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lugubri quodam carmine immeritam doluisse Pompeii sortem, quippe quem, in toto opere, summo habuit honore; vel saltem ipsum Pompeium (ut ingens patuit doloris argumentum) aut de amissâ Romæ libertate, aut de amicorum mortibus, aut de propriis querentem infortuniis, introduxisse oportuit. Poeta tamen ab omni hujusmodi dolore tam longe abest, ut Pompeium obnixe hortaretur, postquam victus a bello decesserat, ut Cæsaris victoris sui commiserescat, quia nempe Cæsar non sine scelere victoriâ potitus est;
Nonne juvat pulsum bellis cessisse, nec istud
Quis tulerit poetam tam ridicule philosophantem? quasi vero Pompeius senex, exul, miser, triumphatus, ob victorem suum quamvis scelestum commiserationem quandam conciperet: illum quidem maxime stoice sapuisse oportuerat, qui omnibus hisce fortunæ donis spoliatus, tantum in nudâ vir
ful strain; especially since he pays so high a deference to him throughout his whole work; or, at least, (as there was an open field for grief,) he should have introduced Pompey either complaining of Rome's_lost_liberty, the death of his friends, or his own misfortunes. But Lucan is so far from raising the passions to this just height, that he warmly advises Pompey (when, vanquished, he retires from the field of action) to commiserate the condition of his conqueror Cæsar, because he had not won the day, but by unjustifiable methods.
Don't you rejoice that your superior foes
Have snatched you from a scene of future woes ?
Of armies bleeding in domestic fight?
Behold each river drags her tardy flood,
Choked up with carnage and distained with blood;
Nor envy him the fortune of the day.
How shall he enter Rome devoid of shame,
Who on the public ruins builds his name?
Who can bear to hear the poet philosophizing in this ridiculous manner? As if Pompey, a man in years, an exile, miserable, and vanquished, should have any concern upon him for the crimes of his conqueror he ought to have been very much stoicized indeed, who, despoiled of all the goods of fortune, could place the sum of
tute poneret felicitatem. Sed nullus poetarum, nisi Virgilius, hujusmodi afficiat dolore: alii plerunque, dum merorem aliquem lectoribus inducerent, in illo peccant, quod nimia prolixitate sese in questus effundant, nec unquam satis lachrymarum exhaustum esse sentiant, vel ingenium, quod maxime possint, versibus infundendo, faciunt, ut magis carmina miremur, quam materiam lugeamus. De utroque cavit Virgilius, qui merâ semper simplicitate luctuosa, ut in se sunt, exhibuit; et leviter quicquid dolet perstrinxerat: "Lamentationes enim," inquit Cicero, "debent esse breves et concise, quia lachryma subito exarescit, et difficile est auditorem aut lectorem in summo illo animi affectu tenere."
Ut vero ad Statium redeamus, illi quidem spiritus non raro feliciter assurgit, cui dum temperare nequit, nescio quas projicit ampullas, et vana carminibus addit numerorum terriculamenta. Thebaidis quidem argumentum ingenii sui truculentiæ, sed non heroico poemati satis aptum videatur. Eteocles enim, Polynices et Tydeus, quorum gesta hoc carmine celebrantur, nihil habent eorum, si unicam fortitudinem demas, quæ conveniunt heroibus: imo, in toto poemate, nulla nisi scelerum,
his felicity in mere naked virtue. But none of the poets have touched this passion of grief like Virgil. The generality of other writers, when they attempt to move their readers, offend in this point, that they are too prolix in spinning out their complaints, and think their flood of tears inexhaustible; or else, while they labour to express the greatness of their genius, in the profuseness of their verse, rather raise our admiration at the flowing of their numbers, than excite our pity in the catastrophe of their story. Virgil has carefully avoided both these extremes, and dresses his images of sorrow in their native simplicity; and wherever he touches upon the pathetic, he does it with a masterly quickness: for, according to Cicero, "Our expressions of grief ought to be short and concise, because our tears quickly dry up, and it is unnatural to detain either an auditor or reader in too long a suspension of grief."
But to return to Statius, his spirit is indeed lofty and aspiring, to which, while he gives too great a loose, he runs into bombast, and to his poetry often adds useless sounding words. The subject, of his Thebais seems indeed suited to the barbarity of his genius, but is beneath the dignity of an heroic poem. For neither Eteocles, Polynices, nor Tydeus, whose actions are recorded in this poem, have anything in them except their fortitude, agreeable to heroes: nay, throughout the whole picce, there are no examples produced, unless of persons infamous for the most flagitious enor
qualia sunt parricidii, perfidiæ, immanitatis, odiorum, proferuntur exemplaria; dum in omnibus fere, quos suo carmine induxit Virgilius, præclara quædam illucescunt, et in ipso Enea summam pietatem erga deos, natum, conjugem, amicos, et parentem, oculis semper habemus subjectam. Epitheta plerunque Statiana multum sonant metaphorice, dum inanimatis illa tribuuntur, quæ animalibus conveniunt. In verbis tamen, nec raro sine maximâ elegantiâ, metaphoras confectatur Claudianus; Virgilius in utrisque parcissimus; Statius plurimas rerum similitudines composuit, multum sæpe de Virgilii ingenio referentes, in quâ arte melius successerat Lucanus, si aliquid unquam mediocre admiserat; sed dum Virgilius ad apes, ad formicas, et istiusmodi naturæ ludicra descendit, nihil unquam nisi quercum fulminatam, terræ exitium, aut mundi conflagrationem ebuccinat Lucanus. Et hisce tandem, quorum alii non operæ pretium duxerunt meminisse, de heroicis scriptoribus breviter perstrictis.
De satyricis restat dicendum; quorum omnium Juvenalis et Horatius palmam dubiam quidem fecerunt: inter literatos enim multum discrepat, utrum mordax illa ingenii acerbitas, quâ suam armavit paginam Juvenalis, an potius Horatii festiva
mities, such as parricide, treachery, cruelty, and revenge; while, on the contrary, everything praiseworthy shines bright in Virgil's heroes; and in the person of Æneas we have placed before our eyes an instance of consummate piety towards the gods, his son, his wife, his friends, and his father. The epithets of Statius are generally forced and very metaphorical, while such properties are ascribed to inanimates, as really only belong to animals. In the choice of his words, and frequently in his metaphors, he is followed by Claudian with the utmost elegance. Virgil is sparing in both these particulars; Statius abounds much with similitudes, in which he seems to imitate Virgil; but in this instance Lucan had had better success, if he had hit upon the proper medium; but while Virgil stoops down to the humble subjects of bees, ants, and other such like delightful themes of nature; on the other hand, Lucan bellows out nothing but stories of oaks split by lightning, earthquakes, and the world's conflagration. Let this, in short, suffice, observable, concerning the writers of heroic poetry, in itself new, and never before taken notice of.
Something now remains to be said of the satirists, among whom whether Juvenal or Horace have most right to the bays, it is difficult to determine; for it has been long a dispute among the learned whether that keenness and bitterness of expression with which Ju
irrisiones, magis satyræ conveniant. Ut vero de utroque rectius statuatur, pauca prius sunt advertenda. Ob infamem vitæ suæ lasciviam, etiam nunc temporis, male audit Horatius; virtutem tamen semper rigide coluit Juvenalis. Ille in absolutissimâ Augusti aulâ versatus est, hic in pessima Domitiani tempora incidisset: proinde, ut ad sua et sæculi utriusque ingenia opera accommodarent poetæ, Horatius totus in ludicro exercetur argumento, nec. morum licentiam, sed indecoras quasdam aulicorum ineptias plerunque infectatur; non ideo abfuisset quin irrideretur, si, aliqua styli severitate, ad leviuscula hujusmodi castiganda se accinxisset; gravissima tamen in temporibus suis reprehendit Juvenalis, et de vitiis ubique queritur, quæ vel pudeat recitare, et isti sane materiæ, summa mentis indignatio, orationis ardor, et ingenii acrimonia, rectissime aptari videantur. Quamvis ubi ad jocularia animum demittit, non raro satyris festivitatem fundit Horatianam. Uterque ideo (modo diversum consulas argumentum) suo quidem genere perfectissimus emicuit; in illo ridiculum acri melius, in hoc acre ridiculo.
Reliqua certe Horatii opera, admiratione potius sunt digna quam encomiis, nec majora solum vituperatione sed etiam laude.
venal has armed his Satires, or Horace's more jocose lampoons, are most conformable to the end of satire. Now, that we may give a clearer decision on this head, a few things must be premised. Horace bears, to this day, an ill character for the looseness of his conduct in life. Juvenal was a rigid practiser of virtue. The one was conversant in the most perfectly polite court of Augustus; the other lived in the worst of Domitian's time; and therefore both these poets accommodated their writings to the manners of their respective ages. Horace is entirely upon the ludicrous, and pursues not so much the licentiousness of the times as the ridiculous fopperies of some particular courtiers; for had he attempted to correct these trifles with severity, he would not have failed to be laughed at: but Juvenal lashes the grossest crimes prevalent in his time, and complains of enormities which one would be ashamed to mention; and nothing less than the highest resentment of soul, ardency of expression, and sharpness of speech, could be an equal match to crimes so notorious; though whenever he descends to be jocose, we frequently meet with the pleasantry of Horace. Both of them, allowing for the different manner of their writing, are perfect masters in their several ways; in the one, the ridicule appears better than the severe, in the other, the severe better than the ridicule.
The rest of Horace's pieces are so admirable, that they exceed
Jam vero, quod ad dramaticos attinet, Plauti et Terentii argumenta, sales, elegantiæ ubique adeo vulgantur, ut nihil de novo possit adjici.
De Seneca vero tam diverse sentiunt, ut alii inter summos tragicorum, alii infra infimum annumerent. Illi quidem ingenium valde magnum, oratio elegans et concisa, abundat sententiis plerunque acutis, stoicam semper philosophiam quam amplexus est, redolentibus. Unde omnibus fere, qui artem dramaticam parum sapiunt, semper est in deliciis; si tamen ad hanc respicias, tragoediae ubique plurimum laborant, et istud vitii (ut reliqua prætermittam) Senecæ peculiare videatur, ut quoscunque inducat interlocutores, nullâ ad personas quas sustinet habitâ ratione, eundem semper unicuique tribuat loquendi modum: omnes severiora spirant philosophiæ dogmata, et quæ stone magis conveniant quam theatro. Eâdem semper styli magnificentiâ superbiunt rex et nuncius: imo ipsam nutricem (plurima enim tam acute profert) stoicorum præceptis non mediocriter imbutam sentias. Inter epigrammatistas potissimum emicuerunt Martialis et Claudianus. Ille semper, in extremo poemate, ingenii subjecit acumen, et sæpe similia insequitur verborum tintinna
our highest encomium, and are not only beyond our dislike, but above our praise.
As to what concerns the dramatic poets, Plautus and Terence bear away the bell, whose plots, turns, and elegance of style, are so well known, that nothing new can be said upon them.
As to Seneca, mankind have entertained different opinions of him; some have ranked him with the best tragedians, others have sunk him below the worst. He certainly had a great genius, an elegant and concise way of expression; he abounds with smart turns, which always savour much of that stoicism of which he was a follower, upon which account he has always been esteemed by those who have had little or no taste of dramatic poetry; but then if we consider him as such, his tragedies are throughout too elaborate. And this, to pass by his other faults, seems peculiarly Seneca's, that he makes all his actors (without any regard to the characters they bear) talk in the same strain; all of them inculcate rigid philosophical dogmas, and such morality as is rather fit for the schools of the stoics than the Roman theatre: for with him the king and the slave strut in the same buskin; nay, you may perceive the nurse herself deeply tinged with the principles of stoicism.
Among the Epigrammatists Martial and Claudian have borne the greatest reputation the first. for the severe point in the close of