Sivut kuvina

pes, the Offellz, and the Galli, and gave to Rome the gardens; and these were the preceptors of our many confuls, tribunes, and prætors, who were Lucretius, as they were likewise of Pomponius Atgreat supports and ornaments of the common ticus, Memmius, Velleius, Pæcus, Cassius and mawealth.

ny others, who in chat age rendered themselves From which of the above branches our Lucre. very illustrious in the republic of Rome. tius sprung is not known, there bei nothing any How Lucretius spent his time, how itudiously he where recorded of his parentage. There lived, I improved it, let this poem be witness. That he indeed, in those days, one Quintus Lucretius, buefitted himself for the best company, is evident by whether he was brother of our poc Lucretius, or what Cornelius Nepos tells us of the great intiin what degree of relation they were to one ano. macy between him, Pomponius Atticus, and Memther, is altogether uncertain,

mius; and, no doubt but he was intimate likewise le has been observed by fome, and the truth of with Tully and his brother, who make such ho. it is uncontested, that the parentage of the best nourable mention of him. poets of antiquity is almost unknown, as if it had If we look into his morals, we may discover him been industriously concealed; and in this they / to be a man suitable to the Epicurean priaciples, are thought to have affected something of divi- diffolved in ease and pleasure, flying public emnity

ployment, as a derogation to wisdom, and a dir. The time of his birth is almost as doubtful, some turber of peace and quietness, and avoiding those placing it in one year, some in anather, in which, diftractive cares which he imagined would make as in mott things elle, the authors who have deli htaven itself unealy. vered it down to us, make good that inverted As most of the o: her poets, he too seems to have taunt of Seneca, who, in his treatise, De Morte had his share in sensual pleasures; and if the account Claudii, says, “ Citius inter horologia quam au which Eusebius gives of his death be true, it will thores conveniet." Clocks will be found to agree ftrengthen this opinion; but it is hard to say for jooner than authors.

certain what sort of death Lucretius died; nor is Eusebius, the son of Pamphilus, brings him it much easier to determine in what year of his forth in the 171st Olympiail, when con. Domi- life his death happened. Some make him die on tius Ahenobarbus, and C. C. llius Longinus were the very day when Virgil was born, in the forconfule

, which was in the 657th year after the ty-third year of his age, when Pompey the Great building of Rone. But Lydiat leaves it doubt. was the third tinie consul, and Cæcilius Metel. fal, whether there were confuls in the first year lus Pius was his colleague, in the year of the ciof the 171st, or the fourth of the 17th Olyni- ty ?er, at which time there were great compiat. Voffius makes him born in the second year motions in the republic ; for Clodius was then of the 1711t, whilst others place his birth in the killed by Milo; Mcnimius and many others being 1724 Olympiad, when L. Lucinius Crassus, and convicted of bribery, were banished from Rome & Mucius Scævola were confuls, that is to say, in into Greece; and Calar, who was then fortythe 658th year of Rome ; so that the difference be- four years of age, was laying waste che provinces tween them is not great, and the age in which he of Guul. According to Eulebius, he died by his lived is certain.

own hards, in the forty-fourth year of his age, About this time, the Romans began to apply being dementated by a philtre, which either his them:felves to the study of the philosophy of the mistress

, or his wife Lucilia, for so fome call her, Greeks. Supposing, therefore, Lucretius to be no though without authority, in a fit of jealousy, had bly descended, and a man of Sprightly wit, it is an given hin; not with design to deprive him of easy inference, that he received a suitable educa his senses, or to take away his life, but only to tion, and, by his parents or other relations, was make him love her. Donacus, or whoever was lent in his youth to study at Athens. This is the the author of the life of Virgil that goes under more probable to be true, because it was then she his name, writes, that he died three years before, cultom of the Romans (o send their youths thi when Pompey the Great and M. Licinius Crassus ther to be inftruded in the learning of the Greeks.

were both of them the second time consuly. Thus, fome years after, Virgil cou' itudied there, Others who allow that, having lost his senies, he 23 we learn from himself, when, writing to Mcr

laid violent hands on his own life, yet place his death in the twenty-lixth year of his age, and be

lieve that his madness proceeded from the cares Eili mi vario jactatum laudis amore,

and melancholy that opprelled him on account of Irritaque espertum fallacis pra mia vulgi,

the banithment of his beloved Memmius : to Cecropius suaves cupirans hortulus auras,

which others again add likewise another cause, Floreritis viridi sophiæ complectitur umbra. the fatal calamities under which his couotry then

laboured And the learned Propertius too earnefly de

And indeed it is certain, that a few fired

years before his death, Lucretius was an eye wit

nels of the wild administration of affairs in the Ilie wal studiis animum emendare Platonis;

days of Clodius and Cataline, who gave such a aue hortis, docte Epicure, tuis.

blow to the republic of Rome, as not long af:er

occafioned its total subversion. Of these commo2eng, together with the courteous good-natured tions he himself complains, in the beginning of his Puwedrus, as Tully calls him, was then matter of firli book, where, addresling himself to Venus, be

lala, be says:

implores her to intercede with the god of war, his death, his poem of the Nature of Things, wat to restore peace and quiet lo his native country, first begun to be corrected by his intimate friend Hunc tu diva, tua recubantem corpore fancto

Tolly, a task which may seem to require some Circumfusa super, suaves ex ore loquelas

time; and, it may be, even a longer than that Funde, petens placidam Romanis inclyta pacem.

which passed from the death of Lucretius to the Nam neque nos agere hoc patriai tempore iniquo writing of the treatise by Terentius Varro. Possumus æquo animo; neque Memmi clara frequent in the writings of the ancients, where

Moreover, faults of the like nature were very propago Tallibus in rebus communi delle faluti.

Lucilius, Lucretius, and Lucullus, in like manner Lutr. lib. i. v. 39,

as Cælius and Cecilius, and the like, were often

put by mistake one for another. Thus, for exThere are yet some other accounts given of the ample. Prifcian, lib. xviä. obferves, that in Sallust, tinie and manner of his death; but fince in so Hift. lib. v. there was a mistake of this nature: great a variety of opinions we can fix on no cer. “ At Lucilius audito Marium regem proconfu. tainty, nor determine which of them is true, it lem per Lycaoniam cum tribus legionibus in Ci. would be loss of time to dwell any longer upon liciam tendere," &c. which that grammarian thus them.

corre&s: “ At Lucullus audito Marium regem The only remains this great wit has left us, proconsulem," &c.; for Sallust there treated of the are his lix books of the Nature of Things, which war that Lucullus was carrying on against Micontain an exact fyllem of the Epicurean philofo-thridates. In like manner, Macrobius, lib. ii. phy. They were read and admired by the an.

Saturnal. cap. iv. “ M. Varro in lib. de agricul. Gients; and if Ovid could presage,

turâ refert M. Catonem, qui Uricæ periit, cum Carmina sublimis tunc sunt peritura Lucreti,

hæres testamento Lucilii effet relictus," &c ! Exitio terras cum dabit una dies.

read, says he, “ Testamento Luculli,” &c. Ma.

crobius, nevertheless is there miltaken in one Lucretius' lofty fong shall live in deathless fame, thing, for, as Plutarch witnesses, Lucullus left not Till fate diffolves at once this universal frame. Cato his heir, but only appointed him to be

guardian of his son, as being his uncle. And But because some are in doubt concerning the

many the like instances might oisily be produced. number of books written by Lucretius, and be But to remove all manner of objections conJieve that he writ more than six, it will not be

cerning the beginning of this poem, and to evince improper to convince them of their error. They beyond reply the first book now extant to be the ground their opinion chiefly on a passage in Var: 1 forá book Lucretius writ, besides the invocation, To, which, say they, make it evident that Lucre.

with which, according to the custom of all pocts, tius left one and twenty books, and thae this is

he begins his poem, i will, in opposition to the not the beginning of his poem which is commonly above paffage of Varro, produce the authority of taken to be so, since Varro cites a quite different

old Priscian, who, after having faid that words verse as the beginning of it.

of the firft declension form the genitive plural in The passage of Varro, which they allege in

arum, and by contraction in úm, by way of crfavour of their opinion, is in his fourth book, ample, adds' ampborúm for amplorarum, enests De lingua Latina, where we find these words:

for æneadarum. For so, says he, Lucretius has is " Loca secundum antiquam divisionem prima duo, in his first verse :" “ Ita enim Lucretius in primo cælum et terra : à qua bipartita divisione Lucre. versu:” tius suorum unius et viginti librorum initium fe

Æneadûm genitriz, hominum divůmg voluptas. cit hoc :

Beldes, is there the least ground of probability Ætheris et terræ genitabile quærere tempus.” that Lucretius ever writ above fix bouks, fince These words, indeed, are very plain and positive; not one of the ancient grammarians, or other nevertheless, I infift, that unless there were ano. writers, neither Feftus, Nonius, Diomedes, Prii. cher poet Lucretius among the ancients, who was cian, Frobus, Carisius, Donatus, Servius, Tertul. author of the one and twenty books, spoken of in lian, Arnobius, nor Lactantius, who fo frequently that passage of Varro : and that there was I own, bring quotations from the fifth, fixth, and all the no mention is made in any of the records of an foregoing books of this poet, ever cite so much as riquity, I infift, I say, that there must be a fault one single verse from the seventh, eighth, &c. in the above passage of that author, and believe, This, morally speaking, would be impossible, had that inttead of Lucretius, it was formerly written Lucretius written fifteen books, of the Nature of Lucilius. Whoever reflects on the following Things, more than are now extant. This makes reasons, will, if I mistake not, be of my opinion. me the rather wonder at the positiveness with • In the first place, it is believed upon good which fome affert, that the seventh book of 10grounds, chat Varro writ that treatise of the La cretius is praised in Priscian, who, neverthelets, tin tongue, about the time that Cæfar was dicta does not so much as mention any such book. tor, or rather a little before: if so, it is highly Moreover, in my opinion, Lucretius himself probable that copies of Lucretius could not fo fufficiently determines this controversy, for, in foon be got abroad, for he died but in the fourth his fixth book, reminding his reader of what to year before the dictatorship of Cxfar; and after had been treating of in the first, he says,


tius ;

Nonc omnes repetam quam claro corpore sint reg on the other hand, I am readily inclined to be-
Commemorare, quod in primo quoque carmine lieve, that some of his verses are, perhaps, want-
Lucret. lib. vi. v. 936. ing; for, as with almost all the ancient authors,

so more especially with this poet, fume have afThis sufficiently proves the first of the books now extant to be the first he writ, fince in that he has sumed to themselves too great a liberty, and alendeavoured to evince, omnes quam claro tered, added, or taken away many things, as we

have made it appear in several places in our corpore lint res,” that no bodies are so folid as not to contain some void ; ' quod in primo quo

Servius cites this fragment from Lucreque carmine claret." See Book I. ver. 402. And he seems expressly to call the sixth book his laft, in these excellent verses,

-Superi spoliatus luminis aër. Tu mihi fupremæ præscripta ad candida calcis

which may perhaps have been his, though it be Currenti spatium præmonftra, callida musa, no where found in any of his books; nor can it Calliope, requies hominum, divûmque voluptas, easily be discovered where it has been left out. Te duce ut infigni capiam cum laude coronam. To restore it to its due place, would require an

Lurret. lib. vi. v. 91. accurateness of judgment as great, if pollible, as

was their difingenuity who first left it out. From whence we may easily infer, that he never so much as proposed to himself to write above fix declares, wrote these fix books of Epicurean' phi

I now return to Lucretius, who, as Eufebius books, since he tells us he is now hastening, “ ad lofophy, in his lucid intervals, when

the strength præscripta candida supræme calcis,” to the end of of nature had thrown off all the disturbing parthe race he had determined with himself to run; ticles, and his mind, as it is observed madand therefore he invokes his muse,

men, was sprightly and vigorous. Then, in a To lead him on, and show the path to gain poetical rapture, he could fly with his Epicurus The race and glory too, and crown his pain. beyond the flaming limits of this world; frame

Creech. and dissolve seas and heavens in an in{tant, and,

by some unusual fallies, be the strongest argument Lastly, To strengthen all the foregoing argu- of his own opinion; for it seems imposible that Dents, we may observe, that in these fix books some things which he delivers should proceed cely is contained the whole doctrine, and all the from reason and judgment, or from any other philosephy of Epicurus, in as much as it relates cause but chance, and unthinking fortune. to the explication of nature, or natural causes and After his death, as I hinted before, Cicero, as effects; and there is nothing left for any one to Eusebius witnesses, revised and corrected his wricfay farther upon that subject.

ings. Lambinus contradicts this; but the arguAdd to this che manifest and pertinent connec ments he brings against the assertion of Eusebius tion of one book to another, the judicious method are but weak, and of little validity. he has observed in handling the several subjeds Virgil, who was eager and asliduous in the study of which he treats, and his artfulness in the dif- of them, has borrowed from him in many places: position of them. They seem naturally to follow as boch Macrobius and Gellius testify : the last of one another. In the first book, he treats of the whom calls him “ Poëtam ingenio et facundiâ principles of things; in the last, of metcors and præcellentem;" and Cornelius Nepos has placed of the heavens. Has not this method been con- him“ inter elegantiffimos poëtas." So that if some fantly pradised by all who have treated of the great divines have given him the ill name of Caknowledge of nature ? Even Epicurus himself ob. nis, it was not for any rudeness in his verse, but served the very same disposition, as appears by the due rather to his Grecian master; the eternity of few surviving remains of that philosopher, his matter, and the like absurd assertions, having corthree epistles to Herodotus, Mænecæus, and Py. rupted most of the philosophies of Athens. thocles,

As a corollary to these few remaining memoirs Bue as, for the reasons above alleged, I am of the life of Lucretius, I will here give the opiFerily persuaded that Lucretius never wric more nions of several learned men, concerving him and than these fix books of the Nature of Things ; fo, his writings.

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M. Ciccro to bis Brother 2. Cicero, book ii. epift. 11.

Bartbius. Tue poems of Lucretius, as you observe, are

There are many things in Lucretius, that are not written with much brightness of wit, but not to be found elsewhere. with a great deal of art. Upon which passage of Cicero, the learned P.

The fame Author. Victorius, in his Castigations on Tully's Epistles, So great is the beauty of the pure and simple, makes the following remark :

that is to say, of the ancient, and almoft only La If any one, says he, thinks it strange that some tinity, that it casily prevails with intelligent read. have been of opinion, that the poems of the most ers, and such as are not superstitious, to contemn, elegant and excellent poet Lucretius, are written in comparisou of it, the, borrowed charms of a with no great brightness of wit, let him blame the gaudy and painted diction. This comes into my judgment Quinctus ; for we may reasonably mind, chiefly when I read the poems of Catullus mistrutt, that, since M. Cicero defends and com and Lucretius; for, of all the Latin poets, who mends him in the manner he docs, he was not al-have furvived to our days, these two deserve the together of his brother's opinion, though he seems preference; and, therefore, no diligence can be indeed, to confirm it; but that he would not thwart misemployed, no pain nor study fuperfluous, that a testy man, who, perhaps, because he writ verfes may tend to the right understanding of them, or himself, was blinded with envy, and did not per- to prevent their being corrupted.' ceive the truth : Besides, he might be of that o

Latlantius. pinion, because Lucrerius composed not his poem to boast his fhining wit, but to explain, with his All the errors that Lucretius advances, were utmost art and industry, the whole philosophy of long before asserted by Epicurus. Epicurus.

Petrus Crinitus. The fame Victorious Var. Lect. lib. xvii. cap. 16.

T. Lucretius Carus is believed to be defcended The copiousness and purity of the Latin tongue, of the family of the Lucretii, which, at Rome, appear chiefly in Lucretius.

was held to be very ancient and noble. He wasa M. Vitruvius, in his Treatise of Architecture, book ix. little older than Terentius Varro, and Marcus C

cero, as some have written : this is the rather to

be taken notice of, because in the annals which we Those, whose minds are inftruded with the de- have from the Greeks, there are many things erlights of learning, cannot, but with veneration, roneously related, and perverfely fet down, concarry in their breasts, as they do the images of the trary to the truth of chronology. He is represent gods, so, too, that of the poet Ennius. Those, who ed to have been a man of a vast and foaring wit

, are pleasingly diverted with the poems of Attius, in writing of verses. He was wont to apply himseem to have present with them, not only his vir- self to the muses at several intervals of time; not tues, but his figure and resemblance likewise. In without a certain fury and rupture of mind, as the like manner, many will, in after ages, seem to authors of antiquity deliver.' Quintilian witneldispute, as it were, face to face with Lucretius, fes, that Æmilius Macer, and Titus Lucretius, exconcerning the Nature of Things, as they will cel in elegance of style; but that the poem of with Cicero, of the Art of Rhetoric,

Lucretius is very difficult and obscure : this was

occasioned not only by the subje& itself, but by Quintilian, book r.

reason of the poorness of the tongue, and the rew. For Macer and Lucretius àre, indeed, worth ness of the doctrine he taught, as he himself tefthe rcading : but not as if they contained the rifies. He writ fix books of the Nature of Things; whole body of eloquence. Each of them is ele in which he has followed the doctrine of Epicugant in the subject he treats of; but the one is rus, and the example of the poet Empedocles

, low, the other crabbed and obscure.

wlose wit and poetry he praises with admiration. Upon which pallage of Quintilian, Gifanius thus :

There are some who write, that the poem of Lu

cretius was corrected by Tully : it is not, thereThis opinion of Quintilian is, the greatest part fore, in probable, that, by reason of his fudden of it, uravimously concerned by the ancients and death, he left it incorrect and imperfect. Quincmod:rcs.

tus, the brother of Cicero, held in high eftecn the

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poetry of Lucretius; and allows his work to have , Dionysius Lambinus, in bis Epifle Dedicatory to Charles a great deal of artfulness and wit: besides, that

IX. ibe Moj Cbriflian King. it ought not to be wondered at, that some of his

If among the sew remains of the writings of verses seem rough, and almost like profe. This the ancients, which have escaped as from a thipwas peculiar to the age in which he writ, as Fu.

wreck, there be any sort of learning, from whence rius Albinus fully witoefses in Macrobius, whose many and great advantages have accrued to us, it words are as follows : No man ought to have the is from their poems, &c. But you will say, that Worse efteem for the ancient poets upon this ac. Lucretius argues against the immortality of the count, because their verses seem to be scabrous; soul, denies the providence of the gods, overthrows for that tyle was then in greatest vogue; and the all religion, and places the chief good in pleasure. following age had much ado to bring themselves This is not the fault of Lucretius, but of Epicurui, at length to relish this smoother di&ion. There whose doctrines Lucretius followed. His poem, fore, even in the days of the emperors the Velpa- though he advances in it fome opinions that are Gans, there were not wanting some, who chose to

repugnant to our religion, is, nevertheless, a poem; read Lucretius rather than Virgil, and Lucilius nay, and a beautiful noble poem too, distinguishthan Horace.

ed, illustrated, and adorned with all the brightFranciscus Floridus Sabinus.

ness of wit, &c.—What though Epicurus and LuT. Lucretius was an excellent philosopher, and

cretius were impious; are we, who read them,

therefore impious too? How many affertions often gives very satisfactory reasons of the things that seem to happen contrary to nature.

are there in this poem, that are confentaneous to

the opinions and maxims of the other philofo. Hieronymus Mercurialis.

phers: How many probable! How many exLucretius was the first who explained the Na cellent and almost divine! These let us lay hold ture of Things in the Roman congue ; and he bor on ; thefe let us seize; these let us approve of.--rowed many things from Democritus, Epicurus, Besides, are we so credulous and easy of faith as to and Hippocrates.

believe, that what affertions foever all manner of Julius Scaliger.

writers have left recorded in their works, are as

true as if they had been pronounced from the ou Lucretius was a divine man, and an incomparacle of Apollo ? And lince we daily read many rable poct.

things that fabulous, incredible, and falle, Casauber.

either to give some respite to our minds, or to Lucretius is the best author of the Latin tongue. make us the more willingly acquiesce in, and the Futur Lipfius.

most constantly adhere to such as are uncontroThere are some antiquated, and almoft obfolete! vertibly true; what reason is there, that we should

contemn or neglect Lucretius, a molt elegant words to be found in Lucretius, Ennius, and other

and beautiful poet? &c.-1 return to our great ancients; but, though they are now out of use, and excellent poet Lucretius, the most polite, and banished from our prefent way of speaking, most ancient, and most elegant of all the Latin yet, out of the respect due to antiquity, they ought I writers; from whom Virgil and Horace have in to be carefully retained, and religioudly preferved many places borrowed not half, but whole verses. in the writings of the ancients.

He, when he disputes of the indivisible corpuscles, Melebior Junius.

or first principles of things ; of their niotion, and The di Aion of Lucretius is pure, plain, and

of their various figuration ; of the void; of the elegant, though he defends the opinions of Epicu- the surface of all bodies ; of the pature of the

images, or tenuitous membranes that fly off from

mind and soul; of the rising and setting of the Aldus Pius.

planers; of the eclipse of the sun a:d moon ; of Lucretius, even in the judgment of the ancients, the nature of lightning; of the rainbow; of the is both a very great poet and philosopher, but full Averni; of the causes of diseafes, and of many of lies; for, having followed the Epicurean feet, other things, is learned, witry, judicious, and elés his opinions concerning God, and of the creation gant. In the introdu&ions to his books; in his of things, are quite different from the doctrine of comparisons; in his examples; in his difputations Plato, and of the other academics; for which rea against the fear of death; concerning the inconfon, some believe that he ought not to be read by veniences and harms of love ; of sleep and of Christians, who adore and worship the true God. dreams, he is copious, discreet, eloquent, knowBut since truth, the more it is inquired into, thines ing, and sublime.-- We not only read Homer, but the more bright, and appears the more venerable, even get him by heart, because, under the veils Lucretius, and all that are like Lucretius, even of fables, partly obscene, and parily absurd, he is though they be liars, as they certainly are, ought, deemed to have included the knowledge of all na. in my opinion, to be read.

tural and human chirgs. Shall we not then hear

Lucretias, who, without the disguise of fables, Adrianus Turnebus.

and such trifles, pol truly indeed, 1or piously, but Lucretius, in his plealing poem, has feasoned plainly and openly, and as an Epicurean, ingetis series with a certain delightful relith oi autiniously, wittily, and learnedly, and in the most

correct and purelt of styles, disputes of the prin.


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