ON HIS LIFE AND GENIUS,
NOTES, SUPPLEMENTS, &c.
ARTHUR MURPHY, ESQ.
Præcipuum munus annalium reor, ne virtutes sileantur, utque pravis
dictis factisque ex posteritate et infamiâ metus sit.
TACITUS, Annales, iii. s. 65.
A NEW EDITION,
WITH THE AUTHOR’S LAST CORRECTIONS.
IN EIGHT VOLUMES.
PRINTED FOR JOHN STOCKDALE;
F.C. AND J. RIVINGTON; J. WALKER; R. LEA; LONGMAN, HURST, REES, ORME, AND BROWN; CADELL AND DAVIES; J. MAWMAN; J. MURRAY; J. RICHARDSON; R. BALDWIN; AND J. FAULDER.
A DIALOGUE CONCERNING ORATORY,
OR THE CAUSES OF CORRUPT ELOQUENCE.
- A DIALOGUE CONCERNING ORATORY, OR THE CAUSES OF CORRUPT ELOQUENCE.
- NOTES ON THE DIALOGUE CONCERNING ORATORY.
- GEOGRAPHICAL TABLE:
A DIALOGUE CONCERNING ORATORY, OR THE CAUSES OF CORRUPT ELOQUENCE.
I. General introduction, with the reasons for writing an account of the following discourse.
II. The persons engaged in the dialogue; at first, Curiatius Maternus, Julius Secundus, and Marcus Aper.
III. Secundus endeavours to dissuade Maternus from thinking any more of dramatic composition.
IV. Maternus gives his reasons for persisting.
V. Aper condemns his resolution, and, in point of utility, real happiness, fame and dignity, contends that the oratorical profession is preferable to the poetical.
VIII. He cites the example of Eprius Marcellus and Crispus Vibius, who raised themselves by their eloquence to the highest honours.
IX. Poetical fame brings with it no advantage.
X. He exhorts Maternus to relinquish the muses, and devote his whole to eloquence and the business of the bar.
XI. Maternus defends his favourite studies; the pleasures arising from poetry are in their nature innocent and sublime; the fame is extensive and immortal. The poet enjoys the most delightful intercourse with his friends, whereas the life of the public orator is a state of warfare and anxiety.
XIV. Vipstanius Messala enters the room. He finds his friends engaged in a controversy, and being an admirer of ancient eloquence, he advises Aper to adopt the model of the ancients in preference to the plan of the modern rhetoricians.
XV. Hence a difference of opinion concerning the merit of the ancients and the moderns. Messala, Secundus, and Maternus, profess themselves admirers of the oratory that flourished in the time of the republic. Aper launches out against the ancients, and gives the preference to the advocates of his own time. He desires to know who are to be accounted ancients.
XVIII. Eloquence has various modes, all changing with the conjuncture of the times. But it is the nature of men to praise the past, and censure the present. The period when Cassius Severus flourished, is stated to be the point of time at which men cease to be ancients; Cassius with good reason deviated from the ancient manner.
XX. Defects of ancient eloquence: the modern style more refined and elegant.
XXI. The character of Calvus, Cælius, Cæsar and Brutus, and also of Asinius Pollio, and Messala Corvinus.
XXII. The praise and censure of Cicero.
XXIII. The true rhetorical art consists in blending the virtues of ancient oratory with the beauties of the modern style.
XXIV. Maternus observes that there can be no dispute about the superior reputation of the ancient orators: he therefore calls upon Messala to take that point for granted, and proceed to an enquiry into the causes that produced so great an alteration.
XXV. After some observations on the eloquence of Calvus, Asinius Pollio, Cæsar, Cicero, and others, Messala praises Gracchus and Lucius Crassus, but censures Mæcenas, Gallio, and Cassius Severus.
XXVII. Maternus reminds Messala of the true point in question; Messala proceeds to assign the causes which occasioned the decay of eloquence, such as the dissipation of the young men, the inattention of their parents, the ignorance of rhetorical professors, and the total neglect of ancient discipline.
XXXIV. He proceeds to explain the plan of study, and the institutions, customs, and various arts, by which orators were formed in the time of the republic.
XXXV. The defects and vices in the new system of education. In this part of the dialogue, the sequel of Messala’s discourse is lost, with the whole of what was said by Secundus, and the beginning of Maternus: the supplement goes on from this place, distinguished by inverted commas [transcriber’s note: not used], and the sections marked with numerical figures.
1. Messala describes the presumption of the young advocates on their first appearance at the bar; their want of legal knowledge, and the absurd habits which they contracted in the schools of the rhetoricians.
2. Eloquence totally ruined by the preceptors. Messala concludes with desiring Secundus and Maternus to assign the reasons which have occurred to them.
4. Secundus gives his opinion. The change of government produced a new mode of eloquence. The orators under the emperors endeavoured to be ingenious rather than natural. Seneca the first who introduced a false taste, which still prevailed in the reign of Vespasian.
8. Licinius Largus taught the advocates of his time the disgraceful art of hiring applauders by profession. This was the bane of all true oratory, and, for that reason, Maternus was right in renouncing the forum altogether.
10. Maternus acknowledges that he was disgusted by the shameful practices that prevailed at the bar, and therefore resolved to devote the rest of his time to poetry and the muses.
11. An apology for the rhetoricians. The praise of Quintilian. True eloquence died with Cicero.
13. The loss of liberty was the ruin of genuine oratory. Demosthenes flourished under a free government. The original goes on from this place to the end of the dialogue.
XXXVI. Eloquence flourishes most in times of public tumult. The crimes of turbulent citizens supply the orator with his best materials.
XXXVII. In the time of the republic, oratorical talents were necessary qualifications, and without them no man was deemed worthy of being advanced to the magistracy.
XXXVIII. The Roman orators were not confined in point of time; they might extend their speeches to what length they thought proper, and could even adjourn. Pompey abridged the liberty of speech, and limited the time.
XXXIX. The very dress of the advocates under the emperors was prejudicial to eloquence.
XL. True eloquence springs from the vices of men, and never was known to exist under a calm and settled government.
XLI. Eloquence changes with the times. Every age has its own peculiar advantages, and invidious comparisons are unnecessary.
XLII. Conclusion of the dialogue.
The time of this dialogue was the sixth of Vespasian’s reign.
Year of Rome—Of Christ Consuls.
828 75 Vespasian, 6th time; Titus his son, 4th time.
A DIALOGUE CONCERNING ORATORY, OR THE CAUSES OF CORRUPT ELOQUENCE.
I. You have often enquired of me, my good friend, Justus Fabius [a], how and from what causes it has proceeded, that while ancient times display a race of great and splendid orators, the present age, dispirited, and without any claim to the praise of eloquence, has scarcely retained the name of an orator. By that appellation we now distinguish none but those who flourished in a former period. To the eminent of the present day, we give the title of speakers, pleaders, advocates, patrons, in short, every thing but orators.
The enquiry is in its nature delicate; tending, if we are not able to contend with antiquity, to impeach our genius, and if we are not willing, to arraign our judgement. An answer to so nice a question is more than I should venture to undertake, were I to rely altogether upon myself: but it happens, that I am able to state the sentiments of men distinguished by their eloquence, such as it is in modern times; having, in the early part of my life, been present at their conversation on the very subject now before us. What I have to offer, will not be the result of my own thinking: it is the work of memory only; a mere recital of what fell from the most celebrated orators of their time: a set of men, who thought with subtilty, and expressed themselves with energy and precision; each, in his turn, assigning different but probable causes, at times insisting on the same, and, in the course of the debate, maintaining his own proper character, and the peculiar cast of his mind. What they said upon the occasion, I shall relate, as nearly as may be, in the style and manner of the several speakers, observing always the regular course and order of the controversy. For a controversy it certainly was, where the speakers of the present age did not want an advocate, who supported their cause with zeal, and, after treating antiquity with sufficient freedom, and even derision, assigned the palm of eloquence to the practisers of modern times.
II. Curiatius Maternus [a] gave a public reading of his tragedy of Cato. On the following day a report prevailed, that the piece had given umbrage to the men in power. The author, it was said, had laboured to display his favourite character in the brightest colours; anxious for the fame of his hero, but regardless of himself. This soon became the topic of public conversation. Maternus received a visit from Marcus Aper [b] and Julius Secundus [c], both men of genius, and the first ornaments of the forum. I was, at that time, a constant attendant on those eminent men. I heard them, not only in their scenes of public business, but, feeling an inclination to the same studies, I followed them with all the ardour of youthful emulation. I was admitted to their private parties; I heard their debates, and the amusement of their social hours: I treasured up their wit, and their sentiments on the various topics which they had discussed in conversation. Respected as they were, it must, however, be acknowledged that they did not escape the malignity of criticism. It was objected to Secundus, that he had no command of words, no flow of language; and to Aper, that he was indebted for his fame, not to art or literature, but to the natural powers of a vigorous understanding. The truth is, the style of the former was remarkable for its purity; concise, yet free and copious; and the latter was sufficiently versed in all branches of general erudition. It might be said of him, that he despised literature, not that he wanted it. He thought, perhaps, that, by scorning the aid of letters, and by drawing altogether from his own fund, his fame would stand on a more solid foundation.
III. We went together to pay our visit to Maternus. Upon entering his study, we found him with the tragedy, which he had read on the preceding day, lying before him. Secundus began: And are you then so little affected by the censure of malignant critics, as to persist in cherishing a tragedy which has given so much offence? Perhaps you are revising the piece, and, after retrenching certain passages, intend to send your Cato into the world, I will not say improved, but certainly less obnoxious. There lies the poem, said Maternus; you may, if you think proper, peruse it with all its imperfections on its head. If Cato has omitted any thing, Thyestes [a], at my next reading, shall atone for all deficiencies. I have formed the fable of a tragedy on that subject: the plan is warm in my imagination, and, that I may give my whole time to it, I now am eager to dispatch an edition of Cato. Marcus Aper interposed: And are you, indeed, so enamoured of your dramatic muse, as to renounce your oratorical character, and the honours of your profession, in order to sacrifice your time, I think it was lately to Medea, and now to Thyestes? Your friends, in the mean time, expect your patronage; the colonies [b] invoke your aid, and the municipal cities invite you to the bar. And surely the weight of so many causes may be deemed sufficient, without this new solicitude imposed upon you by Domitius [c] or Cato. And must you thus waste all your time, amusing yourself for ever with scenes of fictitious distress, and still labouring to add to the fables of Greece the incidents and characters of the Roman story?
IV. The sharpness of that reproof, replied Maternus, would, perhaps, have disconcerted me, if, by frequent repetition, it had not lost its sting. To differ on this subject is grown familiar to us both. Poetry, it seems, is to expect no quarter: you wage an incessant war against the followers of that pleasing art; and I, who am charged with deserting my clients, have yet every day the cause of poetry to defend. But we have now a fair opportunity, and I embrace it with pleasure, since we have a person present, of ability to decide between us; a judge, who will either lay me under an injunction to write no more verses, or, as I rather hope, encourage me, by his authority, to renounce for ever the dry employment of forensic causes (in which I have had my share of drudgery), that I may, for the future, be at leisure to cultivate the sublime and sacred eloquence of the tragic muse.
V. Secundus desired to be heard: I am aware, he said, that Aper may refuse me as an umpire. Before he states his objections, let me follow the example of all fair and upright judges, who, in particular cases, when they feel a partiality for one of the contending parties, desire to be excused from hearing the cause. The friendship and habitual intercourse, which I have ever cultivated with Saleius Bassus [a], that excellent man, and no less excellent poet, are well known: and let me add, if poetry is to be arraigned, I know no client that can offer such handsome bribes.
My business, replied Aper, is not with Saleius Bassus: let him, and all of his description, who, without talents for the bar, devote their time to the muses, pursue their favourite amusement without interruption. But Maternus must not think to escape in the crowd. I single him out from the rest, and since we are now before a competent judge, I call upon him to answer, how it happens, that a man of his talents, formed by nature to reach the heights of manly eloquence, can think of renouncing a profession, which not only serves to multiply friendships, but to support them with reputation: a profession, which enables us to conciliate the esteem of foreign nations, and (if we regard our own interest) lays open the road to the first honours of the state; a profession, which, besides the celebrity that it gives within the walls of Rome, spreads an illustrious name throughout this wide extent of the empire.
If it be wisdom to make the ornament and happiness of life the end and aim of our actions, what can be more advisable than to embrace an art, by which we are enabled to protect our friends; to defend the cause of strangers; and succour the distressed? Nor is this all: the eminent orator is a terror to his enemies: envy and malice tremble, while they hate him. Secure in his own strength, he knows how to ward off every danger. His own genius is his protection; a perpetual guard, that watches him; an invincible power, that shields him from his enemies.
In the calm seasons of life, the true use of oratory consists in the assistance which it affords to our fellow-citizens. We then behold the triumph of eloquence. Have we reason to be alarmed for ourselves, the sword and breast-plate are not a better defence in the heat of battle. It is at once a buckler to cover yourself [b]and a weapon to brandish against your enemy. Armed with this, you may appear with courage before the tribunals of justice, in the senate, and even in the presence of the prince. We lately saw [c] Eprius Marcellus arraigned before the fathers: in that moment, when the minds of the whole assembly were inflamed against him, what had he to oppose to the vehemence of his enemies, but that nervous eloquence which he possessed in so eminent a degree? Collected in himself, and looking terror to his enemies, he was more than a match for Helvidius Priscus; a man, no doubt, of consummate wisdom, but without that flow of eloquence, which springs from practice, and that skill in argument, which is necessary to manage a public debate. Such is the advantage of oratory: to enlarge upon it were superfluous. My friend Maternus will not dispute the point.
VI. I proceed to the pleasure arising from the exercise of eloquence; a pleasure which does not consist in the mere sensation of the moment, but is felt through life, repeated every day, and almost every hour. For let me ask, to a man of an ingenuous and liberal mind, who knows the relish of elegant enjoyments, what can yield such true delight, as a concourse of the most respectable characters crowding to his levee? How must it enhance his pleasure, when he reflects, that the visit is not paid to him because he is rich, and wants an heir [a], or is in possession of a public office, but purely as a compliment to superior talents, a mark of respect to a great and accomplished orator! The rich who have no issue, and the men in high rank and power, are his followers. Though he is still young, and probably destitute of fortune, all concur in paying their court to solicit his patronage for themselves, or to recommend their friends to his protection. In the most splendid fortune, in all the dignity and pride of power, is there any thing that can equal the heartfelt satisfaction of the able advocate, when he sees the most illustrious citizens, men respected for their years, and flourishing in the opinion of the public, yet paying their court to a rising genius, and, in the midst of wealth and grandeur, fairly owning, that they still want something superior to all their possessions? What shall be said of the attendants, that follow the young orator from the bar, and watch his motions to his own house? With what importance does he appear to the multitude! in the courts of judicature, with what veneration! When he rises to speak, the audience is hushed in mute attention; every eye is fixed on him alone; the crowd presses round him; he is master of their passions; they are swayed, impelled, directed, as he thinks proper. These are the fruits of eloquence, well known to all, and palpable to every common observer.
There are other pleasures more refined and secret, felt only by the initiated. When the orator, upon some great occasion, comes with a well-digested speech, conscious of his matter, and animated by his subject, his breast expands, and heaves with emotions unfelt before. In his joy there is a dignity suited to the weight and energy of the composition which he has prepared. Does he rise to hazard himself [b] in a sudden debate; he is alarmed for himself, but in that very alarm there is a mingle of pleasure, which predominates, till distress itself becomes delightful. The mind exults in the prompt exertion of its powers, and even glories in its rashness. The productions of genius, and those of the field, have this resemblance: many things are sown, and brought to maturity with toil and care; yet that, which grows from the wild vigour of nature, has the most grateful flavour.
VII. As to myself, if I may allude to my own feelings, the day on which I put on the manly gown [a], and even the days that followed, when, as a new man at Rome, born in a city that did not favour my pretensions [b], I rose in succession to the offices of quæstor, tribune, and prætor; those days, I say, did not awaken in my breast such exalted rapture, as when, in the course of my profession, I was called forth, with such talents as have fallen to my share, to defend the accused; to argue a question of law before the centumviri [c], or, in the presence of the prince, to plead for his freedmen, and the procurators appointed by himself. Upon those occasions I towered above all places of profit, and all preferment; I looked down on the dignities of tribune, prætor, and consul; I felt within myself, what neither the favour of the great, nor the wills and codicils [d] of the rich, can give, a vigour of mind, an inward energy, that springs from no external cause, but is altogether your own.
Look through the circle of the fine arts, survey the whole compass of the sciences, and tell me in what branch can the professors acquire a name to vie with the celebrity of a great and powerful orator. His fame does not depend on the opinion of thinking men, who attend to business and watch the administration of affairs; he is applauded by the youth of Rome, at least by such of them as are of a well-turned disposition, and hope to rise by honourable means. The eminent orator is the model which every parent recommends to his children. Even the common people [e] stand at gaze, as he passes by; they pronounce his name with pleasure, and point at him as the object of their admiration. The provinces resound with his praise. The strangers, who arrive from all parts, have heard of his genius; they wish to behold the man, and their curiosity is never at rest, till they have seen his person, and perused his countenance.
VIII. I have already mentioned Eprius Marcellus and Crispus Vibius [a]. I cite living examples, in preference to the names of a former day. Those two illustrious persons, I will be bold to say, are not less known in the remotest parts of the empire, than they are at Capua, or Vercellæ [b], where, we are told, they both were born. And to what is their extensive fame to be attributed? Not surely to their immoderate riches. Three hundred thousand sesterces cannot give the fame of genius. Their eloquence may be said to have built up their fortunes; and, indeed, such is the power, I might say the inspiration, of eloquence, that in every age we have examples of men, who by their talents raised themselves to the summit of their ambition.
But I waive all former instances. The two, whom I have mentioned, are not recorded in history, nor are we to glean an imperfect knowledge of them from tradition; they are every day before our eyes. They have risen from low beginnings; but the more abject their origin, and the more sordid the poverty, in which they set out, their success rises in proportion, and affords a striking proof of what I have advanced; since it is apparent, that, without birth or fortune, neither of them recommended by his moral character, and one of them deformed in his person, they have, notwithstanding all disadvantages, made themselves, for a series of years, the first men in the state. They began their career in the forum, and, as long as they chose to pursue that road of ambition, they flourished in the highest reputation; they are now at the head of the commonwealth, the ministers who direct and govern, and so high in favour with the prince, that the respect, with which he receives them, is little short of veneration.
The truth is, Vespasian [c], now in the vale of years, but always open to the voice of truth, clearly sees that the rest of his favourites derive all their lustre from the favours, which his munificence has bestowed; but with Marcellus and Crispus the case is different: they carry into the cabinet, what no prince can give, and no subject can receive. Compared with the advantages which those men possess, what are family-pictures, statues, busts, and titles of honour? They are things of a perishable nature, yet not without their value. Marcellus and Vibius know how to estimate them, as they do wealth and honours; and wealth and honours are advantages against which you will easily find men that declaim, but none that in their hearts despise them. Hence it is, that in the houses of all who have distinguished themselves in the career of eloquence, we see titles, statues, and splendid ornaments, the reward of talents, and, at all times, the decorations of the great and powerful orator.
IX. But to come to the point, from which we started: poetry, to which my friend Maternus wishes to dedicate all his time, has none of these advantages. It confers no dignity, nor does it serve any useful purpose. It is attended with some pleasure, but it is the pleasure of a moment, springing from vain applause, and bringing with it no solid advantage. What I have said, and am going to add, may probably, my good friend Maternus, be unwelcome to your ear; and yet I must take the liberty to ask you, if Agamemnon [a] or Jason speaks in your piece with dignity of language, what useful consequence follows from it? What client has been defended? Who confesses an obligation? In that whole audience, who returns to his own house with a grateful heart? Our friend Saleius Bassus [b] is, beyond all question, a poet of eminence, or, to use a warmer expression, he has the god within him: but who attends his levee? who seeks his patronage, or follows in his train? Should he himself, or his intimate friend, or his near relation, happen to be involved in a troublesome litigation, what course do you imagine he would take? He would, most probably, apply to his friend, Secundus; or to you, Maternus; not because you are a poet, nor yet to obtain a copy of verses from you; of those he has a sufficient stock at home, elegant, it must be owned, and exquisite in the kind. But after all his labour and waste of genius, what is his reward?
When in the course of a year, after toiling day and night, he has brought a single poem to perfection, he is obliged to solicit his friends and exert his interest, in order to bring together an audience [c], so obliging as to hear a recital of the piece. Nor can this be done without expence. A room must be hired, a stage or pulpit must be erected; benches must be arranged, and hand-bills distributed throughout the city. What if the reading succeeds to the height of his wishes? Pass but a day or two, and the whole harvest of praise and admiration fades away, like a flower that withers in its bloom, and never ripens into fruit. By the event, however flattering, he gains no friend, he obtains no patronage, nor does a single person go away impressed with the idea of an obligation conferred upon him. The poet has been heard with applause; he has been received with acclamations; and he has enjoyed a short-lived transport.
Bassus, it is true, has lately received from Vespasian a present of fifty thousand sesterces. Upon that occasion, we all admired the generosity of the prince. To deserve so distinguished a proof of the sovereign’s esteem is, no doubt, highly honourable; but is it not still more honourable, if your circumstances require it, to serve yourself by your talents? to cultivate your genius, for your own advantage? and to owe every thing to your own industry, indebted to the bounty of no man whatever? It must not be forgotten, that the poet, who would produce any thing truly excellent in the kind, must bid farewell to the conversation of his friends; he must renounce, not only the pleasures of Rome, but also the duties of social life; he must retire from the world; as the poets say, “to groves and grottos every muse’s son.” In other words, he must condemn himself to a sequestered life in the gloom of solitude.
X. The love of fame, it seems, is the passion that inspires the poet’s genius: but even in this respect, is he so amply paid as to rival in any degree the professors of the persuasive arts? As to the indifferent poet, men leave him to his own [a] mediocrity: the real genius moves in a narrow circle. Let there be a reading of a poem by the ablest master of his art: will the fame of his performance reach all quarters, I will not say of the empire, but of Rome only? Among the strangers who arrive from Spain, from Asia, or from Gaul, who enquires [b] after Saleius Bassus? Should it happen that there is one, who thinks, of him; his curiosity is soon satisfied; he passes on, content with a transient view, as if he had seen a picture or a statue.
In what I have advanced, let me not be misunderstood: I do not mean to deter such as are not blessed with the gift of oratory, from the practice of their favourite art, if it serves to fill up their time, and gain a degree of reputation. I am an admirer of eloquence [c]; I hold it venerable, and even sacred, in all its shapes, and every mode of composition. The pathetic of tragedy, of which you, Maternus, are so great a master; the majesty of the epic, the gaiety of the lyric muse; the wanton elegy, the keen iambic, and the pointed epigram; all have their charms; and Eloquence, whatever may be the subject which she chooses to adorn, is with me the sublimest faculty, the queen of all the arts and sciences. But this, Maternus, is no apology for you, whose conduct is so extraordinary, that, though formed by nature to reach the summit of perfection [d], you choose to wander into devious paths, and rest contented with an humble station in the vale beneath.
Were you a native of Greece, where to exhibit in the public games [e] is an honourable employment; and if the gods had bestowed upon you the force and sinew of the athletic Nicostratus [f]; do you imagine that I could look tamely on, and see that amazing vigour waste itself away in nothing better than the frivolous art of darting the javelin, or throwing the coit? To drop the allusion, I summon you from the theatre and public recitals to the business of the forum, to the tribunals of justice, to scenes of real contention, to a conflict worthy of your abilities. You cannot decline the challenge, for you are left without an excuse. You cannot say, with a number of others, that the profession of poetry is safer than that of the public orator; since you have ventured, in a tragedy written with spirit, to display the ardour of a bold and towering genius.
And for whom have you provoked so many enemies? Not for a friend; that would have had alleviating circumstances. You undertook the cause of Cato, and for him committed yourself. You cannot plead, by way of apology, the duty of an advocate, or the sudden effusion of sentiment in the heat and hurry of an unpremeditated speech. Your plan was settled; a great historical personage was your hero, and you chose him, because what falls from so distinguished a character, falls from a height that gives it additional weight. I am aware of your answer: you will say, it was that very circumstance that ensured the success of your piece; the sentiments were received with sympathetic rapture: the room echoed with applause, and hence your fame throughout the city of Rome. Then let us hear no more of your love of quiet and a state of security: you have voluntarily courted danger. For myself, I am content with controversies of a private nature, and the incidents of the present day. If, hurried beyond the bounds of prudence, I should happen, on any occasion, to grate the ears of men in power, the zeal of an advocate, in the service of his client, will excuse the honest freedom of speech, and, perhaps, be deemed a proof of integrity.
XI. Aper went through his argument, according to his custom, with warmth and vehemence. He delivered the whole with a peremptory tone and an eager eye. As soon as he finished, I am prepared, said Maternus smiling, to exhibit a charge against the professors of oratory, which may, perhaps, counterbalance the praise so lavishly bestowed upon them by my friend. In the course of what he said, I was not surprised to see him going out of his way, to lay poor poetry prostrate at his feet. He has, indeed, shewn some kindness to such as are not blessed with oratorical talents. He has passed an act of indulgence in their favour, and they, it seems, are allowed to pursue their favourite studies. For my part, I will not say that I think myself wholly unqualified for the eloquence of the bar. It may be true, that I have some kind of talent for that profession; but the tragic muse affords superior pleasure. My first attempt was in the reign of Nero, in opposition to the extravagant claims of the prince [a], and in defiance of the domineering spirit of Vatinius [b], that pernicious favourite, by whose coarse buffoonery the muses were every day disgraced, I might say, most impiously prophaned. The portion of fame, whatever it be, that I have acquired since that time, is to be attributed, not to the speeches which I made in the forum, but to the power of dramatic composition. I have, therefore, resolved to take my leave of the bar for ever. The homage of visitors, the train of attendants, and the multitude of clients, which glitter so much in the eyes of my friend, have no attraction for me. I regard them as I do pictures, and busts, and statues of brass; things, which indeed are in my family, but they came unlooked for, without my stir, or so much as a wish on my part. In my humble station, I find that innocence is a better shield than oratory. For the last I shall have no occasion, unless I find it necessary, on some future occasion, to exert myself in the just defence of an injured friend.
XII. But woods, and groves [a], and solitary places, have not escaped the satyrical vein of my friend. To me they afford sensations of a pure delight. It is there I enjoy the pleasures of a poetic imagination; and among those pleasures it is not the least, that they are pursued far from the noise and bustle of the world, without a client to besiege my doors, and not a criminal to distress me with the tears of affliction. Free from those distractions, the poet retires to scenes of solitude, where peace and innocence reside. In those haunts of contemplation, he has his pleasing visions. He treads on consecrated ground. It was there that Eloquence first grew up, and there she reared her temple. In those retreats she first adorned herself with those graces, which have made mankind enamoured of her charms; and there she filled the hearts of the wise and good with joy and inspiration. Oracles first spoke in woods and sacred groves. As to the species of oratory, which practises for lucre, or with views of ambition; that sanguinary eloquence [b] now so much in vogue: it is of modern growth, the offspring of corrupt manners, and degenerate times; or rather, as my friend Aper expressed it, it is a weapon in the hands of ill-designing men.
The early and more happy period of the world, or, as we poets call it, the golden age, was the æra of true eloquence. Crimes and orators were then unknown. Poetry spoke in harmonious numbers, not to varnish evil deeds, but to praise the virtuous, and celebrate the friends of human kind. This was the poet’s office. The inspired train enjoyed the highest honours; they held commerce with the gods; they partook of the ambrosial feast: they were at once the messengers and interpreters of the supreme command. They ranked on earth with legislators, heroes, and demigods. In that bright assembly we find no orator, no pleader of causes. We read of Orpheus [c], of Linus, and, if we choose to mount still higher, we can add the name of Apollo himself. This may seem a flight of fancy. Aper will treat it as mere romance, and fabulous history: but he will not deny, that the veneration paid to Homer, with the consent of posterity, is at least equal to the honours obtained by Demosthenes. He must likewise admit, that the fame of Sophocles and Euripides is not confined within narrower limits than that of Lysias [d] or Hyperides. To come home to our own country, there are at this day more who dispute the excellence of Cicero than of Virgil. Among the orations of Asinius or Messala [e], is there one that can vie with the Medea of Ovid, or the Thyestes of Varius?
XIII. If we now consider the happy condition of the true poet, and that easy commerce in which he passes his time, need we fear to compare his situation with that of the boasted orator, who leads a life of anxiety, oppressed by business, and overwhelmed with care? But it is said, his contention, his toil and danger, are steps to the consulship. How much more eligible was the soft retreat in which Virgil [a] passed his days, loved by the prince, and honoured by the people! To prove this the letters of Augustus are still extant; and the people, we know, hearing in the theatre some verses of that divine poet [b], when he himself was present, rose in a body, and paid him every mark of homage, with a degree of veneration nothing short of what they usually offered to the emperor.
Even in our own times, will any man say, that Secundus Pomponius [c], in point of dignity or extent of fame, is inferior to Domitius Afer [d]? But Vibius and Marcellus have been cited as bright examples: and yet, in their elevation what is there to be coveted? Is it to be deemed an advantage to those ministers, that they are feared by numbers, and live in fear themselves? They are courted for their favours, and the men, who obtain their suit, retire with ingratitude, pleased with their success, yet hating to be obliged. Can we suppose that the man is happy, who by his artifices has wriggled himself into favour, and yet is never thought by his master sufficiently pliant, nor by the people sufficiently free? And after all, what is the amount of all his boasted power? The emperor’s freedmen have enjoyed the same. But as Virgil sweetly sings, Me let the sacred muses lead to their soft retreats, their living fountains, and melodious groves, where I may dwell remote from care, master of myself, and under no necessity of doing every day what my heart condemns. Let me no more be seen at the wrangling bar, a pale and anxious candidate for precarious fame; and let neither the tumult of visitors crowding to my levee, nor the eager haste of officious freedmen, disturb my morning rest. Let me live free from solicitude, a stranger to the art of promising legacies [e], in order to buy the friendship of the great; and when nature shall give the signal to retire, may I possess no more than may be safely bequeathed to such friends as I shall think proper. At my funeral let no token of sorrow be seen, no pompous mockery of woe. Crown [f] me with chaplets; strew flowers on my grave, and let my friends erect no vain memorial, to tell where my remains are lodged.
XIV. Maternus finished with an air of enthusiasm, that seemed to lift him above himself. In that moment [a], Vipstanius Messala entered the room. From the attention that appeared in every countenance, he concluded that some important business was the subject of debate. I am afraid, said he, that I break in upon you at an unseasonable time. You have some secret to discuss, or, perhaps, a consultation upon your hands. Far from it, replied Secundus; I wish you had come sooner. You would have had the pleasure of hearing an eloquent discourse from our friend Aper, who has been endeavouring to persuade Maternus to dedicate all his time to the business of the bar, and to give the whole man to his profession. The answer of Maternus would have entertained you: he has been defending his art, and but this moment closed an animated speech, that held more of the poetical than the oratorical character.
I should have been happy, replied Messala, to have heard both my friends. It is, however, some compensation for the loss, that I find men of their talents, instead of giving all their time to the little subtleties and knotty points of the forum, extending their views to liberal science, and those questions of taste, which enlarge the mind, and furnish it with ideas drawn from the treasures of polite erudition. Enquiries of this kind afford improvement not only to those who enter into the discussion, but to all who have the happiness of being present at the debate. It is in consequence of this refined and elegant way of thinking, that you, Secundus, have gained so much applause, by the life of Julius Asiaticus [b], with which you have lately obliged the world. From that specimen, we are taught to expect other productions of equal beauty from the same hand. In like manner, I see with pleasure, that our friend Aper loves to enliven his imagination with topics of controversy, and still lays out his leisure in questions of the schools [c], not, indeed, in imitation of the ancient orators, but in the true taste of our modern rhetoricians.
XV. I am not surprised, returned Aper, at that stroke of raillery. It is not enough for Messala, that the oratory of ancient times engrosses all his admiration; he must have his fling at the moderns. Our talents and our studies are sure to feel the sallies of his pleasantry [a]. I have often heard you, my friend Messala, in the same humour. According to you, the present age has not a single orator to boast of, though your own eloquence, and that of your brother, are sufficient to refute the charge. But you assert roundly, and maintain your proposition with an air of confidence. You know how high you stand, and while in your general censure of the age you include yourself, the smallest tincture of malignity cannot be supposed to mingle in a decision, which denies to your own genius, what by common consent is allowed to be your undoubted right.
I have as yet, replied Messala, seen no reason to make me retract my opinion; nor do I believe, that my two friends here, or even you yourself (though you sometimes affect a different tone), can seriously maintain the opposite doctrine. The decline of eloquence is too apparent. The causes which have contributed to it, merit a serious enquiry. I shall be obliged to you, my friends, for a fair solution of the question. I have often reflected upon the subject; but what seems to others a full answer, with me serves only to increase the difficulty. What has happened at Rome, I perceive to have been the case in Greece. The modern orators of that country, such as the priest [b] Nicetes, and others who, like him, stun the schools of Mytelene and Ephesus [c], are fallen to a greater distance from Æschines and Demosthenes, than Afer and Africanus [d], or you, my friends, from Tully or Asinius Pollio.
XVI. You have started an important question, said Secundus, and who so able to discuss it as yourself? Your talents are equal to the difficulty; your acquisitions in literature are known to be extensive, and you have considered the subject. I have no objection, replied Messala: my ideas are at your service, upon condition that, as I go on, you will assist me with the lights of your understanding. For two of us I can venture to answer, said Maternus: whatever you omit, or rather, what you leave for us to glean after you, we shall be ready to add to your observations. As to our friend Aper, you have told us, that he is apt to differ from you upon this point, and even now I see him preparing to give battle. He will not tamely bear to see us joined in a league in favour of antiquity.
Certainly not, replied Aper, nor shall the present age, unheard and undefended, be degraded by a conspiracy. But before you sound to arms, I wish to know, who are to be reckoned among the ancients? At what point of time [a] do you fix your favourite æra? When you talk to me of antiquity, I carry my view to the first ages of the world, and see before me Ulysses and Nestor, who flourished little less than [b] thirteen hundred years ago. Your retrospect, it seems, goes no farther back than to Demosthenes and Hyperides; men who lived in the times of Philip and Alexander, and indeed survived them both. The interval, between Demosthenes and the present age, is little more than [c] four hundred years; a space of time, which, with a view to the duration of human life, may be called long; but, as a portion of that immense tract of time which includes the different ages of the world, it shrinks into nothing, and seems to be but yesterday. For if it be true, as Cicero says in his treatise called Hortensius, that the great and genuine year is that period in which the heavenly bodies revolve to the station from which their source began; and if this grand rotation of the whole planetary system requires no less than twelve thousand nine hundred and fifty-four years [d]of our computation, it follows that Demosthenes, your boasted ancient, becomes a modern, and even our contemporary; nay, that he lived in the same year with ourselves; I had almost said, in the same month [e].
XVII. But I am in haste to pass to our Roman orators. Menenius Agrippa [a] may fairly be deemed an ancient. I take it, however, that he is not the person, whom you mean to oppose to the professors of modern eloquence. The æra, which you have in view, is that of [b] Cicero and Cæsar; of Cælius [c] and Calvus; of Brutus [d], Asinius, and Messala. Those are the men, whom you place in the front of hour line; but for what reason they are to be classed with the ancients, and not, as I think they ought to be, with the moderns, I am still to learn. To begin with Cicero; he, according to the account of Tiro, his freedman, was put to death on the seventh of the ides of December, during the consulship of Hirtius and Pansa [e], who, we know, were both cut off in the course of the year, and left their office vacant for Augustus and Quintus Pedius. Count from that time six and fifty years to complete the reign of Augustus; three and twenty for that of Tiberius, four for Caligula, eight and twenty for Claudius and Nero, one for Galba, Otho, and Vitellius, and finally six from the accession of Vespasian to the present year of our felicity, we shall have from the death of Cicero a period of about [f] one hundred and twenty years, which may be considered as the term allotted to the life of man. I myself remember to have seen in Britain a soldier far advanced in years, who averred that he carried arms in that very battle [g] in which his countrymen sought to drive Julius Cæsar back from their coast. If this veteran, who served in the defence of his country against Cæsar’s invasion, had been brought a prisoner to Rome; or, if his own inclination, or any other accident in the course of things, had conducted him thither, he might have heard, not only Cæsar and Cicero, but even ourselves in some of our public speeches.
In the late public largess [h] you will acknowledge that you saw several old men, who assured us that they had received more than once, the like distribution from Augustus himself. If that be so, might not those persons have heard Corvinus [i] and Asinius? Corvinus, we all know, lived through half the reign of Augustus, and Asinius almost to the end. How then are we to ascertain the just boundaries of a century? They are not to be varied at pleasure, so as to place some orators in a remote, and others in a recent period, while people are still living, who heard them all, and may, therefore, with good reason rank them as contemporaries.
XVIII. From what I have said, I assume it as a clear position, that the glory, whatever it be, that accrued to the age in which those orators lived, is not confined to that particular period, but reaches down to the present time, and may more properly be said to belong to us, than to Servius Galba [a], or to Carbo [b], and others of the same or more ancient date. Of that whole race of orators, I may freely say, that their manner cannot now be relished. Their language is coarse, and their composition rough, uncouth, and harsh; and yet your Calvus [c], your Cælius, and even your favourite Cicero, condescend to follow that inelegant style. It were to be wished that they had not thought such models worthy of imitation. I mean to speak my mind with freedom; but before I proceed, it will be necessary to make a preliminary observation, and it is this: Eloquence has no settled form: at different times it puts on a new garb, and changes with the manners and the taste of the age. Thus we find, that Gracchus [d], compared with the elder Cato [e], is full and copious; but, in his turn, yields to Crassus [f], an orator more polished, more correct, and florid. Cicero rises superior to both; more animated, more harmonious and sublime. He is followed by Corvinus [g], who has all the softer graces; a sweet flexibility in his style, and a curious felicity in the choice of his words. Which was the greatest orator, is not the question.
The use I make of these examples, is to prove that eloquence does not always wear the same dress, but, even among your celebrated ancients, has its different modes of persuasion. And be it remembered, that what differs is not always the worst. Yet such is the malignity of the human mind, that what has the sanction of antiquity is always admired; what is present, is sure to be condemned. Can we doubt that there have been critics, who were better pleased with Appius Cæcus [h] than with Cato? Cicero had his adversaries [i]: it was objected to him, that his style was redundant, turgid, never compressed, void of precision, and destitute of Attic elegance. We all have read the letters of Calvus and Brutus to your famous orator. In the course of that correspondence, we plainly see what was Cicero’s opinion of those eminent men. The former [k] appeared to him cold and languid; the latter [l], disjointed, loose, and negligent. On the other hand, we know what they thought in return: Calvus did not hesitate to say, that Cicero was diffuse luxuriant to a fault, and florid without vigour. Brutus, in express terms, says, he was weakened into length, and wanted sinew. If you ask my opinion, each of them had reason on his side. I shall hereafter examine them separately. My business at present, is not in the detail: I speak of them in general terms.
XIX. The æra of ancient oratory is, I think, extended by its admirers no farther back than the time of Cassius Severus [a]. He, they tell us, was the first who dared to deviate from the plain and simple style of his predecessors. I admit the fact. He departed from the established forms, not through want of genius, or of learning, but guided by his own good sense and superior judgement. He saw that the public ear was formed to a new manner; and eloquence, he knew, was to find new approaches to the heart. In the early periods of the commonwealth, a rough unpolished people might well be satisfied with the tedious length of unskilful speeches, at a time when to make an harangue that took up the whole day, was the orator’s highest praise. The prolix exordium, wasting itself in feeble preparation; the circumstantial narration, the ostentatious division of the argument under different heads, and the thousand proofs and logical distinctions, with whatever else is contained in the dry precepts of Hermagoras [b] and Apollodorus, were in that rude period received with universal applause. To finish the picture, if your ancient orator could glean a little from the common places of philosophy, and interweave a few shreds and patches with the thread of his discourse, he was extolled to the very skies. Nor can this be matter of wonder: the maxims of the schools had not been divulged; they came with an air of novelty. Even among the orators themselves, there were but few who had any tincture of philosophy. Nor had they learned the rules of art from the teachers of eloquence.
In the present age, the tenets of philosophy and the precepts of rhetoric are no longer a secret. The lowest of our popular assemblies are now, I will not say fully instructed, but certainly acquainted with the elements of literature. The orator, by consequence, finds himself obliged to seek new avenues to the heart, and new graces to embellish his discourse, that he may not offend fastidious ears, especially before a tribunal where the judge is no longer bound by precedent, but determines according to his will and pleasure; not, as formerly, observing the measure of time allowed to the advocate, but taking upon himself to prescribe the limits. Nor is this all: the judge, at present, will not condescend to wait till the orator, in his own way, opens his case; but, of his own authority, reminds him of the point in question, and, if he wanders, calls him back from his digression, not without a hint that the court wishes to dispatch.
XX. Who, at this time, would bear to hear an advocate introducing himself with a tedious preface about the infirmities of his constitution? Yet that is the threadbare exordium of Corvinus. We have five books against Verres [a]. Who can endure that vast redundance? Who can listen to those endless arguments upon points of form, and cavilling exceptions [b], which we find in the orations of the same celebrated advocate for Marcus Tullius [c] and Aulus Cæcina? Our modern judges are able to anticipate the argument. Their quickness goes before the speaker. If not struck with the vivacity of his manner, the elegance of his sentiments, and the glowing colours of his descriptions, they soon grow weary of the flat insipid discourse. Even in the lowest class of life, there is now a relish for rich and splendid ornament. Their taste requires the gay, the florid, and the brilliant. The unpolished style of antiquity would now succeed as ill at the bar, as the modern actor who should attempt to copy the deportment of Roscius [d], or Ambivius Turpio. Even the young men who are preparing for the career of eloquence, and, for that purpose, attend the forum and the tribunals of justice, have now a nice discriminating taste. They expect to have their imaginations pleased. They wish to carry home some bright illustration, some splendid passage, that deserves to be remembered. What has struck their fancy, they communicate to each other: and in their letters, the glittering thought, given with sententious brevity, the poetical allusion that enlivened the discourse, and the dazzling imagery, are sure to be transmitted to their respective colonies and provinces. The ornaments of poetic diction are now required, not, indeed, copied from the rude obsolete style of Accius [e] and Pacuvius, but embellished with the graces of Horace, Virgil, and [f] Lucan. The public judgement has raised a demand for harmonious periods, and, in compliance with the taste of the age, our orators grow every day more polished and adorned. Let it not be said that what we gain in refinement, we lose in strength. Are the temples, raised by our modern architects, of a weaker structure, because they are not formed with shapeless stones, but with the magnificence of polished marble, and decorations of the richest gilding?
XXI. Shall I fairly own to you the impression which I generally receive from the ancient orators? They make me laugh, or lull me to sleep. Nor is this the case only, when I read the orations of Canutus [a], Arrius, Furnius, Toranius and others of the same school, or rather, the same infirmary [b]; an emaciated sickly race of orators; without sinew, colour, or proportion. But what shall be said of your admired Calvus [c]? He, I think, has left no less than one and twenty volumes: in the whole collection, there is not more than one or two short orations, that can pretend to perfection in the kind. Upon this point there is no difference of opinion. Who now reads his declamations against Asitius or Drusus? His speeches against Vatinius are in the hands of the curious, particularly the second, which must be allowed to be a masterpiece. The language is elegant; the sentiments are striking, and the ear is satisfied with the roundness of the periods. In this specimen we see that he had an idea of just composition, but his genius was not equal to his judgement. The orations of Cælius, though upon the whole defective, are not without their beauties. Some passages are highly finished. In those we acknowledge, the nice touches of modern elegance. In general, however, the coarse expression, the halting period, and the vulgarity of the sentiments, have too much of the leaven of antiquity.
If Cælius [d] is still admired, it is not, I believe, in any of those parts that bear the mark of a rude illiterate age. With regard to Julius Cæsar [e], engaged as he was in projects of vast ambition, we may forgive him the want of that perfection which might, otherwise, be expected from so sublime a genius. Brutus, in like manner, may be excused on account of his philosophical speculations. Both he and Cæsar, in their oratorical attempts, fell short of themselves. Their warmest admirers acknowledge the fact, nor is there an instance to the contrary, unless we except Cæsar’s speech for Decius the Samnite [f], and that of Brutus for king [g] Dejotarus. But are those performances, and some others of the same lukewarm temper, to be received as works of genius? He who admires those productions, may be left to admire their verses also. For verses they both made, and sent them into the world, I will not say, with more success than Cicero, but certainly more to their advantage; for their poetry had the good fortune to be little known.
Asinius lived near our own times [h]. He, seems to have studied in the old school of Menenius and Appius. He composed tragedies as well as orations, but in a style so harsh and ragged, that one would think him the disciple of Accius and Pacuvius. He mistook the nature of eloquence, which may then be said to have attained its true beauty, when the parts unite with smoothness, strength, and proportion. As in the human body the veins should not swell too high, nor the bones and sinews appear too prominent; but its form is then most graceful, when a pure and temperate blood gives animation [i] to the whole frame; when the muscles have their proper play, and the colour of health is diffused over the several parts. I am not willing to disturb the memory of Corvinus Messala [k]. If he did not reach the graces of modern composition, the defect does not seem to have sprung from choice. The vigour of his genius was not equal to his judgement.
XXII. I now proceed to Cicero, who, we find, had often upon his hands the very controversy, that engages us at present. It was the fashion with his contemporaries to admire the ancients, while he, on the contrary, contended for the eloquence of his own time. Were I to mention the quality that placed him at the head of his rivals I should say it was the solidity of his judgement. It was he that first shewed a taste for polished and graceful oratory. He was happy in his choice of words, and he had the art of giving weight and harmony to his composition. We find in many passages a warm imagination, and luminous sentences. In his later speeches, he has lively sallies of wit and fancy. Experience had then matured his judgement, and after long practice, he found the true oratorical style. In his earlier productions we see the rough cast of antiquity. The exordium is tedious; the narration is drawn into length; luxuriant passages are not retouched with care; he is not easily affected, and he rarely takes fire; his sentiments are not always happily expressed [a], nor are the periods closed with energy. There is nothing so highly finished, as to tempt you to avail yourself of a borrowed beauty. In short, his speeches are like a rude building, which is strong and durable, but wants that grace and consonance of parts which give symmetry and perfection to the whole.
In oratory, as in architecture, I require ornament as well as use. From the man of ample fortune, who undertakes to build, we expect elegance and proportion. It is not enough that his house will keep out the wind and the rain; it must strike the eye, and present a pleasing object. Nor will it suffice that the furniture may answer all domestic purposes; it should be rich, fashionable, elegant; it should have gold and gems so curiously wrought, that they will bear examination, often viewed, and always admired. The common utensils, which are either mean or sordid, should be carefully removed out of sight. In like manner, the true orator should avoid the trite and vulgar. Let him reject the antiquated phrase, and whatever is covered with the rust of time; let his sentiments be expressed with spirit, not in careless, ill-constructed, languid periods, like a dull writer of annals; let him banish low scurrility, and, in short, let him know how to diversify his style, that he may not fatigue the ear with a monotony, ending for ever with the same unvaried cadence [b].
XXIII. I shall say nothing of the false wit, and insipid play upon words, which we find in Cicero’s orations. His pleasant conceits about the wheel of fortune [a], and the arch raillery on the equivocal meaning of the word VERRES [b], do not merit a moment’s attention. I omit the perpetual recurrence of the phrase, esse videatur [c], which chimes in our ears at the close of so many sentences, sounding big, but signifying nothing. These are petty blemishes; I mention them with reluctance. I say nothing of other defects equally improper: and yet those very defects are the delight of such as affect to call themselves ancient orators. I need not single them out by name: the men are sufficiently known; it is enough to allude, in general terms, to the whole class.
We all are sensible that there is a set of critics now existing, who prefer Lucilius [d] to Horace, and Lucretius [e] to Virgil; who despise the eloquence of Aufidius Bassus [f] and Servilius Nonianus, and yet admire Varro and [g] Sisenna. By these pretenders to taste, the works of our modern rhetoricians are thrown by with neglect, and even fastidious disdain; while those of Calvus are held in the highest esteem. We see these men prosing in their ancient style before the judges; but we see them left without an audience, deserted by the people, and hardly endured by their clients. The truth is, their cold and spiritless manner has no attraction. They call it sound oratory, but it is want of vigour; like that precarious state of health which weak constitutions preserve by abstinence. What physician will pronounce that a strong habit of body, which requires constant care and anxiety of mind? To say barely, that we are not ill, is surely not enough. True health consists in vigour, a generous warmth, and a certain alacrity in the whole frame. He who is only not indisposed, is little distant from actual illness.
With you, my friends, the case is different: proceed, as you well can, and in fact, as you do, to adorn our age with all the grace and splendour of true oratory. It is with pleasure, Messala, that I see you selecting for imitation the liveliest models of the ancient school. You too, Maternus, and you, my friend, Secundus[h], you both possess the happy art of adding to weight of sentiment all the dignity of language. To a copious invention you unite the judgement that knows how to distinguish the specific qualities of different authors. The beauty of order is yours. When the occasion demands it, you can expand and amplify with strength and majesty; and you know when to be concise with energy. Your periods flow with ease, and your composition has every grace of style and sentiment. You command the passions with resistless sway, while in yourselves you beget a temperance so truly dignified, that, though, perhaps, envy and the malignity of the times may be unwilling to proclaim your merit, posterity will do you ample justice [i].
XXIV. As soon as Aper concluded, You see, said Maternus, the zeal and ardour of our friend: in the cause of the moderns, what a torrent of eloquence! against the ancients, what a fund of invective! With great spirit, and a vast compass of learning, he has employed against his masters the arts for which he is indebted to them. And yet all this vehemence must not deter you, Messala, from the performance of your promise. A formal defence of the ancients is by no means necessary. We do not presume to vie with that illustrious race. We have been praised by Aper, but we know our inferiority. He himself is aware of it, though, in imitation of the ancient manner [a], he has thought proper, for the sake of a philosophical debate, to take the wrong side of the question. In answer to his argument, we do not desire you to expatiate in praise of the ancients: their fame wants no addition. What we request is, an investigation of the causes which have produced so rapid a decline from the flourishing state of genuine eloquence. I call it rapid, since, according to Aper’s own chronology, the period from the death of Cicero does not exceed one hundred and twenty years [b].
XXV. I am willing, said Messala, to pursue the plan which you have recommended. The question, whether the men who flourished above one hundred years ago, are to be accounted ancients, has been started by my friend Aper, and, I believe, it is of the first impression. But it is a mere dispute about words. The discussion of it is of no moment, provided it be granted, whether we call them ancients, or our predecessors, or give them any other appellation, that the eloquence of those times was superior to that of the present age. When Aper tells us, that different periods of time have produced new modes of oratory, I see nothing to object; nor shall I deny, that in one and the same period the style and manners have greatly varied. But this I assume, that among the orators of Greece, Demosthenes holds the first rank, and after him [a] Æschynes, Hyperides, Lysias, and Lycurgus, in regular succession. That age, by common consent, is allowed to be the flourishing period of Attic eloquence.
In like manner, Cicero stands at the head of our Roman orators, while Calvus, Asinius, and Cæsar, Cælius and Brutus, follow him at a distance; all of them superior, not only to every former age, but to the whole race that came after them. Nor is it material that they differ in the mode, since they all agree in the kind. Calvus is close and nervous; Asinius more open and harmonious; Cæsar is distinguished [b] by the splendour of his diction; Cælius by a caustic severity; and gravity is the characteristic of Brutus. Cicero is more luxuriant in amplification, and he has strength and vehemence. They all, however, agree in this: their eloquence is manly, sound, and vigorous. Examine their works, and you will see the energy of congenial minds, a family-likeness in their genius, however it may take a distinct colour from the specific qualities of the men. True, they detracted from each other’s merit. In their letters, which are still extant, we find some strokes of mutual hostility. But this littleness does not impeach their eloquence: their jealousy was the infirmity of human nature. Calvus, Asinius, and Cicero, might have their fits of animosity, and, no doubt, were liable to envy, malice, and other degrading passions: they were great orators, but they were men.
Brutus is the only one of the set, who may be thought superior to petty contentions. He spoke his mind with freedom, and, I believe, without a tincture of malice. He did not envy Cæsar himself, and can it be imagined that he envied Cicero? As to Galba [c], Lælius, and others of a remote period, against whom we have heard Aper’s declamation, I need not undertake their defence, since I am willing to acknowledge, that in their style and manner we perceive those defects and blemishes which it is natural to expect, while art, as yet in its infancy, has made no advances towards perfection.
XXVI. After all, if the best form of eloquence must be abandoned, and some, new-fangled style must grow into fashion, give me the rapidity of Gracchus [a], or the more solemn manner of Crassus [b], with all their imperfections, rather than the effeminate delicacy of [c] Mæcenas, or the tinkling cymbal [d] of Gallio. The most homely dress is preferable to gawdy colours and meretricious ornaments. The style in vogue at present, is an innovation, against every thing just and natural; it is not even manly. The luxuriant phrase, the inanity of tuneful periods, and the wanton levity of the whole composition, are fit for nothing but the histrionic art, as if they were written for the stage. To the disgrace of the age (however astonishing it may appear), it is the boast, the pride, the glory of our present orators, that their periods are musical enough either for the dancer’s heel [e], or the warbler’s throat. Hence it is, that by a frequent, but preposterous, metaphor, the orator is said to speak in melodious cadence, and the dancer to move with expression. In this view of things, even [f] Cassius Severus (the only modern whom Aper has ventured to name), if we compare him with the race that followed, may be fairly pronounced a legitimate orator, though it must be acknowledged, that in what remains of his compositing, he is clumsy without strength, and violent without spirit. He was the first that deviated from the great masters of his art. He despised all method and regular arrangement; indelicate in his choice of words, he paid no regard to decency; eager to attack, he left himself unguarded; he brandished his weapons without skill or address; and, to speak plainly, he wrangled, but did not argue. And yet, notwithstanding these defects, he was, as I have already said, superior to all that came after him, whether we regard the variety of his learning, the urbanity of his wit, or the vigour of his mind. I expected that Aper, after naming this orator, would have drawn up the rest of his forces in regular order. He has fallen, indeed, upon Asinius, Cælius, and Calvus; but where are his champions to enter the lists with them? I imagined that he had a phalanx in reserve, and that we should have seen them man by man giving battle to Cicero, Cæsar, and the rest in succession. He has singled out some of the ancients, but has brought none of his moderns into the field. He thought it enough to give them a good character in their absence. In this, perhaps, he acted with prudence: he was afraid, if he selected a few, that the rest of the tribe would take offence. For among the rhetoricians of the present day, is there one to be found, who does not, in his own opinion, tower above Cicero, though he has the modesty to yield to Gabinianus [g]?
XXVII. What Aper has omitted, I intend to perform. I shall produce his moderns by name, to the end that, by placing the example before our eyes, we may be able, more distinctly, to trace the steps by which the vigour of ancient eloquence has fallen to decay. Maternus interrupted him. I wish, he said, that you would come at once to the point: we claim your promise. The superiority of the ancients is not in question. We want no proof of it. Upon that point my opinion is decided. But the causes of our rapid decline from ancient excellence remain to be unfolded. We know that you have turned your thoughts to this subject, and we expected from you a calm disquisition, had not the violent attack which Aper made upon your favourite orators, roused your spirit, and, perhaps, given you some offence. Far from it, replied Messala; he has given me no offence; nor must you, my friends, take umbrage, if at any time a word should fall from me, not quite agreeable to your way of thinking. We are engaged in a free enquiry, and you know, that, in this kind of debate, the established law allows every man to speak his mind without reserve. That is the law, replied Maternus; you may proceed in perfect security. When you speak of the ancients, speak of them with ancient freedom, which, I fear, is at a lower ebb than even the genius of those eminent men.
XXVIII. Messala resumed his discourse: The causes of the decay of eloquence are by no means difficult to be traced. They are, I believe, well known to you, Maternus, and also to Secundus, not excepting my friend Aper. It seems, however, that I am now, at your request, to unravel the business. But there is no mystery in it. We know that eloquence, with the rest of the polite arts, has lost its former lustre: and yet, it is not a dearth of men, or a decay of talents, that has produced this fatal effect. The true causes are, the dissipation of our young men, the inattention of parents, the ignorance of those who pretend to give instruction, and the total neglect of ancient discipline. The mischief began at Rome, it has over-run all Italy, and is now, with rapid strides, spreading through the provinces. The effects, however, are more visible at home, and therefore I shall confine myself to the reigning vices of the capital; vices that wither every virtue in the bud, and continue their baleful influence through every season of life.
But before I enter on the subject, it will not be useless to look back to the system of education that prevailed in former times, and to the strict discipline of our ancestors, in a point of so much moment as the formation of youth. In the times to which I now refer, the son of every family was the legitimate offspring of a virtuous mother. The infant, as soon as born, was not consigned to the mean dwelling of a hireling nurse [a], but was reared and cherished in the bosom of a tender parent. To regulate all household affairs, and attend to her infant race, was, at that time, the glory of the female character. A matron, related to the family, and distinguished by the purity of her life, was chosen to watch the progress of the tender mind. In her presence not one indecent word was uttered; nothing was done against propriety and good manners. The hours of study and serious employment were settled by her direction; and not only so, but even the diversions of the children were conducted with modest reserve and sanctity of manners. Thus it was that Cornelia [b], the mother of the Gracchi, superintended the education of her illustrious issue. It was thus that Aurelia [c] trained up Julius Cæsar; and thus Atia [d] formed the mind of Augustus. The consequence of this regular discipline was, that the young mind grew up in innocence, unstained by vice, unwarped by irregular passions, and, under that culture, received the seeds of science. Whatever was the peculiar bias, whether to the military art, the study of the laws, or the profession of eloquence, that engrossed the whole attention, and the youth, thus directed, embraced the entire compass of one favourite science.
XXIX. In the present age, what is our practice? The infant is committed to a Greek chambermaid, and a slave or two, chosen for the purpose, generally the worst of the whole household train; all utter strangers to every liberal notion. In that worshipful society [a] the youth grows up, imbibing folly and vulgar error. Throughout the house, not one servant cares what he says or does [b] in the presence of his young master: and indeed how should it be otherwise? The parents themselves are the first to give their children the worst examples of vice and luxury. The stripling consequently loses all sense of shame, and soon forgets the respect he owes to others as well as to himself. A passion for horses, players, and gladiators [c], seems to be the epidemic folly of the times. The child receives it in his mother’s womb; he brings it with him into the world; and in a mind so possessed, what room for science, or any generous purpose?
In our houses, at our tables, sports and interludes are the topics of conversation. Enter the places of academical lectures, and who talks of any other subject? The preceptors themselves have caught the contagion. Nor can this be wondered at. To establish a strict and regular discipline, and to succeed by giving proofs of their genius, is not the plan of our modern rhetoricians. They pay their court to the great, and, by servile adulation, increase the number of their pupils. Need I mention the manner of conveying the first elements of school learning? No care is taken to give the student a taste for the best authors [d]; the page of history lies neglected; the study of men and manners is no part of their system; and every branch of useful knowledge is left uncultivated. A preceptor is called in, and education is then thought to be in a fair way. But I shall have occasion hereafter to speak more fully of that class of men, called rhetoricians. It will then be seen, at what period that profession first made its appearance at Rome, and what reception it met with from our ancestors.
XXX. Before I proceed, let us advert for a moment to the plan of ancient discipline. The unwearied diligence of the ancient orators, their habits of meditation, and their daily exercise in the whole circle of arts and sciences, are amply displayed in the books which they have transmitted to us. The treatise of Cicero, entitled Brutus [a], is in all our hands. In that work, after commemorating the orators of a former day, he closes the account with the particulars of his own progress in science, and the method he took in educating himself to the profession of oratory. He studied the civil law under [b] Mucius Scævola; he was instructed in the various systems of philosophy, by Philo [c] of the academic school, and by Diodorus the stoic; and though Rome, at that time, abounded with the best professors, he made a voyage to Greece [d], and thence to Asia, in order to enrich his mind with every branch of learning. Hence that store of knowledge which appears in all his writings. Geometry, music, grammar, and every useful art, were familiar to him. He embraced the whole science of logic [e] and ethics. He studied the operations of nature. His diligence of enquiry opened to him the long chain of causes and effects, and, in short, the whole system of physiology was his own. From a mind thus replenished, it is no wonder, my good friends, that we see in the compositions of that extraordinary man that affluence of ideas, and that prodigious flow of eloquence. In fact, it is not with oratory as with the other arts, which are confined to certain objects, and circumscribed within their own peculiar limits. He alone deserves the name of an orator, who can speak in a copious style, with ease or dignity, as the subject requires; who can find language to decorate his argument; who through the passions can command the understanding; and, while he serves mankind, knows how to delight the judgement and the imagination of his audience.
XXXI. Such was, in ancient times, the idea of an orator. To form that illustrious character, it was not thought necessary to declaim in the schools of rhetoricians [a], or to make a vain parade in fictitious controversies, which were not only void of all reality, but even of a shadow of probability. Our ancestors pursued a different plan: they stored their minds with just ideas of moral good and evil; with the rules of right and wrong, and the fair and foul in human transactions. These, on every controverted point, are the orator’s province. In courts of law, just and unjust undergo his discussion; in political debate, between what is expedient and honourable, it is his to draw the line; and those questions are so blended in their nature, that they enter into every cause. On such important topics, who can hope to bring variety of matter, and to dignify that matter with style and sentiment, if he has not, beforehand, enlarged his mind with the knowledge of human nature? with the laws of moral obligation? the deformity of vice, the beauty of virtue, and other points which do not immediately belong to the theory of ethics?
The orator, who has enriched his mind with these materials, may be truly said to have acquired the powers of persuasion. He who knows the nature of indignation, will be able to kindle or allay that passion in the breast of the judge; and the advocate who has considered the effect of compassion, and from what secret springs it flows, will best know how to soften the mind, and melt it into tenderness. It is by these secrets of his art that the orator gains his influence. Whether he has to do with the prejudiced, the angry, the envious, the melancholy, or the timid, he can bridle their various passions, and hold the reins in his own hand. According to the disposition of his audience, he will know when to check the workings of the heart, and when to raise them to their full tumult of emotion.
Some critics are chiefly pleased with that close mode of oratory, which in a laconic manner states the facts, and forms an immediate conclusion: in that case, it is obvious how necessary it is to be a complete master of the rules of logic. Others delight in a more open, free, and copious style, where the arguments are drawn from topics of general knowledge; for this purpose, the peripatetic school [b] will supply the orator with ample materials. The academic philosopher [c] will inspire him with warmth and energy; Plato will give the sublime, and Xenophon that equal flow which charms us in that amiable writer. The rhetorical figure, which is called exclamation, so frequent with Epicurus [d] and Metrodorus, will add to a discourse those sudden breaks of passion, which give motion, strength, and vehemence.
It is not for the stoic school, nor for their imaginary wise man, that I am laying down rules. I am forming an orator, whose business it is, not to adhere to one sect, but to go the round of all the arts and sciences. Accordingly we find, that the great master of ancient eloquence laid their foundation in a thorough study of the civil law, and to that fund they added grammar, music, and geometry. The fact is, in most of the causes that occur, perhaps in every cause, a due knowledge of the whole system of jurisprudence is an indispensable requisite. There are likewise many subjects of litigation, in which an acquaintance with other sciences is of the highest use.
XXXII. Am I to be told, that to gain some slight information on particular subjects, as occasion may require, will sufficiently answer the purposes of an orator? In answer to this, let it be observed, that the application of what we draw from our own fund, is very different from the use we make of what we borrow. Whether we speak from digested knowledge, or the mere suggestion of others, the effect is soon perceived. Add to this, that conflux of ideas with which the different sciences enrich the mind, gives an air of dignity to whatever we say, even in cases where that depth of knowledge is not required. Science adorns the speaker at all times, and, where it is least expected, confers a grace that charms every hearer; the man of erudition feels it, and the unlettered part of the audience acknowledge the effect without knowing the cause. A murmur of applause ensues; the speaker is allowed to have laid in a store of knowledge; he possesses all the powers of persuasion, and then is called an orator indeed.
I take the liberty to add, if we aspire to that honourable appellation, that there is no way but that which I have chalked out. No man was ever yet a complete orator, and, I affirm, never can be, unless, like the soldier marching to the field of battle, he enters the forum armed at all points with the sciences and the liberal arts. Is that the case in these our modern times? The style which we hear every day, abounds with colloquial barbarisms, and vulgar phraseology: no knowledge of the laws is heard; our municipal policy is wholly neglected, and even the decrees of the senate are treated with contempt and derision. Moral philosophy is discarded, and the maxims of ancient wisdom are unworthy of their notice. In this manner, eloquence is dethroned; she is banished from her rightful dominions, and obliged to dwell in the cold regions of antithesis, forced conceit, and pointed sentences. The consequence is, that she, who was once the sovereign mistress of the sciences, and led them as handmaids in her train, is now deprived of her attendants, reduced, impoverished, and, stripped of her usual honours (I might say of her genius), compelled to exercise a mere plebeian art.
And now, my friends, I think I have laid open the efficient cause of the decline of eloquence. Need I call witnesses to support my opinion? I name Demosthenes among the Greeks. He, we are assured, constantly attended [a] the lectures of Plato. I name Cicero among the Romans: he tells us (I believe I can repeat his words), that if he attained any degree of excellence, he owed it, not so much to the precepts of rhetoricians, as to his meditations in the walks of the academic school. I am aware that other causes of our present degeneracy may be added; but that task I leave to my friends, since I now may flatter myself that I have performed my promise. In doing it, I fear, that, as often happens to me, I have incurred the danger of giving offence. Were a certain class of men to hear the principles which I have advanced in favour of legal knowledge and sound philosophy, I should expect to be told that I have been all the time commending my own visionary schemes.
XXXIII. You will excuse me, replied Maternus, if I take the liberty to say that you have by no means finished your part of our enquiry. You seem to have spread your canvas, and to have touched the outlines of your plan; but there are other parts that still require the colouring of so masterly a hand. The stores of knowledge, with which the ancients enlarged their minds, you have fairly explained, and, in contrast to that pleasing picture, you have given us a true draught of modern ignorance. But we now wish to know, what were the exercises, and what the discipline, by which the youth of former times prepared themselves for the honours of their profession. It will not, I believe, be contended, that theory, and systems of art, are of themselves sufficient to form a genuine orator. It is by practice, and by constant exertion, that the faculty of speech improves, till the genius of the man expands, and flourishes in its full vigour. This, I think, you will not deny, and my two friends, if I may judge by their looks, seem to give their assent. Aper and Secundus agreed without hesitation.
Messala proceeded as follows: Having, as I conceive, shewn the seed-plots of ancient eloquence, and the fountains of science, from which they drew such copious streams; it remains now to give some idea of the labour, the assiduity, and the exercises, by which they trained themselves to their profession. I need not observe, that in the pursuit of science, method and constant exercise are indispensable: for who can hope, without regular attention, to master abstract schemes of philosophy, and embrace the whole compass of the sciences? Knowledge must be grafted in the mind by frequent meditation [a]; to that must be added the faculty of conveying our ideas; and, to make sure of our impression, we must be able to adorn our thoughts with the colours of true eloquence. Hence it is evident that the same arts, by which the mind lays in its stock of knowledge, must be still pursued, in order to attain a clear and graceful manner of conveying that knowledge to others. This may be thought refined and too abstruse. If, however, we are still to be told that science and elocution are things in themselves distinct and unrelated; this, at least, may be assumed, that he, who, with a fund of previous knowledge, undertakes the province of oratory, will bring with him a mind well seasoned, and duly prepared for the study and exercise of real eloquence.
XXXIV. The practice of our ancestors was agreeable to this theory. The youth, who was intended for public declamation, went forth, under the care of his father, or some near relation, with all the advantages of home-discipline; his mind was expanded by the fine arts, and impregnated with science. He was conducted to the most eminent orator of the time. Under that illustrious patronage he visited the forum; he attended his patron upon all occasions; he listened with attention to his pleadings in the tribunals of justice, and his public harangues before the people; he heard him in the warmth of argument; he noted his sudden replies, and thus, in the field of battle, if I may so express myself, he learned the first rudiments of rhetorical warfare. The advantages of this method are obvious: the young candidate gained courage, and improved his judgement; he studied in open day, amidst the heat of the conflict, where nothing weak or idle could be said with impunity; where every thing absurd was instantly rebuked by the judge, exposed to ridicule by the adversary, and condemned by the whole bar.
In this manner the student was initiated in the rules of sound and manly eloquence; and, though it be true, that he placed himself under the auspices of one orator only, he heard the rest in their turn, and in that diversity of tastes which always prevails in mixed assemblies, he was enabled to distinguish what was excellent or defective in the kind. The orator in actual business was the best preceptor: the instructions which he gave, were living eloquence, the substance, and not the shadow. He was himself a real combatant, engaged with a zealous antagonist, both in earnest, and not like gladiators, in a mock contest, fighting for prizes. It was a struggle for victory, before an audience always changing, yet always full; where the speaker had his enemies as well as his admirers; and between both, what was brilliant met with applause; what was defective, was sure to be condemned. In this clash of opinions, the genuine orator flourished, and acquired that lasting fame, which, we all know, does not depend on the voice of friends only, but must rebound from the benches filled with your enemies. Extorted applause is the best suffrage.
In that school, the youth of expectation, such as I have delineated, was reared and educated by the most eminent genius of the times. In the forum, he was enlightened by the experience of others; he was instructed in the knowledge of the laws, accustomed to the eye of the judges, habituated to the looks of a numerous audience, and acquainted with the popular taste. After this preparation, he was called forth to conduct a prosecution, or to take upon himself the whole weight of the defence. The fruit of his application was then seen at once. He was equal, in his first outset, to the most arduous business. Thus it was that Crassus, at the age of nineteen [a], stood forth the accuser of Papirius Carbo: thus Julius Cæsar, at one and twenty, arraigned Dolabella; Asinius Pollio, about the same age, attacked Caius Cato; and Calvus, but a little older, flamed out against Vatinius. Their several speeches are still extant, and we all read them with admiration.
XXXV. In opposition to this system of education, what is our modern practice? Our young men are led [a] to academical prolusions in the school of vain professors, who call themselves rhetoricians; a race of impostors, who made their first appearance at Rome, not long before the days of Cicero. That they were unwelcome visitors, is evident from the circumstance of their being silenced by the two censors [b], Crassus and Domitius. They were ordered, says Cicero, to shut up their school of impudence. Those scenes, however, are open at present, and there our young students listen to mountebank oratory. I am at a loss how to determine which is most fatal to all true genius, the place itself, the company that frequent it, or the plan of study universally adopted. Can the place impress the mind with awe and respect, where none are ever seen but the raw, the unskilful, and the ignorant? In such an assembly what advantage can arise? Boys harangue before boys, and young men exhibit before their fellows. The speaker is pleased with his declamation, and the hearer with his judgement. The very subjects on which they display their talents, tend to no useful purpose. They are of two sorts, persuasive or controversial. The first, supposed to be of the lighter kind, are usually assigned to the youngest scholars: the last are reserved for students of longer practice and riper judgement. But, gracious powers! what are the compositions produced on these occasions?
The subject is remote from truth, and even probability, unlike any thing that ever happened in human life: and no wonder if the superstructure perfectly agrees with the foundation. It is to these scenic exercises that we owe a number of frivolous topics, such as the reward due to the slayer of a tyrant; the election to be made by [c] violated virgins; the rites and ceremonies proper to be used during a raging pestilence; the loose behaviour of married women; with other fictitious subjects, hackneyed in the schools, and seldom or never heard of in our courts of justice. These imaginary questions are treated with gaudy flourishes, and all the tumor of unnatural language. But after all this mighty parade, call these striplings from their schools of rhetoric, into the presence of the judges, and to the real business of the bar [d]:
1. What figure will they make before that solemn judicature? Trained up in chimerical exercises, strangers to the municipal laws, unacquainted with the principles of natural justice and the rights of nations, they will bring with them that false taste which they have been for years acquiring, but nothing worthy of the public ear, nothing useful to their clients. They have succeeded in nothing but the art of making themselves ridiculous. The peculiar quality of the teacher [a], whatever it be, is sure to transfuse itself into the performance of the pupil. Is the master haughty, fierce, and arrogant; the scholar swells with confidence; his eye threatens prodigious things, and his harangue is an ostentatious display of the common-places of school oratory, dressed up with dazzling splendour, and thundered forth with emphasis. On the other hand, does the master value himself for the delicacy of his taste, for the foppery of glittering conceits and tinsel ornament; the youth who has been educated under him, sets out with the same artificial prettiness, the same foppery of style and manner. A simper plays on his countenance; his elocution is soft and delicate; his action pathetic; his sentences entangled in a maze of sweet perplexity; he plays off the whole of his theatrical skill, and hopes to elevate and surprise.
2. This love of finery, this ambition to shine and glitter, has destroyed all true eloquence. Oratory is not the child of hireling teachers; it springs from another source, from a love of liberty, from a mind replete with moral science, and a thorough knowledge of the laws; from a due respect for the best examples, from profound meditation [a], and a style formed by constant practice. While these were thought essential requisites, eloquence flourished. But the true beauties of language fell into disuse, and oratory went to ruin. The spirit evaporated; I fear, to revive no more. I wish I may prove a false prophet, but we know the progress of art in every age and country. Rude at first, it rises from low beginnings, and goes on improving, till it reaches the highest perfection in the kind. But at that point it is never stationary: it soon declines, and from the corruption of what is good, it is not in the nature of man, nor in the power of human faculties, to rise again to the same degree of excellence.
3. Messala closed with a degree of vehemence, and then turning to Maternus and Secundus [a], It is yours, he said, to pursue this train of argument; or if any cause of the decay of eloquence lies still deeper, you will oblige us by bringing it to light. Maternus, I presume, will find no difficulty: a poetic genius holds commerce with the gods, and to him nothing will remain a secret. As for Secundus, he has been long a shining ornament of the forum, and by his own experience knows how to distinguish genuine eloquence from the corrupt and vicious. Maternus heard this sally of his friend’s good humour with a smile. The task, he said, which you have imposed upon us, we will endeavour to execute. But though I am the interpreter of the gods, I must notwithstanding request that Secundus may take the lead. He is master of the subject, and, in questions of this kind, experience is better than inspiration.
4. Secundus [a] complied with his friend’s request. I yield, he said, the more willingly, as I shall hazard no new opinion, but rather confirm what has been urged by Messala. It is certain, that, as painters are formed by painters, and poets by the example of poets, so the young orator must learn his art from orators only. In the schools of rhetoricians [b], who think themselves the fountain-head of eloquence, every thing is false and vitiated. The true principles of the persuasive art are never known to the professor, or if at any time there may be found a preceptor of superior genius, can it be expected that he shall be able to transfuse into the mind of his pupil all his own conceptions, pure, unmixed, and free from error? The sensibility of the master, since we have allowed him genius, will be an impediment: the uniformity of the same dull tedious round will give him disgust, and the student will turn from it with aversion. And yet I am inclined to think, that the decay of eloquence would not have been so rapid, if other causes, more fatal than the corruption of the schools, had not co-operated. When the worst models became the objects of imitation, and not only the young men of the age, but even the whole body of the people, admired the new way of speaking, eloquence fell at once into that state of degeneracy, from which nothing can recover it. We, who came afterwards, found ourselves in a hopeless situation: we were driven to wretched expedients, to forced conceits, and the glitter of frivolous sentences; we were obliged to hunt after wit, when we could be no longer eloquent. By what pernicious examples this was accomplished, has been explained by our friend Messala.
5. We are none of us strangers to those unhappy times, when Rome, grown weary of her vast renown in arms, began to think of striking into new paths of fame, no longer willing to depend on the glory of our ancestors. The whole power of the state was centred in a single ruler, and by the policy of the prince, men were taught to think no more of ancient honour. Invention was on the stretch for novelty, and all looked for something better than perfection; something rare, far-fetched, and exquisite. New modes of pleasure were devised. In that period of luxury and dissipation, when the rage for new inventions was grown epidemic, Seneca arose. His talents were of a peculiar sort, acute, refined and polished; but polished to a degree that made him prefer affectation and wit to truth and nature. The predominance of his genius was great, and, by consequence, he gave the mortal stab to all true eloquence [a]. When I say this, let me not be suspected of that low malignity which would tarnish the fame of a great character. I admire the man, and the philosopher. The undaunted firmness with which he braved the tyrant’s frown, will do immortal honour to his memory. But the fact is (and why should I disguise it?), the virtues of the writer have undone his country.
6. To bring about this unhappy revolution, no man was so eminently qualified [a]. His understanding was large and comprehensive; his genius rich and powerful; his way of thinking ingenious, elegant, and even charming. His researches in moral philosophy excited the admiration of all; and moral philosophy is never so highly praised, as when the manners are in a state of degeneracy. Seneca knew the taste of the times. He had the art to gratify the public ear. His style is neat, yet animated; concise, yet clear; familiar, yet seldom inelegant. Free from redundancy, his periods are often abrupt, but they surprise by their vivacity. He shines in pointed sentences; and that unceasing persecution of vice, which is kept up with uncommon ardour, spreads a lustre over all his writings. His brilliant style charmed by its novelty. Every page sparkles with wit, with gay allusions, and sentiments of virtue. No wonder that the graceful ease, and sometimes the dignity of his expression, made their way into the forum. What pleased universally, soon found a number of imitators. Add to this the advantages of rank and honours. He mixed in the splendour, and perhaps in the vices, of the court. The resentment of Caligula, and the acts of oppression which soon after followed, served only to adorn his name. To crown all, Nero was his pupil, and his murderer. Hence the character and genius of the man rose to the highest eminence. What was admired, was imitated, and true oratory was heard no more. The love of novelty prevailed, and for the dignified simplicity of ancient eloquence no taste remained. The art itself, and all its necessary discipline, became ridiculous. In that black period, when vice triumphed at large, and virtue had every thing to fear, the temper of the times was propitious to the corruptors of taste and liberal science. The dignity of composition was no longer of use. It had no power to stop the torrent of vice which deluged the city of Rome, and virtue found it a feeble protection. In such a conjuncture it was not safe to speak the sentiments of the heart. To be obscure, abrupt, and dark, was the best expedient. Then it was that the affected sententious brevity came into vogue. To speak concisely, and with an air of precipitation, was the general practice. To work the ruin of a person accused, a single sentence, or a splendid phrase, was sufficient. Men defended themselves in a short brilliant expression; and if that did not protect them, they died with a lively apophthegm, and their last words were wit. This was the fashion introduced by Seneca. The peculiar, but agreeable vices of his style, wrought the downfall of eloquence. The solid was exchanged for the brilliant, and they, who ceased to be orators, studied to be ingenious.
7. Of late, indeed, we have seen the dawn of better times. In the course of the last six years Vespasian has revived our hopes [a]. The friend of regular manners, and the encourager of ancient virtue, by which Rome was raised to the highest pinnacle of glory, he has restored the public peace, and with it the blessings of liberty. Under his propitious influence, the arts and sciences begin once more to flourish, and genius has been honoured with his munificence. The example of his sons [b] has helped to kindle a spirit of emulation. We beheld, with pleasure, the two princes adding to the dignity of their rank, and their fame in arms, all the grace and elegance of polite literature. But it is fatally true, that when the public taste is once corrupted, the mind which has been warped, seldom recovers its former tone. This difficulty was rendered still more insurmountable by the licentious spirit of our young men, and the popular applause, that encouraged the false taste of the times. I need not, in this company, call to mind the unbridled presumption, with which, as soon as genuine eloquence expired, the young men of the age took possession of the forum. Of modest worth and ancient manners nothing remained. We know that in former times the youthful candidate was introduced in the forum by a person of consular rank [c], and by him set forward in his road to fame. That laudable custom being at an end, all fences were thrown down: no sense of shame remained, no respect for the tribunals of justice. The aspiring genius wanted no patronage; he scorned the usual forms of a regular introduction; and, with full confidence in his own powers, he obtruded himself on the court. Neither the solemnity of the place, nor the sanctity of laws, nor the importance of the oratorical character, could restrain the impetuosity of young ambition. Unconscious of the importance of the undertaking, and less sensible of his own incapacity, the bold adventurer rushed at once into the most arduous business. Arrogance supplied the place of talents.
8. To oppose the torrent, that bore down every thing, the danger of losing all fair and honest fame was the only circumstance that could afford a ray of hope. But even that slender fence was soon removed by the arts of [a] Largius Licinius. He was the first that opened a new road to ambition. He intrigued for fame, and filled the benches with an audience suborned to applaud his declamations. He had his circle round him, and shouts of approbation followed. It was upon that occasion that Domitius Afer [b] emphatically said, Eloquence is now at the last gasp. It had, indeed, at that time shewn manifest symptoms of decay, but its total ruin may be dated from the introduction of a mercenary band [c] to flatter and applaud. If we except a chosen few, whose superior genius has not as yet been seduced from truth and nature, the rest are followed by their partisans, like actors on the stage, subsisting altogether on the bought suffrages of mean and prostitute hirelings. Nor is this sordid traffic carried on with secrecy: we see the bargain made in the face of the court; the bribe is distributed with as little ceremony as if they were in a private party at the orator’s own house. Having sold their voices, this venal crew rush forward from one tribunal to another, the distributors of fame, and the sole judges of literary merit. The practice is, no doubt, disgraceful. To brand it with infamy, two new terms have been invented [d], one in the Greek language, importing the venders of praise, and the other in the Latin idiom, signifying the parasites who sell their applause for a supper. But sarcastic expressions have not been able to cure the mischief: the applauders by profession have taken courage, and the name, which was intended as a stroke of ridicule, is now become an honourable appellation.
9. This infamous practice rages at present with increasing violence. The party no longer consists of freeborn citizens; our very slaves are hired. Even before they arrive at full age, we see them distributing the rewards of eloquence. Without attending to what is said, and without sense enough to understand, they are sure to crowd the courts of justice, whenever a raw young man, stung with the love of fame, but without talents to deserve it, obtrudes himself in the character of an advocate. The hall resounds with acclamations, or rather with a kind of bellowing; for I know not by what term to express that savage uproar, which would disgrace a theatre.
Upon the whole, when I consider these infamous practices, which have brought so much dishonour upon a liberal profession, I am far from wondering that you, Maternus, judged it time to sound your retreat. When you could no longer attend with honour, you did well, my friend, to devote yourself entirely to the muses. And now, since you are to close the debate, permit me to request, that, besides unfolding the causes of corrupt eloquence, you will fairly tell us, whether you entertain any hopes of better times, and, if you do, by what means a reformation may be accomplished.
10. It is true [a], said Maternus, that seeing the forum deluged by an inundation of vices, I was glad, as my friend expressed it, to sound my retreat. I saw corruption rushing on with hasty strides, too shameful to be defended, and too powerful to be resisted. And yet, though urged by all those motives, I should hardly have renounced the business of the bar, if the bias of my nature had not inclined me to other studies. I balanced, however, for some time. It was, at first, my fixed resolution to stand to the last a poor remnant of that integrity and manly eloquence, which still lingered at the bar, and shewed some signs of life. It was my intention to emulate, not, indeed, with equal powers, but certainly with equal firmness, the bright models of ancient times, and, in that course of practice, to defend the fortunes, the dignity, and the innocence of my fellow-citizens. But the strong impulse of inclination was not to be resisted. I laid down my arms, and deserted to the safe and tranquil camp of the muses. But though a deserter, I have not quite forgot the service in which I was enlisted. I honour the professors of real eloquence, and that sentiment, I hope, will be always warm in my heart.
11. In my solitary walks, and moments of meditation, it often happens, that I fall into a train of thinking on the flourishing state of ancient eloquence, and the abject condition to which it is reduced in modern times. The result of my reflections I shall venture to unfold, not with a spirit of controversy, nor yet dogmatically to enforce my own opinion. I may differ in some points, but from a collision of sentiments it is possible that some new light may be struck out. My friend Aper will, therefore, excuse me, if I do not, with him, prefer the false glitter of the moderns to the solid vigour of ancient genius. At the same time, it is not my intention to disparage his friends. Messala too, whom you, Secundus, have closely followed, will forgive me, if I do not, in every thing, coincide with his opinion. The vices of the forum, which you have both, as becomes men of integrity, attacked with vehemence, will not have me for their apologist. But still I may be allowed to ask, have not you been too much exasperated against the rhetoricians?
I will not say in their favour, that I think them equal to the task of reviving the honours of eloquence; but I have known among them, men of unblemished morals, of regular discipline, great erudition, and talents every way fit to form the minds of youth to a just taste for science and the persuasive arts. In this number one in particular [a] has lately shone forth with superior lustre. From his abilities, all that is in the power of man may fairly be expected. A genius like his would have been the ornament of better times. Posterity will admire and honour him. And yet I would not have Secundus amuse himself with ill-grounded hopes: neither the learning of that most excellent man, nor the industry of such as may follow him, will be able to promote the interests of Eloquence, or to establish her former glory. It is a lost cause. Before the vices, which have been so ably described, had spread a general infection, all true oratory was at an end. The revolutions in our government, and the violence of the times, began the mischief, and, in the end, gave the fatal blow.
12. Nor are we to wonder at this event. In the course of human affairs there is no stability, nothing secure or permanent. It is with our minds as with our bodies: the latter, as soon as they have attained their full growth, and seem to flourish in the vigour of health, begin, from that moment, to feel the gradual approaches of decay. Our intellectual powers proceed in the same manner; they gain strength by degrees, they arrive at maturity, and, when they can no longer improve, they languish, droop, and fade away. This is the law of nature, to which every age, and every nation, of which we have any historical records, have been obliged to submit. There is besides another general law, hard perhaps, but wonderfully ordained, and it is this: nature, whose operations are always simple and uniform, never suffers in any age or country, more than one great example of perfection in the kind [a]. This was the case in Greece, that prolific parent of genius and of science. She had but one Homer, one Plato, one Demosthenes. The same has happened at Rome: Virgil stands at the head of his art, and Cicero is still unrivalled. During a space of seven hundred years our ancestors were struggling to reach the summit of perfection: Cicero at length arose; he thundered forth his immortal energy, and nature was satisfied with the wonder she had made. The force of genius could go no further. A new road to fame was to be found. We aimed at wit, and gay conceit, and glittering sentences. The change, indeed, was great; but it naturally followed the new form of government. Genius died with public liberty.
13. We find that the discourse of men always conforms to the temper of the times. Among savage nations [a] language is never copious. A few words serve the purpose of barbarians, and those are always uncouth and harsh, without the artifice of connection; short, abrupt, and nervous. In a state of polished society, where a single ruler sways the sceptre, the powers of the mind take a softer tone, and language grows more refined. But affectation follows, and precision gives way to delicacy. The just and natural expression is no longer the fashion. Living in ease and luxury, men look for elegance, and hope by novelty to give a grace to adulation. In other nations, where the first principles of the civil union are maintained in vigour; where the people live under the government of laws, and not the will of man; where the spirit of liberty pervades all ranks and orders of the state; where every individual holds himself bound, at the hazard of his life, to defend the constitution framed by his ancestors; where, without being guilty of an impious crime, no man dares to violate the rights of the whole community; in such a state, the national eloquence will be prompt, bold, and animated. Should internal dissensions shake the public peace, or foreign enemies threaten to invade the land, Eloquence comes forth arrayed in terror; she wields her thunder, and commands all hearts. It is true, that upon those occasions men of ambition endeavour, for their own purposes, to spread the flame of sedition; while the good and virtuous combine their force to quell the turbulent, and repel the menaces of a foreign enemy. Liberty gains new strength by the conflict, and the true patriot has the glory of serving his country, distinguished by his valour in the field, and in debate no less terrible by his eloquence.
14. Hence it is that in free governments we see a constellation of orators. Hence Demosthenes displayed the powers of his amazing genius, and acquired immortal honour. He saw a quick and lively people, dissolved in luxury, open to the seductions of wealth, and ready to submit to a master; he saw a great and warlike monarch threatening destruction to the liberties of his country; he saw that prince at the head of powerful armies, renowned for victory, possessed of an opulent treasury, formidable in battle, and, by his secret arts, still more so in the cabinet; he saw that king, inflamed by ambition and the lust of dominion, determined to destroy the liberties of Greece. It was that alarming crisis that called forth the powers of Demosthenes. Armed with eloquence, and with eloquence only, he stood as a bulwark against a combination of enemies foreign and domestic. He roused his countrymen from their lethargy: he kindled the holy flame of liberty; he counteracted the machinations of Philip, detected his clandestine frauds, and fired the men of Athens with indignation. To effect these generous purposes, and defeat the policy of a subtle enemy, what powers of mind were necessary! how vast, how copious, how sublime! He thundered and lightened in his discourse; he faced every danger with undaunted resolution. Difficulties served only to inspire him with new ardour. The love of his country glowed in his heart; liberty roused all his powers, and Fame held forth her immortal wreath to reward his labours. These were the fine incentives that roused his genius, and no wonder that his mind expanded with vast conceptions. He thought for his country, and, by consequence, every sentiment was sublime; every expression was grand and magnificent.
XXXVI. The true spirit of genuine eloquence [a], like an intense fire, is kept alive by fresh materials: every new commotion gives it vigour, and in proportion as it burns, it expands and brightens to a purer flame. The same causes at Rome produced the same effect. Tempestuous times called forth the genius of our ancestors. The moderns, it is true, have taken fire, and rose above themselves, as often as a quiet, settled, and uniform government gave a fair opportunity; but eloquence, it is certain, flourishes most under a bold and turbulent democracy, where the ambitious citizen, who best can mould to his purposes a fierce and contentious multitude, is sure to be the idol of the people. In the conflict of parties, that kept our ancestors in agitation, laws were multiplied; the leading chiefs were the favourite demagogues; the magistrates were often engaged in midnight debate; eminent citizens were brought to a public trial; families were set at variance; the nobles were split into factions, and the senate waged incessant war against the people. Hence that flame of eloquence which blazed out under the republican government, and hence that constant fuel that kept the flame alive.
The state, it is true, was often thrown into convulsions: but talents were exercised, and genius opened the way to public honours. He who possessed the powers of persuasion, rose to eminence, and by the arts which gave him popularity, he was sure to eclipse his colleagues. He strengthened his interest with the leading men, and gained weight and influence not only in the senate, but in all assemblies of the people. Foreign nations [b] courted his friendship. The magistrates, setting out for their provinces, made it their business to ingratiate themselves with the popular speaker, and, at their return, took care to renew their homage. The powerful orator had no occasion to solicit for preferment: the offices of prætor and consul stood open to receive him. He was invited to those exalted stations. Even in the rank of a private citizen he had a considerable share of power, since his authority swayed at once the senate and the people. It was in those days a settled maxim, that no man could either rise to dignities, or support himself in office, without possessing, in an eminent degree, a power of words, and dignity of language.
Nor can this be a matter of wonder, when we recollect, that persons of distinguished genius were, on various occasions, called forth by the voice of the people, and in their presence obliged to act an important part. Eloquence was the ruling passion of all. The reason is, it was not then sufficient merely to vote in the senate; it was necessary to support that vote with strength of reasoning, and a flow of language. Moreover, in all prosecutions, the party accused was expected to make his defence in person, and to examine the witnesses [c], who at that time were not allowed to speak in written depositions, but were obliged to give their testimony in open court. In this manner, necessity, no less than the temptation of bright rewards, conspired to make men cultivate the arts of oratory. He who was known to possess the powers of speech, was held in the highest veneration. The mute and silent character fell into contempt. The dread of shame was a motive not less powerful than the ambition that aimed at honours. To sink into the humiliating rank of a client, instead of maintaining the dignity of a patron, was a degrading thought. Men were unwilling to see the followers of their ancestors transferred to other families for protection. Above all, they dreaded the disgrace of being thought unworthy of civil honours; and, if by intrigue they attained their wishes, the fear of being despised for incapacity was a spur to quicken their ardour in the pursuit of literary fame and commanding eloquence.
XXXVII. I do not know whether you have as yet seen the historical memoirs which Mucianus [a] has collected, and lately published, containing, in eleven volumes, the transactions of the times, and, in three more, the letters of eminent men who figured on the stage of public business. This portion of history is well authenticated by the original papers, still extant in the libraries of the curious. From this valuable collection it appears, that Pompey and Crassus [b] owed their elevation as much to their talents as to their fame in arms; and that Lentulus [c], Metellus, Lucullus, Curio, and others of that class, took care to enlarge their minds, and distinguish themselves by their powers of speech. To say all in one word, no man, in those times, rose to eminence in the state, who had not given proof of his genius in the forum and the tribunals of justice.
To this it may be added, that the importance, the splendour, and magnitude of the questions discussed in that period, served to animate the public orator. The subject, beyond all doubt, lifts the mind above itself: it gives vigour to sentiment, and energy to expression. Let the topic be a paltry theft, a dry form of pleading, or a petty misdemeanor; will not the orator feel himself cramped and chilled by the meanness of the question? Give him a cause of magnitude, such as bribery in the election of magistrates, a charge for plundering the allies of Rome, or the murder of Roman citizens, how different then his emotions! how sublime each sentiment! what dignity of language! The effect, it must be admitted, springs from the disasters of society. It is true, that form of government, in which no such evils occur, must, beyond all question, be allowed to be the best; but since, in the course of human affairs, sudden convulsions must happen, my position is, that they produced, at Rome, that flame of eloquence which at this hour is so much admired. The mind of the orator grows and expands with his subject. Without ample materials no splendid oration was ever yet produced. Demosthenes, I believe, did not owe his vast reputation to the speeches which he made against his guardians [d]; nor was it either the oration in defence of Quinctius, or that for Archias the poet, that established the character of Cicero. It was Catiline, it was Verres, it was Milo and Mark Antony, that spread so much glory round him.
Let me not be misunderstood: I do not say, that for the sake of hearing a bright display of eloquence, it is fit that the public peace should be disturbed by the machinations of turbulent and lawless men. But, not to lose sight of the question before us, let it be remembered, that we are enquiring about an art which thrives and flourishes most in tempestuous times. It were, no doubt, better that the public should enjoy the sweets of peace, than be harassed by the calamities of war: but still it is war that produces the soldier and great commander. It is the same with Eloquence. The oftener she is obliged, if I may so express it, to take the field, the more frequent the engagement, in which she gives and receives alternate wounds, and the more formidable her adversary; the more she rises in pomp and grandeur, and returns from the warfare of the forum crowned with unfading laurels. He, who encounters danger, is ever sure to win the suffrages of mankind. For such is the nature of the human mind, that, in general, we choose a state of security for ourselves, but never fail to gaze with admiration on the man, whom we see, in the conflict of parties, facing his adversaries, and surmounting difficulties.
XXXVIII. I proceed to another advantage of the ancient forum; I mean the form of proceeding and the rules of practice observed in those days. Our modern custom is, I grant, more conducive to truth and justice; but that of former times gave to eloquence a free career, and, by consequence, greater weight and splendour. The advocate was not, as now, confined to a few hours [a]; he might adjourn as often as it suited his convenience; he might expatiate, as his genius prompted him: and the number of days, like that of the several patrons, was unlimited. Pompey was the first who circumscribed the genius of men within narrower limits [b]. In his third consulship he gave a check to eloquence, and, as it were, bridled its spirit, but still left all causes to be tried according to law in the forum, and before the prætors. The importance of the business, which was decided in that court of justice, will be evident, if we compare it with the transactions before the centumvirs [c], who at present have cognizance of all matters whatever. We have not so much as one oration of Cicero or Cæsar, of Brutus, Cælius, or Calvus, or any other person famous for his eloquence, which was delivered before the last-mentioned jurisdiction, excepting only the speeches of Asinius Pollio [d] for the heirs of Urbinia. But those speeches were delivered about the middle of the reign of Augustus, when, after a long peace with foreign nations, and a profound tranquillity at home, that wise and politic prince had conquered all opposition, and not only triumphed over party and faction, but subdued eloquence itself.
XXXIX. What I am going to say will appear, perhaps, too minute; it may border on the ridiculous, and excite your mirth: with all my heart; I will hazard it for that very reason. The dress now in use at the bar has an air of meanness: the speaker is confined in a close robe [a], and loses all the grace of action. The very courts of judicature are another objection; all causes are heard, at present, in little narrow rooms, where spirit and strenuous exertion are unnecessary. The orator, like a generous steed, requires liberty and ample space: before a scanty tribunal his spirit droops, and the dullness of the scene damps the powers of genius. Add to this, we pay no attention to style; and indeed how should we? No time is allowed for the beauties of composition: the judge calls upon you to begin, and you must obey, liable, at the same time, to frequent interruptions, while documents are read, and witnesses examined.
During all this formality, what kind of an audience has the orator to invigorate his faculties? Two or three stragglers drop in by chance, and to them the whole business seems to be transacted in solitude. But the orator requires a different scene. He delights in clamour, tumult, and bursts of applause. Eloquence must have her theatre, as was the case in ancient times, when the forum was crowded with the first men in Rome; when a numerous train of clients pressed forward with eager expectation; when the people, in their several tribes; when ambassadors from the colonies, and a great part of Italy; attended to hear the debate; in short, when all Rome was interested in the event. We know that in the cases of Cornelius, Scaurus, Milo, Bestia, and Vatinius, the concourse was so great, that those several causes were tried before the whole body of the people. A scene so vast and magnificent was enough to inflame the most languid orator. The speeches delivered upon those occasions are in every body’s hands, and, by their intrinsic excellence, we of this day estimate the genius of the respective authors.
XL. If we now consider the frequent assemblies of the people, and the right of prosecuting the most eminent men in the state; if we reflect on the glory that sprung from the declared hostility of the most illustrious characters; if we recollect, that even Scipio, Sylla, and Pompey, were not sheltered from the storms of eloquence, what a number of causes shall we see conspiring to rouse the spirit of the ancient forum! The malignity of the human heart, always adverse to superior characters, encouraged the orator to persist. The very players, by sarcastic allusions to men in power, gratified the public ear, and, by consequence, sharpened the wit and acrimony of the bold declaimer.
Need I observe to you, that in all I have said, I have not been speaking of that temperate faculty [a] which delights in quiet times, supported by its own integrity, and the virtues of moderation? I speak of popular eloquence, the genuine offspring of that licentiousness, to which fools and ill-designing men have given the name of liberty: I speak of bold and turbulent oratory, that inflamer of the people, and constant companion of sedition; that fierce incendiary, that knows no compliance, and scorns to temporize; busy, rash, and arrogant, but, in quiet and well regulated governments, utterly unknown. Who ever heard of an orator at Crete or Lacedæmon? In those states a system of rigorous discipline was established by the first principles of the constitution. Macedonian and Persian eloquence are equally unknown. The same may be said of every country, where the plan of government was fixed and uniform.
At Rhodes, indeed, and also at Athens, orators existed without number, and the reason is, in those communities the people directed every thing; a giddy multitude governed, and, to say the truth, all things were in the power of all. In like manner, while Rome was engaged in one perpetual scene of contention; while parties, factions, and internal divisions, convulsed the state; no peace in the forum, in the senate no union of sentiment; while the tribunals of justice acted without moderation; while the magistrates knew no bounds, and no man paid respect to eminent merit; in such times it must be acknowledged that Rome produced a race of noble orators; as in the wild uncultivated field the richest vegetables will often shoot up, and flourish with uncommon vigour. And yet it is fair to ask, Could all the eloquence of the Gracchi atone for the laws which they imposed on their country? Could the fame which Cicero obtained by his eloquence, compensate for the tragic end to which it brought him [b]?
XLI. The forum, at present, is the last sad relic of ancient oratory. But does that epitome of former greatness give the idea of a city so well regulated, that we may rest contented with our form of government, without wishing for a reformation of abuses? If we except the man of guilt, or such as labour under the hard hand of oppression, who resorts to us for our assistance? If a municipal city applies for protection, it is, when the inhabitants, harassed by the adjacent states, or rent and torn by intestine divisions, sue for protection. The province, that addresses the senate for a redress of grievances, has been oppressed and plundered, before we hear of the complaint. It is true, we vindicate the injured, but to suffer no oppression would surely be better than to obtain relief. Find, if you can, in any part of the world a wise and happy community, where no man offends against the laws: in such a nation what can be the use of oratory? You may as well profess the healing art where ill health is never known. Let men enjoy bodily vigour, and the practice of physic will have no encouragement. In like manner, where sober manners prevail, and submission to the authority of government is the national virtue, the powers of persuasion are rendered useless. Eloquence has lost her field of glory. In the senate, what need of elaborate speeches, when all good men are already of one mind? What occasion for studied harangues before a popular assembly, where the form of government leaves nothing to the decision of a wild democracy, but the whole administration is conducted by the wisdom of a single ruler? And again; when crimes are rare, and in fact of no great moment, what avails the boasted right of individuals to commence a voluntary prosecution? What necessity for a studied defence, often composed in a style of vehemence, artfully addressed to the passions, and generally stretched beyond all bounds, when justice is executed in mercy, and the judge is of himself disposed to succour the distressed?
Believe me, my very good, and (as far as the times will admit) my eloquent friends, had it been your lot to live under the old republic, and the men whom we so much admire had been reserved for the present age; if some god had changed the period of theirs and your existence, the flame of genius had been yours, and the chiefs of antiquity would now be acting with minds subdued to the temper of the times. Upon the whole, since no man can enjoy a state of calm tranquillity, and, at the same time, raise a great and splendid reputation; to be content with the benefits of the age in which we live, without detracting from our ancestors, is the virtue that best becomes us.
XLII. Maternus concluded [a] his discourse. There have been, said Messala, some points advanced, to which I do not entirely accede; and others, which I think require farther explanation. But the day is well nigh spent. We will, therefore, adjourn the debate. Be it as you think proper, replied Maternus; and if, in what I have said, you find any thing not sufficiently clear, we will adjust those matters in some future conference. Hereupon he rose from his seat, and embracing Aper, I am afraid, he said, that it will fare hardly with you, my good friend. I shall cite you to answer before the poets, and Messala will arraign you at the bar of the antiquarians. And I, replied Aper, shall make reprisals on you both before the school professors and the rhetoricians. This occasioned some mirth and raillery. We laughed, and parted in good humour.
END OF THE DIALOGUE.
NOTES ON THE DIALOGUE CONCERNING ORATORY.
The scene of the following Dialogue is laid in the sixth year of Vespasian, A.U.C. 828. A.D. 75. The commentators are much divided in their opinions about the real author; his work they all agree is a masterpiece in the kind; written with taste and judgement; entertaining, profound, and elegant. But whether it is to be ascribed to Tacitus, Quintilian, or any other person whom they cannot name, is a question upon which they have exhausted a store of learning. They have given us, according to their custom, much controversy, and little decision. In this field of conjecture Lipsius led the way. He published, in 1574, the first good edition of Tacitus, with emendations of the text, and not removed; he still remains in suspense. Cum multa dixerim, claudo tamen omnia hoc responso; MIHI NON LIQUERE. Gronovius Pichena, Ryckius, Rhenanus, and others, have entered warmly into the dispute. An elegant modern writer has hazarded a new conjecture. The last of Sir Thomas Fitzosborne’s Letters is a kind of preface to Mr. Melmoth’s Translation of the Dialogue before us. He says; of all the conversation pieces, whether ancient or modern, either of the moral or polite kind, he knows not one more elegantly written than the little anonymous Dialogue concerning the rise and decline of eloquence among the Romans. He calls it anonymous, though he is aware, that it has been ascribed not only to Tacitus and Quintilian, but even to Suetonius. The reasons, however, are so inconclusive, that he is inclined to give it to the younger Pliny. He thinks it perfectly coincides with Pliny’s age; it is addressed to one of his particular friends, and is marked with similar expressions and sentiments. But, with all due submission to Mr. Melmoth, his new candidate cannot long hold us in suspense. It appears in the account of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, in which Pliny’s uncle lost his life. A.U.C. 832. A.D. 79, that Pliny was then eighteen years old, and, as the Dialogue was in 828, he could then be no more than fourteen; a time of life, when he was neither fit to be admitted to a learned debate, nor capable of understanding it. Besides this, two letters to his friend FABIUS are still extant; one in the first book, epist. 11; the other, book vii. epist. 2. No mention of the Dialogue occurs in either of those letters, nor in any other part of his works; a circumstance, which could scarce have happened to a writer so tenderly anxious about his literary character, if the work in question had been the production of his part. Brotier, the last, and, it may be said, the best of all the editors of Tacitus, is of opinion that a tract, so beautiful and judicious, ought not, without better reasons than have been as yet assigned, to be adjudged from Tacitus to any other writer. He relies much on the first edition, which was published at Venice (1468), containing the last six books of the Annals (the first six not being then found), the five books of the History, and the Dialogue, intitled, Cornelii Taciti Equitis Romani Dialogus de Oratoribus claris. There were also in the Vatican, manuscript copies of the Dialogue de Oratoribus. In 1515, when the six first Annals were found in Germany, a new edition, under the patronage of Leo X. was published by Beroaldus, carefully collated with the manuscript, which was afterwards placed in the Florentine Library. Those early authorities preponderate with Brotier against all modern conjecture; more especially, since the age of Tacitus agrees with the time of the Dialogue. He was four years older than his friend Pliny, and, at eighteen, might properly be allowed by his friends to be of their party. In two years afterwards (A.U. 830), he married Agricola’s daughter, and he expressly says, (Life of Agricola, sect. ix.) that he was then a very young man. The arguments, drawn by the several commentators from the difference of style, Brotier thinks are of no weight. The style of a young author will naturally differ from what he has settled by practice at an advanced period of life. This has been observed in many eminent writers, and in none more than Lipsius himself. His language, in the outset, was easy, flowing, and elegant; but, as he advanced in years, it became stiff, abrupt, and harsh. Tacitus relates a conversation on a literary subject; and in such a piece, who can expect to find the style of an historian or an annalist? For these reasons Brotier thinks that this Dialogue may, with good reason, be ascribed to Tacitus. The translator enters no farther into the controversy, than to say, that in a case where certainty cannot be obtained, we must rest satisfied with the best evidence the nature of the thing will admit. The dispute is of no importance; for, as Lipsius says, whether we give the Dialogue to Quintilian or to Tacitus, no inconvenience can arise. Whoever was the author, it is a performance of uncommon beauty.
Before we close this introduction, it will not be improper to say a word or two about Brotier’s Supplement. In the wreck of ancient literature a considerable part of this Dialogue has perished, and, by consequence, a chasm is left, much to be lamented by every reader of taste. To avoid the inconvenience of a broken context, Brotier has endeavoured to compensate for the loss. What he has added, will be found in the progress of the work; and as it is executed by the learned editor with great elegance, and equal probability, it is hoped that the insertion of it will be more agreeable to the reader, than a dull pause of melancholy regret.
[a] Justus Fabius was consul A.U.C. 864, A.D. 111. But as he did not begin the year, his name does not appear in the FASTI CONSULARES. There are two letters to him from his friend Pliny; the first, lib. i. epist. 11; the other, lib. vii. ep. 2. it is remarkable, that in the last, the author talks of sending some of his writings for his friend’s perusal; quæram quid potissimum ex nugis meis tibi exhibeam; but not a word is said about the decline of eloquence.
[a] Concerning Maternus nothing is known with any kind of certainty. Dio relates that a sophist, of that name, was put to death by Domitian, for a school declamation against tyrants: but not one of the commentators ventures to assert that he was the Curiatius Maternus, who makes so conspicuous a figure in the Dialogue before us.
[b] No mention is made of Marcus Aper, either by Quintilian or Pliny. It is supposed that he was father of Marcus Flavius Aper, who was substituted consul A.U.C. 883, A.D. 130. His oratorical character, and that of Secundus, as we find them drawn in this section, are not unlike what we are told by Cicero of Crassus and Antonius. Crassus, he says, was not willing to be thought destitute of literature, but he wished to have it said of him, that he despised it, and preferred the good sense of the Romans to the refinements of Greece. Antonius, on the other hand, was of opinion that his fame would rise to greater magnitude, if he was considered as a man wholly illiterate, and void of education. In this manner they both expected to increase their popularity; the former by despising the Greeks, and the latter by not knowing them. Fuit hoc in utroque eorum, ut Crassus non tam existimari vellet non didicisse, quam illa despicere, et nostrorum hominum in omni genere prudentiam Græcis anteferre. Antonius autem probabiliorem populo orationem fore censebat suam, si omninò didicisse nunquam putaretur; atque ita se uterque graviorem fore, si alter contemnere, alter ne nosse quidem Græcos videretur. Cicero De Orat. lib. ii. cap. 1.
[c] Quintilian makes honourable mention of Julius Secundus, who, if he had not been prematurely cut off, would have transmitted his name to posterity among the most celebrated orators. He would have added, and he was daily doing it, whatever was requisite to complete his oratorical genius; and all that could be desired, was more vigour in argument, and more attention to matter and sentiment, than to the choice of words. But he died too soon, and his fame was, in some degree, intercepted. He has, notwithstanding, left a considerable name. His diction was rich and copious; he explained every thing with grace and elegance; his periods flowed with a suavity that charmed his audience; his language, when metaphorical, was bold, yet accurate; and, if he hazarded an unusual phrase, he was justified by the energy with which his meaning was conveyed. Julio Secundo, si longior contigisset ætas, clarissimum profecto nomen oratoris apud posteros foret. Adjecisset enim, atque adjiciebat, cæteris virtutibus suis, quod desiderari potest; id est autem, ut esset multo magis pugnax, et sæpius ad curam rerum ab elocutione respiceret. Cæterum interceptus quoque magnum sibi vindicat locum. Ea est facundia, tanta in explicando, quod velit, gratia; tam candidum, et lene, et speciosum dicendi genus; tanta verborum, etiam quæ assumpta sunt, proprietas; tanta in quibusdam, ex periculo petitis, significantia. Quintil. lib. x. s. 1. It is remarkable, that Quintilian, in his list of Roman orators, has neither mentioned Maternus, nor Marcus Aper. The Dialogue, for that reason, seems to be improperly ascribed to him: men who figure so much in the enquiry concerning oratory, would not have been omitted by the critic who thought their conversation worth recording.
[a] Thyestes was a common and popular subject of ancient tragedy.
Indignatur item privatis, et prope socco
Dignis carminibus narrari cœna Thyestæ.
HORAT. ARS POET. ver. 90.
[b] It was the custom of the colonies and municipal towns, to pay their court to some great orator at Rome, in order to obtain his patronage, whenever they should have occasion to apply to the senate for a redress of grievances.
[c] Domitius was another subject of tragedy, taken from the Roman story. Who he was, does not clearly appear. Brotier thinks it was Domitius, the avowed enemy of Julius Cæsar, who moved in the senate for a law to recall that general from the command of the army in Gaul, and, afterwards, on the breaking out of the civil war, fell bravely at the battle of Pharsalia. See Suetonius, Life of Nero, section 2. Such a character might furnish the subject of a tragedy. The Roman poets were in the habit of enriching their drama with domestic occurrences, and the practice was applauded by Horace.
Nec minimum meruêre decus, vestigia Græca
Ausi deserere, et celebrare domestica facta.
ARS POET. ver. 286.
No path to fame our poets left untried;
Nor small their merit, when with conscious pride
They scorn’d to take from Greece the storied theme,
But dar’d to sing their own domestic fame.
[a] There were at Rome several eminent men of the name of Bassus. With regard to the person here called Saleius Bassus, the commentators have not been able to glean much information. Some have contended that it was to him Persius addressed his sixth satire:
Admovit jam bruma foco te, Basse, Sabino.
But if we may believe the old scholiast, his name was CÆSIUS BASSUS, a much admired lyric poet, who was living on his own farm, at the time when Mount Vesuvius discharged its torrents of fire, and made the country round a scene of desolation. The poet and his house were overwhelmed by the eruption of the lava, which happened A.U. 832, in the reign of Titus. Quintilian says of him (b. x. chap. 1.), that if after Horace any poet deserves to be mentioned, Cæsius Bassus was the man. Si quem adjicere velis, is erit Cæsius Bassus. Saleius Bassus is mentioned by Juvenal as an eminent poet in distress:
——At Serrano tenuique Saleio
Gloria quantalibet quid erit, si gloria tantum est?
SAT. vii. ver. 80.
But to poor Bassus what avails a name,
To starve on compliments and empty fame!
Quintilian says, he possessed a poetic genius, but so warm and vehement, that, even in an advanced age, his spirit was not under the control of sober judgement. Vehemens et poeticum ingenium SALEII BASSI fuit; nec ipsum senectute maturum. This passage affords an insuperable argument against Lipsius, and the rest of the critics who named Quintilian as a candidate for the honour of this elegant composition. Can it be imagined that a writer of fair integrity, would in his great work speak of Bassus as he deserved, and in the Dialogue overrate him beyond all proportion? Duplicity was not a part of Quintilian’s character.
[b] Tacitus, it may be presumed with good reason, was a diligent reader of Cicero, Livy, Sallust, and Seneca. He has, in various parts of his works, coincidences of sentiment and diction, that plainly shew the source from which they sprung. In the present case, when he calls eloquence a buckler to protect yourself, and a weapon to annoy your adversary, can anyone doubt but he had his eye on the following sentence in Cicero de Oratore? Quid autem tam necessarium, quam tenere semper arma, quibus vel tectus ipse esse possis, vel provocare integros, et te ulcisci lacessitus?
[c] Eprius Marcellus is often a conspicuous figure in the Annals and the History of Tacitus. To a bad heart he united the gift of eloquence. In the Annals, b. xvi. s. 28, he makes a vehement speech against Pætus Thrasea, and afterwards wrought the destruction of that excellent man. For that exploit, he was attacked, in the beginning of Vespasian’s reign, by Helvidius Priscus. In the History (book iv. s. 7 and 8) we see them both engaged in a violent contention. In the following year (823), Helvidius in the senate opened an accusation in form; but Marcellus, by using his eloquence as his buckler and his offensive weapon, was able to ward off the blow. He rose from his seat, and, “I leave you,” he said, “I leave you to give the law to the senate: reign, if you will, even in the presence of the prince.” See Hist. iv. s. 43. See also, Life of Agricola, s. 11. notes a and b.
[a] To be rich and have no issue, gave to the person so circumstanced the highest consequence at Rome. All ranks of men paid their court to him. To discourage a life of celibacy, and promote population, Augustus passed a law, called Papia Poppæa, whereby bachelors were subjected to penalties. Hence the compliment paid by Horace to his patron:
Diva producas sobolem, patrumque
Prosperes decreta super jugandis
Fæminis, prolisque novæ feraci
Bring the springing birth to light,
And with ev’ry genial grace
Prolific of an endless race,
Oh! crown our vows, and bless the nuptial rite.
But marriage was not brought into fashion. In proportion to the rapid degeneracy of the manners under the emperors, celibacy grew into respect; insomuch, that we find (Annals xii. s. 52) a man too strong for his prosecutors, because he was rich, old, and childless. Valuitque pecuniosâ orbitate et senectâ.
[b] The faculty of speaking on a sudden question, with unpremeditated eloquence, Quintilian says, is the reward of study and diligent application. The speech, composed at leisure, will often want the warmth and energy, which accompany the rapid emotions of the mind. The passions, when roused and animated, and the images which present themselves in a glow of enthusiasm, are the inspirers of true eloquence. Composition has not always this happy effect; the process is slow; languor is apt to succeed; the passions subside, and the spirit of the discourse evaporates. Maximus vero studiorum fructus est, et velut præmium quoddam amplissimum longi laboris, ex tempore dicendi facultas. Pectus est enim quod disertos facit, et vis mentis. Nam benè concepti affectus, et recentes rerum imagines, continuo impetu feruntur, quæ nonnunquam morâ stili refrigescunt, et dilatæ won revertuntur. Quintilian. lib. x. cap. 7.
[a] The translation is not quite accurate in this place. The original says, when I obtained the laticlave, and the English calls it the manly gown, which, it must be admitted, is not the exact sense. The toga virilis, or the manly gown, was assumed, when the youth came to man’s estate, or the age of seventeen years. On that occasion the friends of the young man conducted him to the forum (or sometimes to the capitol), and there invested him with the new gown. This was called dies tirocinii; the day on which he commenced a tiro, or a candidate for preferment in the army. The laticlave, was an additional honour often granted at the same time. The sons of senators and patricians were entitled to that distinction, as a matter of right: but the young men, descended from such as were not patricians, did not wear the laticlave, till they entered into the service of the commonwealth, and undertook the functions of the civil magistracy. Augustus Cæsar changed that custom. He gave leave to the sons of senators, in general, to assume the laticlave presently after the time of putting on the toga virilis, though they were not capable of civil honours. The emperors who succeeded, allowed the same privilege, as a favour to illustrious families. Ovid speaks of himself and his brother assuming the manly gown and the laticlave at the same time:
Interea, tacito passu labentibus annis,
Liberior fratri sumpta mihique toga;
Induiturque humeris cum lato purpura clavo.
Pliny the younger shews, that the laticlave was a favour granted by the emperor on particular occasions. He says, he applied for his friend, and succeeded: Ego Sexto latumclavum a Cæsare nostro impetravi. Lib. ii. epist. 9. The latusclavus was a robe worn by consuls, prætors, generals in triumph, and senators, who were called laticlavii. Their sons were admitted to the same honour; but the emperors had a power to bestow this garment of distinction, and all privileges belonging to it, upon such as they thought worthy of that honour. This is what Marcus Aper says, in the Dialogue, that he obtained; and, when the translation mentions the manly gown, the expression falls short of the speaker’s idea. Dacier has given an account of the laticlave, which has been well received by the learned. He tells us, that whatever was made to be put on another thing, was called clavus, not because it had any resemblance to a nail, but because it was made an adjunct to another subject. In fact, the clavi were purple galloons, with which the Romans bordered the fore part of the tunic, on both sides, and when drawn close together, they formed an ornament in the middle of the vestment. It was, for that reason, called by the Greeks, [Greek: mesoporphuron]. The broad galloons made the laticlave, and the narrow the angusticlave. The laticlave, Dacier adds, is not to be confounded with the prætexta. The latter was, at first, appropriated to the magistrates, and the sacerdotal order; but, in time, was extended to the sons of eminent families, to be worn as a mark of distinction, till the age of seventeen, when it was laid aside for the manly gown. See Dacier’s Horace, lib. i. sat. 5; and see Kennet’s Roman Antiquities, p. 306.
[b] Marcus Aper, Julius Secundus, and Curiatius Maternus, according to Brotier and others, were natives of Gaul. Aper (section x.) mentions the Gauls as their common countrymen: Ne quid de Gallis nostris loquamur. If that was the fact, a new man at Rome would have difficulties to surmount. Ammianus Marcellinus (a Latin historian of the fourth century) says, that at Rome the people despised every thing that did not grow before their eyes within the walls of the city, except the rich who had no children; and the veneration paid to such as had no heirs was altogether incredible. Vile esse quidquid extra urbis pomærium nascitur, æstimant; nec credi potest qua obsequiorum diversitate coluntur homines sine liberis Romæ. Lib. xiv. s. 5. In such a city a young man and a stranger could not expect to be favoured.
[c] All causes of a private nature were heard before the centumviri. Three were chosen out of every tribe, and the tribes amounted to five and thirty, so that in fact 105 were chosen; but, for the sake of a round number, they were called CENTUMVIRI. The causes that were heard before that jurisdiction are enumerated by Cicero, De Orat. lib. i. s. 38.
[d] The translation says, the wills and codicils of the rich; but it is by no means certain that those words convey the meaning of the text, which simply says, nec codicillis datur. After due enquiry, it appears that codicillus was used by the Latin authors, for what we now call the letters patent of a prince. Codicils, in the modern sense of the word, implying a supplement to a will, were unknown to the intent Roman law. The Twelve Tables mention testaments only. Codicils, in aid to wills, were first introduced in the time of Augustus; but, whatever their operation was, legacies granted by those additional writings were for some time of no validity. To confirm this, we are told that the daughter of Lentulus discharged certain legacies, which, being given by codicil, she was not bound to pay. In time, however, codicils, as an addition made by the testator to his will, grew into use, and the legacies thereby granted were confirmed. This might be the case in the sixth year of Vespasian, when the Dialogue passed between the parties; but it is, notwithstanding, highly probable, that the word codicilli means, in the passage before us, the letters patent of the prince. It is used in that sense by Suetonius, who relates, that Tiberius, after passing a night and two days in revelling with Pomponius Flaccus and Lucius Piso, granted to the former the province of Syria, and made the latter prefect of the city; declaring them, in the patents, pleasant companions, and the friends of all hours. Codicillis quoque jucundissimos et omnium horarum amicos professus. Suet. in Tib. s. 42.
[e] The common people are called, in the original, tunicatus populus; that class of men, who wore the tunic, and not the toga, or the Roman gown. The tunica, or close coat, was the common garment worn within doors, and abroad, under the toga. Kennet says, the proletarii, the capite censi, and the rest of the dregs of the city, could not afford to wear the toga, and therefore went in their tunics; whence Horace says (lib. i. epist. 7).
Vilia vendentem tunicato scruta popello.
The TOGA, however, was the peculiar dress of the Roman people. VIRGIL distinguishes his countrymen by their mode of apparel:
Romanos rerum dominos, gentemque togatam.
But, though this was the Roman habit, the lower citizens were obliged to appear abroad is their tunica, or close garment. The love of praise is so eager a passion, that the public orator is here represented as delighting in the applause of the rabble. Persius, the satirist, has said the same thing:
Pulchrum est digito monstrari, et dicier. HIC EST.
[a] The character of Eprius Marcellus has been already stated, section v. note [c]. Crispus Vibius is mentioned as a man of weight and influence, Annals, book xiv. s. 28. Quintilian has mentioned him to his advantage: he calls him, book v. chap. 13, a man of agreeable and elegant talents, vir ingenii jucundi et elegantis; and again, Vibius Crispus was distinguished by the elegance of his composition, and the sweetness of his manner; a man born to please, but fitter for private suits, than for the importance of public causes. Et VIBIUS CRISPUS, compositus, et jucundus, et delectationi natus; privatis tamen causis, quam publicis, melior. Lib. x. cap. 1.
[b] Which of these two men was born at Capua, and which at Vercellæ, is not clearly expressed in the original. Eprius Marcellus, who has been described of a prompt and daring spirit, ready to embark in every mischief, and by his eloquence able to give colour to the worst cause, must at this time have become a new man, since we find him mentioned in this Dialogue with unbounded praise. He, it seems, and Vibius Crispus were the favourites at Vespasian’s court. Vercellæ, now Verceil, was situated in the eastern part of Piedmont. Capua, rendered famous by Hannibal, was a city in Campania, always deemed the seat of pleasure.
[c] Vespasian is said to have been what is uncommon among sovereign princes, a patient hearer of truth. His attention to men of letters may be considered as a proof of that assertion. The younger Pliny tells us, that his uncle, the author of the Natural History, used to visit Vespasian before day-light, and gained admittance to the emperor, who devoted his nights to study. Ante lucem ibat ad Vespasianum imperatorem: nam ille quoque noctibus utebatur. Lib. iii. epist. 5.
[a] Agamemnon and Jason were two favourite dramatic subjects with the Roman poets. After their example, the moderns seem to have been enamoured with those two Grecian heroes. Racine has displayed the former, in his tragedy of Iphigenia, and the late Mr. Thomson in a performance of great merit, entitled Agamemnon. Corneille, and, the late Mr. Glover, thought Jason and Medea worthy of their talents.
[b] Saleius Bassus has been already mentioned, s. v. note [a]. It may be added in this place, that the critics of his time concurred in giving him the warmest praise, not only as a good and excellent man, but also as an eminent and admirable poet. He was descended from a family of distinction, but was poor and often distressed. Whether he or Cæsius Bassus was the friend of Persius, is not perfectly clear. Be the fact as it may, the satirist describes a fine poet, and his verses were applicable to either of them:
Jamne lyrâ, et tetrico vivunt tibi pectine chordæ?
Mire opifex numeris veterum primordia rerum,
Atque marem strepitum fidis intendisse Latinæ;
Mox juvenes agitare jocos, et pollice honesto
Egregios lusisse senes.
PERSIUS, sat. vi.
[c] Before the invention of printing, copies were not easily multiplied. Authors were eager to enjoy their fame, and the pen of the transcriber was slow and tedious. Public rehearsals were the road to fame. But an audience was to be drawn together by interest, by solicitation, and public advertisements. Pliny, in one of his letters, has given a lively description of the difficulties which the author had to surmount. This year, he says, has produced poets in great abundance. Scarce a day has passed in the month of April, without the recital of a poem. But the greater part of the audience comes with reluctance; they loiter in the lobbies, and there enter into idle chat, occasionally desiring to know, whether the poet is in his pulpit? has he begun? is his preface over? has he almost finished? They condescended, at last, to enter the room; they looked round with an air of indifference, and soon retired, some by stealth, and others with open contempt. Hence the greater praise is due to those authors, who do not suffer their genius to droop, but, on the contrary, amidst the most discouraging circumstances, still persist to cultivate the liberal arts. Pliny adds, that he himself attended all the public readings, and, for that purpose, staid longer in the city than was usual with him. Being, at length, released, he intended, in his rural retreat, to finish a work of his own, but not to read it in public, lest he should be thought to claim a return of the civility which he had shewn to others. He was a bearer, and not a creditor. The favour conferred, if redemanded, ceases to be a favour.Magnum proventum poetarum annus hic attulit. Toto mense Aprili nullus fere dies, quo non recitaret aliquis. Tametsi ad audiendum pigre coitur. Plerique in stationibus sedent, tempusque audiendis fabulis conterunt, ac subinde sibi nuntiari jubent, an jam recitator intraverit, an dixerit præfationem, an ex magná parte evolverit librum? Tum demum, ac tune quoque lentè, cunctanterque veniunt, nec tamen remanent, sed ante finem recedunt; alii dissimulanter, ac furtim, alii, simpliciter, ac liberè. Sed tanto magis laudandi probandique sunt, quos a scribendi recitandique studio hæc auditorum vel desidia, vel superbia non retardat. Equidem prope nemini defui: his ex causis longius, quam destinaveram, tempus in urbe consumpsi. Possum jam repetere secessum, et scribere aliquid, quod non recitem, ne videar, quorum recitationibus affui, non auditor fuisse, sed creditor. Nam, ut in cæteris rebus, ita in audiendi officio, perit gratia si reposcatur. Pliny, lib. i. ep. 13. Such was the state of literature under the worst of the emperors. The Augustan age was over. In the reigns of Tiberius and Caligula learning drooped, but in some degree revived under the dull and stupid Claudius. Pliny, in the letter above cited, says of that emperor, that, one day hearing a noise in his palace, he enquired what was the cause, and, being informed that Nonianus was reciting in public, went immediately to the place, and became one of the audience. After that time letters met with no encouragement from the great. Lord Shaftesbury says, he cannot but wonder how the Romans, after the extinction of the Cæsarean and Claudian family, and a short interval of princes raised and destroyed with much disorder and public ruin, were able to regain their perishing dominion, and retrieve their sinking state, by an after-race of wise and able princes, successively adopted, and taken from a private state to rule the empire of the world. They were men, who not only possessed the military virtues, and supported that sort of discipline in the highest degree; but as they sought the interest of the world, they did what was in their power to restore liberty, and raise again the perishing arts, and the decayed virtue of mankind. But the season was past: barbarity and gothicism were already entered into the arts, ere the savages made an impression on the empire. See Advice to an Author, part. ii. s. 1. The gothicism, hinted at by Shaftesbury, appears manifestly in the wretched situation to which the best authors were reduced. The poets who could not hope to procure an audience, haunted the baths and public walks, in order to fasten on their friends, and, at any rate, obtain a hearing for their works. Juvenal says, the plantations and marble columns of Julius Fronto resounded with the vociferation of reciting poets:
Frontonis platani convulsaque marmora clamant
Semper, et assiduo ruptæ lectore columnæ.
Expectes eadem a summo minimoque poetâ.
SAT. i. ver. 12.
The same author observes, that the poet, who aspired to literary fame, might borrow an house for the purpose of a public reading; and the great man who accommodated the writer, might arrange his friends and freedmen on the back seats, with direction not to be sparing of their applause; but still a stage or pulpit, with convenient benches, was to be procured, and that expence the patrons of letters would not supply.
——At si dulcedine famæ
Contentus recites, Maculonus commodat ædes.
Scit dare libertos extremâ in parte sedentes
Ordinis, et magnas comitum disponere voces.
Nemo dabit procerum, quanti subsellia constent.
SAT. vii. ver. 39.
Statius, in Juvenal’s time, was a favourite poet. If he announced a reading, his auditors went in crowds. He delighted all degrees and ranks of men; but, when the hour of applause was over, the author was obliged to sell a tragedy to Paris, the famous actor, in order to procure a dinner,
Curritur ad vocem jucundam, et carmen amicæ?
Thebaidos, lætam fecit cum Statius urbem?
Promisitque diem: tantâ dulcedine vulgi
Auditur; sed cum fregit subsellia versu,
Esurit, intactam Paridi nisi vendit Agaven.
SAT. vii. ver. 82.
This was the hard lot of poetry, and this the state of public reading, which Aper describes to his friend Maternus.
[a] Horace has the same observation:
——Mediocribus esse poetis
Non Dii, non homines, non concessere columnæ.
ART OF POETRY, ver. 372.
But God and man, and letter’d post denies,
That poets ever are of middling size.
[b] Notwithstanding all that is said, in this Dialogue, of Saleius Bassus, it does not appear, in the judgement of Quintilian, that he was a poet whose fame could extend itself to the distant provinces. Perfection in the kind is necessary. Livy, the historian, was at the head of his profession. In consequence of his vast reputation, we know from Pliny, the consul, that a native of the city of Cadiz was so struck with the character of that great writer, that he made a journey to Rome, with no other intent than to see that celebrated genius; and having gratified his curiosity, without staying to view the wonders of that magnificent city, returned home perfectly satisfied. Nunquamne legisti Gaditanum quemdam Titi Livii nomine gloriâque commotum, ad visendum eum ab ultimo terrarum orbe venisse; statimque, ut viderat, abiisse? Lib. ii. epist. 3.
[c] In Homer and Virgil, as well as in the dramatic poets of the first order, we frequently have passages of real eloquence, with the difference which Quintilian mentions: the poet, he says, is a slave to the measure of his verse; and, not being able at all times to make use of the true and proper word, he is obliged to quit the natural and easy way of expression, and avail himself of new modes and turns of phraseology, such as tropes, and metaphors, with the liberty of transposing words, and lengthening or shortening syllables as he sees occasion. Quod alligati ad certam pedum necessitatem non semper propriis uti possint, sed depulsi a rectâ viâ, necessario ad quædam diverticula confugiant; nec mutare quædam modo verba, sed extendere, corripere, convertere, dividere cogantur. Quint, lib. x. cap. 1. The speaker in the Dialogue is aware of this distinction, and, subject to it, the various branches of poetry are with him so many different modes of eloquence.
[d] The original has, the citadel of eloquence, which calls to mind an admired passage in Lucretius:
Sed nil dulcius est bene quam munita tenere
Edita doctrinâ sapientum templa serena,
Despicere unde queas alios, passimque videre
Errare, atque viam pallantes quærere vitæ.
Lib. ii. ver. 7.
[e] It is a fact well known, that in Greece the most illustrious of both sexes thought it honourable to exercise themselves in the exhibitions of the theatre, and even to appear in the athletic games. Plutarch, it is true, will have it, that all scenic arts were prohibited at Sparta by the laws of Lycurgus; and yet Cornelius Nepos assures us, that no Lacedæmonian matron, however high her quality, was ashamed to act for hire on the public stage. He adds, that throughout Greece, it was deemed the highest honour to obtain the prize in the Olympic games, and no man blushed to be a performer in plays and pantomimes, and give himself a spectacle to the people. Nulla Lacedæmoni tam est nobilis vidua, quæ non in scenam eat mercede conducta. Magnis in laudibus totâ fuit Græciâ, victorem Olympiæ citari. In scenam vero prodire, et populo esse spectaculo nemini in iisdem gentibus fuit turpitudini. Cor. Nep. in Præfat. It appears, however, from a story told by Ælian and cited by Shaftesbury, Advice to an Author, part ii. s. 3, that the Greek women were by law excluded from the Olympic games. Whoever was found to transgress, or even to cross the river Alpheus, during the celebration of that great spectacle, was liable to be thrown from a rock. The consequence was, that not one female was detected, except Callipatria, or, as others called her, Pherenicè. This woman, disguised in the habit of a teacher of gymnastic exercises, introduced her son, Pisidorus, to contend for the victor’s prize. Her son succeeded. Transported with joy at a sight so glorious, the mother overleaped the fence, which enclosed the magistrates, and, in the violence of that exertion, let fall her garment. She was, by consequence, known to be a woman, but absolved from all criminality. For that mild and equitable sentence, she was indebted to the merit of her father, her brothers, and her son, who all obtained the victor’s crown. The incident, however, gave birth to a new law, whereby it was enacted, that the masters of the gymnastic art should, for the future, come naked to the Olympic games. Ælian lib. x. cap. 1; and see Pausanias, lib. v. cap. 6.
[f] Nicostratus is praised by Pausanias (lib. v. cap. 20), as a great master of the athletic arts. Quintilian has also recorded his prowess. “Nicostratus, whom in our youth we saw advanced in years, would instruct his pupil in every branch of his art, and make him, what he was himself, an invincible champion. Invincible he was, since, on one and the same day, he entered the lists as a wrestler and a boxer, and was proclaimed conqueror in both.” Ac si fuerit qui docebitur, ille, quem adolescentes vidimus, Nicostratus, omnibus in eo docendi partibus similiter uteretur; efficietque illum, qualis hic fuit, luctando pugnandoque quorum utroque in certamine iisdem diebus coronabatur invictum. Quint. lib, ii. cap. 8.
[a] Nero’s ambition to excel in poetry was not only ridiculous, but, at the same time, destructive to Lucan, and almost all the good authors of the age. See Annals, b. xv. According to the old scholiast on the Satires of Persius, the following verses were either written by Nero, or made in imitation of that emperor’s style:
Torva Mimalloneis implerunt cornua bombis,
Et raptum vitulo caput ablatura superbo
Bassaris, et lyncem Mænas flexura corymbis,
Evion ingeminat: reparabilis adsonat echo.
The affectation of rhyme, which many ages afterwards was the essential part of monkish verse, the tumour of the words, and the wretched penury of thought, may be imputed to a frivolous prince, who studied his art of poetry in the manner described by Tacitus, Annals, b. xiv. s. 16. And yet it may be a question, whether the satirist would have the hardiness to insert the very words of an imperial poet, armed with despotic power. A burlesque imitation would answer the purpose; and it may be inferred from another passage in the same poem, that Persius was content to ridicule the mode of versification then in vogue at court.
Claudere sic versum didicit; Berecynthius Attin,
Et qui cæruleum dirimebat Nerea Delphin.
Sic costam longo subduximus Apennino.
[b] Vatinius was a favourite at the court of Nero. Tacitus calls him the spawn of a cook’s-shop and a tippling-house; sutrinæ et tabernæ alumnus. He recommended himself to the favour of the prince by his scurrility and vulgar humour. Being, by those arts, raised above himself, he became the declared enemy of all good men, and acted a distinguished part among the vilest instruments of that pernicious court. See his character, Annals xv. s. 34. When an illiberal and low buffoon basks in the sunshine of a court, and enjoys exorbitant power, the cause of literature can have nothing to expect. The liberal arts must, by consequence, be degraded by a corrupt taste, and learning will be left to run wild and grow to seed.
[a] That poetry requires a retreat from the bustle of the world, has been so often repeated, that it is now considered as a truth, from which there can be no appeal. Milton, it is true, wrote his Paradise Lost in a small house near Bunhill Fields; and Dryden courted the muse in the hurry and dissipation of a town life. But neither of them fixed his residence by choice. Pope grew immortal on the banks of the Thames. But though the country seems to be the seat of contemplation, two great writers have been in opposite opinions. Cicero says, woods and groves, and rivers winding through the meadows, and the refreshing breeze, with the melody of birds, may have their attraction; but they rather relax the mind into indolence, than rouse our attention, or give vigour to our faculties. Sylvarum amænitas, et præterlabentia flumina, et inspirantes ramis arborum auræ, volucrumque cantus, et ipsa late circumspiciendi libertas ad se trahunt; at mihi remittere potius voluptas ista videtur cogitationem, quam intendere. De Orat. lib. ii. This, perhaps, may be true as applied to the public orator, whose scene of action lay in the forum or the senate. Pliny, on the other hand, says to his friend Tacitus, there is something in the solemnity of venerable woods, and the awful silence which prevails in those places, that strongly disposes us to study and contemplation. For the future, therefore, whenever you hunt, take along with you your pen and paper, as well as your basket and bottle; for you will find the mountains not more inhabited by Diana, than by Minerva. Jam undique sylvæ, et solitudo, ipsumque illud silentium, quod venationi datur, magna cogitationis incitamenta sunt. Proinde, cum, venabere, licebit, auctore me, ut panarium et lagunculam, sic etiam pugillares feras. Experiaris non Dianam magis montibus quam Minervam inerrare. Lib. i. epist. 6. Between these two different opinions, a true poet may be allowed to decide. Horace describes the noise and tumult of a city life, and then says,
Scriptorum chorus omnis amat nemus, et fugit urbes.
Epist. lib. ii. ep. ii. ver. 77.
Alas! to grottos and to groves we run,
To ease and silence, ev’ry muse’s son.
[b] The expression in the original is full and expressive, lucrosæ hujus et sanguinantis eloquentiæ; that gainful and blood-thirsty eloquence. The immoderate wealth acquired by Eprius Marcellus has been mentioned in this Dialogue, section 8. Pliny gives us an idea of the vast acquisitions gained by Regulus, the notorious informer. From a state of indigence, he rose, by a train of villainous actions, to such immense riches, that he once consulted the omens, to know how soon he should be worth sixty millions of sesterces, and found them so favourable, that he had no doubt of being worth double that sum. Aspice Regulum, qui ex paupere et tenui ad tantas opes per flagitia processit, ut ipse mihi dixerit, cum consuleret, quam cito sestertium sexcennies impleturus esset, invenisse se exta duplicata, quibus portendi millies et ducenties habiturum. Lib. ii. ep. 20. In another epistle the same author relates, that Regulus, having lost his son, was visited upon that occasion by multitudes of people, who all in secret detested him, yet paid their court with as much assiduity as if they esteemed and loved him. They retaliated upon this man his own insidious arts: to gain the friendship of Regulus, they played the game of Regulus himself. He, in the mean time, dwells in his villa on the other side of the Tiber, where he has covered a large tract of ground with magnificent porticos, and lined the banks of the river with elegant statues; profuse, with all his avarice, and, in the depth of infamy, proud and vain-glorious. Convenitur ad eum mirâ celebritate: cuncti detestantur, oderunt; et, quasi probent, quasi diligant, cursant, frequentant, utque breviter, quod sentio, enunciem, in Regulo demerendo, Regulum imitantur. Tenet se trans Tyberim in hortis, in quibus latissimum solum porticibus immensis, ripam statuis suis occupavit; ut est, in summâ avaritia sumptuosus, in summâ infamiâ gloriosus.Lib. iv. ep. 2. All this splendour, in which Regulus lived, was the fruit of a gainful and blood-thirsty eloquence; if that may be called eloquence, which Pliny says was nothing more than a crazed imagination; nihil præter ingenium insanum. Lib. iv. ep. 7.
[c] Orpheus, in poetic story, was the son of Calliope, and Linus boasted of Apollo for his father.
——Nec Thracius Orpheus,
Nec Linus; huic mater quamvis, atque huic pater adsit,
Orphei Calliopea, Lino formosus Apollo.
VIRG. ECL. iv. ver. 55.
Not Orpheus’ self, nor Linus, should exceed
My lofty lays, or gain the poet’s meed,
Though Phœbus, though Calliope inspire,
And one the mother aid, and one the sire.
Orpheus embarked in the Argonautic expedition. His history of it, together with his hymns, is still extant; but whether genuine, is much doubted.
[d] Lysias, the celebrated orator, was a native of Syracuse, the chief town in Sicily. He lived about four hundred years before the Christian æra. Cicero says, that he did not addict himself to the practice of the bar; but his compositions were so judicious, so pure and elegant, that you might venture to pronounce him a perfect orator. Tum fuit Lysias, ipse quidem in causis forensibus non versatus sed egregiè subtilis scriptor, atque elegans, quem jam prope audeas oratorem perfectum dicere. Cicero De Claris Orat. s. 35. Quintilian gives the same opinion. Lysias, he says, preceded Demosthenes: he is acute and elegant, and if to teach the art of speaking were the only business of an orator, nothing more perfect can be found. He has no redundancy, nothing superfluous, nothing too refined, or foreign to his purpose: his style is flowing, but more like a pure fountain, than a noble river. His ætate Lysias major, subtilis atque elegans, et quo nihil, si oratori satis sit docere, quæras perfectius. Nihil enim est inane, nihil arcessitum; puro tamen fonti, quam magno flumini propior. Quint, lib. x. cap. 1. A considerable number of his orations is still extant, all written with exquisite taste and inexpressible sweetness. See a very pleasing translation by Dr. Gillies.
Hyperides flourished at Athens in the time of Demosthenes, Æschynes, Lycurgus, and other famous orators. That age, says Cicero, poured forth a torrent of eloquence, of the best and purest kind, without the false glitter of affected ornament, in a style of noble simplicity, which lasted to the end of that period. Huic Hyperides proximus, et Æschynes fuit, et Lycurgus, aliique plures. Hæc enim ætas effudit hanc copiam; et, ut opinio mea fert, succus ille et sanguis incorruptus usque ad hanc ætatem oratorum fuit, in qua naturalis inesset, non fucatus nitor. De Claris Orat. s. 36. Quintilian allows to Hyperides a keen discernment, and great sweetness of style; but he pronounces him an orator designed by nature to shine in causes of no great moment. Dulcis in primis et acutus Hyperides; sed minoribus causis, ut non dixerim utilior, magis par. Lib. x. cap. 1. Whatever might be the case when this Dialogue happened, it is certain, at present, that the fame of Sophocles and Euripides has eclipsed the two Greek orators.
[e] For an account of Asinius Pollio and Corvinus Messala, see Annals, b. xi. s. 6. Quintilian (b. xii. chap. 10) commends the diligence of Pollio, and the dignity of Messala. In another part of his Institutes, he praises the invention, the judgement, and spirit of Pollio, but at the same time says, he fell so short of the suavity and splendour of Cicero, that he might well pass for an orator of a former age. He adds, that Messala was natural and elegant: the grandeur of his style seemed to announce the nobility of his birth; but still he wanted force and energy. Malta in Asinio Pollione inventio, summa diligentia, adeo ut quibusdam etiam nimia videatur; et consilii et animi satis; a nitore et jucunditate Ciceronis ita longe abest, ut videri possit sæculo prior. At Messala nitidus et candidus, et quodammodo præ se ferens in dicendo nobilitatem suam, viribus minor. Quintilian, lib. x. cap. 1. The two great poets of the Augustan age have transmitted the name of Asinius Pollio to the latest posterity. Virgil has celebrated him as a poet, and a commander of armies, in the Illyrican and Dalmatic wars.
Tu mihi, seu magni superas jam saxa Timavi,
Sive oram Illyrici legis æquoris; en erit unquam
Ille dies, mihi cum liceat tua dicere facta?
En erit, ut liceat totum mihi ferre per orbem
Sola Sophocleo tua carmina digna cothurno?
ECLOG. viii. ver. 6.
O Pollio! leading thy victorious bands
O’er deep Timavus, or Illyria’s sands;
O when thy glorious deeds shall I rehearse?
When tell the world how matchless is thy verse,
Worthy the lofty stage of laurell’d Greece,
Great rival of majestic Sophocles!
Horace has added the orator and the statesman:
Paulum severæ musa tragediæ
Desit theatris; mox, ubi publicas
Res ordinaris, grande munus
Cecropio repetes cothurno,
Insigne mœstis præsidium reis,
Et consulenti, Pollio, curiæ,
Cui laurus æternos honores
Dalmatico peperit triumpho.
Lib. ii. ode 1.
Retard a while thy glowing vein,
Nor swell the solemn tragic scene;
And when thy sage, thy patriot cares
Have form’d the train of Rome’s affairs,
With lofty rapture reinflam’d, diffuse
Heroic thoughts, and wake the buskin’d muse.
But after all, the question put by Maternus, is, can any of their orations be compared to the Medea of Ovid, or the Thyestes of Varius? Those two tragedies are so often praised by the critics of antiquity, that the republic of letters has reason to lament the loss. Quintilian says that the Medea of Ovid was a specimen of genius, that shewed to what heights the poet could have risen, had he thought fit rather to curb, than give the rein to his imagination. Ovidii Medea videtur mihi ostendere quantum vir ille præstare potuisset, si ingenio suo temperare, quam indulgere maluisset. Lib. x. cap. 1.
The works of Varius, if we except a few fragments, are wholly lost. Horace, in his journey to Brundusium, met him and Virgil, and he mentions the incident with the rapture of a friend who loved them both:
Plotius, et Varius Sinuessæ, Virgiliusque
Occurrunt; animæ quales neque candidiores
Terra tulit, neque queis me sit devinctior alter.
Lib. i. sat. 5.
Horace also celebrates Varius as a poet of sublime genius. He begins his Ode to Agrippa with the following lines:
Scriberis Vario fortis, et hostium
Victor, Mæonii carminis alite,
Quam rem cumque ferox navibus, aut equis
Miles te duce gesserit.
Lib. i. ode 6.
Varius, who soars on epic wing,
Agrippa, shall thy conquests sing,
Whate’er, inspir’d by thy command,
The soldier dar’d on sea or land.
A few fragments only of his works have reached posterity. His tragedy of THYESTES is highly praised by Quintilian. That judicious critic does not hesitate to say, that it may be opposed to the best productions of the Greek stage. Jam Varii Thyestes cuilibet Græcorum comparari potest. Varius lived in high favour at the court of Augustus. After the death of Virgil, he was joined with Plotinus and Tucca to revise the works of that admirable poet. The Varus of Virgil, so often celebrated in the Pastorals, was, notwithstanding what some of the commentators have said, a different person from Varius, the author of Thyestes.
[a] The rural delight of Virgil is described by himself:
Rura mihi et rigui placeant in vallibus amnes;
Flumina amem, sylvasque inglorius. O ubi campi,
Sperchiusque, et virginibus bacchata Lacænis
Taygeta! O quis me gelidis sub montibus Hæmi
Sistat, et ingenti ramorum protegat umbrâ?
GEORGICA, lib. ii. ver. 485.
Me may the lowly vales and woodland please,
And winding rivers, and inglorious ease;
O that I wander’d by Sperchius’ flood,
Or on Taygetus’ sacred top I stood!
Who in cool Hæmus’ vales my limbs will lay,
And in the darkest thicket hide from day?
Besides this poetical retreat, which his imagination could command at any time, Virgil had a real and delightful villa near Naples, where he composed his Georgics, and wrote great part of the Æneid.
[b] When Augustus, or any eminent citizen, distinguished by his public merit, appeared in the theatre, the people testified their joy by acclamations, and unbounded applause. It is recorded by Horace, that Mæcenas received that public honour.
——Datus in theatro
Cum tibi plausus,
Care Mæcenas eques, ut paterni
Fluminis ripæ, simul et jocosa
Redderet laudes tibi Vaticani
Lib. i. ode 20.
When Virgil appeared, the audience paid the same compliment to a man whose poetry adorned the Roman story. The letters from Augustus, which are mentioned in this passage, have perished in the ruins of ancient literature.
[c] Pomponius Secundus was of consular rank, and an eminent writer of tragedy. See Annals, b. ii. s. 13. His life was written by Pliny the elder, whose nephew mentions the fact (book iii. epist. 5), and says it was a tribute to friendship. Quintilian pronounces him the best of all the dramatic poets whom he had seen; though the critics whose judgement was matured by years, did not think him sufficiently tragical. They admitted, however, that his erudition was considerable, and the beauty of his composition surpassed all his contemporaries. Eorum, quos viderim, longe princeps Pomponius Secundus, quem senes parum tragicum putabant, eruditione ac nitore præstare confitebantur. Lib. x. cap. 1.
[d] Quintilian makes honourable mention of Domitius Afer. He says, when he was a boy, the speeches of that orator for Volusenus Catulus were held in high estimation. Et nobis pueris insignes pro Voluseno Catulo Domitii Afri orationes ferebantur. Lib. x. cap 1. He adds, in another part of the same chapter, that Domitius Afer and Julius Africanus were, of all the orators who flourished in his time, without comparison the best. But Afer stands distinguished by the splendour of his diction, and the rhetorical art which he has displayed in all his compositions. You would not scruple to rank him among the ancient orators. Eorum quos viderim, Domitius Afer et Julius Secundus longe præstantissimi. Verborum arte ille, et toto genere dicendi præferendus, et quem in numero veterum locare non timeas. Lib. x. cap. 1. Quintilian relates, that in a conversation which he had when a young man, he asked Domitius Afer what poet was, in his opinion, the next to Homer? The answer was, Virgil is undoubtedly the second epic poet, but he is nearer to the first than to the third. Utar enim verbis, quæ ex Afro Domitio juvenis accepi; qui mihi interroganti, quem Homero crederet maximè accedere: Secundus, inquit, est Virgilius, propior tamen primo quam tertio. Lib. x. cap. 1. We may believe that Quintilian thought highly of the man whose judgement he cites as an authority. Quintilian, however, had in view nothing but the talents of this celebrated orator. Tacitus, as a moral historian, looked at the character of the man. He introduces him on the stage of public business in the reign of Tiberius, and there represents him in haste to advance himself by any kind of crime. Quoquo facinore properus clare cere. He tells us, in the same passage (Annals, b. iv. s. 52), that Tiberius pronounced him an orator in his own right, suo jure disertum. Afer died in the reign of Nero, A.U.C. 812, A.D. 59. In relating his death, Tacitus observes, that he raised himself by his eloquence to the first civil honours; but he does not dismiss him without condemning his morals. Annals, b. xiv. s. 19.
[e] We find in the Annals and the History of Tacitus, a number of instances to justify the sentiments of Maternus. The rich found it necessary to bequeath part of their substance to the prince, in order to secure the remainder for their families. For the same reason, Agricola made Domitian joint heir with his wife and daughter. Life of Agricola, section 43.
[f] By a law of the Twelve Tables, a crown, when fairly earned by virtue, was placed on the head of the deceased, and another was ordered to be given to his father. The spirit of the law, Cicero says, plainly intimated, that commendation was a tribute due to departed virtue. A crown was given not only to him who earned it, but also to the father, who gave birth to distinguished merit. Illa jam significatio est, laudis ornamenta ad mortuos pertinere, quod coronam virtute partam, et ei qui peperisset, et ejus parenti, sine fraude lex impositam esse jubet. De Legibus, lib. ii. s. 24. This is the reward to which Maternus aspires; and, that being granted, he desires, as Horace did before him, to waive the pomp of funeral ceremonies.
Absint inani funere næniæ,
Luctusque turpes et querimoniæ;
Compesce clamorem, ac sepulchri
Mitte supervacuos honores.
Lib. ii. ode 20.
My friends, the funeral sorrow spare,
The plaintive song, and tender tear;
Nor let the voice of grief profane,
With loud laments, the solemn scene;
Nor o’er your poet’s empty urn
With useless idle sorrow mourn.
[a] Vipstanius Messala commanded a legion, and, at the head of it, went over to Vespasian’s party in the contention with Vitellius. He was a man of illustrious birth, and equal merit; the only one, says Tacitus, who entered into that war from motives of virtue. Legioni Vipstanius Messala præerat, claris majoribus, egregius ipse, et qui solus ad id bellum artes bonas attulisset. Hist. lib. iii. s. 9. He was brother to Regulus, the vile informer, who has been mentioned. See Life of Agricola, section 2. note a, and this tract, s. xii. note [b]. Messala, we are told by Tacitus, before he had attained the senatorian age, acquired great fame by pleading the cause of his profligate brother with extraordinary eloquence, and family affection. Magnam eo die pietatis eloquentiæque famam Vipstanius Messala adeptus est; nondum senatoriâ ætate, ausus pro fratre Aquilio Regulo deprecari. Hist. lib. iv. s. 42. Since Messala has now joined the company, the Dialogue takes a new turn, and, by an easy and natural transition, slides into the question concerning the causes of the decline of eloquence.
[b] This is probably the same Asiaticus, who, in the revolt of the provinces of Gaul, fought on the side of VINDEX. See Hist. b. ii. s. 94. Biography was, in that evil period, a tribute paid by the friends of departed merit, and the only kind of writing, in which men could dare faintly to utter a sentiment in favour of virtue and public liberty.
[c] In the declamations of Seneca and Quintilian, we have abundant examples of these scholastic exercises, which Juvenal has placed in a ridiculous light.
Et nos ergo manum ferulæ subduximus, et nos
Consilium dedimus Syllæ, privatus ut altum
Sat. i. ver. 15.
Provok’d by these incorrigible fools,
I left declaiming in pedantic schools;
Where, with men-boys, I strove to get renown,
Advising Sylla to a private gown.
[a] The eloquence of Cicero, and the eminent orators of that age, was preferred by all men of sound judgement to the unnatural and affected style that prevailed under the emperors. Quintilian gives a decided opinion. Cicero, he says, was allowed to be the reigning orator of his time, and his name, with posterity, is not so much that of a man, as of eloquence itself. Quare non immerito ab hominibus ætatis suæ, regnare in judiciis dictus est: apud posteros vero id consecutus, ut Cicero jam non hominis, sed eloquentiæ nomen habeatur. Lib. x. cap. 1. Pliny the younger professed that Cicero was the orator with whom he aspired to enter into competition. Not content with the eloquence of his own times, he held it absurd not to follow the best examples of a former age. Est enim mihi cum Cicerone æmulatio, nec sum contentus eloquentiâ sæculi nostri. Nam stultissimum credo, ad imitandum non optima quæque præponere. Lib. i. epist. 5.
[b] Nicetes was a native of Smyrna, and a rhetorician in great celebrity. Seneca says (Controversiarum, lib. iv. cap. 25), that his scholars, content with hearing their master, had no ambition to be heard themselves. Pliny the younger, among the commendations which he bestows on a friend, mentions, as a praise-worthy part of his character, that he attended the lectures of Quintilian and Nicetes Sacerdos, of whom Pliny himself was at that time a constant follower. Erat non studiorum tantum, verum etiam studiosorum amantissimus, ac prope quotidie ad audiendos, quos tunc ego frequentabam, Quintilianum et Niceten Sacerdotem, ventitabat. Lib. vi. epist. 6.
[c] Mitylene was the chief city of the isle of Lesbos, in the Ægean Sea, near the coast of Asia. The place at this day is called Metelin, subject to the Turkish dominion. Ephesus was a city of Ionia, in the Lesser Asia, now called Ajaloue by the Turks, who are masters of the place.
[d] Domitius Afer and Julius Africanus have been already mentioned, section xiii. note [d]. Both are highly praised by Quintilian. For Asinius Pollio, see s. xii. note [e].
[a] Quintilian puts the same question; and, according to him, Demosthenes is the last of the ancients among the Greeks, as Cicero is among the Romans. See Quintilian, lib. viii. cap. 5.
[b] The siege of Troy is supposed to have been brought to a conclusion eleven hundred and ninety-three years before Christian æra. From that time to the sixth year of Vespasian (A.U.C. 828), when this Dialogue was had, the number of years that intervened was about 1268; a period which, with propriety, may be said to be little less than 1300 years.
[c] Demosthenes died, before Christ 322 years, A.U.C. 432. From that time to the sixth of Vespasian, A.U.C. 828, the intervening space was about 396 years. Aper calls it little more than 400 years; but in a conversation-piece strict accuracy is not to be expected.
[d] In the rude state of astronomy, which prevailed during many ages of the world, it was natural that mankind should differ in their computation of time. The ancient Egyptians, according to Diodorus Siculus, lib. i. and Pliny the elder, lib. vii. s. 48, measured time by the new moons. Some called the summer one year, and the winter another. At first thirty days were a lunar year; three, four, and six months were afterwards added, and hence in the Egyptian chronology the vast number of years from the beginning of the world. Herodotus informs us, that the Egyptians, in process of time, formed the idea of the solar or solstitial year, subdivided into twelve months. The Roman year at first was lunar, consisting, in the time of Romulus, of ten months. Numa Pompilius added two. Men saw a diversity in the seasons, and wishing to know the cause, began at length to perceive that the distance or proximity of the sun occasioned the various operations of nature; but it was long before the space of time, wherein that luminary performs his course through the zodiac, and returns to the point from which he set out, was called a year. The great year (annus magnus), or the PLATONIC YEAR, is the space of time, wherein the seven planets complete their revolutions, and all set out again from the same point of the heavens where their course began before. Mathematicians have been much divided in their calculations. Brotier observes, that Riccioli makes the great year 25,920 solar years; Tycho Brahe, 25,816; and Cassini, 24,800. Cicero expressly calls it a period of 12,954 years. Horum annorum, quos in fastis habemus, MAGNUS annos duodecim millia nonagentos quinquaginta quatuor amplectitur solstitiales scilicet. For a full and accurate dissertation on the ANNUS MAGNUS, see the Memoirs of the Academy of Belles Lettres, tom. xxii. 4to edit. p. 82.
Brotier, in his note on this passage, relates a fact not universally known. He mentions a letter from one of the Jesuits on the mission, dated Peking, 25th October 1725, in which it is stated, that in the month of March preceding, when Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and Mercury were in conjunction, the Chinese mathematicians fancied that an approximation of Saturn was near at hand, and, in that persuasion, congratulated the emperor YONG-TCHING on the renovation of the world, which was shortly to take place. The emperor received the addresses of the nobility, and gave credit to the opinion of the philosophers in all his public edicts. Meanwhile, Father Kegler endeavoured to undeceive the emperor, and to convince him that the whole was a mistake of the Chinese mathematicians: but he tried in vain; flattery succeeded at court, and triumphed over truth.
[e] The argument is this: If the great year is the measure of time; then, as it consists, according to Cicero, of 12,954 solar years, the whole being divided by twelve, every month of the great year would be clearly 1080 years. According to that calculation, Demosthenes not only lived in the same year with the persons engaged in the Dialogue, but, it may be said, in the same month. These are the months to which Virgil alludes in the fourth eclogue:
Incipient magni procedere menses.
[a] Menenius Agrippa was consul A.U.C. 251. In less than ten years afterwards, violent dissensions broke out between the patrician order and the common people, who complained that they were harassed and oppressed by their affluent creditors. One Sicinius was their factious demagogue. He told them, that it was in vain they fought the battles of their country, since they were no better than slaves and prisoners at Rome. He added, that men are born equal; that the fruits of the earth were the common birth-right of all, and an agrarian law was necessary; that they groaned under a load of debts and taxes; and that a lazy and corrupt aristocracy battened at ease on the spoils of their labour and industry. By the advice of this incendiary, the discontented citizens made a secession to the MONS SACER, about three miles out of the city. The fathers, in the meantime, were covered with consternation. In order, however, to appease the fury of the multitude, they dispatched Menenius Agrippa to their camp. In the rude unpolished style of the times (prisco illo dicendi et horrido modo, says Livy), that orator told them:
“At the time when the powers of man did not, as at present,
co-operate to one useful end, and the members of the human
body had their separate interest, their factions, and
cabals; it was agreed among them, that the belly maintained
itself by their toil and labour, enjoying, in the middle of
all, a state of calm repose, pampered with luxuries, and
gratified with every kind of pleasure. A conspiracy
followed, and the several members of the body took the
covenant. The hand would no longer administer food; the
mouth would not accept it, and the drudgery of mastication
was too much for the teeth. They continued in this
resolution, determined to starve the TREASURY of the body,
till they began to feel the consequences of their
ill-advised revolt. The several members lost their former
vigour, and the whole body was falling into a rapid decline.
It was then seen that the belly was formed for the good of
the whole; that it was by no means lazy, idle, and inactive;
but, while it was properly supported, took care to
distribute nourishment to every part, and having digested
the supplies, filled the veins with pure and wholesome
The analogy, which this fable bore to the sedition of the Roman people, was understood and felt. The discontented multitude saw that the state of man described by Menenius, was like to an insurrection. They returned to Rome, and submitted to legal government. Tempore, quo in homine non, ut nunc, omnia in unum consentiebant, sed singulis membris suum cuique consilium, sum sermo fuerat, indignatas reliquas partes, suâ curâ, suo labore, ac ministerio, ventri omnia quæri; ventrem in medio quietum, nihil aliud, quam datis voluptatibus frui; conspirasse inde, ne manus ad os cibum ferrent, nec os acciperit datum, nec dentes conficerent. Hac irâ dum ventrem fame domare vellent, ipsa unâ membra, totumque corpus ad extremam tabem venisse. Inde apparuisse, ventris quoque haud segne ministerium esse; nec magis ali quam alere eum; reddentem in omnes corporis partes hunc, quo vivimus vigemusque, divisum, pariter in venas, maturum confecto cibo sanguinem. Livy, lib. ii. s. 32. St. Paul has made use of a similar argument;
“The body is not one member, but many: if the foot shall
say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it,
therefore, not of the body? and if the ear shall say,
Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it,
therefore, not of the body? If the whole body were an eye,
where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where
were the smelling? But now hath God set the members everyone
of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they
were all one member, where were the body? But now are they
many members, yet but one body: and the eye cannot say unto
the hand, I have no need of thee; nor again, the head to the
feet, I have no need of you. And whether one member suffer,
all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured,
all the members rejoice with it.”
First Epistle to the Corinthians, chap. xii.
This reasoning of St. Paul merits the attention of those friends of innovation, who are not content with the station in which God has placed them, and, therefore, object to all subordination, all ranks in society.
[b] Cæsar the dictator was, as the poet expresses it, graced with both Minervas. Quintilian is of opinion, that if he had devoted his whole time to the profession of eloquence, he would have been the great rival of Cicero. The energy of his language, his strength of conception, and his power over the passions, were so striking, that he may be said to have harangued with the same spirit that he fought. Caius vero Cæsar si foro tantum vacasset, non alius ex nostris contra Ciceronem nominaretur. Tanta in eo vis est, id acumen, ea concitatio, ut illum eodem animo dixisse, quo bellavit, appareat. Lib. x. cap. 1. To speak of Cicero in this place, were to hold a candle to the sun. It will be sufficient to refer to Quintilian, who in the chapter above cited has drawn a beautiful parallel between him and Demosthenes. The Roman orator, he admits, improved himself by a diligent study of the best models of Greece. He attained the warmth and the sublime of Demosthenes, the harmony of Plato, and the sweet flexibility of Isocrates. His own native genius supplied the rest. He was not content, as Pindar expresses it, to collect the drops that rained down from heaven, but had in himself the living fountain of that copious flow, and that sublime, that pathetic energy, which were bestowed upon him by the bounty of Providence, that in one man eloquence might exert all her powers. Nam mihi videtur Marcus Tullius, cum se totum ad imitationem Græcorum contulisset, effinxisse vim Demosthenis, copiam Platonis, jucunditatem Isocratis. Nec vero quod in quoque optimum fuit studio consecutus est tantum, sed plurimas vel potius omnes ex se ipso virtutes extulit immortalis ingenii beatissimâ ubertate. Non enim pluvias (ut ait Pindarus) aquas colligit sed vivo gurgite exundat, dono quodam providentiæ genitus, in quo vires suas eloquentia experiretur. Lib. x. cap. 1.
[c] Marcus Cælius Rufus, in the judgement of Quintilian, was an orator of considerable genius. In the conduct of a prosecution, he was remarkable for a certain urbanity, that gave a secret charm to his whole speech. It is to be regretted that he was not a man of better conduct and longer life. Multum ingenii in Cælio, et præcipuè in accusando multa urbanitas; dignusque vir, cui et mens melior, et vita longior contigisset. Quint, lib. x. cap. 1. His letters to Cicero make the eighth book of the Epistolæ ad Familiares. Velleius Paterculus says of him, that his style of eloquence and his cast of mind bore a resemblance to Curio, but raised him above that factious orator. His genius for mischief and evil deeds was not inferior to Curio, and his motives were strong and urgent, since his fortune was worse than even his frame of mind. Marcus Cælius, vir eloquio animoque Curioni simillimus, sed in utroque perfectior; nec minus ingeniosè nequam, cum ne in modicâ quidem servari posset, quippe pejor illi res familiaris, quam mens. Vell. Patere. lib. ii. s. 68.
Licinius Macer Calvus, we are told by Seneca, maintained a long but unjust contention with Cicero himself for the palm of eloquence. He was a warm and vehement accuser, insomuch that Vatinius, though defended by Cicero, interrupted Calvus in the middle of his speech, and said to the judges, “Though this man has a torrent of words, does it follow that I must be condemned?” Calvus diu cum Cicerone iniquissimam litem de principatu eloquentiæ habuit; et usque eò violentus accusator et concitatus fuit, ut in media actione ejus surgeret Vatinius reus, et exclamaret, Rogo vos, judices, si iste disertus est, ideo me damnari oportet?Seneca, Controv. lib. iii. cap. 19. Cicero could not dread him as a rival, and it may therefore be presumed, that he has drawn his character with an impartial hand. Calvus was an orator more improved by literature than Curio. He spoke with accuracy, and in his composition shewed great taste and delicacy; but, labouring to refine his language, he was too attentive to little niceties. He wished to make no bad blood, and he lost the good. His style was polished with timid caution; but while it pleased the ear of the learned, the spirit evaporated, and of course made no impression in the forum, which is the theatre of eloquence.Ad Calvum revertamur; qui orator fuisset cum literis eruditior quam Curio, tum etiam accuratius quoddam dicendi, et exquisitius afferebat genus; quod quamquam scienter eleganterque tractabat, nimium tamen inquirens in se, atque ipse sese observans, metuensque ne vitiosum colligeret, etiam verum sanguinem deperdebat. Itaque ejus oratio nimiâ religione attenuata, doctis et attentè audientibus erat illustris, a multitudine autem, et a foro, cui nata eloquentia est, devorabatur. De Claris Orat. s. 288. Quintilian says, there were, who preferred him to all the orators of his time. Others were of opinion that, by being too severe a critic on himself, he polished too much, and grew weak by refinement. But his manner was grave and solid; his style was chaste, and often animated. To be thought a man of attic eloquence was the height of his ambition. If he had lived to see his error, and to give to his eloquence a true and perfect form, not by retrenching (for there was nothing to be taken away), but by adding certain qualities that were wanted, he would have reached the summit of his art. By a premature death his fame was nipped in the bud. Inveni qui Calvum præferrent omnibus; inveni qui contrà crederent eum, nimiâ contra se calumniâ, verum sanguinem perdidisse. Sed est et sancta et gravis oratio, et castigata, et frequenter vehemens quoque. Imitator est autem Atticorum; fecitque illi properata mors injuriam, si quid adjecturus, non si quid detracturus fuit. Quintil. lib. x. cap. 1.
[d] This was the famous Marcus Junius Brutus, who stood forth in the cause of liberty, and delivered his country from the usurpation of Julius Cæsar. Cicero describes him in that great tragic scene, brandishing his bloody dagger, and calling on Cicero by name, to tell him that his country was free. Cæsare interfecto, statim cruentum altè extollens Marcus Brutus pugionem, Ciceronem nominatim exclamavit, atque ei recuperatam libertatem est gratulatus. Philippic, ii. s. 28. The late Doctor Akenside has retouched this passage with all the colours of a sublime imagination.
Look then abroad through nature, through the range
Of planets, suns, and adamantine spheres,
Wheeling unshaken through the void immense,
And speak, O man! does this capacious scene
With half that kindling majesty dilate
Thy strong conception, as when Brutus rose
Refulgent from the stroke of Cæsar’s fate,
Amid the crowd of patriots, and his arm
Aloft extending, like eternal Jove
When guilt brings down the thunder, call’d aloud
On Tully’s name, and shook his crimson steel,
And bade the Father of his Country hail!
For, lo! the tyrant prostrate in the dust,
And Rome again is free.
PLEASURES OF IMAG. b. i. ver. 487.
According to Quintilian, Brutus was fitter for philosophical speculations, and books of moral theory, than for the career of public oratory. In the former he was equal to the weight and dignity of his subject: you clearly saw that he believed what he said. Egregius vero multoque quam in orationibus præstantior Brutus, suffecit ponderi rerum; scias eum sentire quæ dicit. Quintil. lib. x. cap. 1.
For Asinius Pollio and Messala, see section xii. note [e].
[e] Hirtius and Pansa were consuls A.U.C. 711; before the Christian æra 43. In this year, the famous triple league, called the TRIUMVIRATE, was formed between Augustus, Lepidus, and Antony. The proscription, or the list of those who were doomed to die for the crime of adhering to the cause of liberty, was also settled, and Cicero was one of the number. A band of assassins went in quest of him to his villa, called Astura, near the sea-shore. Their leader was one Popilius Lænas, a military tribune, whom Cicero had formerly defended with success in a capital cause. They overtook Cicero in his litter. He commanded his servants to set him down, and make no resistance; then looking upon his executioners with a presence and firmness which almost daunted them, and thrusting his neck as forward as he could out of the litter, he bade them do their work, and take what they wanted. The murderers cut off his head, and both his hands. Popilius undertook to convey them to Rome, as the most agreeable present to Antony; without reflecting on the infamy of carrying that head, which had saved his own. He found Antony in the forum, and upon shewing the spoils which he brought, was rewarded on the spot with the honour of a crown, and about eight thousand pounds sterling. Antony ordered the head to be fixed upon the rostra, between the two hands; a sad spectacle to the people, who beheld those mangled members, which used to exert themselves, from that place, in defence of the lives, the fortunes, and the liberties of Rome. Cicero was killed on the seventh of December, about ten days from the settlement of the triumvirate, after he had lived sixty-three years, eleven months, and five days. See Middleton’s Life of Cicero, 4to edit. vol. ii. p. 495 to 498. Velleius Paterculus, after mentioning Cicero’s death, breaks out in a strain of indignation, that almost redeems the character of that time-serving writer. He says to Antony, in a spirited apostrophe, you have no reason to exult: you have gained no point by paying the assassin, who stopped that eloquent mouth, and cut off that illustrious head. You have paid the wages of murder, and you have destroyed a consul who was the conservator of the commonwealth. By that act you delivered Cicero from a distracted world, from the infirmities of old age, and from a life which, under your usurpation, would have been worse than death. His fame was not to be crushed: the glory of his actions and his eloquence still remains, and you have raised it higher than ever. He lives, and will continue to live in every age and nation. Posterity will admire and venerate the torrent of eloquence, which he poured out against yourself, and will for ever execrate the horrible murder which you committed. Nihil tamen egisti, Marce Antoni (cogit enim excedere propositi formam operis erumpens animo ac pectore indignatio): nihil, inquam, egisti; mercedem cælestissimi oris, et clarissimi capitis abscissi numerando; auctoramentoque funebri ad conservatoris quondam reipublicæ tantique consulis irritando necem. Rapuisti tu Marco Ciceroni lucem sollicitam et ætatem senilem, et vitam miseriorem te principe, quam sub te triumviro mortem. Famam vero, gloriamque factorum atque dictorum adeo non abstulisti, ut auxeris. Vivit, vivetque per omnium sæculorum memoriam; omnisque posteritas illius in te scripta mirabitur, tuum in eum factum execrabitur. Vell. Paterc. lib. ii. s. 66.
[f] Between the consulship of Augustus, which began immediately after the destruction of Hirtius and Pansa, A.U.C. 711, and the death of that emperor, which was A.U. 767, fifty-six years intervened, and to the sixth of Vespasian (A.U.C. 828), about 118 years. For the sake of a round number, it is called in the Dialogue a space of 120 years.
[g] Julius Cæsar landed in Britain in the years of Rome 699 and 700. See Life of Agricola, s. 13. note a. It does not appear when Aper was in Britain; it could not be till the year of Rome 796, when Aulus Plautius, by order of the emperor Claudius, undertook the conquest of the island. See Life of Agricola, s. 14. note a. At that time, the Briton who fought against Cæsar, must have been far advanced in years.
[h] A largess was given to the people, in the fourth year of Vespasian, when Domitian entered on his second consulship. This, Brotier says, appears on a medal, with this inscription: CONG. II. COS. II. Congiarium alterum, Domitiano consule secundùm. The custom of giving large distributions to the people was for many ages established at Rome. Brotier traces it from Ancus Martius, the fourth king of Rome, when the poverty of the people called for relief. The like bounty was distributed by the generals, who returned in triumph. Lucullus and Julius Cæsar displayed, on those occasions, great pomp and magnificence. Corn, wine, and oil, were plentifully distributed, and the popularity, acquired by those means, was, perhaps, the ruin of the commonwealth. Cæsar lavished money. Augustus followed the example, and Tiberius did the same; but prodigality was not his practice. His politic genius taught him all the arts of governing. The bounties thus distributed, were called, when given to the people, CONGIARIA, and, to the soldiers, DONATIVA. Whoever desires to form an idea of the number of Roman citizens who, at different times, received largesses, and the prodigious expence attending them, may see an account drawn up with diligent attention by Brotier, in an elaborate note on this passage. He begins with Julius Cæsar; and pursues the enquiry through the several successive emperors, fixing the date and expence at every period, as low down as the consulship of Constantius and Galerius Maximianus; when, the empire being divided into the eastern and western, its former magnificence was, by consequence, much diminished.
[i] The person here called Corvinus was the same as Corvinus Messala, who flourished in the reign of Augustus, at the same time with Asinius Pollio. See s. xii. note [e].
[a] Servius Sulpicius Galba was consul A.U.C. 610, before the Christian æra 144. Cicero says of him, that he was, in his day, an orator of eminence. When he spoke in public, the natural energy of his mind supported him, and the warmth of his imagination made him vehement and pathetic; his language was animated, bold, and rapid; but when he, afterwards, took his pen in hand to correct and polish, the fit of enthusiasm was over; his passions ebbed away, and the composition was cold and languid. Galbam fortasse vis non ingenii solum, sed etiam animi, et naturalis quidam dolor, dicentem incendebat, efficiebatque, ut et incitata, et gravis, et vehemens esset oratio; dein cum otiosus stilum prehenderat, motusque omnis animi, tanquam ventus, hominem defecerat, flaccescebat oratio. Ardor animi non semper adest, isque cum consedit, omnis illa vis, et quasi flamma oratoris extinguitur. De Claris Orat. s. 93. Suetonius says, that the person here intended was of consular dignity, and, by his eloquence, gave weight and lustre to his family. Life of Galba, s. iii.
[b] Caius Papirius Carbo was consul A.U.C. 634. Cicero wishes that he had proved himself as good a citizen, as he was an orator. Being impeached for his turbulent and seditious conduct, he did not choose to stand the event of a trial, but escaped the judgement of the senate by a voluntary death. His life was spent in forensic causes. Men of sense, who heard him have reported, that he was a fluent, animated, and harmonious speaker; at times pathetic, always pleasing, and abounding with wit. Carbo, quoad vita suppeditavit, est in multis judiciis causisque cognitus. Hunc qui audierant prudentes homines, canorum oratorem, et volubilem, et satis acrem, atque eundem et vehementem, et valde dulcem, et perfacetum fuisse dicebant. De Claris Orat. s. 105.
[c] Calvus and Cælius have been mentioned already. See s. xvii. note [c].
[d] Caius Gracchus was tribune of the people A.U.C. 633. In that character he took the popular side against the patricians; and, pursuing the plan of the agrarian law laid down by his brother, Tiberius Gracchus, he was able by his eloquence to keep the city of Rome in violent agitation. Amidst the tumult, the senate, by a decree, ordered the consul, Lucius Opimius, to take care that the commonwealth received no injury; and, says Cicero, not a single night intervened, before that magistrate put Gracchus to death. Decrevit senatus, ut Lucius Opimius, consul, videret, ne quid detrimenti respublica caperet: nox nulla intercessit; interfectus est propter quasdam seditionum suspiciones Caius Gracchus, clarissimo patre natus, avis majoribus. Orat. i. in Catilinam. His reputation as an orator towers above all his contemporaries. Cicero says, the commonwealth and the interests of literature suffered greatly by his untimely end. He wishes that the love of his country, and not zeal for the memory of his brother, had inspired his actions. His eloquence was such as left him without a rival: in his diction, what a noble splendour! in his sentiments, what elevation! and in the whole of his manner, what weight and dignity! His compositions, it is true, are not retouched with care; they want the polish of the last hand; what is well begun, is seldom highly finished; and yet he, if any one, deserves to be the study of the Roman youth. In him they will find what can, at once, quicken their genius, and enrich the understanding. Damnum enim, illius immaturo interitu, res Romanæ, Latinæque literæ fecerunt. Utinam non tam fratri pietatem, quam patriæ præstare voluisset. Eloquentia quidem nescio an habuisset parem: grandis est verbis, sapiens sententiis, genere toto gravis. Manus extrema non accessit operibus ejus; præclare inchoata multa, perfecta non plane. Legendus est hic orator, si quisquam alius, juventuti; non enim solum acuere, sed etiam alere ingenium potest. De Claris Orat. s. 125, 126.
[e] This is the celebrated Marcus Portius Cato, commonly known by the name of Cato the censor. He was quæstor under Scipio, who commanded against the Carthaginians, A.U.C. 548. He rose through the regular gradations of the magistracy to the consulship. When prætor, he governed the province of Sardinia, and exerted himself in the reform of all abuses introduced by his predecessors. From his own person, and his manner of living, he banished every appearance of luxury. When he had occasion to visit the towns that lay within his government, he went on foot, clothed with the plainest attire, without a vehicle following him, or more than one servant, who carried the robe of office, and a vase, to make libations at the altar. He sat in judgement with the dignity of a magistrate, and punished every offence with inflexible rigour. He had the happy art of uniting in his own person two things almost incompatible; namely, strict severity and sweetness of manners. Under his administration, justice was at once terrible and amiable. Plutarch relates that he never wore a dress that cost more than thirty shillings; that his wine was no better than what was consumed by his slaves; and that by leading a laborious life, he meant to harden his constitution for the service of his country. He never ceased to condemn the luxury of the times. On this subject a remarkable apophthegm is recorded by Plutarch; It is impossible, said Cato, to save a city, in which a single fish sells for more money than an ox. The account given of him by Cicero in the Cato Major, excites our veneration of the man. He was master of every liberal art, and every branch of science, known in that age. Some men rose to eminence by their skill in jurisprudence; others by their eloquence; and a great number by their military talents. Cato shone in all alike. The patricians were often leagued against him, but his virtue and his eloquence were a match for the proudest connections. He was chosen CENSOR, in opposition to a number of powerful candidates, A.U.C. 568. He was the adviser of the third Punic war. The question occasioned several warm debates in the senate. Cato always insisted on the demolition of Carthage: DELENDA EST CARTHAGO. He preferred an accusation against Servius Sulpicius Galba on a charge of peculation in Spain, A.U.C. 603; and, though he was then ninety years old, according to Livy (Cicero says he lived to eighty-five), he conducted the business with so much vigour, that Galba, in order to excite compassion, produced his children before the senate, and by that artifice escaped a sentence of condemnation. Quintilian gives the following character of Cato the censor: His genius, like his learning, was universal: historian, orator, lawyer, he cultivated the three branches; and what he undertook, he touched with a master-hand. The science of husbandry was also his. Great as his attainments were, they were acquired in camps, amidst the din of arms; and in the city of Rome, amidst scenes of contention, and the uproar of civil discord. Though he lived in rude unpolished times, he applied himself, when far advanced in the vale of years, to the study of Greek literature, and thereby gave a signal proof that even in old age the willing mind may be enriched with new stores of knowledge. Marcus Censorius Cato, idem orator, idem historiæ conditor, idem juris, idem rerum rusticarum peritissimus fuit. Inter tot opera militiæ, tantas domi contentions, ridi sæculo literas Græcas, ætate jam declinatâ didicit, ut esset hominibus documento, ea quoque percipi posse, quæ senes concupissent. Lib. xii. cap. 11.
[f] Lucius Licinius Crassus is often mentioned, and always to his advantage, by Cicero DE CLARIS ORATORIBUS. He was born, as appears in that treatise (sect. 161), during the consulship of Lælius and Cæpio, A.U.C. 614: he was contemporary with Antonius, the celebrated orator, and father of Antony the triumvir. Crassus was about four and thirty years older than Cicero. When Philippus the consul shewed himself disposed to encroach on the privileges of the senate, and, in the presence of that body, offered indignities to Licinius Crassus, the orator, as Cicero informs us, broke out in a blaze of eloquence against that violent outrage, concluding with that remarkable sentence: He shall not be to me A CONSUL, to whom I am not A SENATOR. Non es mihi consul, quia nec ego tibi senator sum. See Valerius Maximus, lib. xli. cap. 2. Cicero has given his oratorical character. He possessed a wonderful dignity of language, could enliven his discourse with wit and pleasantry, never descending to vulgar humour; refined, and polished, without a tincture of scurrility. He preserved the true Latin idiom; in his selection of words accurate, with apparent facility; no stiffness, no affectation appeared; in his train of reasoning always clear and methodical; and, when the cause hinged upon a question of law, or the moral distinctions of good and evil, no man possessed such a fund of argument, and happy illustration. Crasso nihil statuo fieri potuisse perfectius: erat summa gravitas; erat cum gravitate junctus facetiarum et urbanitatis oratorius, non scurrilis, lepos. Latinè loquendi accurata, et, sine molestiâ, diligens elegantia; in disserendo mira explicatio; cum de jure civili, cum de æquo et bono disputaretur, argumentorum et similitudinum copia. De Claris Orat. s. 143. In Cicero’s books DE ORATORE, Licinius Crassus supports a capital part in the dialogue; but in the opening of the third book, we have a pathetic account of his death, written, as the Italians say, con amore. Crassus returned from his villa, where the dialogue passed, to take part in the debate against Philippus the consul, who had declared to an assembly of the people, that he was obliged to seek new counsellors, for with such a senate he could not conduct the affairs of the commonwealth. The conduct of Crassus, upon that occasion, has been mentioned already. The vehemence, with which he exerted himself, threw him into a violent fever, and, on the seventh day following, put a period to his life. Then, says Cicero, that tuneful swan expired: we hoped once more to hear the melody of his voice, and went, in that expectation, to the senate-house; but all that remained was to gaze on the spot where that eloquent orator spoke for the last time in the service of his country. Illud immortalitate dignum ingenium, illa humanitas, illa virtus Lucii Crassi morte extincta subitâ est, vix diebus decem post eum diem, qui hoc et superiore libra continetur. Illa tanquam cycnea fuit divini hominis vox, et oratio, quam quasi expectantes, post ejus interitum veniebamus in curiam, ut vestigium illud ipsum, in quo ille postremum institisset, contueremur. De Orat. lib, iii. s. 1. and 6. This passage will naturally call to mind the death of the great earl of Chatham. He went, in a feeble state of health, to attend a debate of the first importance. Nothing could detain him from the service of his country. The dying notes of the BRITISH SWAN were heard in the House of Peers. He was conveyed to his own house, and on the eleventh of May 1778, he breathed his last. The news reached the House of Commons late in the evening, when Colonel BARRE had the honour of being the first to shed a patriot tear on that melancholy occasion. In a strain of manly sorrow, and with that unprepared eloquence which the heart inspires, he moved for a funeral at the public expence, and a monument to the memory of virtue and departed genius. By performing that pious office, Colonel BARRE may be said to have made his own name immortal. History will record the transaction.
[g] Messala Corvinus is often, in this Dialogue, called Corvinus only. See s. xii. note [e].
[h] Appius Claudius was censor in the year of Rome 442; dictator, 465; and, having at a very advanced age lost his sight, he became better known by the name of Appius Cæcus. Afterwards, A.U. 472, when Pyrrhus, by his ambassador, offered terms of peace, and a treaty of alliance, Appius, whom blindness, and the infirmities of age, had for some time withheld from public business, desired to be conveyed in a litter to the senate-house. Being conducted to his place, he delivered his sentiments in so forcible a manner, that the fathers resolved to prosecute the war, and never to hear of an accommodation, till Italy was evacuated by Pyrrhus and his army. See Livy, b. xiii. s. 31. Cicero relates the same fact in his CATO MAJOR, and further adds, that the speech made by APPIUS CÆCUS was then extant. Ovid mentions the temple of Bellona, built and dedicated by Appius, who, when blind, saw every thing by the light of his understanding, and rejected all terms of accommodation with Pyrrhus.
Hac sacrata die Tusco Bellona duello
Dicitur, et Latio prospera semper adest.
Appius est auctor, Pyrrho qui pace negatâ
Multum animo vidit, lumine cæcus erat.
FASTORUM lib vi. ver. 201.
[i] Quintilian acknowledges this fact, with his usual candour. The question concerning Attic and Asiatic eloquence was of long standing. The style of the former was close, pure, and elegant; the latter was said to be diffuse and ostentatious. In the ATTIC, nothing was idle, nothing redundant: the ASIATIC swelled above all bounds, affecting to dazzle by strokes of wit, by affectation and superfluous ornament. Cicero was said by his enemies to be an orator of the last school. They did not scruple to pronounce him turgid, copious to a fault, often redundant, and too fond of repetition. His wit, they said, was the false glitter of vain conceit, frigid, and out of season; his composition was cold and languid; wire-drawn into amplification, and fuller of meretricious finery than became a man. Et antiqua quidem illa divisio inter Asianos et Atticos fuit; cum hi pressi, et integri, contra, inflati illi et inanes haberentur; et in his nihil superflueret, illis judicium maximè ac modus deesset. Ciceronem tamen et suorum homines temporum incessere audebant ut tumidiorem, et Asianum, et redundantem, et in repetitionibus nimium, et in salibus aliquando frigidum, et in compositione fractum, exultantem, ac penè (quod procul absit) viro molliorem. Quintil. lib. xii. cap. 10. The same author adds, that, when the great orator was cut off by Marc Antony’s proscription, and could no longer answer for himself, the men who either personally hated him, or envied his genius, or chose to pay their court to the, triumvirate, poured forth their malignity without reserve. It is unnecessary to observe, that Quintilian, in sundry parts of his work, has vindicated Cicero from these aspersions. See s. xvii. note [b].
[k] For Calvus, see s. xvii. note [c]. For Brutus, see the same section, note [d]. What Cicero thought of Calvus has been already quoted from the tract De Claris Oratoribus, in note [c], s. xvii. By being too severe a critic on himself, he lost strength, while he aimed at elegance. It is, therefore, properly said in this Dialogue, that Cicero thought Calvus cold and enervated. But did he think Brutus disjointed, loose and negligent—otiosum atque disjunctum? That he often thought him disjointed is not improbable. Brutus was a close thinker, and he aimed at the precision and brevity of Attic eloquence. The sententious speaker is, of course, full and concise. He has no studied transitions, above the minute care of artful connections. To discard the copulatives for the sake of energy was a rule laid down by the best ancient critics. Cicero has observed that an oration may be said to be disjointed, when the copulatives are omitted, and strokes of sentiment follow one another in quick succession. Dissolutio sive disjunctio est, quæ conjunctionibus e medio sublatis, partibus separatis effertur, hoc modo: Gere morem parenti; pare cognatis; obsequere amicis; obtempera legibus. Ad Herennium, lib. iv. s. 41. In this manner, Brutus might appear disjointed, and that figure, often repeated, might grow into a fault. But how is the word OTIOSUS to be understood? If it means a neglect of connectives, it may, perhaps, apply to Brutus. There is no room to think that Cicero used it in a worse sense, since we find him in a letter to Atticus declaring, that the oratorical style of Brutus was, in language as well as sentiment, elegant to a degree that nothing could surpass. Est enim oratio ejus scripta elegantissimè, sententiis et verbis, ut nihil possit ultra. A grave philosopher, like Brutus, might reject the graces of transition and regular connection, and, for that reason, might be thought negligent and abrupt. This disjointed style, which the French call style coupé, was the manner cultivated by Seneca, for which Caligula pronounced him, sand without lime; arenam sine calce. Sueton. Life of Calig. s. 53. We know from Quintilian, that a spirit of emulation, and even jealousy, subsisted between the eminent orators of Cicero’s time; that he himself was so far from ascribing perfection to Demosthenes, that he used to say, he often found him napping; that Brutus and Calvus sat in judgement on Cicero, and did not wish to conceal their objections; and that the two Pollios were so far from being satisfied with Cicero’s style and manner, that their criticisms were little short of declared hostility. Quamquam neque ipsi Ciceroni Demosthenes videatur satis esse perfectus, quem dormitare interdum dicit; nec Cicero Bruto Calvoque, qui certè compositionem illius etiam apud ipsum reprehendunt; ne Asinio utrique, qui vitia orationis ejus etiam inimicè pluribus locis insequuntur. Quintil. lib. xii. cap. 1.
[a] Cassius Severus lived in the latter end of the reign of Augustus, and through a considerable part of that of Tiberius. He was an orator, according to Quintilian, who, if read with due caution, might serve as a model worthy of imitation. It is to be regretted, that to the many excellent qualities of his style he did not add more weight, more strength and dignity, and thereby give colour and a body to his sentiments. With those requisites, he would have ranked with the most eminent orators. To his excellent genius he united keen reflection, great energy, and a peculiar urbanity, which gave a secret charm to his speeches. But the warmth of his temper hurried him on; he listened more to his passions than to his judgement; he possessed a vein of wit, but he mingled with it too much acrimony; and wit, when it misses its aim, feels the mortification and the ridicule which usually attend disappointed malice. Multa, si cum judicio legatur, dabit imitatione digna CASSIUS SEVERUS, qui, si cæteris virtutibus colorem et gravitatem orationis adjecisset, ponendus inter præcipuos foret, Nam et ingenii plurimum est in eo, et acerbitas mira, et urbanitas, et vis summa; sed plus stomacho quàm consilio dedit; præterea ut amari sales, ita frequenter amaritudo ipsa ridicula est. Lib. x. cap. 1. We read in Suetonius (Life of Octavius, s. 56), that Cassius had the hardiness to institute a prosecution for the crime of poisoning against Asprenas Nonius, who was, at the time, linked in the closest friendship with Augustus. Not content with accusations against the first men in Rome, he chose to vent his malevolence in lampoons and defamatory libels, against the most distinguished of both sexes. It was this that provoked Horace to declare war against Cassius, in an ode (lib, v. ode 6), which begins, Quid immerentes hospites vexas, canis. See an account of his malevolent spirit, Annals, b, i. s. 72. He was at length condemned for his indiscriminate abuse, and banished by Augustus to the isle of Crete. But his satirical rage was not to be controlled. He continued in exile to discharge his malignity, till, at last, at the end of ten years, the senate took cognizance of his guilt, and Tiberius ordered him to be removed from Crete to the Rock of Seriphos, where he languished in old age and misery. See Annals, b. iv. s. 21. The period of ancient oratory ended about the time when Cassius began his career. He was the first of the new school.
[b] These two rhetoricians flourished in the time of Augustus. Apollodorus, we are told by Quintilian (b. iii. chap. 1), was the preceptor of Augustus. He taught in opposition to Theodorus Gadareus, who read lectures at Rhodes, and was attended by Tiberius during his retreat in that island. The two contending masters were the founders of opposite sects, called the Apollodorean and Theodorian. But true eloquence, which knows no laws but those of nature and good sense, gained nothing by party divisions. Literature was distracted by new doctrines; rhetoric became a trick in the hands of sophists, and all sound oratory disappeared. Hermagoras, Quintilian says, in the chapter already cited, was the disciple of Theodorus.
[a] Doctor Middleton says, “Of the seven excellent orations, which now remain on the subject of VERRES, the first two only were spoken; the one called, The Divination; the other, The first Action, which is nothing more than a general preface to the whole cause. The other five were published afterwards, as they were prepared and intended to be spoken, if Verres had made a regular defence: for as this was the only cause in which Cicero had yet been engaged, or ever designed to be engaged, as an accuser, so he was willing to leave those orations as a specimen of his abilities in that way, and the pattern of a just and diligent impeachment of a great and corrupt magistrate.” Life of Cicero, vol. i. p. 86, 4to edit.
[b] The Digest enumerates a multitude of rules concerning exceptions to persons, things, the form of the action, the niceties of pleading, and, as the phrase is, motions in arrest of judgement. Formula, was the set of words necessary to be used in the pleadings. See the Digest, lib. xliv. tit. 1. De Exceptionibus, Præscriptionibus, et Præjudiciis. See also Cujacius, observat. xxiii.
[c] The oration for Marcus Tullius is highly praised by Macrobius, but is not to be found in Cicero’s works. The oration for Aulus Cæcina is still extant. The cause was about the right of succession to a private estate, which depended on a subtle point of law, arising from the interpretation of the prætor’s interdict. It shews Cicero’s exact knowledge and skill in the civil law, and that his public character and employment gave no interruption to his usual diligence in pleading causes. Middleton’s Life of Cicero, vol. i. p. 116, 4to edit.
[d] Roscius, in the last period of the republic, was the comedian, whom all Rome admired for his talents. The great esteemed and loved him for his morals. Æsop, the tragedian, was his contemporary. Horace, in the epistle to Augustus, has mentioned them both with their proper and distinctive qualities.
——Ea cum reprehendere coner
Quæ GRAVIS ÆSOPUS, quæ DOCTUS ROSCIUS egit.
A certain measured gravity of elocution being requisite in tragedy, that quality is assigned to the former, and the latter is called DOCTUS, because he was a complete master of his art; so truly learned in the principles of his profession, that he possessed, in a wonderful degree, the secret charm that gave inimitable graces to his voice and action. Quintilian, in a few words, has given a commentary on the passage in Horace. Grief, he says, is expressed by slow and deliberate accents; for that reason, Æsop spoke with gravity; Roscius with quickness; the former being a tragedian, the latter a comedian. Plus autem affectus habent lentiora; ideoque Roscius citatior, Æsopus gravior fuit, quod ille comœdias, his tragœdias egit. Lib. xi. cap. 1. Cicero was the great friend and patron of Roscius. An elegant oration in his behalf is still extant. The cause was this: One FANNIUS had made over to Roscius a young slave, to be formed by him to the stage, on condition of a partnership in the profits which the slave should acquire by acting. The slave was afterwards killed. Roscius prosecuted the murderer for damages, and obtained, by composition, a little farm, worth about eight hundred pounds, for his particular share. FANNIUS also sued separately, and was supposed to have gained as much; but, pretending to have recovered nothing, he sued ROSCIUS for the moiety of what he had received. One cannot but observe, says Dr. Middleton, from Cicero’s pleading, the wonderful esteem and reputation in which Roscius then flourished. Has Roscius, says he, defrauded his partner? Can such a stain stick upon such a man; a man who, I speak it with confidence, has more integrity than skill, more veracity than experience? a man whom the people of Rome know to be a better citizen than he is an actor; and, while he makes the first figure on the stage for his art, is worthy of a seat in the senate for his virtue.Quem populus Romanus meliorem virum quam histrionem esse arbitratur; qui ita dignissimus est scená propter artificium, ut dignissimus sit curiá propter abstinentiam. Pro Roscio Comœdo, s. 17 In another place, Cicero says, he was such an artist, as to seem the only one fit to appear on the stage; yet such a man, as to seem the only one who should not come upon it at all. Cum artifex ejusmodi sit, ut solus dignus videatur esse qui in scená spectetur; tum vir ejusmodi est, ut solus dignus videatur, qui eo non accedat. Pro Publ. Quinctio, s. 78. What Cicero has said in his pleadings might be thought oratorical, introduced merely to serve the cause, if we did not find the comedian praised with equal warmth in the dialogue DE ORATORE. It is there said of Roscius, that every thing he did was perfect in the kind, and executed with consummate grace, with a secret charm, that touched, affected, and delighted the whole audience: insomuch, that when a man excelled in any other profession, it was grown into a proverb to call him, THE ROSCIUS OF HIS ART. Videtisne, quam nihil ab eo nisi perfectè, nihil nisi cum summâ venustate fiat? nihil, nisi ita ut deceat, et uti omnes moveat, atque delectet? Itaque hoc jam diu est consecutus, ut in quo quisque artificio excelleret, is in suo genere Roscius diceretur. De Orat. lib. i. s. 130. After so much honourable testimony, one cannot but wonder why the DOCTUS ROSCIUS of Horace is mentioned in this Dialogue with an air of disparagement. It may be, that APER, the speaker in this passage, was determined to degrade the orators of antiquity; and the comedian was, therefore, to expect no quarter. Dacier, in his notes on the Epistle to Augustus, observes that Roscius wrote a book, in which he undertook to prove to Cicero, that in all the stores of eloquence there were not so many different expressions for one and the same thing, as in the dramatic art there were modes of action, and casts of countenance, to mark the sentiment, and convey it to the mind with its due degree of emotion. It is to be lamented that such a book has not come down to us. It would, perhaps, be more valuable than the best treatise of rhetoric.
Ambivius Turpio acted in most of Terence’s plays, and seems to have been a manager of the theatre. Cicero, in the treatise De Senectute, says: He, who sat near him in the first rows, received the greatest pleasure; but still, those, who were at the further end of the theatre, were delighted with him. Turpione Ambivio magis delectatur, qui in primâ caveâ spectat; delectatur tamen etiam qui in ultimâ.
[e] ACCIUS and PACUVIUS flourished at Rome about the middle of the sixth century from the foundation of the city. Accius, according to Horace, was held to be a poet of a sublime genius, and Pacuvius (who lived to be ninety years old) was respected for his age and profound learning.
Ambigitur quoties uter utro sit prior, aufert
PACUVIUS docti famam senis, ACCIUS alti.
EPIST. AD AUG. ver. 56.
Velleius Paterculus says, that ACCIUS was thought equal to the best writers of the Greek tragedy. He had not, indeed, the diligent touches of the polishing hand, which we see in the poets of Athens, but he had more spirit and vigour. Accius usque in Græcorum comparationem erectus. In illis limæ in hoc penè plus videri fuisse sanguinis. He is often quoted by Cicero in his book De Naturâ Deorum. But after all, it is from the great critic, who gives the best account of the Roman poets, orators, and historians, that we are to take the genuine character of ACCIUS and PACUVIUS, since their works are lost in the general mass of ancient literature. They were both excellent tragic poets: elevation of sentiment, grandeur of expression, and dignity of character, stamped a value on their productions; and yet, we must not expect to find the grace and elegance of genuine composition. To give the finishing hand to their works was not their practice: the defect, however, is not to be imputed to them; it was the vice of the age. Force and dignity are the characteristics of ACCIUS; while the critics, who wish to be thought deep and profound, admire PACUVIUS for his extensive learning. Tragœdiæ scriptores Accius atque Pacuvius, clarissimi sententiarum verborumque pondere, et auctoritate personarum. Cæterum nitor, et summa in excolendis operibus manus, magis videri potest temporibus, quam ipsis defuisse. Virium tamen Accio plus tribuitur; Pacuvium videri doctiorem, qui esse docti affectant, volunt. Quintil. lib. x. cap. 1. It was the fashion in Horace’s time to prefer the writers of the old school to the new race that gave so much lustre to the Augustan age. In opposition to such erroneous criticism, the poet pronounces a decided judgement, which seems to be confirmed by the opinion of Quintilian.
Si quædam nimis antiquè, si pleraque durè
Dicere credit eos, ignavè multa fatetur,
Et sapit, et mecum facit, et Jove judicat æquo.
EPIST. AD AUGUST. ver. 66.
But that sometimes their style uncouth appears,
And their harsh numbers rudely hurt our ears;
Or that full flatly flows the languid line,
He, who owns this, has Jove’s assent and mine.
[f] Lucan was nephew to Seneca, and a poet of great celebrity. He was born, in the reign of Caligula, at Corduba in Spain. His superior genius made Nero his mortal enemy. He was put to death by that inhuman emperor, A.U.C. 818, in the twenty-seventh year of his age. See the Annals, b. xv. s. 70. As a writer, Quintilian says, that he possessed an ardent genius, impetuous, rapid, and remarkable for the vigour of his sentiments: but he chooses to class him with the orators, rather than the poets. Lucanus ardens, et concitatus, et sententiis clarissimus; et, ut dicam quod sentio, magis oratoribus quam poetis annumerandus. Lib. x. cap. 1. Scaliger, on the other hand, contends that Lucan was a true poet, and that the critics do but trifle, when they object that he wrote history, not an epic poem. STRADA in his Prolusions, has given, among other imitations, a narrative in Lucan’s manner; and, though he thinks that poet has not the skill of Virgil, he places him on the summit of Parnassus, managing his Pegasus with difficulty, often in danger of falling from the ridge of a precipice, yet delighting his reader with the pleasure of seeing him escape. This is the true character of Lucan. The love of liberty was his ruling passion. It is but justice to add, that his sentiments, when free from antithesis and the Ovidian manner, are not excelled by any poet of antiquity. From him, as well as from Virgil and Horace, the orator is required to cull such passages as will help to enrich his discourse; and the practice is recommended by Quintilian, who observes, that Cicero, Asinius Pollio, and others, frequently cited verses from Ennius, Accius, Pacuvius, and Terence, in order to grace their speeches with polite literature, and enliven the imagination of their hearers. By those poetic insertions, the ear is relieved from the harsh monotony of the forum; and the poets, cited occasionally, serve by their authority to establish the proposition advanced by the speaker. Nam præcipue quidem apud Ciceronem, frequenter tamen apud Asinium etiam, et cæteros, qui sunt proximi, vidimus ENNII, ACCII, PACUVII, TERENTII et aliorum inseri versus, summâ non eruditionis modò gratiâ, sed etiam jucunditatis; cum poeticis voluptatibus aures a forensi asperitate respirent, quibus accedit non mediocris utilitas, cum sententiis eorum, velut quibusdam testimoniis, quæ proposuere confirmant. Quintil. lib. i. cap. 8.
[a] There is in this place a blunder of the copyists, which almost makes the sentence unintelligible. The translator, without entering into minute controversies, has, upon all such occasions, adopted what appeared, from the context, to be the most probable sense. It remains, therefore, to enquire, who were the several orators here enumerated. CANUTIUS may be the person mentioned by Suetonius De Claris Rhetoribus. Cicero says of ARRIUS, that he was a striking proof of what consequence it was at Rome to be useful to others, and always ready to be subservient to their honour, or to ward off danger. For, by that assiduity, Arrius raised himself from a low beginning to wealth and honours, and was even ranked in the number of orators, though void of learning, and without genius, or abilities. Loco infimo natus, et honores, et pecuniam, et gratiam consecutus, etiam in patronorum, sine doctrinâ, sine ingenio, aliquem numerum pervenerat. De Claris Orat. s. 243. FURNIUS may be supposed, not without probability, to be the person with whom Cicero corresponded. Epist. ad Familiares, lib. x. ep. 25, 26. With regard to Terrianus we are left in the dark. The commentators offer various conjectures; but conjecture is often a specious amusement; the ingenious folly of men, who take pains to bewilder themselves, and reason only to shew their useless learning.
[b] The puny orators are said to be in an infirmary, like sickly men, who were nothing but skin and bone. These, says Cicero, were admirers of the Attic manner; but it were to be wished that they had the wholesome blood, not merely the bones, of their favourite declaimers. Attico genere dicendi se gaudere dicunt; atqui utinam imitarentur nec ossa solum, sed etiam et sanguinem. Cicero De Claris Oratoribus.
[c] What is here said of Calvus is not confirmed by the judgement of Quintilian. See s. xvii. note [c]. His orations, which were extant at the time of this Dialogue, are now totally lost.
[d] For Quintilian’s opinion of Cælius, see s. xvii. note [c].
[e] Here again Quintilian, that candid and able judge, has given a different opinion. See s. xvii. note [b]. It may be proper to add the testimony of Velleius Paterculus. Cæsar, he says, had an elevation of soul, that towered above humanity, and was almost incredible; the rapid progress of his wars, his firmness in the hour of danger, and the grandeur of his vast conceptions, bore a near affinity to Alexander, but to Alexander neither drunk, nor mad with passion. Animo super humanam et naturam, et fidem evectus, celeritate bellandi, patientiâ periculorum, magnitudine cogitationum; magno illi Alexandro, sed sobrio neque iracundo, simillimus. Vel. Patercul. lib. ii. s. 41. Even Cicero tells us, that, of all the eminent orators, he was the person who spoke the Latin language in the greatest purity, and arrived at that consummate perfection by study, by diligent application, and his thorough knowledge of all polite literature. Illum omnium ferè oratorum Latinè loqui elegantissimè: ut esset perfecta illa benè loquendi laus, multis litteris, et iis quidem reconditis et exquisitis, summoque studio et diligentiâ est consecutus. De Claris Orat. s. 252.
[f] Cæsar’s speech for Decius the Samnite, and all his other productions (except the Commentaries), are totally lost.
[g] This speech of Brutus is also lost with his other works. Cicero says, he heard him plead the cause of Dejotarus with great elegance, and a flow of harmonious periods. Causam Dejotari, fidelissimi atque optimi regis, ornatissimè et copiosissimè a Bruto me audisse defensam. De Claris Orat. s. 21. He tells us in another place, that Cæsar observed of Brutus, that whatever he desired, he desired with ardour; and therefore, in the cause of Dejotarus, he exerted himself with warmth, with vehemence, and great freedom of language. Quidquid vult, valdè vult; ideoque, cum pro rege Dejotaro dixerit, valdè vehementer eum visum, et liberè dicere. Ad Attic. lib. xiv. ep. 1. The same Dejotarus was afterwards defended by Cicero before Cæsar himself. See the Oration pro Rege Dejotaro.
[h] See what is said of Asinius Pollio, s. xii. note [e].
[i] Pliny the younger has the same metaphorical allusions, which we here find in the Dialogue. Speaking of the difference between the oratorial and historical style; the latter, he says, may be content with the bones, the muscles, and the nerves; the former must have the prominence of the flesh, the brawny vigour, and the flowing mane. Habent quidem oratio et historia multa communia, sed plura diversa in his ipsis, quæ communia videntur. Narrat sane illa, narrat hæc, sed aliter. Huic pleraque humilia, et sordida, et ex medio petita: illi omnia recondita, splendida, excelsa conveniunt. Hanc sæpius ossa, musculi, nervi; illam tori quidam, et quasi jubæ decent. Lib. v. ep. 8.
[k] Messala Corvinus has been often mentioned. See for him s. xii. note [e].
[a] The words sententia and sensus were technical terms with the critics of antiquity. Quintilian gives the distinct meaning of each, with his usual precision. According to the established usage, the word sensus signified our ideas or conceptions, as they rise in the mind: by sententia was intended, a proposition, in the close of a period, so expressed, as to dart a sudden brilliancy, for that reason called lumen orationis. He says, these artificial ornaments, which the ancients used but sparingly, were the constant practice of the modern orators. Consuetudo jam tenuit, ut mente concepta, SENSUS vocaremus; lumina autem, præcipuèque in clausulis posita, SENTENTIAS. Quæ minus crebra apud antiquos, nostris temporibus modo carent. Lib. viii. cap. 5. These luminous sentences, Quintilian says, may be called the eyes of an oration; but eyes are not to be placed in every part, lest the other members should lose their function. Ego vero hæc lumina orationis velut oculos quosdam esse eloquentiæ credo: sed neque oculos esse toto corpore velim, ne cætera membra suum officium perdant. Lib. viii, cap. 5. As Cowley says,
Jewels at nose and lips but ill appear;
Rather than all things, wit let none be there.
[b] In order to form a good style, the sentence should always be closed with variety, strength, and harmony. The ancient rhetoricians held this to be so essentially requisite, that Quintilian has given it a full discussion. That, he says, which offends the ear, will not easily gain admission to the mind. Words should be fitted to their places, so that they may aptly coalesce with one another. In building, the most ill shapen stones may be conveniently fixed; and in like manner, a good style must have proper words in proper places, all arranged in order, and closing the sentence with grace and harmony. Nihil intrare potest in affectum, quod in aure, velut quodam vestibulo, statim offendit. Non enim ad pedes verba dimensa sunt; ideoque ex loco transferuntur in locum, ut jungantur quo congruunt maximè; sicut in structurâ saxorum rudium etiam ipsa enormitas invenit cui applicari, et in quo possit insistere. Felicissimus tamen sermo est, cui et rectus ordo, et apta junctura, et cum his numerus opportunè cadens contingit. Quintil. lib. ix. cap. 4.
[a] The remark in this place alludes to a passage in the oration against PISO, where we find a frivolous stroke of false wit. Cicero reproaches Piso for his dissolute manners, and his scandalous debauchery. Who, he says, in all that time, saw you sober? Who beheld you doing any one thing, worthy of a liberal mind? Did you once appear in public? The house of your colleague resounded with songs and minstrels: he himself danced naked in the midst of his wanton company; and while he wheeled about with alacrity in the circular motion of the dance, he never once thought of THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE. Quis te illis diebus sobrium, quis agentem aliquid, quod esset libero dignum? Quis denique in publico vidit? Cum collegæ tui domus cantu et cymbalis personaret; cumque ipse nudus in convivio saltaret, in quo ne tum quidem, cum illum suum SALTATORIUM VERSARET ORBEM, FORTUNÆ ROTAM pertimescebat. Oratio in Pisonem, prima pars, s. 22. Delph. edit. vol. iii.
[b] The passage here alluded to, presents us with a double pun. The word Verres is the name of a man, and also signifies a boar pig, as we read in Horace, Verris obliquum meditantis ictum. Lib. iii. ode 22. The word jus is likewise of twofold meaning, importing law and sauce, or broth; tepidumque ligurierit jus. Lib. i. sat. 3. The objection to Cicero is, that playing on both the words, and taking advantage of their ambiguous meaning, he says it could not be matter of wonder that the Verrian jus was such bad HOG-SOUP. The wit (if it deserves that name) is mean enough; but, in justice to Cicero, it should be remembered, that he himself calls it frigid, and says, that the men, who in their anger could be so very facetious, as to blame the priest who did not sacrifice such a hog (Verres), were idle and ridiculous. He adds, that he should not descend to repeat such sayings (for they were neither witty, nor worthy of notice in such a cause), had he not thought it material to shew, that the iniquity of VERRES was, in the mouth of the vulgar, a subject of ridicule, and a proverbial joke. Hinc illi homines erant, qui etiam ridiculi inveniebantur ex dolore: quorum alii, ut audistis, negabant mirandum esse, JUS tam nequam esse VERRINUM: alii etiam frigidiores erant; sed quia stomachabantur, ridiculi videbantur esse, cum SACERDOTEM execrabantur, qui VERREM tam nequam reliquisset, Quæ ego non commemorarem (neque enim perfacetè dicta, neque porro hac severitate digna sunt) nisi vos id vellem recordari, istius nequitiam et iniquitatem tum in ore vulgi, atque communibus proverbiis esse versatam. In Verrem, lib. i. pars tertia, s. 121.
[c] Quintilian acknowledges that the words esse videatur (it seems to be) occur frequently in Cicero’s Orations. He adds, that he knew several, who fancied that they had performed wonders, when they placed that phrase in the close of a sentence. Noveram quosdam, qui se pulchrè expressisse genus illud cælestis hujus in dicendo viri sibi viderentur, si in clausulâ posuissent esse videatur. Quintil. lib. x. cap. 2.
[d] The species of composition, called satire, was altogether of Roman growth. Lucilius had the honour of being the inventor; and he succeeded so well, that even in Quintilian’s time, his admirers preferred him not only to the writers who followed in the same way, but to all poets of every denomination. Lucilius quosdam ita deditos sibi adhuc habet imitatores, ut eum non ejusdem modo operis, sed omnibus poetis præferre non dubitent. Lib. x. cap. 1. The great critic, however, pronounces judgement in favour of Horace, who, he says, is more terse and pure; a more acute observer of life, and qualified by nature to touch the ridicule of the manners with the nicest hand. Multo est tersior, ac purus magis Horatius, et ad notandos hominum mores præcipuus.
[e] Lucretius is not without his partisans at this hour. Many of the French critics speak of him with rapture; and, in England, Dr. Wharton of Winchester seems to be at the head of his admirers. He does not scruple to say that Lucretius had more spirit, fire, and energy, more of the vivida vis animi, than any of the Roman poets. It is neither safe nor desirable to differ from so fine a genius as Dr. Wharton. The passages which he has quoted from his favourite poet, shew great taste in the selection. It should be remembered, however, that Quintilian does not treat Lucretius with the same passionate fondness. He places Virgil next to Homer; and the rest, he says, of the Roman poets follow at a great distance. MACER and LUCRETIUS deserve to be read: they have handled their respective subjects with taste and elegance; but Macer has no elevation, and Lucretius is not easily understood. Cæteri omnes longe sequuntur. Nam MACER et LUCRETIUS legendi quidem; elegantes in suâ quisque materiâ, sed alter humilis, alter difficilis. Lib. x. cap. 1. Statius, the poet, who flourished in the reign of Domitian, knew the value of Lucretius, and, in one line, seems to have given his true character; et docti furor arduus Lucreti; but had he been to decide between him and Virgil, it is probable, that he would say to Lucretius, as he did to himself,
——Nec tu divinam Æneida tenta,
Sed longe sequere, et vestigia semper adora.
THEBAIDOS lib. xii. ver. 816.
[f] Aufidius Bassus and Servilius Nonianus were writers of history. Bassus, according to Quintilian, deserved great commendation, particularly in his History of the German war. In some of his other works he fell short of himself. Servilius Nonianus was known to Quintilian, and, in that critic’s judgement, was an author of considerable merit, sententious in his manner, but more diffuse than becomes the historic character. See Quintilian, lib. x. cap. 1. The death of SERVILIUS, an eminent orator and historian, is mentioned by Tacitus in the Annals, b. xiv. s. 19; but the additional name of NONIANUS is omitted. The passage, however, is supposed to relate to the person commended by Quintilian. He died in the reign of Nero, A.U.C. 812; of the Christian æra 59.
[g] Varro was universally allowed to be the most learned of the Romans. He wrote on several subjects with profound erudition. Quintilian says, he was completely master of the Latin language, and thoroughly conversant in the antiquities of Greece and Rome. His works will enlarge our sphere of knowledge, but can add nothing to eloquence. Peritissimus linguæ Latinæ, et omnis antiquitatis, et rerum Græcarum, nostrarumque; plus tamen scientiæ collaturus, quam eloquentiæ. Lib. x. cap. 1.
Sisenna, we are told by Cicero, was a man of learning, well skilled in the Roman language, acquainted with the laws and constitution of his country, and possessed of no small share of wit; but eloquence was not his element, and his practice in the forum was inconsiderable. See De Claris Oratoribus, s. 228. In a subsequent part of the same work, Cicero says, that Sisenna was of opinion, that to use uncommon words was the perfection of style. To prove this he relates a pleasant anecdote. One Caius Rufus carried on a prosecution. Sisenna appeared for the defendant; and, to express his contempt of his adversary, said that many parts of the charge deserved to be spit upon. For this purpose he coined so strange a word, that the prosecutor implored the protection of the judges. I do not, said he, understand Sisenna; I am circumvented; I fear that some snare is laid for me. What does he mean by sputatilica? I know that sputa is spittle: but what istilica? The court laughed at the oddity of a word so strangely compounded. Rufio accusante Chritilium, Sisenna defendens dixit quædam ejus SPUTATILICA esse crimina. Tum Caius Rufius, Circumvenior, inquit, judices, nisi subvenitis. Sisenna quid dicat nescio; metuo insidias. SPUTATILICA! quid est hoc? Sputa quid sit, scio; tilica nescio. Maximi risus, De Claris Oratoribus, s. 260. Whether this was the same Sisenna, who is said in the former quotation to have been a correct speaker, does not appear with any degree of certainty.
[h] For the character of Secundus, see s. ii. note [c].
[i] Quintilian says, the merit of a fine writer flourishes after his death, for envy does not go down to posterity. Ad posteros enim virtus durabit, nec perveniet invidia. Lib. iii. c. 1. Envy is always sure to pursue living merit; and therefore, Cleo observes to Alexander, that Hercules and Bacchus were not numbered among the gods, till they conquered the malignity of their contemporaries. Nec Herculem, nec Patrem Liberum, prius dicatos deos, quàm vicissent secum viventium invidiam. Quintus Curtius, lib. viii. s. 18. Pliny the younger has a beautiful epistle on this subject. After praising, in the highest manner, the various works of Pompeius Saturninus, he says to his correspondent, Let it be no objection to such an author, that he is still living. If he flourished in a distant part of the world, we should not only procure his books, but we should have his picture in our houses: and shall his fame be tarnished, because we have the man before our eyes? Shall malignity make us cease to admire him, because we see him, hear him, esteem and love him? Neque enim debet operibus ejus obesse, QUOD VIVIT. An si inter eos, quos nunquam vidimus, floruisset, non solum libros ejus, verum etiam imagines conquireremus, ejusdem nunc honor præsentis et gratia quasi satietate languescet? At hoc pravum malignumque est, non admirari hominem admiratione dignissimum, quia videre, alloqui, audire, complecti, nec laudare tantum, verum etiam amare contingit. Lib. i. ep. 16.
[a] In the Dialogues of Plato, and others of the academic school, the ablest philosophers occasionally supported a wrong hypothesis, in order to provoke a thorough discussion of some important question.
[b] Cicero was killed on the seventh of December, in the consulship of Hirtius and Pansa, A.U.C. 711; before Christ, 43. From that time to the sixth of Vespasian the number of years is exactly 117; though in the Dialogue said to be 120. See s. xvii. note [e].
[a] See Plutarch’s Lives of Lysias, Lycurgus, Demosthenes, and Hyperides. See also the elegant translation of the Orations of Lysias, by Dr. Gillies.
[b] For Quintilian’s opinion of Cæsar’s eloquence, see s. xvii. note [b]. To what is there said may be added the authority of Cicero, who fairly owns, that Cæsar’s constant habit of speaking his language with purity and correctness, exempted him from all the vices of the corrupt style adopted by others. To that politeness of expression which every well-bred citizen, though he does not aspire to be an orator, ought to practise, when Cæsar adds the splendid ornaments of eloquence, he may then be said to place the finest pictures in the best light. In his manner there is nothing mechanical, nothing of professional craft: his voice is impressive, and his action dignified. To air these qualities he unites a certain majesty of mien and figure, that bespeaks a noble mind. Cæsar autem rationem adhibens, consuetudinem vitiosam et corruptam purâ et incorruptâ consuetudine emendat. Itaque cum ad hanc elegantiam verborum Latinorum, quæ etiam si orator non sis, et sis ingenuus civis Romanus, tamen necessaria est, adjungit illa oratorio, ornamenta dicendi; tum videtur tanquam tabulas bene pictas collocare in bono lumine. Hanc cum habeat præcipuam laudem in communibus, non video cui debeat cedere. Splendidam quamdam, minimeque veteratoriam rationem dicendi tenet, voce, motu: formâ etiam magnificâ, et generosâ quodammodo. De Claris Oratoribus, s. 261.
For Cælius, see s. xvii. note [c]; and for Brutus, the same section, note [d].
[c] Servius Galba has been already mentioned, s. xviii. note [a]. Caius Lælius was consul A.U.C. 614; before the Christian æra, 140. He was the intimate friend of Scipio, and the patron of Lucilius, the first Roman satirist. See Horace, lib. ii. sat. i. ver. 71.
Quin ubi se a vulgo et scenâ in secretâ remôrant
Virtus Scipiadæ, et mitis sapientia Lælî,
Nugari cum illo, et discincti ludere, donec
Decoqueretur olus, soliti.
When Scipio’s virtue, and of milder vein
When Lælius’ wisdom, from the busy scene
And crowd of life, the vulgar and the great.
Could with their favourite satirist retreat,
Lightly they laugh’d at many an idle jest,
Until their frugal feast of herbs was drest.
It is probable, that the harsh manner of Lucilius, durus componere versus, infected the eloquence of Lælius, since we find in Cicero, that his style was unpolished, and had much of the rust of antiquity. Multo tamen vetustior et horridior ille quam Scipio, et, cum sint in dicendo variæ, voluntates, delectari mihi magis antiquitate videtur, et lubenter verbis etiam uti paulo magis priscis Lælius. De Claris Oratoribus, s. 83.
[a] For an account of Caius Gracchus, see s. xviii. note [d].
[b] For Lucius Crassus, see s. xviii. note [f].
[c] The false taste of Mæcenas has been noted by the poets and critics who flourished after his death. His affected prettinesses are compared to the prim curls, in which women and effeminate men tricked out their hair. Seneca, who was himself tainted with affectation, has left a beautiful epistle on the very question that makes the main subject of the present Dialogue. He points out the causes of the corrupt taste that debauched the eloquence of those times and imputes the mischief to the degeneracy of the manners. Whatever the man was, such was the orator. Talis oratio quails vita. When ancient discipline relaxed, luxury succeeded, and language became delicate, brilliant, spangled with conceits. Simplicity was laid aside, and quaint expressions grew into fashion. Does the mind sink into languor, the body moves reluctantly. Is the man softened into effeminacy, you see it in his gait. Is he quick and eager, he walks with alacrity. The powers of the understanding are affected in the same manner. Having laid this down as his principle, Seneca proceeds to describe the soft delicacy of Mæcenas, and he finds the same vice in his phraseology. He cites a number of the lady-like terms, which the great patron of letters considered as exquisite beauties. In all this, says he, we see the man who walked the streets of Rome in his open and flowing robe. Nonne statim, cum hæc legis, occurrit hunc esse, qui solutis tunicis in urbe semper incesserit? Seneca, epist. cxiv. What he has said of Mæcenas is perfectly just. The fopperies of that celebrated minister are in this Dialogue called CALAMISTRI; an allusion borrowed from Cicero, who praises the beautiful simplicity of Cæsar’s Commentaries, and says there were men of a vicious taste, who wanted to apply the curling-iron, that is, to introduce the glitter of conceit and antithesis in the place of truth and nature. Commentarios quosdam scripsit rerum suarum, valde quidem probandos: nudi enim sunt, et recti, et venusti, omni ornatu orationis, tanquam veste, detracto. Ineptis gratum fortasse fecit, qui volunt illa CALAMISTRIS inurere. Cicero De Claris Orat. s. 262.
[d] Who Gallio was, is not clearly settled by the commentators. Quintilian, lib. iii. cap. 1, makes mention of Gallio, who wrote a treatise of eloquence; and in the Annals, b. xv. s. 73, we find Junius Gallio, the brother of Seneca; but whether either of them is the person here intended, remains uncertain. Whoever he was, his eloquence was a tinkling cymbal. Quintilian says of such orators, who are all inflated, tumid, corrupt, and jingling, that their malady does not proceed from a full and rich constitution, but from mere infirmity; for,
As in bodies, thus in souls we find,
What wants in blood and spirits, swell’d with wind.
Nam tumidos, et corruptos, et tinnulos, et quocumque alio cacozeliæ genere peccantes, certum habeo, non virium, sed infirmitatis vitio laborare: ut corpora non robore, sed valetudine inflantur. Quintil. lib. ii. cap. 3.
[e] Pliny declares, without ceremony, that he was ashamed of the corrupt effeminate style that disgraced the courts of justice, and made him think of withdrawing from the forum. He calls it sing-song, and says that nothing but musical instruments could be added. Pudet referre, quæ quam fractâ pronunciatione dicantur; quibus quam teneris clamoribus excipiantur. Plausus tantum, ac sola cymbala et tympana, illis canticis desunt. Pliny, lib. ii. epist. 14. The chief aim of Persius in his first satire is levelled against the bad poets of his time, and also the spurious orators, who enervated their eloquence by antithesis, far-fetched metaphors, and points of wit, delivered with the softest tone of voice, and ridiculous airs of affectation.
Fur es, ait Pedio: Pedius quid? Crimina rasis
Librat in antithetis; doctus posuisse figuras
Laudatur. Bellum hoc! hoc bellum! an Romule ceves?
Men’ moveat quippe, et, cantet si naufragus, assem
Protulerim? Cantas, cum fractâ te in trabe pictum
Ex humero portes?
PERSIUS, sat. i. ver. 85.
Theft, says the accuser, to thy charge I lay,
O Pedius. What does gentle Pedius say?
Studious to please the genius of the times,
With periods, points, and tropes, he slurs his crimes.
He lards with flourishes his long harangue:
‘Tis fine, say’st thou. What! to be prais’d, and hang?
Effeminate Roman! shall such stuff prevail,
To tickle thee, and make thee wag thy tail?
Say, should a shipwreck’d sailor sing his woe,
Wouldst thou be mov’d to pity, and bestow
An alms? What’s more prepost’rous than to see
A merry beggar? wit in misery!
[f] For Cassius Severus, see s. xix. note [a].
[g] Gabinianus was a teacher of rhetoric in the reign of Vespasian. Eusebius, in his Chronicon, eighth of Vespasian, says that Gabinianus, a celebrated rhetorician, was a teacher of eloquence in Gaul. Gabinianus, celeberrimi nominis rhetor, in Galliâ docuit. His admirers deemed him another Cicero, and, after him, all such orators were called CICERONES GABISTIANI.
[a] In order to brand and stigmatise the Roman matrons who committed the care of their infant children to hired nurses, Tacitus observes, that no such custom was known among the savages of Germany. See Manners of the Germans, s. xx. See also Quintilian, on the subject of education, lib. i. cap. 2 and 3.
[b] Cornelia, the mother of the two Gracchi, was daughter to the first Scipio Africanus. The sons, Quintilian says, owed much of their eloquence to the care and institutions of their mother, whose taste and learning were fully displayed in her letters, which were then in the hands of the public. Nam Gracchorum eloquentiæ multum contulisse accepimus Corneliam matrem, cujus doctissimus sermo in posteros quoque est epistolis traditus. Quint. lib. i. cap. 1. To the same effect Cicero: Fuit Gracchus diligentiâ Corneliæ matris a puero doctus, et Græcis litteris eruditus. De Claris Orat. s. 104. Again, Cicero says, We have read the letters of Cornelia, the mother of the Gracchi, from which it appears, that the sons were educated, not so much in the lap of their mother, as her conversation. Legimus epistolas Corneliæ, matris Gracchorum: apparet filios non tam in gremio educatos, quam in sermone matris. De Claris Orat. s. 211. Pliny the elder informs us that a statue was erected to her memory, though Cato the Censor declaimed against shewing so much honour to women, even in the provinces. But with all his vehemence he could not prevent it in the city of Rome. Pliny, lib. xxxiv. s. 14.
[c] For Aurelia, the mother of Julius Cæsar, see The Genealogical Table of the Cæsars, No. 2.
[d] For Atia, the mother of Augustus, see Genealogical Table of the Cæsars, No. 14. As another instance of maternal care, Tacitus informs us that Julia Procilla superintended the education of her son. See Life of Agricola, s. iv.
[a] Quintilian thinks the first elements of education so highly material, that he has two long chapters on the subject. He requires, in the first place, that the language of the nurses should be pure and correct. Their manners are of great importance, but, he adds, let them speak with propriety. It is to them that the infant first attends; he listens, and endeavours to imitate them. The first colour, imbibed by yarn or thread, is sure to last. What is bad, generally adheres tenaciously. Let the child, therefore, not learn in his infancy, what he must afterwards take pains to unlearn. Ante omnia, ne sit vitiosus sermo nutricibus. Et morum quidem in his haud dubiè prior ratio est; rectè tamen etiam loquantur. Has primùm audiet puer; harum verba effingere imitando conabitur. Et naturâ tenacissimi sumus eorum, quæ rudibus annis percipimus; nec lanarum colores, quibus simplex ille candor mutatus est, elui possunt. Et hæc ipsa magis pertinaciter hærent, quæ deteriora sunt. Non assuescat ergo, ne dum infans quidem est, sermoni, qui dediscendus est. Quint. lib. i. cap. 1. Plutarch has a long discourse on the breeding of children, in which all mistakes are pointed out, and the best rules enforced with great acuteness of observation.
[b] Juvenal has one entire satire on the subject of education:
Nil dictu fœdum visuque hæc limina tangat,
Intra quæ puer est. Procul hinc, procul inde puellæ
Lenonum, et cantus pernoctantis parasiti.
Maxima debetur puero reverentia.
SAT. xiv. ver. 44.
Suffer no lewdness, no indecent speech,
Th’ apartment of the tender youth to reach.
Far be from thence the glutton parasite,
Who sings his drunken catches all the night.
Boys from their parents may this rev’rence claim.
[c] The rage of the Romans for the diversions of the theatre, and public spectacles of every kind, is often mentioned by Horace, Juvenal, and other writers under the emperors. Seneca says, that, at one time, three ways were wanted to as many different theatres: tribus eodem tempore theatris viæ postulantur. And again, the most illustrious of the Roman youth are no better than slaves to the pantomimic performers. Ostendam nobilissimos juvenes mancipia pantomimorum. Epist. 47. It was for this reason that Petronius lays it down as a rule to be observed by the young student, never to list himself in the parties and factions of the theatre:
——Neve plausor in scenâ
Sedeat redemptus, histrioniæ addictus.
It is well known, that theatrical parties distracted the Roman citizens, and rose almost to phrensy. They were distinguished by the green and the blue, Caligula, as we read in Suetonius, attached himself to the former, and was so fond of the charioteers, who wore green liveries, that he lived for a considerable time in the stables, where their horses were kept. Prasinæ factioni ita addictus et deditus, ut cœnaret in stabulo assidue et maneret. Life of Caligula, s. 55. Montesquieu reckons such party-divisions among the causes that wrought the downfall of the empire. Constantinople, he says, was split into two factions, the green and theblue, which owed their origin to the inclination of the people to favour one set of charioteers in the circus rather than another. These two parties raged in every city throughout the empire, and their fury rose in proportion to the number of inhabitants. Justinian favoured the blues, who became so elate with pride, that they trampled on the laws. All ties of friendship, all natural affection, and all relative duties, were extinguished. Whole families were destroyed; and the empire was a scene of anarchy and wild contention. He, who felt himself capable of the most atrocious deeds, declared himself a BLUE, and the GREENS were massacred with impunity. Montesquieu, Grandeur et Décadence des Romains, chap. xx.
[d] Quintilian, in his tenth book, chap. 1. has given a full account of the best Greek and Roman poets, orators, and historians; and in b. ii. ch. 6, he draws up a regular scheme for the young student to pursue in his course of reading. There are, he says, two rocks, on which they may split. The first, by being led by some fond admirer of antiquity to set too high a value on the manner of Cato and the Gracchi; for, in that commerce, they will be in danger of growing dry, harsh, and rugged. The strong conception of those men will be beyond the reach of tender minds. Their style, indeed, may be copied; and the youth may flatter himself, when he has contracted the rust of antiquity, that he resembles the illustrious orators of a former age. On the other hand, the florid decorations and false glitter of the moderns may have a secret charm, the more dangerous, and seductive, as the petty flourishes of our new way of writing may prove acceptable to the youthful mind. Duo autem genera maximè cavenda pueris puto: unum, ne quis eos antiquitatis nimius admirator in Gracchorum, Catonisque, et aliorum similium lectione durescere velit. Erunt enim horridi atque jejuni. Nam neque vim eorum adhuc intellectu consequentur; et elocutione, quæ tum sine dubio erat optima, sed nostris temporibus aliena, contenti, quod est pessimum, similes sibi magnis viris videbuntur. Alterum, quod huic diversum est, ne recentis hujus lasciviæ flosculis capti, voluptate quâdam pravâ deliniantur, ut prædulce illud genus, et puerilibus ingeniis hoc gratius, quo propius est, adament. Such was the doctrine of Quintilian. His practice, we may be sure, was consonant to his own rules. Under such a master the youth of Rome might be initiated in science, and formed to a just taste for eloquence and legitimate composition; but one man was not equal to the task. The rhetoricians and pedagogues of the age preferred the novelty and meretricious ornaments of the style then in vogue.
[a] This is the treatise, or history of the most eminent orators (DE CLARIS ORATORIBUS), which has been so often cited in the course of these notes. It is also entitled BRUTUS; a work replete with the soundest criticism, and by its variety and elegance always charming.
[b] Quintus Mucius Scævola was the great lawyer of his time. Cicero draws a comparison between him and Crassus. They were both engaged, on opposite sides, in a cause before the CENTUMVIRI. Crassus proved himself the best lawyer among the orators of that day, and Scævola the most eloquent of the lawyers. Ut eloquentium juris peritissimus Crassus; jurisperitorum eloquentissimus Scævola putaretur. De Claris Orat. s. 145. During the consulship of Sylla, A.U.C. 666, Cicero being then in the nineteenth year of his age, and wishing to acquire a competent knowledge of the principles of jurisprudence, attached himself to Mucius Scævola, who did not undertake the task of instructing pupils, but, by conversing freely with all who consulted him, gave a fair opportunity to those who thirsted after knowledge. Ego autem juris civilis studio, multum operæ dabam Q. Scævolæ, qui quamquam nemini se ad docendum dabat, tamen, consulentibus respondendo, studiosos audiendi docebat. De Claris Orat. s. 306.
[c] Philo was a leading philosopher of the academic school. To avoid the fury of Mithridates, who waged a long war with the Romans, he fled from Athens, and, with some of the most eminent of his fellow-citizens, repaired to Rome. Cicero was struck with his philosophy, and became his pupil. Cùm princeps academiæ Philo, cum Atheniensium optimatibus, Mithridatico bello, domo profugisset, Romamque venisset, totum ei me tradidi, admirabili quodam ad philosophiam studio concitatus. De Claris Orat. s. 306.
Cicero adds, that he gave board and lodging, at his own house, to Diodotus the stoic, and, under that master, employed himself in various branches of literature, but particularly in the study of logic, which may be considered as a mode of eloquence, contracted, close, and nervous. Eram cum stoico Diodoto: qui cum habitavisset apud me, mecumque vixisset, nuper est domi meæ mortuus. A quo, cum in aliis rebus, tum studiosissime in dialecticâ exercebar, quæ quasi contracta et adstricta eloquentia putanda est. De Claris Orat. s. 309.
[d] Cicero gives an account of his travels, which he undertook, after having employed two years in the business of the forum, where he gained an early reputation. At Athens, he passed six months with Antiochus, the principal philosopher of the old academy, and, under the direction of that able master, resumed those abstract speculations which he had cultivated from his earliest youth. Nor did he neglect his rhetorical exercises. In that pursuit, he was assisted by Demetrius, the Syrian, who was allowed to be a skilful preceptor. He passed from Greece into Asia; and, in the course of his travels through that country, he lived in constant habits with Menippus of Stratonica; a man eminent for his learning; who, if to be neither frivolous, nor unintelligible, is the character of Attic eloquence, might fairly be called a disciple of that school. He met with many other professors of rhetoric, such as Dionysius of Magnesia, Æschylus of Cnidos, and Zenocles of Adramytus; but not content with their assistance, he went to Rhodes, and renewed his friendship with MOLO, whom he had heard at Rome, and knew to be an able pleader in real causes; a fine writer, and a judicious critic, who could, with a just discernment of the beauties as well as the faults of a composition, point out the road to excellence, and improve the taste of his scholars. In his attention to the Roman orator, the point he aimed at (Cicero will not say that he succeeded) was, to lop away superfluous branches, and confine within its proper channel a stream of eloquence, too apt to swell above all bounds, and overflow its banks. After two years thus spent in the pursuit of knowledge, and improvement in his oratorical profession, Cicero returned to Rome almost a new man. Is (MOLO) dedit operam (si modo id consequi potuit) ut nimis redundantes nos, et superfluentes juvenili quadam dicendi impunitate, et licentiâ, reprimeret, et quasi extra ripas diffluentes cœrceret. Ita recepi me biennio post, non modo exercitatior, sed propè mutatus. See De Claris Oratoribus, s. 315 and 316.
[e] Cicero is here said to have been a complete master of philosophy, which, according to Quintilian, was divided into three branches, namely, physics, ethics, and logic. It has been mentioned in this section, note [c], that Cicero called logic a contracted and close mode of eloquence. That observation is fully explained by Quintilian. Speaking of logic, the use, he says, of that contentious art, consists in just definition, which presents to the mind the precise idea; and in nice discrimination, which marks the essential difference of things. It is this faculty that throws a sudden light on every difficult question, removes all ambiguity, clears up what was doubtful, divides, develops, and separates, and then collects the argument to a point. But the orator must not be too fond of this close combat. The minute attention, which logic requires, will exclude what is of higher value; while it aims at precision, the vigour of the mind is lost in subtlety. We often see men, who argue with wonderful craft; but, when petty controversy will no longer serve their purpose, we see the same men without warmth or energy, cold, languid, and unequal to the conflict; like those little animals, which are brisk in narrow places, and by their agility baffle their pursuers, but in the open field are soon overpowered. Hæc pars dialectica, sive illam dicere malimus disputatricem, ut est utilis sæpe et finitionibus, et comprehensionibus, et separandis quæ sunt differentia, et resolvendâ ambiguitate, et distinguendo, dividendo, illiciendo, implicando; ita si totum sibi vindicaverit in foro certamen, obstabit melioribus, et sectas ad tenuitatem vires ipsâ subtilitate consumet. Itaque reperias quosdam in disputando mirè callidos; cum ab illâ verò cavillatione discesserint, non magis sufficere in aliquo graviori actu, quam parva quædam animalia, quæ in angustiis mobilia, campo deprehenduntur. Quint. lib. xii. cap. 2.
Ethics, or moral philosophy, the same great critic holds to be indispensably requisite. Jam quidem pars illa moralis, quæ dicitur ethice, certè tota oratori est accommodata. Nam in tantâ causarum varietate, nulla ferè dici potest, cujus non parte aliquâ tractatus æqui et boni reperiantur. Lib. xii. Unless the mind be enriched with a store of knowledge, there may he loquacity, but nothing that deserves the name of oratory. Eloquence, says Lord Bolingbroke, must flow like a stream that is fed by an abundant spring, and not spout forth a little frothy stream, on some gaudy day, and remain dry for the rest of the year. See Spirit of Patriotism.
With regard to natural philosophy, Quintilian has a sentiment so truly sublime, that to omit it in this place would look like insensibility. If, says he, the universe is conducted by a superintending Providence, it follows that good men should govern the nations of the earth. And if the soul of man is of celestial origin, it is evident that we should tread in the paths of virtue, all aspiring to our native source, not slaves to passion, and the pleasures of the world. These are important topics; they often occur to the public orator, and demand all his eloquence. Nam si regitur providentiâ mundus, administranda certè bonis viris erit respublica. Si divina nostris animis origo, tendendum ad virtutem, nec voluptatibus terreni corporis serviendum. An hoc non frequenter tractabit orator? Quint. lib. xii. cap. 2.
[a] Quintilian, as well as Seneca, has left a collection of school-declamations, but he has given his opinion of all such performances. They are mere imitation, and, by consequence, have not the force and spirit which a real cause inspires. In public harangues, the subject is founded in reality; in declamations, all is fiction. Omnis imitatio ficta est; quo fit ut minus sanguinis ac virium declamationes habeant, quam orationes; quod in his vera, in illis assimulata materia est. Lib. x. cap. 2. Petronius has given a lively description of the rhetoricians of his time. The consequence, he says, of their turgid style, and the pompous swell of sounding periods, has ever been the same: when their scholars enter the forum, they look as if they were transported into a new world. The teachers of rhetoric have been the bane of all true eloquence. Hæc ipsa tolerabilia essent, si ad eloquentiam ituris viam facerent: nunc et rerum tumore, et sententiarum vanissimo strepitu, hoc tantum proficiunt, ut quum in forum venerint, putent se in alium terrarum orbem delatos. Pace vestrâ liceat dixisse, primi omnium eloquentiam perdidistis. Petron. in Satyrico, cap. 1 and 2. That gay writer, who passed his days in luxury and voluptuous pleasures (see his character, Annals, b. xvi. s. 18), was, amidst all his dissipation, a man of learning, and, at intervals, of deep reflection. He knew the value of true philosophy, and, therefore, directs the young orator to the Socratic school, and to that plan of education which we have before us in the present Dialogue. He bids his scholar begin with Homer, and there drink deep of the Pierian spring: after that, he recommends the moral system; and, when his mind is thus enlarged, he allows him to wield the arms of Demosthenes.
——Det primos versibus annos,
Mæoniumque bibat felici pectore fontem:
Mox et Socratico plenus grege mutet habenas
Liber, et ingentis quatiat Demosthenis arma.
[b] Cicero has left a book, entitled TOPICA, in which he treats at large of the method of finding proper arguments. This, he observes, was executed by Aristotle, whom he pronounces the great master both of invention and judgement. Cum omnis ratio diligens disserendi duas habeat partes; unam INVENIENDI, alteram JUDICANDI; utriusque princeps, ut mihi quidem videtur, Aristoteles fuit. Ciceronis Topica, s. vi. The sources from which arguments may be drawn, are called LOCI COMMUNES, COMMON PLACES. To supply the orator with ample materials, and to render him copious on every subject, was the design of the Greek preceptor, and for that purpose he gave his TOPICA. Aristoteles adolescentes, non ad philosophorum morem tenuiter disserendi, sed ad copiam rhetorum in utramque partem, ut ornatius et uberius dici posset, exercuit; idemque locos (sic enim appellat) quasi argumentorum notas tradidit, unde omnis in utramque partem traheretur oratio. Cicero, De Oratore. Aristotle was the most eminent of Plato’s scholars: he retired to a gymnasium, or place of exercise, in the neighbourhood of Athens, called the Lyceum, where, from a custom, which he and his followers observed, of discussing points of philosophy, as they walked in the porticos of the place, they obtained the name of Peripatetics, or the walking philosophers. See Middleton’s Life of Cicero, vol. ii. p. 537, 4to edit.
[c] The academic sect derived its origin from Socrates, and its name from a celebrated gymnasium, or place of exercise, in the suburbs of Athens, called the Academy, after Ecademus, who possessed it in the time of the Tyndaridæ. It was afterwards purchased, and dedicated to the public, for the convenience of walks and exercises for the citizens of Athens. It was gradually improved with plantations, groves and porticos for the particular use of the professors or masters of the academic school; where several of them are said to have spent their lives, and to have resided so strictly, as scarce ever to have come within the city. See Middleton’s Life of Cicero, 4to edit. vol. ii. p. 536. Plato, and his followers, continued to reside in the porticos of the academy. They chose
——The green retreats
Of Academus, and the thymy vale,
Where, oft inchanted with Socratic sounds,
Ilyssus pure devolv’d his tuneful stream
In gentle murmurs.
AKENSIDE, PLEAS. OF IMAG.
For dexterity in argument, the orator is referred to this school, for the reason given by Quintilian, who says that the custom of supporting an argument on either side of the question, approaches nearest to the orator’s practice in forensic causes. Academiam quidam utilissimam credunt, quod mos in utramque partem disserendi ad exercitationem forensium causarum proximè accedat. Lib. xii. cap. 2 Quintilian assures us that we are indebted to the academic philosophy for the ablest orators, and it is to that school that Horace sends his poet for instruction:
Rem tibi Socraticæ poterunt ostendere chartæ,
Verbaque provisam rem non invita sequentur.
ARS POET. ver. 310.
Good sense, that fountain of the muse’s art,
Let the rich page of Socrates impart;
And if the mind with clear conception glow,
The willing words in just expressions flow.
[d] Epicurus made frequent use of the rhetorical figure called exclamation; and in his life, by Diogenes Lærtius, we find a variety of instances. It is for that manner of giving animation to a discourse that Epicurus is mentioned in the Dialogue. For the rest, Quintilian tells us what to think of him. Epicurus, he says, dismisses the orator from his school, since he advises his pupil to pay no regard to science or to method. Epicurus imprimis nos a se ipse dimittit, qui fugere omnem disciplinam navigatione quam velocissima jubet. Lib. xii. cap. 2. Metrodorus was the favourite disciple of Epicurus. Brotier says that a statue of the master and the scholar, with their heads joined together, was found at Rome in the year 1743.
It is worthy of notice, that except the stoics, who, without aiming at elegance of language, argued closely and with vigour, Quintilian proscribes the remaining sects of philosophers. Aristippus, he says, placed his summum bonum in bodily pleasure, and therefore could be no friend to the strict regimen of the accomplished orator. Much less could Pyrrho be of use, since he doubted whether there was any such thing in existence as the judges before whom the cause must be pleaded. To him the party accused, and the senate, were alike non-entities. Neque vero Aristippus, summum in voluptate corpora bonum ponens, ad hunc nos laborem adhortetur. Pyrrho quidem, quas in hoc opere partes habere potest? cui judices esse apud quos verba faciat, et reum pro quo loquatur, et senatum, in quo sit dicenda sententia, non liquebat. Quintil. lib. xii. cap. 2.
[a] We are told by Quintilian, that Demosthenes, the great orator of Greece, was an assiduous hearer of Plato: Constat Demosthenem, principem omnium Græciæ oratorum, dedisse operam Platoni. Lib. xii. cap. 2. And Cicero expressly says, that, if he might venture to call himself an orator, he was made so, not by the manufacture of the schools of rhetoric, but in the walks of the Academy. Fateor me oratorem, si modo sim, aut etiam quicumque sim, non ex rhetorum officinis, sed ex Academiæ spatiis extitisse. Ad Brutum Orator, s. 12.
[a] The ancient critics made a wide distinction, between a mere facility of speech, and what they called the oratorical faculty. This is fully explained by Asinius Pollio, who said of himself, that by pleading at first with propriety, he succeeded so far as to be often called upon; by pleading frequently, he began to lose the propriety with which he set out; and the reason was, by constant practice he acquired rashness, not a just confidence in himself; a fluent facility, not the true faculty of an orator. Commodè agenda factum est, ut sæpe agerem; sæpe agenda, ut minus commodè; quia scilicet nimia facilitas magis quam facultas, nec fiducia, sed temeritas, paratur. Quintil. lib. xii.
[a] There is in this place a trifling mistake, either in Messala, the speaker, or in the copyists. Crassus was born A.U.C. 614. See s. xviii. note [f]. Papirius Carbo, the person accused, was consul A.U.C. 634, and the prosecution was in the following year, when Crassus expressly says, that he was then only one and twenty.Quippe qui omnium maturrimè ad publicas causas accesserim, annosque natus UNUM ET VIGINTI, nobilissimum hominem et eloquentissimum in judicium vocârim. Cicero, De Orat. lib. iii. s. 74. Pliny the consul was another instance of early pleading. He says himself, that he began his career in the forum at the age of nineteen, and, after long practice, he could only see the functions of an orator as it were in a mist. Undevicessimo ætatis anno dicere in foro cœpi, et nunc demum, quid præstare debeat orator, adhuc tamen per caliginem video. Lib. v. epist. 8. Quintilian relates of Cæsar, Calvus, and Pollio, that they all three appeared at the bar, long before they arrived at their quæstorian age, which was seven and twenty. Calvus, Cæsar, Pollio, multum ante quæstoriam omnes ætatem gravissima judicia susceperunt. Quintilian, lib. xii. cap. 6.
[a] Lipsius, in his note on this passage, says, that he once thought the word scena in the text ought to be changed to schola; but he afterwards saw his mistake. The place of fictitious declamation and spurious eloquence, where the teachers played a ridiculous part, was properly called a theatrical scene.
[b] Lucius Licinius Crassus and Domitius Ænobarbus were censors A.U.C. 662. Crassus himself informs us, that, for two years together, a new race of men, called Rhetoricians, or masters of eloquence, kept open schools at Rome, till he thought fit to exercise his censorian authority, and by an edict to banish the whole tribe from the city of Rome; and this, he says, he did, not, as some people suggested, to hinder the talents of youth from being cultivated, but to save their genius from being corrupted, and the young mind from being confirmed in shameless ignorance. Audacity was all the new masters could teach; and this being the only thing to be acquired on that stage of impudence, he thought it the duty of a Roman censor to crush the mischief in the bud. Latini (sic diis placet) hoc biennio magistri dicendi extiterunt; quos ego censor edicto meo sustuleram; non quo (ut nescio quos dicere aiebant) acui ingenia adolescentium nollem, sed, contra, ingenia obtundi nolui, corroborari impudentiam. Hos vero novos magistros nihil intelligebam posse docere, nisi ut auderent. Hoc cum unum traderetur, et cum impudentiæ ludus esset, putavi esse censoris, ne longius id serperet, providere. De Orat. lib. iii. s. 93 and 94. Aulus Gellius mentions a former expulsion of the rhetoricians, by a decree of the senate, in the consulship of Fannius Strabo and Valerius Messala, A.U.C. 593. He gives the words of the decree, and also of the edict, by which the teachers were banished by Crassus, several years after. See A. Gellius, Noctes Atticæ, lib. xv. cap. 2. See also Suetonius, De Claris Rhet. s. 1.
[c] Seneca has left a collection of declamations in the two kinds, viz. the persuasive, and controversial. See his SUASORIÆ, and CONTROVERSIÆ. In the first class, the questions are, Whether Alexander should attempt the Indian ocean? Whether he should enter Babylon, when the augurs denounced impending danger? Whether Cicero, to appease the wrath of Marc Antony, should burn all his works? The subjects in the second class are more complex. A priestess was taken prisoner by a band of pirates, and sold to slavery. The purchaser abandoned her to prostitution. Her person being rendered venal, a soldier made his offers of gallantry. She desired the price of her prostituted charms; but the military man resolved to use force and insolence, and she stabbed him in the attempt. For this she was prosecuted, and acquitted. She then desired to be restored to her rank of priestess: that point was decided against her. These instances may serve as a specimen of the trifling declamations, into which such a man as Seneca was betrayed by his own imagination. Petronius has described the literary farce of the schools. Young men, he says, were there trained up in folly, neither seeing nor hearing any thing that could be of use in the business of life. They were taught to think of nothing, but pirates loaded with fetters on the sea-shore; tyrants by their edicts commanding sons to murder their fathers; the responses of oracles demanding a sacrifice of three or more virgins, in order to abate an epidemic pestilence. All these discourses, void of common sense, are tricked out in the gaudy colours of exquisite eloquence, soft, sweet, and seasoned to the palate. In this ridiculous boy’s-play the scholars trifle away their time; they are laughed at in the forum, and still worse, what they learn in their youth they do not forget at an advanced age. Ego adolescentulos existimo in scholis stultissimos fieri, quia nihil ex iis, quæ in usu habemus, aut audiunt aut vident; sed piratas cum catenis in littore stantes, et tyrannos edicta scribentes, quibus imperent filiis, ut patrum suorum capita præcidant; sed responsa in pestilentiâ data, ut virgines tres aut plures immolentur; sed mellitos verborum globos, et omnia dicta factaque quasi papavere et sesamo sparsa. Nunc pueri in scholis ludunt; juvenes ridentur in foro; et, quod utroque turpius est, quod quisque perperam discit, in senectute confiteri non vult. Petron. in Satyrico, cap. 3 and 4.
[d] Here unfortunately begins a chasm in the original. The words are, Cum ad veros judices ventum est, * * * * rem cogitare * * * * nihil humile, nihil abjectum eloqui poterat. This is unintelligible. What follows from the words magna eloquentia sicut flamma, palpably belongs to Maternus, who is the last speaker in the Dialogue. The whole of what Secundus said is lost. The expedient has been, to divide the sequel between Secundus and Maternus; but that is mere patch-work. We are told in the first section of the Dialogue, that the several persons present spoke their minds, each in his turn assigning different but probable causes, and at times agreeing on the same. There can, therefore, be no doubt but Secundus took his turn in the course of the enquiry. Of all the editors of Tacitus, Brotier is the only one who has adverted to this circumstance. To supply the loss, as well as it can now be done by conjecture, that ingenious commentator has added a Supplement, with so much taste, and such a degree of probability, that it has been judged proper to adopt what he has added. The thread of the discourse will be unbroken, and the reader, it is hoped, will prefer a regular continuity to a mere vacant space. The inverted comma in the margin of the text [transcriber’s note: not used, but numbered with decimal rather than Roman numerals] will mark the supplemental part, as far as section 36, where the original proceeds to the end of the Dialogue. The sections of the Supplement will be marked, for the sake of distinction, with figures, instead of the Roman numeral letters.
[a] Petronius says, you may as well expect that the person, who is for ever shut up in a kitchen, should be sweet and fresh, as that young men, trained up in such absurd and ridiculous interludes, should improve their taste or judgement. Qui inter hæc nutriuntur, non magis sapere possunt, quam bene olere, qui in culiná habitant. Petronius, in Satyrico, s. 2.
[a] The means by which an orator is nourished, formed, and raised to eminence, are here enumerated. These are the requisites, that lead to that distinguished eloquence, which is finely described by Petronius, when he says, a sublime oration, but sublime within due bounds, is neither deformed with affectation, nor turgid in any part, but, depending on truth and simplicity, rises to unaffected grandeur. Grandis, et, ut ita dicam, pudica oratio, non est maculosa, nec turgida, sed naturali pulchritudine exsurgit. Petronius, in Satyrico, s. 2.
[a] Maternus engaged for himself and Secundus, that they would communicate their sentiments: see s. 16. In consequence of that promise, Messala now calls upon them both. They have already declared themselves admirers of ancient eloquence. It now remains to be known, whether they agree with Messala as to the cause that occasioned a rapid decline: or whether they can produce new reasons of their own.
[a] Secundus proceeds to give his opinion. This is managed by Brotier with great art and judgement, since it is evident in the original text that Maternus closed the debate. According to what is said in the introduction to the Dialogue, Secundus agrees with Messala upon most points, but still assigns different, but probable reasons. A revolution, he says, happened in literature; a new taste prevailed, and the worst models were deemed worthy of imitation. The emotions of the heart were suppressed. Men could no longer yield to the impulse of genius. They endeavoured to embellish their composition with novelty; they sparkled with wit, and amused their readers with point, antithesis, and forced conceits. They fell into the case of the man, who, according to Martial, was ingenious, but not eloquent:
Cum sexaginta numeret Casselius annos;
Ingeniosus homo est: quando disertus erit?
Lib. vii. epig. 8.
[b] Enough, perhaps, has been already said in the notes, concerning the teachers of rhetoric; but it will not be useless to cite one passage more from Petronius, who in literature, as well as convivial pleasure, may be allowed to be arbiter elegantiarum. The rhetoricians, he says, came originally from Asia; they were, however, neither known to Pindar, and the nine lyric poets, nor to Plato, or Demosthenes. They arrived at Athens in evil hour, and imported with them that enormous frothy loquacity, which at once, like a pestilence, blasted all the powers of genius, and established the rules of corrupt eloquence. Nondum umbraticus doctor ingenia deleverat, cum Pindarus novemque lyrici Homericis versibus canere non timuerunt. Certe neque Platona, neque Demosthenem, ad hoc genus exercitationis accessisse video. Nuper ventosa isthæc et enormis loquacitas Athenas ex Asia commigravit, animosque juvenum ad magna surgentes veluti pestilenti quodam sidere afflavit; simulque corruptæ eloquentiæ regula stetit et obtinuit. Petron. Satyricon, s. 2.
[a] When the public taste was vitiated, and to elevate and surprise, as Bayes says, was the new way of writing, Seneca is, with good reason, ranked in the class of ingenious, but affected authors. Menage says, if all the books in the world were in the fire, there is not one, whom he would so eagerly snatch from the flames as Plutarch. That author never tires him; he reads him often, and always finds new beauties. He cannot say the same of Seneca; not but there are admirable passages in his works, but when brought to the test they lose their apparent beauty by a close examination. Seneca serves to be quoted in the warmth of conversation, but is not of equal value in the closet. Whatever be the subject, he wishes to shine, and, by consequence, his thoughts are too refined, and often false. Menagiana, tom. ii. p. 1.
[a] This charge against Seneca is by no means new. Quintilian was his contemporary; he saw and heard the man, and, in less than twenty years after his death, pronounced judgement against him. In the conclusion of the first chapter of his tenth book, after having given an account of the Greek and Roman authors, he says, he reserved Seneca for the last place, because, having always endeavoured to counteract the influence of a bad taste, he was supposed to be influenced by motives of personal enmity. But the case was otherwise. He saw that Seneca was the favourite of the times, and, to check the torrent that threatened the ruin of all true eloquence, he exerted his best efforts to diffuse a sounder judgement. He did not wish that Seneca should be laid aside: but he could not in silence see him preferred to the writers of the Augustan age, whom that writer endeavoured to depreciate, conscious that, having chosen a different style, he could not hope to please the taste of those who were charmed with the authors of a former day. But Seneca was still in fashion; his partisans continued to admire, though it cannot be said that they imitated him. He fell short of the ancients, and they were still more beneath their model. Since they were content to copy, it were to be wished that they had been able to vie with him. He pleased by his defects, and the herd of imitators chose the worst. They acquired a vicious manner, and flattered themselves that they resembled their master. But the truth is, they disgraced him. Seneca, it must be allowed, had many great and excellent qualities; a lively imagination, vast erudition, and extensive knowledge. He frequently employed others to make researches for him, and was often deceived. He embraced all subjects; in his philosophy, not always profound, but a keen censor of the manners, and on moral subjects truly admirable. He has brilliant passages, and beautiful sentiments; but the expression is in a false taste, the more dangerous, as he abounds with delightful vices. You would have wished that he had written with his own imagination, and the judgement of others. To sum up his character; had he known how to rate little things, had he been above the petty ambition of always shining, had he not been fond of himself, had he not weakened his force by minute and dazzling sentences, he would have gained, not the admiration of boys, but the suffrage of the judicious. At present he may be read with safety by those who have made acquaintance with better models. His works afford the fairest opportunity of distinguishing the beauties of fine writing from their opposite vices. He has much to be approved, and even admired: but a just selection is necessary, and it is to be regretted that he did not choose for himself. Such was the judgement of Quintilian: the learned reader will, perhaps, be glad to have the whole passage in the author’s words, rather than be referred to another book. Ex industriâ Senecam, in omni genere eloquentiæ versatum, distuli, propter vulgatam falso de me opinionem, quâ damnare eum, et invisum quoque habere sum creditus. Quod, accidit mihi, dum corruptum, et omnibus vitiis fractum dicendi genus revocare ad severiora judicia contendo. Tum autem solus hic fere in manibus adolescentium fuit. Quem non equidem omnino conabar excutere, sed potioribus præferri non sinebam, quos ille non destiterat incessere, cum, diversi sibi conscius generis, placere se in dicendo posse iis quibus illi placerent, diffideret. Amabant autem eum magis, quàm imitabantur; tantumque ab illo defluebant, quantum ille ab antiquis descenderat. Foret enim optandum, pares, aut saltem proximos, illi viro fieri. Sed placebat propter sola vitia, et ad ea se quisque dirigebat effingenda, quæ poterat. Deinde cum se jactaret eodem modo dicere, Senecam infamabat. Cujus et multæ alioqui et magnæ virtutes fuerunt; ingenium facile et copiosum; plurimum studii; et multarum rerum cognitio, in quâ tamen aliquando ab iis, quibus inquirenda quædam mandabat, deceptus est. Tractavit etiam omnem ferè studiorum materiam; In philosophiâ parum diligens, egregius tamen vitiorum insectator. Multa in eo claræque sententiæ; multa etiam morum gratiâ legenda; sed in eloquendo corrupta pleraque, atque eo perniciosissima, quod abundat dulcibus vitiis. Velles eum suo ingenio dixisse, alieno judicio. Nam si aliqua contempsisset; si parum concupisset, si non omnia sua amasset; si rerum pondera minutissimis sententiis non fregisset, consensu potius eruditorum, quàm puerorum amore comprobaretur. Verùm sic quoque jam robustis, et severiore genere satis firmatis, legendus, vel ideo, quod exercere potest utrimque judicium. Multa enim (ut dixi) probanda in eo, multa etiam admiranda sunt; eligere modo curæ sit, quod utinam ipse fecisset. Quintil. lib. x. cap. 1. From this it is evident, that Seneca, even in the meridian of his fame and power, was considered as the grand corrupter of eloquence. The charge is, therefore, renewed in this Dialogue, with strict propriety. Rollin, who had nourished his mind with ancient literature, and was, in his time, the Quintilian of France, has given the same opinion of Seneca, who, he says, knew how to play the critic on the works of others, and to condemn the strained metaphor, the forced conceit, the tinsel sentence, and all the blemishes of a corrupt style, without desiring to weed them out of his own productions. In a letter to his friend (epist. 114), which has been mentioned section xxvi. note [c], Seneca admits a general depravity of taste, and with great acuteness, and, indeed, elegance, traces it to its source, to the luxury and effeminate manners of the age; he compares the florid orators of his time to a set of young fops, well powdered and perfumed, just issuing from their toilette: Barbâ et comâ nitidos, de capsulâ totos; he adds, that such affected finery is not the true ornament of a man. Non est ornamentum virile, concinnitas. And yet, says Rollin, he did not know that he was sitting to himself for the picture. He aimed for ever at something new, far fetched, ingenious, and pointed. He preferred wit to truth and dignified simplicity. The marvellous was with him better than the natural; and he chose to surprise and dazzle, rather than merit the approbation of sober judgement. His talents placed him at the head of the fashion, and with those enchanting vices which Quintilian ascribes to him, he was, no doubt, the person who contributed most to the corruption of taste and eloquence. See Rollin’s Belles Lettres, vol. i. sur le Gout. Another eminent critic, L’ABBE GEDOYN, who has given an elegant translation of Quintilian, has, in the preface to that work, entered fully into the question concerning the decline of eloquence. He admits that Seneca did great mischief, but he takes the matter up much higher. He traces it to OVID, and imputes the taste for wit and spurious ornament, which prevailed under the emperors, to the false, but seducing charms of that celebrated poet. Ovid was, undoubtedly, the greatest wit of his time; but his wit knew no bounds. His fault was, exuberance. Nescivit quod bene cessit relinquere, says Seneca, who had himself the same defect. Whatever is Ovid’s subject, the redundance of a copious fancy still appears. Does he bewail his own misfortunes; he seems to think, that, unless he is witty, he cannot be an object of compassion. Does he write letters to and from disappointed lovers; the greatest part flows from fancy, and little from the heart. He gives us the brilliant for the pathetic. With these faults, Ovid had such enchanting graces, that his style and manner infected every branch of literature. The tribe of imitators had not the genius of their master; but being determined to shine in spite of nature, they ruined all true taste and eloquence. This is the natural progress of imitation, and Seneca was well aware of it. He tells us that the faults and blemishes of a corrupt style are ever introduced by some superior genius, who has risen to eminence in bad writing; his admirers imitate a vicious manner, and thus a false taste goes round from one to another. Hæc vitia unus aliquis inducit, sub quo tunc eloquentia est: cæteri imitantur; et alter alteri tradunt. Epist. 114. Seneca, however, did not know that he was describing himself. Tacitus says he had a genius suited to the taste of the age. Ingenium amœnum et temporis ejus auribus accommodatum. He adopted the faults of Ovid, and was able to propagate them. For these reasons, the Abbé Gedoyn is of opinion, that Ovid began the mischief, and Seneca laid the axe to the root of the tree. It is certain, that, during the remaining period of the empire, true eloquence never revived.
[a] Historians have concurred in taxing Vespasian with avarice, in some instances, mean and sordid; but they agree, at the same time, that the use which he made of his accumulated riches, by encouraging the arts, and extending liberal rewards to men of genius, is a sufficient apology for his love of money.
[b] Titus, it is needless to say, was the friend of virtue and of every liberal art. Even that monster Domitian was versed in polite learning, and by fits and starts capable of intense application: but we read in Tacitus, that his studies and his pretended love of poetry served as a cloak to hide his real character. SeeHistory, b. iv. s. 86.
[c] Pliny the younger describes the young men of his time rushing forward into the forum without knowledge or decency. He was told, he says, by persons advanced in years, that, according to ancient usage, no young man, even of the first distinction, was allowed to appear at the bar, unless he was introduced by one of consular dignity. But, in his time, all fences of respect and decency were thrown down. Young men scorned to be introduced; they forced their way, and took possession of the forum without any kind of recommendation. At hercule ante memoriam meam (majores natu ita solent dicere), ne nobilissimis quidem adolescentibus locus erat, nisi aliquo consulari producente; tantâ veneratione pulcherrimum opus celebrabatur. Nunc refractis pudoris et reverentiæ claustris, omnia patent omnibus. Nec inducuntur, sed irrumpunt. Plin. lib. ii. epist. 14.
[a] This want of decorum before the tribunals of justice would appear incredible, were it not well attested by the younger Pliny. The audience, he says, was suited to the orators. Mercenary wretches were hired to applaud in the courts, where they were treated at the expence of the advocate, as openly as if they were in a banqueting-room. Sequuntur auditores actoribus similes, conducti et redempti mancipes. Convenitur in mediâ basilicâ, ubi tam palam sportulæ quam in triclinio dantur. Plin. lib, ii. epist. 14. He adds in the same epistle, LARGIUS LICINIUS first introduced this custom, merely that he might procure an audience.Primus hunc audiendi morem induxit Largius Licinius, hactenus tamen ut auditores corrogaret.
[b] This anecdote is also related by Pliny, in the following manner: Quintilian, his preceptor, told him that one day, when he attended Domitius Afer in a cause before the centumviri, a sudden and outrageous noise was heard from the adjoining court. Afer made a pause; the disturbance ceased, and he resumed the thread of his discourse. He was interrupted a second and a third time. He asked, who was the advocate that occasioned so much uproar? Being told, that Licinius was the person, he addressed himself to the court in these words: Centumvirs! all true eloquence is now at an end. Ex Quintiliano, præceptore meo, audisse memini: narrabat ille, Assectabar Domitium Afrum, cum apud centumviros diceret graviter et lentè (hoc enim illi actionis genus erat), audiit ex proximo immodicum insolitumque clamorem; admiratus reticuit; ubi silentium factum est, repetit quod abruperat; iterum clamor, iterum reticuit; et post silentium, cœpit idem tertio. Novissimè quis diceret quæsivit. Responsum est, Licinius. Tum intermissâ causâ, CENTUMVIRI, inquit, HOC ARTIFICIUM PERIIT. Lib. ii. ep. 14. Domitius Afer has been mentioned, s. xiii. note [d]. To what is there said of him may be added a fact related by Quintilian, who says that Afer, when old and superannuated, still continued at the bar, exhibiting the decay of genius, and every day diminishing that high reputation which he once possessed. Hence men said of him, he had rather decline than desist. Malle eum deficere, quam desinere. Quint. lib. xii. cap. 11.
[c] The men who applauded for hire, went from court to court to bellow forth their venal approbation. Pliny says, No longer ago than yesterday, two of my nomenclators, both about the age of seventeen, were bribed to play the part of critics. Their pay was about three denarii: that at present is the price of eloquence.Ex judicio in judicium pari mercede transitur. Heri duo nomenclatores mei (habent sane ætatem eorum, qui nuper togas sumpserunt), ternis denariis ad laudandum trahebantur. Tanti constat, ut sis disertus. Lib. ii. epist. 14.
[d] The whole account of the trade of puffing is related in the Dialogue, on the authority of Pliny, who tells us that those wretched sycophants had two nick-names; one in Greek, [Greek: Sophokleis], and the other in Latin, LAUDICÆNI; the former from sophos, the usual exclamation of applause, as in Martial: Quid tam grande sophos clamat tibi turba, togata; the Latin word importing parasites who sold their praise for a supper. Inde jam non inurbanè [Greek: Sophokleis] vocantur; iisdem nomen Latinum impositum est, LAUDICÆNI. Et tamen crescit indies fœditas utrâque linguâ notata. Lib. ii. epist. 14.
[a] Pliny tells us, that he employed much of his time in pleading causes before the centumviri; but he grew ashamed of the business, when he found those courts attended by a set of bold young men, and not by lawyers of any note or consequence. But still the service of his friends, and his time of life, induced him to continue his practice for some while longer, lest he should seem, by quitting it abruptly, to fly from fatigue, not from the indecorum of the place. He contrived however to appear but seldom, in order to withdraw himself by degrees. Nos tamen adhuc et utilitas amicorum, et ratio ætatis, moratur ac retinet. Veremur enim ne fortè non has indignitates reliquisse, sed laborem fugisse videamur. Sumus tamen solito rariores, quod initium est gradatim desinendi. Lib. ii. epist. 14.
[a] The person here distinguished from the rest of the rhetoricians, is the celebrated Quintilian, of whose elegant taste and superior judgement it were superfluous to say a word. Martial has given his character in two lines:—
Quintiliane, vagæ moderator summe juventæ,
Gloria Romanæ, Quintiliane, togæ.
Lib. ii. epig. 90.
It is generally supposed that he was a native of Calaguris (now Calahorra), a city in Spain, rendered famous by the martial spirit of Sertorius, who there stood a siege against Pompey. Vossius, however, thinks that he was born a Roman; and GEDOYN, the elegant translator mentioned section 6. note [a], accedes to that opinion, since Martial does not claim him as his countryman. The same writer says, that it is still uncertain when Quintilian was born, and when he died; but, after a diligent enquiry, he thinks it probable that the great critic was born towards the latter end of Tiberius; and, of course, when Domitius Afer died in the reign of Nero, A.U.C. 812, A.D. 59, that he was then two and twenty. His Institutions of an Orator were written in the latter end of Domitian, when Quintilian, as he himself says, was far advanced in years. The time of his death is no where mentioned, but it probably was under Nerva or Trajan. It must not be dissembled, that this admirable author was not exempt from the epidemic vice of the age in which he lived. He flattered Domitian, and that strain of adulation is the only blemish in his work. The love of literature may be said to have been his ruling passion; but, in his estimation, learning and genius are subordinate to honour, truth, and virtue.
[a] Maternus, without contradicting Messala or Secundus, gives his opinion, viz. that the decline of eloquence, however other causes might conspire, was chiefly occasioned by the ruin of a free constitution. To this he adds another observation, which seems to be founded in truth, as we find that, since the revival of letters, Spain has produced one CERVANTES; France, one MOLIERE; England, one SHAKSPEARE, and one MILTON.
[a] Examples of short, abrupt, and even sublime speeches out of the mouth of Barbarians, might, if the occasion required it, be produced in great abundance. Mr. Locke has observed, that the humours of a people may be learned from their usage of words. Seneca has said the same, and, in epistle cxiv. has explained himself on the subject with acute reasoning and beautiful illustration. The whole letter merits the attention of the judicious critic. The remainder of this, and the whole of the following section, serve to enforce the proposition of the speaker, viz. that Roman eloquence died with public liberty. The Supplement ends here. The original text is resumed in the next section, and proceeds unbroken to the end of the Dialogue.
[a] When great and powerful eloquence is compared to a flame, that must be supported by fresh materials, it is evident that the sentence is a continuation, not the opening of a new argument. It has been observed, and it will not be improper to repeat, that the two former speakers (Messala and Secundus) having stated, according to their way of thinking, the causes of corrupt eloquence, Maternus, as was promised in the outset of the Dialogue, now proceeds to give another reason, and, perhaps, the strongest of all; namely, the alteration of the government from the old republican form to the absolute sway of a single ruler.
[b] The colonies, the provinces, and the nations that submitted to the Roman arms, had their patrons in the capital, whom they courted with assiduity. It was this mark of distinction that raised the ambitious citizen to the first honours in the state. To have a number of clients, as well at home as in the most important colonies, was the unremitting desire, the study, and constant labour of all who aimed at pre-eminence; insomuch that, in the time of the old republic, the men who wished to be distinguished patrons, impoverished, and often ruined their families, by their profusion and magnificence. They paid court to the common people, to the provinces, and states in alliance with Rome; and, in their turn, they received the homage of their clients. See Annals, b. iii. s. 55.
[c] We read in Quintilian, that oral testimony, and depositions signed by the witnesses, were both in use in his time. Written evidence, he observes, was easily combated; because the witness who chose to speak in the presence of a few who signed his attestation, might be guilty of a violation of truth with greater confidence; and besides, not being cited to speak, his being a volunteer in the cause was a circumstance against him, since it shewed that he acted with ill-will to the opposite party. With regard to the witness who gives his testimony in open court, the advocate has more upon his hands: he must press him with questions, and in a set speech observe upon his evidence. He must also support his own witnesses, and, therefore, must draw up two lines of battle. Maximus patronis circa testimonia sudor est. Ea dicuntur aut per tabulas, aut a præsentibus. Simplicior contra tabulas pugna. Nam et minus obstitisse videtur pudor inter paucos signatores, et pro diffidentiâ premitur absentia. Tacitâ præterea quâdam significatione refragatur his omnibus, quod nemo per tabulas dat testimonium, nisi suâ voluntate; quo ipso non esse amicum ei se, contra quem dicit, fatetur. Cum præsentibus verò ingens dimicatio est: ideoque velut duplici contra eos, proque his, acie confligitur, actionum et interrogationum. Quint. lib. v. cap. 7.
[a] For an account of Mucianus, see section 7, note c [transcriber’s note: reference does not match]; also the History, b. ii. s. 5. Suetonius relates that Vespasian, having undertaken to restore three thousand brazen plates, which had perished in the conflagration of the capital (see the Hist. of Tacitus, b. iii. s. 71), ordered a diligent search to be made for copies, and thereby furnished the government with a collection of curious and ancient records, containing the decrees of the senate, acts of the commons, and treaties of alliance, almost from the building of the city. Suetonius, Life of Vespasian, s. 8. This, with the addition of speeches and letters composed by men of eminence, was, most probably, the collection published by Mucianus. We may be sure that it contained a fund of information, and curious materials for history; but the whole is unfortunately lost.
[b] The person intended in this place must not be confounded with Lucius Crassus, the orator celebrated by Cicero in the Dialogue DE ORATORE. What is here said, relates to Marcus Crassus, who was joined in the triumvirate with Pompey and Cæsar; a man famous for his riches, his avarice, and his misfortunes. While Cæsar was engaged in Gaul, and Pompey in Spain, Crassus invaded Asia, where, in a battle with the Parthians, his whole army was cut to pieces. He himself was in danger of being taken prisoner, but he fell by the sword of the enemy. His head was cut off, and carried to Orodes, the Parthian king, who ordered liquid gold to be infused into his mouth, that he, who thirsted for gold, might be glutted with it after his death. Caput ejus recisum ad regem reportatum, ludibrio fuit, neque indigno. Aurum enim liquidum in rictum oris infusum est, ut cujus animus arserat auri cupiditate, ejus etiam mortuum et exangue corpus auro uteretur. Florus, lib. iii. cap. 11. Cicero says, that with slender talents, and a small stock of learning, he was able for some years, by his assiduity and interest, to maintain his rank in the list of eminent orators. Mediocriter a doctrinâ instructus, angustius etiam a naturâ, labore et industriâ, et quod adhibebat ad obtinendas causas curam etiam, et gratiam, in principibus patronis aliquot annos fuit. In hujus oratione sermo Latinus erat, verba non abjecta, res compositæ diligenter; nullus flos tamen, neque lumen ullum: animi magna, vocis parva contentio; omnia ferè ut similiter, atque uno modo dicerentur. Cicero, De Claris Oratoribus, s. 233.
[c] Lentulus succeeded more by his action than by real ability. With a quick and animated countenance, he was not a man of penetration; though fluent in speech, he had no command of words. His voice was sweet and melodious; his action graceful; and with those advantages he was able to conceal all other defects.Cneius autem Lentulus multo majorem opinionem dicendi actione faciebat, quam quanta in eo facultas erat; qui cum esset nec peracutus (quamquam et ex facie et ex vultu videbatur) nec abundans verbis, etsi fallebat in eo ipso; sed voce suavi et canorâ calebat in agendo, ut ea, quæ deerant, non desiderarentur. Cicero,De Claris Oratoribus, s. 234. Metellus, Lucullus, and Curio, are mentioned by Cicero in the same work. Curio was a senator of great spirit and popularity. He exerted himself with zeal and ardour for the legal constitution and the liberties of his country against the ambition of Julius Cæsar, but afterwards sold himself to that artful politician, and favoured his designs. The calamities that followed are by the best historians laid to his charge. Lucan says of him,
Audax venali comitatur Curio linguâ;
Vox quondam populi, libertatemque tueri
Ausus, et armatos plebi miscere potentes.
Lib. i. ver. 269.
Moméntumque fuit mutatus Curio rerum,
Gallorum captus spoliis, et Cæsaris auro.
PHARSALIA, lib. iv. ver. 819.
[d] Demosthenes, when not more than seven years old, lost his father, and was left under the care of three guardians, who thought an orphan lawful prey, and did not scruple to embezzle his effects. In the mean time Demosthenes pursued a plan of education, without the aid or advice of his tutors. He became the scholar of Isocrates, and he was the hearer of Plato. Under those masters his progress was such, that at the age of seventeen he was able to conduct a suit against his guardians. The young orator succeeded so well in that prelude to his future fame, that the plunderers of the orphan’s portion were condemned to refund a large sum. It is said that Demosthenes, afterwards, released the whole or the greatest part.
[a] The rule for allowing a limited space of time for the hearing of causes, the extent of which could not be known, began, as Pliny the younger informs us, under the emperors, and was fully established for the reasons which he gives. The custom, he says, of allowing two water-glasses (i.e. two hour-glasses) or only one, and sometimes half a one, prevailed, because the advocates grew tired before the business was explained, and the judges were ready to decide before they understood the question. Pliny, with some indignation, asks, Are we wiser than our ancestors? are the laws more just at present? Our ancestors allowed many hours, many days, and many adjournments, in every cause; and for my part, as often as I sit in judgement, I allow as much time as the advocate requires; for would it not be rashness to guess what space of time is necessary in a cause which has not been opened? But some unnecessary things may be said; and is it not better, that what is unnecessary should be spoken, than that what is necessary should be omitted? And who can tell what is necessary, till he has heard? Patience in a judge ought to be considered as one of the chief branches of his duty, as it certainly is of justice. See Plin. b. vi. ep. 2. In England, there is no danger of arbitrary rules, to gratify the impatience of the court, or to stifle justice. The province of juries, since the late declaratory act in the case of libels, is now better understood; and every judge is taught, that a cause is tried before him, not BY HIM. It is his to expound the law, and wait, with temper, for the verdict of those whom the constitution has intrusted.
[b] Pompey’s third consulship was A.U.C. 702; before Christ, 52. He was at first sole consul, and in six or seven months Metellus Scipio became his colleague.
[c] The centumviri, as mentioned s. vii. note [c], were a body of men composed of three out of every tribe, for the decision of such matters as the prætors referred to their judgement. The nature of the several causes, that came before that judicature, may be seen in the first book DE ORATORE.
[d] The question in this cause before the centumviri was, whether Clusinius Figulus, the son of Urbinia, fled from his post in battle, and, being taken prisoner, remained in captivity during a length of time, till he made his escape into Italy; or, as was contended by Asinius Pollio, whether the defendant did not serve under two masters, who practised physic, and, being discharged by them, voluntarily sell himself as a slave? See Quintilian, lib. vii. cap. 2.
[a] The advocates, at that time, wore a tight cloak, or mantle, like that which the Romans used on a journey. Cicero, in his oration for Milo, argues that he who wore that inconvenient dress, was not likely to have formed a design against the life of any man. Apparet uter esset insidiator; uter nihil cogitaret mali: cum alter veheretur in rheda, penulatus, unà sederet uxor. Quid horum non impeditissimum? Vestitus? an vehiculum? an comes? A travelling-cloak could give neither grace nor dignity to an orator at the bar. The business was transacted in a kind of chat with the judges: what room for eloquence, and that commanding action which springs from the emotions of the soul, and inflames every breast with kindred passions? The cold inanimate orator is described, by Quintilian, speaking with his hand under his robe; manum intra pallium continens.
[a] Maternus is now drawing to a conclusion, and, therefore, calls to mind the proposition with which he set out; viz. that the flame of oratory is kept alive by fresh materials, and always blazes forth in times of danger and public commotion. The unimpassioned style, which suited the areopagus of Athens, or the courts of Rome, where the advocate spoke by an hour-glass, does not deserve the name of genuine eloquence. The orations of Cicero for Marcellus, Ligarius, and king Dejotarus, were spoken before Cæsar, when he was master of the Roman world. In those speeches, what have we to admire, except delicacy of sentiment, and elegance of diction? How different from the torrent, tempest, and whirlwind of passion, that roused, inflamed, and commanded the senate, and the people, against Catiline and Marc Antony!
[b] For the account of Cicero’s death by Velleius Paterculus, see s. xvii. note [e]. Juvenal ascribes the murder of the great Roman orator to the second Philippic against Antony.
——Ridenda poemata malo,
Quam te conspicuæ divina Philippica famæ,
Volveris a primâ quæ proxima.
SAT. x. ver. 124.
I rather would be Mævius, thrash for rhymes
Like his, the scorn and scandal of the times,
Than the Philippic, fatally divine,
Which is inscrib’d the second, should be mine.
What Cicero says of Antonius, the celebrated orator, may be applied to himself: That head, which defended the commonwealth, was shewn from that very rostrum, where the heads of so many Roman citizens had been saved by his eloquence. In his ipsis rostris, in quibus ille rempublicam constantissime consul defenderat, positum caput illud fuit, a quo erant multorum civium capita servata. Cicero De Oratore, lib. iii. s. 10.
[a] The urbanity with which the Dialogue is conducted, and the perfect harmony with which the speakers take leave of each other, cannot but leave a pleasing impression on the mind of every reader of taste. It has some resemblance to the conclusion of Cicero’s Dialogue DE NATURA DEORUM. In both tracts, we have a specimen of the politeness with which the ancients managed a conversation on the most interesting subjects, and by the graces of style brought the way of instructing by dialogue into fashion. A modern writer, whose poetical genius cannot be too much admired, chooses to call it a frippery way of writing. He advises his countrymen to abandon it altogether; and this for a notable reason: because the Rev. Dr. Hurd (now Bishop of Worcester) has shewn the true use of it. That the dialogues of that amiable writer have an intrinsic value, cannot be denied: they contain a fund of reflection; they allure by the elegance of the style, and they bring us into company with men whom we wish to hear, to know, and to admire. While we have such conversation-pieces, not to mention others of the same stamp, both ancient and modern, the public taste, it may be presumed, will not easily be tutored to reject a mode of composition, in which the pleasing and useful are so happily blended. The present Dialogue, it is true, cannot be proved, beyond a controversy, to be the work of Tacitus; but it is also true, that it cannot, with equal probability, be ascribed to any other writer. It has been retained in almost every edition of Tacitus; and, for that reason, claims a place in a translation which professes to give all the works of so fine a writer.
The Author of these volumes has now gone through the difficult task of translating Tacitus, with the superadded labour of supplements to give continuity to the narrative, and notes to illustrate such passages as seemed to want explanation; but he cannot lay down his pen, without taking the liberty of addressing a few words to the reader. As what he has to offer relates chiefly to himself, it shall be very short. He has dedicated many years of his life to this undertaking; and though, during the whole time, he had the pleasure and the honour of being acquainted with many gentlemen of taste and learning, he had no opportunity of appealing to their opinion, or guiding himself by their advice. Amidst the hurry of life, and the various pursuits in which all are engaged, how could he hope that any one would be at leisure to attend to the doubts, the difficulties, and minute niceties, which must inevitably occur in a writer of so peculiar a genius as Tacitus? He was unwilling to be a troublesome visitor, and, by consequence, has been obliged, throughout the whole of his work, to trust to his own judgement, such as it is. He spared no pains to do all the justice in his power to one of the greatest writers of antiquity; but whether he has toiled with fruitless industry, or has in any degree succeeded, must be left to the judgement of others.
He is now at the end of his labours, and ready, after the example of Montesquieu, to cry out with the voyager in Virgil, Italiam! Italian! But whether he is to land on a peaceful shore; whether the men who delight in a wreck, are to rush upon him with hostile pens, which in their hands are pitch-forks; whether his cargo is to be condemned, and he himself to be wounded, maimed, and lacerated; a little time will discover. Such critics will act as their nature prompts them. Should they cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war, it may be said,
Quod genus hoc hominum, quæve hunc tam barbara morem
Permittit patria? Hospitio prohibemur arenæ;
Bella cient, primâque vetant consistere terrâ.
This, they may say, is anticipating complaint; but, in the worst that can happen, it is the only complaint this writer will ever make, and the only answer they will ever receive from his pen.
It is from a very different quarter that the translator of Tacitus waits for solid criticism. The men, as Pliny observes, who read with malignity, are not the only judges. Neque enim soli judicant, qui malignè legunt. The scholar will see defects, but he will pronounce with temper: he will know the difficulty, and, in some cases, perhaps the impossibility, of giving in our language the sentiments of Tacitus with the precision and energy of the original; and, upon the whole, he will acknowledge that an attempt to make a considerable addition to English literature, carries with it a plea of some merit. While the French could boast of having many valuable translations of Tacitus, and their most eminent authors were still exerting themselves, with emulation, to improve upon their predecessors, the present writer saw, with regret, that this country had not so much as one translation which could be read, without disgust, by any person acquainted with the idiom and structure of our language. To supply the deficiency has been the ambition of the translator. He persevered with ardour; but, his work being finished, ardour subsides, and doubt and anxiety take their turn. Whatever the event may be, the conscious pleasure of having employed his time in a fair endeavour will remain with him. For the rest, he submits his labours to the public; and, at that tribunal, neither flushed with hope, nor depressed by fear, he is prepared, with due acquiescence, to receive a decision, which, from his own experience on former occasions, he has reason to persuade himself will be founded in truth and candour.
INDEX OF THE NAMES OF PLACES, RIVERS, &c. MENTIONED IN THESE VOLUMES.
ACHAIA, often taken for part of Peloponnesus, but in Tacitus generally for all Greece.
ACTIUM, a promontory of Epirus, now called the Cape of Tigolo, famous for the victory of Augustus over M. Antony.
ADDUA, a river rising in the country of the Grisons, and in its course separating Milan from the territory of the Venetians, till it falls into the Po, about six miles to the west of Cremona. It is now called the Adda.
ADIABENE, a district of Assyria, so called from the river Adiaba; Adiabeni, the people.
ADRANA, now the Eder; a river that flows near Waldeck, in the landgravate of Hesse, and discharges itself into the Weser.
ADRIATIC, now the gulf of Venice.
ADRUMETUM, a Phœnician colony in Africa, about seventeen miles from Leptis Minor.
ÆDUI, a people of Ancient Gaul, near what is now called Autun, in Lower Burgundy.
ÆGEÆ, a maritime town of Cilicia; now Aias Kala.
ÆGEAN SEA, a part of the Mediterranean which lies between Greece and Asia Minor; now the Archipelago.
ÆGIUM, a city of Greece, in the Peloponnesus; now the Morea.
ÆNUS, a river rising in the country of the Grisons, and running thence into the Danube.
ÆQUI, a people of Ancient Latium.
AFRICA generally means in Tacitus that part which was made a proconsular province, of which Carthage was the capital; now the territory of Tunis.
AGRIPPINENSIS COLONIA, so called from Agrippina, the daughter of Germanicus, mother of Nero, and afterwards wife of the emperor Claudius. This place is now called Cologne, situate on the Rhine.
ALBA, a town of Latium, in Italy, the residence of the Alban kings; destroyed by Tullus Hostilius.
ALBANIA, a country of Asia, bounded on the west by Iberia, on the east by the Caspian Sea, on the south by Armenia, and on the north by Mount Caucasus.
ALBINGANUM; now Albinga, to the west of the territory of Genoa, at the mouth of the river Cente.
ALBIS, now the Elbe; a river that rises in the confines of Silesia, and, after a wide circuit, falls into the German sea below Hamburgh.
ALBIUM INTEMELIUM; now Vintimiglia, south-west of the territory of Genoa, with a port on the Mediterranean, between Monaco and S. Remo.
ALESIA, a town in Celtic Gaul, situate on a hill. It was besieged by Julius Cæsar. See his Commentaries, lib. vii. s. 77.
ALEXANDRIA, a principal city of Egypt, built by Alexander the Great, on the Mediterranean; famous for the library begun by Ptolemy Philadelphus, and consisting at last of seven hundred thousand volumes, till in Cæsar’s expedition it was destroyed by fire.
ALISO, a fort built by Drusus, the father of Germanicus, in the part of Germany now called Westphalia, near the city of Paderborn.
ALLIA, river of Italy, running into the Tiber, about forty miles from Rome; famous for the slaughter of the Romans by the Gauls, under Brennus.
ALLOBROGES, a people of Narbon Gaul, situate between the Rhodanus and the Lacus Lemanus.
ALPS, a range of high mountains separating Italy from Gaul and Germany. They are distinguished into different parts, under several names: such as the Maritime Alps, near Genoa; the Cottian Alps, separating Dauphiné from Piedmont; the Graian Alps, beginning from Mount Cenis, where the Cottian terminate, and extending to Great St. Bernard; the Pennine Alps, extending from west to east to the Rhetian Alps, the Alpes Noricæ, and the Pannonian Alps, as far as the springs of the Kulpe. Their height in some places is almost incredible. They are called Alps, from Alpen, a Celtic term for high mountains.
ALTINUM, a town in the territory of Venice, on the Adriatic; now in ruins, except a tower, still retaining the name of Altino.
AMANUS, a mountain of Syria, separating it from Cilicia; now called Montagna Neros by the inhabitants; that is, the watery mountain, abounding in springs and rivulets.
AMATHUS, a maritime town of Cyprus, consecrated to Venus, with an ancient temple of Adonis and Venus: it is now called Limisso.
AMAZONIA, a country near the river Thermodon, in Pontus.
AMISIA, now the Ems; a river of Germany that falls into the German sea, near Embden.
AMORGOS, an island in the Egean sea, now Amorgo.
AMYDIS, a town near the gulf of that name, on the coast of Latium in Italy.
ANAGNIA, a town of ancient Latium, now Anagni, thirty-six miles to the east of Rome.
ANCONA, a port town in Italy, situate on the gulf of Venice.
ANDECAVI, now Anjou.
ANEMURIUM, a promontory of Cilicia, with a maritime town of the same name near it. See Pomponius Mela.
ANGRIVARIANS, a German people, situate on the west side of the Weser, near Osnaburg and Minden.
ANSIBARII, a people of Germany.
ANTIOCH, or ANTIOCHIA, the capital of Syria, called Epidaphne, to distinguish it from other cities of the name of Antioch. It is now called Antakia.
ANTIPOLIS, now Antibes, on the coast of Provence, about three leagues to the west of Nice.
ANTIUM, a city of the ancient Volsci, situate on the Tuscan Sea; the birth-place of Nero. Two Fortunes were worshipped there, which Suetonius calls Fortunæ Antiates, and Martial, Sorores Antii. Horace’s Ode to Fortune is well known—
O Diva gratum quæ regis Antium.
The place is now called Capo d’Anzo.
ANTONA, now the Avon. See Camden.
AORSI, a people inhabiting near the Palus Mæotis; now the eastern part of Tartary, between the Neiper and the Don.
APAMEA, a city of Phrygia, near the banks of the Mæander; now Aphiom-Kara-Hisar.
APENNINUS, now the Apennine, a ridge of mountains running through the middle of Italy, extremely high, yet short of the Alps. Its name is Celtic, signifying a high mountain.
APHRODISIUM, a town of Caria in Thrace, on the Euxine.
APOLLONIDIA, a city of Lydia.
APULIA, a territory of Italy, along the gulf of Venice; now Capitanate, Otranto, &c.
AQUILEIA, a large city of the Veneti, and formerly a Roman colony, near the river Natiso, which runs into the gulf of Venice.
AQUINUM, a town of the Ancient Latins; now Aquino, but almost in ruins.
AQUITANIA, a division of Ancient Gaul, bounded by the Garumna (now Garonne), by the Pyrenees, and the ocean.
ARABIA, an extensive country of Asia, reaching from Egypt to Chaldea. It is divided into three parts, Arabia Petræa, Deserta, and Felix.
ARAR, or ARARIS, a river of Gaul; now the Saone.
ARAXES, a river of Mesopotamia, which runs from north to south, and falls into the Euphrates.
ARBELA, a city of Assyria, famous for the battle between Alexander and Darius.
ARCADIA, an inland district in the heart of Peloponnesus; mountainous, and only fit for pasture; therefore celebrated by bucolic or pastoral poets.
ARDEN, Arduenna, in Tacitus; the forest of Arden.
ARENACUM, an ancient town in the island of Batavia; now Arnheim, in Guelderland.
ARICIA, a town of Latium in Italy, at the foot of Mons Albanus, about a hundred and sixty stadia from Rome. The grove, called Aricinum Nemus, was in the vicinity.
ARII, a people of Asia.
ARIMINUM, a town of Umbria, at the mouth of the river Ariminus, on the gulf of Venice.
ARMENIA, a kingdom of Asia, having Albania and Iberia to the north, and Mount Taurus and Mesopotamia to the south: divided into the GREATER, which extends astward to the Caspian Sea; and the LESSER, to the west of the GREATER, and separated from it by the Euphrates; now called Turcomania.
ARNUS, a river of Tuscany, which visits Florence in its course, and falls into the sea near Pisa.
ARSANIAS, a river of the GREATER ARMENIA, running between Tigranocerta and Artaxata, and falling into the Euphrates.
ARTAXATA, the capital of Armenia, situate on the river Araxes.
ARVERNI, a people of Ancient Gaul, inhabiting near the Loire; their chief city Arvernum now Clermont, the capital of Auvergne.
ASCALON, an ancient city of the Philistines, situate on the Mediterranean; now Scalona.
ASCIBURGIUM, a citadel on the Rhine, where the Romans stationed a camp and a garrison.
ATESTE, a town in the territory of Venice, situate to the south of Patavium.
ATRIA, a town of the Veneti, on the river Tartarus, between the Padus and the Athesis, now the Adige.
AUGUSTA TAURINORUM, a town of the Taurini, at the foot of the Alps; now Turin, the capital of Piedmont.
AUGUSTODUNUM, the capital of the Ædui; now Autun, in the duchy of Burgundy. It took its name from Augustus Cæsar.
AURIA, an ancient town of Spain; now Orense, in Galicia.
AUZEA, a strong castle in Mauritania.
AVENTICUM, the capital of the Helvetii; by the Germans called Wiflisburg, by the French Avenches.
BACTRIANI, a people inhabiting a part of Asia, to the south of the river Oxus, which rains from east to west into the Caspian Sea.
BAIÆ, a village of Campania, between the promontory of Misenum and Puteoli (now Pozzuolo), nine miles to the west of Naples.
BALEARES, a cluster of islands in the Mediterranean, of which Majorca and Minorca are the chief.
BASTARNI, a people of Germany, who led a wandering life in the vast regions between the Vistula and the Pontic sea.
BATAVIA, an island formed by two branches of the Rhine and the German sea. See Annals, book ii. s. 6; and Manners of the Germans, s. 29. note a.
BATAVODURUM, a town in the island of Batavia; now, as some of the commentators say, Wyk-te-Duurstede.
BEBRYACUM, or BEDRYACUM, a village situate between Verona and Cremona; famous for two successive defeats; that of Otho, and soon after that of Vitellius.
BELGIC GAUL, the country between the Seine and the Marne to the west, the Rhine to the east, and the German sea to the north.
BERYTUS, now Barut, in Phœnicia.
BETASII, the people inhabiting the country now called Brabant.
BITHYNIA, a proconsular province of Asia Minor, bounded on the north by the Euxine and the Propontic, adjoining to Troas, over-against Thrace; now Becsangial.
BŒTICA, one of the provinces into which Augustus Cæsar divided the Farther Spain.
BOII, a people of Celtic Gaul, in the country now called Bourbonnois. There was also a nation of the same name in Germany. See Manners of the Germans, s. 28.
BONNA, now Bonn, in the electorate of Cologne.
BONONIA, called by Tacitus Bononiensis; now Bologna, capital of the Bolognese in Italy.
BOSPHORANI, a people bordering on the Euxine; the Tartars.
BOSPHORUS, two straits of the sea so called; one Bosphorus Thracius, now the straits of Constantinople; the other Bosphorus Cimmerius, now the straits of Caffa.
BOVILLÆ, a town of Latium, near Mount Albanus; about ten miles from Rome, on the Appian Road.
BRIGANTES, the ancient inhabitants of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Durham, Westmoreland, and Cumberland.
BRIXELLUM, the town where Otho dispatched himself after the defeat at Bedriacum; now Bresello, in the territory of Reggio.
BRIXIA, a town of Italy, on this side of the Po; now Brescia.
BRUCTERIANS, a people of Germany, situate in Westphalia. See the Manners of the Germans, s. 33. note a.
BRUNDUSIUM, a town of Calabria, with an excellent harbour, at the entrance of the Adriatic, affording to the Romans a commodious passage to Greece. The Via Appia ended at this town. Now Brindisi, in the territory of Otranto, in the kingdom of Naples.
BYZANTIUM, a city of Thrace, on the narrow strait that separates Europe from Asia; now Constantinople. See Annals, xii. s. 63.
CÆLALETÆ, a people of Thrace, near Mount Hæmus.
CÆRACATES, probably the diocese of Mayence.
CÆSAREA, a maritime town in Palestine; now Kaisarié.
CÆSIAN FOREST, now the Forest of Heserwaldt, in the duchy of Cleves. It is supposed to be a part of the Hercynian Forest.
CALABRIA, a peninsula of Italy, between Tarentum and Brundusium; now the territory of Otranto, in the kingdom of Naples.
CAMELODUNUM, said by some to be Malden in Essex, but by Camden, and others, Colchester. It was made a Roman colony under the emperor Claudius; a place of pleasure rather than of strength, adorned with splendid works, a theatre, and a temple of Claudius.
CAMERIUM, a city in the territory of the Sabines; now destroyed.
CAMPANIA, a territory of Italy, bounded on the west by the Tuscan sea. The most fertile and delightful part of Italy; now called Terra di Lavoro.
CANGI, the inhabitants of Cheshire, and part of Lancashire.
CANINEFATES, a people of the Lower Germany, from the same origin as the Batavians, and inhabitants of the west part of the isle of Batavia.
CANOPUS, a city of the Lower Egypt, situate on a branch of the Nile called by the same name.
CAPPADOCIA, a large country in Asia Minor, between Cilicia the Euxine sea. Being made a Roman province, the inhabitants had an offer made them of a free and independent government; but their answer was, Liberty might suit the Romans, but the Cappadocians would neither receive liberty, nor endure it.
CAPREA, an island on the coast of Campania, about four miles in length from east to west, and about one in breadth. It stands opposite to the promontory of Surrentum, and has the bay of Naples in view. It was the residence of Tiberius for several years.
CAPUA, now Capoa, a city in the kingdom of Naples; the seat of pleasure, and the ruin of Hannibal.
CARMEL, a mountain in Galilee, on the Mediterranean.
CARSULÆ, a town of Umbria, about twenty miles from Mevania; now in ruins.
CARTHAGO, once the most famous city of Africa, and the rival of Rome; supposed by some to have been built by queen Dido, seventy years after the foundation of Rome; but Justin will have it before Rome. It was the capital of what is now the kingdom of Tunis.
CARTHAGO NOVA, a town of Hispania Tarraconensis, or the Hither Spain; now Carthagena.
CASPIAN SEA, a vast lake between Persia, Great Tartary, Muscovy and Georgia, said to be six hundred miles long, and near as broad.
CASSIOPE, a town in the island of Corcyra (now Corfou), called at present St. Maria di Cassopo.
CATTI, a people of Germany, who inhabited part of the country now called Hesse, from the mountains of Hartz, to the Weser and the Rhine.
CAUCI. See CHAUCI.
CELENDRIS, a place on the coast of Cilicia, near the confines of Pamphylia.
CENCHRIÆ, a port of Corinth, situate about ten miles towards the east; now Kenkri.
CENCHRIS, a river running through the Ortygian Grove.
CEREINA, an island in the Mediterranean, to the north of the Syrtis Minor in Africa; now called Kerkeni.
CHALCEDON, a city of Bithynia, situate at the mouth of the Euxine, over-against Byzantium. It was called the City of the Blind. See Annals, xii. s. 63.
CHAUCI, a people of Germany, inhabiting what we now call East Friesland, Bremen, and Lunenburg. See Manners of the Germans, s. 35.
CHERUSCANS, a great and warlike people of Ancient Germany, to the north of the Catti, between the Elbe and the Weser.
CIBYRA, formerly a town of Phrygia, near the banks of the Mæander, but now destroyed.
CILICIA, an extensive country in the Hither Asia, bounded by Mount Taurus to the north, by the Mediterranean to the south, by Syria to the east, and by Pamphylia to the west. It was one of the provinces reserved for the management of the emperor.
CINITHIANS, a people of Africa.
CIRRHA, a town of Phocis, near Delphi, sacred to Apollo.
CIRRHUS, a town of Syria, in the district of Commagene, and not far from Antioch.
CIRTA, formerly the capital of Numidia, and the residence of the king. It is now called Constantina, in the kingdom of Algiers.
CLITÆ, a people of Cilicia, near Mount Taurus.
CLUNIA, a city in the Hither Spain.
COLCHOS, a country of Asia, on the east of the Euxine, famous for the fable of the Golden Fleece, the Argonautic Expedition, and the Fair Enchantress, Medea.
COLOPHON, a city of Ionia, in the Hither Asia. One of the places that claimed the birth of Homer; now destroyed.
COMMAGENE, a district of Syria, bounded on the east by the Euphrates, on the west by Amanus, and on the north by Mount Taurus.
COOS. See Cos.
CORCYRA, an island in the Adriatic; now Corfou.
CORINTHUS, a city of Achaia, on the south part of the isthmus which joins Peloponnesus to the continent. From its situation between two seas, Horace says,
Bimarisve Corinthi mœnia.
The city was taken and burnt to the ground by Mummius the Roman general, A.U.C. 608. It was afterwards restored to its ancient splendour, and made a Roman colony. It retains the name of Corinth.
CORMA, a river in Asia; mentioned by Tacitus only.
CORSICA, an island in the part of the Mediterranean called the Sea of Liguria, in length from north to south about a hundred and fifty miles, and about fifty where broadest. To the south it is separated from Sardinia by a narrow channel.
COS, or COOS, one of the islands called the Cyclades, in the Ægean sea, famous for being the birth-place of Apelles; now Stan Co.
COSA, a promontory of Etruria; now Mont Argentaro, in Tuscany.
CREMERA, a river of Tuscany, falling into the Tiber a little to the north of Rome, rendered famous by the slaughter of the Fabii.
CREMONA, a city of Italy, built A.U.C. 536, and afterwards, in the year 822, rased to the ground by the army of Vespasian, in the war with Vitellius. It was soon rebuilt by the citizens, with the exhortations of Vespasian. It is now a flourishing city in the duchy of Milan, and retains the name of Cremona.
CUMÆ, a town of Campania, near Cape Misenum, famous for the cave of the Cumæan Sibyl.
CUSUS, a river in Hungary, that falls into the Danube.
CYCLADES, a cluster of islands in the Ægean sea, so called from Cyclus, the orb in which they lie. Their names and number are not ascertained. Strabo reckons sixteen.
CYME, a maritime town of Æolia in Asia.
CYPRUS, a noble island opposite to the coast of Syria, formerly sacred to Venus, whence she was called the Cyprian goddess.
CYRENE (now called Curin), the capital of Cyrenaica, a district of Africa, now the Desert of Barca. It stood about eleven miles from the sea, and had an excellent harbour.
CYTHERA, an island situated on the coast of Peloponnesus formerly sacred to Venus, and thence her name of Cytherea. The island is now called Cerigo.
CYTHNUS, one of the islands called the Cyclades, in the Ægean Sea.
CYZICUS, a city of Mysia, in the Hither Asia, rendered famous by the long siege of Mithridates, which at last was raised by Lucullus.
DACIA, a country extending between the Danube and the Carpathian mountains to the mouth of the Danube, and to the Euxine, comprising a part of Upper Hungary, Transylvania, and Moldavia. The inhabitants to the west, towards Germany, were called Daci; those to the east towards the Euxine were called Getæ. The whole country was reduced by Trajan to a Roman province.
DAHÆ, a people of Scythia, to the south of the Caspian, with the Massagetæ on the east. Virgil calls them indomitique Dahæ.
DALMATIA, an extensive country bordering on Macedonia and Mæsia, and having the Adriatic to the south.
DANDARIDÆ, a people bordering on the Euxine. Brotier says that some vestiges of the nation, and its name, still exist at a place called Dandars.
DANUBE, the largest river in Europe. It rises in Suabia, and after visiting Bavaria, Austria, Hungary, and taking thence a prodigious circuit, falls at last into the Black or Euxine sea. See Manners of the Germans, s. 1. note g.
DELOS, the central island of the Cyclades, famous in mythology for the birth of Apollo and Diana.
DELPHI, a famous inland town of Phocis in Greece, with a temple and oracle of Apollo, situate near the foot of Mount Parnassus.
DENTHELIATE LANDS, a portion of the Peloponnesus that lay between Laconia and Messenia; often disputed by those states.
DERMONA, a river of Gallia Transpadana; it runs into the Ollius (now Oglio), and through that channel into the Po.
DIVODURUM, a town in Gallia Belgica, situate on the Moselle, on the spot where Metz now stands.
DONUSA, or DONYSA, an island in the Ægean sea, not far from Naxos. Virgil has, Bacchatamque jugis Naxon, viridemque Donysam.
DYRRACHIUM, a town on the coast of Illyricum. Its port answered to that of Brundusium, affording a convenient passage to Italy.
ECBATANA, the capital of Media; now Hamedan.
EDESSA, a town of Mesopotamia; now Orrhoa, or Orfa.
ELEPHANTINE, an island in the Nile, not far from Syene; at which last place stood the most advanced Roman garrison, Notitia Imperii.
ELEUSIS, a district of Attica near the sea-coast, sacred to Ceres, where the Eleusinian mysteries were performed; now in ruins.
ELYMÆI, a people bordering on the gulf of Persia.
EMERITA, a city of Spain; now Merida in the province of Estramadoura.
EPHESUS, an ancient and celebrated city of Ionia, in Asia Minor; now Efeso. It was the birth-place of Heraclitus, the weeping philosopher.
EPIDAPHNE, a town in Syria, not far from Antioch.
EPOREDIA, a town at the foot of the Alps, afterwards a Roman colony; now Jurea, or Jura, a city of Piedmont.
ERINDE, a river of Asia, mentioned by Tacitus only.
ERITHRÆ, a maritime town of Ionia, in Asia Minor.
ETRURIA, a district of Italy, extending from the boundary of Liguria to the Tiber; now Tuscany.
EUBŒA, an island near the coast of Attica; now Negropont.
EUPHRATES, a river of Asia, universally allowed to take its rise in Armenia Major. It divides into two branches, one running through Babylon, and the other through Seleucia. It bounds Mesopotamia on the west.
EUXINE, or PONTUS EUXINUS; now the Black Sea.
FERENTINUM, a town of Latium, in Italy; now Ferentino, in the Campania of Rome.
FERENTUM, a town of Etruria; now Ferenti.
FERONIA, a town in Etruria.
FIDENÆ, a small town in the territory of the Sabines, about six miles to the north of Rome. The place where the ruins of Fidenæ are seen, is now called Castello Giubileo.
FLAMMINIAN WAY, made by Flamminius A.U.C. 533, from Rome to Ariminum, a town of Umbria, or Romana, at the mouth of the river Ariminus, on the gulf of Venice. It is now called Rimini.
FLEVUS, a branch of the Rhine, that emptied itself into the lakes which have been long since absorbed by the Zuyderzee. A castle, called Flevum Castellum, was built there by Drusus, the father of Germanicus.
FORMIÆ, a maritime town of Italy, to the south-east of Cajeta. The ruins of the place are still visible.
FOROJULIUM. See FORUM JULIUM.
FORUM ALLIENI, now Ferrare, on the Po.
FORUM JULIUM, a Roman colony in Gaul, founded by Julius Cæsar, and completed by Augustus, with a harbour at the mouth of the river Argens, capable of receiving a large fleet. The ruins of two moles at the entrance of the harbour are still to be seen. See Life of Agricola, s. 4. note a. The place is now calledFrejus.
FRISII, the ancient inhabitants of Friesland. See Manners of the Germans.
FUNDANI MONTES, now Fondi, a city of Naples, on the confines of the Pope’s dominions.
GABII, a town of Latium, between Rome and Preneste. A particular manner of tucking up the gown, adopted by the Roman consuls when they declared war or attended a sacrifice, was called Cinctus Gabinus. The place now extinct.
GÆTULI, a people of Africa, bordering on Mauritania.
GALATIA, or GALLOGRÆCIA, a country of Asia Minor, lying between Cappadocia, Pontus, and Pophlagonia; now called Chiangare.
GALILÆA, the northern part of Canaan, or Palestine, bounded on the north by Phœnicia, on the south by Samaria, on the east by the Jordan, and on the west by the Mediterranean.
GALLIA, the country of ancient Gaul, now France. It was divided by the Romans into Gallia Cisalpina, viz. Gaul on the Italian side of the Alps, with the Rubicon for its boundary to the south. It was also called Gallia Togata, from the use made by the inhabitants of the Roman Toga. It was likewise called Gallia Transpadana, or Cispadana, with respect to Rome. The second great division of Gaul was Gallia Transalpina, or Ulterior, being, with respect to Rome, on the other side of the Alps. It was also called Gallia Comata, from the people wearing their hair long, which the Romans wore short. The southern part was GALLIA NARBONENSIS, Narbon Gaul, called likewise Braccata, from the use of braccæ, or breeches, which were no part of the Roman dress; now Languedoc, Dauphiny, and Provence. For the other divisions of Gaul on this side of the Alps, into the Gallia Belgica, Celtica, Aquitanica, further subdivided by Augustus, see the Manners of the Germans, s. 1. note a.
GARAMANTES, a people in the interior part of Africa, extending over a vast tract of country at present little known.
GARIZIM, a mountain of Samaria, famous for a temple built on it by permission of Alexander the Great.
GELDUBA, not far from Novesium (now Nuys, in the electorate of Cologne) on the west side of the Rhine.
GEMONIÆ, a place at Rome, into which were thrown the bodies of malefactors.
GERMANIA, Ancient Germany, bounded on the east by the Vistula (the Weissel), on the north by the Ocean, on the west by the Rhine, and on the south by the Danube. A great part of Gaul, along the west side of the Rhine, was also called Germany by Augustus Cæsar, Germania Cisrhenana, and by him distinguished into Upper and Lower Germany.
GOTHONES, a people of ancient Germany, who inhabited part of Poland, and bordered on the Vistula.
GRAIAN ALPS, Graiæ Alpes, supposed to be so called from the Greeks who settled there. See ALPS.
GRINNES, a town of the Batavi, on the right side of the Vahalis (now the Waal), in the territory of Utrecht.
GUGERNI, a people originally from Germany, inhabiting part of the duchy of Cleves and Gueldre, between the Rhine and the Meuse.
GYARUS, one of the islands called the Cyclades, rendered famous by being allotted for the banishment of Roman citizens. Juvenal says, Aude aliquid brevibus Gyaris, et carcere dignum, si vis esse aliquis.
HÆMUS, MOUNT, a ridge of mountains running from Illyricum towards the Euxine sea; now Mont Argentaro.
HÆMONADENSIANS, a people bordering on Cilicia.
HALICARNASSUS, the capital of Caria, in Asia Minor, famous for being the birth-place of Herodotus and Dionysius, commonly called Dionysius Halicarnassensis.
HELVETII, a people in the neighbourhood of the Allobroges, situate on the south-west side of the Rhine, and separated from Gaul by the Rhodanus and Lacus Lemanus.
HENIOCHIANS, a people dwelling near the Euxine Sea.
HERCULANEUM, a town of Campania, near Mount Vesuvius, swallowed up by an earthquake. Several antiquities have been lately dug out of the ruins.
HERCYNIAN FOREST: in the time of Julius Cæsar, the breadth could not be traversed in less than nine days; and after travelling lengthways for sixty days, no man reached the extremity. Cæsar, De Bell. Gal. lib. vi. s. 29.
HERMUNDURI, a people of Germany, in part of what is now called Upper Saxony, bounded on the north by the river Sala, on the east by the Elbe, and on the south by the Danube.
HIERO-CÆSAREA, a city in Lydia, famous for a temple to the Persian Diana, supposed to have been built by Cyrus.
HISPALIS, a town of Bœtica in the Farther Spain; now Seville in Andalusia.
HISPANIA, Spain, otherwise called Iberia, from the river Iberus. It has the sea on every side except that next to Gaul, from which it is separated by the Pyrenees. During the time of the republic, the whole country was divided into two provinces, Ulterior and Citerior, the Farther and Hither Spain. Augustus divided the Farther Spain into two provinces; Bœtica, and Lusitania. The Hither Spain he called Tarraconensis, and then Spain was formed into three provinces; Bœtica, under the management of the senate; and the other two reserved for officers appointed by the prince.
HOSTILIA, a village on the Po: now Ostiglia, in the neighbourhood of Cremona.
HYPÆPA, a small city in Lydia, now rased to the ground.
HYRCANIA, a country of the Farther Asia, to the east of the Caspian Sea, with Media on the west, and Parthia on the south; famous for its tigers. There was a city of the same name in Lydia.
IBERIA, an inland country of Asia, bounded by Mount Caucasus on the north, by Albania on the cast, by Colchis and part of Pontus on the west, and by Armenia on the south. Spain was also called Iberia, from the river Iberus; now the Ebro.
IBERUS, a noble river of the Hither Spain; now the Ebro.
ICENI, a people of Britain; now Essex, Suffolk, and Norfolk.
ILIUM, another name for ancient Troy. A new city, nearer to the sea, was built after the famous siege of Troy, and made a Roman colony. But, as was said of the old city, Etiam periere ruinæ.
ILLYRICUM, the country between Pannonia to the north, and the Adriatic to the south. It is now comprised by Dalmatia and Sclavonia, under the respective dominion of the Venetians and the Turks.
INSUBRIA, a country of Gallia Cisalpina; now the Milanese.
INTEMELIUM. See ALBIUM INTEMELIUM.
INTERAMNA, an ancient town of the Volsci in Latium, not far from the river Liris. It is now in ruins.
IONIAN SEA, the sea that washes the western coast of Greece, opposite to the gulf of Venice.
ISICHI, a people bordering on the Euxine, towards the east.
ISTRIA, an island in the gulf of Venice, still retaining its ancient name. There was also a town of the same name near the mouth of the Ister, on the Euxine Sea.
ITURÆA, a Transjordan district of Palestine, now Bacar.
JAPHA, a strong place, both by nature and art, in the Lower Galilee, not far from Jotapata; now Saphet.
JAZYGES, a people of Sarmatia Europæa, situate on this side of the Palus Mæotis, near the territory of Maroboduus, the German king.
JUGANTES, said by Camden to be the same as the Brigantes, but Brotier thinks it probable that they were a distinct, people.
LACUS LEMANUS, now the Lake of Geneva.
LANGOBARDI, a people of Germany, between the Elbe and the Oder, in part of what is now called Brandenburg.
LANUVIUM, a town of Latium, about sixteen miles from Rome; now Civita Lavinia.
LAODICEA, a town of Phrygia, called, to distinguish it from other cities of the same name, Laodicea ad Lycum. Spon, in his account of his travels, says it is rased to the ground, except four theatres built, with marble, finely polished, and in as good condition as if they were modern structures; now called Ladik.
LAODICEA AD MARE, a considerable town on the coast of Syria, well built, with a commodious harbour.
LATIUM, the country of the Latini, so called from king Latinus; contained at first within narrow bounds, but greatly enlarged under the Alban kings and the Roman consuls, by the accession of the Æqui, Volsci, Hernici, &c.
LECHÆUM, the west port of Corinth, which the people used for their Italian trade, as they did Cenchræ for their eastern or Asiatic.
LEPTIS, there were in Africa two ancient cities of the name, Leptis magna, and Leptis parva. The first (now called Lebeda) was in the territory of Tripoli; the second, a town on the Mediterranean, not far from Carthage.
LESBOS, an island in the Egean Sea, near the coast of Asia; the birth-place of Sappho: now called Metelin.
LEUCI, a people of Gallia Belgica, to the north of the Lingones, between the Moselle and the Meuse.
LIBYA, the name given by the Greeks to all Africa; but, properly speaking, it was an interior part of Africa.
LIGERIS; now the Loire.
LIGURIA, a country of Italy, divided into the maritime, Ligus Ora; and the inland Liguria; both between the Apennine to the south, the Maritime Alps to the west, and the Po to the north. It contained what is now called Ferrara, and the territories of Genoa.
LINGONES, a people of Gallia Belgica, inhabiting the country about Langres and Dijon.
LONGOBARDI, or LANGOBORDI, a people of Germany, between the Elbe and the Oder. See Manners of the Germans, s. 40 note a.
LUCANIA, a country of ancient Italy; now called the Basilicate.
LUGDUNUM, a city of ancient Gaul; now Lyons.
LUGDUNUM BATAVORUM, a town of the Batavi, now Leyden in Holland. There was another town of the name in Gallia Celtica, at the confluence of the Arar (the Saone) and the Rhodanus (the Rhone). The place is now called Lyons.
LUPPIA, a river of Westphalia; now the Lippe.
LUSITANIA, now the kingdom of Portugal, on the west of Spain, formerly a part of it.
LYCIA, a country in Asia Minor, bounded by Pamphylia, Phrygia, and the Mediterranean.
LYDIA, an inland country of Asia Minor, formerly governed by Crœsus; now Carasia.
LYGII, an ancient people of Germany, who inhabited the country now called Silesia, and also part of Poland.
MACEDONIA, a large country, rendered famous by Philip of Macedon and his son Alexander; now a province of the Turkish empire, bounded by Servia and Bulgaria to the north, by Greece to the south, by Thrace and the Archipelago to the east, and by Epirus to the west.
MÆOTIS PALUS, a lake of Sarmatia Europæa, still known by the same name, and reaching from Crim Tartary to the mouth of the Tanais (the Don).
MÆSIA, a district of the ancient Illyricum, bordering on Pannonia, containing what is now called Bulgaria, and part of Servia.
MAGNESIA: there were anciently three cities of the name; one in Ionia, on the Mæander, which, it is said, was given to Themistocles by Artaxerxes, with these words, to furnish his table with bread; it is now called Guzel-Hissard, in Asiatic Turkey: the second was at the foot of Mount Sipylus, in Lydia; but has been destroyed by earthquakes: the third Magnesia was a maritime town of Thessaly, on the Egean Sea.
MAGONTIACUM, a town of Gallia Belgica; now Mentz, situate at the confluence of the Rhine and the Maine.
MARCODURUM, a village of Gallia Belgica; now Duren on the Roer.
MARCOMANIANS, a people of Germany, between the Rhine, the Danube, and the Neckar. They removed to the country of the Boii, and having expelled the inhabitants, occupied the country now called Bohemia. See Manners of the Germans, s. 42.
MARDI, a people of the Farther Asia, near the Caspian Sea.
MARITIME ALPS. See ALPS.
MARSACI, a people in the north of Batavia, inhabiting the sea-coast.
MARSI, a people of Italy, who dwelt round the Lacus Fucinus. Another people called Marsi, in Germany, to the south of the Frisii, in the country now called Paderborne and Munster.
MASSILLIA, a town of Gallia Narbonensis, formerly celebrated for polished manners and learning; now Marseilles, a port town of Provence.
MATTIACI, a branch of the Catti in Germany. Their capital town was
MATTIUM, supposed now to be Marpourg in Hesse.
MAURITANIA, a large region of Africa, extending from east to west along the Mediterranean, divided by the emperor Claudius into Cæsariensis, the eastern part, and Tingitana, the western. It had Numidia to the east, and Getulia to the south; and was also bounded by the Atlantic ocean, the straits of Gibraltar, and the Mediterranean to the north. The natives were called Mauri, and thence the name of Mauritania; now Barbary.
MEDIA, a country of the Farther Asia, bounded on the west by Armenia, on the east by Parthia, on the north by the Caspian Sea, on the south by Persia. Ecbatana was the capital.
MEDIOLANUM, now Milan in Italy.
MEDIOMATRICI, a people of Gallia Belgica; now the diocese of Metz.
MELITENE, a city of Cappadocia.
MEMPHIS, a city of Egypt, famous for its pyramids.
MENAPII, a people of Belgia; now Brabant and Flanders.
MESOPOTAMIA, a large country in the middle of Asia; so called, because it lies, [Greek: mesae potamon], between two rivers, the Euphrates on the west, and the Tigris on the east.
MESSENA, or MESSANA, an ancient and celebrated city of Sicily, on the strait between that island and Italy. It still retains the name of Messina.
MEVANIA, a town of Umbria, near the Clitumnus, a river that runs from east to west into the Tiber.
MILETUS, an ancient city of Ionia, in Asia Minor; now totally destroyed.
MILVIUS PONS, a bridge over the Tiber, at the distance of two miles from Rome, on the Via Flamminia; now called Ponte-Molle.
MINTURNÆ, a town on the confines of Campania, near the river Liris.
MISENUM, a promontory of Campania, with a good harbour, near the Sinus Puteolanus, or the bay of Naples, on the north side. It was the station for the Roman fleets. Now Capo di Miseno.
MITYLENE, the capital city of the isle of Lesbos, and now gives name to the whole island.
MONA, an island separated from the coast of the Ordovices by a narrow strait, the ancient seat of the Druids. Now the isle of Anglesey.
MONÆCI PORTUS, now Monaco, a port town in the territory of Genoa.
MORINI, a people of Belgia, inhabiting the diocese of Tournay, and the country about St. Omer and Boulogne.
MOSA, a large river of Belgic Gaul; it receives a branch of the Rhine, called Vahalis, and falls into the German Ocean below the Briel. It is now the Mæse, or Meuse.
MOSELLA, a river, which, running through Lorrain, falls into the Rhine at Coblentz, now called the Moselle.
MOSTENI, the common name of the people and their town on the river Hermus, in Lydia.
MUSULANI, an independent savage people in Africa, on the confines of Carthage, Numidia, and Mauritania.
MUTINA, now Modena, a city of Lombardy, in Italy.
MYRINA, a town of Æolis, or Æolia, in the Hither Asia; now Sanderlik.
NABALIA, the name of the channel made by Drusus from the Rhine to the river Sala; now the Ysell. See Annals, ii. s. 8.
NABATHÆI, a people between the Euphrates and the Red Sea; comprehending Arabia Petræa, and bounded by Palestine on the north.
NAR, a river which rises in Umbria, and, falling into the lake Velinus, rushes thence with a violent and loud cascade, and empties itself into the Tiber.
NARBON GAUL, the southern part of Gaul, bounded by the Pyrenees to the west, the Mediterranean to the south, and the Alps and the Rhine to the east.
NARNIA, a town of Umbria, on the river Nar; now Narni, in the territory of the Pope.
NAUPORTUM, a town on a cognominal river in Pannonia.
NAVA, a river of Gallia Belgica, which runs north-east into the west side of the Rhine; now the Nahe.
NAVARIA, now Novara, a city of Milan.
NEMETES, a people originally of Germany, removed to the diocese of Spire, on the Rhine.
NICEPHORUS, a river of Asia that washes the walls of Tigranocerta, and runs into the Tigris; D’Anville says, now called Khabour.
NICOPOLIS: there were several towns of this name, viz. in Egypt, Armenia, Bithynia, on the Euxine, &c. A town of the same name was built by Augustus, on the coast of Epirus, as a monument of his victory at Actium.
NINOS, the capital of Assyria; called also Nineve.
NISIBIS, a city of Mesopotamia, at this day called Nesibin.
NOLA, a city of Campania, on the north-east of Vesuvius. At this place Augustus breathed his last: it retains its old name to this day.
NORICUM, a Roman province, bounded by the Danube on the north, by the Alpes Noricæ on the south, by Pannonia on the east, and Vindelicia on the west; now containing a great part of Austria, Tyrol, Bavaria, &c.
NOVESIUM, a town of the Ubii in Gallia Belgica; now Nuys, on the west side of the Rhine, in the electorate of Cologne.
NUCERIA, a city of Campania; now Nocera.
NUMIDIA, a celebrated kingdom of Africa, bordering on Mauritania, and bounded to the north by the Mediterranean; now Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli, &c. the eastern part of the kingdom of Algiers. Syphax was king of one part, and Masinissa of the other.
OCRICULUM, a town of Umbria, near the confluence of the Nar and the Tiber; now Otricoli, in the duchy of Spoletto.
ODRYSÆ, a people situated in the western part of Thrace, how a province of European Turkey.
OEENSES, a people of Africa, who occupied the country between the two Syrtes on the Mediterranean. Their city was called Oea, now Tripoli.
OPITERGIUM, now Oderzo, in the territory of Venice.
ORDOVICES, a people who inhabited what we now call Flintshire, Denbighshire, Carnarvon, and Merionethshire, in North Wales.
OSTIA, formerly a town of note, at the mouth of the Tiber (on the south side), whence its name; at this day it lies in ruins.
PADUS, anciently called Eridanus by the Greeks, famous for the fable of Phæton; it receives several rivers from the Alps and Apennine, and, running from west to east, discharges itself into the Adriatic. It is now called the Po.
PAGIDA, a river in Numidia; its modern name is not ascertained. D’Anville thinks it is now called Fissato, in the territory of Tripoli.
PALUS MÆOTIS; see MÆOTIS.
PAMPHYLIA, a country of the Hither Asia, bounded by Pisidia to the north, and by the Mediterranean to the south.
PANDA, a river of Asia, in the territory of the Siraci; not well known.
PANDATARIA, an island of the Tuscan Sea, in the Sinus Puteolanus (now il Golfo di Napoli), the place of banishment for illustrious exiles, viz. Julia the daughter of Augustus, Agrippina the wife of Germanicus, Octavia the daughter of Claudius, and many others. It is now called L’lsle Sainte-Marie, or Santa Maria.
PANNONIA, an extensive country of Europe, bounded by Mæsia on the east, by Noricum on the west, Dalmatia on the south, and by the Danube to the north; containing part of Austria and Hungary.
PANNONIAN ALPS. See ALPS.
PAPHOS: there were two towns of the name, both on the west side of the island of Cyprus, and dedicated to Venus, who was hence the Paphian and the Cyprian goddess.
PARTHIA, a country of the Farther Asia, with Media on the west, Asia on the east, and Hyrcania on the north.
PATAVIUM, now Padua, in the territory of Venice.
PELIGNI, a people of Samaium, near Naples.
PELOPONNESUS, the large peninsula to the south of Greece, so called after Pelops, viz. Pelopis Nesus. It is joined to the rest of Greece by the isthmus of Corinth, which lies between the Egean and Ionian seas. It is now called the Morea.
PENNINÆ ALPES. See ALPS.
PERGAMOS, an ancient and famous city of Mysia, situate on the Caicus, which runs through it. It was the residence of Attalus and his successors. This place was famous for a royal library, formed, with emulation, to vie with that of Alexandria in Egypt. The kings of the latter, stung with paltry jealousy, prohibited the exportation of paper. Hence the invention of parchment, called Pergamana charta. Plutarch assures us, that the library at Pergamos contained two hundred thousand volumes. The whole collection was given by Marc Antony as a present to Cleopatra, and thus the two libraries were consolidated into one. In about six or seven centuries afterwards, the volumes of science, by order of the calif Omar, served for a fire to warm the baths of Alexandria; and thus perished all the physic of the soul. The town subsists at this day, and retains the name of Pergamos. See Spon’s Travels, vol. i.
PERINTHUS, a town of Thrace, situate on the Propontis, now called Heraclea.
PERUSIA, formerly a principal city of Etruria, on the north side of the Tiber, with the famous Lacus Trasimenus to the east. It was besieged by Augustus, and reduced by famine. Lucan has, Perusina fames. It is now called Perugia, in the territory of the Pope.
PHARSALIA, a town in Thessaly, rendered famous by the last battle between Pompey and Julius Cæsar.
PHILADELPHIA: there were several ancient towns of this name. That which Tacitus mentions was in Lydia, built by Attalus Philadelphus; it is now called by the Turks, Alah Scheyr.
PHILIPPI, a city of Macedonia, on the confines of Thrace; built by Philip of Macedon, and famous for the battle fought on its plains between Augustus and the republican party. It is now in ruins.
PHILIPPOPOLIS, a city of Thrace, near the river Hebrus. It derived its name from Philip of Macedon, who enlarged it, and augmented the number of inhabitants.
PICENTIA, the capital of the Picentini, on the Tuscan Sea. not far from Naples.
PICENUM, a territory of Italy, to the east of Umbria, and in some parts extending from the Apennine to the Adriatic. It is now supposed to be the March of Ancona.
PIRÆEUS, a celebrated port near Athens. It is much frequented at this day; its name, Porto Lione.
PISÆ, a town of Etruria, which gave name to the bay of Pisa, Sinus Pisanus.
PLACENTIA, a town in Italy, now called Placenza, in the duchy of Parma.
PLANASIA, a small island near the coast of Etruria, in the Tuscan Sea; now Pianosa.
POMPEII, a town of Campania, near Herculaneum. It was destroyed by an earthquake in the reign of Nero.
POMPEIOPOLIS: there were anciently two cities of the name; one in Cilicia, another in Paphlagonia.
PONTIA, an island in the Tuscan sea; a place of relegation or banishment.
PONTUS, an extensive country of Asia Minor, lying between Bithynia and Paphlagonia, and extending along the Pontus Euxinus, the Euxine or the Pontic Sea, from which it took its name. It had that sea to the east, the mouth of the Ister to the north, and Mount Hæmus to the south. The wars between Mithridates, king of Pontus, and the Romans, are well known.
PRÆNESTE, a town of Latium to the south-east of Rome, standing very high, and said to be a strong place. The town that succeeded it, stands low in a valley, and is called Palestrina.
PROPONTIS, near the Hellespont and the Euxine; now the Sea of Marmora.
PUTEOLI, a town of Campania, so called from its number of wells; now Pozzuolo, nine miles to the west of Naples.
PYRAMUS, a river of Cilicia, rising in Mount Taurus, and running from east to west into the Sea of Cilicia.
PYRGI, a town of Etruria, on the Tuscan Sea; now St. Marinella, about thirty-three miles distant from Rome.
QUADI, a people of Germany, situate to the south-east of Bohemia, on the banks of the Danube. See Manners, of the Germans, s. 42. note b.
RAVENNA, an ancient city of Italy, near the coast of the Adriatic. A port was constructed at the mouth of the river Bedesis, and by Augustus made a station for the fleet that guarded the Adriatic. It is still called Ravenna.
REATE, a town of the Sabines in Latium, situate near the lake Velinus.
REGIUM. See RHEGIUM.
REMI, a people of Gaul, who inhabited the northern part of Champagne; now the city of Rheims.
RHACOTIS, the ancient name of Alexandria in Egypt.
RHÆTIA, a country bounded by the Rhine to the west, the Alps to the east, by Italy to the south, and Vindelicia to the north. Horace says Videre Rhæti bella sub Alpibus Drusum gerentem, et Vindelici. Now the country of the Grisons.
RHEGIUM, an ancient city at the extremity of the Apennine, on the narrow strait between Italy and Sicily. It is now called Reggio, in the farther Calabria.
RHINE, the river that rises in the Rhætian Alps, and divides Gaul from Germany. See Manners of the Germans, s. 1. note f; and s. 29. note a.
RHODANUS, a famous river of Gaul, rising on Mount Adula, not far from the head of the Rhine. After a considerable circuit it enters the Lake of Geneva, and in its course visits the city of Lyons, and from that place traverses a large tract of country, and falls into the Mediterranean. It is now called the Rhone.
RHODUS, a celebrated island in the Mediterranean, near the coast of Asia Minor, over-against Caria. The place of retreat for the discontented Romans. Tiberius made that use of it.
RHOXOLANI, a people on the north of the Palus Mæotis, situate along the Tanais, now the Don.
RICODULUM, a town of the Treviri on the Moselle.
SABRINA, now the Severn; a river that rises in Montgomeryshire, and running by Shrewsbury, Worcester, and Glocester, empties itself into the Bristol Channel, separating Wales from England.
SALA. It seems that two rivers of this name were intended by Tacitus, One, now called the Issel, which had a communication with the Rhine, by means of the canal made by Drusus, the father of Germanicus. The other SALA was a river in the country now called Thuringia, described by Tacitus as yielding salt, which the inhabitants considered as the peculiar favour of heaven. The salt, however, was found in the salt springs near the river, which runs northward into the Albis, or Elbe.
SALAMIS, an island near the coast of Attica, opposite to Eleusis. There was also a town of the name of Salamis, on the eastern coast of Cyprus, built by Teucer, when driven by his father from his native island. Horace says, Ambiguam tellure novâ Salamina futuram.
SAMARIA, the capital of the country of that name in Palestine; the residence of the kings of Israel, and afterwards of Herod. Samaritans, the name of the people. Some magnificent ruins of the place are still remaining.
SAMBULOS, a mountain in the territory of the Parthians, with the river Corma near it. The mountain and the river are mentioned by Tacitus only.
SAMNIS, or SAMNITES, a people of ancient Italy, extending on both sides of the Apennine, famous in the Roman wars.
SAMOS, an island of Asia Minor, opposite to Ephesus; the birth-place of Pythagoras, who was thence called the Samian Sage.
SAMOTHRACIA, an island of Thrace, in the Egean Sea, opposite to the mouth of the Hebrus. There were mysteries of initiation celebrated in this island, held in as high repute as those of Eleusis; with a sacred and inviolable asylum.
SARDES, the capital of Lydia, at the foot of Mount Tmolus, from which the Pactolus ran down through the heart of the city. The inhabitants were called Sardicni.
SARDINIA, an island on the Sea of Liguria, lying to the south of Corsica. It is said that an herb grew there, which, when eaten, produced a painful grin, called Sardonius risus. The island now belongs to the Duke of Saxony, with the title of king.
SARMATIA, called also Scythia, a northern country of vast extent, and divided into Europæa and Asiatica; the former beginning at the Vistula (its western boundary), and comprising Russia, part of Poland, Prussia, and Lithuania; and the latter bounded on the west by Sarmatia Europæa and the Tanais (the Don), extending south as far as Mount Caucasus and the Caspian Sea, containing Tartary, Circassia, &c.
SAXA RUBRA, a place on the Flamminian road in Etruria, nine miles from Rome.
SCEPTEUCI, a people of Asiatic Sarmatia, between the Euxine and the Caspian Sea.
SCYTHIA, a large country, now properly Crim Tartary; in ancient geography divided in Scythia Asiatica, on either side of Mount Imaus; and Scythia Europæa, about the Euxine Sea and the Mæotic Lake. See also SARMATIA.
SEGESTUM, a town of Sicily, near Mount Eryx, famous for a temple sacred to the Erycinian Venus.
SELEUCIA, a city of Mesopotamia, situate at the confluence of the Euphrates and the Tigris; now called Bagdad. We find in ancient geography several cities of this name.
SEMNONES, a people of Germany, called by Tacitus the most illustrious branch of the Suevi. They inhabited between the Albis and Viadrus.
SENENSIS COLONIA, now Sienna, in Tuscany.
SENONES, inhabitants of Celtic Gaul, situate on the Sequana (now the Seine); a people famous for their invasion of Italy, and taking and burning Rome A.U.C. 364.
SEQUANI, a people of Belgic Gaul, inhabiting the country now called Franche Comté or the Upper Burgundy, and deriving their name from the Sequana (now the Seine), which, rising near Dijon in Burgundy, runs through Paris, and, traversing Normandy, falls into the British Channel near Havre de Grace.
SERIPHOS, a small island in the Ægean Sea, one of the Cyclades: now Serfo, or Serfanto.
SICAMBRI, an ancient people of Lower Germany, between the Mæse and the Rhine, where Guelderland is. They were transplanted by Augustus to the west side of the Rhine. Horace says to that emperor, Te cæde gaudentes Sicambri compositis venerantur armis.
SILURES, a people of Britain, situate on the Severn and the Bristol Channel; now South Wales, comprising Glamorgan, Radnorshire, Hereford, and Monmouth. See Camden.
SIMBRUINI COLLES, the Simbruine Hills, so called from the Simbruina Stagna, or lakes formed by the river Anio, which gave the name of Sublaqueum to the neighbouring town.
SINOPE, one of the most famous cities in the territory of Pontus. It was taken by Lucullus in the Mithridatic war, and afterwards received Roman colonies. It was the birth-place of Diogenes the cynic, who was banished from his country. The place is still called Sinope, a port town of Asiatic Turkey, on the Euxine.
SINUESSA, a town of Latium, on the confines of Campania, beyond the river Liris (now called Garigliano). The place was much frequented for the salubrity of its waters.
SIPYLUS, a mountain of Lydia, near which Livy says the Romans obtained a complete victory over Antiochas.
SIRACI, a people of Asia, between the Euxine and the Caspian Seas.
SMYRNA, a city of Ionia in the Hither Asia, which laid a claim to the birth of Homer. The name of Smyrna still remains in a port town of Asiatic Turkey.
SOPHENE, a country between the Greater and the Lesser Armenia; now called Zoph.
SOZA, a city of the Dandaridæ.
SPELUNCA, a small town near Fondi, on the coast of Naples.
STÆCHADES, five islands, now called the Hieres, on the coast of Provence.
STRATONICE, a town of Caria in the Hither Asia, so called after Stratonice, the wife of Antiochus.
SUEVI, a great and warlike people of ancient Germany, who occupied a prodigious tract of country. See Manners of the Germans, s. 38. and note a.
SUNICI, a people removed from Germany to Gallia Belgica. According to Cluverius, they inhabited the duchy of Limburg.
SWINDEN, a liver that flows on the confines of the Dahæ. It is mentioned by Tacitus only. Brotier supposes it to be what is now called Herirud, or La Riviere d’Herat.
SYENE, a town in the Higher Egypt, towards the borders of Ethiopia, situate on the Nile. It lies under the tropic of Cancer, as is evident, says Pliny the elder, from there being no shadow projected at noon at the summer solstice. It was, for a long time, the boundary of the Roman empire. A garrison was stationed there: Juvenal was sent to command there by Domitian, who, by conferring that unlocked for honour, meant, with covered malice, to punish the poet for his reflection on Paris the comedian, a native of Egypt, and a favourite at court.
SYRACUSE, one of the noblest cities in Sicily. The Romans took it during the second Punic war, on which occasion the great Archimedes lost his life. It is now destroyed, and no remains of the place are left. Etiam periere ruinæ.
SYRIA, a country of the Hither Asia, between the Mediterranean and the Euphrates, so extensive that Palestine, or the Holy Land, was deemed a part of Syria.
SYRTES, the deserts of Barbary: also two dangerous sandy gulfs in the Mediterranean, on the coast of Barbary; one called Syrtis Magna, now the Gulf of Sidra; the other Syrtis Parva, now the Gulf of Cassos.
TANAIS, the Don, a very large river in Scythia, dividing Asia from Europe. It rises in Muscovy, and flowing through Crim Tartary, runs into the Palus Mæotis, near the city now called Azoff, in the hands of the Turks.
TARENTUM, now Tarento, in the province of Otranto. The Lacedemonians founded a colony there, and thence it was called by Horace, Lacedæmonium Tarentum.
TARICHÆA, a town of Galilee. It was besieged and taken by Vespasian, who sent six thousand of the prisoners to assist in cutting a passage through the isthmus of Corinth.
TARRACINA, a city of the Volsci in Latium, near the mouth of the Ufens, in the Campania of Rome. Now Terracina, on the Tuscan Sea.
TARRACO, the capital of a division of Spain, called by the Romans Tarraconensis; now Taragon, a port town in Catalonia, on the Mediterranean, to the west of Barcelona. See HISPANIA.
TARTARUS, a river running between the Po and the Athesis, (the Adige) from west to east, into the Adriatic; now Tartaro.
TAUNUS, a mountain of Germany, on the other side of the Rhine; now Mount Heyrick, over-against Mentz.
TAURANNITII, a people who occupied a district of Armenia Major, not far from Tigranocerta.
TAURI, a people inhabiting the Taurica Chersonesus, on the Euxine. The country is now called Crim Tartary.
TAURINI, a people dwelling at the foot of the Alps. Their capital was called, after Augustus Cæsar, who planted a colony, there, Augusta Taurinorum. The modern name is Turin, the capital of Piedmont.
TAURUS, the greatest mountain in Asia, extending from the Indian to the Ægean Sea; said to be fifty miles over, and fifteen hundred long. Its extremity to the north is called Imaus.
TELEBOÆ, a people of Æolia or Acarnania in Greece, who removed to Italy, and settled in the isle of Capreæ.
TEMNOS, an inland town of Æolia, in the Hither Asia.
TENCTERI, a people of Germany. See the Manners of the Germans, s. 32.
TENOS, one of the Cyclades.
TERMES, a city in the Hither Spain; now a village called Tiermes, in Castille.
TERRACINA, a city of the Volsci in Latium, near the mouth of the Ufens, on the Tuscan Sea; now called Terracina, in the territory of Rome.
TEUTOBURGIUM, a forest in Germany, rendered famous by the slaughter of Varus and his legions. It began in the country of the Marsi, and extended to Paderborn, Osnaburg, and Munster, between the Ems and the Luppia.
THALA, a town in Numidia, destroyed in the war of Julius Cæsar against Juba.
THEBÆ, a very ancient town in the Higher Egypt, on the east side of the Nile, famous for its hundred gates. Another city of the same name in Bœotia, in Greece, said to have been built by Cadmus. It had the honour of producing two illustrious chiefs, Epaminondas and Pelopidas, and Pindar the celebrated poet. Alexander rased it to the ground; but spared the house and family of Pindar.
THERMES otherwise THERMA, a town in Macedonia, afterwards called Thessalonica, famous for two epistles of St. Paul to the Thessalonians. The city stood at the head of a large bay, called Thermæus Sinus; now Golfo di Salonichi.
THESSALY, a country of Greece, formerly a great part of Macedonia.
THRACIA, an extensive region, bounded to the north by Mount Hæmus, to the south by the Ægean Sea, and by the Euxine and Propontis to the east. In the time of Tiberius it was an independent kingdom, but afterwards made a Roman province.
THUBASCUM, a town of Mauritania in Africa.
THURII, a people of ancient Italy, inhabiting a part of Lucania, between the rivers Crathis (now Crate), and Sybaris (now Sibari).
TIBER, a town of ancient Latium, situate on the Anio, about twenty miles from Rome. Here Horace had his villa, and it was the frequent retreat of Augustus. Now Tivoli.
TICINUM, a town of Insubria, situate on the river Ticinus, near its confluence with the Po; now Pavia, in Milan.
TICINUS, a river of Italy falling into the Po, near the city of Ticinum, or Pavia; now Tesino.
TIGRANOCERTA, a town of Armenia Major, built by Tigranes in the time of the Mithridatic war. The river Nicephorus washes one side of the town. Brotier says, it is now called Sert or Sered.
TIGRIS, a great river bounding the country called Mesopotamia to the east, while the Euphrates incloses it to the west. Pliny gives an account of the Tigris, in its rise and progress, till it sinks under ground near Mount Taurus, and breaks forth again with a rapid current, falling at last into the Persian Gulf. It divides into two channels at Seleucia.
TMOLUS, a mountain of Lydia, commended for its vines, its saffron, its fragrant shrubs, and the fountain-head of the Pactolus. It appears from Tacitus, that there was a town of the same name, that stood near the mountain.
TOLBIACUM, a town of Gallia Belgica; now Zulpich, or Zulch, a small town in the duchy of Juliers.
TRALLES, formerly a rich and populous city of Lydia, not far from the river Meander. The ruins are still visible.
TRAPEZUS, now Trapezond or Trebizond, a city with a port in the Lesser Asia, on the Euxine.
TREVIRI, the people of Treves; an ancient city of the Lower Germany, on the Moselle. It was made a Roman colony by Augustus, and became the most famous city of Belgic Gaul. It is now the capital of an electorate of the same name.
TRIBOCI, a people of Belgica, originally Germans. They inhabited Alsace, and the diocese of Strasbourg.
TRIMETUS, an island in the Adriatic; one of those which the ancients called Insulæ Diomedeæ; it still retains the name of Tremiti. It lies near the coast of the Capitanate, a province of the kingdom of Naples, on the Gulf of Venice.
TRINOBANTES, a people of Britain, who inhabited Middlesex and Essex.
TUBANTES, an ancient people of Germany, about Westphalia.
TUNGRI, a people of Belgia. Their city, according to Cæsar, Atuaca; now Tongeren, in the bishopric of Liege.
TURONII, a people of ancient Gaul, inhabiting the east side of the Ligeris (now the Loire). Hence the modern name of Tours.
TUSCULUM, a town of Latium, to the north of Alba, about twelve miles from Rome. It gave the name of Tusculanum to Cicero’s villa, where that great orator wrote his Tusculan Questions.
TYRUS, an ancient city of Phœnicia, situate on an island so near the continent, that Alexander the Great formed it into a peninsula, by the mole or causey which he threw up during the siege. See Curtius, lib. iv. s. 7.
UBIAN ALTAR, an altar erected by the Ubii, on their removal to the western side of the Rhine, in honour of Augustus; but whether this was at a different place, or the town of the Ubii, is not known.
UBII, a people originally of Germany, but transplanted by Augustus to the west side of the Rhine, under the conduct of Agrippa. Their capital was then for a long time called Oppidum Ubiorum, and, at last, changed by the empress Agrippina to Colonia Agrippinensis; now Cologne, the capital of the electorate of that name.
UMBRIA, a division of Italy, to the south-east of Etruria, between the Adriatic and the Nar.
UNSINGIS, a river of Germany, running into the sea, near Groningen; now the Hunsing.
URBINUM, now Urbino, a city for ever famous for having given birth to Raphael, the celebrated painter.
USIPII, or USIPETES, a people of Germany, who, after their expulsion by the Catti, settled near Paderborn. See Manners of the Germans, s. 32. and note a.
USPE, a town in the territory of the Siraci; now destroyed.
VADA, a town on the left-hand side of the Nile, in the island of Batavia.
VAHALIS, a branch of the Rhine; now the Waal. See Manners of the Germans, s. 29. and note a.
VANGIONES, originally inhabitants of Germany, but afterwards settled in Gaul; now the diocese of Worms.
VASCONES, a people who inhabited near the Pyrenees, occupying lands both in Spain and Gaul.
VELABRUM, a place at Rome, between Mount Aventine and Mount Palatine, generally under water, from the overflowing of the Tiber. Propertius describes it elegantly, lib. iv. eleg. x.
Qua Velabra suo stagnabant flumine, quáque
Nauta per urbanas velificabat aquas.
VELINUS, a lake in the country of the Sabines.
VENETI, a people of Gallia Celtica, who inhabited what is now called Vannes, in the south of Britanny, and also a considerable tract on the other side of the Alps, extending from the Po along the Adriatic, to the mouth of the Ister.
VERCELLÆ, now Vercelli in Piedmont.
VERONA, now Verona, in the territory of Venice, on the Adige.
VESONTIUM, the capital of the Sequani; now Besançon, the chief city of Burgundy.
VETERA, i.e. Vetera Castra. The Old Camp, which was a fortified station for the legions; now Santen, in the duchy of Cleves, not far from the Rhine.
VIA SALARIA, a road leading from the salt-works at Ostia to the country of the Sabines.
VIADRUS, now the Oder, running through Silesia, Brandenburg, Pomerania, and discharging itself into the Baltic.
VICETIA, now Vicenza, a town in the territory of Venice.
VIENNÆ, a city of Narbonese Gaul; now Vienne, in Dauphiné.
VINDELICI, a people inhabiting the country of Vindelicia, near the Danube, with the Ræhti to the south; now part of Bavaria and Suabia.
VINDONISSA, now Windisch, in the canton of Bern, in Swisserland.
VISURGIS, a river of Germany, made famous by the slaughter of Varus and his legions; now the Weser, running north between Westphalia and Lower Saxony, into the German Sea.
VOCETIUS MONS, a mountain of the Helvetii, thought to be the roughest part of Mount Jura, to which the Helvetii fled when defeated by Cæcina. See Hist. i. s. 67.
VOLSCI, a powerful people of ancient Latium, extending from Antium, their capital, to the Upper Liris, and the confines of Campania.
VULSINII, or VOLSINII, a city of Etruria, the native place of Sejanus; now Bolseno, or Bolsenna.
ZEUGMA, a town on the Euphrates, famous for a bridge over the river. See Pliny, lib, v. s. 24.