« PredošláPokračovať »
of the Roman laws was written in red letters, which was called the rubric. There is, however, a distinction, which ought to be made. The criminal and civil codes (which include the twelve tables) were written in red ; but those rules, which were established in the courts by the prætors, were not.-Ecce hic album pro jure prætoris dixit, rubricas pro jure civili, &c. Ex Turnebo. Vide Juv. Sat. xiv,
Ver. 95. Sambucam, &c.
The sambuca was a musical and stringed instrument of a triangular form. This was a Syriac word adopted by the Greeks and Romans,
Ver. 103. Luciferi rudis. i. e. ignorant of astronomy.
saperdas advehe Ponto. Saperda was the name of a fish. Ainsworth under this word says, “ a sorry fish, coming from Pontus." I conceive there are two mistakes here. First, there is no authority for calling it a sorry, fish. We learn, indeed, from Athanæus, that it was the same with the coracinus, which was a fish of the Nile; and Martial says
Princeps Niliacis raperis coracine macellis. But, if it had been a sorry fish, it would not have been an object of traffic. Secondly, Pliny (L. xxxii.) says, that this fish was peculiar to the Nile. It therefore did not come from Pontus. Persius says, saperdas
advehe Ponto : i. e. carry the fish called saperda to the coasts of the Pontus.
Der. 138. Varo, &c.
This word does not signify servus militum here, as it sometimes does, and as the old scholiast has understood it. Varo or Baro was a term of contempt. It was particularly given to those, who without either sense or knowledge pretended to philosophize. Suidas even says that Baro was the name of a female philosopher; and some have maliciously insinuated, that it was thence given, per contemptum, to all shallow thinkers.
solea, puer, objurgabere rubra. I could have almost wished, that Persius had stood more in need of a commentary between this note and the last. If I have any female readers, they will think it quite ungallant, that two notes should follow each other, from which they must see how the sex has been libelled from the remotest antiquity. Not only have female philosophers been held in contempt, but the meek and mild government of wives and mistresses has been aspersed and libelled. Malice has transmitted it to posterity, that there was a Greek comedy in which Hercules was represented as spinning, while Omphale sat beside him, and beat him with her slipper as often as the thread broke. Terence alludes to this in the Eunuch; and Thraso in the Roman comedy seems to have been very
willing to play the same part which Hercules had done in the Greek. This is without doubt a scandalous piece of satire upon female authority. But Juvenal, who is guilty of the most shameful slanders, with respect to the ladies, gives us to understand, that wives as well as mistresses, could sometimes employ the correcting slipper. I hope a learned friend of mine will be able to say something in his author's defence upon this subject, when he comes to publish his admirable version of Juvenal. But I find, that St. Chrysostom (whom we must not suppose to have spoken from experience) also affirms, that the tyranny of the women was intolerable. They beat and buffet, and spit upon their lovers, says the good Father, and that for nothing at all. As for Persius, he is evidently copying Terence, and whereas the comic writer employs the verb commitigari, to knock, or strike; the satirist employs a gentler word, which signifies to chide.
nostra ut Floralia possint. The most minute and compendious account of the Floralia, which I happen to know, is the following: Floralia, a Flora, sumpsere nomen, cui ut arbores affatim efflorescerent, ad justamque magnitudinem fructus accederent, quarto calendas Maii, oraculo moniti sacra constituerunt, namque hac tempora frugibus metuenda sunt in cujus festis diebus fæminas, quæ vulgato corpore quæstum faciunt, denudari, et pudendis obscenisque invelatis per ļuxun et lasciviam currere, et impudicos jocas agere ser
vatum est, quibus etiam Ædiles cicer, fabas, et missilia plebi spargere, assueverant, leporesque, et capreas, aliaque mitia animalia ludis admittere, quos in vico Patricio aut proximo, celebrabant, noctuque accensis facibus, cum multa obscenitate verborum per urbem vadere, et ad tuba sonitum convenire. Fuit enim Flora nobile scortum, hujus auctor argumenti, quæ cum præpotens esset, et divitiis afflueret, populum Romanum morte obita hæredem fecit, pecuniamque annuam ludis exhiberi voluit.
Herodis venere dies, unctâque fenestra
Labra moves tacitus, recutitaque sabbata palles. I have thought myself obliged to alter this passage from the original. Persius, in throwing contempt upon the Jews, has expressed himself with as much obscurity, as when he censured the crimes, or laughed at the follies, of Nero.
Upon the first consideration of the above verses it does not appear, why the superstitious man waits for the celebration of Herod's birthday, before he fasts at the sabbaths of the Jews. I can only conjecture, that that was the season when strangers were generally admitted at Rome within the pale of the temple. The Herodians, who probably alone of all the Jews observed
this festival of Herod, were numerous at Rome. They had disobliged their countrymen by the support which they gave to Herod the Great, and by acceding to the payment of a tribute to Augustus.
It seems extraordinary that Persius should sneer at the Jews for lighting lamps at their festivals, as a similar practice was common to the Romans. The Jews, however, had certainly given offence at Rome upon that subject. Accendere aliquem, says Seneca in one of his epistles, lucernas Sabbatis prohibeamus: quoniam, adds he contemptuously, nec lumine Dii egent, et ne homines quidem delectantur fuligine.
Nothing, however, was more common at Rome, than the lighting of lamps at festivals. Even
occasions of domestic rejoicing, the doors of the house were hung with laurels, and illuminated with lamps. Juvenal in a beautiful satire thus expresses himself,
Longos erexit janua ramos, Et matutinis operatur festa lucernis. It appears from Tertullian, that the Christians soon adopted this practice. He thus charges the alienated disciples of the faith. Sed luceant, inquit (nempe. Christus), opera vestra. At nunc lucent tabernæ et janua nosa træ : plures jam invenies Ethnicorum fores sine lucernis et laureis quam Christianorum. .
The Jews probably took their custom of burning lamps at their feasts from the Egyptians. Herodotus L. II. tells us, there was an annual sacrifice at Sais