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ORACE in all his Poems fhows himself a great Poet, a great Philofopher, and a great Critic; but his Skill in Philofophy and Criticism appears more especially in his SATIRES and EPISTLES, in which he lays down the best Rules, not only to form the Tafte but the Manners of Youth: Nor does he in his SATIRES, while reproving Vice, put himself in a Paffion, like fome Satirifts; but on the contrary, he endeavours to laugh us out of our Vices, and fmiles when he is pointing out the Truth to us, as he himself fays, Ridentem dicere verum quid vetat; which agrees with the Character Perfius gives of him:
Omne vafer vitium ridenti, Flaccus amico
He, with a fly, infinuating Grace,
But to understand the Nature of Satire clearly, it will be neceffary to enquire into its Origin, about which there is fo great a Contest among the Critics. Julius Scaliger and
D. Heinfius affert, it had its Origin among the Greeks, and that it takes its Name from the Greek Word Earug, a mix'd kind of Animal, one of the rural Gods of the Antients.
On the other hand, Cafaubon, Rigaltius, and Dacier, affert its Origin to be entirely Roman, and that it takes its Name from the Latin Word Satur, and that the Romans wrote Satires long before they had any Commerce with Greece, of which Quintilian leaves no room to doubt, when he fays, Satyra quidem tota noftra eft; and Horace himself, fpeaking of Satire, calls it, Græcis intactum Carmen. The Etymology of the Word is this: The Latins call'd it SATUR, quafi plenum, as quite Perfect. Thus when the Dye of Wool is full and good, it is faid to be Satur color. From Satur they made Satura, which they fometimes wrote Salira with an i, as they did Maxumus or Maximus, and Optumus or Optimus. Satura is an Adjective, and has Reference to the Subftantive Lanx, which fignifies a Charger or large Platter, fill'd with all forts of Fruit, which they offered every Year to Ceres and Bacchus, as the First-fruits of all they gathered; which Cuftom of the Romans, and the Word Satura, Diomedes the Grammarian has exactly defcribed in this Paffage: Lanx referta variis multifque primitiis, facris Cereris inferebatur, & à Copia & Saturitate rei SATURA vocabatur: of which Virgil alfo makes mention in his Georgies:
Lancibus & pandis fumantia reddimus exta.
Lancefque & liba feremus.
From thence the Word Satura was apply'd to many other Mixtures, as in Feftus: Satyra cibi genus, ex variis rebus conditum. From hence it paffed to the Works of the Mind, for they call'd fome Laws Leges Sature, as they contain'd many Heads or Titles. But they refted not here, for they
gave this Name to certain Books, as Pefcennius Feftus, whofe Hiftories were call'd Sature: From which Examples it is not hard to fuppofe, that thefe Works of Horace took the Name of Satura, because, as Porphiry fays, these Poems are full of a great many different Things. But it muft not be thought, fays Dacier, that it had its Name immediately from thence, for this Name had been used before for other Things, which bore a nearer Resemblance to the SATIRES of Horace, as appears by what follows.
The Romans having been near four hundred Years without any Scenical Plays, Chance and Wantonness made them find, at one of their Feafts, the Saturnian and Fefcennine Verfes, which for one hundred and twenty Years they had, inftead of Dramatick Pieces. But these Verfes were rude, and almost without Measure or Numbers, as being made extempore, and by a People as yet barbarous, who had lit tle other Skill than what flow'd from their Joy and the Fumes of Wine. They were filled with the groffeft Sort of Railleries, and attended with Geftures and Dances. To this Horace refers in the First Epiftle of his Second Book;
Fefcennina per bunc inventa licentia morem,
This Licentious Sort of Verfe was fucceeded by one more correct, fill'd with a pleasant Raillery, without the Mixture of any thing Scurrilous; and thefe obtain'd the Name of SATIRES, in which the Spectators and Actors were rallied without Diftinction.
In this Condition Livius Andronicus found the Stage, when he first undertook to make Comedies and Tragedies, in Imitation of the Greeks. This Diversion appearing more noble and perfect, it was frequented by great Crowds who neglected the Satires, till fome modell'd them fo as to be
The Fefcennine and Saturnian Verses were the fame, for they were call'd Fefcennine from Fefcennina, a Town in Italy, where they were firit practifed; and Saturnian, from their Ancientnefs, when Saturn reign'd in Italy.
acted at the End of their Comedies, as we now act Farces. And then they altered their Name of Satires to that of Exodia.
About a Year after this Ennius was born, who growing up, and obferving with what Eagernefs and Satisfaction the Romans received the Satires, thought that Poems, tho' not adapted to the Theatre, yet preferving the Gall, Raillery, and Pleasantnefs, which made thefe Satires take, could not fail of being well received; he therefore compofed several Difcourfes, to which he retain'd the Name of Satires, which were entirely like thofe of Horace, both for the Matter and Variety. The only effential Difference is, that Ennius, in Imitation of fome Greeks, and of Homer himself, took the Liberty of mixing feveral kinds of Verfes together, fuch as Hexameters, Iambics, Trimeters, with Tetrameters and Trothaics. After Ennius came Pacuvius, who also wrote Satires in Imitation of his Uncle Ennius. To Pacuvius fucceeded Lucilius, who alfo wrote Satires, but he embellifh'd them, and gave them quite a new Turn, which is what Horace means by thefe Words in the First Satire of the Second Book:
Quid, cum eft Lucilius aufus,
Primus in hunc operis componere carmina morem?
For Horace never intended by thefe Words to fay there were no Satirits before Lucilius, as Ennius and Pacuvius were before him.
Having explain'd the Nature, Origin, and Progress of Satire, I fhall now fay a Word or two of Horace in particular.
1 here cannot be a more just Idea given of this Part of his Works, than in comparing them to the Statues of the Sileni, to which Alcibiades in the Banquet compares Socrates. They were Figures that without had nothing agreeable or beautiful, but if you open'd them, you found the Figures of all the Gods. In the Manner that Horace prefents himself to us in his SATIRES, we difcover nothing at firft that deferves our