Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

sufice) the risid they belso very la

Pieces and particles (that one đead man for many
Might suffice) the victorious rabble ate all up, the bones
Being gnawed : nor did they boil him in a burning kettle
Or with spits : they thought it so very long, and tardy
To wait for fires, content with the raw carcase.
Hence we may rejoice, that they did not violate fire,
Which Prometheus, stolen from the highest part of heaven,
Gave to the earth. I congratulate the element, and thee
I think to exult : but he, who bore to gnaw the carcase,
Never ate any thing more willingly than this flesh :
For in so great wickedness ask not, nor doubt, whether
The first gullet perceived a pleasure. But he
Who stood farthest, the whole body now consumed, his fingers
Being drawn along the ground, tastes something of the blood.

The Vascons (as the report is) using such aliments,
Prolong'd their lives : but the matter is different: but there

exult in this circumstance as well as myself. The introduction of these reflections, in the close of his mock-heroic account of the battle, makes very much for supposing that he speaks ironically here, as where he introduces Turnus, Ajax, and Diomede, l. 65, 6.

87. He who bore, &c.] The man who could endure to bite, and champ between his teeth, human flesh, did it, no doubt, with as much relish as he would eat any thing else, especially as his appetite was sharpened by the malice which he bare the Ombites.

89. Ask not, nor doubt, &c.] You need not question or doubt whether people, capable of committing so horrible a wickedness as this, to glut their revenge, had a delight in it; and whether those who were present at the beginning of the meal, and so had their first share of the flesh, felt a pleasure in devouring it.

90-1. He who stood.] Hc, whoever he was, that stood farthest off, perhaps not being able to get through the crowd to the spot where the flesh was devoured, till the whole was consumed

91. His fingers, &c.] He observing some of the blood on the ground, scraped it up with his fingers, and then sucked them with great satisfaction, as affording him, at least, a taste of his enemy's blood. This must stand as a sufficient reason, against all doubt, that the eaters of the carcase had the highest pleasure in so doing 1. 89, 90.

93. The Vascons. A people of Spain, inhabiting between the river Ebro and the Pyrenian mountains. They were besieged by Metellus and Pompey, and reduced to such necessity, that the living were forced to eat the dead, but were at last relieved by Sertorius, a general of Marius's party.

As the report is. 7 As the story goes, as we say.

Using such aliments.] Eating humán carcases.
94. Prolong'd their lives. Which otherwise must have been lost
in the straitness of the siege, which occasioned a severe famine.

Different.] But this was a very different thing from feeding
VOL. 11,

[ocr errors]

95

100

Fortunæ invidia est, bellorumque ultima, casus
Extremi, longæ dira obsidionis egestas.
Hujus enim, quod nunc agitur, miserabile debet
Exemplum esse cibi: sicut modo dicta mihi gens
Post omnes herbas, post cuncta animalia, quicquid
Cogebat vacui ventris furor, (hostibus ipsis
Pallorem, ac maciem, et tenues miserantibus artus)
Membra aliena fame lacerabant, esse parati
Et sua : quisnam hominum veniam dare, quisve Deorum
Viribus abnuerit dira atque immania passis ;
Et quibus ipsorum poterant ignoscere manes,
Quorum corporibus vescebantur? melius nos
Zenonis præcepta monent; nec enim omnia, quædam
Pro vitâ facienda putat : sed Cantaber unde
Stoïcus, antiqui præsertim ætate Metelli?
Nunc totus Graias, nostrasque habet orbis Athenas.
Gallia causidicos docuit facunda Britannos :

[ocr errors][merged small]

on human flesh, as the Tentyrites did, out of choice, and out of rea venge on their enemies.

95. Envy of Fortune.] The poor Vascons 'were under the frowns of Fortune ; they experienced the malice of that fickle goddess, See sat. iii. 1. 39, 40; and sat. vi. l. 604, and Hor. lib. i. ode xxxiv. 1. 14, et seq. and ode xxxv. per tot.

- Utmost of wars.] The utmost distress which war could occasion. 1956. Extreme misfortunes.] The very last symptoms of despe, ration,

96. Dire want, &c.] See above, note on l. 93, 94.

97. Which is now in question.] i, e. The matter which I am now treating, viz. the Vascons eating human flesh.

97-8. Ought to be lamented, &c.] Is not to be looked upon as a crime, but as a most lamentable instance of such a thing..

98. As the nation, &c.] The Vascons just mentioned above.

99. After all herbs, &c.] After they had consumed all sorts of herbs, and of beasts, and whatsoever else the cravings of their hungry stomachs had driven them to devour.

100. The very enemies, &c.] Their condition was so desperate, and their famished looks and appearance so shocking, as to move even their enemies to pity them. See Ps. cvi. 46.

101. Their slender limbs.] The very flesh wasted from their bones. · 102. Tore for hunger, &c.] They tore, through stress of hun. ger, the limbs of those that had died, and were almost ready to serve themselves in the same manner. See Deut. xxviii. 53-7. · 103. Who of men, &c.] All this was excusable from the dire necessity of their situation, therefore they ought to be forgiven, not on. ly by men, but by the gods themselves.

95

Is the envy of Fortune, and the utmost of wars, extreme
Misfortunes, the dire want of a long siege.
For the example of this food, which is now in question, ought
To be lamented : as the nation, which I just now mentioned,
After all herbs, after all animals, whatever .
The fury of an empty belly urged, (the very enemies themselves 100
Pitying their paleness, and leanness, and their slender limbs,) . ..
They tore for hunger the limbs of others, ready to have eaten
Their own too. Who of men, or of the gods, would have refused
To pardon forces that had suffered dire and cruel things,
And whom the manes of those very people, whose bodies 105
They were fed with, might forgive ? better us
The precepts of Zeno admonish'; he thinks not all things, some
Are to be done for life. But a Cantabrian whence
A Stoic-especially in the age of old Metellus ?
Now the whole world has the Grecian, and our Athens : : 110
Eloquent Gaul taught the British lawyers--

104. Forces.] Viribus--i. e. men who had suffered so much by exerting all the force of their strength and courage to defend their city against the besiegers.

105. Whom the manes, &c.] Who could think of condemning a people under such circumstances of distress, when the ghosts which once inhabited the bodies which they devoured must be supposed to forgive them.

107. The precepts of Zeno, &c.] He was the founder of the Stoics; and taught, that though some things might be done to pre-, serve life (pro vita), yet not every thing ; indeed, not any thing that was unbecoming or dishonest.

108. A Cantabrian.] The Vascons were a people of the Cantabrians, in the south-east of Spain.

108--9. Whence a Stoic.] How should such a barbarous and ignorant people know any thing about Zeno--whence could a poor Vascon be made a Stoic ?

109. In the age of old Metellus.] Who lived before arts, sciences, and philosophical knowledge, flourished as they do now. See l. 93, note 1.

110. Now the whole world.--] Now learning and philosophy are every where extended, and Grecian as well as Roman letters disse. minated. None, therefore, could now plead ignorance, and be excusable on that account, as the poor Vascons undoubtedly were,

---The Grecian, and our Athens.] The Grecian Athens was the seat of learning and philosophy, from whence the Romans received them, and 30 cultivated them, as to make Rome another Athens, as it were.

111. Eloquent Gaul, &c.] See sat. i. 1. 44, note; and sat. vii. 147,8. Some of the Gallic orators came over to Britain, and taught sloquence.

De conducendo loquitur jam rhetore Thule.
Nobilis ille tamen populus, quem diximus : et par
Virtute atque fide, sed major clade Saguntus
Tale quid excusat. Mæotide sævior arâ
Ægyptus : quippe illa nefandi Taurica sacri
Inventrix homines (ut jam, quæ carmina tradunt,
Digna fide credas) tantum immolat: ulterius nil,
Aut gravius cultro timet hostia. Quis modo casus
Impulit hos ? quæ tanta fames, infestaque vallo
Arma coëgerunt tam detestabile monstrum
Audere? anne aliam, terrâ Memphitide sicca,

[ocr errors][merged small]

112. Thule.) To determine exactly, among so many different opinions as are given about the part of the world here meant by Thule, is not very easy: some say it means Iceland, others Schetland. It is certain that it was the farthest northern part known to the Romans. Virg. Georg. i. I. 30, calls it ultima Thule. Ainsworth calls it an island the most remote in the northern parts, either known to the Romans, or described by the poets.

The idea of such a remote and desolate part of the earth sending for a rhetorician to refine their speech, throws an air of banter on what he has been saying, from 1. 107, about Zeno's precepts, &c. as if, in such a case of necessity as that of the Vascons, precepts of learning and philosophy could countervail the calls of nature, sinking under the extremity of hunger. 113. That people whom, &c.] The Vascons.

Were noble.] In their persevering and steady resistance, to the very last, in the defence of their besieged city.

113-14. Equal in valour and fidelity, &c.] Sagunţus was a city of Spain beyond the river Ebro, a most faithful ally to the Romans ; for when they had holden out against Hannibal, and were almost famished, rather than submit, they chose to burn themselves, their wives, and children, which was the cause of the second Punic war. Virtus here signifies military courage.

The Saguntines equalled the Vascons in the noble defence which they made, and exceeded them in the slaughter of themselves and fa. milies, rather than submit to the enemy.

115. Excuses, &c.] Such a thing as eating the flesh of dead men may stand excused, if excited by such distress as the Saguntines were in, especially when compared with the slaughter made upon them. selves, and all that were dearest to them.

- Ægypt is more cruel.] is e. The Tentyrites, a people of Ægypt, whose cruelty we have been relating.

115–16. Mæotic altar.] An altar near the lake Mæotis, sacred to Diana, where they sacrificed strangerscwhich horrid cruelty continued till the coming of Pylades and Orestes.

116. Tauric inventress.] Diana Taurica, so called from her being worshipped by the people of Taurica, where thiş altar was; and

Man the Mæor:

Thule now speaks of hiring a rhetorician.
Yet that people whom we have spoken of, were noble : and equal
In valour and fidelity, but greater in slaughter, Saguntus,
Excuses something like this. Ægypt is more cruel than the Mæotic
Altar : for that Tauric inventress of a wicked

115
Rite (as now you may believe what verses deliver,
As worthy credit) only slays men : nothing beyond,
Or more grievous, does the victim fear, than a knife. But what ca-

lamity Impelled these? what so great hunger, and arms hostile 120 To a rampart, have compelled them, so detestable a monstrous thing To attempt ? could they have done other displeasure, the land

wicked

dit) on believe what

therefore the poet calls her the inventress of these cruel rites, where. in strangers were sacrificed.

Or Taurica may mean the country itself, which is called the inven. tress, &c. because Thoas, king of Chersonesus Taurica, was the inventor of this horrid barbarity. He was slain by Orestes, who went thither to fetch away his sister.

117. What verses deliver.] You may, after the history which I have given you of the Tentyrites, believe any thing that the poets have written on the subject of cruelty. He alludes to Eurip. Trag. Iphig. in Taurus.

118. Nothing beyond.] Men are here killed in sacrifice, but nothing is further done, such as devouring their dead bodies, and the like: therefore the victim has nothing to fear, after having his throat cut.

120. Impelled these.] i. e. These Tentyrites—what has driven them to such excess of barbarity? what calamitous circumstances have happened to force them into such savageness ?

So great hunger.] Can they plead the necessities of famine like the besieged Vascons ?

- And arms.] The power of an enemy's arms, to which they muat either submit or die, like the Saguntines ?

120-1. Hostile to a rampart.] That are levelled at the rampart, or trench, which surrounds the besieged, with a determination to des. troy, and are calculated for that purpose.

121. Have compelled them.] Like the poor people above spoken

of.

So detestable a monstrous thing. ] As to eat a dead human bo. dy, pick the very bones, and lick the blood from off the ground.

122. Other displeasure, &c.] The river Nile overflowed Æ. gypt at a certain time of the year, and fertilized the country. If this did not happen, the Ægyptians used to do some horrid act of cruelty, thinking thereby to provoke the river to overflow the country. This was taken from the example first set by Busiris, who slew a man in sacrifice; but it was the very man himself who proposed the expedient. We have the story in Ovid, de Art. Am.

« PredošláPokračovať »