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Still on yon let your prudent nurse attend;
Then, if the destinies prnpitions prove,
NOTES ON ELEGY III.
This elegy was written in a dangerous fit of sickness, which detained our poet in the island of Corfu, anciently called Pbaacia, and was apparently composed before the second.
The commentators pretend, that Mcssala was upon bis Syrian expedition at this time; and that Tibullus recovering, followed his patron to Cilicia, Ægypt, &c. As this expedition took place A. U. C. 724, Tibullus was then only fuurteen years old, if he was born in the consulship of Hirtius and Pansa; but as this is rather too sine an elegy for a boy of that age (and yet Pliny the younger had wrote a Greek tragedy before fifteen years), and as it appears, that he had been for some time in love with Delia; not to mention other arguments which the poem itself affords us, the translator is inclined to join issue with Douza, who places his birth A. V. G. 690, in the consulship of Cicero and of Caius Anthony. Vide the Life.
But whatsoever time this elegy was written, we may apply what Quintilian fays of eloquence to this species of writing in particular, " Pectus est, quod distrtos facit."
Ver. 1. The original of these lines is quoted by Dr. Trapp, in hi* chapter on elegy, as an instance of the soothing grace" of elegiac complaints, "Quam jucundus est dolor poeticus," (fays that critic, prcelect. 13.) "et quanta clegantia querelarum, motbum suum, terra peregrina xgrotus, sic deflet J ibullus.
The cohors mentioned in the text, was Messala's retinue; which must have been very different from that of most modern generals, if made up of such men as Tibullus But in those days a man was thought the better soidicr for cultivating an acquaintance with the muses.
An abhorrence of our dissolution was implanted in us by the Author of Nature for the wisest purposes, hven the oldest, and most wretched, are, in geneiM, unwilling to die. But to be snatched away in the bloom of life, and whilst in a foreign country, at a distance from one's relations, especially from a darling mistress, arc circumstances peculiarly distressful. Homer, who knew the source of every passion, aud could raise them all,
has beautifully inserted many such pathetic Itroh in describing the deaths of his heroes: And if en battles make the reader regardless of danger, tit' also increase his humanity: And although Virp is surpassed by Homer, in this respect, yet iiit lamentation of Euryalus's mother, who had H her father's court to share the fortunes of her set a masterpiece of the pathetic. Taffohasiotr* duced many beautiful strokes of this kind in»!u II Gossredo; but none of the modern heroic pet are in this particular to be preferred to the ate: of Leonidas; unless indeed we admit, that to:' description of Ugolino surpasses any poetics.'; ture of distress to be met with among either d ancients or modems.
Ver. 14. The original runs thus:
Ilia sacras pueri fortes ter sustulit, illi
Those who were superstitious, among tk"cients, generally consulted the lots before tbej w gan any thing of importance. The M vest spoken by the virgin in the temple of Juoo, we: the fortes, in cafes of marriage; as the first spotby a boy in the highway, gave the omen n» monly depended upon before a journey Wsiugstaken. An example will better explain thiiSscure piece of superstition. A lady who wa w trothed, went, with a young companion, to ■ temple of the goddess of marriage, to watch th: first words spoken by a woman. Asaicfij^ tentive she seated herself, while the other S«i Two hours having passed, without a word's Wj uttered, or any body entering, the younger u * said, " My dear 1 am tired, will you permil ■ "to sit in your chair a little?" ThesewestP first words. The younger accordingly seated be-" self, and no body coming in, they both went Us after having waited some time longer. Tin k* trothed lady soon aster died, and the other sf married to the bridegroom in her stead.
There were other kind of fortes. The Scholiast on the fourth Pythian ode of r** tells us, that dice thrown upon a table were sitas a lot j and if one particular fide turned »Pi
they wished would come to pass; but if it did not, their writhes should not be accomplished.
Of lots, some were sacred to Apollo, some to Mercury j and they were sometimes to be cast into a sleep well or fountain. We fee an instance of this in Suctonius's Life of Tiberius cap. 14. and Dempster in his Notes on Ri sinus, informs us, that those who had success in this kind of divination, often bestowed gifts upon the fountain. See Pliny, Lib. viii. Ep. 8.
At Præneste was a temple, erected to fortune, where devotees used often to repair in order to have their suture adventures told them. This temple was very magnificent, which made Carpeades fay, " He never had seen fortune more for"tunate than at Prsencfle." In that temple the lots wtre blended together, thrown into an olive chest or urn, and drawn by a boy. This is probably the species of divination alluded to here by our poet.
Ver. »l. The striking the foot againl the threshold, at the first going abroad, was, by the ancients, reputed a bad omen; and is one of the pretexts our poet used in order to delay his departure. The superstitious among ourselves have many as foolish observances.
Ver. 16. Jupiter, in one of I.ucian's dialogues commands Mercury to hasten to the Nemean forest, there to destroy Argus, which done, he was to waft lo over sea to Ægypt, and there make an Ills of her, Eyw rtsrwf Iku, xai Tan NnXw mtmyirat xaj Tci/c nnu.tvt ttfrcTticrirv, xttl 5*fl£(T« rail rXictrai. "Sit illis Dea, Ni'umque attollat, et ventos immittat et navigantes servet." The same witry author also informs us, that the Ægyptians not only used to call their larger ships by the name of Ifis, for good.luck's fake, but also to have statues of this tutelary deity placed in the stem and forecastle of their vessels. Vid. his piece ■milled, vXtm 1 lujjm. This shows the propriety of Delia's addressing Ifis to protect Tibullus iu the voyage he was about to make.
Gruterus has transmitted to us the figure, &c. of a marhle altar, dedicated to Ifis, to which Broekhufius was obliged for the form he has given us of an Ægyptian Sistrum or Cymbal. Apuleius has described this instrument, Lib. 3. of his Metam.
Ver. iS. In the mysteries of Ifis, it was customary for the votary to lie alone several nights successively. This custom Propertius rails at.
Tristia jam redcuus iterum folemnianobis,
At utinam Nilo pereat quæ sacra tepente
Quæ Dea tarn cupidos toties diviiit amantes,
Ver. 31. Those who had escaped shipwreck, or any dangerous fit of sickness, usually hung up, in the temple of Ifis, tablets, on which, fay autho it was described the manner of their deliveiaLce: T»ans, II.
But Broekhufius is of opinion, that, as sailors de-
Cur pictum memori sit in tabella
Besides this, among the many votive inscriptions to Ifis for health recovered, which Gruterus and others have preserved, we meet with no mention of the applications or medicines supposed to have been successful.
It is, however, an odd tradition, that Hippocrates was indebted to such tablets, in a temple in the island of Cos, for the b"st part of the Coacae Prænotiones. Could this be proved, it would show, that great good may sometimes spring from superstition
In Popish countries, many figures of war, silver, &c. are at this day to be seen on the walls of their churches, chapeU, &c
Ver. 33. As the goddess herself was clothed in white linen; so those who returned her thanks for their own, or friends, recovery from sickness, were always veiled in the fame manner, and far on the ground before the porch of the temple. Her priests had their heads shaved, and also wore linen surplices. Hence they were called " Linigeri." See Martial's humorous epigram on that subject, Lib. ii. £p. 29. Apulcius, in the eleventh book of his Metamorphosis, has given the fullest account of the worshippers of Isis.
Ver. 35. From the words "pharia turha," a great critic, as "rockhusius informs u«, conjectured, that Mcssila attended Augustus Cæsar in his ./Egyptian expedition against Mark Anthony. But the epithet" pharia" which is every where appropriated to Isis, and her worship, deceived him.
Ver. 39 Ovid has imitated the whole of this passage in the bcau'iful elegy, which he sent to Comma upon her going abroad. Lib. ii. El. II.
No poet, either ancient or modern, has surpassed Tibullus in his description os the golden age; yet how different that age was from the picture given us of it by Tibullus, the great rural and philosophical poet informs us in his Autumn,
for home he had not; home is the resort
Ver. Cs- This description of Elysium is not so poetical as may at first fight be imagined; since even the philosophers have painted that happy residence of the blessed in as lively colours, Broiibvs.
Upon turning to the pillage in Plutarch (Consol, ad Apollon.) cited by Broekhusius in defence of this censure, we were not a little astonished to find that excellent philosopher, borrowing the whole of his description of Elysium from Pindar's second Olympian ode; which, as it is one of the finest passages in the old Theban, we shalt here transcribe.
tin 3i wKTitirii au
Aud especially in the succeeding autistrophe,
tarov si ■ .;
Which passages are thus translated by the late
Where Phœbus, with an equal ray,
In peaceful, unmolested joy,
The good tbeir sini'.ing hours employ:
Then no uneasy wants constrain
To vex th' ungrateful foil,
To tempt the dangers of the billowy main,
And break their strength with unabating toil,
A frail disastrous being to maintain.
But, in their joyous calm abodes,
The recompence of justice they receive; And, in the fellowship os gods,
Without a fear eternal ages live.
Again, in the antistrophe, he say», that the good •who have been three times purified in as many successive transmigrations, &c. become then qualified to enter the fortunate islands, where
Fragrant breezes, vernal airs,
Whose fertile soil immortal fruitigr beaf«i
Arrayin golden bloom,refulgent beams;
On the fresh borders of tbeir parent streams:
Their unpolluted hands and clustering locks adex
But beautiful as this description is, it Joes cat surpass that which Homer has given in the foori Odyssey, line J64, which, as Mr. Spence juuljii serves, is the only passage where that luha i poetry describes the regions of the blest. Bor; finish this long note, we shall only remark, tls as these last mentioned pictures of ElfCum » suited to their different places, or the poem » which they appear, so is that of oar poet jp; -priated to the e4egiac muse; Dr. Trapp ici«4 ingly quotes it for its uncommon beauty, select. 13.
Ver. 83. The first poetical description efbeii to be sound in Homer; and though all th a. ceeding epic poets of antiquity have, in mirsti of their great father, sent their heroes to if those regions of woe, none of them have ircfr.r. the original.
But although Homer's hell surpasses the&> the ancients, it cannot however be compared many passages in the Inferno of that grea:*? nal poet Dante. Milton perhaps has not *» him.
Voltaire's hell is as little terrible, as hii & facre of St. Bartholomew is unaffectedly tok.
Ver. 36. Mythologists place a hundred fcaej serpents round the head and neck ofCaisa, whom they also equip with the tail of afof*
Ver. 89. As the poet meant, not onlf uif off every one from laying sit ge to his mifcss c also to preserve her constant in his ables'' has selected, from the amours of mytholog,** incidents very proper to his purpose.
Vet the whole of this description is lialfe»* censure which Lucan, in his admirable Ttass on the Manner of writing History, passes e?5 thenius, Euphorion, and Callimachus, via,TM dcring from their main subject, spend, acrr^l to that witty critic, many word* in deloibic;-pertinences; but as the whole passage issteable, the reader will not probably be dii'cieiU » fee it translated.
You must be particularly cautions, tow launch out in describing mountains, risers, ^ fortifications; lest, by an ostentatious display" eloquence, you entirely drop the thread of y* history; whenever, therefore, perspicuity itmvJ that the reader should, in some degree, be arf»» ed of such circumstances, let your descripti* A them be comprised in as few words as pe5>» On occasions like these, place Homer before eyes, who, though a pott, yet, iq hisaccocs:* hell, passes slightly over Tantalus, Ixion, TirftV and the rest: all which particulars were tit;11 Be described by Partheniui, Euphorion, or MS Callimachus, what a profusion of verses wf -a employed in btui^ing tie water to tte*f" antaluj, and in turning round the wheel of
The more judicious among the ancients saw, at under the fables of Tantalus, &c. were redented the torments of an evil conscience. See
Macrobius'i sensible Commentary on the Somnium Scipionis.
Ver. 109. This is one of those thoughts, which, as Horace happily expresses it, Venus has imbued, with a fifth part of her nectar.
round, my god, may shady coverings bend, 1 sun.beams scorch thy face, no snows offend! hence arc the fair so proud to win thy heart, t rude thy beard, and guiltless thou of art .' ked thou stand's!, expos'd to wint'ry snows! ked thou stand'st when burning Sirius glows! us I—and thus the garden-power reply'd, crooked sickle glittering by his fide.
ke no repulse—at first what though they fly! :rcotne at last, reluctance will comply. 10 : vine in time full ripen'd clusters bears, d circling time brings back the rolling spheres: ime soft rains through marble sap their way, i time taught man to tame fierce beasts of prey, 'aw'd by conscience meanly dread to swear; e-oaths, unratified, wild tempests bear! ilh then scruples, if you'd gain a heart; ar,swear by Pallas' locks, Diana's dart; all that's most rever'd—if they require: ■ bind not eager love, thank heaven's good Sire! so be too slow; your slowness you'll deplore; it posts; and, oh! youth's raptures soon are o'er: 'forests bloom, and purple earth look" gay; ik winter blows, and all her charms decay: »soon the steed to age's stiffness yields, He a victor in th' Olympic fields? seen the aged oft lament their fate, 'senseless they had learnt to live too late. >artia] gods, and can the snake renew youthful vigour and his burnish'd hue i 30 south and beauty past; is art in vain ring the coy deserters back again!
ve gives alone the powers of wit and wine, nth immortal, spite of years to shine.
1 prompt compliance to the maid's desires; ompt compliance fans the lover's fires: pleas'd where'er she goes, though long the way,
'gh the fierce dog-star dart his sultry ray;
igh painted Iris gird the bluish sky,
sure portends,that rattling storms are nigh: 40
f the fair one pant for sylvan fame,
drag the meshc< and provoke the game;
Nay, should she choose to risk the driving gale t
Alas! in such degenerate days as these, No more love's gentle wiles the beauteous please 1 If poor, all gentle stratagems are vain 1 The fair ones languish now alone for gain! O may dishonour be the wretch's share, Who first with hateful gold sedue'd the fair!
Ye charming dames, prefer the tnnefiil quire, Nor meanly barter heavenly charms for hire. What cannot song? The purple locks that glow'd
On Nifus' head, harmonious song bestowed! 6c
And aid. the suppliant swain with all her loves>
Put. 1 The god, no novice in th' intriguing trade, This answer, Titius, to my question made: But caution bids you fly th' insidious fair. And paints the perils of their eyes and air; Nor these alone, devoted man subdue, Devoted man their slightest actions woo.
Be cautious those who list—but ye Who know Desire's hot fever, and contempt's chill woe; 8a
Me grateful praise contempt shall pain na
But wish meet wish, instructed by my lore:
Ik this elegy the poet consul's Priapus about the gleans to be used in ordrr to become a favourite with the fair; and that god, in his answer, delivers an epitome of the art of courtship.
However immoral some parts of Priapus's directions may be, there are but too many among the modern men of gallantry, who implicitly obey them; for, if the translator is not greatly mistaken, perjury in love-matters prevails now as much in Britain as ever it pievailed in ancient Italy.
Those who understand the original, need not to le told the reasons which obliged the translator to alter and omit many passages of this elegy, which with some sew others of the fame stamp, were probably those parts of Tibullus, which made the pious Anthony Posscvin apply to heaven in prayer, to preserve him from temptation whenever he purposed to read our poet.
Ver. 4. Priapus thus describes himself in an ancient author,
Parum est mihi, fixi quod hie miser sedem
Ver. II. Th vine in !me.~\ This was so favourite an illustrari. n, that Ovid has thrice inserted it in his Art os Love. Lucretius has a'so twice introduced the drop of water info his admirable j>oem De Rerum Natura; and Tasso, in his Amynta, has made it his own.
Non disperar ch' acquiilerai costci;
Ver. 18. The ancients not only swore by particular divinities, but by those thing* which were supposed to be most acceptable to them. But • whence was it, fay* 13' otkhuCus, that lovers swore by the virgin goddess? and adds this wife solution, " Credo, ob adamatum Endymiona
Minerva was so fond of her huir, which it scemt was very fine, and so highly resented all rivalship in that particular, that flic turned the hair of Medusa, who had preferred her own to that of the goddess, iuto serpentt, Vid. Setv. in «. Æn. V. alj.