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in numbers borrowed from the Iliad. The elder poet, in the epitaph which he wrote for himself, and which is a fine specimen of the early Roman diction and versification, plaintively boasted that the Latin language had died with him. Thus, what to Horace appeared to be the first faint dawn of Roman literature, appeared to Nævius to be its hopeless setting. In truth, one literature was set ting, and another dawning.
as the traveller on classic ground sometimes finds, built into the heavy wall of a fort or convent, a pillar rich with acanthus leaves, or a frieze where the Amazons and Bacchanals seem to live. The theatres and temples of the Greek and the Roman were degraded into the quarries of the Turk and the Goth. Even so did the old Saturnian poetry become the quarry in which a crowd of orators and annalists found the materials for their prose.
The victory of the foreign taste was deci- It is not difficult to trace the process by sive and indeed we can hardly blame the which the old songs were transmuted into the Romans for turning away with contempt from form which they now wear. Funeral panethe rude lays which had delighted their fathers, gyric and chronicle appear to have been the and giving their whole admiration to the great intermediate links which connected the lost productions of Greece. The national romances, ballads with the histories now extant. From neglected by the great and the refined whose a very early period it was the usage that an education had been finished at Rhodes or oration should be pronounced over the remains Athens, continued, it may be supposed, during of a noble Roman. The orator, as we learn some generations, to delight the vulgar. While from Polybius, was expected, on such an occaVirgil, in hexameters of exquisite modulation, sion, to recapitulate all the services which the described the sports of rustics, those rustics ancestors of the deceased had, from the earliest were still singing their wild Saturnian ballads.† time, rendered to the commonwealth. There It is not improbable that, at the time when can be little doubt that the speaker on whom Cicero lamented the irreparable loss of the this duty was imposed would make use of all poems mentioned by Cato, a scarch among the the stories suited to his purpose which were to nooks of the Apennines, as active as the search be found in the popular lays. There can be as which Sir Walter Scott made among the de-little doubt that the family of an eminent man scendants of the mosstroopers of Liddesdale, might have brought to light many fine remains of ancient minstrelsy. No such search was made. The Latin ballads perished forever. Yet discerning critics have thought that they could still perceive in the early history of Rome numerous fragments of this lost poetry,
Bentley says, indeed, that the Saturnian measure was first brought from Greece into Italy by Nævius. But this is merely obiter dictum, to use a phrase common in our courts of law, and would not have been deliberately maintained by that incomparable critic, whose memory is held in reverence by all lovers of learning. arguments which might be brought against Bentley's assertion-for it is mere assertion, supported by no evidence-are innumerable. A few will suffice.
1. Bentley's assertion is opposed to the testimony of Ennius. Ennius sneered at Nævius for writing on the First Punic War in verses such as the old Italian bards used before Greek literature had been studied. Now, the poem of Nævius was in Saturnian verse. Is it possible that Ennius could have used such expressions, if the Saturnian verse had been just imported from Greece for the first time?
2. Bentley's assertion is opposed to the testimony of Horace. "When Greece," says Horace, "introduced her arts into our uncivilized country, those rugged Saturnian numbers passed away." Would Horace have said this, if the Saturnian numbers had been imported from Greece just before the hexameter?
would preserve a copy of the speech which had been pronounced over his corpse. The compilers of the early chronicles would have recourse to these speeches; and the great historians of a later period would have recourse to the chronicles.
It may be worth while to select a particular story, and to trace its probable progress through these stages. The description of the migration of the Fabian house to Cremera is one of the finest of the many fine passages which lie thick in the earlier books of Livy. The ConSul, clad in his military garb, stands in the vestibule of his house, marshalling his clan, three hundred and six fighting men, all of the same proud patrician blood, all worthy to be attended by the fasces and to command the legions. A sad and anxious retinue of friends accompanies the adventurers through the streets; but the voice of lamentation is drownthe procession passes the Capitol, prayers and ed by the shouts of admiring thousands. As Vows are poured forth, but in vain. The devoted band, leaving Janus on the right, marches to its doom through the Gate of Evil Luck. After achieving great deeds of valour against overwhelming numbers, al! perish save one child, the stock from which the great Fabian 4. Bentley's assertion is opposed to the testimony of race was destined again to spring, for the Terentianus Maurus, to whom he has himself appealed. safety and glory of the commonwealth That Terentianus Maurus does indeed say that the Saturnian measure, though believed by the Romans from a very this fine romance, the details of which are so early period ("credidit vetustas") to be of Italian in- full of poetical truth, and so utterly destitutevention, was really borrowed from the Greeks. But Terentianus Maurus does not say that it was first bor- of all show of historical truth, came originally rowed by Nævius. Nay, the expressions used by Terentianus Maurus clearly imply the contrary; for how could the Romans have believed, from a very early period, that this measure was the indigenous production of Latium, if it was really brought over from Greece in an age of intelligence and liberal curiosity, in the age which gave birth to Ennius, Plautus, Cato the Censor, and other distinguished writers1 If Bentley's assertion were correct, there could have been no more doubt at Rome about the Greek origin of the Saturnian measure than about the Greek origin of hexameters or Sapphics.
3. Bentley's assertion is opposed to the testimony of Festus and of Aurelius ictor, both of whom positively say that the most ancient prophecies attributed to the
Fauns were in Saturnian verse.
* Aulus Gellins, Noctes Atticæ, i. 24. † See Servius, in Georg. ii. 385. VOL. IV -68
from some lay which had often been sung with great applause at banquets, is in the highest. degree probable. Nor is it difficult to imagine a mode in which the transmission might have taken place. The celebrated Quintus Fabius Maximus, who died about twenty years before the First Punic War, and more than forty years before Ennius was born, is said to have been interred with extraordinary pomp. In the eulogy pronounced over his body all the great
exploits of his ancestors were doubtless_re- | after the ballads had been altogether forgotten, counted and exaggerated. If there were then consulted the chronicle. He was struck by the extant songs which gave a vivid and touching lively colouring of these ancient fictions; he description of an event, the saddest and the transferred them to his pages; and thus we most glorious in the long history of the Fabian find inserted, as unquestionable facts, in a narhouse, nothing could be more natural than that rative which is likely to last as long as the the panegyrist should borrow from such songs English tongue, the inventions of some min their finest touches, in order to adorn his strel whose works were probably never come speech. A few generations later the songs mitted to writing, whose name is buried in would perhaps be forgotten, or remembered oblivion, and whose dialect has become obso only by shepherds and vine-dressers. But the lete. It must then be admitted to be possible, speech would certainly be preserved in the or rather highly probable, that the stories of archives of the Fabian nobles. Fabius Pictor Romulus and Remus, and of the Horatii and would be well acquainted with a document so Curiatii, may have had a similar origin. interesting to his personal feelings, and would insert large extracts from it in his rude chronicle. That chronicle, as we know, was the oldest to which Livy had access. Livy would at a glance distinguish the bold strokes of the forgotten poet from the dull and feeble narrative by which they were surrounded, would retouch them with a delicate and powerful pencil, and would make them immortal.
Castilian literature will furnish us with another parallel case. Mariana, the classical historian of Spain, tells the story of the ill-starred marriage which the King Don Alonso brought about between the heirs of Carrion and the two daughters of the Cid. The Cid bestowed a princely dower on his sons-in-law. But the young men were base and proud, cov ardly and cruel. They were tried in danger, That this might happen at Rome can scarcely and found wanting. They fled before the be doubted; for something very like this has | Moors, and once, when a lion broke out of his happened in several countries, and, among den, they ran and couched in an unseemly others, in our own. Perhaps the theory of hiding-place. They knew that they were de Perizonius cannot be better illustrated than by spised, and took counsel how they might be showing that what he supposes to have taken avenged. They parted from their father-in-law place in ancient times has, beyond all doubt, with many signs of love, and set forth on a taken place in modern times. journey with Doña Elvira and Doña Sol. In a solitary place the bridegrooms seized their brides, stripped them, scourged them, and departed, leaving them for dead. But one of the house of Bivar, suspecting foul play, had fol lowed them in disguise. The ladies were
History," says Hume, with the utmost gravity, "has preserved some instances of Edgar's amours, from which, as from a specimen, we may form a conjecture of the rest." He then tells very agreeably the stories of Elfleda and Elfrida; two stories which have a most sus-brought back safe to the house of their father. picious air of romance, and which, indeed, Complaint was made to the king. It was ad greatly resemble, in their general character, judged by the Cortes that the dower given by some of the legends of early Rome. He cites, the Cid should be returned, and that the heirs as his authority for these two tales, the chro- of Carrion together with one of their kindred nicle of William of Malmesbury, who lived in should do battle against three knights of the the time of King Stephen. The great majority party of the Cid. The guilty youths would of readers suppose that the device by which have declined the combat; but all their shifts Elfleda was substituted for her young mistress, were vain. They were vanquished in the lists, the artifice by which Athelwold obtained the and forever disgraced, while their injured hand of Elfrida, the detection of that artifice, wives were sought in marriage by great the hunting party, and the vengeance of the princes." amorous king, are things about which there is no more doubt than about the execution of Anne Boleyn, or the slitting of Sir John Coventry's nose. But, when we turn to William of Malmesbury, we find that Hume, in his eagerness to relate these pleasant fables, has overlooked one very important circumstance. William does indeed tell both the stories; but he gives us distinct notice that he does not warrant their tru'n, and that they rest on no better authority than that of ballads.*
Such is the way in which these two wellknown tales have been handed down. They originally appeared in a poetical form. They found their way from ballads into an old chronicle. The ballads perished; the chronicle remained. A great historian, some centuries
“Infamias quas post dicam magis resperserunt can-
Some Spanish writers have laboured to show, by an examination of dates and circumstances, that this story is untrue. Such confutation was surely not needed; for the narrative is on the face of it a romance. How it found its way into Mariana's history is quite clear. He acknowledges his obligations to the old chronicles, and had doubtless before him the "Cronica del famoso Cavallero Cid Ruy Diez Campeador," which had been printed as early as the year 1552. He little suspected that all the most striking passages in this chronicle were copied from a poem of the twelfth century, a poem of which the language and versification had long been obsolete, but which glowed with no common portion of the fire of the Iliad. Yet such was the fact. More than a century and a half after the death of Mariana, this grand old ballad, of which one imperfect copy on parchment, four hundred
Mariana, lib. x. cap. 4
years old, had been preserved at Bivar, was for the first time printed. Then it was found that every interesting circumstance of the story of the heirs of Carrion was derived by the eloquent Jesuit from a song of which he had never heard, and which was composed by a minstrel whose very name had long been forgotten.
Such, or nearly such, appears to have been the process by which the lost ballad-poetry of Rome was transformed into history. To reverse that process, to transform some portions of early Roman history back into the poetry out of which they were made, is the object of this work.
In the following poems the author speaks, not in his own person, but in the persons of ancient minstrels who know only what a Roman citizen, born three or four hundred years before the Christian era, may be supposed to have known, and who are in nowise above the passions and prejudices of their age and country. To these imaginary poets must be ascribed some blunders which are so obvious that it is unnecessary to point them out. The real blunder would have been to represent these old poets as deeply versed in general history, and studious of chronological accuracy. To them must also be attributed the illiberal sneers at the Greeks, the furious party spirit, the contempt for the arts of peace, the love of war for its own sake, the ungenerous exultation
See the account which Sanchez gives of the Bivar manuscript in the first volume of the Coleccion de Poesias Castellanas anteriores al Siglo XV. Part of the story of the lords of Carrion, in the poem of the Cid, has been translated by Mr. Frere in a manner above all praise.
over the vanquished, which the reader will sometimes observe. To portray a Roman of the age of Camillus or Curius as superior to national antipathies, as mourning over the devastation and slaughter by which empire and triumphs were to be won, as looking on human suffering with the sympathy of Howard, or as treating conquered enemies with the delicacy of the Black Prince, would be to violate all dramatic propriety. The old Romans had some great virtues,-fortitude, temperance, veracity, spirit to resist oppression, respect for legitimate authority, fidelity in the observing of contracts, disinterestedness, ardent public spirit; but Christian charity and chivalrous generosity were alike unknown to them.
It would have been obviously improper to mimic the manner of any particular age or country. Something has been borrowed, however, from our own old ballads, and more from Sir Walter Scott, the great restorer of our ballad-poetry. To the Iliad still greater obligations are due; and those obligations have been contracted with the less hesitation because there is reason to believe that some of the old Latin minstrels really had recourse to that inexhaustible store of poetical images.
It would have been easy to swell this little volume to a very considerable bulk, by appending notes filled with quotations; but to a learned reader such notes are not necessary; for an unlearned reader they would have little interest; and the judgment passed both by the learned and by the unlearned on a work of the imagination will always depend much more on the general character and spirit of such a work than on minute details.
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.
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 The following ballad is supposed to have reason to believe, heard the tale recited over the remains of some Consul or Prætor descend- been made about a hundred and twenty years ed from the old Horatian patricians; for he after the war which it celebrates, and just beevidently introduces it as a specimen of the fore the taking of Rome by the Gauls. The narratives with which the Romans were in the author seems to have been an honest citizen, habit of embellishing their funeral oratory. It proud of the military glory of his country, sick is remarkable that, according to his descrip-of the disputes of factions, and much given to tion, Horatius defended the bridge alone, and pining after good old times which had never The allusion, however, to the perished in the waters. According to the really existed. chronicles which Livy and Dionysius fol- partial manner in which the public lands were lowed, Horatius had two companions, swam allotted could proceed only from a plebeian; safe to shore, and was loaded with honours and the allusion to the fraudulent sale of spoils marks the date of the poem, and shows that and rewards. the poet shared in the general discontent with which the proceedings of Camillus, after the taking of Veii, were regarded.
These discrepancies are easily explained. Our own literature, indeed, will furnish an exact parallel to what may have taken place The penultimate syllable of the name Porseat Rome. It is highly probable that the memory 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 Reiques of Ancient Eng-ing any ground for his opinion, that Martial lish Poetry. In both those ballads the English, was guilty of a decided blunder in the line, "Ilanc spectare manum Porsena non potuit." commanded by the Percy fight with the Scots, commanded by the Douglas. In one of the It is not easy to understand how any modern ballads, the Douglas is killed by a nameless English archer, and the Percy by a Scottish scholar, whatever his attainments may be,spearman in the other, the Percy slays the and those of Niebuhr were undoubtedly imDouglas in single combat, and is himself made mense,-can venture to pronounce that Martial did not know the quantity of a word which prisoner. In the former, Sir Hugh Montgomery is shot through the heart by a Northumbrian he must have uttered and heard uttered a bowman: in the latter, he is taken, and ex-hundred times before he left school. Niebuhr changed for the Percy. Yet both the ballads seems also to have forgotten that Martial has fellow culprits to keep him in countenance. Horace has committed the same decided blur relate to the same event, and that an event which probably took place within the memory of persons who were alive when both the bal-der; for he gives us, as a pure iambic line,
lads were made. One of the minstrels says:
“Old men that knowen the grownde well yenoughe
At Otterburn began this spurne
Ther was the dougghte Doglas slean:
Upon a monnyn day.
The Perse never went away."
"Minacis aut Etrusca Porsenæ manus."
Silius Italicus has repeatedly offended in the as when he says,
"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:
"Thys fraye bygan at Otterborne
Ther the Dowglas lost hys lyfe,
Bytwene the nyghte and the day;
And the Percy was lede away."
Niebuhr's supposition that each of the three defenders of the bridge was the representative of one of the three patrician tribes is both in genious and probable, and has been adopted
It is by no means unlikely ha: there were in the following poem.