Page images


[ocr errors]

' Familia' of the Scipios, one of the branches of that'gens,' and that individually he was known as “Publius.' Sometimes a fourth name was added, arising from the subdivision of families, as in the case of Publius Cornelius Lentulus Spinther.'

When an adoption took place, the young man received the name of his new father, to which was appended a gentile adjective to point out his original clan. Thus, when the son of Lucius Aemilius Paullus was adopted by the son of the elder Scipio, he was styled 'Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus,' and in like manner when C. Octavius was adopted by Julius Caesar, he became • Caius Iulius Caesar Octavianus.'

Occasionally an individual received an epithet as a mark of honour, which was appended to his own name, but was not transmitted to his posterity. Such appellations were usually the reward of military achievements, and in that case bore reference to the country where the exploit was performed. In this manner Publius Cornelius Scipio, who vanquished Hannibal at Zama, and brought the second Punic War to a happy termination, became Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus;' and the same title was again bestowed on his grandson by adoption, who destroyed Carthage, to which ‘Numantinus' was afterwards added upon the capture of Numantia in Spain. Hence this celebrated personage would write himself down, • Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus Africanus Numantinus.' An epithet, such as we have been describing, was properly called "Agnomen,' although sometimes included under the general term “Cognomen.'

In the present Extract, the poet passes rapidly in review the most remarkable characters in Roman history who had been distinguished by 'Agnomina,' in order to prove that they were as much inferior in glory to Octavianus, as their appellations were more humble than the title of 'Augustus.'

1. Idibus. On the Ides of January. The Extract is from the first book of the Fasti.

2. Semimaris... ovis. A 'vervex’ or wether-sheep. Libat. The verb ' libo,' which is the same in origin with

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

deißw, ('fundo,''spargo,') assumes a number of different shades of meaning. The most important of these we shall notice.

I. Its proper signification, from which all the others are derived, is, 'to pour upon the ground, or place upon the altar, a small portion of wine or any other oblation presented to a god.' Thus Virg. Ae. 1. 736 of Dido,

'Dixit, et in mensam laticum libavit honorem,

Primaque, libato, summo tenus attigit ore.' and Ov. Fast. 3. 561, describing her obsequies,

"Mixta bibunt molles lacrimis unguenta favillae,

Vertice libatas accipiuntque comas.' II. Hence, generally, 'to consecrate' or sacrifice, both literally as in Ov. Fast. 1. 389

'Exta canum vidi Triviae libare Sapaeos,' and in Fast. 1. 647, of the German spoils set apart for holy purposes by Tiberius,

'Inde triumphatae libasti munera gentis,

Templaque fecisti, quam colis ipse, Deae.' and also figuratively in Ov. E. ex P. 1. 9, 41

“Iure igitur Celso lacrimas libamus adempto.' and in Prop. 4. 6, 7

'Spargite me lymphis, carmenque recentibus aris

Tibia Mygdoniis libet eburna cadis.'
III. Simply, 'to pour;' so Val. Flacc. 4. 15

'Dixit, et arcano redolentem nectare rorem,
Quem penes alta quies liquidique potentia somni,

Detulit, inque vagi libavit tempora nati.'
IV. “To take a little of anything, and hence

i. “To taste,' 'drink.' ii. “To touch lightly.' iii. 'To select.' iv. 'To diminish,''consume.' i. 'Purpureosque metunt flores, et Aumina libant

Summa leves '. ... Virg. G. 4. 54, of bees. Again, Ae. 3. 354

'Aulai in medio libabant pocula Bacchi.' ii. In Ov. Met. 10. 652, we read,

Signa tubae dederant, cum carcere pronus uterque

Emicat, et summam celeri pede libat arenam.' and in Virg. Ae. 1. 256, of Jupiter,

Oscula libavit natae, dehinc talia fatur.'

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

iii. In Cic. de Inv. 2, 2, we have, * Ex variis ingeniis excellentissima quaeque libavimus.' iv, In Lucret. 5. 261

'Ergo terra tibi libatur, et aucta recrescit.' and in Prop. 4. 5, 57

• Dum vernat sanguis, dum rugis integer annus,

Vtere, ne quid cras libet ab ores dies.' 3. Reddita...omnis provincia. Livy Epit. 134. 'Caesar, rebus compositis et omnibus provinciis in certam formam redactis, Augustus quoque cognominatus est.'

All historians agree that the title of “Augustus’ was bestowed on Octavianus in the year 27 B.C., upon the motion of Lucius Munatius Plancus, but there are variations with regard to the precise day. Ovid here fixes upon the 15th of January, the Fasti Verrian on the 16th, and Censorinus on the 17th. These may be easily reconciled, by supposing that the proposal was made upon the first of these days, but that all the formalities were not completed till the last.

4. Tuus...avus. Ovid is addressing Germanicus. See note on 9. 10. P. 154.

5. Generosa atria, 'noble-high-born halls.'

Ceras. In allusion to the waxen figures of those who had enjoyed a curule office, which were treasured by their descendants, and ranged, with the names attached, in wooden cases round the walls of the atrium,' the principal apartment of a Roman mansion.

6. Contigerunt. See Manual of Latin Prosody, p. 102.

7. Africa. This may refer either to Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus the elder, who overthrew Hannibal at Zama, 202 B.C., and thus terminated the second Punic War, or to his grandson by adoption, Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, who captured and destroyed Carthage, 146 B.C.

Isauras. Publius Servilius Vatia Isauricus, who was Consul 79 B.C., and in 77 B.C. was sent against the pirates of Cilicia. He reduced the Isauri, a mountain tribe who dwelt in the fastnesses of Taurus between Cilicia and Lycaonia, and, on his return to Rome, was honoured with a triumph and the title of • Isauricus.'

8. Cretum. Q. Caecilius Metellus Creticus was Consul 69 B.C., and the following year ravaged Crete with fire and sword, it being suspected that the Cretans were disposed to favour Mithridates.


9. Numidae. Q. Caecilius Metellus Numidicus was Consul 109 B.C., and prosecuted the war against Jugurtha during that and the following year. In 107 B.C. he was superseded by Marius, to whom fell the glory of carrying Jugurtha captive to Rome, 106 B.C.

Messana. No Roman general ever received the title Messanicus, but the person alluded to here in Appius Claudius Caudex, who was Consul 264 B.C., and began the first Punic War by marching to the relief of the Mamertines of Messana, who were besieged by Hiero and the Carthaginians.

10. Numantina. The younger Scipio Africanus, who, as we observed in the introduction, received the additional title of Numantinus upon the reduction of Numantia 133 B.C.

11. Drusus Claudius Nero, brother of the Emperor Tiberius, (see p. 153,) who was killed, 9 B.C., by a fall from his horse, in Germany, having previously received the title

Germanicus,' on account of his victories in that country. The poem entitled “Consolatio ad Liviam, addressed to the mother of Drusus upon his death, has been attributed to Ovid. See preliminary remarks.

15. Ex uno quidam, &c., 'certain persons have acquired renown by vanquishing a single adversary.'

Torquis ademptae. The cognomen of “Torquatus,' which belonged to one of the families of the 'Gens Manlia,' is said to have been thus acquired. Twenty-eight years after the capture of Rome by the Gauls, an army of these barbarians advanced as far as the third milestone from the city, and encamped on the right bank of the Anio. T. Quinctius Pennus, who had been chosen dictator, went forth with a great host to meet the enemy. The rest of the narrative should be read in the picturesque language of Livy, 7.9 and 10. A gigantic Gaul having challenged the Roman army, T. Manlius was allowed to accept the challenge, slew the Gaul and spoiled him of the torques' or necklace, the characteristic ornament of a Gaulish warrior.

16. Corvi auxiliaris. A similar tale was attached to the cognomen 'Corvinus,' which belonged to one of the families of the 'Gens Valeria.' Thirteen years after the event described in the last note, a band of Gauls made their way into the Pomptine territory. M. Valerius, a military tribune, having accepted the challenge of a Gaul to single combat, was assisted in the encounter by a raven, (“corvus,') which alighted on his helmet and attacked his adversary with beak and claw.

[ocr errors]





17. Magne. Pompey, upon his return to Rome after the destruction of the Marian party in Sicily and Africa, was saluted by Sulla with this title. Although only a knight and a private individual, never having held any of the great offices of state, he was allowed a triumph, being the first Roman to whom such a distinction had been granted in like circumstances.

18. Qui te vicit. Julius Caesar at the battle of Pharsalia, 48 B.C.

Meritis Maxima dicta. Compare Livy 9. 46 (304 B.C.)

'Q. Fabius et P. Decius censores facti, et Fabius simul concordiae causa, simul ne humillimorum in manu comitia essent, omnem forensem turbam excretam in quatuor tribus coniecit, urbanasque eas appellavit; adeoque eam acceptam gratis animis ferunt, ut Maximi cognomen, quod tot victoriis non pepererat, hac ordinum temperatione pareret.'

17, 18, 20. Observe the play upon the words magne, maior, maximus, in these three lines.

Hic. Augustus. 23-27. A dissertation on the meaning and derivation of the word augustus, which he deduces from 'augeo Compare Suet. Octav. 7 'Postea Caesaris et deinde Augusti cognomen assumpsit : alterum testamento maioris savunculi; alterum Munatii Planci sententia: quum, quibusdam censentibus, Romulum appellari oportere, quasi et ipsum conditorem urbis, praevaluisset, ut Augustus potius vocaretur, non tantum novo, sed etiam ampliore cognomine. [quod loca quoque religiosa, et in quibus augurato quid consecratur, augusta dicantur, ab auctu, vel ab avium gestu, gustuve, sicut etiam Ennius docet, scribens:

Augusto augurio postquam inclyta condita Roma est?.'] So also Dion Cassius 53. Ι6 πάντα γάρ τα έντιμότατα και τα ιερώτατα αύγουστα προσαγορεύεται.

25. Huius et, &c., i. e. the word 'augurium' is derived from the same root with 'augustus’—both being derived from ‘augeo. This etymology of “augurium, however, is by no means satisfactory. Augur' is in all probability connected with 'avis.'

29. Cognominis heres. Tiberius.

1 The words within brackets are considered by all good editors to be an interpolation.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »