« ForrigeFortsæt »
What a strained, unnatural similitude must this seem to a modern reader, but how full of humour, if we suppose it alludes to any celebrated statues of these two champions, that stood perhaps in some public place or highway near Rome! And what makes it more than probable there were such statues, we meet with the figures which Juvenal here describes, on antique intaglios and medals. Nay, Propertius has taken notice of the very statues.
Luctantum in pulvere signa
Lib. iii. Car, i.
Antæus here and stern Alcides strive,
I cannot forbear observing here, that the turn of the neck and arms is often commended in the Latin poets among the beauties of a man, as in Horace we find both put together, in that beautiful description of jealousy :
Dum tu Lydia Telephi
Cervicem roseam, et cerea Telephi
Fervens difficile bile tumet jecur:
Certâ sede manent: humor et in genas
Quàm lentis penitus macerer ignibus.
This we should be at a loss to account for, did we not observe in the old Roman statues, that these two parts were always bare, and exposed to view, as much as our hands and face are at present. I cannot leave Juvenal without taking notice that his
Ventilat æstivum digitis sudantibus aurum
Charged with light summer rings his fingers sweat,
s not anciently so great an hyperbole as it is now, for I e seen old Roman rings so very thick about, and with such ge stones in them, that 'tis no wonder a fop should reckon m a little cumbersome in the summer season of so hot limate.
It is certain that satire delights in such allusions and in-
Quibus aspirantibus orti
MANIL. lib. i.
I question not but this sets a verse, in the fifth Satire of enal, in a much better light than if we suppose that the t aims only at the old story of Meleager, without conering it as so very common and familiar a one among the
Flavi dignus ferro Meleagri
A boar entire, and worthy of the sword
Juv. Sat. 5.
In the beginning of the ninth Satire, Juvenal asks his nd why he looks like Marsya when he was overcome?
Scire velim quare toties mihi Nævole tristis
Tell me, while sauntering thus from place to place,
Some lawyer alludes
other, i flaying
are still Ther
could n pretatio
Some of the commentators tells us, that Marsya was a lawyer who had lost his cause; others say that this passage alludes to the story of the satyr Marsyas, who contended with Apollo; which I think is more humorous than the other, if we consider there was a famous statue of Apollo flaying Marsya in the midst of the Roman forum, as there are still several ancient statues of Rome on the same subject.
There is a passage in the sixth Satire of Juvenal, that I could never tell what to make of, till I had got the interpretation of it from one of Bellorio's ancient basso relievos.
Magnorum artificum frangebat pocula miles Ut phaleris gauderet equus: cælataque cassis Romulea simulachra feræ mansuescere jussæ Imperii fato, et geminos sub rupe Quirinos, Ac nudam effigiem clypeo fulgentis et hastâ, Pendentisque Dei, perituro ostenderet hosti. Or else a helmet for himself he made, Where various warlike figures were inlaid : The Roman wolf suckling the twins was there, And Mars himself, armed with his shield and spear, Hovering above his crest, did dreadful show, As threatening death to each resisting foe. Juvenal here describes the simplicity of the old Roman soldiers, and the figures that were generally engraven on their helmets. The first of them was the wolf giving suck to Romulus and Remus: the second, which is comprehended in the two last verses, is not so intelligible. Some of the commentators tell us, that the god here mentioned is Mars, that he comes to see his two sons sucking the wolf, and that the old sculptors generally drew their figures naked, that they might have the advantage of representing the different swelling of the muscles, and the turns of the body. But they are extremely at a loss to know what is meant by the word pendentis; some fancy it expresses only the great embossment of the figure, others believe it hung off the helmet in alto relievo, as in the foregoing translation. Lubin supposes that the god Mars was engraven on the shield, and that he is said to be hanging, because the shield which bore him hung on the left shoulder. One of the old interpreters is of opinion, that by hanging is only meant a posture of bending forward to strike the enemy. Another will have it, that whatever is placed on the head may be said to hang, as we call hanging gardens, such as are planted on the top of
Juv. Sat. 11.
Tu quoque inermis eras cum te formosa sacerdos
Cepit: ut huic urbi semina magna dares. Ov. DE FAS. lib. iii.
ough on other occasions he is drawn, as Horace has deibed him, Tunica cinctum adamantina. The sculptor, hower, to distinguish him from the rest of the gods, gave him at the medallists call his proper attributes, a spear in one nd and a shield in the other. As he was represented dending, his figure appeared suspended in the air over the tal virgin, in which sense the word pendentis is extremely per and poetical. Besides the antique basso relievo, that de me first think of this interpretation, I have since met ch the same figures on the reverses of a couple of ancient ns, which were stamped in the reign of Antoninus Pius, a compliment to that emperor, whom for his excellent vernment and conduct of the city of Rome, the senate reded as a second kind of founder.
Ilia Vestalis (quid enim vetat inde moveri)
Et cadit a mento languida facta manus ?
Somnus abit: jacet illa gravis, jam scilicet intra
OV. DE FAST. lib. iii. Eleg. 1.
As the fair vestal to the fountain came,
The hoary willows waving with the wind,
The god beheld her with a lover's eye,
I cannot quit this head without taking notice of a line in Seneca the tragedian.
Primus emergit solo
SEN. EDIP. act. iii.
First Zetus rises through the ground,
I cannot doubt but the poet had here in view the posture of Zetus in the famous group of figures, which represents the two brothers binding Dirce to the horns of a mad bull.
I could not forbear taking particular notice of the several musical instruments that are to be seen in the hands of the Apollos, muses, fauns, satyrs, bacchanals, and shepherds, which might certainly give a great light to the dispute for preference between the ancient and modern music. It would, perhaps, be no impertinent design to take off all their models in wood, which might not only give us some notion of the ancient music, but help us to pleasanter instruments than are now in use. By the appearance they make in marble, there is not one string-instrument that seems comparable to our violins, for they are all played on, either by the bare fingers, or the plectrum, so that they were incapable of adding any length to their notes, or of varying them by those insensible swellings and wearings away of sound upon the same string, which give so wonderful a sweetness to our modern music. Besides, that the string-instruments must have had very low and feeble voices, as may be guessed from