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THERE can be little doubt that among those parts of early Roman history which had a poetical origin was the legend of Horatius Cocles. We have several versions of the story, and these versions differ from each other in points of no small importance. Polybius, there is reason to believe, heard the tale recited over the remains of some Consul or Prætor descended from the old Horatian patricians; for he evidently introduces it as a specimen of the narratives with which the Romans were in the habit of embellishing their funeral oratory. It is remarkable that, according to his description, Horatius defended the bridge alone, and perished in the waters. According to the chronicles which Livy and Dionysius followed, Horatius had two companions, swam safe to shore, and was loaded with honours and rewards.
These discrepancies are easily explained. Our own literature, indeed, will furnish an exact parallel to what may have taken place at Rome. It is highly probable that the me- The penultimate syllable of the name Porsemory of the war of Porsena was preserved by na has been shortened in spite of the authority compositions much resembling the two ballads of Niebuhr, who pronounces, without assign which stand first in the Reliques of Ancient Eng-ing any ground for his opinion, that Martial hsh Poetry. In both those ballads the English, was guilty of a decided blunder in the line, commanded by the Percy fight with the Scots, commanded by the Douglas. In one of the ballads, the Douglas is killed by a nameless English archer, and the Percy by a Scottish spearman in the other, the Percy slays the Douglas in single combat, and is himself made prisoner. In the former, Sir Hugh Montgomery is shot through the heart by a Northumbrian bowman: in the latter, he is taken, and exchanged for the Percy. Yet both the ballads relate to the same event, and that an event which probably took place within the memory of persons who were alive when both the ballads were made. One of the minstrels says:
"Old men that knowen the grownde well yenoughe Call it the battell of Otterburn:
At Otterburn began this spurne
two old Roman lays about the defence of the bridge; and that, while the story which Livy has transmitted to us was preferred by the multitude, the other, which ascribed the whole glory to Horatius alone, may have been the favourite with the Horatian house.
The following ballad is supposed to have been made about a hundred and twenty years after the war which it celebrates, and just be fore the taking of Rome by the Gauls. The author seems to have been an honest citizen, proud of the military glory of his country, sick of the disputes of factions, and much given to pining after good old times which had never really existed. The allusion, however, to the partial manner in which the public lands were allotted could proceed only from a plebeian; and the allusion to the fraudulent sale of spoils marks the date of the poem, and shows that the poet shared in the general discontent with which the proceedings of Camillus, after the taking of Veii, were regarded.
Upon a monnyn day.
Ther was the dougghte Doglas slean:
"Thys fraye bygan at Otterborne
Bytwene the nyghte and the day;
"Hanc spectare manum Porsena non potuit." It is not easy to understand how any modern scholar, whatever his attainments may be,and those of Niebuhr were undoubtedly im mense,-can venture to pronounce that Martial did not know the quantity of a word which he must have uttered and heard uttered a hundred times before he left school. Niebuhr seems also to have forgotten that Martial has fellow culprits to keep him in countenance. Horace has committed the same decided blun
der; for he gives us, as a pure iambic line,
"Minacis aut Etrusca Porsenæ manus.”
"Cernitur effugiens ardentem Porsena dextram ;" and again,
"Clusinum vulgus, cum, Porsena magne, jubebas."
The other poet sums up the event in the fol- A modern writer may be content to err in such owing lines:
Silius Italicus has repeatedly offended in the same way, as when he says,
Niebuhr's supposition that each of the three defenders of the bridge was the representative of one of the three patrician tribes is both ingenious and probable, and has been adopted
It is by no means unlikely na there were in the following poem.
7. But now no stroke of woodman Is heard by Auser's rill,
No hunter tracks the stag's green path
Grazes the milk-white steer;
The harvests of Arretium
This year old men shall reap; This year young boys in Umbro
Shall plunge the struggling sheep; And in the vats of Luna,
This year, the must shall foam Round the white feet of laughing girls Whose sires have marched to Rome
There be thirty chosen prophets,
Both morn and evening stand: Evening and morn the Thirty
Have turned the verses o'er, Traced from the right on linen white By mighty seers of yore.
And with one voice the Thirty
Have their glad answer given: "Go forth, go forth, Lars Porsena Go forth, beloved of Heaven; Go, and return in glory
To Clusium's royal dome, And hang round Nurscia's altars The golden shields of Rome." 11.
And now hath every city
Sent up her tale of men: The foot are fourscore thousand, The horse are thousands ten. Before the gates of Sutrium Is met the great array, A proud man was Lars Porsena Upon the trysting day.
For all the Etruscan armies Were ranged beneath his eye, And many a banished Roman,
And many a stout ally; And with a mighty following
To join the muster came The Tusculan Mamilius, Prince of the Latian name.
But by the yellow Tiber
The throng stopped up the ways;