Obrazy na stronie

quence, not even your piety shall restore you to life. For neither can Diana free the chaste Hippolytus from infernal darkness; nor is Theseus able to break off the Lethæan fetters from his dear Pirithous.



That the gift of immortality is in the power of the poets. O CENSORINUS, with liberal heart, I would present my acquaintance with goblets and beautiful vases of brass: I would present them with tripods which were the rewards of the brave Grecians : nor will you bear off the meanest of my donations, if ever I become rich in those pieces of art, which either Parrhasius or Scopas produced; the latter in statuary, the former in liquid colours, eminent to portray, at one time, the image of a man, at another, that of a God. But I have no store of this sort, nor do your* circumstances or inclination require any such curiosities as these. You delight in verses; verses I can give and set a value on the donation. Not marbles engraved with public inscriptions, by the means of which breath and life return to illustrious generals after their decease; not the precipitate flight of Hannibal, and his menaces retorted upon his own head; nor the flames of impious Carthage, more eminently set forth his praises,† who returned, having

* Censorinus was very wealthy, and consequently was sufficiently provided with elegant furniture.

+ Scipio, hence named Scipio Africanus.

gained a name from conquered Africa, than the Calabrian muses,* neither, should writings be silent, would you have any adequate reward for your laudable actions. What would the son of Mars and Ilia be, if invidious silence had stifled the merits of Romulus? The force and favour, and voice of powerful poets consecrate acus, snatched from the Stygian floods, to the fortunate islands. The muse forbids a praiseworthy man to die; the muse confers the happiness of heaven. Thus, laborious Hercules has a place at the longed-for banquets of Jupiter; thus, the sons of Tyndarus,t that bright constellation, rescue shattered vessels from the bosom of the deep; and thus Bacchus, with his temples adorned with the verdant vinebranch, brings the prayers of his votaries to successful issues.



The poet endeavours, by his verses, to rescue Lollius's name from oblivion.

Do not imagine that those words will perhaps be lost, which I, though born on the far resounding Aufidus, utter, to be accompanied with the lyre, by arts hitherto undivulged. If Mæonian Homer does possess the first rank, yet the Pindaric and Cean‡ muses, and the menacing strains of Alcæus, and the majestic ones of Stesichorus, are by no means obscure; neither, if Anacreon,

* Ennius, the famous old poet, was born in Calabria. Castor and Pollux.

↑ Simonides was a Cean.

though long ago, and ever so lightly, sung any thing, hath time destroyed it: even now breathes the love, and live the ardours of the Æolian* maid, committed to her lyre. The Lacedæmonian Helen is not the only fair who hath been inflamed by admiring the delicate ringlets of a gallant, and garments embroidered with gold, and courtly accomplishments, and retinue; or was Teucer the first that directed arrows from the Cydonian bow: Troy was more than once harassed; the great Idomeneus and Sthenelus were not the only heroes that fought battles worthy to be recorded by the muses: The fierce Hector, or the strenuous Deiphobus, were not the first that received heavy blows in defence of virtuous wives and children; many brave men lived before Agamemnon: but all of them, unlamented and unknown, are overwhelmed with endless obscurity, because they were destitute of a sacred bard. Valour, uncelebrated, differs but little from cowardice, when in the grave. I will not, therefore, O Lollius, pass you over in silence, uncelebrated in my writings, or suffer envious forgetfulness with impunity to seize so many glorious toils of yours. You have a mind ever prudent in the conduct of affairs, and steady alike amidst success or danger: You are an avenger of avaricious fraud, and proof against money, that attracts every thing by its influence; and a consul not of the year only, but as often as the good and upright magistrate has preferred the honourable to the profitable, and has rejected, with a disdainful brow, the bribes of wicked men, and triumphant through opposing bands, has dis

* Sappho.

played the arms of his integrity. You cannot with propriety call him happy, that possesses much; he more justly claims the title of Happy Man, who well understands how to make a wise use of the gifts of the Gods, and how to bear severe poverty, and dreads a reproachful action worse than death: such a man as this is not afraid to perish in defence of his dear friends, or his country.



The poet advises him not to be too fond of his fine person.

O CRUEL still, and still prevalent in the endowments of beauty, when an unexpected plume shall come upon your vanity, and those locks, which now play loosely on your shoulders, shall fall off, and that colour, which is now preferable to the blossom of the damask rose, changed, O Ligurinus, shall turn into a wrinkled face; then will you say, as often as you see yourself quite another person in the looking-glass, alas! why was not my present inclination the same when I was young? or why do not iny former cheeks return unimpaired to these my present sentiments?



He invites her to an entertainment on Mæcenas's birth


PHYLLIS, I have a cask full of Albanian wine, upwards of nine years old! I have in my garden parsley for the weaving of chaplets; I have great plenty of ivy, with which, when you have bound your hair, you look so gay; the house shines cheerfully with plate; the altar, bound with chaste vervain, longs to be sprinkled with the blood of a sacrificed lamb; all hands are busy; my girls and boys, in busy preparation, fly about from place to place; the flames quiver, rolling on their pointed summit the sooty smoke. But yet, that you may know to what joys you are invited, the Ides are to be celebrated by you, the day which divides April, the* month of sea-born Venus; a day, with reason to be solemnized by me, and almost more sacred to me than that of my own birth, since from this day, my dear Mæcenas reckons his flowing years. A rich and buxom girl hath possessed herself of Telephus, a youth above your rank, and she holds him fast by an agreeable fetter. Consumed Phaeton strikes terror into ambitious hopes; and the winged Pegasus, not stomaching to bear the earth-born rider Bellerophon, affords a terrible example, that you ought always to pursue things that are suitable to you, and that you should avoid a dispropor

*The grand festival of Venus was celebrated in this month.

« PoprzedniaDalej »