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Te flagrantis atrox hora Caniculae
Nescit tangere; tu frigus amabile
Fessis vomere tauris

Praebes, et pecori vago, etc.1

Nor can any lines express better a real love for the actual beauty of familiar scenes combined with an imaginative longing for the ideal beauty consecrated by old poetic associations, —like to that which in modern times has often driven our Northern poets and artists across the Alps,-than the

Rura mihi et rigui placeant in vallibus amnes;
Flumina amem silvasque inglorius. O ubi campi
Spercheosque, et virginibus bacchata Lacaenis
Taygeta, etc.2

of the Georgics.

The literature of the Augustan Age has often been compared with that of England in the first half of the eighteenth century. In so far as each literature is the literature of town life, in so far as it has a moral and didactic purpose, the comparison holds good. The Satires and Epistles of Horace present a parallel both to the poetical Satires of Pope, which in outward form are imitated from them, and still more to the prose Essays of the Spectator. They resemble those Essays in their union of humour and seriousness, in the use they make of characterpainting, anecdote, and moral reflection, in the justice and at the same time the limitation of their criticism both on life and literature, in the colloquial ease combined with the studied propriety of their style. But while Horace, in addition to his powers as a moralist and painter of character, ranks high among those poets who enable us to feel the secret and the charm of Nature, latent in particular places, the only period


"'Gainst flaming Sirius' fury thou

Art proof, and grateful cool dost yield
To oxen wearied with the plough,

And flocks that range afield.' Martin.

2May my delight be in the fields and the flowing streams in the dales; unknown to fame may I love the rivers and the woods. O to be, where are the plains, and the Spercheos, and the heights, roamed over in their revels by Laconian maidens, the heights of Taygetus.'



of English literature from which this power is absent is that of which Addison and Pope are among the chief representatives. A similar superiority in this respect may be claimed for the Augustan poetry over that of the Age of Louis XIV. As was said before, French criticism points to Racine as a genius with a certain moral affinity to Virgil; but it equally acknowledges his inferiority as the interpreter of Nature. C'est cet amour,' says M. Sainte-Beuve, 'cette pratique de la nature champêtre qui a un peu manqué à notre Racine, dont le goût et le talent de peindre ont été presque uniquement tournés du côté de la nature morale.'

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The ease of their circumstances and the fact that they owed this ease to others ('Deus nobis haec otia fecit') have impressed themselves in other ways on the character of the Augustan poetry. The spirit of that poetry is certainly tamer than that of other great literary epochs. Even the enjoyment of Nature is a passive rather than an active enjoyment derived from adventurous or contemplative energy. There is no suggestion, as there is in Homer and in many modern poets, of vivid contact with the sterner forces of Nature. The sense of discomfort as well as of danger was then, as it has been till the present century, sufficient to repress the imaginative love of the sea or of mountain scenery1. Horace expresses a shrinking from the dangers of the sea, nor is there in Virgil any trace of that enjoyment of perilous adventure which is one of the great sources of delight in the Odyssey.

The profuse expenditure and luxury of the age called forth in its poets a spirit of reaction to a simpler and more primitive ideal, as they did in the French literature of the latter part of the eighteenth century. By contrast with the unreal enjoyment of luxury and the ennui occasioned by it, which Lucretius had satirised in the previous generation, a stronger sense of the

1 Cf. Virg. Georg. ii. 470:
Hor. Ep. i. 14. 35:
Virg. Eclog. ii. 40:
Hor. Ep. i. 11. 10:

'Mollesque sub arbore somni.' Prope rivum somnus in herba.' 'Nec tuta mihi valle reperti.' 'Neptunum procul e terra spectare furentem.'


purer sources of human enjoyment, of friendly and intellectual society, of family affection, of the beauty of Nature, of the simpler tastes of the country, was awakened even in those who in their actual lives did not realise all these sources of happiBut in Horace this feeling of contrast does not express itself in the tones of vehement antagonism which appear a century later in Juvenal. Luxury and profuse expenditure are indeed repugnant to his taste, and they suggest to him, as they do to Virgil, the purer enjoyment of simple living. There is no doctrine which Horace preaches more constantly in all his works, or with more apparent sincerity, than that of being independent of fortune, and of the greater happiness enjoyed in the mean station in life between great wealth and poverty. Yet, while preaching the same doctrine, he does not express it in terms of such deep and earnest conviction as the

Divitiae grandes homini sunt vivere parce
Aequo animo1


of Lucretius. In at least the earlier part of his poetic career he had had his share of the luxurious living and the other pleasures of Roman life. Experience had satisfied him that the slight repast, and sleep on the grass by a river's side"," contributed more to his happiness in later life than drinking Falernian from midday; and as years went on, it gave him more pleasure to recall the memory of his old loves in song than to involve himself in new engagements. The Horatian maxims in favour of simplicity have this recommendation, that they are the result of experience in both ways of living. The luxurious life of the capital seems at no time to have possessed charms for Virgil or Tibullus. Though the latter was a man of refinement, and not averse to pleasure, yet he has a feeling similar to that of Rousseau in favour of an ideal of rudeness and simplicity as compared with the pomp and profusion of life in Rome. The more active and energetic

It is great riches for a man to live sparingly with a contented mind.' 2 Ep. i. 14. 34-35.

§ 5]


temperament of Propertius and of Ovid induced them to participate with less restraint in the pleasures of the city, and they appealed to congenial tastes among their contemporaries in the choice of the topics treated in their poems.



The conditions hitherto considered enable us to appreciate the prominence given to national and imperial ideas in the literature of the Augustan Age, and also to understand the chief differences in tone and spirit between that literature and the literature of the Ciceronian Age. Along with these marked differences, obvious points of agreement are also observable. The cultivated men of each time had the same refined enjoyment in Nature, art, literature, and social life. And in turning to the intellectual conditions affecting literary form and style, the later period will be seen to be still more closely connected with the earlier. The golden age of Latin poetry, commencing in the years preceding the overthrow of the Republic, reaches its maturity in the earlier part of the reign of Augustus, and then begins to decline, till under Tiberius the last poetic voice is silenced. Though Latin prose-literature had yet to be enriched by some of its greatest and most original works, yet neither the glory of the Empire, the charm of the Italian life, nor the vivifying ideas and creations of Greek genius were ever again able to revive the genuine poetical inspiration which ancient Italy once, and once only, enjoyed in abundant


The half-century from about 60 B. c. to about 10 B.c. was, at once, one of those rare and germinative epochs in the history of the world, in which a powerful intellectual movement coincides with, influences, and is influenced by a great movement and change in human affairs; and it was at the same time a period of a rich and elaborate culture, in which the inheritance of Greek genius, art, and knowledge came for the first time into the full possession of the Romans. The earlier half of this

period was more distinguished by original force of mind, the latter half by more complete and perfect culture. The age of Cicero was one of great energy in the chief provinces of human activity-in war and politics, in oratory, poetry, and philosophy. There is no intellectual quality so characteristic of his own oratory, of the poetry of Lucretius, of the military and political genius of Julius Caesar, as the 'vivida vis,'-the energy, at once rapid and enduring in its action, as of a great elemental force. Among their contemporaries, though there was no man of high political capacity, yet there was a many-sided intellectual activity manifesting itself in the forum and senate-house, in social intercourse and correspondence, and in varied literary and philosophical discourse. As a result of this novel activity of mind, the Latin language developed then for the first time all its resources as a powerful organ of literature, inferior indeed to the language of Greece in the days of its purity, but much superior as the instrument of poetry and oratory, history and philosophy, to that language in its decay1. The writers of the Augustan Age received this language from their predecessors, in its most sensitive period of growth, while able to present to the mind in unimpaired freshness the immediate impressions from outward things and from the inner world of consciousness, but still capable of more delicate and varied combinations to fit it to become the perfectly harmonious organ of sustained poetical emotion. This further development was given to it by the Augustan poets, but not without some loss of native force and purity of idiom. They too felt the influence of the strong intellectual movement of the preceding age. But it came upon their minds with a less novel and vehement impulse. They are greater in execution than in creative design. They are more concerned with the results than with the processes of thought. Virgil may have been as assiduous a student of philosophy as Lucretius, but he does not feel the same need of consistency of view and firmness of speculative conviction; he

1 Compare Munro's Lucretius, p. 306 (third edition).

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