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Works in which Reference is made to the Poem, aside from the Text
SCHOELL, F. Histoire abrégée de la littérature romaine. Paris, 1815. Vol. 3, p. 53 note, p. 100.
MONCEAUX, PAUL. Les Africains; étude sur la littérature latine d'Afrique; les païens. Paris, 1894, p. 367.
SCHANZ, MARTIN. Geschichte der römischen Literatur. Munich, 1896. Part 3, p. 37.
TEUFFEL, W. S. Geschichte der römischen Litteratur. 6th edition. Leipzig, 1913. Vol. 3, § 398.12.
PALMER, ARTHUR. Edition of Ovid's Heroides. Oxford, 1898. Introduction, p. XX, footnote 1.
BAYARD, LOUIS. Le latin de Saint Cyprien. Paris, 1902.
BECHTEL, EDWARD A. Edition of Sanctae Silviae Peregrinatio. Chicago, 1902.
BOISSIER, GASTON. Roman Africa; Archaeological Walks in Algeria and Tunis. English Translation by A. Ward. New York and London, 1899. BONNET, MAX. Le latin de Grégoire de Tours. Paris, 1890.
DILL, SAMUEL. Roman Society in the Last Century of the Western Empire. 2nd edition, London, 1906.
GOELZER, HENRI. Étude lexicographique et grammaticale de la latinité de Saint Jérome. Paris, 1884.
HOPPE, HEINRICH. Syntax und Stil des Tertullian. Leipzig, 1903.
KÜHNER, RAPHAEL. Ausführliche Grammatik der lateinischen Sprache. Zweite Auflage, Hanover, 1912.
MÜLLER, LUCIAN. De Re Metrica Poetarum Latinorum praeter Plautum et Terentium. 2nd edition, Petrograd and Leipzig, 1894.
SCHMALZ, J. H. Lateinische Grammatik; Syntax und Stilistik. 4th edition, Munich, 1910. (I. von Müller's Handbuch, II.2)
SCHUBERT, O. Quaestiones de Anthologia Codicis Salmasiani; Pars I. De Luxorio. Vimaria, 1875.
The Salmasian Codex preserves, in incomplete form, an ancient anthology compiled at Carthage between the years 532 and 534 A. D. In this collection is found the anonymous epistle of Dido to Aeneas which is here presented.
DATE AND AUTHORSHIP
The only external evidence for the date of this poem is furnished by the known time of the compilation of the Salmasian
1Riese, Praefatio, pp. XXIV-XXV; Schubert, pp. 17 ff.
"Monceaux apparently assigns it to the 3rd century, Schanz to the end of the 3rd century. Teuffel and Palmer think it is probably not earlier than the 4th century. Schoell places it in the 6th century.
Anthology, according to which it must be earlier than 534 A. D. A further indication may possibly be found in the fact that the poem is anonymous. A number of poems in the Anthology which are given under the names of their authors have in addition to the name the title vir clarissimus, vir inlustris, or some such complimentary expression; from this the conclusion has been drawn that these poets were contemporaries of the compiler of the Anthology. Consequently there is a presumption that the poems which appear without such a title are of earlier date. While some weight may be given to this evidence, it cannot be regarded as conclusive, for there is always the possibility that the name or complimentary title originally attached to any particular poem may have been lost in copying; also, while it is not probable that the work of an author still living would be inserted anonymously in an anthology, it is by no means impossible.
For further evidence we must examine the poem itself. In two passages the author expresses Epicurean views, suggesting that he was not a Christian. This fact leads Teuffel and Schanz to date the poem just before the official triumph of Christianity. Here again we must beware of attaching too much importance to these expressions, for paganism still lived on and flourished side by side with Christianity long after the official recognition of the latter. There were, too, nominal Christians, like Ausonius, whose religion rested lightly upon them, and did not prevent them from employing the old mythological subjects and the language of paganism. Further, it must be remembered that the opinions which the author attributes to Dido are not necessarily his own. Consequently, while we may conclude that the author was probably a pagan, we are not justified in going so far as to say that the poem must have been written before Christianity became the official religion of Rome. Riese, pp. XXVI-XXVIII.
441 and 121-2; cf. also 63 and note.
"Cf. Teuffel, Vol. 3, §398: "Aus der Zeit vor dem amtlichen Siege des Christentums scheint eine Anzahl von Schriftwerken in gebundener Form zu stammen, die sich mit Unbefangenheit oder gar Heiterkeit auf dem Boden der alten Götterwelt bewegen und die überlieferten Formen meist mit leidlicher Sicherheit handhaben."
Dill, pp. 385 ff.
Aside from the foregoing indications, we have only the evidence of language and style, an uncertain means of determining the date of a poem so short as this, so imitative, and so full of reminiscences of earlier authors. The writer was consciously using Vergil and Ovid as models; his diction frequently echoes that of other classical poets. Thus the language of his own time is overlaid with that of the writers whom he imitates. We may, however, note the following indications of later date:
(1) Metre. The metre is correct according to classical standards, except that in three places' initial h is counted as a consonant in making position. This is a peculiarity of Christian poetry, and first appears in the fourth century. Our author does not follow this rule consistently, for in sixteen places h is treated just as in verse of the classical period. Elision is remarkably rare, occurring only five times."
(2) Syntax. The following variations from classical usage
Double negative for emphasis (29).
Fruor with the accusative case (49).
Licet as a conjunction with the pluperfect subjunctive (115) and with the indicative (148-9). The former is first found in the early imperial period, the latter from the time of Apuleius. Perfect infinitive used with the force of the present (115, 128). This is not peculiar to late Latin, but becomes more frequent in the later period, and according to Schmalz is a favorite use with Christian writers.
798, 119, 132. 8See note on 98.
956, 95, 98, 110, 147.
The infrequency of elision is not of much value in establishing the date; from the time of the Silver Age elision was avoided by some poets, but there is no regular decrease in the frequency of its occurrence; cf. E. H. Sturtevant and R. G. Kent, Transactions of the American Philological Association, 46, pp. 146 ff.
Birt (pp. 61-2) points out a further peculiarity in the very frequent use of two caesuras, dividing the line into three parts. He finds the same peculiarity in the short poem of 20 lines on Phaedra, attributed to Vincentius (Anth. 279). On these grounds he concludes that this epistle also is the work of Vincentius. These metrical peculiarities are not in themselves sufficient reason for attributing the two poems to the same author, in the absence of other marked resemblances; moreover, the poem on Phaedra is much more faulty metrically, containing several mistakes in quantity within its short limits. 10For fuller discussion see notes on verses cited. 11Pp. 435-6.
Future participle used more frequently than in the classical period (45, 56, 74, 87).12
Asyndeton (124 and 129) is noted by Teuffel" as an indication of late date.
(3) Vocabulary. The following words or expressions show certain peculiarities:14
libenter habe (2), incole (3), dictare salutem (6), pendet (144) apex (22), sacramenta (33), convincere (37) and resolvere (9), for the corresponding simple verbs, capit (69), fluctus (75), vota queror (87), durum tuli (103-4), vota cupis (137), sidere (141), meus as vocative (144).
These peculiarities of usage, taken all together, point decidedly to a date not earlier than the fourth century. The choice of subject and the general treatment lead to the same conclusion. In the time of barren imitation which succeeded the great creative period of Roman literature, admiration for the masterpieces of the past so dominated the minds of educated men that it left little room for originality, or rather whatever originality existed spent itself on mere matters of form and language. The old themes were treated again and again, and ornamented with new rhetorical devices. Among the great poets Vergil was revered above all, his works were studied in the schools and used as models for imitation.15 The absurd length to which this veneration was carried is shown in the Vergilian cento, consisting of phrases from that poet fitted together with much ingenuity so as to make a new poem on a totally different subject.16 A regular school exercise was the dictio, an expansion of a line of passage from Vergil.17 The works of Macrobius and of Martir
12 For statistics of the frequency of occurrence of the future participle in different writers see E. B. Lease, American Journal of Philology 1919, pp. 262 ff. 13 Vol. 3. §398.12.
14 For fuller discussion see notes on verses cited.
15 Dill, pp. 385 ff.
17Three of these have been preserved in the Anthology (223, 244, 255) under the heading Locus Vergilianus or Thema Vergilianum. Among the Dictiones of Ennodius is one (in prose) entitled Verba Didonis cum abeuntem videret Aenean (Dict. 28). The grammarian was occupied with Vergil to such an extent that to say he knew Vergil was sufficient designation of his calling, as in the epigram beginning Arma virumque docens atque arma virumque peritus, Baehrens Poetae Latini Minores 5, p. 98.
anus Capella are an indication of the reverence which was paid to him in the fourth century. Of such a period as this our poem is evidently a production.
In regard to the place of composition we have no indication except the fact that the Salmasian Anthology was compiled at Carthage. Apparently all the contemporary poets included in the collection are African, 18 and it is natural to suppose that many of the anonymous works also have the same origin. We know that Carthage was a flourishing centre of culture and literary activity during the early centuries of the Christian era.19 Many minor works must have been produced there by mediocre writers whose names have not survived, and it is much more probable that compositions of slight merit found their way into an anthology put together at the place where they originated, than that they came from other parts of the Empire. The subject of Dido and her sorrows is one that might naturally be expected to appeal particularly to a Carthaginian poet.
The epistle itself shows that the author was some one who was familiar with the early poets, especially with Vergil, Ovid, Horace, and Lucretius, for it abounds in verbal reminiscences of their works. The correctness of the versification, too, proves that he was well trained in the schools. On the other hand it shows little originality, and there is an entire absence of poetic inspiration or deep feeling. Such a writer might naturally be found among those whose profession was the study and teaching of literature, and it seems reasonable to conclude that the author may have been a Carthaginian rhetorician or grammarian of the latter part of the fourth or the beginning of the fifth century. The poem is valuable in showing what were the interests and literary activities of educated men of this period, and in indicating the strength of the influence which was still exercised by Vergil and Ovid.
18 Riese, p. XXIX.
19Boissier, pp. 238 ff.; Monceaux, pp. 459 ff.