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JUVENAL begins this satire with giving some humourous reasons for
his writing : such as hearing, so often, many ill poets rehearse their works, and intending to repay them in kind. Next he informs us, why he addicts himself to satire, rather than to other poetry, and gives a summary and general view of the reigning
EMPER ego auditor tantum ? nunquamne reponam,
Satires.] Or satyrs-concerning this word-sce CHAMBERS’s Dic.
Line 1. Only an hearer.] Juvenal complains of the irksome recitals, which the scribbling poets were continually making of their vile compositions, and of which he was a hearer, at the public assemblies where they read them over. It is to be observed that, soinetimes, the Romans made private recitals of their poetry, among their particular friends. They also had public recitals, either in the temple of Apollo, or in spacious houses, which were either hired, or lent, for the purpose, by some rich and great man, who was highly honoured for this, and who got his clients and dependents together, on the occasion, in order to increase the audience, and to encourage the poet by their applauses. See sat. vii, 1, 40-4. Persius, prolog. 1. 7. and note. Hor. lib. I. sat. iv. l. 73, 4.
e Repay.] Reponam, here, is used metaphorically; it al
vices and follies of his time. He laments the restraints which the satirists then lay under from a fear of punishment, and professes to treat of the dead, personating, under their names, certain living vicious characters. His great aim, in this, and in all his other satires, is to expose and reprove vice itself, however sanctified by custom, or dignified by the examples of the great.
DHALL I always be only a hearer !--shall I never repay,
ludes to the borrowing and repayment of money. When a man repaid money which he had borrowed, he was said to replace it-reponere. So off poet, looking upon himself as indebted to the reciters of their compositions, for the trouble which they had given him, speaks, as if he intended to repay them in kind, by writing and reciting his verses as they had done theirs. Sat. vii. 1. 40.-4. Persius, prolog. 1. 7. Hor. lib. I. sat. iv. l. 73, 4. 2. Theseis.] A poem of which Theseus was the subject
Hourse Codrus.] A very mean poet : so poor, that he gave rise to the proverb: “ Codro pauperior.” He is here supposed to have made himself hoarse, with frequent and loud reading his poem.
3. Comedies.] Togatas—so called from the low and common people, who were the subjects of them. These wore gowns, by which they were distinguished from persons of rank.
There were three different sorts of comedy, each denominated from the dress of the persons which they represented.
Hic elegos ? impune diem consumpserit ingens
Nota magis nulli domus est gua quam mihi lucus
First: The Togata which exhibited the actions of the lower sort; and was a species of what we call low comedy.
Secondly: The Prætextata- so called from the prætexta, a white robe ornamented with purple, and worn by magistrates and nobles. Hence the comedies, which treated of the actions of such, were called prætextatæ. In our time, we should say genteel comedy.
Thirdly: The Palliata--from pallium, a sort of upper garment worn by the Greeks, and in which the actors were habited, when the manners and actions of the Greeks were represented. This was also a species of the higher sort of comedy. .
It is most probable that Terence's plays, which he took from Menander, were reckoned atong the palliatæ, and represented in the pallium, or Grecian dress; more especially too, as the scene of every play lies at Athens.
4. Elegies.] These were little poems on mournful subjects, and consisted of hexameter and pentameter verses alternately. We must despair of knowing the first elegiac poet, since Horace says--Art. Poet. l. 77, 8.
Quis tamen exiguos elegos emiserit auctor,
By whom invented critics yet contend,
Elegies were at first mournful, yet, afterwards, they were composed on cheerful subjects. Hor. ib. I. 75, 6.
Versibus inipariter junctis querimonia primum,
Unequal measures first were tun'd to flow,
- Bulky Telephus.] Some prolix and tedious play, written on the subject of 'Telephus, king of Mysia, who was mortally wounded by the spear of Achilles, but afterwards healed by the rust of the same spear. Ovid. Trist. v. 2. 15.
--Waste a day.] In hearing it read over, which took up a whole day.
5. Or Orestes.] Another play on the story of Orestes, the son of Agamen non and Clytemnestra. He slew his own mother, and Ægysthus, Ler adulterer, who had murdered his father. This too,
Another his elegies? shall bulky Telephus waste a day
No man's house is better known to him, than to me The grove of Mars, and the den of Vulcan near The Æolian rocks: what the winds can do: what ghosts Æacus may be tormenting: from whence another could convey the
by the description of it in this line, and the next, must have been a very long and tedious performance. It was usual to leave a margin, but this was all filled from top to bottom-it was unusual to write on the outside, or back, of the parchment; but this author had filled the whole outside, as well as the inside.
5. Of the whole book.] Or—of the whole of the book.-Liber primarily signifies the inward bark or rind of a tree; hence a book or work written, at first made of barks of trees, afterwards of paper and parchment. Summus is derived from supremus, hence summum-i, the top, the whole, the sum.
8. The grove of Mars.] The history of Romulus and Remus, whom Ilia, otherwise called Rhea Sylvia, brought forth in a grové sacred to Mars at Alba: hence Romulus was called Sylvius-also, the son of Mars. This, and the other subjects mentioned, were so dinned perpetually into his ears, that the places described were as, familiar to him as his own house.
The den of Vulcan.] The history of the Cyclops and Vulcan, the scene of which was laid in Vulcan's den. See Virg. Æn. viii. 1. 416–22.
9. The Æolian rocks. 7 On the North of Sicily are seven rocky islands, which were called Æolian, or Vulcanian; one of which was called Hiera, or sacred, as dedicated to Vulcan. From the frequent breaking forth of fire and sulphur out of the earth of these islands, particularly in Hiera, Vulcan was supposed to keep his shop and forge there.
Here also Æolus was supposed to confine, and preside over the winds. Hence these islands are called Æolian. See Virg. Æn. i. 1. 55–67.
- What the winds can do.] This probably alludes to some te. dious poetical treatises, on the nature and operations of the winds. Or, perhaps, to some play, or poem, on the amours of Boreas and Orithya, the daughter of Erectheus, king of Athens.
10. Æacus may be tormenting.] Æacus was one of the fabled judges of hell, who with his two assessors, Minos and Rhadamanthus, were supposed to torture the ghosts into a confession of their crimes. See Virg. Æn. vi. l. 566–69.
From whence another, &c.] Alluding to the story of Jason, who stole the golden fleece from Colchis.
Pelliculæ: quantas jaculetur Monychus ornos;
Et nos ergo manum ferulæ subduximus: et nos
11. Monychus.] This alludes to some play, or poem, which had been written on the battle of the Centaurs and Lapithæ.
The word Monychus is derived from the Greek povos, solus, and ovuš, ungula, and is expressive of an horse's hoof, which is whole and entire, not cleft or divided.
The Centaurs were fabled to be half men, and half horses; so that by Monychus we are to understand one of the Centaurs, of such prodigious strength, as to make use of large trees for weapons, which he threw, or darted at his enemies.
12. The plane-trees of Fronto] Julius Fronto, a noble and learned man, at whose house the poets recited their works, before they were read, or performed in public. His house was planted round with plane-trees, for the sake of their shade.
The convuls'd marbles. This may refer to the marble statues which were in Fronto's hall, and were almost shaken off their pedestals by the din and noise that were made-or to the marble with which the walls were built, or inlaid; or to the marble pavement; all which appeared, as if likely to be shaken out of their places, by the incessant noise of these bawling reciters of their works.
13. The columns broken.] The marble pillars too were in the same situation of danger, from the incessant noise of these people.
The poet means to express the wearisomeness of the continual repetition of the same things over and over again, and to censure the manner, as well as the matter, of these irksome repetitions; which were attended with such loud and vehement vociferation, that even the trees about Fronto's house, as well as the marble within it, had reason to apprehend demolition. This hyperbole is humourous, and well applied to the subject.
14. You may expect the same things, &c.] i. e. The same subjects, treated by the worst poets, as by the best. Here he satirizes the impudence and presumption of these scribblers, who, without genius or abilities, had ventured to write, and expose their verses to the public ear; and this, on subjects which had been treated by men of a superior cast.
15. Therefore.] 1. e. In order to qualify myself as a writer and