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a show of lamenting, the vulgarity and baseness of the individuals he was obliged to bring into his writings;9 but there are many touches, such as concern the love of parent and child,10 husband and wife, friend and friend,l2 master and slave,13 which seem to prove there were better materials in his countrymen than he would openly allow.
The curtain which hangs in history upon the daily habits and opinions of the Romans, in their various classes, is, for a moment, lifted in the plays of Plautus. The group of fishermen look as if we were with them on the shore.14 The praise of valor from the lady's lips sounds fresh and stirring, as if spoken in the midst of the people who loved to be brave, believing that bravery was the whole of virtue.15 The derision of the immortals opens a stranger scene, and one prophetic of the contempt which was some day to triumph, confessedly or unconfessedly, over what had been in Rome thought holy.16 But it is in the poet's pages, not in these, that he or those of whom he writes 17 can be best comprehended.
9 See his own list in the Captivi, Prol. 55 - 58.
10 In the Captivi.
13 In the Captivi and the Truculentus.
14 Rudens, Act II. sc. 1.
15 “Virtus præmium 'st optumum. Virtus omnibus rebus anteit profecto. Libertas, salus, vila, res, parentes, Patria et prognati tulantur, servantur; Virtus omnia in se babet : omnia adsunt bona, quem penes est virtus.
Amphit., Act II. sc. 2.
16 See the whole play of the Amphitruo, in which derision of Jupiter is an especial feature, capped by the line at the close : “Nunc, spectatores, Jovis summi causa clare
Philemo scripsit, Plautus vortit barbare;
Quintus Ennius, born in Calabria, but bred, like most Italians, to the service of their great metropolis, came in mature manhood 18 to Rome, where he spent most of his remaining days in a modest home upon the Aventine. He occupied himself in teaching many high-born youths, with whom the adventures of his earlier years in the armies of their fathers would have made him a favorite, whatever might have been his capacity to teach, or theirs to learn. One of his pupils, the son of a great house, procured him the privilege of citizenship in his old age; but Ennius had long been courted by the most eminent men in Rome, as if he were able to honor them more than they could honor him. The patronage of the rich and the powerful was attracted towards him as the poet who could wreathe a garland for their brows, rather than the teacher who could make them wiser in their minds or humaner in their hearts; and the position he occupied amongst them, as amongst their children, was scarcely that which would have been given a man of equal genius in a more cultivated nation. On the other hand, there was nothing degrading to Ennius in being regarded by the sons or by the fathers as has been described; but the contrary. Scipio Africanus himself desired that the ashes of the poet should be deposited at his side, in
the exponent of Roman feelings dinia, and induced him to visit Rome under foreign names.
under his protection. In De Vir. 18 Being about forty years of age. III., XLVII., Ennius is mentioned He was born A. C. 239 and died in as having been Cato's instructor in 169. It was Porcius Cato (see next Greek. chapter) who met Ennius in Sar
the burial-place of his family; and Ennius requited the attachment of the Patrician with praises of his life, and, after he was dead, of his illustrious memory. 19
It was under such influences that Ennius composed his Annals, as he called the poem, in which the splendors of Rome were concentrated, as it were, into a single ray of glowing song. He could not have turned to the past, however, for its own sake, so much as to warm the memories and to gild the names of those great men who protected him in his adopted home. If he sought the associations of elder days, it was not to describe them by themselves, as though they were distinct from the circumstances and the achievements of his own times, but rather so to link the living with the dead, that their renown might brighten with the reflection or the absorption of what had gone before. The present was his inspiration; the past but furnished his materials; and the future, if he looked forward, was too uncertain to wake a strain from him, as it was to stir a hope amongst his countrymen. One of the few fragments that remain from the wreck of Ennius's Annals confirms the view we have to take of him simply by the doubt it expresses of the care or the providence of the gods.20 The Romans were beginning to disbelieve the efficacy of any other powers than those established in earthly institutions or lodged in mortal souls.
19 See the classification of En nius's fragments in the article thereupon in Smith's Dict. Gr. and Rom. Biog. and Myth.
20 " Ego deum genus esse semper dixi, et
dicam cælitum; Sed eos non curare opinor, quid agat humanum genus."
Ap. Cic., De Divin., II. 50.
Terentius, or, as we call him, Terence, a boy still when Plautus died, yet his first.successor, belongs to a later day than that at which we have actually arrived. There is, however, no impropriety in introducing him here to complete the list of those who first preferred, or else assumed, because preferred by others, the service of the Muses amongst the worshippers of Mars. Born in Carthage, and probably of some poor family, Terence was apparently sold 21 into servitude at an early age, and brought to Rome by a certain Senator, Terentius Lucanus, who, struck by the intellect of his slave, first educated and then liberated him, with the permission to bear the name of his benefactor. The acuteness of the Senator was not at fault; and the freedman became the favorite writer with the people, and the favorite companion with many of the most distinguished men in Rome.22 The marks, however, of foreign birth and of early bondage were not obliterated; and the witness which Terence bears down to us of his own spirit discloses rather his obsequiousness to those with whom he passed his life, but of whom he was scarcely one. While his predecessors in poetry and in the drama had written from their own impulses as well as from the desire they had to gratify their superiors,
21 Terent. Vita, nominally by tion of his plays. See his lines, Suetonius, Sect. 1.
Prol. to Heauton., 22 et seq. ; Prol. 22 Such as the younger Africanus to Adel., 15 et seq. The refutation and his friend Lælius, whose inti- (somewhat contrary to his own tone) macy with Terence was so great, is in Terent. Vit., just cited, Sect. that he was charged with seeking or 2, 3, 4. accepting their aid in the composi
Terence seems to have sunk his individuality in such profound servility, as to have been an imitator of others' writings, 23 as well as a flatterer of others' tastes 24 besides his own.
It is dangerous, perhaps, to take such a man as the representative of the very people whom he sought to please, because the adaptation of his art to their entertainment was too much studied not to be overstrained. He praised the elder poets, for instance, but their earnestness could no more be gathered from his imitations than the stars can be represented by farthing candles. Yet there is one point observable in Terence's plays that so corresponds with the indications of positive history as to be acceptable in illustration of the Roman mind, as it was seen by him. This is the indifferent, it might often be called the jeering, temper in which he expresses feeling or describes affection ; 25 as if the life he led and the lives he witnessed were sadder than they are commonly regarded, even when all the evils of heathenism are remembered. Another change which seems to have been working amongst the Romans is
23 “Ex integra Græca integram comediam His pictures of the rudeness of his Hodie sum aclurus." Heauton., Prol., 4, 5.
audience must be remembered ; as See Eunuch., Prol., 30 et seq., 41: in the prologues to Heauton, and Andria, Prol., 18 et seq. The name
Hecyra. which Cæsar gave him was bitter
25 As in the Andria, Act I. sc. 6, enough: - O dimidiate Menander!" or in the Heauton., passim, but esTerent. Vit., Sect. 5.
pecially in the famous line, “ Homo 24 « Poeta quum primum animum ad scri- sum,” etc. (Act I. sc. 1. 77); bendum appulit,
than which there was never intendId sibi negoti credidit dari,
ed a greater satire upon Populo ut placerent, quas fecisset fabulas."
philanAndria, Prol. thropy.