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Browne's History Of Latin Literattre. A ...
the student with an accessible digest of facts and dates—a hand-book as it were—the end is accomplished ; if to furnish such a work as the title proclaims , we must think it unsuccessful . While thus indicating the nature of the work , let us not forget to protest strongly against the culpable negligence which canpermit a " History of Roman Literature " to appear without an index ! t We have frequently to object to the omission of an index , but here ia a case wbere the omission is doubly reprehensible Should the book reach a second , edition , tjie publisher must repair this at any cost . . jjoman Literature , after all , is in its history but moderately interesting ; its JLiterature
the tact or oemg essentially a or imitation takes away tne great charm which the rise and development of spontaneous Literature always must have , as expressive of national life . Apropos of this imitation , considered a merit by the Romans , and almost equally so by their modern admirers , it is curious to compare with it the scornful feeling animating our critics ., when they speak of the same thing in modern writers . "Plagiarism" is a literary crime ; not an image , not an incident must the poet borrow or steal without being arraigned at the bar of criticism . Yet Boman Literature was one immense plagiarism . And even the great Boman epic would in our day be called a cento . Bead what Professor Browne says , and he by no means exhausts the subject : —
" The idea and plan of the Mnevd are derived from the Homeric poems . As the wrath of Achilles is the mainspring of all the events in the Iliad , so on the anger of the offended Juno the unity of the iEneid depends , and with it all the incidents are connected . Many of the most splendid passages , picturesque images , and forcible epithets are imitations or even translations from the Iliad and Odyssey . The war with Turnus owes its grandeur and its interest to the Iliad—the wanderings of iEneas , their wild and romantic adventures to the Odyssey . Virgil ' s battles , though not to be compared in point of vigour with those of Homer , shine with , a reflected light . His Necyia is a copy of that in the Odyssey . His similes are most of them suggested by those favourite embellishments of Homer . The shield of iEneas is an imitation of that of Achilles . The storm and the speech of tineas are almost translations from the Odyssey .
" The thoughts thus borrowed from the great heroic poems of Greece , Virgil interwove with that ingenuity which distinguishes the Augustan school by means of the double character in which he represented his hero . The narrative of his perils by sea and land were enriched by the marvellous incidents of the Odyssey ; his wars which occupy the latter books had their prototype in the Iliad . Greek tragedy , also , which depicted so frequently the subsequent fortunes of the Greek chieftains , —the numerous translations which had employed the genius of Ennius , Attius , and Pacuvius- —were a rich mine of poetic wealth . The second book , which is almost too crowded with a rapid succession of pathetic incidents , derived
its interesting details—the untimely fate ofAstyanax , the loss of Creusa , the story of Sinon , the legend of the wooden horse , the death of the aged Priam , the subsequent fortune ^ of Helen—from two Cyclic poems , the Sack of Troy and the little Iliad of Arctinus . For the legend of Laocoon he was indebted to the Alexandrian poet , Euphorion . The class of Cyclic poems entitled the votrrol suggested much of the third book , especially the stories of Pyrrhus , Helenus , and Andromache . The fourth drew its fairy enchantments partly from Homer ' s Calypso , partly from the love adventures of Jason , Medea , and Hypsypile in the Argonautica of the Alexandrian poet , Apollonius Rhodius , which had been introduced to the Romans by the translation of Varro .
" The sixth is suggested by the eleventh book of the Odyssey and the descent of Theseus in search of Pirithous in the Hesiodic poems . But notwithstanding the force and originality—the vivid word-painting which adorns 'this book—it is far inferior to the conceptions . which Greek genius formed of the unseen world . In the iEneid the legends of the world of spirits seem but vulgar marvels and popular illusions . Tartarus and Elysium are too palpable and material to be believed ; their distinctness dispels the enchantment which they were intended to produce ; it is daylight instead of dim shadow . We miss the outlines , which seem gigantic from their dim and shadowy nature , the appalling grandeur to which no one since iEschylus ever attained , except the great Italian poet who has never since been equalled .
" To this rich store of Greek learning Italy contributed her native legends . Tho adventures of iEneas in Italy—the prophecy , of which the fulfilment was discovered by lulus—the pregnant white sow—tho story of tho Sibyl—tho sylph-like Camilla—wore native lays amalgamated with tho Greek legend of Troy . Macrobius , in three elaborate chapters , has shown that Virgil was deeply indebted to tho old Latin poets . In tho first he quotea more than seventy pai-allol turns of expression from Ennius , Pacuvius , Attius , Ncovius , Lucilius , Lucretius , Catullus , and Varius , consisting of whole or half lines . In tho second ho enumerates twenty-six longer passages , which Virgil has imitated from the poems of Ennius , Attiua , Lucretius , and Vavius , amongst which are portions of' Tho Praises of Rural Life , ' and of ' The Pestilence / "
Then again the Roman Drama , what was it but the very " adaptation " of Greek plays , similar to that which now furnishes our stage from tho French drama P Plautuji and Terence are classics—yet every one knows they did but adapt Greek comedies to lloman manners , translating tho jokes when translatable , imitating thorn when imitable ; doing in short what * * * and * * * do every year without being accounted classics at all While on this topic let us quote from the observations of Professor Browne on the metre of comedy as it was alTeotod by tho differences between pronunciation and writing : —
" If wo consider attentively tho manner in which wo speak our own language , it is astonishing how many letters and oven syllables arc Blurred over and omitted : tho accented syllable is strongly and firmly enunciated , tho rest , especially in long words , are loft to take caro of themselves , and the experience of tho lioaror and his acquaintance with tho languago find no difficulty in supplying tho deficiency . This is universally tho case , except in careful and deliberate reading , and in measured and stately declamation . " With regard to tho classical languages , tho foregoing observations hold good . In a slighter dogroo , in d eed , with respect to tho Greek , for tho delicacy of thenem " , thoir attention to accent and quantity , not only in poetry but in oratory , and ev < m in conversation , caused thorn to give greater effect to every syllable , and especiall y to tho vowel sounds . But oven in Greek poetry elision aomotimoB prevents tho disagreeable effect of a hiatua , and in tho transition from tho one dialect to the other , the numerous vowels of tho Ionic assume tho contracted form of tho Attic ,
" The resemblance between the practice of the Romans and that of modern nations is very remarkable ; with them the mark of good taste was ease—the absence of effort , pedantry , and affectation . As they principally admired facility in versification so they sought it in pronunciation likewise . To speak with mouthing ( hiulce ) , with a broad accent ( late , vaste ) , was to speak like a clown and Dot like a gentleman ( rustice et inurbaniter . ) Cicero admired the soft , gentle , equable tones of the . female . voice , and considered the pronunciation . of the eloquent and cultivated Lselia as the model of purity and perfection : he thought that she- spoke as Plautus or Nsevius might have spoken . Again , he speaks of the habit which Cotta had of omitting the iota ; pronouncing , for example , dominus , dom ' , as a prevalent fashion , and although he says , that such an obscuration argues negligence , he , on the other hand , applies to the opposite fault a term ( putidius ) which implies thfi most offensive affectation . From these observations , we must expect to find
that Latin as it was pronounced was very different from Latin as it is written ; that this difference consisted in abbreviation either by the omission of sounds altogether , or by contraction of two sounds into one ; and that these processes would take place especially in those syllables which in poetry are not marked by the ictus or beat , or in common conversation by the stress or emphasis . Even in the more artificial poetry and oratory of the Augustan age , in which quantity was more rigidly observed by the Roman imitators than by the Greek originals , we find traces of this tendency j and Virgil does not hesitate to use in his stately heroics such forms as aspris for asperis , semustum for semiustura , oraclum for oraculum , maniplus for manipulus ; and , like Terence , to make rejicere ( reicSre" ) a dactyle . A number of the most common words , sanctioned by general usage , and incorporated into the language when in its most perfect state , were contractions—such as amassent for amavissent , concio for conventio , cogo from con and ago , surgo from sub and rego , mala for maxilla , pomeridianus from post-mediain-diem , and other
instances too numerous to mention . "But in the earlier periods when literature was addressed still more to the ear than to the eye , when the Greek metres were as yet unknown , and even when , af ter their introduction , exact observation of Greek rules was not yet necessary , we find as might be expected these principles of the language carried still further . They pervade the poems of Livius and Ennius , and the Roman tragedies , even although their style is necessarily more declamatory than that of the comic writers ; but in the latter we have a complete representation of Latin as it Was commonly pronounced and spoken , and but little trammelled or confined by a rigid adhesion to
the Greek metrical laws . In the prologues , indeed , which are of the nature of declamation and not of free and natural conversation , more care is visible ; the iambic trimeters in which they are written fall upon the ear with a cadence similar to those of the Greek , with scarcely any license except an occasional spondee in the even places . But in the scenes little more seems to have been attended to , than , that the verso should have the required number of feet , and the syllables pronounced the right quantity , in accordance with the widest license which the rules of Greek prosody allowed . What syllables ' should be slurred , was lef t to be decided by the common custom of pronunciation . -
" Besides the licenses commonly met with in the poets of the Augustan age , the following mutilations are the most usual in the poetical language of the age of which we are treating : — " 1 . The final * might be elided even before a consonant , and hence the preceding vowel was made short : thus malls became mali ' , on the same principle that in Augustan poetry audlsne" was contracted into audln ' . Thus the short vowel would suffer elision before another , and the following lino of Terence would consequently be thus scanned : — |
Ut ma | Us gad deat all | en ' atq' | ex In | comma | dTe . " 2 . Vowels and even consonants were slurred over ; hence Liberius became Lib rius ; Adolescens , Ad'lescens ; Vehemens , Vemens ; Voluptas , V ' luptas ( like tho French voila , v'la ); meum , eum , suum , aiet , fuit , Deos , ego , ille , tace , became monosyllables ; and facio , sequere , & c , dissyllables . " 3 . M and D were syncopated in the middle of words : thus enimvero became en ' vero ; quidein and modo qu ' en and mo ' o , circumventus , cire ' ventus . " 4 . Conversely d was added to me , to , and se , when followed by a vowel , as Reliquit med homo , & c , and in Plautus , mod erga . " We had marked other passages for extract , but these must suffice . They sufficiently indicate the quality of the work .
Jot* 80; 11553.] The Leader. 739
JOT * 80 ; 11553 . ] THE LEADER . 739
Two Novels. The Life And Death Of Silas ...
TWO NOVELS . The Life and Death of Silas JBarnstarke . A Story of the Seventeenth Century . By Talbot Gwynne , Author of The School for Fathers . 1 vol . Smith , Elder , and Co . John at liome . A Novel . By Stanley Hcrbort . 3 vola . F . C . Newby . Two novels didactic in spirit rather than in form , setting forth , in dramatic action , plainly legible " lessons . " Silas JBarnstarke is by Talbot Gwynne , whose School for Fathers was a work of remarkable freshness and promise , also pervaded by a distinct moral . Wo read Silas BarnstarJce with great expectations ; they have- not been roalizod . The work
displays the same distinctness of purpose , tho same quiet power , but it wants the freshness , it wants the interest of story and of character which made tho School for Fathers so agreeable . Silas is a hard money-getting ' man , bent from his boyhood upwards in one direction , devoting life to the acquisition of money , growing less and loss scrupulous as to the means , till he is led to murder Ins cousin to secure his estates . Tho contrast between tins character und that of tho prudent yet generous monoy-gcttor , Benson , is qniotly and felicitously touched ; you seo the virtue and tho vice , economy and miserliness .
For one who can so artistically shadow out a purpose without exaggeration , and without didnctic preaching , there is surely something surprising in tho want of art by whiclttho denouomont is missed ? Tho opening shows tho boyhood and life of a heartless egotist dqvoted to amassing wealth ; now what is the real soquerieo in Life , consequently in Art , of such a character as that of Silas P It is what is hero faintly indicated , — utter lonolinoss of the affections , utter solitude of life ! Tho gold is amassed , but enjoyment is not purchasable ; tho palate can detect no flavour . Thus , even , as a matter of puro selfishness , tho way of life pursuod by Silas lias been a mistake . Tho author indicates this , though faintly ; but what ho lias altogether missed is the trajjio denouement wjiich must issue from such a condition ; instead of drawing his donouomont ah intra , from the dements of tho drama , ho draws it ah extra , invoking a ( kits ex machina , in the shape of the Plague . Thus tho miser ,
Leader (1850-1860), July 30, 1853, page 19, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/l/issues/cld_30071853/page/19/