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men ; and these ballads it was the fashion for the guests at banquets to sing in turn while the piper played. "Would," exclaims Cicero," that we still bad the old ballads of which Cato speaks !"*
Valerius Maximus gives us exactly similar information, without mentioning his authority, and observes that the ancient Roman ballads were probably of more benefit to the young than all the lectures of the Athenian schools, and that to the influence of the national poetry were to be ascribed the virtues of such men as Camillus and Fabricius.f
Varro, whose authority on all questions connected with the antiquities of his country is entitled to the greatest respect, tells us that at banquets it was once the fashion for boys to sing, sometimes with and sometimes without instrumental music, ancient ballads in praise of men of" former times. These young performers, he observes, were of unblemished character, a circumstance which he probably mentioned because, among the Greeks, and indeed in his lime among the Romans also, the morals of singing boys were in no high repute.*
The testimony of Horace, though given incidentally, confirms the statements of Cato, Valerius Maximus, and Varro. The poet predicts that, under the peaceful administration of Augustus, the Romans will, over their full goblets, sing to the pipe, after the fashion of their fathers, the deeds of brave captains, and the ancient legends touching the origin of the city.§
The proposition, then, that Rome had balladpoetry is not merely in itself highly probable, but it is fully proved by direct evidence of the greatest weight.
This proposition being established, it becomes easy to understand why the early history of the city is unlike almost every thing else in Latin literature—native where almost every thing else is borrowed, imaginative where almost every thing else is prosaic. We can scarcely hesitate to pronounce that the magnificent, pathetic, and truly national le
gends, which present so striking a contrast to all that surrounds them, are broken and defaced fragments of that early poetry which, even in the age of Cato the Censor, had become antiquated, and of which Tally bad never heard a line.
That this poetry should have been suffered to perish will not appear strange when we consider how complete was the triumph of the Greek genius over the public mind of Italy. It is probable that, at an early period. Homer, Archilochus, and Herodotus, furnished some hints to the Latin minstrels:* but it was not till after the war with Pyrrhns that the poetry of Rome began to put on" its old Ausoni.in character. The transformation was soon consummated. The conquered, says Horace, led captive the conquerors. Il was precisely at the time at which the Roman people rose to unrivalled political "ascendency, that they stooped to pass under the intellectual yoke. It was precisely at the lime at which the sceptre departed from Greece that the empire of her language and of her arts became universal and despotic. The revolution indeed was not effected without a struggle. Nasvius seems to have been the last of the ancient line of poets. Ennius was the founder of a new dynasty. Na?vius celebrated the First Punic War in Sattirnian verse, the old national verse of Italy.f Ennius sang the Second Punic Wax in numbers borrowed from the Iliad. The | elder poet, in the epitaph which he wrote for himself, and which is a line specimen of the j 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 Nacvius to be its hopeless setting. In truth, one literature was setting, and another dawning.
* Cicero refers Iwice to this important passage in Caw's Antiquities :—'* Gravissimus nnclor In 'Oripinibus' dixit Cato, niorem apud mijores nunc epulnrum fuigse,ut deinceps, qui accuharent, canercnl ad libiam elaroruin viroruni laudes atq<ie virlules. Ex quo perspiruum est, et cantus tuui fuisse rescriptos vocouisonis.et enrmina "—Ttisc Qmrst. iv.2. Again: "TJtinam exslarenl ilia carmina qua? inultis sir-culm ante suani natem in epulis esse cantitata a singulis convivis de clarorntn viroruni Inudibii* in 'Originilms' scriplum rcliquit Cato."—Brutus, cap. xix.
f " MajTrfes nattl in convivlis ad liblas ngregia supe• llnriini opera carmine comprehensa pnngebanl, quo ad ci imiianda Juvenliitem alacriorum rcdderenl. . . . Quas Ailieuog, qiiam schotam, qure alienigena studla huic domestics? disr-iplinai pramilcrim? Inde nriebantur Camilll, Scipionea, Fabricii, Harcclli, Fabii." — Vol V.I. il. 1.
fin convivii» pueri ntodesli m cnntarcrlt carmina
Cum prole rnnsj(h;ii.iqiie nostris,
I.ydis rnniixtn carmine llbiis,
Cam. iv. 51.
• Sec the Preface to the Lay of the Battle "i Iti.-ciiius.
t Cicero speaks highly in more than one place of this poem of Necvius ; Ennius sneered at it, and stole from it
As to the Saturnian measure.see Herman's Elemenu, Doctrine* Metrics, iii. 9.
The Saturnian line consisted of two parts. The first was a dialectic dimeter iambic; the second was composed of three trochees. But the license taken by the early Latin |iocts seems to have been almost boundless. The most perfect Saturnian line which has been preserved by the grammarians was the work, nolof a professional artist, but of an amateur;
"Dabunl malum Metclli Naivio poetic."
There has been much difference of opinion among lenrned men respecting the history of this measure. That it is the same with a Greek measure used by Archilochus is indisputable. tBentley. Phnlnrls, xi.) Bui in spite of the authority of Terenlianus M. turns, and of the still higher authority of Hentley, we may venture to doubt whether the coincidence was not fortuitous We constantly find the same rude and simple numbers in different countries, under circumstances which make it impossible lo suspect that there has been imitation nn either side. Bishop Holier heard the children of a village in Bengal singing " Rndhn, Radha," lo the time of "My boy Billy." Neither ihe C.istiliau nor the German minstrels of 1 lie middle ages owed any thing to Pares cr lo ancient Rome. Yet both the poem oflhe Cid and the poem oflhe Nilielungs contain many Saturnian verses; as,—
"Estas nuevas a niln Cid cran venidas." •
"Man inilhtc mlchel wunder von Slfride sagen."
Indeed, there cannot be a more perfect Saturnian line
"The queen was in her parlour eating bread and honey."
yel the author of this line, we may be assured, borrowed nothing from either Nrevius or Archilochus.
On the other hand, it is by no means improbable that, two or three hundred years before the lime of Ennius, some Latin minstrels .may have visited Sybaris or Crotoiia, may have heard soiiie vrrsi s of Areliilochus sung, tuny have been pleased with the metre, and may have introduced it at Rome. Thus much is certain, that Ihc Saturnian measure, if not a native of Italy, was at least so early and so completely naturalized tnerc thai its foreign origin was forgotten.
The victory of the foreign taste was decisive: and indeed we can hardly blame the Romans for turning away with contempt from the rude lays which had delighted their lathers, and giving their whole admiration to the great productions of Greece. The national romances, neglected by the great and the refined whose education had been' finished at Rhodes or Athens, continued, it may be supposed, during some generations, to delight the vulgar. While Virgil, in hexameters of exquisite modulation, described the sports of rustics, those rustics were still singing their wild Saturnian ballads.f It is not improbable that, at the time when Cicero lamented the irreparable loss of the poems mentioned by Cato, a search among the nooks of the Apenn ines, as active as the search which Sir Walter Scott made among the descendants of the mosstroopers of Liddesdale, might have brought to light many fine remains of ancient minstrelsy. No such search was made. The Latin ballads perishrtl forever. Yet discerning critics have thought that they could still perceive in the early history of Rome numerous fragments of this lost poetry,
Benlley says. Indeed, that the Patnrnian measure was first brought from Greece into Italy by Ntevius. But thin in merely obiter dictum. In use n phrase common in our courts n( law, ami would not rnve been deliberately maintained hy that incomparable critic, whose-mentory is held in reverence by all lover* of learning. The argument* which might lie hrnuuit against Henlley's assertion—for it is mere assertion, supported by no evidence—are innumerable- A few will suffice.
1. Hentley's assertion is opposed to the. testimony of F-nnlos. Ennius sneered at Nievius for writing on the First Punic War in verses *m h as the old Italian bards used before Greek literature had been studied. Now, the p- em of Ntcvitia was in r-iiturnitin verse. Is it pos■ihle that Ennius rould have used such expressions, if tiie Raturntan verse had been just imported from Greece for the first tlntel
1. Hentley's assertion is opposed to the testimony of Horace. "When Greece," says Horace, "introduced her arts into our lineirilfz'-rl country, those- rugged SaI'lrniati Miinl'fis p-i*sed away." Would Horace have •aid this, if the saturnian number* had been imported from Greece just before the hexameter t
3. Benlley's assertion is opposed to the testimony of Festits and of Attrelius ictor. both of whom positively any that the* most ancient prophecies atttibulcd to the Fauns were in Saturnian verse.
4. ■Benlley'a assertion is opposed to the testimony of Trrentianus Matirus, to wtiont he has himself appealed. Terentiantts Maurus does indeed say that the Saturnian measure, though believed by the Romans from a very early period r'crPtltdil vetustas") to be of Italian Invention, was reallv borrowed from the Greeks But Terenlianus M-itirils does not say that it v. as first borrowed hy Vrvui:- Nay. the expressions used by Terpntianna Miinrits clearly imply the contrary; for how could the Romans have believed, from a very early period, thai this measure was Ihe indigenous production of Latiiitn. If it was really brought over from Greece in an nfe of intelligence and liberal curiosity,—in ihe age which gave birth to Ennius. Plaulus. (.'ato tiie Censor, And other distinguished writers 1 If Bchlley's assertion were correct, there could have been no more doubt at Rome about the Greek origin of the Haturnian measure than about ihe Greek origin of hexameters or rjappliics.
* Atllua Gellius. -Ync/t-j Attictr, I. 24. t See Set vim?. in Georg. ii. 385. Vol.. IV —68
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 ol 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.
It is not difficult to trace the process by which the old songs were transmuted into thj form which they now wear. Funeral panegyric and chronicle appear to have been the intermediate links which connected the lost ballads with the histories now extant. From a very early period it was the usage that an oration should be pronounced over the remains of a noble Roman. The orator, as we learn from Polybius, was expected, on such an occasion, to recapitulate all the services which the ancestors of the deceased had, from the earliest time, rendered to the commonwealth. There can be little doubt that the speaker on whom this duty was imposed would make use of all the stories suited to his purpose which were to be found in the popular lays. There can baas little doubt that the family of an eminent man 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 (he 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 drowned by the shouts of admiring thousands. As the procession passes the Capitol, prayers and vows are poured forth, but in vain. The tievoted 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 race was destined again to spring, for the safety and glory of the commonwealth That this fine romance, the details of which are so full of poetical truth, and so utterly destitute of all show of historical truth, came originally 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 Falnus Maximns, 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 recounted and exaggerated. If there were then extant songs which gave a vivid and touching description of an event, the saddest and the most glorious in the long history of the Fabian house, nothing could be more natural than that ■ the panegyrist should borrow from such songs their finest touches, in order to adorn his speech. A few fenerations later the songs would perhaps be forgotten, or remembered only by shepherds and vine-dressers. But the speech would certainly be preserved in the archives of the Fabian nobles. Fabius Pictor would be well .acquainted with a document so 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.
That this might happen at Rome can scarcely be doubted; for something very like this has happened in several countries, and, among others, in our own. Perhaps the theory of Perizonius cannot be better illustrated than by showing that what he supposes to have taken place in ancient times has, beyond all doubt, taken place in modern times.
"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 Elfriia; two stories which have a most suspicious air of romance, and which, indeed, greatly resemble, in their general character, some of the legends of early Rome. He cites, as his authority for these two tales, the chronicle of William of Malmesbury, who lived in ;he time of King Stephen. The great majority of readers suppose that the device by which Elfleda was substituted for her young mistress, the artifice by which Athelwold obtained the hand of Elfrida, the detection of that artifice, the hunting party, and the vengeance of the 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 o' 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 ho gives us distinct notice that he does not warrant their tru'h, and that they rest on no better authority than that of ballads.*
Such is the way in which these two wellknown tajes 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 quaa post dicam mapis respcrserunt cartUenffi." Edgar appears to have been most mercilessly treated in the Anglo-Saxon ballads. He wus the favourite of the monks; and the monks and minstrels were at deadly feud. m
after the ballads had been altogether forgotten, consulted the chronicle. He was struck by ih* lively colouring of these ancient fictions; he transferred them to his pages; and thus we find inserted, as unquestionable facts, in a narrative which is likely to last as long as the English tongue, the inventions of some minstrel whose works were probably never committed to writing, whose name is buried in oblivion, and whose dialect has become obsolete. It must then be admitted to be possible, or rather highly probable, that the stories of Romulus and Remus, and of the Horatii and Curiatii, may have had a similar origin.
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, cowardly and cruel. They were tried in danger, and found wanting. They fled before the Moors, and once, when a lion broke out of his den, they ran and couched in an unseemly hiding-place. They knew that they were despised, and took counsel how they might be avenged. They parted from their fa1her-in-law with many signs of love, and set forth on a journey with Dona Elvira and Dona Sol. In a solitary place the bridegrooms seized their brides, stripped them, scourged them, and departed,ieaving them for dead. But one of the house of Bivar, suspecting foul play, had followed them in disguise. The ladies were brought back safe to the house of their father. Complaint was made to the king. It was adjudged by the Cortes that the dower given by the Cid should be returned, and that the heirs of Carrion together with one of their kindred should do battle against three knights of the party of the Cid. The guilty youlhs would have declined the combat; but all their shifts were vain. They were vanquished in the lists, and forever disgraced, while their injured wives were sought in marriage by great princes.*
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 faraoso 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 t>ld ballad, of which one imperfect copy on parchment, four hundred
* Mariana, lib. x. cap. 4
Th Kiiis can be little doubt that among those parts of early Roman history which had a poetical origin was the legend of Horatius Codes. 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 PraUor 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 memory of the war of Porsena was preserved by compositions much resembling the two ballads which stand first in the Iiekques of Ancient English Poetry. In both those ballads the English, 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:
"Oh) men that knowen the frrownde well yenoughe
The other poet sums up the event in the folowing lines:
"Thyi fraye bygan at Olterborna
It is by no means unlikely .ha.: there were
two old Roman lays about the defence of the bridge; and that, while the story which I.ivy 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 before 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 thai the poet shared in the general discontent with which the proceedings of Camillus, after the taking of Vcii, were regarded.
The penultimate syllable of the name Porsena has been shortened in spite of the authority of Niebuhr, who pronounces, without assigning any ground for his opinion, that Martial was guilty of a decided blunder in the line, "Iianc spectare manum Porsena non pomlt."
It is not easy to understand how any modern scholar, whatever his attainments may be,— and those of Niebuhr were undoubtedly immense,—can venture to pronounce that Martial did not know the quantity of a word which he must have uttered and heard uiierrd 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 blunder; for he gives us, as a pure iambic line,
"Minacls nut Elrusca Porsens manna." Silius Italicus has repeatedly offended in the same way, as when he says,
"Cernitur efiugiens nrdemem Porsena dcitram;" and again, "Clusinum vulgua, cum, Porsena magne, jubcliaa."
A modern writer may be content to err in such company.
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 in the following poem.