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'Accepit Phoebo Nymphaque Coronide natum
Jupiter was the father of Phoebus, and therefore grandfather of Aesculapius.
3. Veientibus arvis. The real position of the great, populous, and wealthy city of Veii, so long the rival and deadly foe of Rome, has been ascertained within the last few years only. The researches of Sir William Gell have fixed the site beyond a doubt, although nothing remains to gladden the eye of the antiquary, except a few crumbling fragments of walls and some sepulchres hewn in the rock. It stood upon a platform, surrounded on every side by deep hollows or ravines, in the immediate vicinity of a spot now known as the Isola Farnese, at a distance of little more than ten miles to the north of Rome. It was nearly encompassed by two streams, now the Fosso dei due Fossi, and the Fosso di Formello, which united below the citadel, and formed the Cremera. Dionysius says that Veii, in the days of its prosperity, was equal in extent to Athens-the actual circumference of the walls must have been upwards of five miles. After its capture by the Romans it speedily sunk into obscurity, and although colonies were planted there by Julius Caesar and Tiberius, it seems never to have revived. Propertius represents the place as completely desolate even in his time, although the following lines must have been written at the period when the attempt was making to repeople the deserted walls.
'Et Veii veteres et vos tum regna fuistis,
Et vestro posita est aurea sella foro.
Cantat, et in vestris ossibus arva metunt' 4. 10, 27. Haec fuit illa dies. This is directly contradicted by Livy, who says that the destruction of the Fabii took place on the same day of the year with the defeat of the Romans by the Gauls on the Allia, the 18th of July. Livy 6. 1
'Tum de diebus religiosis agitari coeptum, diemque ante diem XV. Kalendas Sextiles, duplici clade insignem, quo die ad Cremeram Fabii caesi, quo deinde ad Alliam cum exitio urbis foede pugnatum, a posteriore clade Alliensem appellarunt, insignemque rei nulli publice privatimque agendae fecerunt.'
6. Gentiles manus, 'the hands of the clansmen.' Those belonging to the same 'gens' were distinguished by the ephithet gentiles.'
Arma professa. Quae se promiserant sumpturas.'
9. Carmentis, &c., 'the nearest way is through the right Janus of the Carmental gate. The meaning of these words seems to be this. Many of the ancient gates consisted of three archways, a large one in the middle, and a smaller one on each side. But every archway open at both ends, every 'pervia transitio,' was called a 'Ianus 2;' hence in a gate such as we have described, the smaller archways would be called respectively, 'Dexter Ianus' and 'Sinister Ianus.' Except upon extraordinary occasions, the middle archway, for the sake of security, would be kept closed, and those who went in and out, would pass through the wickets on the right and left. We shall illustrate this line still further, if we suppose that the same rule obtained in ancient times which is observed on bridges and in narrow streets in many parts of the continent, viz., that each person shall keep to his right hand, which separates the passengers going in opposite directions into two distinct streams, which never collide. Hence those who went out of a town, would, as a matter of course, take the Janus on their right; the contrary must have been the practice at the Carmental gate, and Ovid here gives an explanation of the anomaly.
13. Cremeram. The Cremera (La Volca), now called in the earlier part of its course the Fosso di Formello, is formed by a rivulet issuing from the Lacus Sabatinus (Lago di Baccano), and some streamlets in the immediate vicinity; it receives, as we have seen above, a small tributary under the citadel of Veii, and after a short course falls into the Tiber, immediately opposite to Castel Guibileo, the ancient Fidenae. In summer it is a small brook.
16. Tyrrhenum. It must be remembered that Veii was an Etrurian city.
23. Campus, &c. Ovid here paints from fancy, for there is no plain bounded by hills in the immediate neighbourhood of Veii. The whole of the Roman Campagna, however, is full of deep hollows, admirably calculated to conceal an ambushed foe.
1 As we see in the triumphal arches of Severus and Constantine. 2 See P. 161.
25. Rara. Scattered up and down. See notes, p. 150, and P. 238.
31. Discursibus. See note, p. 192.
34. Simplex, 'free from guile,' 'unsuspicious.'
39. Silvis...... Laurentibus. See note 22. 41. p. 228. The swampy thickets on the Latian coast still abound with wild boars.
43-48. Without entering into any critical discussion with regard to the truth or falsehood of the legend of the Fabii, it will be seen at a single glance that the representation of Ovid is improbable. If three hundred fighting men of the Fabian clan had marched out of Rome, as described by the poet, they must have left behind them double that number of old men and boys, without reckoning the females at all. The narrative of Livy is not open to the same objection, for we are told that the Fabii erected a fort upon the Cremera, a considerable period before the fatal event, and to this their wives and children might have been conveyed; but Dionysius is still more cautious, for he expressly states that they settled upon the Cremera, accompanied by their wives and a train of clients (9. 15), to which we may add the testimony of Aulus Gellius,Sex et trecenti Fabii cum familiis suis circumventi perierunt.'
The Fabii claimed descent from Hercules and a daughter of Evander.
49. Maxime. Quintus Fabius Maximus, who was chosen dictator 217 B.C., immediately after the battle of the Trasimene Lake, and for a time checked the progress of Hannibal by his wise policy, which consisted in perpetually harrassing the enemy, and cutting off his supplies, while, at the same time, he carefully avoided a general engagement. From his attachment to these tactics he received the appellation of 'Cunctator.'
FAS. I. 587.
37. THE more noble among the Romans had usually three
The 'Praenomen,' which stood first, marked the individual. The 'Nomen,' which followed, marked the 'Gens' or clan. The 'Cognomen,' which came third, marked the 'Familia' or family.
Thus the name 'Publius Cornelius Scipio' indicated that the person so called belonged to the 'Gens Cornelia,' to the
'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
λeißw, ('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,
and Ov. Fast. 3. 561, describing her obsequies,
'Mixta bibunt molles lacrimis unguenta favillae,
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
III. Simply, 'to pour;' so Val. Flacc. 4. 15
'Dixit, et arcano redolentem nectare rorem,
Quem penes alta quies liquidique potentia somni,
IV. 'To take a little of anything,' and hence
i. 'To taste,' 'drink.' ii. 'To touch lightly.' iii. 'To select.' To diminish,' 'consume.'
i. 'Purpureosque metunt flores, et flumina 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.'