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himself would vote. The impatient Frenchman is evidently not of a mind to read prefaces, biographies, memoirs, and commentaries on these prefaces, these biographies, these memoirs, and notes on these commentaries, in order to form an idea that will haply be very false and assuredly very debatable, of a work about which no one will ever talk to you, and of a poet about whom you will never find any one to talk to.' But the question, which may be an open one to a critic, is not an open one to an editor; and editors of Persius are especially prone to value their author by the labor which he has cost them, by the material which, they have gathered about the text. The thoughts are, after all, so common that parallels are to be found on every hand; the compass is so small that it is an easy matter to carry in the memory every word, every phrase; and so-called illustrations suggest themselves even to an ordinary scholar in bewildering numbers, while the looseness of the connection gives ample scope to speculation. Hence the sarcasm of Joseph Scaliger: Non pulchra habet sed in eum pulcherrima possumus scribere ; and the well-known criticism of the same scholar: Au Perse de Casaubon la saulce vaut mieux que le poisson. But this artificial love on the part of the editors has not contributed to the popularity of the author, and the youthful poet has been overlaid by his erudite commentators. Besides this disadvantage, Persius, when he is read at all, comes immediately after Juvenal, and, as if to enhance the contrast, is generally bound up with him; and the homeliness of his tropes, the crabbedness of his dialogue, the roughness of his transitions repel the young student, who finds the riddance of the historical and archæological work which Juvenal involves a poor compensation for the lack of the large manner and the dazzling rhetoric of the great declaimer. On the other
hand, maturer scholars have been found to reverse the popular verdict, and to say, with Mr. Simcox, that the shy, youthful fervor of the dutiful boy, combined with the literary honesty which kept Persius from writing any thing which was not a part of his permanent consciousness, makes him improve upon every reading, which is more than can be said of Juvenal, who writes as if he thought and felt little in the intervals of writing.' But, while it is easy to get tired of Juvenal, it is not so easy to become enamored of Persius; and it must be admitted that the pleasure is questionable. Yet, in spite of M. Nisard, there is no real question about the utility of the study of the poet, who illustrates by what he does not say even more than by what he says the character of an age which is of supreme importance to the historian. Even if we put the study on lower ground, we must admit that Persius's title to a prominent position in the annals of Roman literature is indefeasible. However desirable it may be to get rid of him, an author who has left his impress on Rabelais and Ben Jonson, as well as on Montaigne and Boilean--an anthor whose poems have furnished so many quotations to modern letters, can not be dismissed from the necessities of a 'polite education? with a convenient sneer. Persius deserves our attention, if it were only as a problem of literary taste.
To the end of the study of Persius, it is best to look away from the conflicting views of the critics, and to abandon the attempt to distinguish between the weight of facts and the momentum of rhetoric in the balanced antitheses of praise and blame. The position of the poet will be most accurately determined by the calculation of the statics of his department and his age.
The Satire is the only extant form of Latin poetry that can lay claim to a truly national origin; and the error
into which the early historians of classical literature were led by the resemblance between the name of the Roman satire and the name of the Greek satyr-drama has long been corrected. But the truth which this error involves, the connection between the comic drama and the satire, remains. The satire goes back to the popular source of comedy, and holds in solution all the elements which the Greeks combined into various forms of dramatic merriment. As the rhythmical movements, which culminate in such perfections as the dactylic hexameter and the iambic trimeter, are common to our whole race, and the rude Saturnian verse is one with the heroic, so the rustic songs of harvest and vintage are common to Greece and Italy; and it is no marvel that, as the satire was working itself out to classic proportions, it should have felt its kindred to Greek comedy, and should have drawn its materials and its methods from that literature on which Roman literature in its other departments was more directly dependent. And so the satire, though a genuine growth of Italian soil, was none the less subject to Greek influ
It was trained into Greek forms, it was permeated by Greek thought; and here as elsewhere the retranslation into Greek, of which the older commentators were so fond, is often the key to the meaning; here as elsewhere our appreciation of the author, as a whole, is conditioned by our knowledge of Greek literature.
Horace, the master of Roman satire, has more than once drawn the parallel between satire and comedy; and Persius, who follows the literary, though not the philosophical creed of his predecessor, aims even more distinctly than Horace does at reproducing the mimicry of comedy on the narrow stage of the satire. At the close of the First Satire he goes so far as to demand of his readers the intense study of the Old Attic Comedy as the preparation
for the enjoyment of his poems-an extraordinary demand, if we do not make due allowance for the rhetorical expression of high aims and earnest endeavors. A comparison of the triumvirate of the comoedia prisca of Attica reveals little trace of direct influence, abundant evidence of extreme diversity in expression and conception. I say 'expression,' not language.' It is true that the language of Persius has a virile tone, but the masculine energy of his words is often out of keeping with the scholastic tameness of his thoughts. The breezy Pnyx of the Athenian and the stuffy lecticula lucubratoria of the Ro-. man are not further apart than Aristophanes and Persius.
The New Attic Comedy, the comedy of situation and manners, furnished themes that lay nearer to the genius of Persius, although the grace of a Menander was much further from his grasp than from Terence, the half-Menander of Caesar's epigram. One passage is all but translated from Menander's Eunuch; and if Persius did not borrow traits for his picture of the miser and the spendthrift from the master of the New Comedy, it was not for lack of models. Indeed, so unreal is Persius, with all the realism of his language, that one of the most striking features of his poems—the opposition to the militaryloses somewhat of its significance when we remember that the Macedonian period, to which the New Comedy belongs, is crowded with typical soldiers of fortune, with their coarse love of sensual pleasure—their coarse contempt of every thing that can not be eaten, drunk, or handled. Every line of Persius's centurion can be reproduced from the Greek; and although it would be going too far to say that there was no counterpart to his sketch in his own experience, although, on the contrary, Persius seems to have verified by actual observation whatever he learned from books, the historical value of his portrait is
very much reduced by the existence of the Greek type. As a specimen of a kind of clerico-political opposition to an empire which its enemies might call an empire of brute force and military mechanism, the hostility of Persius to a class whose predominance was making itself felt more and more is not without its point and interest, and it is unfortunate that we have to leave its reality in suspense.
Yet another form of the comic drama was the Mime, and we have the explicit statement of Joannes Lydus that Persius imitated the famous mimographer, Sophron; and •although the fragments of Sophron are so scanty that this statement can not be verified, it is not without its intrinsic probability. The mimetic power of Sophron is notorious, and Persius might well have taken lessons from the man whom Plato acknowledged as his master. The dialogue, thus borrowed from the mime, became the artistic form of philosophic composition, and, as Persius's Satires are essentially moral treatises, it is not surprising that he should have made large use of the same machinery. Plato himself furnished the movement for two of his
and we can detect a community of models between Persius and some of the later Greek writers. Lucian, the mercurial, and Persius, the saturnine, often work on the same theme, each in his way; and when the dialogue is dropped, and the bustle of the drama is succeeded by the effects of the scene-painter's craft, we are reminded of another group of copyists, and find all the picturesque detail for which Persius is so famous in the letters of Alkiphron and Aristainetos, themselves far-off echoes of the New Comedy
Surely these are originals enough, the Attic Comedy, the Mime, Sophron and Plato, Menander and Philemon. But we find other models nearer home, and, passing by the reflections of Greek comedy in Plautus and Terence,