Billeder på siden

ing burnt all the ships she possessed there, she was kind and generous treatment, but nevertheless conobliged to abandon her design.

tinued to advance towards the city by great marches. Changing, therefore, her resolution, she thought Upon arriving there, he encamped near the Hiponly of gaining Octavius, whom she looked upon as podrome. He was in hopes of making himself her conqueror, and to make him a sacrifice of An- master of the city immediately, by means of the tony, whose misfortunes had rendered him indiffer- intelligence which he held with Cleopatra, upon ent to her. Such was the princess's disposition. which he relied no less than upon his army. Though she loved even to madness, she had still Antony was ignorant of that princess's intrigues, more ambition than love; and the crown being and, being unwilling to believe what was told him dearer to her than her husband, she entertained of them, prepared for a good defence. He made & thoughts of preserving it at the price of Antony's rigorous sally; and after having severely handled life. But concealing her sentiments from him, she the besiegers, and warmly pursued to the gates of persuaded him to send ambassadors to Octavius, to their camp a detachment of the horse which had negotiate a treaty of peace with him. She joined been sent against him, he returned victorious into her ambassadors with his; but gave them instruc- the city. This was the last effort of expiring valor; tions to treat separately for herself. Octavius would for, after this exploit, his fortitude and sense of not so much as see Antony's ambassadors. He dis- glory abandoned him, or were never after of any missed Cleopatra's with a favorable answer. He service to him. passionately desired to make sure of her person and Cleopatra's treason opened Antony's eyes, and treasures; her person to adorn his triumph, her made him, when too late, give credit to what his treasures to enable him to discharge the debts he friends had told him of the queen's perfidy. In had contracted upon account of this war. He this extremity he was for signalizing himself by an therefore gave her reason to conceive great hopes, extraordinary act of valor, capable, in his opinion, in case she would sacrifice Antony to him.

of doing him abundance of honor. He sent to chalOctavius knowing how important it was to him not lenge Octavius to a single combat. Octavius made to leave his victory imperfect, marched in the be- answer, that if Antony was weary of life, there were ginning of the spring into Syria, and from thence other ways to die besides the one proposed. Antony, sat down before Pelusium. He sent to summon the seeing himself ridiculed by Octavius, and betrayed governor to open the gates to him; and Seleucus, by Cleopatra, returned into the city, and was a mowho commanded there for Cleopatra, having re- ment after abandoned by all his cavalry. Seized with ceived secret orders upon that head, surrendered rage and despair, he then flew to the palace, with the place without awaiting a siege. The rumor of design to avenge himself upon Cleopatra, but failed this treason spread in the city. Cleopatra, to clear to find her there. herself of the accusation, put the wife and children That artful princess, who had foreseen what hapof Seleucus into Antony's hands, in order that he pened, to escape the rage of Antony, had retired might revenge his treachery by putting them to into the quarter where stood the tombs of the kings death.

of Egypt, which was fortified with strong walls, and Adjoining to the temple of Isis she had caused the gates of which she had ordered to be closed. tombs and halls to be erected, superb as well for She caused Antony to be told, that, preferring an their beauty and magnificence, as their loftiness and honorable death to a shameful captivity, she had extent. Thither she ordered her most precious killed herself in the midst of her ancestors' tombs, effects and moveables to be carried, gold, silver, where she had also chosen her own sepulchre. Anjewels, ebony, ivory, and a large quantity of per- tony, too credulous, did not give himself time to fumes and aromatic wood; as if she intended to examine a piece of news which he ought to have raise a funeral pile, upon which she would consume suspected after all Cleopatra's other infidelities; and herself and her treasures. Octavius, alarmed for the horrified with the idea of her death, passed immelatter, and apprehending lest her despair should in- diately from excess of rage to the most violent duce her to burn them, despatched every day some transports of grief, and thought only of following person to her, to give her great hopes of the most

her to the grave.

Having taken this melancholy resolution, he shut himself up in his apartment with a slave; and having caused his armor to be taken off, he commanded him to plunge his dagger into his breast. But the slave, full of affection, respect, and fidelity for his master, stabbed himself with it, and fell dead at his feet. Antony, looking upon this action as an example for him to follow, thrust his sword into his body, and fell upon the floor, in a torrent of his blood, which he mingled with that of his slave. At that moment, an officer of the queen's guards came to let him know that she was alive. He no sooner heard the name of Cleopatra pronounced, than he opened his dying eyes; and being informed that she was not dead, he suffered his wound to be dressed, and afterwards caused himself to be carried to the fort where she had shut herself up. Cleopatra would not permit the gates to be opened to give him entrance, for fear of some surprise; but she appeared at a high window, from whence she threw down chains and cords. Antony was made fast to these, and Cleopatra, assisted by two women, who were the only persons she had brought with her into the tomb, drew him up.

Never was there a more piteous sight. Antony, all bathed in his blood, with death painted on his face, was dragged up in the air, turning his dying eyes, and extending his feeble hands towards Cleopatra, as if to conjure her to receive his last breath; whilst she, with her features distorted and her arms strained, pulled the cords with her whole strength; the people below, who could give her no further aid, encouraging her with their cries.

When she had drawn him up to her, and had laid him on a bed, she tore her clothes upon him; and beating her breast, and wiping the blood from his wound, with her face close to his, she called him her prince, her lord, her dearest spouse. Whilst she made these mournful exclamations, she cut off Antony's hair, according to the superstition of the Pagans, who believed that it gave relief to those who died a violent death.

Antony, recovering his senses, and seeing Cleopatra's affliction, said to her, to comfort her, that he thought himself happy since he died in her arms; and that, as to his defeat, he was not ashamed of it, it being no disgrace for a Roman to be overcome by Romans. He afterwards advised her to save her life and kingdom, provided she

could do so with honor; to be upon her guard against the traitors of her own court, as well as the Romans in the train of Octavius, and to trust only Proculeius. He expired with these words.

Not doubting but that Octavius intended to make her serve as an ornament to his triumph, she had no other thoughts than to avoid that shame by dying. She well knew that she was observed by the guards who had been assigned her, who, under the color of doing her honor, followed her everywhere; and in addition, her time was short, Octavius being about to depart. The better, therefore, to cajole him, she sent to desire that she might go to pay her last duty at the tomb of Antony, and take her leave of him. Octavius having granted her that permission, she went thither accordingly to bathe the tomb with her tears, and to assure Antony, to whom she addressed her discourse as if he had been present before her eyes, that she would soon give him a more certain proof of her affection.

After that fatal protestation, which she accompanied with sighs and tears, she caused the tomb to be covered with flowers, and returned to her chamber. She then went into a bath, and from the bath to table, having ordered it to be served magnificently.

When she arose from table, she wrote a letter to Octavius; and having made all quit her chamber except her two women, she shut the door, sat down upon a couch, and asked for a basket of figs which a peasant had lately brought. She placed it by her, and a moment after lay down as if she had fallen asleep. This was but the effect of the aspic, which was concealed amongst the fruit, and which had stung her in the arm that she had held to it. The poison immediately communicated itself to the heart, and killed her without pain, or its workings being perceived by anybody.

The guards had orders to let nothing pass without a strict examination: but the disguised peasant, who was one of the queen's faithful servants, played his part so well, and there seemed so little appearance of deceit in a basket of figs, that he was suffered to enter. Thus all the precautions of Octavius were ineffectual.

She died at thirty-nine years of age, of which she had reigned twenty-two from the death of her father.

After Cleopatra's death, Egypt was reduced into

a province of the Roman empire, and governed by a præfect sent thither from Rome. The reign of the Ptolemies in Egypt, if we date its commencenient from the death of Alexander the Great, had continued two hundred and ninety-three years, from the year of the world 3681 to 3974.



ject of the Roman education. Plutarch informs us, that among the sports of the children of Rome, one was the pleading of causes before a mock tribunal, and accusing and defending a criminal in the usual forms of judicial procedure.

The exercises of the body were likewise particularly attended to; whatever might harden the temperament, and confer strength and agility. These exercises were daily practiced by the youth, under the eye of their elders, in the Campus Martius.

At seventeen the youth assumed the manly robe. He was consigned to the care of a master of rhetoric, whom he attended constantly to the forum, or to the courts of justice; for to be an accomplished gentleman, it was necessary for a Roman to be an accomplished orator. The pains bestowed on the attainment of this character, and the best instructions for its acquisition, we learn from the writings of Cicero, Quintilian, and the younger Pliny.


System of Roman Education.—A virtuous but rigid severity of manners was the characteristic of the Romans under their kings, and in the first ages of the Republic. The private life of the citizens, frugal, temperate, and laborious, had its influence on their public character. The patria potestas gave to every head of a family a sovereign authority over all the members that composed it; and this power, felt as a right of nature, was never abused. Plutarch has remarked, as a defect of the Roman laws, that they did not prescribe, as those of Lacedæmon, a system and rules for the education of youth. But the truth is, the manners of the people supplied this want. The utmost attention was bestowed in the early formation of the mind and character. The excellent author of the dialogue De Oratoribus (whether Quintilian or Tacitus) presents a valuable picture of the Roman education in the early ages of the Commonwealth, contrasted with the less virtuous practice of the more refined. The Roman matrons did not abandon their infants to mercenary

They esteemed those duties sacred, and regarded the careful nurture of their offspring, the rudiments of their education, and the necessary occupations of their household, as the highest points of female merit. Next to the care bestowed in the instilment of virtuous morals, a remarkable degree of attention seems to have been given to the language of children, and to the attainment of a correctness and purity of expression. Cicero informs us, that the Gracchi, the sons of Cornelia, were educated non tam in gramio quam in sermone matris. That urbanity which characterized the Roman citizens showed itself particularly in their speech and gesture.

The attention to the language of the youth had another source. It was by eloquence, more than by any other talent, that the young Roman could rise to the highest offices and dignities of the state. The studia forensia were, therefore, a principal ob


Before the intercourse with Greece, which took place after the Punic wars, the Roman people were utterly rude and illiterate. As among all nations the first appearance of the literary spirit is shown in poetical composition, the Roman warrior had probably, like the Indian or the Celtic, his war songs, which celebrated his triumphs in battle. Religion, likewise, employs the earliest poetry of most nations; and if a people subsists by agriculture, a plentiful harvest is celebrated in the rustic song of the husbandman. The Versus Fescennini mentioned by Livy were probably of the nature of poetical dialogue, or alternate verses sung by the laborers, in a strain of coarse merriment and raillery. This shows a dawning of the drama.

About the 390th year of Rome, on occasion of a pestilence, Ludiones (drolls or stage-dancers) were brought from Etruria, qui ad tibicinis modos saltantes, haud indecoros motus more Tusco dabant. Livy tells us, that the Roman youth imitated these performances, and added to them rude and jocular verses, probably the Fescennine dialogues. It was not, however, till the year 514 A.U.C. that the regular drama was introduced at Rome from Greece by Livius Andronicus. The earliest Roman plays were, therefore, we may presume, translations from the Greek.

-Post Punica bella quietus quærere cepit,

name of Seneca are generally esteemed the work of Quod Sophocles, et Thespis, et Æschylus utile ferrent.”

different hands. They are none of them of superHor. Ep. 1. ii. 1.

lative merit. Of the early Roman drama, Ennius was a great

Velleius Paterculus remarks, that the era of the ornament, and from his time the art made rapid perfection of Roman literature was the age of Cicadvancement. The comedies of Plautus, the con- ero; comprehending all of the preceding times temporary of Ennius, with great strength and spirit whom Cicero might have seen, and all of the sucof dialogne, display a considerable knowledge of ceeding who might have seen him. Cicero, Quinhuman nature, and, though rather adapted to the tilian, and Pliny, celebrate, in high terms, the taste of the lower orders, from their indelicacy, yet, writings of the elder Cato, whose principal works owing to the purity of the Latin in which they are were historical, and have entirely perished. We written, they are read at this day with pleasure; have his fragments, De Re Rustica, in which he many passages, indeed, are to be found in them was imitated by Varro, one of the earliest of the favorable not only to morality but religion.

good writers among the Romans, and a man of uniCæcilius improved so much on the comedy of versal erudition. Of the variety of his talents we Plautus, that he is mentioned by Cicero as perhaps may judge, not only from the splendid eulogium of the best of the Roman comic writers. Of his com- Cicero, but from the circumstance of Pliny having positions we have no remains. His patronage fos- recourse to his authority in every book of his Nattered the rising genius of Terence, whose first com- ural History. edy, the Andria, was performed A.U.C. 587. The Sallust, in order of time, comes next to Varro. merit of the comedies of Terence lies in that nature This writer introduced an important improvement and simplicity which are observable alike in the on history, as treated by the Greek historians, by structure of his fables, in the delineation of his applying (as Dionysius of Halicarnassus says) the characters, and in the delicacy and purity of the science of philosophy to the study of facts. Sallust sentiments of his pieces, the subjects, however, not is, therefore, to be considered as the father of being always so unexceptionable as his language. philosophic history; a species of writing which has They are deficient in comic energy, and are not cal- been so successfully cultivated in modern times. culated to excite ludicrous emotions. Being, as well He is an admirable writer for the matter of his as those of Plautus, chiefly borrowed from the compositions, which evince great judgment and Greek of Menander and Apollodorus, they furnish knowledge of human nature, but by no means comno description of Roman manners.

mendable for his style and manner of writing. He The Roman comedy was of four different species; affects singularity of expression, an antiquated the Comedia Togata or Prætextata, the Comedia phraseology, and a petulant brevity and sententiousTabernaria, the Atellano, and the Mimi. The ness, which has nothing of the dignity of the hisfirst admitted serious scenes and personages, and torical style. His exordiums are too long, and he was of the nature of the modern sentimental com- will never be forgiven for the injustice with which he edy. The second was a representation of ordinary treated the character of Cicero, with whose divorced life and manners. The Atellana were pieces where wife, Terentia, he had united himself in marriage. the dialogue was not committed to writing, but the He had composed a history of Rome, which is lost. subject of the scene was prescribed, and the dia- Cæsar has much more purity of style than Sallogue filled up by the talents of the actors. The lust, and more correctness and simplicity of expresMimi were pieces of comedy of the lowest species; sion; but his Commentaries, wanting that amplifarces, or entertainments of buffoonery; though tude of diction and fulness of illustration which is sometimes admitting the serious, and even the essential to history, are rather of the nature of anpathetic.

nals. The principal beauty of the Commentaries The Roman tragedy kept pace in its advancement is, that they make us acquainted with the author; with the comedy. The best of the Roman tragic the force of his genius, the depth of his designs, poets were Actius and Pacuvius, of whom we have and the extent and variety of his plans, are to be no remains. The tragedies published under the traced in almost every page.

In all the requisites of an historian, Livy stands bose, rugged, and perplexed, and at others display. unrivalled among the Romans; possessing consum- ing all the elegance as well as the fire of poetry. mate judgment in the selection of facts, perspicuity This may be in great part attributed to his subject. of arrangement, sagacious reflection, sound views of Philosophical disquisition is unsuitable to poetry. policy, with the most copious, pure, and eloquent

It demands a dry precision of thought and expresexpression. It has been objected, that his speeches sion, rejecting all excursive fancy and ornament derogate from the truth of history; but this was a of diction. That luxuriance of imagery, which is prevalent taste with the ancient writers; and as the soul of poetry, is raving and impertinence when those speeches are always known to be the composi- applied to philosophy. His celebrated poem founded tion of the historian, the reader is not deceived. on the precepts of Epicurus, was undoubtedly calThe prodigies he relates must also be referred to culated to produce a gloomy scepticism in regard to the circumstances of the times. The ancient world some of the first principles of religion, whether believed such things, and had not the means we natural or revealed; but in declaiming against have of judging properly of their utter incredibility. various disorders and passions of the human mind As to the style of Livy, though in general excellent, he appears the friend of virtue. we sometimes perceive in it, and most commonly in Catullus, the contemporary of Lucretius, is the the speeches, an affectation of the pointed sentences earliest of the Roman lyric poets. His epigrams (the vibrantes sententiola) and obscurity of the de- are pointed and satirical, but too licentious,-the claimers, which evinces the pernicious influence common fault of the times; his Idyllia, tender, acquired by those teachers at Rome since the time natural, and picturesque. He flourished in the age of Cicero and Sallust. It is truly melancholy to of Julius Cæsar. He was the countryman and think, how small a portion of so great a work has friend of Cornelius Nepos. escaped the ravages of time; but Velleius Patercu- In the succeeding age of Augustus, poetry atlus affords us assistance, when we are compelled to tained to its highest elevation among the Romans. relinquish Livy.

Virgil, Horace, Ovid, and Tibullus, were all conIn the decline of Roman literature, Tacitus is an temporaries. Virgil is allowed the same rank historian of no common merit. He successfully among the Roman poets, as Homer among the cultivated the method, pointed out by Sallust, of Greek. If Homer excels him in the sublime, he applying philosophy to history. In this he displays surpasses the Greek in the tender and the elegant. great knowledge of human nature, and penetrates, The transcendent merits of Homer are sullied by with singular acuteness, into the secret springs of occasional defects; Virgil is the model of a correct policy, and the motives of actions. But his fault taste. The difference of manner in the Bucolics, is, that he is too much of a politician, drawing his the Georgics, and the Æneid, shows that Virgil characters after the model of his own mind; ever was capable of excelling in various departments of assigning actions and events to pre-conceived poetry; and such is the opinion of Martial, who afschemes and design, and allowing too little for the firms, that he could have surpassed Horace in Lyric operation of accidental causes, which often have the Poetry, and Varius in Tragedy. greatest influence on human affairs. Tacitus, in Horace excels as a lyric poet, a satirist, and a his style, professedly imitated that of Sallust; adopt- critic. In his Odes there is more variety than in ing all the ancient phraseology, as well as the new those of either Anacreon or Pindar; and he can idioms introduced into the Roman language by that alternately display the sublimity of the one, and the writer. To his brevity and abruptness he added jocose vein of the other. His Satires have that most of the faults of the declaiming school. His characteristic slyness and obliquity of censure, asexpression, therefore, though extremely forcible, is sociated with humor and pleasantry, which strongly often enigmatically obscure; the very worst property distinguish them from the stern and cutting sarthat style can possess.

casm of Juvenal. Horace, indeed, though a satirist Among the eminent Roman poets (after the of no common stamp, scems to have possessed a dedramatic) Lucretius deserves first to be noticed. gree of candor and equity, which rendered him inHe has great inequality, being at some times ver- dulgent towards human frailties. As a critic, his

« ForrigeFortsæt »