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TIBULLUS.

DIED A.D. 18.

IBULLUS was a Roman of equestrian family, whose

poetry, it is considered, possesses more neatness

and finish than that of Catullus, and whose tastes were more domestic and conservative. He appears to have accompanied his patron, Messala, to Aquitania, as in one of his poems he claims a share in the fame of his victories; but peaceful subjects were evidently more congenial to him, and most of his compositions relate either to love, or to rural scenery and rustic festivals. His elegies to his mistress Delia are elegantly expressed, but tinged with melancholy; they are interesting chiefly for the references they contain to Roman customs, such as the use of dice to ascertain their luck, and the worship of the Egyptian goddess Isis by the fashionable ladies of the period. In one of them he alludes to a witch, whose arts he professes to have secured against a suspected rival

Her have I known the stars of heaven to charm,

The rapid river's course by spells to turn,
Cleave graves, bid bones descend from pyres still warm,

Or coax the manes forth from silent urn.
Hell's rabble now she calls with magic scream,

Now bids them milk-sprent to their homes below;
At will lights cloudy skies with sunshine's gleam,
At will 'neath summer orbs collects the snow.'

Davies.

In another, referring to his distraction at a lengthened separation, he speaks of himself as

• Driven like a top which boys, with ready art,

Keep spinning round upon a level floor;' by which we learn that one at least of the juvenile games in those days is indulged in still; just as the infatuations and jealousies of modern lovers resemble those which the poet relates as his experiences. Amongst the rites and ceremonies, too, of the rural population of Latium, which, he describes, was a procession corresponding with our annual beating of the parish boundaries. On such occasions he held that there should be general relaxation and merry-making

• The festal day let soil and tiller rest,

Hang up the share, and give all ploughing o'er ;
Unstrap the yokes ; each ox, with chaplets drest,

Should feed at large a well-filled stall before.
Bold in his thriving tilth the farmer then,

Logs on a blazing hearth shall cheerly pile ;
And slaves, by whom their master's ease we ken,
Frolic, and wattle bowers of twigs the while.'

Davies. He also gives a full description of a festival in honour of Pales, the goddess of shepherds, in which many customs that have descended to our times were practised under the shade of the old tree on the village green.

His verses generally evince an independent spirit, and their terse and simple language has earned for him the appellation of the poet of nature.

PROPERTIUS.

DIED A.D. 15.

ROPERTIUS was a native of Umbria, and, a portion

of his patrimony having been allotted to the veter

ans of Augustus, he was stimulated by necessity to develop his talents, which might otherwise have lain dormant, in studying for the bar, and ultimately as a poet. His early patron was Tullus, a nephew of the consul of that name, and he afterwards obtained an introduction to Mæcenas. His model was the Alexandrian school, and all his compositions bear the impress of his proclivity for mythological lore, although it does not appear that he ever visited Greece.

The prime motive for his poetical effusions is told in the following lines :

Many have lived and loved their life away ;

Oh, may I live and love, then die as they !
Too weak for fame, too slight for war's stern rule,
Fate bade me learn only in love's soft school.'

Martin.

The charmer to whom his love-songs were indited was Cynthia, whose propensities for dress, and extravagance generally, he thus endeavours to check by praises of simplicity and beauty unadorned :

• With purchased gauds why mar thy native grace,

Nor let thy form on its own charms depend ?
No borrowed arts can mend thy beauteous face,

No artist's skill will naked love befriend.
See, of all hues the winsome earth up-sends,

How ivy with no training blooms the best.
How rarest grace and growth the arbute blends

In mountain dells remotest, loneliest ;
And streams that glide in wild unstudied ways,

And shores with native pebbles glistering,
Outvie the attempts of art ; no tutored lays
Sound half so sweet as wild birds' carolling.'

Davies.

In a less flattering strain, he likens her to the 'woadstained Britons,' for dying her hair and painting her face ; and he also complains, as all lovers are wont,

Sham cousins often come, and kiss thee too,

As cousins always claim a right to do.' Other elegies equally portray the fascination which she exercised over him, whilst they sparkle with classic allusions and picturesque sketches from nature, too dreamy and lengthy for quotation. More practical are the warnings which his jealousy prompted him to send her during an autumn sojourn she was enjoying at the fashionable sea-side resort, Baiæ ; and later epistles gradually betray the decline of his affection, until he is not ashamed to own,

'Though thine was ne’er, Love knows, a pretty face,

In thee I lauded every various grace.' or to declare metaphorically,

Tired of the raging sea, I'm getting sane,

And my old scars are quite skin-whole again.' And yet, as one of his critics observes, the world of song would have lost no little, had Cynthia's charms not bidden him attune his lyre for the delineation of the master-passion in its various phases of tenderness, ecstasy, grief, jealousy,

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and despair, with a force, earnestness, pathos, and originality most entirely his own.

Passing on to his poems on other themes, we have an * Early History of Rome,' which includes some of the festal ceremonies described by Tibullus; and the love-story of Tarpeia, who betrayed the city by meeting her lover at the postern gate, which thus concludes,

' But Rome's proud foeman is by honour led ;
Marry, he cried, climb thus my royal bed !
He spoke; his comrades' shields upon her thrown,
She sank o'erwhelmed-meet treachery for her own.
From him, the sire, the rock received its name ;
He lost a daughter, but he gained a fame.

Paley. He also attempted a mythological elegy, and one on the · Battle of Actium,' which contains some fine descriptive poetry. The gems of the collection, however, are the Letter of Arethuse to her husband, Lycotas, on a campaign, and the imaginary appeal of the dead Cornelia to her husband, Paullus. The charm of the former consists in the natural simplicity with which the lonely soldier's wife out-pours her love and anxious misgivings,

"When twilight wanes, and sinks in bitter night,

I kiss thy scattered arms, and restless lie,
And toss complaining till the tardy light

Hath waked the birds that sing of morning nigh.
I turn the map, and struggle hard to learn

Where Jove hath placed the land, and where the sea-
What climes are stiff with frost, what summers burn,

And guess what wind may waft thee home to me. The other is unequalled for the simple pathos with which a blameless matron reviews her life, and would commune from her funeral pyre with those who were dearest to her, in the following concluding stanzas

•Be careful if thou e'er for me shall weep,

That they may never mark the tears thus shed;
Let it suffice thyself to mourn in sleep

The wife whose spirit hovers o'er thy bed ;
• Or in thy chamber, if thou wilt, aloud

Address that wife as if she could reply.
Dim not our children's joys with sorrow's cloud,

But dry the tear, and check the rising sigh.

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