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and to surprise his reader with a seeming absurdity. If this poet were well examined, one would find that some of his greatest beauties as well as faults arise from the frequent use of this particular figure.
I question not, says Philander, but you are tired by this time with the company of so mysterious a sort of ladies as those we have had before us. We will now, for our diversion, entertain ourselves with a set of riddles, and see if we can find a key to them among the ancient poets. The first of them, says Cynthio, is a ship under sail, I suppose it has at least a metaphor or moral precept for its cargo. This, says Philander, is an emblem of Happiness,' as you may see by the inscription it carries in its sails. We find the same device to express the same thought in several of the poets: as in Horace, when he speaks of the moderation to be used in a flowing fortune, and in Ovid, when he reflects on his past happiness.
Rebus angustis animosus atque
When Fortune sends a stormy wind,
Then show a brave and steady mind;
HOR. Od. 10, lib. ii.
She swells too much, then furl thy sails. MR. CREECH.
Dum tulit antennas aura secunda meas.
OV. DE TRIS. lib. v. El. 12.
En ego, non paucis quondam munitus amicis,
Id. EPIST. EX PONTO 3. lib. ii.
I lived the darling theme of every tongue,
The golden idol of the adoring throng;
Guarded with friends, while Fortune's balmy gales
You see the metaphor is the same in the verses as in the medal, with this distinction only, that the one is in words and the other in figures. The idea is alike in both, though the manner of representing it is different. If you would see the whole ship made use of in the same sense by an old poet, as it is here on the medal, you may find it in a pretty allegory of Seneca.
1 Second series, fig. 1.
Fata si liceat mihi
SEN. DIP. chor. act. 4.
My fortune might I form at will,
But smoothly cleave the unruffled tide.
After having considered the ship as a metaphor, we may now look on it as a reality, and observe in it the make of the old Roman vessels, as they are described among the poets. It is carried on by oars and sails at the same time.
Sive opus est velis minimam bene currit ad auram,
OV. DE TRIS. lib. i. El. 10. of it has the bend that Ovid and Virgil mention.
Ibid. lib. i. El. 3.
You see the description of the pilot, and the place he sits on, in the following quotations.
VIRG. EN. lib. v.
Ipse gubernator puppi Palinurus ab altâ.
Orontes' bark, that bore the Lycian crew,
Ob decorisque sui sociûmque salutis,
mare præcipitem puppi deturbat ab altâ : Ipse gubernaculo rector subit.
Id. EN. lib. i.
VIRG. EN. lib. v.
Mindless of others' lives, (so high was grown
The trembling dotard to the deck he drew,
I have mentioned these two last passages of Virgil, because I think we cannot have so right an idea of the pilot's misfortune in each of them, without observing the situation of his post, as appears in ancient coins. The figure you see on the other end of the ship is a Triton, a man in his upper parts, and a fish below, with a trumpet in his mouth. Virgil describes him in the same manner on one of Æneas's ships. It was probably a common figure on their ancient vessels, for we meet with it too in Silius Italicus.
Hunc vehit immanis Triton, et cærula conchâ
Exterrens freta: cui laterum tenus hispida nanti
Spumea semifero sub pectore murmurat unda. VIR. EN. lib. x.
A porpoise tail down from his belly grows,
Ducitur et Libyæ puppis signata figuram
SIL. IT. lib. xiv.
I am apt to think, says Eugenius, from certain passages of the poets, that several ships made choice of some god or other for their guardians, as among the Roman Catholics every vessel is recommended to the patronage of some particular saint. To give you an instance of two or three.
Est mihi sitque precor flava tutela Minervæ
OV. DE TRIS. lib. i. El. 10.
Numen erat celsæ puppis vicina Dione.
SIL. IT. lib. xiv.
The poop great Ammon, Libya's god, displayed,
The figure of the deity was very large, as I have seen it on other medals, as well as this you have shown us, and stood on one end of the vessel that it patronized. This may give us an image of a very beautiful circumstance that we meet with in a couple of wrecks described by Silius Italicus and Persius.