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patrons of letters, unlike Maecenas and Pollio, who, though of old provincial families, were novi homines' at Rome, was a representative of one of the oldest and most illustrious patrician houses. He had held high command in the Republican army at Philippi, and was distinguished as an orator, an author, and patron of literature. He became the centre of a literary circle the most brilliant member of which was Tibullus, and which, though living in friendly relations with the circle of Maecenas, did not share with it the enthusiasm for the new régime. Men· like Pollio and Messala are important as elements contributing to the general taste and culture of the age, but not as determining the political or ethical character stamped upon the literature.
No direct literary influence was exercised by Agrippa, who is described by the elder Pliny as 'homo rusticitati quam deliciis propior,' but his military and naval successes, and still more the great works of utility and beauty erected under his superintendence, contributed to the same end as the poetry of Virgil and Horace, that of perpetuating the spell of the name of Caesar upon the imagination of the world.
Cornelius Gallus, like Pollio, was eminent both in action and in poetry, but his brilliant and erratic career was cut short too soon to enable him to obtain a foremost place either among poets or among literary patrons. Yet an undying interest attaches to his name from the evidence afforded in the Eclogues of his being the first and apparently the only one who inspired in Virgil that affection, partly of the heart, partly of the imagination, which fascinates and attaches the finer nature of the poet to the stronger or bolder nature of one in whom it recognises some ideal of heroism, combined with the qualities which unite men in friendship with one another. It is of Gallus alone that Virgil writes in such a strain as this:
Gallo cuius amor tantum mihi crescit in horas
and it is to Gallus that he assigns the pre-eminence in
his own especial province of poetry,-as he represents the shepherd-poet Linus presenting him with the reeds which the Muses had of old given to the sage of Ascra1.'
The Odes of Horace, addressed to men of high official station and ancient family, such as Sestius, Munatius Plancus, Sallustius Crispus, Ælius Lamia, Manlius Torquatus, still further illustrate the close connexion between the great world and the world of letters. His later Epistles, many of which are addressed to young men of rank devoting themselves to literary studies and pursuits, attest the continuance of the same tendency as time went on. And in the following generation Ovid and his contemporaries enjoyed the favour and friendship of the sons of these men and of other illustrious patrons. Juvenal, in the Satire in which he complains of the absence of a liberal patronage in his own age, unites the names of Fabius and Cotta Messalinus (son of Messala), whose protection and encouragement Ovid had enjoyed, with that of
Quis tibi Maecenas? quis nunc erit aut Proculeius,
Aut Fabius? quis Cotta iterum? quis Lentulus alter?? The chief cause of this close bond of union between social rank and literary genius was the fact that the men who in a former age would, from their birth and education, have had a great political career before them, were now debarred from the highest sphere of active life; while they were not yet, what they became under the systematic corruption of the later Caesars, too enervated and demoralised to continue susceptible of the nobler kinds of intellectual pleasure.
Probably in no other aristocratic or courtly society has there been so large a number of men possessing the ability and knowledge, the accomplishments and leisure, required for the appreciative enjoyment of a literature based on so fine and elaborate a culture. There are some circumstances which made the patronage of the earlier half of the Augustan Age more favourable to letters than that of other 1 Eclog. vi. 70, etc. 2 Sat. vii. 93, 94.
periods in which the same influence has been exercised. The chief literary patrons then were men who had played a prominent part in a revolutionary era,-men indeed of ancient birth or hereditary distinction, yet owing their preeminence to their talent, energy, and aptitude for the time, and thus open to new influences, and free from the prejudices of an old-established nobility. They had the culture and careful education of an aristocratic class, combined with the liberal tendencies of revolutionary leaders. The distance which in the preceding age would have kept apart men born into a high social and political position from men of genius of humble origin was easily passed in a time immediately succeeding that in which the great C. Julius had practically proclaimed the doctrine of 'ant open career to every kind of merit.' Among the liberal traits in the character of Maecenas, as painted by Horace, the indifference to distinctions of birth is specially marked :
Cum referre negas quali sit quisque parente
The new men at the court of Augustus were naturally attracted to the new men in literature, sprung from quite a different class from that to which Lucretius, Catullus, or Calvus belonged, and yet, in respect of education, refinement, and even early associations, in no respect their inferiors.
Another bond of union between them was that they were nearly all of the same age, born with one or two exceptions between the years 70 B.C. and 60 B.C., and that several of them had studied under the same masters. The distinguished men of the Ciceronian Age had passed away, with the exception of one or two, such as Varro and Atticus, living in retirement, and consoling themselves with their farms and libraries for the changes they had witnessed. The leaders in action, as in literature, were all young men, beginning their career together in an altered world, the characters and destinies of which they were called upon to
1 Sat. i. 6. 7-8.
mould. One by one they dropped away, most of them before passing the period of middle life, leaving the Emperor almost the sole survivor among a younger generation who had grown up under the new order of things, and, while acquiescing in it as complacently, sharing neither in the energy nor in the enthusiasm of the early years (from about 27 B.C. to about 10 B.C.) during which the Empire left its greatest and happiest impression.
This relation of men of letters to the leaders of society under the Empire could not but exercise a strong influence both for good and evil on the literature of the age, Such a society,―able, versed in affairs, accomplished, fond of pleasure, whatever else it may be, is sure to be characterised by good sense, a strong feeling of order and dignity, an acute perception of propriety in conduct and manners, an urbanity of tone restraining all arrogant self-assertion and violent animosity of feeling. Such a society is the determined enemy of all pedantry, eccentricity, and exaggeration, of all austerity or indecorum, of one-sided enthusiasm or devotion to a single idea. The 'aurea mediocritas' in feeling, conduct, thought, and enjoyment is the ideal which it sets before itself. Horace, except in his highest and most thoughtful moods, is the true representative of such a society; but its indirect influence may be noted also in the moderation, the invariable propriety and dignity, both of thought and language in Virgil, and in the tones of refinement with which Propertius and Ovid record the experience and preach the philosophy of pleasure. Yet literature probably lost as much from the limitation of sympathy imposed upon it as it gained from this acquired dignity and urbanity of tone. The Roman poets of this era, even while expressing national sentiments and ideas, were not like Homer, Pindar, or Sophocles, who, while putting a sufficiently high value on distinctions of birth and fortune, and on the personal qualities accompanying these distinctions, are yet, in a sense in which the poets of the Augustan Age are not, the poets of a whole people. Horace introduces that series of his Odes which most
breathes a national spirit by disclaiming all sympathy with the 'profanum vulgus.' He looks upon it as one of the privileges of genius, ' malignum spernere vulgus.' He did not wish his Satires to be thumbed by the mob or men of the class 'to which Hermogenes Tigellius belonged.' He cared only for the appreciation of the class in which all culture and all regard for the traditions and greatness of Rome were now centred. The urban populace, as represented in literature, appears only as a rabble, and this is still more the case in the days of Juvenal,-which had to be kept in order, fed, amused, and tended, like some dangerous wild beast. The middle class, absorbed in money-making and commercial adventure, supplies to Horace the representatives of the misers and parvenus whom he painted in his Satires for the amusement of his aristocratic readers. The tone of Virgil is equally anti-popular. The view of society which he delights to present is that of a paternal ruler giving laws to his people and caring for their welfare. His repugnance to the influence of the 'popularis aura' on government is indicated in such passages as the famous simile near the beginning of the Aeneid,
Ac veluti magno in populo cum saepe coorta est
and in his representation of the good King Ancus' of Ennius and Lucretius, among the unborn descendants of Aeneas, as
Nunc quoque iam nimium gaudens popularibus auris.
The encouragement and appreciation of the leaders of society involved on the part of the poets a position of deference or dependence; the relation between them had thus its limiting as well as its corrective effects; it tended to make literature tamer in spirit and thought, perhaps also less original in invention, more bounded in its range of human interest.