Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

When you see blear-ey'd fathers pour these admonitions into Their children, do you seek whence this bombast manner of speaking

80 Came on their tongues ? Whence that disgrace, in which The smooth Trossulus exults to thee thro' the benches ? Does it nothing shame you, not to be able to drive away dangers from Your grey head, but you must wish to hear this lukewarm-Decently?

[85 Thou art a thief (says one to Pedius)—What Pedius? his crimes He weighs in polished antitheses : to have laid down learned figures He is praised : this is fine !--this is fine? O Romulus, do you wag

the tail ?

and make it your chief wish to hear them say " Well, the man speaks « decently :-a poor lukewarm expression at best.

85. Pedius.) Pedius Blesus was accused, in the time of Nero, by the Cyrenians, of having robbed and plundered the temple of Æsculapius. He was condemned and put out of the senate.

Hence the poet uses the name of Pedius, here, as denoting any supposed person accused of theft.

“Thou art a thief,” says some accuser, laying a robbery to his charge.

What Pedius ??] i. e. What says Pedius, or what doth he, on such an accusation ?

86. He weighs in polished antitheses.] He opposes to his accusation curious figures of speech, affected phrases, sentences, and pea riods, in order to catch applause, instead of producing weighty, pertinent and plain arguments for his defence. He puts, as it were, his accusation in one scale, and his affected periods in the other, and thus weighs one against the other. Antithesis (from ayti, contra, and to meet, pono) is a rhetorical flourish, when contraries are op. posed to each other. Here, by synec. it stands for all the affected flowers of speech.

87. He is praised.] The judges and auditory are highly delighted with the learned figures of speech, which he has laid before them in his oration.

-- This is fine !] Say his hearers--finely spoken! finely said !

This is fine ?] Answers Persius, with indignation at the absurdity of such ill-timed applause, of such affected and ill-timed flourishes.

O Romulus, &c.] Can any Roman shew himself thus dege. nerate from his great and virtuous ancestor Romulus, as to fawn and flatter on such an occasion, and be like a dog that wags his tail when he would curry favour? Ceveo signifies to wag, or move the tail, as dogs do when they fawn upon one. Hence, metaph. it is used to express fawning and Aattery.

Persius uses the word Romule, as Juv. sat. iii. l. 67, uses Quirine. -See the note there.

Men' 'moveat quippe, et, cantet si naufragus, assem
Protulerim ? cantas, cum fractâ te in trabe pictum
Ex humero portes ? Verum, nec nocte paratum
Plorabit, qui me volet incurvasse querela.

M. Sed numeris decor est, et junctura addita crudis.
P. Claudere sic versum didicit: Berecynthius Atting
Et qui cæruleum dirimebat Nerea delphin.
Sic costam longo subduximus Apennino..

95

88. If a shipwreck'd mariner sings, &C.) If a poor sailor, that had been cast away, should meet me in the street, and ask an alms; at the same time appearing very jolly and merry, would this be the way to move my compassion ; to make me pull some money out of my pocket and give it him?

89. Do you sing, &c.] It was the custom for persons that had been shipwrecked, and had escaped with their lives, to have them. selves, together with the scene of their misfortune and danger, painted on a board, which they hung by a string from their shoulders upon their breasts,. that the passers-by might be moved with compassion at the sight, and relieve them with alms. These tables. were afterwards hung up in the temples, and dedicated to some god, as Neptune, Juno, &c.-hence they were called votivæ tabulæ. See Hor. lib. i. ode v. ad sin. Juv. sat. xii.. 1. 27.

The poet here allegorizes the case of Pedius.-Do you sing, when you are carrying your miserable self painted on a board, and repre. sented as suffering the calamity of shipwreck, in order to move. compassion.-i. c. Are you studying and making fine flourishing, speeches, filled with affected tropes and figures, at a time when you are accused of such a crime as theft, and are standing in the danger. ous situation of an arraigned robber? Is this the way to move compassion towards you?

90. A true, &c.] There wants ploratum,, dolorem, or some ch word, after verum-plorare verum dolorem, like vivere vitam, for instance.

- Not prepared by night.] Not conned, studied, or invented beforehand ; over night, as we say.

91. Bend me by his complaint.j i. e. Make me bow or yield to the feelings of commiseration for his sufferings.

The poet means, that the complainant who would move his pity must speak the true and native language of real grief from the heart, not accost him with an artful studied apeech, as if he had conued it over beforehand.

Si vis me flere, dolendum est
Primum ipsi tibi,

HoR. de Art Poet. l. 102, 30 So Pedius, however he might get the applause of his hearers, by his figurative eloquence and flowery language, when on his trial, could never excite pity for his situation.

92. But there is beauty, &c.] Well, but however the flights which you have been mentioning, says the portastee, and the studiedi For if a shipwreck'd mariner sings, could he move me, and a penny Should I bring forth? do you sing, when yourself painted on a bro

ken plank You carry from your shoulder ? A true (misfortune). not prepared by • night,

. 90 He shall deplore, who would bend me by his complaint.

M. But there is beauty and composition added to crude numbers. P. Thus hath he learnt to conclude a verse: “ Berecynthian Attin, " And the dolphin which divided' cærulean Nereus “ Thus we removed a rib from the long Apennine.”

95

and Aowery style, may be suitable in declamation, especially on such occasions, yet surely they have a peculiar beauty in our verses, which would be quite raw, and appear crude and undigested with. . out them,

92. And composition added, &c.] Junctura is literally a coupling, or joining together; hence a composition, or joining words in a par. ticular form, as in verse.

Notum si callida verbum Reddiderit junctura novum. Hor. de Art. Poet. 1. 47, 8. The poetaster would fain contend for the great improvement made in writing verses by the modern studied composition, and the intro-, duction of figurative writing. · 93. Thus hath he learnt to conclude a verse.] The didicit here, without a nominative case, is rather abrupt and obscure, but the poet affects to be so; he does not venture to name the person meant, though his quoting some verses of Nero, as instances of the great improvements which had been made in the composition of verse, plainly shews his design, which was to ridicule the emperor, whose affected, jingling, and turgid style, was highly applauded by his flatterers.

Berecynthian Attin.] This and the next verse rhyme in the original.

94. « And the dolphin,' &C.] Alluding to the story of Arion, who was carried safe to land, when thrown overboard, on the back of a dolphin.

Nereus, a sea god, is here affectedly put for the sea itself.

95. Thus we removed,&C.] There is a jingle in this verse be. tween the longo in the middle, and Apennino at the end. The writer of these three quoted lines changes Atys or Attis into Attin, to make it rhyme with Delphin.

Atys, or Attis, the subject of this poem, was a handsome youth of Phrygia, beloved by Cybele, who from Berecynthus, a mountain of Asia Minor, where she was worshipped, was called Berecynthia ; hence the writer of the poem affects to call Atys Berecynthius.

"Thus we removed a rib,"&c.] The end of this verse is spondaic, which Nero much affected in his heroics. He calls Hannibal's

M. Arma virum, nonne hoc spumosum, et cortice pingui ? P. Ut ramale vetus prægrandi subere coctum.

M. Quidnam igitur tenerum, et laxâ cervice legendum ?
P. “ Torva Mimalloneis implerunt cornua bombis ;
“ Et raptum vitulo caput ablatura superbo
“ Bassaris ; et lyncem Mænas flexura corymbis,
"Evion ingeminat : reparabilis adsonat echo.”

Hæc fierent, si testiculi vena ulla paterni
Viveret in nobis ? Summâ delumbe saliva
Hoc natat in labris ; et in udo est Mänas et Attin;

100

105

opening a way for his army over the Alps, removing a rib from the Apennine mountains a strange, affected phrase !

96. " Arms and the man, &c.] Arma virumque-Æn. i. 1. 1. Well, replies the poetaster, if you find fault with what you have quoted, I suppose you will find fault with Virgil's arma virumque cano, and perhaps with his whole Æneid, as frothy, turgid, and, like a tree with a thick bark, appearing great, but having little of value within.

97. As an old bough, &c.] Ramale is a dead bough cut from a tree. Persius answers-Yes, Virgil is like an old bough with a thick bark; but then we must understand, such a bough as has been cut from the tree, and whose bark has been dried for many years by the sun, so that all its gross particles are exhaled and gone, and nothing but what is solid remains. Suber signifies the cork tree, which is remarkable for its thick bark therefore put here for the bark; syn,—thus cortex, the bark, is sometimes put for the tree, which is remarkably light. Hor. ode ix. lib. iii. 1. 22.

98. What then is tender, &c.] Well, says the opponent to Persius, let us have done with heroics, and tell me what you allow to be good of the tender kind of writing.

With a loose neck.] With a head reclined, in a languish. ing, soft, and tender manner. This is humourously put in opposi. tion to the attitudes made use of in reading the bombast and fustian heroics of these poetasters, who stood with the neck stretched as high as they could, and straining their throats, to give force and loudness to their utterance.

99. They fill'd their fierce horns," &c.] Giving a fierce and war. like sound. Some render torva here writhed, twisted, or crooked, quasi torta.

Persius deriding the querist, quotes four more lines, which are supposed to have been written by Nero, and which exhibit a speci. men of one of the most absurd rhapsodies that ever was penned.

" Mimallonean blasts.”] The Mimallones were priestesses of Bacchus; they were so called from Mimas, a mountain of Ionia, sacred to Bacchus.

Bombus signifies a hoarse sound or blast, as of a trumpet or horn.

er, and to be the Mimalloneanatched from the

M. “ Arnis and the man"-is not this frothy, and with a fat bark? P. As an old bough dried with a very large bark.

M. What then is tender, and to be read with a loose neck?" P.“ They fill'd their fierce horns with Mimallonean blasts, « And Bassaris, about to take away the head snatched from the

" proud “ Calf, and Mänas, about to guide a lynx with ivy, " Redoubles Evion : the reparable echo sounds to it.”

Would these be made, if any vein of our paternal manliness Lived in us? This feeble stuff, on the topmost spittle, Swims in the lips, and in the wet is Mænas and Attys. 105

100. “ Bassaris."] Agave, or any other of the priestesses ; called Bassaris, from Bassarus, a name of Bacchus.

Having given the alarm, Agave and the rest of the Mimallones cut off the head of Pentheus (the son of Agaye and Echion), and tore him to pieces, because he would drink no wine, and slighted the feasts of Bacchus. Pentheus is thought to be meant here by the superbo vitulo. .

101. “ Mænas.”] These priestesses of Bacchus were also called Mänades (from Gră peceiveofar, insanire). See Juv. sat. vi. 1. 316. . " To guide a lynx.”] These were beasts of the leopard or

tyger kind, and represented as drawing the chariot of Bacchus. The word flexura, here, like flectere, Virg. G. ii. 357, means to guide.

-So again, Æn. i. 156. flectit equos" he guides or manages his “ horses." Thus the priestesses of Bacchus might be said flectere, to guide or manage lynxes with bands or rods of ivy. This was sa, cred to Bacchus, because, returning conquerer from India, he was crowned with ivy.

102. “ Redoubles Evion.”] Ingemịno signifies to redouble-to re. peat often. Evios, or Evius, a name of Bacchus, on which the Bacchantes used to call (Evoi, Gr.) till they wrought themselves into a fury like madness. See Juv. sat. vii. I. 62, and note.

co" The reparable echo," &c.] So called from repeating, and sa repairing the sounds, which would otherwise be lost.

103. Would these be made.] i. e. Would such verses as these be made, but more especially would they be commended.

If any vein, &c.] If there were the least trace of the manly wisdom of our ancestors among us?

104. This feeble stuff. Delumbis--weak, feeble, broken-backed, as it were.

105. Swims in the lips.] The poet, by this phrase, seems to mean, that the flatterers of Nero had these lines always at their tongue's end, (as we say), and were spitting them out, i. e. repeating and quoting them continually.

- And in the wet.] In udo esse, and in summa saliva natare, seem to imply the same thing; viz. that these poems of Atys and

« PredošláPokračovať »