of little interest except to those who make a special study of Roman style and educational theories. Yet even in these books are many wise utterances of permanent value, such as “the price of a laugh is too high when it is purchased at the expense of virtue”;102 or, “a joke at the expense of the wretched is inhuman”;103 or, “it is the spirit and the force of mind that make men eloquent.”104 Such remarks, admirably expressed and inserted in fitting places, make the more technical books of Quintilian’s work even now well worth reading. But the chief interest for the modern reader lies in those parts of the work which have less to do with the special training of the orator, and are more general in their scope—the discussion of elementary education in the first book, the treatise on the larger and broader education of mature life in the last book, and the brief critical survey of Greek and Latin literature in the first chapter of the tenth book.

The theory of education as presented by Quintilian is the result of serious thought. The theory of education. It shows a breadth of view, a reasonableness, and at the same time a loftiness of conception that give its author at once an important position among educational writers. The ethical or moral element in education is especially emphasized. Quintilian, like many others in his day, felt that the standard of morals, of literature, and of oratory was lower than in the days of the republic. But instead of mourning over the decay of

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Roman virtue and taste, Quintilian, seeing that the only cure lay in right education, undertook to show the way to a restoration of the ancient excellence. Tacitus, in his essay on oratory, mentions carelessness of parents and bad education as the chief reason for the decay of eloquence; the same ground had apparently been taken by Quintilian himself in his lost essay on the Decay of Oratory, and in the Institutio Oratoria the attempt is made to show how deterioration may be stopped and the old virtue restored. That others besides Quintilian were seriously interested in reform there is no doubt, and if their efforts met with little success, it is probably in part because they tried to restore the excellence of a time that was past and were unable to regulate the active forces of the present.

As a literary critic Quintilian exhibits the same sanity that characterizes his educational theory. Literary criticism. Since a knowledge of the best literature is necessary for the orator, Quintilian passes in review the chief Greek and Latin writers, and it is interesting to observe that he regards the latter as the equals of the Greeks. He has decided preferences, and gives to Cicero, whom he regards as the equal of Demosthenes, the foremost place among the Romans. Yet he recognizes the merits even of those authors, such as Seneca, whose style he least admires. In brief and admirably expressive words he characterizes the style of the chief writers of Greece and Rome, and his judgment has, in almost every case, remained the judgment of later ages. It is interesting also to note that the works of nearly all those writers whom he mentions as the best have been preserved to our own time, which is an additional proof that the extant works have been preserved for the most part not by mere chance but on account of their intrinsic merit. Quintilian’s admiration for Cicero is evident in his own style. Statius had reverted to the style of Virgil, and[Pg 210] Quintilian goes back to Cicero, discarding the rhetorical excrescences of Seneca and his school. Style. His Latin is classical and beautiful, sometimes equal to that of Cicero himself. He is the foremost representative of the classical reaction of his time. But the reversion to an earlier style, whether in literature or art, has never been permanent, and Quintilian’s influence, great as it undoubtedly was, could not stop the course of that change and decay which was in the end destined to transform the Latin language and bring into being the Romance tongues of modern times.

[Pg 211]



Nerva, 96-98 A. D.—Trajan, 98-117 A. D.—Tacitus, about 55 to about 118 A. D.—Juvenal, 55 (?) to about 135 A. D.—Pliny the younger, 61 or 62 to 112 or 113 A. D.—Other writers.

Under Nerva (96-98 A. D.) and Trajan (98-117 A. D.) freedom of speech and literary utterance, which had been banished under the tyranny of Domitian, were restored. Nerva and Trajan. Nerva and Trajan were educated men. Nothing remains of Nerva’s poems, which led Martial to call him “the Tibullus of our times,” and Trajan’s history of the Dacian War is also, unfortunately, lost. Trajan’s replies to the letters of the younger Pliny show that he could write in a clear, concise, and business-like manner, but exhibit no further literary qualities. He paid attention to the education of the young and founded the Ulpian library, but was not a man of marked literary tastes. Under Nerva and Trajan literature was allowed to take its own course without hindrance and also without that imperial patronage which sometimes stifles free utterance quite as effectually as severity or intimidation. Nevertheless there was little literary production of any importance. There were many writers, but most of them have left not even their names to posterity. The only authors of literary importance under these emperors are Tacitus, Juvenal, and the younger Pliny.

Cornelius Tacitus105 was born, according to such evi[Pg 212]dence as exists, in 55 or 56 A. D. Tacitus. The place of his birth is not recorded, and nothing certain is known of his family; but his education, his career, and his marriage to the daughter of Agricola all combine to indicate that he belonged to a family of some importance. His marriage took place in 78 A. D., one year after the consulship of Agricola. Tacitus began his official career under Vespasian, continued it under Titus, and reached the rank of prætor under Domitian, in 88 A. D. Under Trajan, in 97 A. D., he was appointed consul suffectus, and about 112-116 A. D. he was proconsul of Asia. His death took place probably not long after 117 A. D. He had a great reputation as a public speaker, as is evident from the fact that in 97 or 98 A. D. he delivered the funeral oration over Verginius Rufus, and it was probably due in great measure to his eloquence that in 100 A. D. he and Pliny accomplished the conviction of Marius Priscus, proconsul of Africa, for extortion. It was not without knowledge of public affairs that Tacitus turned to the writing of history, nor was it without practical knowledge of oratory that he wrote the dialogue De Oratoribus.

The works of Tacitus in the order of composition are the Dialogue on Orators (Dialogus de Oratoribus), the dramatic date of which is 75 A. D., while the date of composition is uncertain; the Germania, published in 98 A. D.; the Agricola, written early in the reign of Trajan, probably in 98 A. D.; the Histories, written under Trajan, and apparently not completed much before 110 A. D.; and the Annals, published between 115 and 117 A. D. The Dialogue on Orators is an inquiry into the causes of the decay of oratory. Works of Tacitus.
The Dialogus.
In form it is an imitation of Cicero’s famous dialogue De Oratore, and the style also imitates that of Cicero. In this respect the dialogue is so unlike the later works of Tacitus that his authorship has been denied by many scholars. It must, however, be remem[Pg 213]bered that this is his earliest work, and that the Ciceronian style was taught in the school of Quintilian and no doubt in other schools at Rome, so that an imitation of Cicero was a natural beginning for a young author. Moreover, there are in the dialogue traces of the later style of Tacitus, which is distinguished for its epigrammatic utterances and its frequent use of innuendo. The work may therefore be unhesitatingly ascribed to Tacitus. It is an interesting and attractive dialogue, in which the quiet life of the poet is contrasted with the more active career of the orator before the real subject—the reasons for the decay of oratory—is discussed. The conclusion is reached that oratory has declined partly on account of the faulty rhetorical education in vogue, but still more because the orator no longer has under the imperial government the influence and power that belonged to his predecessors in the days of the republic.

The Agricola (De Vita et Moribus Iulii Agricolæ) is a biography and panegyric of Gnæus Julius Agricola, Tacitus’s father-in-law. The Agricola. In the introduction Tacitus gives his reasons for having written nothing during the reign of Domitian. The passage deserves to be quoted, not only as a specimen of Tacitus’s style, but because it places in a clear light his view of the imperial government in the first century. Throughout the Histories and the Annals his attitude is the same, and his genius has imposed his view upon all later times. Under Domitian two eminent Stoics, Arulenus Rusticus and Herennius Priscus, had been put to death and their works publicly burned. Tacitus mentions this and then expresses himself as follows:

They thought forsooth that in that fire the voice of the Roman people and the freedom of the senate and the conscience of the human race were being consumed, especially since the teachers of philosophy had been banished and every good profession driven into exile, that nothing honorable might offend them. We have [Pg 214] indeed given a great proof of our patience; and just as the ancient time saw the utmost limit of liberty, so we have seen the utmost limit of servitude, when even the intercourse of speech and hearing was taken away by the inquisitions. And with our speech we should have lost even our very memory, if we had been as able to forget as to keep silent. Now at last our courage has returned, but although ... Trajan is daily adding to the blessedness of the times, ... and the state has gained confidence and strength, nevertheless by the nature of human weakness remedies are slower than diseases; and just as our bodies grow slowly, but are quickly destroyed, so you can oppress genius and learning more quickly than you can revive them. For the charm of sloth also comes over us, and the inactivity we hated at first grows dear at last. Throughout fifteen years, a great part of the life of man, many have fallen through chance mishaps, and all the most energetic ones by the cruelty of the emperor, and a few of us are left, so to speak, as survivors not only of the others, but even of ourselves, since there have been taken out of our lives so many years, in which we who were youths have passed to old age and as old men have almost reached the limit of life itself without a word.106

Agricola was not a great man either in intellect or in force of character. Moreover, he had lived through the reign of Domitian in safety by not opposing the will of the tyrant. Naturally it was hard to write a panegyric on such a man which should interest and please the public. But Tacitus, by laying the chief stress upon Agricola’s successful administration in Britain, which is prefaced by an account of the country and of the previous Roman expeditions thither, made of his panegyric a genuine bit of history with Agricola, the most prominent person in it. Thus the reader’s interest is kept alive and the writer’s purpose accomplished. The work closes with an eloquent and beautiful apostrophe to Agricola.

When he wrote the Agricola, Tacitus was already planning a great history of his own times, for which he had [Pg 215]at least begun to accumulate materials. The Germania. In the Germania (De Origine Situ Moribus ac Populis Germaniæ) the material collected to serve as introductory to the account of the wars in Germany is published as a separate work. The little treatise is interesting as the earliest extant connected account of the country and inhabitants of northern Europe. A few of the statements contained in it are manifestly incorrect, but for the most part, what Tacitus tells us agrees with and supplements what we know from other sources. The essay is a compilation from various earlier works, among which Pliny’s History of the German Wars was no doubt the most important, though Tacitus probably consulted the works of Cæsar, Velleius Paterculus, and others, besides obtaining information from some of the many Romans who had served in the army in Germany. There is no indication that Tacitus was ever in Germany himself. As a literary production the Germania is far inferior to the Agricola, though written at about the same time. In the Agricola Tacitus expresses his own feelings for his father-in-law, whom he evidently loved and respected, while in the Germania there is little room for feeling of any sort, and none for emotion. Yet, with all the difference in literary merit, the two works show the style of Tacitus at the same stage. There are still some remnants of Ciceronian smoothness, but these are evidently survivals. The tendency to use concise, even abbreviated phrases, to add point to expressions by verbal antithesis or by inversion of order, and to make his sentences imply more than the words actually express, is characteristic of Tacitus’s mature style and is evident, though not yet fully developed, in the Agricola and the Germania alike.

At least as early as 98 A. D. Tacitus planned to write a history of his own times. His original purpose was to begin with the accession of Galba and continue in chronological order. But after completing the history of the[Pg 216] period from Galba to the death of Domitian (68-96 A. D.) he went back to the death of Augustus, and wrote the history of the time to the accession of Galba (14-68 A. D.). The great history. He intended to write the history of the reigns of Nerva and Trajan, but never did so. The part of the work first completed, treating of the events of the author’s own lifetime, is entitled Histories (Historiæ); the part written later, but treating of the earlier period, is usually called the Annals (Annales), though its proper title is Ab Excessu Divi Augusti, in imitation of the title of Livy’s history, Ab Urbe Condita. The two together consisted of thirty books, of which fourteen belong to the Histories and sixteen to the Annals. Of the Annals, the following parts are preserved: Books I-IV and the beginning of Book V, from the death of Augustus to the year 29 A. D., Book VI, with the exception of the beginning, carrying on the story to the death of Tiberius, and Books XI-XVI, from 47-66 A. D., though this long fragment is mutilated at the beginning and the end. The account of the reign of Caligula is lost, as is that of the first seven years of the reign of Claudius, and of somewhat more than two years at the end of the reign of Nero. Of the Histories only the first four books and part of the fifth remain, and this important fragment is preserved in only one manuscript. It contains the history of little more than one year, the memorable year 68-69 A. D., in which Galba, Otho, and Vitellius, in quick succession, gained the imperial power and lost their lives, to be followed by Vespasian.

In the Annals, dealing with a period before his own recollection, Tacitus treats the history of Rome and the empire as if it were directed by the wishes, the whims, and caprices of a few individuals. He depicts the character of Tiberius and the court of Nero in vivid and lurid colors. The Annals. The court intrigues, the judicial and private murders, the licentiousness and cor[Pg 217]ruption of the capital are spread before us with all the power of his brilliant and incisive style. These things appear as the most important matters in the history of the time. Modern scholars have, with the aid of inscriptions, found that the Roman empire was, throughout this period, ably and peaceably administered by permanent officials, and was little affected by the terror that reigned in the capital. But for Tacitus, Rome was the empire. The provinces were in the dim distance and had in his eyes little historical importance. That his view of history is narrow and distorted is clear; yet his genius has made it for centuries the only accepted view of Roman history under the early emperors. In the Histories, dealing with his own times, he sees things more clearly. The uprising of the Batavians under Civilis and the war in Palestine are treated with as much detail as the sanguinary struggles in Rome, though here also the influence of the characters and acts of individuals upon the irresistible course of history is overrated. This view of history, which makes events depend too much upon individuals, joined with a pessimism which sees hidden motives behind even innocent or indifferent acts, is the great defect of Tacitus as an historian. His information is carefully collected, though, as a rule, he neglects all mention of his authorities. In preparing his account of the Jews in the fifth book of the Histories he relied apparently upon hearsay and upon other untrustworthy sources of information, without referring to the Septuagint or to Josephus, but similar carelessness can not be proved in other parts of his work.

His style is impregnated with the words and phrases of the classical writers, especially of Virgil, and with the rhetorical teaching of the Silver Age, and yet it is thoroughly individual. Style of Tacitus. It is concise, sharp, and cutting, but often grandly poetic in its eloquence; it is apparently straightforward, yet somehow often reveals a half-hidden meaning; it is care[Pg 218]fully elaborated, yet it affects the reader with rugged earnestness. Such a style is almost inimitable, whether by writers of Latin or by translators. It has been compared to that of Carlyle, and the comparison is worth mentioning, though it should not be pushed too far. Few prose works contain more epigrammatic sentences than those of Tacitus. Examples are: “Traitors are hated, even by those whom they advance”;107 “None grieve more ostentatiously than those who are most delighted in their hearts”;108 “Princes are mortal, the state eternal”;109 “When the state was most corrupt the laws were most numerous”;110 “New men rather than new measures”;111 “Vices will exist as long as men”;112 “Fame does not always err; sometimes it chooses.”113 Endowed, as he was, with striking stylistic ability, writing, in fact, in a style which could not fail to arouse the interest and hold the attention of his readers, it is no wonder that Tacitus succeeded in imposing upon the world his views of history, which can be only partially corrected by the careful study and interpretation of fragmentary records.

Juvenal can hardly be separated from Tacitus. Both depict the life of Rome in the same lurid light, and the picture presented by each agrees with that of the other. Juvenal. Juvenal’s diatribes seem to illustrate the statements of Tacitus, and Tacitus shows that Juvenal’s violence is justified by the facts. Of Juvenal’s life little is known. His full name is given in some manuscripts as Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis. One vita or life gives the date of his birth as 55 A. D., which may be correct, though there is no especial reason to regard it as exact. He was born at Aquinum, a town of the Volscians, where he held the offices of duumvir quinquennalis and of flamen Divi Vespasiani. He was also at one time a military tribune, serving with the first Dalmatian cohort, [Pg 219]perhaps in Britain. This military service probably belongs to his youth, and the local offices to his later life. He evidently received a good education, and he appears to have practised oratory for some years. Martial, who mentions him several times, speaks of him as eloquent, not as poetic or satirical. The lives agree in stating that he was banished, but not in regard to the time or place of his banishment. He came to Rome about 90 A. D., was still there in 101 A. D., and probably spent part of some of the later years in the capital. At Rome he lived in the Subura, the plebeian quarter, but had access to the houses of rich nobles. His satires were written between 100 and 127 A. D., and he died about 135 A. D.

Juvenal is the harshest and most violent of the four great Roman satirists. The Satires. Lucilius was outspoken and sometimes bitter, but aimed to correct while he rebuked the follies of his time; Horace soon lost all bitterness and expressed good-humored raillery; Persius derived his themes from books and preached Stoic doctrines; but Juvenal attacks Roman society in fierce and biting verses, shrinking from no gruesome or indecent detail, showing no humor save of the grimmest and harshest sort, and with no hope of correcting the evils he depicts. He has all the variety of phrase of the accomplished rhetorician, and his lines have a rolling grandeur almost Virgilian. He shows, indeed, the influence of Virgil more than of any other previous writer, though traces of Homer, Herodotus, Plato, nearly all the Roman poets, and among Roman prose writers Cicero, Valerius Maximus, and Seneca are found in his satires. The violence of his satires is, however, not directed against his contemporaries. He seems to have in mind rather the Rome of Domitian than that of Trajan or Hadrian, under whose rule he wrote. The sixteen satires are divided into five books. Book I (Satires i-v) not earlier than 100 A. D., and Book II[Pg 220] (Satire vi) not before 116 A. D. These are the most powerful, most violent, and least agreeable books. Book III (Satires vii-ix) was written about 120, Book IV (Satires x-xii) about 125, and Book V (Satires xiii-xvi) in 127 A. D. In these three books there is less virulence, but also less power than in the first two. Old age brought with it a loss at once of fierceness and of strength.

In the first satire, Juvenal gives his reasons for writing as he does. Contents of the Satires. He is tired of listening to endless epics, and the corruptions of the time are such that “it is difficult not to write satire,”114 and “indignation makes verse.”115 The evils to be attacked are enumerated in a series of rapidly sketched pictures, and the poet declares that “all that men do, their hope, fear, wrath, pleasure, joys, and gaddings make up the medley of my book.”116 And in the following satires the faults of men, the dangers of the city, the court of Domitian, the pride of wealth, the crimes of women, the lack of honor paid to intellect, the worthlessness of noble birth without virtue, unnatural lust, the shortsightedness of human wishes, the wrong of setting children a bad example, and other striking features of the life of Rome are vividly presented and ruthlessly attacked. One of the most interesting satires is the third, in which the dangers of the city are described. A man who is leaving Rome for a small country town gives reasons for his departure:

What should I do at Rome? I can not lie;
I can not praise a book that’s bad and beg
A copy of it; I am ignorant
Of the motions of the stars; I neither will
Nor can make promise of a father’s death.117

[Pg 221]

The dirty streets, the water dripping from the aqueduct, the risk from falling tiles or household vessels, the drunken brawls in the streets, the rich man escorted home by clients and slaves with flaming torches, the danger from robbers—these and many other details of the ill regulated capital are set before us. This satire is imitated by Johnson in his London, which has rightly been called one of the finest modern imitations of an ancient poem, and the same author’s poem on The Vanity of Human Wishes is a less accurate, though not less admirable, imitation of Juvenal’s tenth satire. The closing passage of the tenth satire, in which the poet tells what are the proper objects of prayer, is a lofty utterance of human wisdom. The most savage of all the satires is, on the other hand, the sixth, in which the crimes of women are held up to execration.

It is not easy for the modern reader to enjoy Juvenal. His satires are full of allusions to unknown persons and things at Rome; they abound also in mythological references and literary reminiscences, and finally the savage tone of the earlier books is disagreeable. Yet the power of invective, the clearness and vividness of description, the variety of diction, and the beauty of versification have combined to make Juvenal a much read author. That he is also much quoted is due to the epigrammatic and pointed form of many of his phrases. Mens sana in corpore sano,118 Rara avis,119 Panem et circenses,120 Hoc volo, sic iubeo,121 Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?122 are among the most familiar Latin quotations, and many other almost equally familiar expressions are derived from Juvenal. Some of these are distinguished for their significance quite as much as for their form. Such are, for instance: “And for the sake of life give up life’s only end123 and [Pg 222]The greatest reverence is due a child.124 It is not without reason that Juvenal has exerted great influence on human thought.

Tacitus and Juvenal resemble each other in their originality and vigor of thought and expression, their severe judgment of men and manners, and their pessimism. Pliny the younger. The younger Pliny contrasts with them in all these respects, and his letters give us an idea of Roman life very different from that which we derive from them. Gaius Plinius Cæcilius Secundus was the son of Lucius Cæcilius Cilo, a wealthy nobleman of Comum, but was adopted by will by his uncle, the elder Pliny. He therefore changed his name, which was originally Publius Cæcilius Secundus, and took that of his uncle, retaining his original family name, Cæcilius, only for legal and formal use. He was born in 61 or 62 A. D., for he was in his eighteenth year when the eruption of Vesuvius took place, August 24, 79 A. D. Cilo had died when Pliny was young, and the boy had become the ward of Verginius Rufus, which fact did not, however, diminish the paternal interest of his uncle, with whom he was at the time of the eruption. Pliny began his career as an advocate in 80 or 81 A. D. He held various offices, was military tribune, quæstor in 89-90 A. D., tribune of the people in 90-91 A. D., prætor in 93 A. D., was one of the prefects in charge of the war treasury and also of the general treasury, became consul in 100 A. D., and succeeded Sextus Julius Frontinus in the college of augurs in 103 or 104 A. D. He was governor of Pontus and Bithynia either in 111-112 or 112-113 A. D., and died before 114 A. D., either in his province or soon after his return to Italy. His life was passed chiefly in the service of the government, and for the most part at Rome. He was married three times, but had no [Pg 223]children. He was an orator of some importance, delivering most of his speeches in inheritance cases, though he was employed five times in important criminal suits. He recited his speeches before delivering them in public, and after delivery he published them, sometimes with corrections. He was interested in poetry, and wrote poems of various kinds, but these, as well as his speeches, with the exception of his panegyric on Trajan, are lost.

Pliny’s extant works consist of nine books of letters to various persons, written between 97 and 109 A. D., a panegyric on the Emperor Trajan, delivered in 100 A. D. when Pliny was made consul, and seventy-two letters to Trajan, written between 98 and 106, and from September, 111, to January, 113 A. D. Pliny’s letters. Trajan’s replies to fifty-one of these letters are published which exhibit his firm judgment and practical common sense in striking contrast to Pliny’s indecision and lack of independence. Pliny’s other letters are more interesting. He describes the scenes in the Roman courts, the gatherings where the audience was bored by authors who recited their works, he gives detailed descriptions of his Laurentine125 and Tuscan126 villas, in two letters127 to Tacitus he gives an account of the eruption of Vesuvius, his uncle’s death, and his own feelings. Incidentally he throws much light upon the social and family life of the time. His own character is also clearly portrayed. What a young prig he must have been who refused his uncle’s invitation to accompany him to see, from a nearer point of view, the great eruption, preferring to spend his time over his books, and who even continued to make extracts when awakened by the terrible quaking of the earth—and this at seventeen years of age! His vanity is beautifully exhibited in another letter to Tacitus,128 in which he tells a story to his own credit, and hopes that Tacitus will insert it in [Pg 224]the Histories, and in still another,129 where he says to the most original and inimitable of all Roman writers since the Augustan times, “You, such is the similarity of our natures, always seemed to me most easy to imitate and most to be imitated. Wherefore I am the more pleased that, if there is any talk about literature, we are mentioned together, that I occur at once to those who are speaking of you.” Other qualities appear no less clearly. Vain he was and fond of praise, but at the same time kind to his slaves, affectionate to his friends, gentle, and conscientious. He seldom speaks unkindly of any one; and when he utters a sharp criticism, he almost always avoids mentioning the name of the person criticized. The love of nature was fashionable at Rome, and Pliny may be only following the fashion when he writes of natural scenery, but it is quite as probable that he really felt its charms. He had a great admiration for Cicero, and it was doubtless owing, in part, at least, to this admiration that Pliny, like Cicero, published his letters. There is, however, a great difference between the two collections. Cicero’s letters were collected and published by others, whereas Pliny’s were from the beginning intended for publication and were published at various times by Pliny himself. They are therefore not unpremeditated utterances, but carefully prepared writings for the perusal of the public. Nevertheless the epistolary style is well preserved, though not without some pedantic elegance, and the letters give us the same insight into Roman life under Trajan as do those of Cicero into the life of the last years of the republic.

The Panegyric on Trajan was delivered as the official expression of thanks on the part of Pliny and his colleague Cornutus Tertullus for their elevation to the consulate. After the speech was delivered it was revised and enlarged. It is therefore in its extant form neither a [Pg 225]speech nor an historical essay, but a mixture of the two. The Panegyric.After an introduction, Trajan’s acts before his entrance into Rome are recounted, then his entrance into the city, and his many political, municipal, and financial measures for the good of the state. Trajan’s personal qualities are praised in the most fulsome manner and those of Domitian set forth in the most hateful light. Then comes an account of Trajan’s second and third consulships, his care for the provinces, and his judicial acts, with traits of his private life. The speech or treatise ends with the expression of thanks from Pliny and his colleague. The Panegyric is not an attractive production, but it is the chief source of information concerning the history of the earlier years of Trajan’s rule.

Though not a great man nor a great writer, Pliny was a cultivated gentleman and a useful citizen. Other writers. His letters make us acquainted with Roman life from a side that Tacitus and Juvenal leave practically untouched. They are therefore not only interesting, but, as historical documents of great importance. Besides Tacitus, Juvenal, and Pliny, there are no writers of the time of Trajan who deserve more than passing mention. The names of numerous poets are preserved, chiefly in Pliny’s letters, but their works are lost, and we have no reason to believe that they merited preservation. Orators, jurists, and grammarians continued speaking and writing, and some among them attained eminence, but their works are lost for the most part, and the technical treatises on grammar which are preserved possess little interest for the student of literature. The same remark applies to the treatises on surveying and on the fortification of camps by Hyginus, on geometry by Balbus, and on surveying by Siculus Flaccus. The literature of the period between the death of Domitian and the accession of Hadrian is contained in the works of Tacitus, Juvenal, and Pliny.

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Hadrian, 117-138 A. D.—Antoninus Pius, 138-161 A. D.—Marcus Aurelius, 161-180 A. D.—Commodus, 180-192 A. D.—Septimius Severus, 193-211 A. D.—Alexander Severus, 222-235 A. D.—Gordian I, 238 A. D.—Gallienus, 260-268 A. D.—Aurelian, 270-275 A. D.—Tacitus, 275 A. D.—Suetonius, about 70 or 75 to about 150 A. D.—Florus, time of Hadrian—Justin, time of Hadrian (?)—Liciniauus, time of Antoninus Pius—Ampelius, time of Antoninus Pius (?)—Salvius Julianus, time of Hadrian—Sextus Pomponius, time of Antoninus Pius—Gaius, about 110-180 A. D.—Quintus Cervidius Scævola, time of Antoninus and M. Aurelius—Papinianus, time of Commodus and Septimius Severus—Terentius Scaurus, time of Hadrian—Terentianus Maurus and Juba, before 200 A. D.—Aero, about 200 A. D.—Porphyrio, about 200 A. D.—Festus, early in the third century.

[Pg 227]

It was not until the fourth century after Christ that a new capital of the Roman empire was founded at Constantinople; but long before that time the real centre of gravity of the empire was shifting toward the east. Latin literature after Trajan. In Asia, Egypt, and Africa, were the great sources of wealth and the great masses of population. While Rome was growing from the position of a small Italian town to that of the ruler of the world, and even for some time after the establishment of the empire, the Romans had possessed a strong national feeling, and Roman literature, although it began with imitation of the works of the Greeks, had been a national literature. But with the second century a change, which had been in preparation since the days of Augustus, became apparent. Rome was no longer the centre of the world in all things, though still the seat of government. Men of distinction spent at least a great part of their time in the smaller towns of Italy, and the leaders of thought and creators of literature no longer found it necessary to take up their residence at Rome. Then too, the progress of Christianity brought with it a new literature which was not national, but Christian. These causes, with others less obvious, but perhaps no less potent, led to the rapid decay of the national literature. It is our task from this point to trace the progress of this decay, and at the same time to record the rise of Christian literature in the Latin language. Works of great literary importance are few in this period, and the history of literature can be treated in less detail than heretofore.

The Emperor Hadrian (117-138 A. D.) was a man of singular versatility. Hadrian. He delivered and published speeches and wrote an autobiography, works on grammar, and even poems. He was equally familiar with Greek and Latin, and it is probably in part due to this fact that the literary revival during his rule was less Latin than Greek. He spent a great part of his time away from Rome, and wherever he went his path was marked by the erection of buildings for use and ornament. He lived for three years at Athens, where he added a new quarter to the ancient city. Greek, which had for centuries been familiar to the literary men of Rome, became now, more than ever before, the literary language of the empire. It is hardly to be wondered at that Latin literature has under Hadrian no greater representative than Suetonius.

Hadrian’s successor, Antoninus Pius (138-161 A. D.), was no writer, but showed his interest in literary and intellectual matters by granting salaries and privileges to philosophers and rhetors. Marcus Aurelius (161-180 A. D.) was carefully instructed by Greek and Roman teach[Pg 228]ers. The Antonines. While still a mere boy he was greatly interested in the Stoic philosophy; but the famous orator and teacher Fronto (see page 235) obtained such great influence over him, that for a number of years he devoted himself to rhetoric. The correspondence of Fronto with Marcus Aurelius shows how great was the affection that existed between teacher and pupil, and also how petty were the rhetorical teachings and investigations in which Fronto passed his life and to which he hoped his pupil would devote his intellect. Fronto was, however, doomed to disappointment, for when Marcus Aurelius was in his twenty-fifth year he turned again to philosophy. The correspondence with Fronto is conducted in Latin similar to Fronto’s own, plentifully adorned with obsolete expressions taken from writers of the republican period. The Thoughts of Marcus Aurelius, those ethical maxims and moral reflections which make the Stoic doctrines seem so much like Christianity, are written in Greek. That Marcus Aurelius regarded Greek as the proper language of culture, or at least of philosophy, is shown by the fact that he established the schools of philosophy at Athens with regularly salaried professors. Lucius Verus, the colleague of Marcus Aurelius until 169 A. D., was also a pupil of Fronto, and in his letters to his teacher shows the same faults of style exhibited by Marcus Aurelius. He had no influence upon Latin literature, and Commodus (180-192 A. D.) had ho interest in literature of any sort.

Pertinax had literary tastes, but his brief reign gave him no opportunity to influence the course of the national literature, while his successor Didius Julianus, who bought the empire from the prætorian guards, found after sixty-six days of nominal power that his purchase brought him ruin and death. Later emperors. Septimius Severus (193-211 A. D.), although his native tongue was probably Punic, was well educated in[Pg 229] Greek and Latin and wrote an autobiography, but there is no indication that he exercised any marked influence upon Roman literature. Among the later emperors were few whose literary interests were strong, and still fewer who appear as authors. In the third century Alexander Severus (222-235 A. D.) was seriously interested in Greek and Latin literature and encouraged literary production by all the means in his power; Gordian I (238 A. D.) wrote a metrical history of the Antonines in thirty books, besides various other works in prose and verse, but these are lost, and his brief reign did not enable him to give imperial encouragement to literature; the poems and speeches of Gallienus (260-268 A. D.) and the historical writings of Aurelian (270-275 A. D.) were of little importance. The Emperor Tacitus (275 A. D.) exerted himself to spread abroad the works of his ancestor the historian, and it may be due to him that those works are in part preserved. Those among the still later emperors who had literary interests made their influence felt rather upon Greek than Latin literature.

The most important writer in the reign of Hadrian is Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus. He was born apparently between 70 and 75 A. D. Suetonius. He was a friend of the younger Pliny, who mentions him in his letters. Pliny obtained for him a military tribuneship, which he passed on to a relative. Pliny also assisted him in the purchase of a small estate and encouraged him to publish some of his writings. Under Hadrian he held a position as secretary, from which he was dismissed in 121 A. D. Of his later life nothing is known, but he probably devoted himself to his literary labors, and as his works were numerous, we may assume that he lived to an advanced age.

Only two works of Suetonius are preserved, the first entire, but for a small part at the beginning, and of the second only a part, and that much mutilated. The Lives of the Cæsars. The[Pg 230] Lives of the Twelve Cæsars (De Vita Cæsarum), in eight books, contains the lives of Julius Cæsar (Book I), Augustus (Book II), Tiberius (Book III), Caligula (Book IV), Claudius (Book V), Nero (Book VI), Galba, Otho, Vitellius (Book VII), Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian (Book VIII). The work is dedicated to Septicius Clarus, to whom Pliny the younger dedicated his letters, and was published between 119 and 121 A. D., for Clarus is addressed as præfectus prætorio, an office which he held only during those years. The beginning is lost, for the life of Cæsar begins at the point when Cæsar was sixteen years old. Suetonius is a careful and conscientious writer and makes use of various sources of information, not only published histories and biographies, but also public documents, autograph letters of the emperors, and apparently oral tradition. He lacks, however, the critical insight necessary for a good historian and the understanding of character needed by a good biographer. He collected his material with impartiality, avoiding neither what was friendly nor what was hostile to the emperors whose lives he records, and arranged this material as best he could, with no apparent endeavor to trace the development of character, or even to determine in all cases the chronological sequence of events. Dates are seldom given, and the work as a whole presents rather the material for history than real history. But this material is interesting, and the style is simple, straightforward, and clear. Although he wrote at a time when affectations of style were fashionable, Suetonius had the good taste to keep himself free from them.

The second work of Suetonius, entitled De Viris Illustribus (On Illustrious Men), was a series of philosophers, grammarians, and rhetoricians. De Viris Illustribus. The section on orators began with Cicero, that on historians with Sallust. The greater part of the section on[Pg 231] grammarians and rhetoricians is extant, as are the lives of Terence, Horace, and Lucan from the section on poets, and that of Pliny the elder from the section on historians. Extracts from other parts of the work are preserved by Jerome and in the scholia on various writers. Each section contained a list of the authors discussed, a brief account of their branch of literature, and short lives of the authors arranged chronologically. In this work also the style is simple and clear, but brevity is sought at the expense of literary excellence.

Other works by Suetonius, some of which were much used by later writers as sources of information, were on Greek Games, Roman Games, the Roman Year, Critical Marks in Books, Cicero’s Republic, Dress, Imprecations, and Roman Laws and Customs. Other works. Some of theses were doubtless included in a work entitled Prata, a sort of encyclopædia in ten books, which dealt also with philology and natural science. The works on Greek Games and on Imprecations were apparently written in Greek, the rest in Latin. Suetonius was not a great writer, but was a diligent compiler of interesting information. His extant works are valuable as sources of information rather than as literary productions, though their freedom from the affectations of the age entitles their author to some praise even from a literary point of view.

To the time of Hadrian belongs a brief history of Rome by Annius or Annæus Florus. Florus. This is not a mere epitome of Livy, as it is entitled in one of the manuscripts, but rather a panegyric on the Roman people. Florus personifies the Roman people, speaks of its childhood under the rule of the kings, its youth while Rome was conquering Italy, its manhood from the conquest of Italy to the time of Augustus, and then instead of going on to tell of its old age, he says the emperor restored it to youth. Florus writes in a flowery,[Pg 232] rhetorical style, and pays little attention to any part of history except wars and battles. For these reasons, and also because of its brevity, the work was a popular text-book in the Middle Ages. This Florus is probably identical with a poet who is reported to have joked with Hadrian, and who has left two rather attractive specimens of verse, one of five lines on spring, the other of twenty-six lines on the quality of life. A fragment of a discussion of the question whether Virgil was greater as a poet or as an orator is also preserved under the name of Florus. If this Florus is still the same person, we learn from the fragment that he was unsuccessful in competing for a prize in poetry at Rome, traveled about in many parts of the empire, and finally settled as a teacher in a provincial town, probably Tarraco (Tarragona), in the northeast part of Spain.

Historical writing was at a low ebb. Suetonius is far the most important historian of the second century, and he is made important rather by the dearth of good historians than by his own merits. Other historical writings of the second century. Florus hardly deserves the name of historian. Justin’s epitome of Trogus (see page 164) belongs, perhaps, to the time of Hadrian, and is important because it has preserved much of the substance of the work of Trogus, but is in no sense an original history. Under Antoninus Pius a history of Rome was written by Granius Licinianus, but the extant fragments show that this was little more than an epitome of Livy. The Liber Memorialis, by Lucius Ampelius, written at about the same time, is a little handbook of useful knowledge, containing general information about the earth, the stars, and the winds, followed by a brief sketch of the history of various nations. It is a mere compilation, possessing neither historical nor literary value.

The study of law was, on the other hand, pursued by many jurists of ability, whose works were much used by[Pg 233] those who gave to Roman law its final form in the reign of Justinian. Jurists. Under Hadrian the edicts of the prætors and other magistrates were collected and codified by Salvius Julianus, a distinguished jurist of African birth, who attained the position of præfectus urbi and was twice consul. The Edictum Perpetuum, as his work is called, became henceforth the basis of Roman law. Julianus was also the author of independent juristic works. Sextus Pomponius, a younger contemporary of Julianus, wrote among other things a brief history of Roman jurisprudence, which is incorporated in the digests. Among the many jurists of the reign of Antoninus Pius, the most important is Gaius (about 110-180 A. D.), whose introduction to the study of law (Institutiones), clearly written in good and simple language, is for the most part preserved in the digests, and served as the foundation of the similar work written at the command of Justinian. The works of Quintus Cervidius Scævola, who lived under Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius, were also much used by the writers of the pandects. One of the most distinguished jurists under Commodus and Septimius Severus was Papinianus, who was put to death under Caracalla (212 A. D.) because he was faithful to that emperor’s brother Geta.

The study of grammar was diligently pursued in the second century, and with it went the writing of commentaries on the classical authors. Grammar, literature, and philosophy. Under Hadrian, Terentius Scaurus wrote a Latin grammar, part of which is preserved in an abbreviated form, as well as commentaries on Plautus, Virgil, and Horace, fragments of which are found in the works of later commentators. Under the Antonines, rhetoricians and grammarians were numerous, and discussions of literary and grammatical questions formed a considerable part of polite conversation. Metrical handbooks were written by Terentianus Maurus and[Pg 234] Juba, Helvius Acro wrote commentaries on Terence, Horace, and Persius about the end of the second century, and Pomponius Porphyrio, a grammarian of distinction, whose scholia on Horace still exist, though not in their original form, wrote probably at the end of the second or the beginning of the third century. Festus, who made an epitome of Verrius Flaccus (see page 166) probably lived but little after this time. Some of the rhetoricians of this period probably continued to teach as they had themselves been taught, but the most important among them developed a new school, which will form the subject of our next chapter. Philosophy had in the second century still many followers, but there was little literary production in Latin. Dio Chrysostom, Plutarch, Marcus Aurelius, and Sextus Empiricus wrote in Greek.

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Fronto, about 100 to about 175 A. D.—Gellius, born about 125 A. D.—Apuleius, about 125 to about 200 A. D.—Innovations in poetry—The Pervigilium Veneris.

An important figure in the literature of the second century was Marcus Cornelius Fronto, of Cirta, in Numidia. Fronto. He was born about 100 A. D., studied under the best teachers, and was distinguished as an orator and teacher even under Hadrian, though his greatest influence was exerted under the Antonines. He became a member of the senate under Hadrian, and his speech against the Christians may have been delivered before that body. In 143 A. D. he was consul, and was to have been proconsul entrusted with the government of Asia, but relinquished that office on account of ill health. He was the teacher of Marcus Antoninus and Lucius Verus, both of whom were much attached to him, and as was natural under such circumstances, he was greatly honored and became very wealthy. Of his family life we know only that he was married, that his daughter Gratia married Gaius Aufidius Victorinus, and that five daughters were removed by death. The date of his death is unknown, but it was probably shortly after 175 A. D. Parts of Fronto’s correspondence were discovered in 1815, and from his letters, we get an idea of his style and his teaching. The correspondence is with Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Verus, Antoninus Pius, and others, and several essays are included, which were probably sent with the letters to[Pg 236] Fronto’s correspondents. One of these essays, the Principia Historiæ compares the Parthian campaigns of Verus and Trajan to the advantage of Verus. This essay was intended to serve as an introduction to a history of the deeds of Verus in the Parthian War, but the history was never written. What gives Fronto’s letters their chief interest is his teaching in regard to oratory and style. He considers rhetoric the noblest possible study, and warns Marcus Aurelius against surrendering to the charms of philosophy, but the chief end of the study of rhetoric is to acquire new and striking words and phrases. Fronto apparently despaired of acquiring new ideas or new points of view, and he saw that Latin literature could not go on forever merely imitating the writers of the Golden Age, or even those of the Silver Age. He was too much of a scholar to think of drawing from the living spring of common every-day speech, and therefore hit upon the expedient of reverting to the early writers, such as Ennius, Plautus, Accius, Cato, Sallust, and Gracchus. His language is therefore full of old-fashioned expressions used without the simplicity that belongs to the early times. That such a writer as Fronto was highly respected and exerted a powerful influence upon his contemporaries is a sign of the depth to which Roman literature had sunk.

A much younger man than Fronto, but like him, a man of books and an admirer of archaic phraseology, was Aulus Gellius, who was born probably about 125 A. D., studied under various masters at Rome and at Athens, and held some judicial position at Rome. Aulus Gellius. His extant work, entitled Noctes Atticæ (Attic Nights), received its title from the fact that it contains the results of the writer’s labors begun at Athens, when he used to read various authors and make extracts from them in the night. These extracts, with a variety of notes and comments, are arranged in twenty books, all of which are preserved except the eighth, of which we[Pg 237] have only the table of contents, and the end of the twentieth. The subjects treated are language and literature, law, philosophy and natural history. Gellius quotes no contemporary authors, but introduces them as speakers, for parts of his work have the form of dialogues. There is no order in the arrangement of subjects, but things are put down as Gellius happened to find them in the works he read. No critical faculty is exhibited, nor has Gellius any marked literary skill. He is simply a diligent compiler, whose work is interesting and valuable to us merely because it preserves fragments of earlier works now lost and information about a variety of subjects.

The Latin of the Golden Age was a more or less artificial language developed by the genius of the great writers from the common language of every-day life. Changes in Latin. The Latin of the Silver Age was a development from the literary Latin of the Golden Age, not directly from the popular speech. While literary Latin was thus passing through various phases, the popular speech was also developing along its own lines, and by the second century after Christ was very different from the literary Latin of the time as well as from any Latin, whether spoken or written, of the Ciceronian or earlier times. It had already entered upon the course of change which was in the end to lead to the birth of the Romance languages. Fronto, in his desire to infuse new life into the worn-out literary Latin of his day, went back to the writers before Cicero and adopted their words and phrases, at the same time exerting himself to arrange words in unusual order with the intention of giving piquancy to his expression. His precepts and example were followed by others, as, for instance, Gellius, and still more clearly, Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus as they appear in their letters to their teacher. But Fronto, although he had great influence for a time, could not turn the stream of progress backward. If literary Latin was to[Pg 238] develop anything new, it must be by adopting something from the living speech of the people. This course was followed, in a measure, at least, by Apuleius.

Apuleius (the prænomen Lucius is doubtful) was, like Fronto, an African, though he may have been of Roman descent. Apuleius. He was born probably about 125 A. D., at Madaura, on the borders of Numidia and Gætulia. He was educated at Madaura, Carthage, and Athens, travelled extensively, and was for a time in Rome, where he was employed as an advocate. He married Æmilia Pudentilla, a wealthy widow of Oea, in Africa, and was accused by her relatives of having led her into the marriage by means of magic arts. His defense against this charge is the extant book De Magia (On Magic), also called the Apologia. In its present form the book is a revised and enlarged edition of the speech in court. Apuleius was evidently acquitted, and he became a man of great influence and reputation. He prided himself on his versatility, wrote and spoke both Greek and Latin, and confined himself to no one branch of literature, but was orator, poet, scientist, philosopher, and novelist, without, however, displaying any great originality in any direction. He preferred to call himself a Platonic philosopher, but his chief activity was that of a travelling orator, or sophist, who went from place to place giving public exhibitions of his skill in composing and delivering interesting speeches on all sorts of subjects. He seems to have spent most of his life in Africa, and he held the office of priest of the province (sacerdos provinciæ) at Carthage. He was initiated into the mysteries of Isis and seems to have been one of those who sought in the mystic worship of foreign deities the satisfaction of their religious yearnings which the Roman state religion did not give. He seems to have been opposed to Christianity, though he nowhere mentions it directly. His great reputation and the number of works ascribed to him would seem to indi[Pg 239]cate that he lived to a good age, but the date of his death is unknown.

The extant works of Apuleius are the Metamorphoses, a novel in eleven books, the Apologia, a book on spirits especially the familiar spirit of Socrates, De Deo Socratis, two books on the doctrines of Plato, De Dogmate Platonis, and a collection of extracts from his speeches entitled Florida. Works of Apuleius. The dialogue Asclepius, the treatise On the World (De Mundo), and the treatise published as the third book on Plato’s teachings, are not by Apuleius. Of these works the most interesting is the novel entitled Metamorphoses, in which are narrated the adventures of a certain Lucius of Corinth, who was changed by magic into an ass, and in that form passed through many vicissitudes and saw and heard many strange things, until he was finally restored to human form by the aid of the goddess Isis, to whose service he afterwards devoted himself. This story is derived from a Greek original which appears in abbreviated form among the writings falsely ascribed to Lucian, under the title Lucius or The Ass. Apuleius amplified his Greek original by inserting nearly twenty stories that have no connection with the plot. These are usually introduced in an unskillful way, interrupting the narrative and destroying the unity of the work, but they are in themselves the most interesting parts of the whole novel. The longest and most famous among them is the charming story of Cupid and Psyche, beautifully rendered by William Morris in his Earthly Paradise. This mystic love tale was derived, like the other tales inserted in the story of Lucius, from a Greek original. It is not an invention of Apuleius, but he inserted it in his novel, and thus preserved it to later times.

The style of Apuleius is not the same in his different works. Everywhere, to be sure, he aims at striking effect by means of unusual words arranged in peculiar order,[Pg 240] and of sentences curiously broken up into short rhythmical members, very different in effect from the dignified, sonorous periods of Cicero and other classical writers. The style of Apuleius. But in the Metamorphoses he adopts many expressions from the common speech of the people, whereas in his oratorical and philosophical works he reverts, like Fronto, to the early writers. Apuleius and Fronto, both Africans, are the chief representatives of the elocutio novella, the new rhetoric, which broke with the continuous tradition of classical Latin and tried to infuse new life into Latin literature. Neither Fronto nor Apuleius was a man of great inventive genius. Both imitated the Greek sophists of their time, such as Maximus of Tyre and Ælius Aristides, not only in the subject matter of their discourses, but to some extent in their style; yet the fact that they wrote and spoke in Latin and tried to influence the course of Latin literature gives them an importance not possessed by any of the later Greek sophists except Dio Chrysostom and Lucian. Apuleius was apparently more gifted by nature than Fronto, and his works show a surprising ability in the use of language, which makes up in a measure for the lack of originality in thought. Of his extant works the Metamorphoses is the most important. It not only shows the qualities of the elocutio novella more completely than any other work, but it gives a picture of the life of the times, with its superstitions, loose morals, robberies, friendships, hospitalities, and social amenities. Moreover, it has preserved to us many interesting tales, among them the story of Cupid and Psyche. Owing probably to the supernatural elements in the Metamorphoses and to the fact that he had been accused of magical arts, Apuleius came soon after his death to be regarded as a mighty sorcerer, and as a sorcerer he was associated with Virgil in mediæval times.

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While Fronto, Apuleius, and others were practising the elocutio novella in prose, attempts were made to introduce innovations in poetry. Innovations in poetry. Terentianus Maurus, who wrote in verse a handbook on letters, syllables, and metres toward the end of the second century, mentions poetæ novelli, and Diomedes, a grammarian of the latter part of the fourth century, speaks of poetæ neoterici, to whom he ascribes a variety of innovations. The names of several of these poets are mentioned, but too little is known of them to awaken any interest in their personalities. Their innovations seem to have consisted largely of verbal juggling, a remarkable example of which is seen in these lines:

Nereides freta sic verrentes caerula tranant,
Flamine confidens ut Notus Icarium.
Icarium Notus ut confidens flamine, tranant
Caerula verrentes sic freta Nereides.

Here lines three and four are lines one and two read backward. Other examples are less elaborate, but show the same spirit, the same foolish playing with words. From such things as this no new life could be infused into poetry, and most of the verses preserved to us from the second and even the third centuries after Christ are little more than feeble echoes of the distant music of Virgil. Nevertheless there are already indications of the new mediæval spirit, which was not to find its full development until the days of the minnesinger and the troubadours. The Pervigilium Veneris. Whether the Pervigilium Veneris (Night-watch of Venus) belongs to the second century or the third is not certain. At any rate it is the most striking early example of the romantic sentiment peculiar to mediæval and modern times. The poem is written for the spring festival of Venus Genetrix, whose worship was revived and encouraged by Hadrian. It is therefore probable that it belongs[Pg 242] to the second century. It consists of ninety-three trochaic septenarii (the rhythm of Tennyson’s Locksley Hall), a verse freely used by the early Latin poets, but hardly to be found in the first century after Christ. At irregular intervals the refrain:

Cras amet qui nunquam amavit, quique amavit cras amet,130

is repeated. In the beginning of the poem,

Ver novum; ver iam canorum; vere natus est Iovis;
Vere concordant amores; vere nubunt alites,131

may well have suggested to Tennyson the lines:

In the Spring a fuller crimson comes upon the robin’s breast;
In the Spring the wanton lapwing gets himself another crest;
In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnished dove;
In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.

At the end of the poem the lines:

Illa cantat, nos tacemus. Quando ver venit meum?
Quando fiam ut chelidon et tacere desinam?
Perdidi Musam tacendo nec me Apollo respicit,132

sound like the wail of the old literature, which no spring was to awaken to new song. Indeed, the Pervigilium Veneris is almost as much mediæval as classical. Its quantitative rhythm coincides with the natural accent of [Pg 243]the words, it is full of assonances that suggest both alliteration and rhyme, its spirit is almost modern in its sentiment; and even in its grammatical structure, especially in the use of the preposition de, it points forward to the great changes to come.

In prose and verse alike, the second century after Christ was a period of innovations. The new methods of Fronto and Apuleius did not hold their own for any great length of time, but they serve as symptoms of the decay of Latin speech, and may even have hastened that decay by turning men away from the continued imitation of the classic writers. The history of classical Roman literature may be said to end with Suetonius. But something of the old spirit survived even into the period of the Middle Ages and affected strongly the literature of the Christian church. For this reason it is well to give a brief sketch of early Christian literature in Latin, and of the surviving remnants of pagan literary activity in the third and fourth centuries.

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Minucius Felix, about 160 A. D.—Tertullian, about 160 to about 230 A. D.—St. Cyprian, about 200-258 A. D.—Commodianus 249 A. D.—Arnobius, about 290 A. D.—Lactantius, about 300 A. D.

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The Christians are mentioned by Tacitus, the younger Pliny, and Suetonius, but in such a way as to show that their religion was misunderstood and their growing importance little appreciated. The beginning of Christian literature in Latin. But as time went on, Christianity and the Christians became more and more important. Various means were tried to suppress them, for their belief and their practises were opposed to the state religion and seemed inimical to the state itself. Yet the new religion continued to gain in the number and influence of its converts, and in the second century Christian writings begin to appear in Latin. The new religion had been founded in the eastern part of the empire, and its first literary productions were in Greek, a language which continued for many years to be the chief medium of expression for Christian thought. No sketch of the development of Christianity, even in the western part of the empire, could be given without more than a mere mention of the early Greek Christian writings; but the development of Christianity is a subject quite outside of the scope of this book, which is concerned with Christian literature only in so far as it was written in Latin. Nor is it possible in a book of this kind to do more than mention briefly the chief Christian writers and their works, leaving all discussion of their doctrines to the historians of the church.

The first Christian writer of Latin is Marcus Minucius Felix, of whose life nothing is known except that he was a barrister (causidicus) at Rome, that he was a pagan in early life, and that he became a Christian. Minucius Felix. His only extant work is a defense of Christianity entitled Octavius, which was written probably not far from 160 A. D. The introduction tells how Minucius., with his two friends Octavius and Cæcilius, was walking by the seashore at Ostia. Cæcilius saluted a statue of Serapis which they happened to pass, whereupon Octavius rebuked Minucius for letting his friend remain in ignorance of the true religion. They continue their walk, but Cæcilius can not let the rebuke of Octavius pass. At last the three friends sit down, Cæcilius undertakes the defense of the old religion, Octavius that of the new, and Minucius is to be judge of their arguments. Cæcilius argues that it is absurd for persons of little education, such as are most Christians, to think that they can settle questions which have puzzled the wisest philosophers. The Roman religion should therefore be retained, especially as the power of the gods has often been shown. An attack upon the lives and ceremonies of the Christians follows, which is interesting as a proof of the ignorance that prevailed in pagan circles. Cæcilius then attacks the Christian belief in a future life, and ends with a recommendation of skepticism. His speech is vigorous and even vehement, showing marked rhetorical training. Octavius in his reply takes up the various points raised by Cæcilius and replies to them in order. He lays the chief stress upon the unity of God and the absurdities of pagan polytheism and philosophy. There is no argument based upon the crucifixion or the resurrection of Christ, no argument that is strictly Christian. There is no appeal to faith or[Pg 246] to love, but only to reason, and the arguments are not drawn from the Bible, but from the works of pagan philosophers, especially Cicero’s De Natura Deorum and Seneca’s writings, or from the experiences of human life. When Octavius has finished, Cæcilius declares that he is convinced and the friends separate.

The Octavius is different from other early writings in defense of Christianity, inasmuch as it bases no argument upon the Bible and makes no appeal to the emotions. These peculiarities are most easily explained by the theory that Minucius wrote his treatise as a reply to a speech of Fronto against Christianity, that he put the substance of Fronto’s speech into the mouth of Cæcilius, and then, in the person of Octavius, refuted it point for point. In style Minucius attains at times an almost classic elegance and simplicity, though he shows the influence of the rhetorical schools of the Silver Age and is sometimes needlessly emphatic. He continues the tradition of the classical school, with no trace of the affectations or innovations of Fronto or Apuleius. Apart from its interest as the earliest specimen of Christian writing in Latin, the Octavius deserves to be read as the most attractive Latin prose after the time of Trajan.

Minucius Felix is known to us by only one short work, in which he displays conservative literary taste, cultivated imagination, and ability to conduct an argument calmly and dispassionately. Tertullian. Tertullian, a much more important figure than Minucius in the history of the church, is known by a great body of writings, in which the qualities he shows are almost the opposite of those we admire in Minucius. Yet Tertullian is an interesting and powerful figure in the history of literature as well as in that of the church. Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus was born at Carthage, probably about 160 A. D., and may have died about 230 A. D. At any rate, the period of his chief activity was in the reigns of Septim[Pg 247]ius Severus and Caracalla. In early life he was a pagan, but was converted to Christianity, possibly through his wife, who was a Christian. He attained the position of presbyter in the church. In middle life he became a Montanist—that is, a follower of Montanus, an enthusiast of Ardaba, in Mysia, who declared himself the Comforter promised by Christ, claimed prophetic powers, declared that the end of the world was at hand, and promulgated a variety of strict doctrines and rules for conduct. The writings of Tertullian are from beginning to end controversial. Some of them are in defense of Christianity against the heathen, while others are directed against those Christian beliefs and practises which he does not approve. To the second class belong the writings in support of Montanism, for Tertullian was of such a passionate nature that an argument in support of any doctrine necessarily becomes an attack upon those who hold any other views. As the chief advocate of Montanism in the west, Tertullian softened some of its more obviously absurd doctrines, but could not modify them so far as to make them acceptable to the church at large. He was therefore in constant opposition to the church during the latter part of his life, and at a later time his writings came to be regarded as heretical. Nevertheless, his works were much read, and his Apologeticus was even translated into Greek.

Tertullian exercised the greatest influence upon the Latin of the church, for up to his time most speculative Christian writing had been in Greek, and he was therefore obliged to invent or adapt the suitable means for the expression of those thoughts and ideas which were unknown to the pagan writers. Style of Tertullian. He is justly regarded as the founder of western, as opposed to eastern or Greek, theology. His style is harsh, inelegant, and sometimes obscure, but vigorous and animated. His eloquence is that of intense earnestness[Pg 248] rather than of careful training. His vocabulary is not strictly classic, but contains expressions taken from the popular speech and from Greek, as well as others which he seems to have formed for himself. He has been called the Cicero of the church, but whatever the greatness of his eloquence, it has little resemblance in quality to that of Cicero. Only in a few orations does Cicero approach the enthusiastic earnestness of Tertullian, and the polished beauty of Cicero’s periods is utterly lacking to Tertullian’s rugged utterance. His style has more resemblance in detail to that of his fellow-African Apuleius, but shows no evidence of conscious imitation. He uses short sentences, as a rule, and even his long sentences have no periodic structure; he strives for effect by means of unnatural expressions; he delights in antitheses, plays on words, and even rhymes. His Latin is hard to read, but his originality of thought and his passionate earnestness of purpose compensate fully for his defects of style. With Minucius Felix Christian writing in Italy appears as an attempt to express Christian thoughts, or at least to defend the Christian religion, with all the elegance of classical Latinity. Tertullian writes with vigor and enthusiasm, hampered by no classical traditions. The relative importance of the Italian and African schools may be judged in a measure by the difference in extent between the brief treatise of Minucius and Tertullian’s voluminous writings. For nearly two centuries the style of Tertullian predominates, being only gradually assimilated to the classical norm, until St. Augustine fixes the Latin of the church by forming a style in which the African elements are subordinate.

The beginning of this change is seen even in the writings of Tertullian’s admirer, St. Cyprian. Thascius Cæcilius Cyprianus was born of pagan parents about 200 A. D. The place of his birth is unknown, but we are informed that he was an African. He received a good education[Pg 249] and became a teacher of rhetoric. Cyprian. After his conversion he became a presbyter, and in 248 or 249 A. D. was chosen bishop of Carthage, not without opposition. From January 21, 250 A. D., until the beginning of March in the following year, he lived in concealment to escape the persecution of the Christians under Decius. His avoidance of martyrdom at this time was severely criticized, but he defended it on the ground that his life was necessary to the welfare of the church. In 257 A. D. a new persecution was instituted by the Emperor Valerian, and Cyprian was banished to Curubis, but afterwards recalled to Carthage and confined to his gardens. When ordered to appear before the proconsul at Utica he fled, but returned to his gardens when the proconsul came to Carthage. He was arrested September 13, 258 A. D., and on the following day was tried, condemned, and executed. Cyprian’s writings comprise thirteen treatises and eighty-one letters, among which are several letters manifestly by other authors. Some of the treatises or tracts are addressed to individuals, and some of the letters are to all intents and purposes tracts, so that the division into two classes is not easy to carry out consistently. His writings are partly in defense of Christianity against paganism, partly for the encouragement of the Christians in persecution, and partly on various points of church discipline. His letters are especially valuable for the light they throw upon church history. His doctrines are orthodox, and his writings were therefore not open to the objections urged against those of Tertullian. He was, however, an ardent admirer of Tertullian, and shows the constant influence of his teachings. His style is easier and simpler than Tertullian’s, always clear, and often attractive. Although he lacks Tertullian’s originality, he excels him in ability to express his thoughts so as to appeal to the reader.

The earliest Christian poet is Commodianus. Of his life little is known, and the statement that he was born[Pg 250] at Gaza, in Syria, is based upon a somewhat doubtful interpretation of the title of one of his poems.133 Commodianus. In early life he was a pagan, but was converted, and became a bishop. His works consist of a long poem in defense of Christianity (Carmen Apologeticum) and a collection of eighty short poems called Instructions (Instructiones per Litteras Versuum Primas) so composed that the initial letters of the lines spell the titles of the poems. The Carmen Apologeticum contains references which fix its date in 249 A. D. The poems are remarkable for the earnestness of their Christian feeling and still more for their metrical peculiarities. The hexameters are divided into halves, and at the end of each half the rules for quantity are observed, while in the rest of the verse those rules are disregarded. The lines are not merely faulty hexameters, but a new and original combination of quantitative verse and prose. In the Carmen Apologeticum the lines are arranged in pairs, so that each pair forms a distich. The most remarkable part of the Carmen Apologeticum is the fantastic description of the end of the world with which the poem closes. The Instructiones are divided into two books, the first warning the heathen and the Jews to lay aside their errors, the second containing advice for the various classes of Christians. In spite of the dryness of his style Commodianus is interesting as the earliest Christian poet, and the student of language finds in his poems many words and constructions taken from the common speech of the people.

Much less interest attaches to the seven books Adversus Nationes (Against the Gentiles) by Arnobius, who wrote under Diocletian (284-305 A. D.). Jerome says that Arnobius was a distinguished rhetor at Sicca in [Pg 251]Africa, who opposed Christianity for a long time. Arnobius. When he became converted the bishop demanded a proof of his faith, whereupon he wrote a work against the heathen and was received into the church. Whether this report is accurate or not, a work is extant under the name of Arnobius, entitled Adversus Nationes, which shows by its style that the author had been trained in the practise of rhetoric. The first two books defend the Christians against the accusations of their enemies, especially the charge that the misfortunes of the world were due to the progress of Christianity and the neglect of the old gods. The five remaining books proceed to show the absurdities of polytheism and the foolishness of the pagan forms of worship. Arnobius has little knowledge of the Christian religion and little originality of thought. The only doctrine peculiar to him is his theory that the soul is not immortal by nature, but may become immortal through the grace of God. His style is disfigured by its excessive vehemence and artificial rhetoric, which shows, however, that the author was carefully educated. This appears also in his discussion of pagan philosophy and religion, and indeed the chief interest attaching to the books Adversus Nationes is their testimony to the manner in which an educated pagan employed his education in the service of Christianity.

Lactantius (Lucius Cæcilius Firmianus Lactantius) was a pupil of Arnobius, according to Jerome’s statement, and was called by Diocletian with the grammarian Flavius to teach Latin rhetoric at Nicomedia, in Bithynia, a Greek city in which teachers of Latin found few patrons. Lactantius. Lactantius was therefore poor and had leisure for writing. When he was converted to Christianity is not known, but it can not have been before he reached middle life. In his old age he was called by the Emperor Constantine to be the tutor of his son Crispus. Nothing remains of writings by Lactantius before his conversion, but his later works, both prose and verse,[Pg 252] are numerous. The most important are the seven books entitled Institutiones Divinæ (Divine Institutions, an exhaustive philosophical work in support of Christianity against paganism), after which should be mentioned the treatises De Opificio Dei (On the Work of God, a discussion of creation and the nature of man), De Ira Dei (On the Wrath of God, dealing with the current theories of Providence), a fanatical work on the deaths of the persecutors from Nero to Galerius (De Mortibus Persecutorum), and a curious poem On the Phœnix. The treatise De Opificio Dei is Christian only in its general tendency, and contains no direct reference to Christianity. This is probably because it was written at the time of the persecution under Diocletian (303 A. D.). The poem On the Phœnix (that fabulous bird that builds a nest, burns itself up, reappears among the ashes as a worm, grows to an egg, is hatched, and flies away to renewed life) shows many traces of Christianity but contains no direct reference to the new religion. Lactantius was well educated in the learning of the pagans, and when he became a Christian did not forget what he had learned before. His style is purer than that of his Christian predecessors, being modelled upon that of Cicero. For this reason the name “Christian Cicero” has been applied more appropriately to him than to Tertullian, though in power of eloquence Tertullian, with all his harshness of style, is the greater.

The second century, which saw the birth of Christian literature in Latin, produced, as we have seen, several writers of real power, and as the third century opened, Christian literature gained, in the person of Lactantius, a writer who possessed at the same time elegance of style. With Lactantius the African school of Christian writing approaches the classical style of Minucius Felix, and the path is made straight for the writings of St. Jerome and St. Augustine. From this time on, the real life of Latin literature is seen in Christian rather than in pagan writings.

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Terentianus, about 200 A. D.—Quintus Serenus Sammonicus, about 200 A. D.—Nemesianus, 283 A. D.—Reposianus, toward 300 A. D.—Vespa, late in the third century—Hosidius Geta, early in the third century—Disticha Catonis—Marius Maximus, about 165-230 A. D.—Ælius Julius Cordus, about 250 A. D.—The Historia Augusta—Domitius Ulpianus, killed 228 A. D.—Julius Paulus, first half of third century—Cornelius Labeo—Quintus Gargilius Martialis—Censorinus, 238 A. D.—Gaius Julius Solinus—Gaius Julius Romanus, early third century—Marius Plotius Sacerdos, latter part of third century—Aquila Romanus—Ælius Festus Aphthonius, end of third century—The panegyrists: Eumenius, Nazarius, Mamertinus, Drepanius.

While Christian literature was developing in the third century the pagan literature dragged on its senile existence. Pagan poetry of the third century. There was little poetry that deserved the name, though skill in versification was not uncommon. Terentianus wrote in verse his handbook of metres about the beginning of the century, and not far from the same time Quintus Serenus Sammonicus composed a medical handbook containing sixty-three recipes in 1,107 hexameters. He does not pretend to be a physician, but derives his wisdom, such as it is, from Pliny and other writers. The recipes are of various kinds, some recommending the use of herbs in a simple and sensible way, while others prescribe more or less disgusting compounds of animal matter, and a few are nothing more nor less than magic charms. So fevers are to be cured by wearing tied to one’s neck a bone found within the enclosure of a house, [Pg 254] and a cure for another fever is found in a piece of paper inscribed in the proper manner with the magic formula abracadabra, which is to be worn round the neck of the patient. To the credit of Sammonicus it should be said that his knowledge of metre is greater than his knowledge of medicine; but even that does not raise his handbook to the level of poetry. A writer of much better quality, who even deserves to be called a poet, is Marcus Aurelius Olympius Nemesianus, who wrote, in the year 283 A. D., a poem On Hunting (Cynegetica), 325 lines of which are preserved, and who is also the author of four eclogues formerly attributed to Calpurnius (see page 188). The discussion of dogs, horses, hunting-nets, and the like in the Cynegetica can hardly be called poetry, but the eclogues, though written in close imitation of Calpurnius, who was himself an imitator of Virgil, show some genuine poetic spirit. There is also some poetic beauty in the poem on the love of Mars and Venus, by Reposianus, written toward the end of the third century, but not so much can be said in praise of Vespa’s metrical argument between a baker and a cook (Indicium Coci et Pistoris Iudice Vulcano) as to the relative merits of their callings, or of the epigrams and “echo verses” of Pentadius. These last consist of elegiac distichs so written that the first words of the hexameter are repeated or “echoed” at the end of the pentameter. Such verse has little relation to poetry, but shows that there was still an interest felt in the technique of metrical writing. That the study of the classic writers, especially of Virgil, was diligently cultivated, is shown by the existence of poems composed entirely of Virgilian lines and fragments of lines. A remarkable extant specimen of such work is the short tragedy Medea, probably written by Hosidius Geta, near the beginning of the third century. Several anonymous poems add little to our admiration for the poets of the third century, but the so-called Disticha Catonis should be mentioned because [Pg 255] they gained great and long-continued popularity. They are maxims of every-day wisdom expressed in distichs of two hexameters. Such maxims are: “Regard it as the first virtue to hold your tongue; he is nearest God who knows how to keep a wise silence”; or, “Be sure to tell many of another’s kindness, but keep silence about the kindnesses you have done to others.” These distichs were soon imitated, and similar maxims in one line—monostichs— were also written. They are hardly poetry, but have some interest because of their popular nature.

The prose of the third century possesses even less interest than the verse. Pagan prose in the third century. The only historians worthy of the name—Dio Cassius and Herodian—wrote in Greek. Marius Maximus (about 165-230 A. D.) continued Suetonius’s lives of the emperors from Nerva to Heliogabalus, and about the middle of the century Ælius Julius Cordus wrote lives of the more obscure emperors. These works are lost, but, like those of several other writers of this period, were used by the authors of the so-called Historia Augusta, a collection of lives of the emperors from Hadrian to Numerianus (117-284 A. D.). These lives were written by six authors, four of whom, Ælius Spartianus, Julius Capitolinus, Vulcacius Gallicanus, and Trebellius Pollio, wrote under Diocletian (284-305 A. D.), while the remaining two, Ælius Lampridius and Flavius Vopiscus, belong to the early part of the fourth century. They are all alike in the poverty of their style and their liking for petty personal details. The books on the Prætorian Edict by Domitius Ulpianus, who was killed in 228 A. D., and by his younger contemporary, Julius Paulus, as well as other juristic works of the third century, were important contributions to the development of Roman law, and the attempt made by Cornelius Labeo in his lost work on the Roman religion to explain the pagan cult would probably, if it were preserved, be interesting as an attempt to de[Pg 256]fend the old religion against skepticism and Christianity. The extant parts of the work of Quintus Gargilius Martialis on agriculture, veterinary medicine, the use of healing herbs, and the like, show that the whole was a compilation from the works of Pliny the elder and other writers by a man who had sense and judgment; the treatise On Birthdays (De Die Natali), written in a lively and easy style by a grammarian Censorinus in 238 A. D., is a compilation from Suetonius, Varro, and others, of information concerning the birth and life of a man, astrology, music, and some other matters; and the Collection of Things Worth Remembering (Collectanea Rerum Memorabilium), by Gaius Julius Solinus, contains valuable information about early Roman history (to Augustus) and the geography of the ancient world, with especial attention to oddities and peculiarities, whether of the countries or their inhabitants; but none of these works is of independent literary importance. The grammatical writings of Gaius Julius Romanus, who lived in the first years of the third century, were much used by Charisius somewhat more than a century later. A grammar (Ars Grammatica) in three books by Marius Plotius Sacerdos, written in the latter part of the century, is extant, as is also a brief rhetorical treatise by Aquila Romanus. The four books On Metres by Ælius Festus Aphthonius, written under Diocletian, are lost, but their contents are in part preserved by Marius Victorinus. These grammatical works are of importance chiefly for their references to earlier literature.

None of the prose works just mentioned exhibits any creative talent or testifies to any new literary development. The only new literary phenomenon of the period is the rise of a school of oratory in Gaul, which produced, to be sure, nothing of great importance, but which shows by its very existence how far removed from Rome were now the centres of intellectual life, when the great Chris[Pg 257]tian writers were Africans and the pagan orators were Gauls. The Gallic orators avoided the harshness and obscurity of the African school, and wrote in smooth Ciceronian Latin, with a plentiful flow of words and a poor supply of ideas. The panegyrists. A collection of twelve panegyrics has been preserved, the first of which is Pliny’s address in honor of Trajan, delivered in 100 A. D., while the remaining eleven are dated at different times from 291 to 389 A. D. One of these was delivered in 297 A. D. by Eumenius, a teacher of Greek descent, but Gallic birth, for the benefit of the schools in his native town of Augustodunum (Autun), and three (perhaps four) of the others are probably by the same author. Three of the remaining speeches are assigned to known authors and dates. They are by Nazarius, in honor of Constantine (321 A. D.); by Mamertinus, in honor of Julian (362 A. D.); and by Latinus Drepanius Pacatus, in honor of Theodosius (389 A. D.). Two of these orators belong to the second half of the fourth century, but their speeches resemble the others in the collection, all of which are full of most exaggerated praise of the emperors. These speeches contain many references to the history of the times, but must be used with great care by the historian, since their purpose is to praise the emperors, and not even historical facts must be allowed to cast a shadow upon the imperial glory. The Gallic school of oratory was evidently flourishing in the later years of the third century and the greater part at least of the fourth. It was a learned school, based upon imitation of the ancient classics, and standing in no close relation to the living language of the times. The extant speeches show how thoroughly the study of the classics was carried on in Gaul, and at the same time how ready the orators were to flatter emperors who were pleased to listen to their obsequious praise.

Now that the chief centres of Latin literature are found to be in Gaul and Africa, not in Rome or even Italy, the[Pg 258] history of Roman literature has apparently reached its end; and yet throughout the fourth century, yes, even into the sixth century, the stream of old Roman tradition can be traced, and in the poems of Ausonius and Claudian and the De Consolatione Philosophiæ of Boëthius classical literature still survives. It is hard to fix a date for the beginning of the Middle Ages, and even harder to assign a definite time for the end of classical Roman literature. The first great independent and original Christian writings in Latin—those of Tertullian—may be regarded as the beginning of mediæval literature; but classical Latinity was by no means yet dead. In fact, in the fourth century, after Constantine had recognized Christianity as a state religion on an equal footing with the ancient belief, there was a revival of literature. Christian writers wrote in the ancient Roman manner, and secular writings by Christians are not to be distinguished from those of the adherents of the old religion. The religious writings of the leaders of Christian thought—St. Hilary, bishop of Poitiers, St. Ambrose, bishop of Milan, St. Jerome and St. Augustine— belong to the history of the church rather than to that of Roman literature, and can be mentioned here only in passing, while the writings of many lesser lights of the church must be altogether neglected. There still remain, however, many works in which something of the old Roman literary spirit survives, even after Rome herself has ceased to be the seat of empire.

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Nonius, early in the fourth century—Macrobius, 410 (?) A. D.—Martianus Capella, about 400 A. D.—Firmicus Maternus, 354 (?) A. D.—Marius Victorinus, about 350 A. D.—Ælius Donatus, about 350 A. D.—Charisius, about 350 A. D.—Diomedes, about 350 A. D.—Priscian, about 500 A. D.—Servius, latter part of the fourth century—Itineraries—Notitia, 354 A. D.—Peutinger Tablet—Palladius, about 350 A. D.—Vegetius, about 400 A. D.—Aurelius Victor, 360 A. D.—Eutropius, 365 A. D.—Festus, 369 A. D.—Julius Obsequens, about 360 A. D.—St. Jerome, 331-420 A. D.—Ammianus Marcellinus, about 330-400 A. D.—Sulpicius Severus, early in the fifth century—Orosius, 417 A. D.—Gregorianus, about 300 A. D.—Hermogenianus, about 330 A. D.Codex Theodosianus, 438 A. D.—The Code of Justinian, 529 A. D.—The Pandects and Institutes, 533 A. D.—Symmachus, about 345-405 A. D.—Dictys (L. Septimius), second half of the fourth century—Dares, fifth century—Hilarius, about 315 to 367 A. D.—Ambrose, about 340-397 A. D.—Jerome, 331-420 A. D.—Augustine, 354-430 A. D.—Optatianus, early in the fourth century—Juvencus, early in the fourth century—Avienus, 370 A. D.—The Querolus, about 370 A. D.—Ausonius, about 310 to about 395 A. D.—Prudentius 348 to about 410 A. D.—Claudian, 400 A. D.—Namatianus, 416 A. D.—Avianus, about 400 A. D.—Sedulius, about 450 A. D.—Dracontius, end of the fifth century.

The prose writings of the fourth century are, with the exception of theological treatises, almost all mere compilations or abbreviations of earlier works. In the early years of the century Nonius Marcellus, a Peripatetic philosopher of Thubursicum, in Numidia, wrote for his son a work in twenty books, De Compendiosa Doctrina, in which he discusses many questions pertaining for the most part to early Latin literature. This work is modelled on the Noctes Atticæ of Gellius, to which it is vastly inferior. It is nevertheless of value as our only authority for the[Pg 260] titles of some lost works and even for extracts from them. Nonius. Macrobius. Martianus Capella. For similar reasons the Saturnalia, in seven books, by Ambrosius Theodosius Macrobius, is of some importance. Macrobius, who was probably, like Nonius, an African, appears to be identical with the Macrobius who was proconsul of Africa in 410 A. D. The imaginary conversations of which his Saturnalia consists treat of Roman literature and antiquities, especially of the poetry of Virgil. Like Gellius and Nonius, Macrobius uses the works of earlier critics and commentators, and gives many quotations from Greek and Roman authors. Macrobius also wrote a commentary on Cicero’s Dream of Scipio, in which he quotes many authors, especially Greeks, but displays little or no originality. The encyclopædia, in nine books, written about the end of the fourth century by a third African, Martianus Capella, is of less value than the compilations of Nonius and Macrobius, though it, too, goes back to good authorities, such as Varro.

The chief seat of philosophy in the fourth century was Athens, and philosophical writings were almost all in Greek. Philosophy. Grammar. For the most part they expounded the mystical doctrines of Neoplatonism.134 The grammarian Ælius Donatus, who flourished at Rome about 350 A. D. and was one of the teachers [Pg 261]of St. Jerome, wrote commentaries on Terence and Virgil to which he prefixed the lives of the two poets from the lost work of Suetonius. The work on Virgil is lost, and the commentary on Terence contains in its present form many later additions. The extant grammars (Ars Grammatica) of Charisius and Diomedes, which have preserved much of the learning of earlier grammarians, belong to a very slightly later time. The last and most complete ancient grammar was written under the Emperor Anastasius (491-518 A. D.) at Constantinople in the Latin language by Priscian, from Cæsarea, in Mauretania. This work, in eighteen books, is entitled Institutiones Grammaticæ, and contains a vast quantity of material from the earlier literature. Much of the grammatical terminology, even of the present time, is derived from Priscian. The important commentary on Virgil by Servius was written in the latter part of the fourth century, and is preserved in two forms, in one of which numerous additions have been made to the original work.135

In 360 A. D., Aurelius Victor wrote a short history of the emperors (Cæsares) from the time of Augustus to the tenth consulship of Constantius and Julian, i. e., to the [Pg 262]date of his writing. He makes free use of Suetonius, and his style is sometimes an imitation of that of Sallust. History. A second entirely distinct work attributed to the same author is a brief epitome of the history of the emperors to the death of Theodosius I (395 A. D.). Under Valens (364-378 A. D.) Eutropius wrote a Breviarium ab Urbe Condita, a short sketch of Roman history from the beginning to the year 365 A. D., which is distinguished for its simple, easy style and pure Latinity, but has no independent value as an historical work.136

Much more important is the Chronicle of St. Jerome (331-420 A. D.), a translation from the Greek of Eusebius with important additions. The Chronicle begins with the first year of Abraham (2016 B. C.). From this point to the Trojan War, Jerome merely translates Eusebius, from the Trojan War to 325 A. D. he translates Eusebius and adds much information concerning Roman history and literature, and from 325 to 378 A. D. the work is entirely his own. His information concerning the history of Roman literature is derived chiefly from Suetonius (De Viris Illustribus) and is of the utmost importance, though the dates given are sometimes wrong, which is not surprising when one remembers the carelessness in respect to dates exhibited by Suetonius in his extant Lives of the Cæsars. Jerome’s Chronicle was continued in the fifth century by Prosper of Aquitania to the year 455 A. D., and further additions were made after that time. The Chronicle is of great importance to the historian, but is itself merely the dry bones of history. The only real history that the last centuries of Roman literature produced, the only serious and original historical work after Tacitus, is that of

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Ammianus Marcellinus; for the summary of universal history (Chronicorum Libri II) written by the Aquitanian Sulpicius Severus in the early years of the fifth century, and the more pretentious but no more original history of the world (Historiarum Adversus Paganos Libri VII) by Orosius of Spain, compiled soon after 417 A. D., are even less important than the handbook of Eutropius.

Ammianus Marcellinus (about 330-400 A. D.) was a Greek of Antioch, who became a soldier in the Roman army, served in Asia, in Gaul, and in the Persian campaign of the Emperor Julian, and was at some time in Egypt, but finally settled at Rome, where he wrote in Latin a continuation of Tacitus from Nerva to the death of Valens (96-378 A. D.). Ammianus Marcellinus. The entire work consisted of thirty-one books, thirteen of which are lost; but the extant books (XIV-XXXI), treating of the time from 353 to 378 A. D., and dealing with events in which the author took part, are especially valuable. Ammianus is an honest soldier, who, to use his own expression, never knowingly corrupts the truth by silence or falsehood, who has no liking and not much understanding for court intrigues, but is intent upon giving his readers a fair and unbiased account of events. His Latin is hard to understand, partly because he writes it as a foreigner, but still more because he wishes to write an ornate style and embellishes his work with many references to the Roman classics, sometimes quoting their exact words, oftener changing them a little, as if to show his perfect familiarity with the earlier literature. The geographical digressions introduced are not original descriptions of what Ammianus had himself seen, but are taken from Greek or Latin books. Although himself a pagan, Ammianus shows no hostility to Christianity, but his paganism is not very serious. He seems to believe that not all men think alike, and that on the whole it[Pg 264] is well for each to believe as he can. His pictures of the life of the times are admirable, and bring before us in a clear light the corruption and degeneration of the age. Yet he does not seem to feel righteous indignation nor to understand that the greatness of the Roman empire is rapidly passing away. His history ends with the disastrous defeat of the Romans by the Goths at Hadrianople and the death of the Emperor Valens; but so accustomed was the world to the power of the Roman empire that even this terrible reverse was not recognized as portending the end of the ancient order of things. For a little while Theodosius was able to maintain the integrity of the empire, but the end was at hand. It is not unfitting that the last Roman historian, himself a Greek by birth, ends his work at a moment when more than ever before the Greek city of Constantinople was becoming the refuge of what remained of the old Roman civilization.

The study of law, which had for centuries been among the most important pursuits of Roman thinkers, was not neglected in the last centuries of Roman life. Law. Under Diocletian (284-305 A. D.) the imperial edicts were codified by Gregorianus, and in the reign of Constantine (323-337 A. D.) Hermogenianus continued the codification to his own time. In 438 A. D., under Theodosius II, the Codex Theodosianus was compiled by a commission of jurists, and in the reign of Justinian a commission headed by the distinguished jurist, scholar, and man of affairs Tribonian, gave to Roman law its final form in three great works: the Code, published in 529 A. D., the Pandects or Digests, and the Institutes, published in 533 A. D., which have served as the basis for all later jurisprudence.

Oratory found its chief field of activity in the Christian pulpit from the time of Constantine, but was not confined to the exposition of Christian doctrine. The Gallic school of oratory continued to flourish, and indeed Gaul[Pg 265] was prominent in literature of all kinds during the fourth and fifth centuries. Oratory. Among other orators the most important was Quintus Aurelius Symmachus, a Roman of noble family and honorable character, whose life extended from about 345 to 405 A. D. His panegyrics on Valentinian I and Gratianus resemble the other panegyrics of the period, and the fragmentary remains of later speeches delivered in the senate show no greater ability. More interesting are his letters, in which he appears as an imitator of the younger Pliny, and his official reports as prefect of the city.

A curious prose version of the story of the Trojan War was written by Lucius Septimius, apparently in the second half of the fourth century. Dictys and Dares. This purports to a translation of an ancient Greek manuscript in Phœnician letters found in the tomb of a certain Dictys, in Crete. The story of the discovery of the manuscript is undoubtedly an invention, but the Latin account may be a translation of a lost Greek original. The style is artificial and full of antiquated expressions. The author most persistently imitated is Sallust. A somewhat similar little work belonging to the fifth century pretends to be a translation by Cornelius Nepos of a Greek account of the Trojan War given by a Phrygian Dares, who fought among the Trojans. The style is dry and unattractive, but the little book was much read in the Middle Ages. These two works serve to give us some idea of the kind of literature which, alongside of the Greek novels, amused the leisure hours of cultivated persons.

The contents of the works of the leaders of the church in the fourth and fifth centuries can hardly be considered in a history of Roman literature, but inasmuch as their writings show the continued influence of classical Latin, their style and choice of words should be briefly mentioned. Hilarius. The bitter controversy be[Pg 266]tween the Arians and the Athanasians produced in the fourth century a great number of controversial writings, among which those of Hilarius (St. Hilary), Bishop of Poitiers, are remarkable for depth of philosophical thought and care in expression. Hilarius was born between 310 and 320 A. D., and was trained in the Gallic school of eloquence. After his conversion to Christianity he soon became bishop of his native Poitiers. His opposition to Arianism, which Constantius favored, led to his banishment, but he was recalled after three years, in 358 A. D. His death took place in 367 A. D. Besides his controversial writings he was the author of commentaries on several books of the Old and New Testaments, and perhaps also of hymns. His style shows in some passages his early training in the school of wordy and ornate Gallic oratory, but is chiefly distinguished for its vigor and passion. Hilarius carried on the work of adapting Latin to the expression of Christian abstract thought, which had been begun in Africa by Tertullian.

Ambrosius (St. Ambrose), who lived from about 340 to 397 A. D., was probably born in Gaul, where his father was prefect, but was of Roman, not Gallic blood. Ambrosius. After a careful education he became a barrister, and was soon raised to the consular rank and made governor of the provinces of Liguria and Æmilia. Thus he came to Milan, where he was chosen bishop in 374 A. D. He was a man of great tact as well as firmness, who dared to exclude the Emperor Theodosius from the church, until he had shown repentance for the massacre at Thessalonica, and to refuse the request of the Empress Justina that one of the churches at Milan be set aside for the Arians, but who succeeded in avoiding any breach with the emperor in spite of his independence. It was in great part due to St. Ambrose that Italy was kept from adopting the Arian heresy. His writings comprise letters, dogmatic treatises, practical treatises on the conduct of[Pg 267] life, commentaries on the Scriptures, funeral orations on Valentinian II and Theodosius, and hymns. He is also the probable author of a translation of Josephus into Latin. In his mystic, allegorical interpretations of Scripture St. Ambrose follows the Jewish-Stoic philosopher Philo, who lived about the time of Christ, and in his treatise On Duties he imitates Cicero’s work of the same title. His intimate acquaintance with other works of the classical period is made evident both by the general quality of his style, which is purer than that of most of his contemporaries, and by many special references. His hymns have had great influence upon church poetry and music.

St. Jerome (Hieronymus) was born about 331 A. D., at Stridon, a town on the borders of Dalmatia and Pannonia, studied at Rome under Donatus, then spent two years at Treves, was afterwards at Aquileia for some time, then sailed to Syria. Jerome (Hieronymus). Here he was ill for a time, and solaced himself by reading the classics, until he was warned by a dream to give up profane literature. He retreated into the wilderness of Chalcis, where he remained five years. In 362 A. D. he returned Rome, where he had great influence for many years, but in 386 he retired to a monastery at Bethlehem. There he remained until his death, in 420 A. D. As a controversial writer St. Jerome had great influence in settling the doctrines of the Catholic church; he also wrote commentaries on various books of the Bible, and numerous letters dealing with religious questions. His translation of the Bible was a masterly performance, and is the basis of the Latin Vulgate, still in use in the Roman Catholic church. He compiled a brief work, De Viris Illustribus, in which he gave sketches of the lives of Christian writers, as Suetonius, in his work of the same title, had given the lives of the old Roman authors. The sketches given by Jerome are, however, much briefer than were those of Suetonius. The translation and continuation of the Chronicle of[Pg 268] Eusebius has already been mentioned (see page 262). St. Jerome is one of the ablest writers of the early Christian church, and certainly the most learned Christian writer of his time. His style is not exempt from the faults of exaggeration and verbal quibbling common in the writings of the age, but possesses much life and earnestness, and is free from the affectation of classicism, though it shows the effect of his prolonged study of the classics.

St. Augustine (Aurelius Augustinus) was born in 354 A. D. at Tagaste, in Africa. Augustine. His father was a pagan, his mother a Christian, and in his early years Augustine himself accepted the doctrine of Manicheeism, a sort of mystical materialism, which denied all authority, and claimed to rest entirely upon reason. He was a successful teacher of rhetoric in Africa, at Rome, and at Milan, where he came under the influence of St. Ambrose and was converted. In 388 A. D. he returned to Africa, became presbyter at Hippo in 392, and bishop in 395 A. D. His death took place in 430 A. D. His nature was many sided, and composed of apparently contradictory elements. He was a mystic speculator, a sharp reasoner, at one time harsh and uncompromising, at another full of tenderness, an original thinker yet a believer in authority, dreamer, poet, philosopher, rhetorician, and quibbler in one. His writings are in part speculations on theology, in part ponderings on the soul, its nature and its relations to God, and in part controversial treatises, sermons, commentaries, and letters. The best known among them are the Confessions, in which Augustine gives many details of his life, and records the doubts that perplexed him, and the City of God (De Civitate Dei), a work of his old age, in which he contrasts the city (or better, the state) of this world with the ideal city of God. This work was written in reply to the pagans, who claimed that the sack of Rome by Alaric was due to the neglect of the ancient worship. It consists of twenty-two books, in the first ten[Pg 269] of which the “vain opinions adverse to the Christian religion” are refuted, while the twelve remaining are devoted to a presentation of Christian truth, though each division contains many digressions, and in each the part of the subject properly belonging to the other is treated as occasion demands. In many parts of this great work reference is made to Cicero’s De Re Publica and other philosophical writings, and Augustine’s dialogue Contra Academicos is an evident imitation of Cicero’s Academics. Yet it can not be said that Augustine’s style is modelled upon that of Cicero. It is rather a style which had gradually developed among Christian writers, in which the periodic structure of the Ciceronian age is abandoned for the most part, many words unknown to strictly classical Latin have been introduced, partly from the popular speech and partly by new formation to express abstract ideas, not a few Biblical phrases are employed, and some slight changes in syntax are noticeable. This is the Latin of the church, which has remained nearly as St. Augustine left it, except in so far as the strictly classical element grew less in the centuries preceding the Renaissance. For St. Augustine the “state” of this world still means the Roman empire, though the eternal city had been sacked by the Goths, but the time seems to him not far distant when the state of God shall rest in the “stability of its eternal seat.” So his language is still Latin; but his thoughts and sentiments are Christian, not Roman. The ancient world was still visible about him, but the life of the Middle Ages had begun.

The fourth century produced a considerable number of poets who possessed no mean skill in versification, but whose works have for the most part disappeared. Optatianus. Optatianus (Publilius Optatianus Porphyrius) composed a poem in praise of Constantine in which he shows his ingenuity by writing lines that take the shape of an altar or an organ, contriving to make fifteen[Pg 270] successive hexameters each one letter shorter than its predecessor, making nineteen stanzas of four lines each from the same twenty words, and inventing the most complicated and elaborate acrostics and the like. Such work is not poetry, but it shows skill in the manipulation of words. It is interesting to know that Constantine was so pleased that he recalled the ingenious author from banishment. Juvencus. About the same time Juvencus (Gaius Vettius Aquilinus Juvencus) made a version of the Gospel story in hexameters after the manner of Virgil. He shows intelligent appreciation of the dignity and beauty of his model, and writes skillfully and easily. Avienus. This Latin poem is the prototype of the “Gospel Harmonies” of the Middle Ages. Avienus (Rufus Festus Avienus), of Vulsinii, in Etruria, was a descendant of the Stoic philosopher Musonius Rufus (see page 177), and was twice proconsul—in Africa in 366 and in Greece in 371 A. D. He translated the Phænomena of Aratus into Latin verse, and tried to improve upon the translations by Cicero and Germanicus (see pages 70 and 173), made a similar translation with variations from the Periegesis of Dionysius, described the coasts of the Black Sea, the Caspian, and the Mediterranean in iambic trimeters, and made abridgments of Livy and Virgil in the same metre. These last are lost, as is a large part of the description of the coasts. Avienus was also the author of several short poems. He has no little ability as a maker of verses, and has the good taste to imitate Virgil, but exhibits no poetic originality. His language is for the most part strictly classic. Querolus. To about the same time as Avienus belongs also a curious comedy entitled Querolus (The Discontented Man), a free imitation of the Aulularia of Plautus, composed in a remarkable mixture of prose and verse.

The only really interesting poet of the fourth century is, however, Ausonius, whose life extends through nearly[Pg 271] the entire century. Decimus Magnus Ausonius was born at Bordigala (Bordeaux) about 310 A. D. Ausonius. He became a teacher of rhetoric and oratory, and was appointed tutor to Gratian, the son of the Emperor Valens. When Gratian became emperor he rewarded his teacher with public offices, and raised him in 379 A. D. to the consulate. After Gratian’s death (383 A. D.) Ausonius retired from public life and devoted himself to literary pursuits at his native Bordeaux until his death, which took place not far from 395 A. D. Nearly all his extant writings belong to this period. The only considerable specimen of his prose extant is the oration in which he expressed his thanks to Gratian for the consulship. In this the style, though somewhat flowery, is not without dignity, and the vocabulary is pretty strictly classic. The extant poems are of various kinds and in various metres. They include epigrams, idylls, letters, a series of short poems called Parentalia, devoted to the poet’s relatives, a Commemoratio Professorum Burdigalensium, describing his colleagues at Bordeaux, verses on the Roman emperors, on famous cities, and a variety of other subjects. Some of these show cleverness in the use of language, but no higher quality. Such are the letters written partly in Greek and partly in Latin, and the idylls so composed that the last word of each line is a monosyllable; but among the poems are some of considerable interest even though their poetic qualities are not of the highest. So the Parentalia and the verses on the Bordeaux professors give the reader some insight into the life of an important provincial city. It is interesting, too, to observe that of the seventeen cities mentioned in the List of Famous Cities five are in Gaul. To be sure, Ausonius was himself a Gaul, and may have made his native region unduly prominent, but other evidence, including the remains of ancient buildings, supports his estimate of the importance of the Gallic cities. His lines on Bordeaux, famous for[Pg 272] its wine, its culture, its fertile soil, great rivers, copious water supply, and fine buildings, show his patriotism and his skill in descriptive writing. The latter quality is conspicuous in the most famous of his idylls, the one entitled Mosella, in which Ausonius describes the stream and the valley of the Moselle, which he had visited on some business not further specified. The vine-clad hills and grassy meadow lands, the roofs of villas that stand upon the banks, the broad, clear river, calm and placid as a lake, are all brought before our eyes with clear, well-chosen words and a masterly lightness of touch. At the same time the poet’s love of nature and her beauties is as plainly manifest as in any poem of Wordsworth or Whittier. Unfortunately, Ausonius proceeds to mention all the different kinds of fish in the Moselle, and the remarkable productivity of the river does not add to the attractiveness of the poem. Yet the poem is deservedly famous for its beauty of expression and its enthusiastic love of nature. It is also remarkably modern in its tone. Satyrs and Naiads are mentioned, but only as a modern poet might mention them. Ausonius is a Christian, and for him the pagan deities of the woods are only beings which he “might imagine.” This poem shows as clearly as the Pervigilium Veneris, though in a different way, that the spirit of the Middle Ages was awake.

Ausonius was a Christian, but his poems have no specifically Christian contents. Prudentius. The most important specifically Christian poet of the fourth century is Aurelius Prudentius Clemens, who was born in Spain, at or near Saragossa, in 348 A. D., studied and practised oratory, and held important offices. His life was apparently passed for the most part in Spain, but at one time he held a position at the imperial court of Theodosius. The date of his death is probably about 410 A. D. Prudentius, like Ausonius, employs hexameters and various other classic metres, in which he departs occasionally,[Pg 273] but not often, from the rules of quantitative verse. His poems, both epic and lyric, are religious and inspired by earnest faith and genuine enthusiasm. He excels in narrative and description, in wealth and brilliancy of language, but lacks the virtue of simplicity. His poetry was intended to appeal to educated readers, not to the people, and the cultured classes of the time were only too thoroughly accustomed to an artificial style. Yet, in spite of his faults of style, Prudentius is the most important Christian poet of the fourth century, and among the other poets of the time none equal him except Ausonius and Claudian.

Claudius Claudianus, the last important Roman poet, was, like Livius Andronicus, with whom Roman poetry began, a Greek by birth. Claudian. He was born in Asia Minor, but lived so long at Alexandria that he called that centre of learning his fatherland (patria). In 395 A. D. he went to Rome, where he was attached to the court of Honorius, from whom he received the rank of patrician and the honor of a statue in the Forum of Trajan. He remained at Rome, or rather at Milan, until 404 A. D., but about that time returned to Alexandria, and married a noble woman of the place, being aided in his suit by Serena, niece and adopted daughter of the Emperor Theodosius and wife of Stilicho. Claudian’s poems all appear to have been written from 395 to 404 A. D., and throughout this period he is the faithful follower and enthusiastic admirer of Stilicho, Whether Stilicho’s death in 408 A. D. relegated Claudian to obscurity, or the poet himself died at about the same time as his patron, can not now be determined. Claudian’s works comprise epic poems on the important events of his times, such as the Gothic war and the war against Gildo, mythological epics, and shorter miscellaneous poems. Among the historical epics are included poems in praise of Honorius and other patrons of the poet, as well as met[Pg 274]rical attacks upon Rufinus and Eutropius. The only remains of his mythological epics are three books of a poem, on the Rape of Proserpine, and somewhat more than one hundred lines of a Gigantomachia. In these poems Claudian shows the mythological and antiquarian learning which had for centuries been characteristic of the Alexandrian school of poetry. That school was already old when it was imitated by Catullus and his contemporaries in the early days of Roman poetry, and now, when Roman literature was dying, Alexandria continued to train learned poets. Had Claudian not gone to Italy, he would doubtless have continued to write in his native Greek, and might, as a Greek poet, have rivalled his contemporary Nonnus. In his historical and miscellaneous poems also Claudian exhibits much Alexandrian learning, and at the same time shows an intimate acquaintance with the earlier Roman poets, which is somewhat surprising in one who was educated in the Greek-speaking provinces of the east. It is equally surprising that Claudian uses the Latin language with an ease and grace not attained by any of his contemporaries. His verse is correct, dignified, and harmonious, his diction pure and classical. In these respects, as well as in wealth of imagery, brilliancy of narrative, and skill in composition, he is unequalled by any Roman poet after Statius. His historical poems must be used with caution by historians, for, although facts are not invented, they are presented in a strong light, or left in obscurity, according to the effect they might have upon the reputation of the poet’s friends or enemies. In the exuberance of his praise, Claudian equals the contemporary prose panegyrists, and surpasses the early Alexandrian and most of the later Roman poets. Among his miscellaneous poems none is so well known in modern times, or so modern in tone, as the brief elegy of only twenty-two lines, on an old man of Verona, who never left his suburb, who pressed his staff upon the same sand in which he had[Pg 275] crept, counted his years by the changes of crops, not by consuls, and saw the trees grow old which he had seen as little sprouts. The advantages of a quiet, humble life have seldom been more charmingly set forth than in this poem.

With all his learning, skill, and genuine poetic inspiration, Claudian is still the belated singer of a worn-out empire and a dying civilization. Rome was no longer the mighty and unquestioned ruler of the world. The poet whose chief task it was to sing the praises of Stilicho, and spread the glory of his victories, must needs shut his eyes, so far as possible, to the evident decay, but he could not simulate utter blindness. In the beginning of his poem on the war with Gildo, Claudian shows that the feebleness and old age of Rome were not hidden from him. He describes the personified city, the goddess Roma, as she approaches Olympus to beg for aid against Gildo, whose revolt, involving the loss of the African grain supply, threatened to expose the city to famine:

Her voice is weak, and slow her steps; her eyes
Deep sunk within; her cheeks are gone; her arms
Are shrivelled up with wasting leanness. On
Her feeble shoulders hardly can she bear
Her tarnished shield; she shows from loosened helm
Her hoary locks, and drags a rusty spear.137

Even the poet who sang of Rome’s victories could portray her in such terms as these. Namatianus. Yet the tradition of Roman greatness still survived. In the year 416, Rutilius Claudius Namatianus, a Gaul who had risen to the position of præfectus urbi at Rome, was obliged to return to Gaul to attend to his property, which had been laid waste by the Goths. The journey was the occasion of a poem in two books, most of which [Pg 276]is preserved. It is written in elegiacs, with much still and feeling. Many episodes and descriptions are inserted in the narrative, but no passage is so striking as that in which the traveller, passing out from the Ostian gate, addresses the imperial city:

Wide as the ambient ocean is thy sway,
And broad thy empire as the realms of day;
Still on thy bounds the sun’s great march attends,
With thee his course begins, with thee it ends.
Thy strong advance nor Afric’s burning sand,
Nor frozen horrors of the Pole withstand;
Thy valor, far as kindly Nature’s bound
Is fixed for man, its dauntless way has found.
All nations own in thee their common land,
And e’en the guilty bless thy conquering hand;
One right for weak, for strong, thy laws create,
And bind the wide world in a world-wide State.138

The history of Roman poetry is virtually at an end with Claudian. Avianus. Sedulius. Dracontius. Other poets there were, but none whose works are living and breathing exponents of the ancient Roman life. About 400 A. D. Avianus published forty-two fables of Æsop in elegiac verse; about the middle of the fifth century the presbyter Sedulius wrote several religious poems, in which he shows acquaintance not with Biblical literature alone, but also with the Latin classics; and at the end of the century the African poet Blossius Æmilius Dracontius wrote a didactic poem On the Praise of God, in three books, a number of short epics, chiefly mythological, and several other poems. Dracontius is not unskillful in his versification and his use of language, and his poems prove that rhetorical training was still to be found in Africa. Moreover, his knowledge of the Roman classics is as evident as his knowledge of the Bible. But neither Dracontius nor the [Pg 277]other poets whose works are preserved to us from the fifth century could do more than help to pass on to the Middle Ages something of the ancient feeling for beauty of form in literature. And even that had ceased to be understood by the people.

[Pg 278]



The end of the ancient civilization—Boëthius, about 480-524 A. D.—Later literature no longer Roman—Practical character of Roman literature—The first period—The Augustan period—The period of the empire—Our debt to the Romans.

Long before the end of the fifth century the power of Rome was broken, and the centre of what had been the Roman empire was at Constantinople. The western provinces were in the hands of barbarians, Angles and Saxons ruled in Britain, Franks in northern Gaul, Visigoths in southern Gaul and Spain, and Vandals in Africa. The end of the old civilization. Italy itself had been repeatedly overrun by hardy warriors from the north, and Rome had twice been sacked, by the Goths under Alaric in 410 and by the Vandals under Genseric in 455 A. D. With the establishment by Theodoric, in 493 A. D., of the Gothic kingdom with its seat at Ravenna, the last vestige of the Roman empire of the West passed away. Henceforth western Europe is the scene of strife and disorder, through which men were to struggle onward to the new order of modern life. In the empire of the East much of the old civilization survived, and throughout the Middle Ages the ancient culture still shed some rays of light from Constantinople to the darkened west; but in western Europe there was little culture, and learning was for the most part shut up in the walls of monasteries.

The last writer who seems to belong to the old civilization is Boëthius. Anicius Manlius Torquatus Severinus[Pg 279] Boëthius was a Roman of noble birth and exalted station. Boëthius. He was born about 480 A. D., and after his father’s death was adopted by the patrician Symmachus, whose daughter he afterwards married. In 500 A. D. he delivered in the senate a speech in honor of Theodoric, who made frequent use of his learning and literary skill. He held important offices at Rome, received the title of patrician and in 510 A. D. became consul without a colleague. In 522 A. D. his two sons were made consuls, and the joyful father delivered an oration in praise of the Gothic king to whose favor they owed their elevation. But that favor was destined soon to pass from Boëthius. The emperor of the East, Justin, tried to stir up the Catholic Italians to revolt against the Arian Theodoric. Boëthius was suspected, arrested, and put to death with tortures in 524 A. D. The servile senate decreed his death without even the formality of a trial.

Boëthius was a prolific writer. He translated from the Greek various philosophical and mathematical treatises, to some of which he added commentaries, and the importance of the Aristotelian logic during the Middle Ages is in great measure due to him; he also wrote a bucolic poem, which is lost, and several treatises on points of Christian doctrine; but the work by which he is now best known, and to which he owes his reputation as the last Roman author, is the treatise On the Consolation of Philosophy (De Consolatione Philosophiæ), which he wrote in prison while waiting for his condemnation. The Consolation of Philosophy. This work consists of five books, and has the literary form of a satura—that is, the prose is interrupted and varied by the insertion of passages in verse. These metrical passages, although their rhythms and diction are excellent, do not show the same depth of thought as the prose portions. This is explained by the fact that the prose portions of the treatise are derived in great measure from the Protrepticus of Aristotle, while[Pg 280] the verses are more entirely the work of Boëthius himself. It is not likely that Boëthius employed the Protrepticus directly, but he probably had before him some work in which Aristotle’s teachings had been modified by the eclecticism of the later Platonists. Everywhere noble sentiments are expressed, but without the slightest indication of Christianity, or of any specific religion. The names of the pagan deities are used, but Boëthius believes in them no more than did Milton or the numerous writers of the eighteenth century in whose works their names occur. The attitude of Boëthius is throughout that of a cultivated and intellectual man who seeks for consolation when in trouble not in faith, but in reason. In the beginning of the work he laments his hard fate, when Philosophy appears before him in the form of a woman, and a dialogue ensues, in which the unimportance of what is ordinarily termed good or bad fortune, the nature of Providence, the divine order of the world, chance, free will, and similar subjects, are discussed. The style is the artificial, ornate style of the time, held in check by the logical sequence of the argument. Boëthius was a Christian, but in his adversity he turned to philosophy for consolation, and his philosophy is no more Christian than is that of Cicero. Yet his teachings, though not belonging to any one religion, are essentially religious. It is not wonderful that the Consolation was much read in the Middle Ages, and has continued to find many readers in later times.

There were still, in the sixth century, men who, like Boëthius, could find, amid the disorders of the times, the leisure and the taste for study; and the only kind of study possible was that of the ancient literature. Later literature no longer Roman. But Boëthius is the last in whom the ancient thoughts and feelings appear clad in literary form. Throughout the Middle Ages some of the classical writers, especially Virgil, were read and copied[Pg 281] in monasteries, and those laymen who received a clerkly education learned Latin as the only language (except the more distant and difficult Greek) in which a literature existed; but Latin was then, as now, a language of the past, even though it was still used for literary purposes, and the ancient civilization was far less understood than now. Writings in Latin after Boëthius belong not to Roman literature, but to the literature of the church and to that of the various nations of Europe.

The date of the beginning of Roman literature can be fixed almost to a year, for there was no Roman literature before Livius Andronicus. At that time Latin imitations of Greek works were introduced to add to the attractions of public entertainments and to make the young acquainted with the history of the past. The first period of Roman literature. As the republic grew in power, literature, still in imitation of the Greek, but expressing more and more completely the Roman character, developed in all directions, but especially in prose. The orators cultivated perfection in speech that they might move the judges, the senate, or the people; historians hoped that the records of the past would have a practical effect upon the deeds of the future, or they aimed, like Cæsar in his Commentaries, to further their own immediate ends; and Cicero adapted Greek philosophy to Roman readers in order that the republic might have wise and good citizens. The practical purpose of the lyric poetry of Catullus and his contemporary poets is less evident, though even lyric verse may serve political ends, and yet there seems to have been in the careful imitation of learned Alexandrian works a deliberate educational purpose. Certainly in all branches of literature except lyric poetry throughout the republican period a practical purpose, and usually a political purpose, is almost invariably to be found. Literature as developed by the Greeks seemed to the Romans to possess practical utility, and the great works of the repub[Pg 282]lican period were created by practical men to aid in the attainment of their ends.

In the Augustan period the practical purpose of literature is even more evident than in the earlier years. The Augustan period. In the transition from the republic to the monarchy it was desirable that the minds of men should not be too much occupied with politics, and literature was naturally encouraged by Augustus as an outlet for intellectual energy which might otherwise have turned to political matters. It was also desirable that the Julian family be connected as closely as possible with the beginnings of Rome, and how could that be done better than by such a poem as the Æneid? The immediate practical purpose of Virgil’s Georgics is evident. The poems of Horace, too, are in part openly intended to increase the popular prestige of the imperial house, and the mere fact that the poet was known to be the friend of the emperor would add as much to the glory of the one as of the other. The greatness of poetry in this period is due directly to the encouragement of Augustus, and his encouragement had a practical purpose. That prose, especially oratory, declined at this time is due to the fact that the orator was no longer the great power in the state.

Under the empire the influence of literature upon politics disappeared. Oratory no longer led to the highest power, poetry must, under some emperors at least, be careful not to overstep prescribed limits, and history could not safely record all facts with their causes and results. Even philosophical speculation was not safe if it led to practical conclusions adverse to the government. The imperial period. It was precisely those branches of literature which might be used for political purposes that the imperial government could hardly fail to discourage directly or indirectly, and those were the branches in which the practical Romans naturally excelled. There were, to be sure, emperors who encouraged literature, but[Pg 283] their encouragement, leading to flattery and artificial eloquence, was little likely to raise the quality, even though it increased the quantity, of literary production. With its practical importance Roman literature loses its vigor. Aside from Tacitus and Juvenal, hardly a single powerful and vigorous author appears in the imperial period until, with the growth of Christianity, literature again acquires practical importance. That literature maintained for so many years a relatively high degree of excellence is due to the constant influence of Greece, which counteracted to some extent the forces that tended to destroy all literary life. Thus Roman literature lingered on until after the breaking up of the Roman empire.

Only a small part of the great bulk of Roman literature is preserved to us, but that part includes the greatest works of the best period. Those are worthy subjects of study for their beauty of form, their clearness of thought, their power, their vigor, and their ethical qualities. The productions of the imperial period are inferior in quality to those of the republican and the Augustan times, though their quantity is proportionate to the duration of the empire; but these works also are proper subjects of study, for they also express the character of the Romans.

Three ancient peoples have impressed themselves strongly upon the nations of Europe and America—the Hebrews, the Greeks, and the Romans. To the first we owe the foundations of our religion, to the second the beginnings of all arts and sciences, to the Romans we are indebted for the adaptation of the arts and sciences, of philosophy, and even of religion to civilized life. Our debt to the Romans. The names of our months are Roman, and our calendar is, with slight necessary changes, that established by Julius Cæsar. The laws of continental Europe and, though to a less degree, of England and the United States, are based upon Roman law as finally established under Justinian. The so-called Gothic[Pg 284] architecture, which arose in France in the Middle Ages and which is still the prevailing style of our churches, can be traced back step by step to Roman buildings, and though Roman architecture was dependent upon that of Greece, it was through Rome that western Europe learned to use the column, the arch, and the vault. The beautiful architecture of the Renaissance is a conscious imitation of that of Rome. The Romans, too, in the early centuries of the Christian church, did their full share to systematize Christian belief, to reconcile it with philosophy, and to establish a reasonable form of church government. The results of their labors are inherited directly by the Roman Catholic church, and indirectly or partially by Protestants. There is hardly a side of modern life which is not more or less affected by ancient Rome; while the dignity, the sturdy manhood, the stoical disregard of fortune, the patriotism, and the vigorous earnestness expressed in Roman literature have a powerful influence in developing what is best in modern manhood. Roman literature will continue to be an important object of study as long as men still feel their obligations to the past, or are capable of learning from the example and precepts of other ages.

[Pg 285]


[This is not intended to be an exhaustive bibliography, but is merely an attempt to refer the student to some of the best and most available sources of information. Books in foreign languages, and editions with notes in foreign languages, are mentioned only in exceptional cases and for special reasons. Further bibliographical information is to be found in the larger histories of Roman literature, in Engelmann’s Bibliotheca Scriptorum Classicorum, the monthly lists in the Classical Review, and the Guide to the Choice of Classical Books, by J. B. Mayor, London, 1879, D. Nutt; with its New Supplement, 1896.]

General Works

C. T. Cruttwell. History of Roman Literature, London, 1877, Griffin.

J. W. Mackail. Latin Literature, London, 1895, Murray; New York, Scribner’s.

G. A. Simcox. History of Latin Literature, London and New York, 1883, Longmans, 2 vols.

G. Middleton and T. R. Mills. Handbook to Latin Authors, London and New York, 1896, Macmillan.

W. Y. Sellar. The Roman Poets of the Republic, Oxford, 2d ed. 1889; Poets of the Augustan Age (Virgil), Oxford, 1891; Horace and the Elegiac Poets, Oxford, 1892.

R. Y. Tyrrell. Latin Poetry, Boston, 1895, Houghton & Mifflin.

G. F. Aly. Geschichte der römischen Litteratur, Berlin, 1894, R. Gaertner.

G. Bernhardy. Grundriss der römischen Litteratur, 5th ed. Halle, 1872.

W. S. Teuffel. Geschichte der römischen Litteratur, 5th ed. revised by L. Schwabe, Leipzig, 1890, Teubner; translated by G. C. W. Warr, 2 vols., London, 1891, Bell. [Especially good for bibliography.]

[Pg 286]

M. Schanz. Römische Litteraturgeschichte, Munich, 2d ed. 1898-1901, Beck. 3 vols. (to Constantine); vol. iv (to Justinian) in preparation.

O. Ribbeck. Geschichte der römischen Dichtung. 3 vols. Stuttgart, 1887-’92.

C. Lamarre. Histoire de la Littérature latine depuis la Fondation de Rome jusqu’à la Fin du Gouvernement Républicain; Paris, 1901, Delagrave. 4 vols. [Vol. iv contains selections from Latin literature in the original and in French translation. The literature of the imperial period is to be treated in subsequent volumes.]

G. Michaut. Le Génie latin. Paris, 1900, Fontemoing. [Interesting and suggestive.]

A useful series of books called “Ancient Classics for English Readers” contains Cæsar, by Anthony Trollope; Catullus, Tibullus, and Propertius, by James Davies; Cicero, by W. L. Collins; Horace, by Theodore Martin; Juvenal, by E. Walford; Livy, by W. L. Collins; Lucretius, by Mallock; Ovid, by A. Church; Plautus and Terence, by W. L. Collins; Pliny, by A. Church and W. J. Brodribb; Tacitus, by W. B. Donne; and Virgil, by W. L. Collins. These are not translations, but essays illustrated by extracts. Published in America by the J. B. Lippincott Co.


[This list contains the titles of collections referred to below. Many other collections exist, the titles of which are to be found in larger bibliographies.]

Poetae Latini Minores, ed. Baehrens. 5 vols. Leipzig, 1879-’83, Teubner series.

Fragmenta Poetarum Romanorum, ed. Baehrens, Leipzig, 1886, Teubner series.

Corpus Poetarum Latinorum, ed. J. P. Postgate; parts i, ii, (vol. i), and iii. London, 1893-1900, Bell.

Patrologia Latina, ed. Migne, Paris. [221 vols. containing the works of ecclesiastical writers of Latin from the Apostolic times to those of Pope Innocent III.]

Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum. [A series of ecclesiastical writings, published by the Imperial Academy at Vienna, begun in 1866 and not yet completed.]

[Pg 287]

Scaenicae Romanorum Poesis Fragmenta, ed. O. Ribbeck. 2 vols. Leipzig, 1897-’98, Teubner series. [Vol. i, Tragicorum Romanorum Fragmenta; vol. ii, Comicorum Romanorum Fragmenta.]

Grammatici Latini, ed. H. Keil, Leipzig, 1857-’80, Teubner, 7 vols.

Historicorum Romanorum Relliquiae, ed. H. Peter, vol. i, Leipzig, 1870, Teubner.

Historicorum Romanorum Fragmenta, ed. H. Peter, Leipzig, 1883, Teubner series.

Scriptores Historiae Augustae, ed. H. Peter, Leipzig. 2 vols. Teubner series.

Anthologia Latina, ed. F. Bücheler and A. Riese, Leipzig, 1870-’97. 2 vols. Teubner series.

XII Panegyrici Latini, ed. Baehrens. Leipzig, 1874, Teubner series.

Oratorum Romanorum Fragmenta, ed. Meyer. Paris, 1837.

Editions and Translations

Accius. Text in Fragm. Poet. Rom., vol. i, and Scaen. Rom. Poes. Fragm., vol. i.

Ætna. Text in Corp. Poet. Lat., part iii, and Poet. Lat. Min., vol. ii. Text with notes and translation by Robinson Ellis, Oxford, 1901.

Ambrosius (St. Ambrose). Text, Patrologia Latina, vols. xiv-xvii.

Ammianus Marcellinus. Text. Gardthausen, Leipzig. 3 vols. Teubner series.

Ampelius. Text. Wölfflin in Halm’s Florus, Leipzig, 1854, Teubner series.

Andronicus. See Livius.

Aphthonius. Text in Grammat. Lat., vol. vi.

Apuleius. Text with Latin notes. Hildebrand, Leipzig, 1842. 2 vols.

Translation. Sir George Head, London, 1851; anonymous, in Bohn’s Library.

Arnobius. Text. Reifferscheid, vol. iv of Corp. Script. Eccl. Lat. Also in Patrol. Lat., vol. v.

Atta. Text in Scaen. Rom. Poesis Fragm., vol. ii,

Atticus. Text in Hist. Rom. Fr.

[Pg 288]

Augustinus (St. Augustine). Text. Patrol. Lat., vols. xxxii-xlvii; De Civitate Dei, Dombart, Leipzig, 1877, 2 vols., Teubner series; Confessiones, Raumer, Gütersloh, 1876, Bertelsmann.

Augustus. Monumentum Ancyranum, Mommsen, 2d ed. Berlin, 1883, Weidmann; W. Fairley (with English translation), Philadelphia, 1898, the University of Philadelphia.

Fragments, Weichart, Grimma, 1845.

Aurelius (Marcus Aurelius). See Fronto.

Ausonius. Text. Peiper, Leipzig, 1886, Teubner series.

Avianus. Text. Poet. Lat. Min. vol. v; critical text and notes. R. Ellis, Oxford, 1887.

Avienus. Crit. text. Holder, Innsbruck, 1887, Wagner.

Boëthius. Text. Peiper, Leipzig, 1871, Teubner series.

Translation. H. E. James, London, 1897, Elliot Stock; Fox, in Bohn’s Library.

Cæsar. Text. Kübler, Leipzig, 1893-1897, Teubner series. 3 vols.

Translation. W. A. McDevitte, Bohn’s Library. Text and notes. The Gallic War, Allen & Greenough, Boston, Ginn & Co.; The Civil War, Perrin, New York, University Publishing Co. Many other school editions exist.

Calpurnius. Text. Poet. Lat. Min., vol. iii; with Nemesianus, Text and Latin notes, Schenkl, Leipzig and Prague, 1885.

Capella. See Martianus.

Cato. De Agricultura. Text and Latin notes, Keil, Leipzig, 1884-’94, Teubner. [Two vols. with Varro, Res Rusticae.]

Other works. Text and Latin notes. Jordan, Leipzig, 1860, Teubner.

Catonis Disticha. Poet. Lat. Min., vol. iii.

Catullus. Text. Mueller, Leipzig, 1885, Teubner series. [With Tibullus, Propertius, the fragments of Laevius, Calvus, Cinna, and others, and the Priapea]; crit. text with appendices, R. Ellis, 2d ed., Oxford, 1878.

Annotated edition. Merrill, Boston, 1893, Ginn & Co.

Commentary. R. Ellis, 2d ed., Oxford, 1889.

Translation (verse). Theodore Martin, Edinburgh and London, 1875, Blackwood.

[Pg 289]

Celsus. Text. Daremberg, Leipzig, 1859, Teubner series.

Translation. J. Grieve, London, 1756.

Censorinus. Text. Hultsch, Leipzig, 1867, Teubner series; crit. text, J. Cholodniak, St. Petersburg, 1889.

Charisius. Text in Gram. Lat., vol. i.

Cicero. Text. Baiter and Kayser, Leipzig, 1860-’69, B. Tauchnitz, 11 vols.; Müller, Klotz, and others, Leipzig, Teubner series, 10 vols. [Editions of separate works and selections are numerous.]

Correspondence, arranged according to its chronological order, with commentary and introductory essays. R. Y. Tyrrell and L. C. Purser, Dublin and London, 1855-1901. 7 vols [vol. i in 2d ed.]

Translation. Orations, C. D. Yonge, 4 vols.; On Oratory and Orators, with Letters to Quintus and Brutus, J. S. Watson; On the Nature of the Gods, Divination, Fate, Laws, a Republic, and Consulship, C. D. Yonge and F. Barham; Academics, De Finibus, and Tusculan Questions, C. D. Yonge; Offices, or Moral Duties, Cato Major, an Essay on Old Age, Lælius, an Essay on Friendship, Scipio’s Dream, Paradoxes, Letter to Quintus on Magistrates, C. R. Edmonds; Letters, E. Shuckburgh, 4 vols. Bohn’s Library.

Life. W. Forsyth, London, 1863, Murray; New York, Scribner’s.

Cincius Alimentus. Text in Hist. Rom. Rell.

Ciris. Text in Poet. Lat. Min., vol. ii.

Claudian. Text. Koch, Leipzig, 1893, Teubner series.

Translation. Hawkins, London, 1817, 2 vols.

Columella. Text in Scriptores Rei Rusticae, ed. Schneider, Leipzig, 1794-’97; De Arboribus, text, Lundström, Upsala, 1897.

Translation. Anonymous, London, 1745.

Commodianus. Text. Ludwig, Leipzig, 1877-’78, 2 vols. Teubner series.

Consolatio ad Liviam. Text in Poet. Lat. Min., vol. i.

Cornificius (See Cicero ad Herennium). Text. Marx, Leipzig, 1894, Teubner.

Culex. Text in Poet. Lat. Min., vol. ii.

Curtius Rufus, Text. Vogel, Leipzig, 1881, Teubner series,

[Pg 290]

Translation. John Digby, 3d ed. corr. by Young, London, 1747.

Cyprian. Text. Hartel, Vienna, 1868-’71, 4 vols. in Corp. Script. Eccl. Lat.

Dares. Text. Meister, Leipzig, 1873, Teubner series.

Dictys. Text. Meister, Leipzig, 1872, Teubner series.

Diomedes. Text in Gram. Lat.

Dioscorides. Text in Gram. Lat.

Diræ. Text in Poet. Lat. Min., Vol. ii.

Donatus. Text in Gram. Lat. and in the introductions to early editions of Terence.

Ennius. Text in Fragm. Poet. Rom. and Corp. Poet. Lat., vol. i.

Eutropius. Text. Rühl, Leipzig, 1887, Teubner series.

Translation. See Justin.

Fenestella. Text in Hist. Rom. Fragm.

Festus (Rufius). Text. Wagner, Prague, 1886.

Festus (Sextus Pompeius). Text. Thewrewk, Budapest, 1889.

Firmicus Maternus. Text, Halm, Vienna, 1867, in Corp. Script. Eccl. Lat., vol. ii; Baehrens, Leipzig, 1886, Teubner series.

Florus. Text. Halm, Leipzig, 1854, Teubner series.

Frontinus. Strategemata. Text. Gundermann, Leipzig, 1888, Teubner series.

Translation. R. Scott, London, 1811.

De Aquis Urbis Romae. Text. Bücheler, Leipzig, 1858, Teubner.

Text with translation and discussion. C. Herschel, Boston, 1899, Dana, Estes & Co.

Fronto. Text. Naber, Leipzig, 1867, Teubner.

Gaius. Text with translation and notes. Poste, 3d ed., Oxford, 1890.

Gellius. Text. Hertz, Leipzig, 1887, Teubner series, 2 vols.

Crit. Text. Hertz, Leipzig, 1894, Teubner, 2 vols.

Translation. Beloe, London, 1795, 3 vols.

Germanicus. Text in Poet. Lat. Min., vol. i.

Gratius. Text in Poet. Lat. Min., vol. i; Corp. Poet. Lat., part iii.

Hieronymus. See Jerome.

[Pg 291]

Hilarius (St. Hilary). Text. Patrol Lat., vols. ix and x.

Hirtius. Text in complete editions of Cæsar.

Horace. Text in Corp. Poet. Lat., vol. i; Kellar and Häussner, 2d ed. Prague, 1892. Annotated editions are numerous.

Translation (verse). Theodore Martin, Edinburgh and London, 1881, Blackwood, 2 vols. Odes and Epodes, Lord Lytton, Edinburgh and London, 1869, New York, 1870.

Hyginus. Text. M. Schmidt, Jena, 1872.

Hyginus Gromaticus. Text. Domaszewski, Leipzig, 1887.

Jerome. Text. Patrol. Lat., vols. xxii-xxx. De Viris Illustribus, Herding, Leipzig, 1879, Teubner series.

Julius. See Cæsar.

Julius Cæsar Strabo. Text in Orat. Rom. Fragm.

Julius Victor. Text in Orelli’s Cicero, vol. v, p. 195, and in Halm’s Rhetores Minores, p. 371.

Justin. Text. Jeep, Leipzig, 1859, Teubner series; Hallberg, Paris, 1875.

Translation. Watson, London, 1853, Bohn’s Library, [with Cornelius Nepos and Eutropius].

Juvenal. Text. Bücheler, Berlin, 2d ed. 1886, Weidmann [with Persius and Sulpicia].

Annotated edition. Pearson & Strong, Oxford, 1892.

Translation. (Prose) Leeper, London, 1891, 2d ed. Macmillan [see also Lucilius]; (verse) Dryden, in Dryden’s works.

Lactantius. Text. Patrol Lat., vols. vi and vii. [Some of his works have appeared in Corp. Script. Eccl. Lat. The Poem on the Phœnix is in Poet. Lat. Min., vol. ii.]

Lampridius. Text in Scriptores Historiae Augustae.

Livius Andronicus. Text in Fragm. Poet. Rom. and Scaen. Rom. Poesis Fragm., vols. i and ii.

Livy. Text. Weissenborn, Leipzig, 1878, Teubner series, 6 vols.

Crit. Text. Madvig and Ussing, Copenhagen, 4th ed. 1886 and later. 4 vols.

Translation. Spillan, Edmunds, and McDevitte, London, Bohn’s Library. 4 vols.

Lucan. Text in Corp. Poet. Lat., part iii; Hosius, Leipzig, 1892. Teubner series.

Translation (verse). N. Rowe, London, 1807. 3 vols.

[Pg 292]

Lucilius. Text in Fragm. Poet. Rom.

Translation. Evans, London, Bohn’s Library. [Juvenal, Persius, Sulpicia, and Lucilius.]

Lucretius. Text. Munro, London, Bell; also in Harper’s Classical Texts.

Crit. Text. Lachmann, Berlin, 1866. 2 vols.

Text and notes. Munro, London, 4th ed. 1891-’93, Bell. 3 vols., the third of which is a prose translation.

Macrobius. Text. Eyssenhardt, Leipzig, 1868, 2d ed. Teubner series.

Mæcenas. Text in Fragm. Poet. Rom.

Manilius. Text in Corp. Poet. Lat., part iii.

Translation. Creech, London, 1700. [Appended to Lucretius.]

Manlius. See Vopiscus.

Marcellinus. See Ammianus.

Marius Victorinus. Text in Gram. Lat., vol. vi, Orelli’s Cicero, vol. v, Halm’s Rhetores Minores, and Patrol. Lat., vol. viii.

Martial. Text. Gilbert, Leipzig, 1886, Teubner series.

Translation (prose). Edited by H. G. Bohn, London, 1897. [Contains also metrical translations from various sources.]

Martianus Capella. Text. Eyssenhardt, Leipzig, 1866, Teubner series.

Mela. Text. Frick, Leipzig, 1880, Teubner series.

Minucius Felix. Text. Baehrens, Leipzig, 1886, Teubner series.

Moretum. Text in Poet. Lat. Min., vol. ii.

Nævius. Text in Fragm. Poet. Rom., Scaen. Rom. Poesis Fragm., vols. i and ii.

Namatianus. See Rutilius.

Nemesianus. Text in Poet. Lat. Min., vol. iii.

Nepos. Text. Halm-Fleckeisen, Leipzig, 10th ed. 1889, Teubner series.

Translation. See Justin.

Nigidius Figulus. Text of fragments with Latin notes. Stroboda, Vienna, 1889.

Nonius Marcellus. Crit. text with comment. Müller, Leipzig, 1888, Teubner. 2 vols. Onions, Oxford, 1895.

[Pg 293]

Octavius. See Augustus.

Orosius. Zangemeister, Corp. Script. Eccl. Lat., vol. v, and Leipzig, 1889, Teubner series.

Ovid. Text in Corp. Poet. Lat., vol. i; Merkel-Ewald, Leipzig, 3d ed. begun 1888, Teubner series.

Annotated editions of separate works and of selections are numerous.

Translation (prose). Bohn’s Library. Metrical translations by Dryden and others are contained in Chalmers’ English Poets.

Pacuvius. Text in Scaen. Rom. Poesis Fragm., vol. i.

Palladius. Text in Scriptores Rei Rusticae, ed. Schneider, Jena, 1794-’97.

Persius. Text in Corp. Poet. Lat., vol. i; Bücheler. See Juvenal; with translation and commentary, Conington and Nettleship, Oxford, 1893.

Translation (prose). See Lucilius and Juvenal; (verse) Dryden, in his complete works and Chalmers’ English Poets.

Pervigilium Veneris. Text in Poet. Lat. Min., vol. iv.

Petronius. Text. Bücheler, Berlin, 3d ed. 1895, Weidmann. [With the satires of Varro and Seneca.]

Translation. (Trimalchio’s Dinner). H. T. Peck, New York, 1898, Harper’s.

Phædrus. Text in Corp. Poet. Lat., part iii; Riese, Leipzig, 1885, B. Tauchnitz.

Translation. Smart, London, 1831. [Also appended to Riley’s version of Terence and Phædrus in Bohn’s Library.]

Plautus. Text. Goetz and Schoell, Leipzig, 1892-’95, Teubner series, 7 parts.

Critical edition. Ritschl (2d ed. by Goetz, Loewe, and Schoell), Leipzig, 1878-’93, Teubner, 20 parts.

Many annotated editions of separate plays exist.

Translation (prose). Riley, London, Bohn’s Library; (verse) Thornton and Warner, London, 1767-’72.

Pliny the Elder. Text, Jan and Mayhoff, Leipzig, 2d ed. Teubner series. 6 vols.

Translation. With Notes, Bostock and Riley, London, Bell. 6 vols.

[Pg 294]

Pliny the Younger. Text. Keil, Leipzig, 1873, Teubner series.

Translation. Melmoth, revised by Bosanquet, London, 1877, Bell; Lewis, London, 1879, Trübner.

Plotius. See Sacerdos.

Pompeius Trogus. See Justin.

Pomponius. See Mela.

Pomponius (Lucius). Text in Fragm. Poet. Rom.

Priapea. Text in Poet. Lat. Min., vol. i, cf. vol. ii.

Priscian. Text in Gram. Lat., vols. ii and iii.

Probus (Valerius). Text in Gram. Lat., vol. iv.

Propertius. Text in Corp. Poet. Lat., vol. i; Mueller, Leipzig, 1880, Teubner series. See Catullus.

Ed. Crit. Postgate, London, 1880, Bell.

Translation (prose). Gantillon, with metrical versions of select elegies by Nott and Elton, London, Bohn’s Library.

Prudentius. Text. Patrol. Lat., vols. lix and lx.

Publilius Syrus. Text. Bickford-Smith, Cambridge, 1885; O. Friedrich, Berlin, 1880, Grieben [with notes].

Quintilian. Text. Institutiones Oratoriae, Meister, Leipzig, 1886-’87, Freytag.

Declamationes. Ritter, Leipzig, 1884, Teubner series.

Translation. Institutes of Oratory, J. S. Watson, London, Bohn’s Library. 2 vols.

Reposianus. Text in Poet. Lat. Min., vol. iv.

Rutilius Namatianus. Text in Poet. Lat. Min., vol. v.

Sacerdos Text in Gram. Lat., vol. vi.

Sallust. Text. Eussner, Leipzig, 1888, Teubner series. [School editions of the Catiline and the Jugurtha are numerous.]

Translation. Pollard, London, 1882, Macmillan.

Sammonicus Serenus. Text in Poet. Lat. Min., vol. iii.

Sedulius. Text in Patrol. Lat., vol. ix, and Corp. Script. Eccl. Lat., vol. x.

Seneca (the father). Text. Müller, Leipzig, 1888, Freytag; Kiessling, Leipzig, 1872, Teubner series.

Seneca (the son). Text. Philosophical works. Haase, Leipzig, 1852 sqq., Teubner series.

Tragedies, Leo, Berlin, 1879, Weidmann, 2 vols.

[Pg 295]

Translation. On Benefits, Minor Essays, and On Clemency. A. Stewart, London, Bohn’s Library. 2 vols. Two Tragedies (Medea and Daughters of Troy), E. I. Harris, Boston, 1899, Houghton & Mifflin.

Servius. Text with Latin notes. Thilo and Hagen, 1878-1902, Teubner. 4 vols.

Sidonius Apollinaris. Text in Patrol. Lat., vol. lviii; Lüjohann, Berlin, 1887 (Monum. German. Hist. Auct. Antiquiss., vol. viii).

Silius Italicus. Text. Bauer, Leipzig, 1890-’92, Teubner series. 2 vols.

Translation (verse). Tytler, Calcutta, 1828. 2 vols.

Sisenna. Text in Hist. Rom. Rell.

Solinus. Crit. Text. Mommsen, Berlin, 2d ed. 1895, Weidmann.

Statius. Text. Kohlmann, Leipzig, 1879-’84, Teubner series. 2 vols.

Translation (verse). Thebaid. Lewis, in Chalmers’ English Poets, vol. xx; Coleridge, in his collected poems; Achilleis, Sir Robert Howard, in his poems.

Sueius. Text in Fragm. Poet. Rom.

Suetonius. Text. Roth, Leipzig, 1875, Teubner series.

Translation. Thomson, revised by Forester, in Bohn’s Library.

Sulpicia. See Juvenal.

Symmachus. Text. Seeck, Berlin, 1883 (Monum. Germ. Hist. Auct. Antiquiss., vol. vi, 1).

Tacitus. Text. Nipperdey, Berlin, 1871-’76, Weidmann. 4vols.

[Annotated editions of separate works are many.]

Translation. Church and Brodribb, London, 1868-’77, Macmillan. 3 vols.

Terence. Text. Dziatzko, Leipzig, 1884, B. Tauchnitz.

Ed. Crit. Umpfenbach, Leipzig, 1871, Teubner.

Annotated ed. Wagner, London, 1869, Bell. [Annotated editions of separate plays are numerous.]

Translation (verse). Colman, London, 1810; (prose) Riley, in Bohn’s Library [with Phædrus].

Terentianus Maurus. Text in Gram. Lat., vol. vi.

Tertullian. Text. Patrol. Lat., vols. i and ii; Reifferscheid and Wissowa, Corp. Script. Eccl. Lat., vol. xx [only vol. i of Tertullian].

[Pg 296]

Tibullus. Text in Corp. Poet. Lat., vol. i; see also Catullus.

Translation. Cranstoun, Edinburgh and London, 1872, Blackwood. [English verse with notes.]

Trogus. See Justin.

Varius. Text in Fragm. Poet. Rom.

Varro Atacinus. Text in Fragm. Poet. Rom.

Varro (Marcus). Text. De Lingua Latina, Müller, Leipzig, 1833; Spengel, Berlin, 1885. De Re Rustica, Keil, Leipzig, 1889, Teubner series [commentary, 1891]. Fragments of Varro’s Menippean Satires are contained in Bücheler’s Petronius, of the lost grammatical works in Wilmanns, De Varronis Libris Grammaticis, Berlin, 1864, Weidmann, of the Antiquitates in Merckel’s edition of Ovid’s Fasti, Berlin, 1841, and poetical fragments in Fragm. Poet. Rom.

Vegetius Renatus. Text. Epitoma Rei Militaris, Lang, Leipzig, 2d ed. 1885, Teubner series.

Mulomedicina. In Schneider’s Scriptores Rei Rusticae, Jena, 1794-’97.

Velleius Paterculus. Text. Halm, Leipzig, 1876, Teubner series.

Translation. J. S. Watson, Bohn’s and Harper’s Libraries. [Sallust, Florus, and Velleius Paterculus, with notes.]

Virgil. Text. Ribbeck, Leipzig, 2d ed., Teubner series.

Crit. Text. Ribbeck, Leipzig, 2d ed., Teubner. 4 vols.

Annotated editions. Conington and Nettleship, London, 1865-’71, Bell, 3 vols.; Greenough, Boston, 1895, Ginn & Co. [School editions of parts of Virgil’s works are numerous.]

Translation (verse). Dryden, in his complete works.

Æneid. Conington, London, 1870, Longmans; J. D. Long, Boston, 1879, Lockwood, Brooks & Co.

Eclogues. C. S. Calverley, in his collected works, London, 1901, Bell.

Georgics. H. W. Preston, Boston, 1881, Osgood & Co.

Vitruvius. Crit. Text. Rose, Leipzig, 1899, Teubner series.

Translation. Gwilt, London, new ed. 1860, Weale.

Volcacius Sedigitus. Text in Fragm. Poet. Rom.

Vopiscus. Text in Script. Hist. Aug.

[Pg 297]


[When two dates are given they designate the birth and death of the author or authors named in the same line. The dates given opposite the names of emperors, which are printed in italics, refer, however, to their reigns, not to their lives. When one date is given it designates a time when the activity of the author or authors was probably at its height. Interrogation points denote uncertainty.]

B. C. 
280.Appius Claudius Cæcus (orator).
Before 270-about 204.Livius Andronicus.
About 269-199.Gnæus Nævius.
About 254-184.Titus Maccius Plautus.
239-169.Quintus Ennius.
234-149.Marcus Porcius Cato.
About 230.Quintus Fabius Maximus Cunctator (orator).
220-about 130.Marcus Pacuvius.
216.Quintus Fabius Pictor.
211.Fabulæ Atellanæ introduced.
210.Lucius Cincius Alimentus.
206.Quintus Cæcilius Metellus (orator).
Before 200-about 165.Statius Cæcilius (comic poet).
198.Sextus Ælius (jurist).
(?)-196.Marcus Cornelius Cethegus (orator).
About 192-152.Cato’s son (jurist).
191.Scipio Nasica (jurist).
About 190-159.Publius Terentius Afer (Terence).
185-129.Scipio Africanus the younger.
183.Quintus Fabius Labeo (jurist).
(?)-183.Publius Licinius Crassus (orator), Scipio Africanus the elder.
About 180.Lucius Acilius (jurist).
180 (?)-126.Gaius Lucilius.
(?)-174.Publius Ælius (jurist).
170-at least 100.Lucius Accius.
163-133.Tiberius Gracchus (orator).
About 158-about 75.Publius Rutilius Rufus.
154-121.Gaius Gracchus (orator).
About 154-after 100.Lucius Ælius Præconinus Stilo.
About 152-87.Quintus Lutatius Catulus.
[Pg 298]About 150.Lucius Afranius, Titinius (comic poets), Publius Cornelius Scipio, Aulus Postumius Albinus, Gaius Acilius.
143-87.Marcus Antonius (orator).
About 140.Lucius Cassius Hemina, Gaius Lælius.
140-91.Lucius Licinius Crassus (orator).
136.Lucius Furius Philus (orator and jurist).
133.Publius Mucius Scævola, Lucius Calpurnius Piso Frugi.
131.Publius Licinius Crassus Mucianus (jurist).
About 130.Gaius Titius.
122.Gaius Fannius (orator and historian).
119-67.Lucius Cornelius Sisenna.
116-27.Marcus Terentius Varro.
114-50.Hortensius (orator).
109-32.Titus Pomponius Atticus.
106-43.Marcus Tullius Cicero.
105-43.Decimus Laberius.
(?)-103.Turpilius (comic poet).
102 (?)-44.Gaius Julius Cæsar.
102-43.Quintus Cicero.
Latter part of the second century.Gnæus Matius, Lævius Melissus, Hostius, Aulus Furius, Cœlius Antipater, Quintus Valerius Soranus.
Before 100-after 30.Cornelius Nepos.
About 99-55 (?).Titus Lucretius Carus.
(?)-at least 91.Sempronius Asellio (historian).
95.Quintus Mucius Scævola (jurist).
About 90.Lucius Pomponius, Novius (writers of Fabulæ Atellanæ), Volcacius Sedigitus.
(?)-87Gaius Julius Cæsar Strabo (tragedian).
87-47.Gaius Licinius Calvus.
86-35.Gaius Sallustius Crispus.
Early in the first century.Valerius Antias, Quintus Cornificius.
First half of the first century.Sueius, Gaius Helvius Cinna, Publius Valerius Cato, Gaius Memmius, Ticidas, Aurelius Opilius, Antonius Gnipho, Marcus Pompilius Andronicus, Santra, Servius Sulpicius Rufus.
About 84-about 54.Gaius Valerius Catullus.
(?)-at least 82.Quintus Claudius Quadrigarius (historian).
82-after 37.Varro Atacinus.
78(?)-42.Marcus Junius Brutus.
(?)-77Titus Quinctius Atta.
70-27. Cornelius Gallus.
70 (?)-8.Gaius Mæcenas.
70-19.Publius Vergilius Maro (Virgil).
About 70-after 16.Vitruvius Pollio.
67-5 A. D.Gaius Asinius Pollio.
65-8.Quintus Horatius Flaccus (Horace).
About 64-about 17 A. D.Gaius Julius Hyginus.
[Pg 299]64-8 A. D.Marcus Valerius Messalla.
63-14 A. D.Gaius Octavius (Cæsar Octavianus Augustus).
63-12 A. D.Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa.
59-17 A. D.Titus Livius (Livy).
About 55-about 40 A. D.Seneca (the father).
About 54-about 19.Albius Tibullus.
About 54-about 4.Domitius Marsus.
52-19 A. D.Decimus Fenestella.
About 50.Publilius Syrus (writer of mimes).
About 50-about 15.Sextus Propertius.
(?)-47.Marcus Calidius.
47-about 30 A. D.Decimus Valerius Maximus.
(?)-45.Nigidius Figulus.
(?)-after 44.Gaius Oppius.
(?)-43.Aulus Hirtius.
(?)-after 43.Marcus Tullius Tiro.
43-17 A. D.Publius Ovidius Naso (Ovid).
40-33 A. D.Asinius Gallus.
About 20.Pompeius Trogus.
15-19 A. D.Claudius Cæsar Germanicus.
14-59 A. D.Domitius Afer.
12.Gaius Valgius Rufus.
Second half of the first century.Sulpicia, Albinovanus Pedo, Ponticus, Macer, Grattius, Rabirius, Cornelius the Consolatio ad Liviam, Titus Labienus, Marcus Porcius Latro, Gaius Albucius Silus, Quintus Haterius, Lucius Junius Gallio, Arellius Fuscus, Lucius Cestius Pius, Marcus Antistius Labeo, Gaius Ateius Capito.
A. D. 
First half of the first century.Manilius, the Ætna Aufidius Bassus, Quintus Remmius Palæmon, Cæpio, Antonius Castor, Julius Atticus, Lucius Gracchinus, Marcus Apicius, Lucius Annæus Cornutus, the Sextii, Gaius Musonius Rufus.
About 1.Verrius Flaccus.
About 1-65.Lucius Annæus Seneca (the son).
About 3-88.Asconius Pedianus.
About 15-80.The father of Statius.
23-79.Gaius Plinius Secundus (Pliny the elder).
(?)-25.Cremutius Cordus.
25-101.Silius Italicus.
(?)-27.Votienus Montanus.
30.Velleius Paterculus.
[Pg 300](?)-31.Publius Vitellius.
(?)-32.Cassius Severus.
(?)-34.Mamercus Scaurus.
34-62.Aulus Persius Flaccus (Persius).
About 35-about 100.Marcus Fabius Quintilianus (Quintilian).
About 35.Aulus Cornelius Celsus.
39-65.Marcus Annæus Lucanus (Lucan).
About 40.Phædrus, Columella, Pomponius Mela.
About 40-about 95.Publius Papinius Statius.
About 40-about 104.Marcus Valerius Martialis (Martial).
About 45.Gaius Cassius Longinus, Proculus.
About 50.Pomponius Secundus, Quintus Curtius Rufus, Suetonius Paulinus.
About 55-about 118.Cornelius Tacitus.
55(?)-about 135.Decimus Junius Juvenalis (Juvenal).
56Marcus Valerius Probus.
About 60.Titus Calpurnius Siculus.
61 or 62-112 or 113.Gaius Plinius Cæcilius Secundus (Pliny the younger).
(?)-66Petronius Arbiter.
(?)-67Gnæus Domitius Corbulo.
About 70.Saleius Bassus, Curiatius Maternus, Sextus Julius Frontinus.
About 70 or 75 to about 150.Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus.
(?)-about 90.Gaius Valerius Flaccus.
Time of Nerva and Trajan.Hyginus, Balbus, Siculus Flaccus, several grammarians, etc.
About 100-175.Marcus Cornelius Fronto.
About 110-180.Gaius.
Time of Hadrian.Lucius Annæus (?) Florus, Marcus Junianus Justinus (Justin), Salvius Julianus, Quintus Terentius Scaurus.
About 125-(?).Aulus Gellius.
About 125-about 200.Apuleius.
138-161.Antoninus Pius.
Time of Antoninus.Granius Licinianus, Lucius Ampelius, Sextus Pomponius.
Time of Antoninus and M. Aurelius.Quintus Cervidius Scævola.
About 160.Marcus Minucius Felix.
About 160-about 230.Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus (Tertullian).
[Pg 301]161-180.Marcus Aurelius.
About 165-230.Marius Maximus.
(?)-212.Æmilius Papinianus.
Before 200.Terentianus Maurus, Juba.
193-211.Septimius Severus.
Second or third century.The Pervigilium Veneris.
About 200.Helenius Acro, Pomponius Porphyrio, Quintus Sammonicus Serenus.
Early in the third century.Hosidius Geta, Gaius Julius Romanus, Julius Paulus.
Third century.The Disticha Catonis, Cornelius Labeo, Quintus Gargilius Martialis, Aquila Romanus, Gaius Julius Solinus.
About 200-258.St. Cyprian (Thascius Cæcilius Cyprianus).
222-235.Alexander Severus.
(?)-228.Domitius Ulpianus.
238.Gordian I.
About 250.Ælius Julius Cordus.
283.Marcus Aurelius Olympius Nemesianus.
Time of Diocletian.Ælius Spartianus, Julius Capitolinus, Vulcacius Gallicanus, Trebellius Pollio.
About 290.Arnobius.
297.Eumenius (panegyrist).
Latter part of the third century.Vespa, Marius Plotius Sacerdos.
End of the third century.Ælius Festus Aphthonius.
About 300.Lactantius Firmianus, Reposianus, Gregorianus.
Early part of the fourth century.Ælius Lampridius, Flavius Vopiscus, Nonius, Macrobius, Optatianus, Juvencus.
Fourth century.Itineraries, Peutinger Tablet.
About 310-about 395.Ausonius.
About 315-367.St. Hilary.
321.Nazarius (panegyrist).
About 330.Hermogenianus.
330-400.Ammianus Marcellinus.
331-420.St. Jerome.
About 340-397.St. Ambrose.
About 345-405.Symmachus.
348 to about 410.Prudentius.
About 350.Marius Victorinus, Ælius Donatus, Charisius, Diomedes, Palladius.
354 (?).Firmicus Maternus.
354.The Notitia.
354-430.St. Augustine.
[Pg 302]About 360.Julius Obsequens.
360.Aurelius Victor.
362.Mamertinus (panegyrist).
Second half of fourth century.Dictys Cretensis (L. Septimius).
Latter part of the fourth century.Servius.
369.Rufius Festus.
370.(Rufius Festus) Avienus.
About 370.The Querolus.
389.Drepanius (panegyrist).
About 400.Claudian (Claudius Claudianus), Martianus Capella, Vegetius, Avianus.
Early in the fifth century.Sulpicius Serenus.
Fifth century.Dares.
438.Codex Theodosianus.
About 450.Sedulius.
End of the fifth century.Dracontius.
About 500.Priscian.
529.Code of Justinian.
533.Pandects and Institutes.


1 Even if this work and some treatises on grammar should be ascribed to a later Ennius, which is not proved, the works of the great poet were sufficiently various.

2 Ancient customs and men cause the Roman republic to prosper.

3 Whom no one with the sword could overcome nor by bribing.

4 This line occurs in a context which is worth translating. “I do not ask gold for myself, and do not you offer me a ransom: not waging the war like hucksters, but like soldiers, with the sword, not with gold, let us strive for our lives. Let us try by our valor whether our mistress Fortune wishes you or me to rule.”

5 Aulus Gellius, xii, 4.

6 Quoted by Cicero, De Deor. Nat. II, 35, 89.

7 Rudens, 160-173.

8 Persa, 204-224.

9 Phormio, 784 ff. Translated by M. H. Morgan.

10 Quoted by Pliny, N. H. xxix, 7, 14.

11 De Re Rustica, i.

12 A brief description of some of the feet and metres most frequently used by Roman poets may be useful. These were, with the exception of the Saturnian verse (see p. 7), borrowed, with certain modifications, from the Greek. The most usual feet are the iambus (◡—), the trochee (—◡), the spondee (——), the dactyl (—◡◡), the anapæst (◡◡—), and the choriambus (—◡◡—). The dactylic hexameter consists of six feet, each of which is either a dactyl or a spondee, though the sixth is always a spondee and the fifth almost always a dactyl. An illustration of this is the line from Lucilius,

Maior erat natu; non omnia possumus omnes,

the rhythm of which is retained in this translation:

He was the elder by birth; not all of us all things can compass.

The iambic senarius consists of six iambics, as

Hominem inter vivos quaéritamus mórtuom.

(Plautus, Menaechmi, 240.)

Among the living we do seek a man who’s dead.

This is a common metre in the dialogue parts of dramas. It is one foot longer than the line in English blank verse. The trochaic septenarius, also a common metre in the drama, consists of seven trochees and an additional long syllable. The English line

Do not lift him from the bracken; leave him lying where he fell

gives an idea of the rhythm.

The elegiac distich consists of an hexameter followed by a so-called pentameter, that is, a line made up of six dactyls or spondees, with the omission of the last half of the third and of the sixth feet. This is illustrated and described by Coleridge in the lines,

In the hexameter rises the fountain’s silvery column.
In the pentameter aye falling in melody back.

In the iambic and trochaic metres other feet are often substituted for the iambus and the trochee, but without change of rhythm.

Some of the other metres will be explained or illustrated as they occur.

13 iv, Frg. 8, Müller.

14 v, Frg. 33, Müller.

15 vi, Frg. 16, Müller.

16 libr. incert., Frg. 1, Müller.

17 Lucius Ælius Præconinus Stilo, of Lanuvium, Stoic philosopher, philologist and rhetorician, was the first to give regular lessons in Latin literature and eloquence and to apply the historical method to the study of the Latin language. He was born not far from 154 B. C., and lived well into the first century B. C. His contemporary, Quintus Valerius Soranus (from Sora), also wrote on Latin literature, the study of which was, in his case, joined with that of Roman antiquities. Volcacius Sedigitus, of whose personality nothing is known, wrote a didactic poem on the history of Latin literature about 90 B. C. Besides these, numerous works on grammar, philology, antiquities, agriculture, and other subjects were written by various authors, whose names are in many cases lost, but whose works served as quarries from which Varro and other writers derived their treasures of learning.

Many prominent Romans played some part in the progress of literature. So Publius Rutilius Rufus (born about 158 B. C., consul in 105, died about 75) studied the Stoic philosophy, published speeches, juristic writings, and an autobiography in Latin, and wrote a history in Greek, while Quintus Lutatius Catulus (born about 152 B. C., consul in 102, died in 87) published orations and epigrams. Among the letters written and published in this period none were more admired than those of Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi.

18 Jerome, in Eusebius’ Chronicle, year 1922 of Abraham, i. e., 95 B. C.

19 Vita Vergilii, 2.

20 Ad Quintum Fratrem, II, xi, 4.

21 Book i, 921-947.

22 iii, 830 f.

23 Book ii, 172.

24 ii, 14 ff.

25 v, 18.

26 Book i, 271-294.

27 ii, 323-332 and ii, 40-43.

28 i, 716-725.

29 ii, 573-579.

30 ii, 29-33.

31 i, 1-9, translation by Goldwin Smith.

32 Book ii, 1-13, translated by C. S. Calverley.

33 c. cxiii, l. 2.

34 cc. xi and xxix.

35 Translated by Theodore Martin.

36 c. v.

37 c. iii. Translated by Goldwin Smith in Bay-Leaves.

38 c. xxxi, Translated by C. S. Calverley.

39 De Oratore, i, 15, 64.

40 Ibid., i, 8, 34.

41 Pro Ligario, 1.

42 Pro Lege Manilia, 5, 11.

43 Pro Archia Poeta, 7, 16.

44 In Verrem, ii, v, 52.

45 De Divinatione, ii, 1.

46 Ep. ad Atticum, iii, 5, Shuckburgh’s translation.

47 Ep. ad Familiares, ix, 1, Shuckburgh’s translation.

48 Ep. ad Atticum, ix, 18.

49 Hirtius, De Bello Gallico, viii, 1.

50 Catiline, 1.

51 Ibid., 31.

52 Ecl. i, 1-10. The selections from the Eclogues are given in the translation by C. S. Calverley.

53 Ibid., 42-45.

54 Ecl. iv, 1-17.

55 Ecl. v, 1-18.

56 Georgics, i, 461-483.

57 Georgics, ii, 136 ff.

58 Ibid., ii, 458-460.

59 Ibid., iii, 9-18.

60 Ibid., iv, 149 ff.

61 Æneid, i, 142-156. The selections from the Æneid are given in Conington’s translation.

62 Æneid, iv, 607-629.

63 Ibid., vi, 868-686.

64 Æneid, ix, 446-449.

65 Epist. II, ii, 51.

66 Sat. I. v.

67 Sat. I, iv, 103-120, freely translated by Conington.

68 Sat. I, x, 40-49, freely translated by Conington.

69 Epode ii, 1-4.

70 Epist. I, xix, 23.

71 Od. I, xxxviii, translated by Sir Theodore Martin.

72 Od. I, ix, Calverley’s version.

73 I, iii, 1-9, 53-56, translated by James Grainger.

74 I, xii. Elton’s translation.

75 Ex Ponto, IV, xvi.

76 Book i, 499-507. The same subject is continued through line 530.

77 Book v, 540-615.

78 Tristia, IV, x, 69.

79 Tristia, II, 107 ff.

80 Ovid, Amores II, xviii, 27 ff.

81 Lines 177 ff.

82 Tristia, I, vii, 13 ff.

83 Argonautica, III, 750 ff. Virgil, Æneid, IV, 522 ff., imitates Apollonius more closely.

84 Especially Tristia, IV, x.

85 Ibid., I, iii, 1-4.

86 Ibid., I, vi, III, iii, IV, iii, V, ii, 1-44, xi, xiv, Ex Ponto, I, iv, III, i.

87 Tristia, III, vii.

88 xxxvii, 39 ff.

89 xxi, 10.

90 This is the generally accepted date, but it is possible that Vitruvius may have lived somewhat later.

91 Hercules Furens, Troades (or Hecuba), Phœnissæ (or Thebaïs, two disconnected scenes from Theban myths), Medea, Phædra (or Hippolytus), Œdipus, Agamemnon, Thyestes, and Hercules Œtæus. The Fabula Prætexta entitled Octavia is not by Seneca.

92 Lines 893-944. Translated by Ella Isabel Harris.

93 This Lucilius has been supposed, though without sufficient reason, to be the author of the Ætna (see p. 141).

94 Pharsalia, ix, 256-283.

Verum hæc ipse equidem spatiis exclusus iniquis
Prætereo atque aliis post me memoranda relinquo.
Virgil, Georgics, iv, 147 f.

96 Thebais, xi, 580-585.

97 Pliny, Ep. III, xxi.

98 I, xiii. These selections are translated by Goldwin Smith in Bay Leaves.

99 III, xxxv.

100 III, xli.

101 IV, viii.

102 Inst. Orat., vi, 3, 5.

103 Ibid., vi, 3, 5.

104 Ibid., vii, 7, 2

105 The prænomen is uncertain. The best manuscript (Mediceus I) gives it as Publius, later manuscripts and Sidonius Apollinaris as Gaius.

106 Agricola, 2.

107 Annals, i, 58.

108 Ann., ii, 77.

109 Ann., iii, 6.

110 Ann., iii, 27.

111 Hist., ii, 95.

112 Hist., iv, 74.

113 Agric., 9.

114 Sat. i, 30.

115 Sat. i, 79.

116 Sat. i, 85 f.

117 Sat. iii, 41 ff.

118 Sat. x, 356.

119 Sat. vi, 165.

120 Sat. x, 81.

121 Sat. vi, 223.

122 Sat. vi, 347.

123 Sat. viii, 84.

124 Sat. xiv, 47.

125 Ep., II, xvii.

126 Ibid., V, vi.

127 Ibid., VI, xvi, xx.

128 Ibid., VII, xxxiii.

129 Ep., VII, xx.

130 To-morrow he shall love who ne’er has loved, and he who has loved to-morrow shall love.

It is new spring; spring already harmonious; in spring Jove was born.
In the spring loves join together; in the spring the birds wed.
She (the swallow) is singing, we are silent. When will my spring come?
When shall I become like the swallow and cease to be silent?
I have lost the Muse by keeping silent, and Apollo cares not for me.

133 The poem is the last of the Instructiones. The title reads: Nomen Gasei and the initial letters of the lines read from the last to the first from the words: Commodianus mendicus Christi. From this it is inferred that Commodian was Gasæus, i. e., from Gaza.

134 The chief Latin writer on philosophy was Firmicus Maternus, whose eight books, Matheseos (Of Learning), published about 354 A. D., are occupied with Neoplatonic astrology. He is to be distinguished from his Christian contemporary and namesake, who wrote of the Error of the Pagan Religions. Gaius Marius Victorinus, who also lived about the middle of the century, was an African by birth, but taught rhetoric at Rome. He was the author of philosophical works, chiefly translations and adaptations from the Greek, but is best known by his extant work on metres in four books, and by some other extant grammatical treatises. In his later life he became a Christian, and wrote commentaries on St. Paul’s epistles, besides some controversial tracts.

135 These grammatical works have little literary value of their own, and owe their importance to the fact that they contain information which is not elsewhere preserved. The same is true of several handbooks of various kinds compiled in the fourth century. Such are the Itineraries, giving the distances and routes between the towns along the Roman roads, the Notitia, describing the regions of the city of Rome, and a historical handbook of Rome for the year 354 A. D. preserved most fully in a manuscript in Vienna. A few maps of this period also exist, the most famous of which is the Peutinger Tablet (Tabula Peutingeriana), now in Vienna. A handbook of Agriculture (De Re Rustica) by Palladius, and the Epitome of Military Science (Epitoma Rei Militaris) by Flavius Vegetius Renatus, who also wrote an extant treatise on Veterinary Medicine (Mulomedicina), may properly be mentioned here, and these works possess also some slight literary interest.

136 In 369 A. D. Festus wrote a handbook similar to that of Eutropius, but of less merit. The list of prodigies that took place from 249 to 12 B. C., compiled by Julius Obsequens from an abridgment of Livy, probably belongs to about the same time. Since a large part of Livy’s history is lost, such works as these are of some value.

137 De Bello Gildonico, i, 21-25.

138 De Reditu Suo, i, 55-66. Translated by A. J. Church.

[Pg 303]


[This index contains the names of all Latin authors mentioned in this book, and in addition the names of some historical personages. Reference is also made to a number of special topics. When several references are given, the chief reference to any author stands first. The titles of works are in Italics.]



Transcriber's Note:

Inconsistent spellings have been kept, including inconsistent use of hyphen (e.g. "well known" and "well-known").

The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.



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