Obrázky na stránke

haps "The Magic Sixpence.' Comp. Juv., 7, 8: nam si Pieria quadrans tibi nullus in umbra | ostendatur, etc.

13. corvos poetas et poetridas picas: “Raven poets and poetess pies,' the substantive standing for an epithet, like popa venter, 6, 74. Which of the substantives is adjective to the other does not appear.

For the corvus, Poe and Dickens will answer as well as MACROB., Sat. 2, 4. The male poet has a female counterpart in the magpie (pica). According to Ov. (Met., 5, 294, foll.), the daughters of Pierus, the Macedonian, were changed into magpies because they had challenged the Muses to a contest, and reviled the victorious goddesses. There seems to be an allusion to the literary ladies of the day, the blue-stockings of JUVENAL's Satire (6, 434 foll.). See Friedländer, Sittengeschichte, 1, 481. Poetridas after Gr. analogy.

14. cantare nectar: a poetic extension of the cognate accusative=nectareum carmen cantare (G., 331; A., 52, 1,5). Nectar is copied from PIND., OI., 7, 7 (νέκταρ χυτόν, Μοισάν δόσιν), and when combined with Pegaseium is sufficiently grandiloquent to be as absurd as it is intended to be. The old reading, melos (uédos), with its faulty quantity, rarely finds a champion against nectar.

FIRST SATIRE. This Satire is an attack on the literature of the day as the efflorescence of the corruption of the times. The age is personified by a critical friend, but it is not always easy to determine when the poet is speaking and when the friend, or when the satirist is meeting an imaginary objection from some other imaginary quarter. The unreality of the whole dialogue is confessed with more candor than art in v. 44. Instead of a firm outline, we have a floating quisquis es.

ARGUMENT.-The poem opens with a live, which PERSIUS recites to his man of straw, who forth with urges him to abandon authorship (1-3). The poet acknowledges that he is at odds with his generation and expects no applause at their hands. But little does he care for their praise; let them prefer a Labeo to him. Their standard is not his standard. He is his own canon. He will not, can not follow the advice of his friend. He must obey the impulse of his temper and speak out (4-12).

Whether we write laborious verse or laborious prose—so the attack begins-it is all one; display and applause are the aim and object of both. The style is fustian; the delivery wanton; the theme prurient. The bard is little better than a bawd (13–23). And yet so deeply rooted is this love of praise that learning is loss, unless it be minted into golden opinions, and knowledge is naught until it be known of men. To be pointed out as a lion, to be used as a school classic—what glory! (24 30). Oh, yes! A glory shared by the dainty ditties, the mewling elegies of lisping, snuffling dandies, for this is what calls forth the approval of the after-dinner circle. Such is the praise that is to bless the poet even after death! (30–40). It is true that fame is not to be despised. No poet but feels his heart vibrate to praise. But the popular acclaim is not the ultimate standard. Mad epics, elegies thrown off in a surfeit, effusions of aristocratic easy-chairs are alike lauded. A man feeds the hungry and clothes the naked, and then asks for a candid opinion. Mockery of criticism! (40-62). The taste of the people relishes nothing but smooth verses-verses without flaw or break, faultless machineverses—which answer any turn, and serve alike for satire, for eclogues, for heroic strains (63–75). Others, again, call themselves passionate pilgrims to the well of Latin undefiled, and linger over the obsolete magniloquence of PACUVIUS and Accius. A fine olla podrida—this jumble of modern affectation and ancient trumpery (76-82). Bad as this is in literature, how much worse it is to find that the jargon of the salon has become the language of the courts, and that the manly Roman speech is dead. Even in a matter of life and death, the accused thinks more of his rhetorical than of bis judicial sentence, and listens for a ‘Pretty good,' as if that were the verdict (83–91). It will not do to say that great improvements have been made in the art of verse. Smooth are the verses and resonant, but at the cost of sense, of manly vigor. Once catch the trick, and any body can reel off such lines (92-106). Ears are ticklish, our satirist admits. Truth is an unwelcome rasp, and the cold shoulder of great men no toothsome meal. Police regulations are stringent. “Commit no nuisance' is posted every where. Ah, well! It was otherwise in the time of Lucilius. That was a free world in which he craunched Lupus and Mucius. It was otherwise in the time of Horace. That was a gay world, in which he tickled while he taught. And is the poet not to mutter even? King Midas's barber told his master's secret to a ditch. Where can a ditch be found? Here in this book (107–121). Few readers can our author hope or desire-only such as have studied closely the great masters of the Attic sock, not such as ignorantly make a mock of Greek attire and Greek science, pride themselves on petty local honors, and rise to no higher conception of wit or fun than a dog-fight or a jibe at personal infirmity (122–134).

It has been well observed that this is the only Satire of PERSIUS in the

strict sense of the term; the other five have rather the character of essays on moral themes.

One of the best commentaries on this poem is the famous 114th Epistle of SENECA.

The student of English literature will remember that Gifford's Baviad is an imitation of this piece.

1-7. At the very outset we encounter a difficulty in the distribution of the first lines between P. (Persius) and M. (Monitor, as the second interlocutor is usually called). The arrangement followed in the text may be explained thus:

P. (is discovered absorbed in contemplation. He recites a line from his projected poem).- Vanity of vanities!'

M.—Who will read this stuff of yours ?

P. (wakes up).-Do you mean that for me? Why, no one, of course,

M.-No one?
P.-Next to no one.
M.-A lame and impotent conclusion !

P.-Why so ? Am I to fear that Polydamas and the Trojan dames shall make up their minds to give Labeo the preference over me? Stuff! Don't assent, when muddled Rome rejects a thing as light weight, and do not trouble yourself to get the. faulty tongue of that pair of scales to work right, and look not outside of yourself for what you can find only within yourself.


1. O curas hominum! O quantum est in rebus inane! Homines and res are both used for the world,' sometimes singly, sometimes together. Res is often to be omitted in translation, or another turn given. O quantum est in rebus inane, ' Vanity of vani

-a suitable Stoic text. There seems to be no allusion to LUCRETIUS's common phrase, in rebus inane.

2. Quis leget haec ? a quotation from LUCILIUS, according to the scholiast. Jahn follows Pinzger in supposing that the quotation begins with O curas hominum! See, however, L. Müller, Lucilius, p. 194.

3. vel duo vel nemo: is more guarded, and hence (by Litotes) stronger than nemo. Comp. Gr. ñ tiç ñ ovdeís.

4. ne mihi praetulerint: an elliptical sentence, such as we often find in final relations (A., 70, 3, f), in English as well as in Latin (G., 688, R.). The sequence is not common in the classic period, but see G., 512, R. Comp. PLAUT., Aul., 2, 3, 11; Liv., 44, 22, and Weissenborn in loc. The Greek would be: un Tporiuñowol. — Polydamas: Some write Pulydamas, corresponding with the Homeric form, IIov/vðápas; but Polydamas (IIw.vdápas) is the Sicilian Doric, like polypus (Twlúhos). The allusion is to a familiar passage in HoM., Il., 22, 100. 104. 5: Πουλυδάμας μοι πρώτος έλεγχείην αναθήσει- νύν δ' επεί ώλεσα λαόν ατασθαλίησιν έμήσιν | αιδέομαι Τρώας και Τρωάδας έλκεσιπέπλους. These are the words of Hector, as he steels his great heart to meet Achilles. Polydamas is the counsellor who had urged him (18, 254) to withdraw the Trojans into Troy, and Hector is ashamed to turn back and encounter the rebuke of Polydamas and the reproaches of his people. PERSIUS uses Polydamas as the type of the Roman critic, and by a familiar satiric stroke leaves out the Trojan men, as if they were no men in Rome. Others understand · Nero and his effeminate court.' The Homeric passage had been well worn by ARISTOTLE and CICERO (Att., 2, 5, 1; 7, 1, 4; 8, 16, 2) before it came to PERSIUS. There is perhaps a side-thrust at the pride of the old Roman families in their Trojan descent. Comp. Juv., 1, 100: iubet a praecone vocari | ipsos Troiugenas; also 8, 181. See Friedländer, Sittengesch., 1, 230.—Labeonem: the ATTIUS (LABEO) of v. 50, an unfortunate translator of Homer, who stuck close to the letter. The scholiast has preserved a line. 'Ωμόν βεβρώθους Πρίαμον Πριάμοιό τε παϊδας (II., 4, 35) is rendered thus: crudum manduces Priamum Priamique pisinnos. "Raw you'd munch both Priam himself and Priam's papooses.'

5. nugae: The accusative is more common. Comp. G., 340, R. 1.-non accedas-nec quaesiveris : Non and nec, where QUINTILIAN's rigid rule (1, 5, 50) requires ne and neve. G., 266, R. 1; A., 41, 2, e. Comp. 3,73 and 5, 45.--turbida: muddle-headed' (Conington). But comp. Alexandrea turbida, AUSON., Clar. Urb.,


3, 4.

6, 7. elevet: ‘reject as light.' The figure is taken from weighing, doubtless a common trope in the schools.-examen: (filum, ligula) is the ‘index, tongue, or needle' which is said to be inprobum, 'faulty,'' wilful,” untoward,' because it does not move


freely or accurately on its pivot.--trutina: (Gr. Tpurávn), a word of doubtful etymology and loose application, means here “a balance,

a pair of scales,' not, as the scholiast says, the foramen, • fork' or cheeks,” in which the examen plays.--castiges=percutias (Schol.) of the tap given to a hitching balance. Gesner, s. v., regards castigare here as equivalent to conpescere (5,100), a view which has a good deal in its favor. The notion is not do not correct the popular standard,' but do not try to get an exact result by the popular standard (for your guidance).' Hermann (Lect. Pers., II., 9) follows those who understand the examen and trutina of different instruments: Noli examen tuum in populi trutina castigare.* So Pretor, who translates : ‘Do not try to correct the erring tongue of your delicate balance by applying to it a pair of ordinary scales.'—nec te quaesiveris extra: (te) “Nor look for yourself (what you can find only in yourself) outside of yourself.' 'Be your own norm.' Others arrange: nec quaesiveris extra te, Nor ask any opinion but your own.'

8-12. The distribution followed is that of Jahn (1843), which gives nolo (v. 11) to the interlocutor. The jerky, self-interrupting discourse is supposed to be characteristic of the petulante splene cachinno. "What is the use of consulting Rome? Every body there is an- If I might say what! If I might ? Surely I may, when I consider how old we are become, how grum we are, and all the step-fatherly manner of our lives, since the days of " commoneys” and “alley tors.” Indulge me. It can not be. What am I to do? Nothing? But I am a man of laughter with a saucy spleen.

8. nam Romae quis non? The suppressed predicate is to be supplied from the general scope of the passage. The sentence is not completed in v. 121 (auriculas asini habet), for the simple reason that PERSIUS did not write quis non in that passage, but Mida rex.

* No satisfactory treatment of this subject is accessible to me. The Greek and Latin dictionaries are wildly at variance with one another and with the authorities. Examen seems to have been originally the strap by which the beam was suspended-not from ag, but from ap. Sce ISIDOR., Orig., 16, 23, and comp. anıentum (ammentum). Add LUCIL.., 16, 14 (L. Müller). EUSTATHIUS's tputávn émi Guyon ý teipouévn Búpei tūv őykwv points to the pivot (knife-edge) as the first meaning of trutina.

« PredošláPokračovať »