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The poets with whom our enquiry is concerned, and especially the two most illustrious of their number, thoroughly represent, as they helped to call forth, the spirit in which the Roman world passed through the great change from the Republic to the Empire. They give expression to the weariness and longing for rest, to the revival of Roman and Italian feeling, to the pride of empire, the charm of ancient memories and associations, the aspiration after a better life and a firmer faith. But, further, the expression of these feelings is made subordinate to the personal glory of Augustus, who stands out as the central ⚫ and commanding figure in all their representations. He is celebrated as the restorer of the golden Saturnian age1; the closer of the gateway of Janus 2; the leader of the men and the gods of Italy against the swarms of the East and her monstrous divinities; the 'father of his country;' the ruler destined to extend the empire, on which the sun never set,' 'beyond the Garamantians and Indians;' the descendant and true representative of the mythical author of the Roman State; the man in whom the great destiny of Rome and the great labours of all her sons were summed up and fulfilled'; the conqueror who raised three hundred shrines to the gods of Italy; the legislator who by his life and his laws had reformed the corrupt manners of the State. The sense of gratitude for the rest and prosperity enjoyed under Augustus, the admiration for the real power of intellect and character which made him the most successful ruler that the world has ever seen, the confidence in the unbroken good fortune which marked all his earlier career, may account, without the necessity of attributing any unworthy motive, for the eulogies bestowed upon him as a ruler and organiser of empire. But the language of admiration goes beyond these into a region in which modern sympathies can
1 Aen. vi. 795.
3 Aen. viii. 678 et seq.
5 Aen. i. 287; vi. 796; Hor. Od. iv. 15. 15.
7 Georg. ii. 170.
9 Hor. Od. iv. 5. 20; Ep. ii. 1. 2.
2 Hor. Od. iv. 15.9.
4 Hor. Od. i. 2. 50.
6 Aen. i. 288.
8 Aen. viii, 716.
with difficulty follow it. Modern criticism may partially explain, but it cannot enable us to enter with sympathy into that peculiar phase of the latter days of Paganism which first appears in the literature and the historical monuments of the Augustan Age as the Deification of the Emperors. In the pages of Tacitus the worship of the Emperor appears as an established 'cultus,' as the symbol and the instrument of Roman domination over foreign nations'. The cities of Spain vie with the cities of the Asiatic Greeks in their desire to raise temples in honour of the living Emperor. Tacitus seems to regard it as even something discreditable in Tiberius that he disclaims divine attributes 2. The origin of this cultus,' as it first established itself in the Greek cities of Asia, may be referred to a survival of the old Greek hero-worship, which led even in the Republican times to the offering of divine honours to Roman Proconsuls and to the excess of the monarchical sentiment among Asiatics, which had led to the worship of the successors of Alexander, and had prompted Alexander himself to claim a divine origin. This foreign vein of feeling united with a native vein, the strong Roman faith in a secret invisible power watching over the destiny of the State, and revered as 'Fortuna Urbis.' This secret invisible divinity became as it were incarnate in the person of the supreme ruler of the world, wielding the whole. power, representing the whole majesty of Rome.
The feeling with which the contemporary poets attribute to Augustus a divine function in the world, and anticipate for him a place and high office among the gods after death, is something different from this literal adoration of a living man as invested with the full power and attributes of Deity. But it is difficult to find any rational explanation of the tone adopted by them in such passages as Georg. i. 24-42, or Horace, Ode iii. 3. 11-12. There is, however, a striking coincidence in the manner in which Virgil and Horace suggest the blending of the mortal
GLORIFICATION OF AUGUSTUS
1 'Ad hoc templum divo Claudio constitutum quasi arx aeternae dominationis aspiciebatur.' Tac. Ann. xiv. 31.
2 Tac. Ann. iv. 38.
with the immortal, which seems to imply a common source of inspiration. Horace asserts the divinity of Augustus by claiming for him qualities and services equal to, or greater than, those which raised Castor, Pollux, Hercules, Bacchus, and Romulus to the dwelling-place of the gods1. Virgil, in one of the cardinal passages of the Aeneid, in which the action is projected into his own age, claims, for the restorer of order then, a vaster range of beneficent influence than that over which the civilising labours and conquests of Bacchus and Hercules had extended 2. In another passage Horace speaks of the Roman as worshipping the 'numen' of Caesar along with the Lares, even as Greece keeps Castor and mighty Hercules in memory. In all these passages the idea implied is that, as great services to the human race have in other times raised mortals from earth to heaven, so it shall be with Augustus after the beneficent labours of his life are over*. Probably the earliest suggestion of the idea in its manifestation at Rome came from the consecration of Julius Caesar after his death. The Iulium Sidus '-' the star beneath which the harvestfields should be glad with corn'—is appealed to both by Virgil and Horace as a witness of the mortal become immortal. As the office of the deified Julius is to answer the prayers of the husbandman, such too will be the office of Augustus; and it is in this relation that he is invoked in the first Georgic among the deities whose function it is to watch over the fields. Both poets recall also the divine origin of the Emperor,— 'Augustus Caesar, of the race of heaven,'-as the descendant of Venus. Both too dwell on the especial protection of which he was the object. The divine care which had watched over Rome from its origin was now centred on him as the supreme head of the State, the heir and adopted son of the great Julius.
1 Od. iii. 3. 9, etc.; Ep. ii. 1. 5.
2 Aen. vi. 801.
3 Od. iv. 5.
These comparisons may be more naturally referred to Roman Euhemerism,' than to the survival of the spirit of hero-worship, which, although still active in Greece, was a mode of feeling alien to the Roman imagination.
But, although we cannot ascribe to Virgil and Horace the ignorant superstition which raised temples to the living Emperor in the cities of Asia and in the various provinces of the Empire, it is difficult to extract from their language any germ of sincere conviction. And yet to condemn them of a base servility and hypocrisy would be to judge them altogether from a modern point of view. At such a time as the Augustan Age the minds of men were very variously affected by the different modes of religious belief, national and foreign, philosophical and artistic, which had been inherited from the past1. It must have been difficult for any one to be altogether unmoved by the innumerable symbols of religion visible around him, suggestive of a constant and immediate action of a supernatural power on all human, and especially all national, concerns: and it must have been equally difficult for any one trained in Greek philosophy to accept literally the incongruous fables of mythology, or to attach a definite personality to the imaginary beings of which it was composed. Horace and Virgil appear to stand at opposite extremes of incredulity and faith. Horace, in his Odes, accepts the beings of the Greek mythology as materials for his art, while, by his silence on the subject in his Satires and Epistles, he clearly implies that this acceptance formed no part of his real convictions. To Virgil, on the other hand, the gods of mythology appear to have a real existence, as manifestations of the divine energy, revealed in the religious traditions which connect the actual world of experience with a supernatural origin. So too Horace, in his Odes, treats the blending of the divine with the human elements in Augustus. artistically or symbolically-represents him as drinking nectar between Pollux and Hercules, or as inspired with wisdom by the Muses in a Pierian cave-in much the same spirit as the great painters of the Renaissance introduced in their pictures. living popes or patrons of art into the company of the most sacred personages.. Virgil, to whose mind, in all things affecting either the State or the individual, the invisible world of faith 1 Cp. infra, chap. vi.
WORSHIP OF THE EMPEROR
appears very near the actual world of experience, seems sincerely to believe in the delegation of supernatural power and authority on the Emperor, and in the favour of Heaven watching over him. The divine energy diffused through all living things might appear to be united with the human elements in Augustus as it was in no other man, so that while still on earth he might be thought of, if not as a 'praesens divus,' yet as acting 'praesenti numine,' as the representative and vicegerent of omnipotence 1.
Some further light is thrown on this subject by considering the manifestation of this same spirit in other forms of the art of that age. The famous statue of the Emperor, found recently in the ruins of a villa of the Empress Livia, and at pre- . sent seen among the statues of the Braccio Nuovo in the Vatican, has been critically examined by an eminent German scholar, as furnishing the best commentary on the language of the Augustan poets. In this statue the Emperor appears as blending the attributes of a Roman imperator with those of a Greek hero or demigod 2. Beside him a Cupid, symbolical of the Julian descent from Venus, appears riding on a dolphin. The breast-plate represents, among other protecting deities, those whom Horace addresses in the Carmen Saeculare, Phoebus and Diana, and the Sun and Earth-goddess. In the centre there is a figure of Mars attended by the wolf, receiving back the standards from the Parthian; on either side are seen two figures, representative of races recently conquered, probably the Celtiberians and the tribes of the Alps. From the coincidence of its symbolism it may be inferred that the statue was produced at the same time as the Carmen Saeculare was composed. Its object is to impress on the minds of men the image
The belief in the divinity of the genius attending on each individual, and also the custom of raising altars to some abstract quality in an indi vidual, such as the Clemency of Caesar,' help also to explain this supposed union of the god and man in the person of the Emperor. The language of Virgil in Eclogue IV. also throws light on the ideas possible as to the union of the divine with human nature.
2 This is indicated by the bare feet.