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: HAN D-BOOK 


OF 


UNIVERSAL LITERATURE, 


FROM THE BEST AND LATEST AUTHORITIES. 


BY 


ANNE C. LYNCH BOTTA. 


* Partout le vaste champ de la littérature ressemble 4 une immense arene, ou peu de 
vainqueurs élévent leurs trophées sur les armes brisées d’une grande masse de vaincus ; ce 
n’est que lorsque la défaite est devenue mémorable, que l’histoire peut s’en occuper.”’ 


TWENTY-EIGHTH EDITION 





BOSTON: 
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY. 
_ Che Riversive Press, Cambridge. 
. 1883. 


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PREFACK. 





Ts work was begun many years ago, as a literary 
exercise, to meet the personal requirements of the 
writer, which were such as most persons experience 
on leaving school and “ completing their education,” as 
the phrase is. The world of literature lies before 
_ them, but where to begin, what course of study to per- 
sue, in order best to comprehend it, are the problems 

which present themselves to the bewildered questioner, 
who finds himself in a position not unlike that of a 
traveller suddenly set down in an unknown country, 
without guide-book or map. The most natura] course 
under such circumstances would be to begin at the be- 
ginning, and take a rapid survey of the entire field of | 
literature, arriving at its details through this general 
view. But as this could be accomplished only by sub- 
jecting each individual to a severe and protracted course 
of systematic study, the idea was conceived of obviating 
this necessity to some extent by embodying the results 
of such a course in the form of the following work, 
which, after being long laid aside, is now at length com- 
pleted. 

In conformity with this design, standard books have 


Iv PREFACE, 


been condensed, with no alterations except such as were 
required to give unity to the whole work; and in some 
instances a few additions have been made. Where stan- 
dard works have not been found, the sketches have been 
made from the best sources of information, and sub- 
mitted to the criticism of able scholars. 

The literatures of different nations are so related, and 
have so influenced each other, that it is only by a survey 
of all, that any single literature, or even any great 
literary work, can be fully comprehended, as the various 
groups and figures of a historical picture must be 
viewed as a whole, before they can assume their true 


place and proportions. 
A.C.) L. B. 


LIST OF AUTHORITIES. 





Tue following works are the sources from which this book is 
wholly or chiefly derived: 


Dwight’s Philology; Herder’s Spirit of Hebrew Poetry; Lowth’s Hebrew Poetry ; 
Asiatic Researches; the works of Gesenius, De Wette, Ewald, Colebrooke, Sir William 
Jones, Wilson, Ward; Schlegel’s Hindu Language and Literature ; Malcolm’s History of 
Persia; Richardson on the Language of Eastern Nations; Adelung’s Mithridates 
Chodzko’s Specimens of the Popular Poetry of Persia; Costello’s Rose Garden of Persia 
Remusat’s Mémoire sur 1? Ecritwre Chinoise; Davis on the Poetry of the Chinese; 
Duholde’s Description de la Chine ; Champollion’s Letters; Wilkinson’s Nxtracts from 
Hieroglyphical Subjects; the works of Bunsen, Muller, and Lane; Muller’s History of the 
Literature of Ancient Greece, continued by Donaldson ; Rrowne’s History of Roman Clas 
sical Literature; Fiske’s Manual of Classical Literature; Sismondi’s Literature of the 
South of Europe; Goodrich’s Universal History ; Sandford’s Rise and Progress of Litera- 
ture; Schlegel’s Lectures on the History of Literature; Schlegel’s History of Dramatic 
Art; Tiraboschi’s History of Italian Literature; Maffei, Corniani, and Ugoni on the same 
pubject; Chambers’ Hand-books of Italian and German Literature; Foster’s Hand. 
book of French Literature; Nizard’s Histoire de la Littérature Francaise; Demo 
geot’s do; Ticknor’s History of Spanish Literature; Talvi’s (Mrs. Robinson) Literature of 
the Slavic Nations; Mallet’s Northern Antiquities; Keyson’s Religion of the Northmen, 
Pigott’s Northern Mythology; William and Mary Howitt’s Literature and Romance of 
Northern Europe; De s’Gravenweert Swr la Littérature Neerlandaise; Siegenbeck’s 
Histoire Littéraire des Pays-Bas ; Da Pontes’ Poets and Poetry of Germany; Menzel’s 
German Literature ; Spaulding’s History of English Literature ; Chambers’s Cyclopedia of 
English Literature ; Shaw’s English Literature ; Triibner’s Guide to American Literature ; 
Duyckincks’ Cyclopedia of American Literature ; Griswold’s Poets and Prose Writers 01 
America; Tuckerman’s Sketch of American Literature. In addition to the above works, 
French, English, and American Encyclopzdias, Biographies, Dictionaries, and numerous 
other works of reference have been extensively consulted. 


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CONTENTS. 





PREFACE . y A : : 5 ; e a iit 


List oF AUTHORITIES . . A . ° . . . dee 
CLASSIFICATION OF LANGUAGES . 5 . : . a ° “2 XV 


HEBREW LITERATURE. 


4. Hevrew Literature; its Divisions.—2, The Language; its Alphabet; its Struc- 
ture; Peculiarities, Formation, and Phases.—3. The Old Testament.—4. Hebrew Edu- 
cation.—5. Fundamental Idea of Hebrew Literature.—6. Hebrew Poetry.—7. Lyric 
Poetry; Songs; the Psalms ; the Prophets.—8. Pastoral Poetry.—9. Didactic Poetry ; 
the Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.—10, Epic and Dramatic Poetry; the Book of Job.— 
11. Hebrew History ; the Pentateuch and other Historical Books.—12. Hebrew Philoso- 
phy.—18. Restoration of the Sacred Books,—14. Manuscripts and Translations.— 
15. Rabbinical Literature. . : : ° ° ° : coe a 


SYRIAC, CHALDAIC AND PHENICIAN LITERATURES. 


_ 1. The Languages.—2. Syriac Language and Literature.—8. Chaldaic Language and 
Literature,—4, Pheenician Literature. . : . . i “ at ak 


HINDU, OR SANSCRIT LITERATURE. 


1. Sanscrit Literature and its Divisions.—2. The Sanscrit Language and its Antiquity ; 
Its Structure and Dialects.—3. Social Constitution of India,—4. Brahmanism.—5, The 
Vedas and the other Sacred Books.—6. Sanscrit Poetry.—7. Epic Poetry; the Rama- 
yana; the Mahabharata.—8. Lyric Poetry.—9. Didactic Poetry; the Hitopadesa.— 
10. Dramatic Poetry.—11. History and Science.—12. Philosophy.—18. Buddhism.— 
14. Moral Philosophy; the Code of Manu.—15. Modern Literatures of India.—16, Edu- 
zation in India, . . ° ° . . . ° . selene 


PERSIAN LITERATURE. 


|. The Persian Language and its Divisions.—2. Zendic Literature; The Zendavesta.--8, 
Pehlvi and Parsee Literatures.—4. The Cuneiform Inscriptions.—5. The Ancient 
Religion of Persia; Zoroaster.—6. Modern Literature.—7, The Sufis.—8. Persian 
Poetry.—9. Persian Poets; Ferdusi; Essedi of Tus; Togray, etc.—10. History and 
Philesephy.—11. Education in Persia, . : ‘ . - | 


CONTENTS. 


CHINESE LITERATURE. 


\, Chinese Literature and its Divisions,- -2. The Language.—8. The Writing —4. Canons 
cal and Classic Writings.—The ’U-King ; Ta-hio.—5. Chinese Religion and Philosophy ; 
Lao-tsé ; Confucius ; Meng-tsé; the Religion of Fo.—6. Social Constitution of China.— 
7. History.—8. Science.—9. Poetry and Fiction; Lyric Poetry; The Drama; Ro- 
mances.—10. Education in China, . ‘ < : 5 . 8 


EGYPTIAN LITERATURE. 


1. Egyptian Literature.—2. The Langnaye.—3, The Writing.—4. The Discovery of 
Champollion.—5. Egyptian Monuments.—6. History; Manetho.—7. The Religion of 
Egypt.—8. Science.—9. Literary Condition of modern Egypt. ° : ot 


GREEK LITERATURE. 


IntropucTion. —1. Greek Literature and its Divisions.—2. The Language.—3. The 
Religion. 

Periop First.—i. Ante-Homeric Songs and Bards.—2. Poems of Homer; the Iliad; 
the Odyssey.—3. The Cyclic Poets and the Homeric Hymns.—4. Poems of Hesiod; 
the Works and Days; the Theogony.—d. Elegy and Epigram; Tyrtzus; Archilochus ; 
Simonides.—6. Iambic Poetry, the Fable and Parody; Msop.—7. Greek Music and 
Lyric Poetry; Terpander.—8. Molic Lyric Poets; Alczeus; Sappho; Anacreon.— 
9. Doric, or Choral Lyric Poets; Aleman; Stesichorus; Pindar.—l0. The Orphic - 
Doctrines and Poems.—11. Pre-Socratic philosophy; Ionian, Eleatic, Pythagorean 
Schools.—12. History ; Herodotus. 

Periop Seconp.—1. Literary predominance of Athens.—2. Greek Drama.—8. Trage- 
dy —4. The Tragic Poets; ASschylus; Sophocles; Euripides.—5. Comedy; Aristo- 
phanes; Menander,—6. Oratory, Rhetoric and History; Pericles; .the Sophists; 
Lysias; Isocrates; Demosthenes; Thucydides; Kenophon.—7. Socrates and the So- 
eratic Schools; Plato; Aristotle. , 

Periop TxHirp.—1l. Origin of the Alexandrian Literature.—2. The Alexandrian 
Poets; Philetas; Callimachus; Theocritus; Bion; Moschus.—8, The Prose Writers 
of Alexandria; Zenodotus; Aristophanes; Aristarchus ; Eratosthenes ; Euclid; Archi- 
medes.—4 Philosophy of Alexandria; Neo-Platonism.—5. Anti-Neo-Platonic Tenden- 
cies; Epictetus; Lucian ; Longinus —6. Greek Literature in Rome; Dionysius of Hali- 
carnassus ; Flavius Josephus; Polybius; Diodorus; Strabo; Plutarch.—7. Continued 
decline of Greek Literature. 8 Last echoes of the Old Literature; Hypatia ; Nonnus; 
Muszeus ; Byzantine Literature.—9. The New Testament and the Greek Fathers. . 64 


ROMAN LITERATURE. 


IntTRODUCTION.—1. Roman Literature and its Divisions.—2. The Language; Ethno- 
graphical elements of the Latin Language; the Umbrian; Oscan; Etruscan; the old 
Roman tongue; Saturnian verse; peculiarities of the Latin language.—8. The Roman 
Religion. 

Periop First.—1. Early Literature of the Romans; the Fescennine Songs; the Fabula 
Atellane.—2. Early Latin Poets; Livius Andronicus, Nevius and Ennius.—3. Romag_ 
Comedy.—4. Comie Poets; Plautus, Terence and Statius.—5, Roman Tragedy.—6 
Tragic Poets; Pacuvius and Attius.-—-7. Satire; Lucilius.—8. History and Oratory 
Fabius Pictor; Cencius Alimentus ; Cato; Varro; M. Antonius; Crassus; Hortensiua -- 
® Roman Jurisprudence -10 Grammarians 


CONTENTS. 1X 


Pgriop Srconp.—l. Develepment of the Roman Literature.—2. Mimes, Mimogrs- 
phers, Pantomime ; Laberius and P. Syrus.—3. Epic Poetry ; Virgil; The Mneid.—4. Di- 
dactic Poetry; the Bucolics; the Georgics; Lucretius.—d. Lyric Poetry; Catullus ; 
Horace.—6. Elegy ; Tibullus ; Propertius ; Ovid.—7. Oratory and Philosophy ; Cicero,— 
8. History; J. Casar; Sallust ; Livy.—9. Other Prose Writers. 

Periop Tuirp.—1. Decline of Roman Literature.—2. Fable; Phedrus.—3. Satire and 
Epigram; Persius, Juvenal, Martial—4. Dramatic Literature; the Tragedies of Seneca, 
—). Epic Poetry; Lucan; Silius Italicus; Valerius Flaccus; P. Statius.—6. History 
Paterculus; Tacitus: Suetonius; Q. Curtius; Valerius Maximus.—7. Rhetoric and 
Eloquence; Quintilian; Pliny the Younger.—8. Philosophy and Science; Seneca; 
Pliny the Elder; Celsus; P. Mela; Columella; Frontinus.—9. Roman Literature from 
Hadrian to Theodoric; Claudian; Eutropius; A. Marcellinus; 8. Sulpicius; Gellius; 
MmMacrobius; L Apuleius; Boethius ; the Latin Fathers.—10. Roman Jurisprudence. 123 


ARABIAN LITERATURE. 


1. European Literature in the Dark Ages.—2. The Arabian Language.—8 Ara- 
Oian Biythology and the Koran.—4, Historical Development of Arabian Lite- 
rature.—5. Grammar and Rhetoric.—6. Poetry.—7. The Arabian Tales.—8, History 
and Science ° ‘ = ‘ : ‘ “ ‘ . 181 


ITALIAN LITERATURE. 


Intropuction.—1. Italian Literature and its Divisions.—2. The Language. 

PeRiop First.—1. Early Poetry and Prose.—2. Dante; the Divine Comedy.—8, Pe- 
trarch.—4, Boccaccio and other prose writers ; Villani, Sacchettii—5. The first decline 
of Italian Literature; the fifteenth Century. 

Periop Szconp.—1. The close of the fifteenth Century ; Lorenzo de’ Medici.—2. The 
origin of the Drama and Romantic Epic; Poliziano, Pulci, Boiardo.—8. Romantic Epic 
Poetry; Ariosto.—4. Heroic Epic Poetry; Tasso.—5. Lyric Poetry; Bembo, Molza, 
Tarsia, V. Colonna.—6. Dramatic Poetry; Trissino, Rucellai; the writers of Comedy. 
—T. Pastoral Drama and Didactic Poetry; Beccari, Sannazzaro, Tasso, Guarini, 
Rucellai, Alamanni.—8. Satirival Poetry, Novels and Tales; Berni, Grazzini, Firenzu- 
ola, Bandello, and others.—9. History; Machiavelli, Guicciardini, Nardi, and others.’ 
—10 Grammar and Rhetoric ; the Academy della Crusca, Della Casa, Speroni, and 
others.—11, Science, Philosophy and Politics; the Academy del Cimento, Galileo, 
Torricelli, Borelli, Patrizi, Telesio, Campanella, Bruno, Castiglione, Machiavelli, and 
others.—12. Decline of the Literature in the seventeenth Century.—13. Epic and Lyris 
Poetry ; Marini, Filicaja,—14. Mock Heroic Poetry, the Drama and Satire; Tassoni, 
Braccinlini, Andreini, and others.—15. History and epistolary writings ; Davila, Benti- 
voglio, Sarpi, Redi. 

Periop Tarrp.—1, Historical Development of the Third Period.—2. The Melodrama; 
- Rinuccini, Zeno, Metastasie.—8. Comedy; Goldoni, C. Gozzi, and others.—4, Tragedy , 
Maffei, Alfieri, Monti, Manzoni, Nicolini, and others.—5, Lyric, Epic, and Didactie 
Poetry ; Parini, Monti, Ugo Foscolo, Leopardi, Grossi, Lorenzi, and others.—6. Heroic: 
Comic Poetry, Satire, and Fable; Fortiguerri, Passeroni, G. Gozzi, Parini, Giustl, 
and others.—7. Romances ; Verri, Manzoni, D’Azeglio, Cantu, Guerrazzi, and others, — 
8. History; Muratori, Vico, Giannone, Botta, Colletta, Tiraboschi, and others.-- 
9. Hsthetics, Criticism, Philology, and Philosophy; Baretti, Parini, Giordani, Gioja, 
Romagnosi, Galluppi, Rosmini, Gioberti : h ; ; ‘i . 198 

1* 


4 CONTENTS. 


FRENCH LITERATURE, 


Intropuction. —1. French Literature and its Divisions.—2. The Language. 

feRTOD First.--1. The Troubadours.—2. The Trouvéres.—8. French Literature in th 
Fifteenth Century; Charles of Orleans, Villon, Ville-Hardouin, Joinville, Froissart 
Philippe de Commines. 

Period Seconp.— 1, The Renaissance and the Reformation; Marguerite de Valois, 
Marot, Rabelais,Calvin, Montaigne, Charron, and others.—2. Light Literature; Ronsard, 
Jodelle, Hardy, Malherbe, Scarron, Madame de Rambouillet, and others.—3. The 
French Academy.—4. The Drama ; Corneille.—5. Philosophy ; Descartes, Pascal; Port 
Royal.—6. The rise of the Golden Age of French Literature; Louis XIV.—7, Tragedy ; 
Racine.—8. Comedy ; Moliére.—9. Fables, Satires, Mock-Heroic, and other Poetry; 
La Fontaine, Boileau.—10. Eloquence of the Pulpit and of the Bar; Bourdaloue, Bos- 
Buet, Massillon, Fléchier, Le Maitre, D’Aguesseau, and others.—11. Moral Philosophy ; 
Rochefoucauld, La Bruyére, Nicole.—12. History and Memoirs; Mézeray, Fleury, 
Rollin, Brantéme, the Duke of Sully, Cardinal de Retz.—18. Romance and Lette~ 
Writing; Fénelon, Madame de Sévigné. 

Periop Tatrp.—1. The Dawn of Skepticism ; Bayle, J. B. Rousseau, Fontenelle, 
Lamotte.—2, Progress of Skepticism; Montesquieu, Voltaire.—3. French Literature 
during the Revolution; D’Holbach, D’Alembert, Diderot, J. J. Rousseau, Buffon, Beau- 
marchais, St. Pierre, and others.—4. French Literature under the Empire; Madame 
de Staél, Chateaubriand, Royer-Collard, Bonald, De Maistre.—5. French Literature 
from the age of the Restoration to the present time; Barante, Guizot, Thierry, Miche 
let, Thiers, Cousin, Lamennais, Comte; the Romantic School; Béranger, Delavigne, 
Lamartine, Victor Hugo, Sand, Sue, Scribe, and others. ° . - 249 


SPANISH LITERATURE. 


IntRopucTION.—1. Spanish Literature and its divisions.—2. The Language. 

Prriop First.—1. Early National Literature; the Poem of the Cid; Berceo, Alfonso 
the Wise, Segura; Don Juan Manuel, the Archpriest of Hita, Santob, Ayala,—2. Old 
Ballads.—8. The Chronicles.—4. Romances of Chivalry.—5, The Drama.—6. Provencal 
Literature in Spain.—7. The influence of Italian Literature in Spain.—8. The Canci- 
oneros and Prose writing —9. The Inquisition. 

Prriop Seconp.—The effect of Intoierance on Letters.—2. Influence of Italy on 
Spanish Literature; Boscan, Garcilasso dela Vega, Diego de Mendoza.—8. History: 
Cortez, Gomara, Oviedo, Las Casas.—4, The Drama, Rueda, Lope de Vega, Cal 
deron de la Barca.—5. Romances and Tales; Cervantes, and other writers of 
fiction.—6. Historical Narrative Poems; Ercilla.—%. Lyric Poetry; the Argense- 
las; Luis de Leon, Quevedo, Herrera, Gongora, and others.—8. Satirical and other 
Poetry.—9. History and other prose writing; Zurita, Mariana, Sandoval, and 
others. 

Prriop THIRD.—1. French influence on the Literature of Spain —2. The dawn of 
fpanish Literature in the 18th century; Feyjoo, Isla, Moratin the elder, Yriarte, Me 
lendez, Gonzalez, Quintana, Moratin the younger.—8. Spanish Literature in the 19th ~ 
Century, . ‘ pear “ : i f ; ‘ . 80 


PORTUGUESE LITERATURE. 


1. The Portuguese Language.—2. Early Literature of Portugal.—8. Poets of the 
*fteenth Century ; Macias, Ribeyro —4. Introduction of the Italian style: Saa de 


Ae 


Miranda, Montemayor, Ferreira.—5. Epic Poetry; Camoéns ; the Lusiad—6. Dramatio 
Poetry; Gil Vicente.—7. Prose Writing; Rodriguez Lobo, Barros, Brito, Veira.— 
8. Portuguese Literature in the Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries ; 


_ Antonio José, Manuel do Nascimento, Manuel de Bocage . F ‘ - 848. 


FINNISH, HUNGARIAN, TURKISH AND ARMENIAN 
LITERATURES. 


1, The Finnish Language and Literature: Poetry; the Kalevala; Koronen.—2. The 
Hungarian Language and Literature: the Age of Stephen I. ; Influence of the House of 


Anjou; of the Reformation; of the House of Austria; Kossuth; Josika; Evtuis; 


Kuthy; Szigligeti; Petéfiic8. The Turkish Language and Literature: two dialects ; 
Turkish Poetry and History; Mohammed Mir-Ali-Schir; Mohammed 'schelebi; Lami; 
Baki; Fasli; Saad-Ed-Din; Education.—4. Armenian Language and Literature: Cha- 
racter of Armenian Literature; its Golden Age, and its present condition. . 858 


SLAVIC LITERATURES. 


1. The Slavic Race and Language; the Eastern and Western Stems; the Alphabets; 
the Old or Church Slavic Language; St. Cyril’s Bible; the Pravda Russkaya; the 
Annals of Nestor.—2. The Russian Language and Literature; from the earliest times 
to Peter the Great; from Peter the Great to Lomonosof; Kirsha Danilof, Kantemir; 
from Lomonosof to Karamsin; Lomonosof, Sumarokof, Von Wisin, Dershavin; from 
Karamsin to Nicholas I.; Karamsin, Dmitrief, Shukofsky, Koslof; from Nicholas I. 
to the present time; Polevoi, Skromenko, Oustralof, Bestushef, Pushkin; Popular 
Bongs.—8. The Servian Language and Literature; Popular Poetry; the Female Songs; 
the Heroic Poems.—4. The Bohemian Language and Literature; from the earliest time 
to John Huss: Karly Poetry; John Huss, Jerome of Prague; Golden Age of the Bohe- 
mian Literature, its Decline and Revival; Comenius, Kramerius, Dobrovsky, Kollar, 
Schaffarik.—S. The Polish Language and Literature; from the Introduction of Christ- 
jianity to Casimir the Great; from Casimir the Great to the beginning of the Seven- 
teenth Century ; Rey of Naglowic, John Kochanowski, Rybinski, Copernicus; Decline 
of the Polish Literature, and its revival; Konarski, Zaluski, Czartoryski, Naruszewicz, 
Krasicki, Niemcewicz; from the Revolution of 1830 to the present time; Mochnacki, 
Lelewel, Mickiewicz; Popular Songs. . : : . ; : . 868 


SCANDINAVIAN LITERATURE. 


1. Introduction. The Ancient Scandinavians ; their influence on the English race.— 
2. The Mythology.—3. The Scandinavian Languages.—4. Icelandic, or old Norse Lit- 
erature: the Poetic Edda, the Prose Edda, the Scalds, the Sagas, the Heimskringla. 
The Folks-sagas and Ballads of the Middle Ages.—5. Danish Literature: Saxo Gramma- 
ticus and Theodoric. Arreboe, Kingo, Tycho Brahe, Holberg, Evald, Baggesen, Rah- 
bek, Oehlenschliger, Grundtvig, Blicher, Ingemann, Heiberg, Hans Christian Andersen, 
and others. Malte Brun, Rask, Rafn, Magnusen, the brothers Oersted —6. Swedish 
Literature: Messenius, Stjernhjelm, Lucidor, and others. The Gallic period; Dallin, 
Nordenflycht, Crutz and Gyllenborg, Gustavus IIT., Kellgren, Leopold, Oxenstjerna. 
The new Era; Bellman, Hallman, Kexel, Wallenberg, Lidner, Thorild, Lengren, Fran- 
zen, Wallin. The Phosphorists ; Atterbom, Hammarskéld and Palmblad. The Gothic 
School; Geijer, Tegnér, Stagnelius, Almquist, Vitalis, Runeberg, and others. The Ro- 
mance writers ; Cederborg, Bremer, Carlén, Knorring. Science; Swedenborg, Linnzus 
and others . : : ; > . i . . ‘ - 880 


xil CONTENTS. 


GERMAN LITERATURE. 


lnTRODUCTION,—1, German Literature and its Divisions.—2. The Mythology.—%, fba | 
Language. 

Periop First.—1. Early Literature; Translation of the Bible by Ulpbilas ; the 
Hildebrand Lied.—2. The Age of Charlemagne; his Successors; the Ludwigs Lied; 
Roswitha; the Lombard Cycle.—3. The Suabian Age; the Onaaniies the Minne- 
singers; the Romances of Chivalry; the Heldenbuch; the Nibelungen Lied.—4 The 
fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries ; the Master Singers; Satires and Fables; Mys- 
teries and Dramatic Representations; the Mystics; the Universities; the invention of — 
Printing. 

Pertop Seconp—From 1517 to 1700.—1. The Lutheran Period ; Luther, Melanchthon.— 
2. Manuel, Zwingle, Fischart, Franck, Arnd, Boehm.—3. Cau Satire and Demono- 
logy; Paracelsus and Agrippa; the Thirty Years’ War.—4. The Seventeenth Century ; 
Opitz, Leibnitz, Pufendorf, Kepler, Wolf, Thomasius, Gerhard; Silesian Schools; Hoff- 
manswaldau, Lohenstein. 

Prriop Tuirp.—1. The Swiss and Saxon Schools; Gottsched, Bodmer, Rabener. 
Fellert, Kastner, and others.—2. Klopstock, Lessing, Wieland and Herder.—3. 
foethe and Schiller.—4. The Géttingen School; Voss, Stolberg, Claudius, Birger ana 
wthers.—*. The Romantic School; the Schlegels, Novalis; Tieck, Korner, Arndt, 
hland, and others.—6. The Drama; Goethe and Schiller; the Power Men ; Miillner, 
Werner, Howald and Grillparzer.—T. Novels, Romances and Legends; Goethe, 
wichter, Tieck, Novalis, and others.—8. Literary History and Criticism; Winckel- 
wsann; the Schlegels, Grimm, and others.—9. History and Theology.—10, Philosophy ; 
Ksat Vichte, Schelling and Hegel.—11. Miscellaneous Writings. . . - 404 


DUTCH LITERATURE. 


%. the Language.—2. Dutch Literature to the 16th Century; Maerlant; Melis Stoke; 
De Weart; The Chambers of Rhetoric; The Flemish Chroniclers; The Rise of the Dutch 
Republic.—3. The Latin Writers ; Erasmus; Grotius; Arminius; Lipsius; The Scali- 
ger, and others; Salmasius ; Spinoza; Boerhaave; Johannes Secundus.—4, Dutch 
Writers of the 16th Century; Anna Byns; Coornhert ; Marnix de St. Aldegonde ; 
Bor, Visscher and Spieghel.—d. Writers of the 17th Century ; Hooft ; Vondel; Cats; 
Antenidex ; Brandt, and others; Decline in Dutch Literature.—6. The 18th Century ; 
Poot ; Langendijk ; Hoogvliet; De Marre; Feitama; Huydecoper; The Van Harens; 
Smits; Ten Kate; Van Winter; Van Merken; De Lannoy; Van Alphen; Bellamy ; 
Nieuwland, Styl, and others.—7, The 19th Century; Feith; Helmers; Bilderdyk ; 
Van der Palm; Lonsjes ; Loots, Tollens, Van Kampen, De s’Gravenweert, Van Hoevell, 
others. é 8 ‘i ° ° ‘ ‘ . . ° - 447 


ENGLISH LITERATURE. 


Intropuction.—1, English Literature.—lIts Divisions. 2. The language. 

Periop First.—l. Celtic Literatwre.—Irish, Scotch, and Cymric Celts; the Chron 
tles of Ireland; Ossian’s Poems; Traditions of Arthur; the Triads; Tales. 2, Latin 
Literaturo,—Bede; Alcuin; Erigena. 8, Anglo-Sawon Literature.—Poetry ; Prose; 
Versions of Seti saint the Aaxean Chronicle; Alfred,’ 

Periop Sexwd. —The Normar Age and Pi Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries. — _ 
1. Literature in the Latin Tongue. 2. Literature in Norman-French.—Poetry 
Romances of Chivalry. 8. Samon-Hnglish.—Metrical remnains, 4, Literature in the 


CONTENTS. xiii 
Fourteenth Century.- Prose Writers; Occam, Durs Scotus, Wickliffe, Mandeville, 
Chaucer. Poetry; Langland, Gower, Chaucer. 5. Literature in the Fifteenth Cem 
tury.—Ballads. ‘6. Poets of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries in Scriland.— 
Wyntoun, Barbour, and others. 
_ Pertop Tuirp.—1. Age of the Reformation (1509-58) —Classical, Theological, and 
Miscellaneous Literature ; Sir Thomas More and others. Poetry; Skelton, Surrey, and 
Sackville; the Drama. 2. The Age of Spenser, Shakspeare, Bacon, and Milton (1558- 
2660). Scholastic and Ecclesiastical Literature ; Translations of the Bible; Hooker, 
Andrews, Donne, Hall, Taylor, Baxter; other Prose Writers; Fuller, Cudworth, Ba- 
son, Hobbes, Raleigh, Milton, Sidney, Selden, Burton, Browne, and Cowley; Dramatic 
Poetry. Marlowe and Greene, Shakspeare, Beaumont and Fletcher, Ben Jonson, and 
others; Massinger, Ford, and Shirley; Decline of the Drama. Non-dramatic Poetry; . 
Spenser and the Minor Poets. Lyrical Poets; Donne, Cowley, Denham, Waller, Mil- 
ton, 8. The Age of the Restoration and Revolution (1660-1702). Prose; Leigh 
ton, Tillotson, Barrow, Bunyan, Locke, and others. The Drama; Dryden, Otway. 
Comedy ; Didactic Poetry; Roscommon, Marvell, Butler, Pryor, Dryden. 4. The 
Eighteenth Century. The First Generation (1702-’27); Pope, Swift, and others; 
the Periodical Essayists; Addison, Steele. The Second Generation (1727-’60); 
Theology; Warburton, Butler, Watts, Doddridge. Philosophy; Hume. Miscella- 
neous Prose; Johnson; the Novelists; Richardson, Fielding, Smollett, and Sterne. 
The Drama; Non-dramatic Poetry; Young, Blair, Akenside, Thomson, Gray, 
-and Collins. The Zhird Generation (1760-1800); the Historians; Hume, Robert- 
son, and Gibbon. Miscellaneous Prose; Johnson, Goldsmith, “ Junius,” Pitt, 
Fox, Sheridan, and Burke, Criticism; Burke, Reynolds, Campbell, Kames, Political 
Economy; Adam Smith. Ethics; Paley, Smith, Pucker. Metaphysics; Reid. Theo- 
logical and Religious Writers; Campbell, Paley, Watson, Newton, Hannah More, and 
Wilberforce. Poetry; Comedies of Goldsmith and Sheridan; Minor Poets; Later 
Poems; Beattie’s Minstrel; Cowper and Burns. 5. The Nineteenth Century.—First 
Age (1800-"80); the Poets; Campbell, Southey, Scott, Byron, Coleridge, and Words- 
worth, Wilson, Shelley, Keats, Crabbe, Moore, and others. Prose; the Waverley 
and other Novels. Periodical Writings; the Edinburgh and Quarterly Review and 
Blackwood’s Magazine. Criticism; Jeffrey, Coleridge, Hazlitt, Lamb, Wilson. Social 
Science; Bentham and others. History ; Hallam and others. Theology; Foster, Hall, 
and Chalmers. Philosophy; Stewart, Brown, Mackintosh, and Bentham, Alison and 
others. Zhe Second Age (1830-’60).—Poets; Tennyson and others. Novels; Bul, 
‘wer, Thackeray, and Dickens, History and Essays; Hallam, De Quincey, Macaulay, 
Carlyle. Religious Works ; Newspapers and Magazines; Philology; Travels; Physical 
Beience; Political Economy; Logic; Metaphysics. . . ° ° - 46) 


AMERICAN LITERATURE. 


Tue CoLonIAL Periop.—1. The seventeenth century. George Sandys; The Bay Psalm 
Book; Anne Bradstreet, John Eliot and Cotton Mather.—2. From 1700 to 1770: Jona-. 
than Edwards, Benjamin Franklin, Cadwallader Colden. 

First AMERICAN Prriop From 1771 To 1820.—1. Statesmen and political writers: 
Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton. The Federalist: Jay, Madison, Marshall, Fisher Ames 
and others.—2. The Poets: Freneau, Trumbull, Hopkinson, Barlow, Clifton and. 
Dwight.—8. Writers in other departments: Bellamy, Hopkins, Dwight and Bishop 
White. Rush, McClurg, Lindley Murray, Clarles Brockden Brown. Ramsay, Graydon. 
Count Rumford, Wirt, Ledyard, Pinkney and Pike. 

SEconD AMERICAN Periop FROM 1820 to 1860.—1. History, Biograpby, and Travels: 
Bancroft, Prescott, Motley, Godwin, Ticknor, Schooleraft, Hildreth, Sparks, Irving, 


xiv _ CONTENTS. 


Headley, Stephens, Kane, Squier, Perry, Lynch, Taylor, and others.—2. Oratory: 
Webster, Clay, Calhoun, Benton, Everett, and others.—3. Fiction: Cooper, Irving, 
Willis,. Hawthorne, Poe, Simms,’ Mrs. Stowe, and others.—4. Poetry: Bryant, Dana, 
Halleck, Longfellow, Willis, Lowell, Allston, Hillhouse, Drake, Whittier, Hoffman, and 
others.—5. Miscellaneous writings: Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Whipple, Tuckerman, 
Ripley, Curtis, Briggs, Prentice, and others.—6. Encyclopzedias, Dictionaries, and Educa- 
tional Books. The Encyclopedia Americana. The New American Cyclopsedia. Allibone, 
Griswold, Duyckinck, Webster, Worcester, Anthon, Felton, Barnard, and others,—7. 
Theology, Philosophy, Economy, and Jurisprudence: Stuart, Robinson, Wayland, 
Barnes, Channing, Parker. Tappan, Henry, Hickok, Haven. Carey, Kent, Wheaton, 
Story, Livingston, Bouvier.—8. Natural Sciences: Franklin, Morse, Fulton, Silliman, 
Dana, Hitchcock, Rogers, Bowditch, Peirce, Bache, Holbrook, Audubon, Morton, Glid- 
don, Maury, and others.—9. Foreign writers: Paine, Witherspoon, Rowson, Priestley, 
Wilson, Agassiz, Guyot, Mrs. Robinson, Gurowski, and others.—10. Newspapers and 
Periodicals _ . : : . . ° ; . 


INDEX e ° ° ° ° , s e ; e e . 581 


~OLASSIFICATION OF LANGUAGES. 


Modern philologists have made various classifications of the 
languages of the world, based upon different peculiarities. One of 
the most ingenious is that of Max Miller, an eminent philologist of 
our time, who regards the development of human language as cor- 
responding to the social development of man, the antediluvian age 
being the epoch of roots, and the next, or family stage, being the phi- 
lologic epoch of juxtaposition and concentration, as in the Chinese, 
Then follows the nomadic or agglutinative stage of the Turanian 
tongues, and lastly the political stage, or that of amalgamation, 
represented in the two cardinal nuclei of the Semitic and Aryan 
languages. 

Another arrangement, based on outward differences of form, 
divides the various languages of the world into three great classes : 
the Monosyllabic, the Agglutinated, and the Inflected. 

The jirst, or Monosyllabic class, contains those languages which 
consist only of suparate, unvaried monosyllables. The words have 
no organization that adapts them for mutual affiliation, and there 
is in them accordiugly an utter absence of all scientific forms and 
principles of grannnar. The Chinese, and a few languages in its 
vicinity, doubtless originally identical with it, are all that belong 
to this class. The languages of the North American Indians, 
though differing in many respects, have the same general grade of 
character. 

The second class consists of those languages which are formed 
by agglutination. The words combine only in a mechanical way ; 
they have no elective affinity, and exhibit toward each other none 
of the active or sensitive capabilities of living organisms. Prepo- 
sitions are joined to substantives, and pronouns to verbs, but never 
so as to make a new form of the original word, as in the inflected 
languages, and words thus placed in juxtaposition retain their per- 
sonal identity unimpaired. 

The agglutinative languages are known also as the Turaniap, 

xV 


xvi “CLASSIFICATION OF LANGUAGES. 


from Turan, a name of Central Asia, and the principal varieties 
of this family are the Tatar, Finnish, Lappish, Hungarian, and 
Caucasian. They are classed together almost exclusively on the 
ground of correspondence in their grammatical structure, but they 
are bound together by ties of far less strength than those which 
connect the inflected languages. The race by whom they are ~ 
spoken has, from the first, occupied more of the surface of the 
earth than either of the others, stretching westward from the 
shores of the Japan Sea to the neighborhood of Vienna, and south- 
ward from the Arctic Ocean to Affghanistan and the southern coast 
of Asia Minor. 

The inflected languages form the third great division. They 
have all a complete interior organization, complicated with many 
mutual relations and adaptations, and are thoroughly systematic in 
all their parts. Between this class and the monosyllabic there is 
all the difference that there is between organic and inorganic forms 
of matter; and between them and the agglutinative languages 
there is the same difference that exists in nature between mineral 
accretions and vegetable growths. ‘The boundaries of this class of 
languages are the boundaries of cultivated humanity, and in their 
history lies embosomed that of the civilized portions of the world. 

Two great races speaking inflected languages, the Semitic and — 
Indo-European, have shared between them the peopling of the 
historic portions of the earth; and on this account these two lan- 
guages have sometimes been called political or state languages, in 
contrast with the appellation of the Turanian as nomadic. 

The term Semitic is applied to that family of languages which 
are native in southwestern Asia, and which are supposed to have 
been spoken by the descendants of Shem, the son of Noah. They 
are the Hebrew, Aramean, Arabic, the ancient Egyptian or Coptic, 
the Chaldean and Pheenician. Of these the only living language 
of note is the Arabic, which has supplanted all the others, and 
wonderfully diffused its elements among the constituents of many 
of the Asiatic tongues. In Europe the Arabic has left a deep im- 
press on the Spanish language, and is still represented in the Maltese, 
whick is one of its dialects. 

The Semitic languages differ widely from the Indo-Faropean in 
reference to their grammar, vocabulary andidioms. On account of 
the great preponderance of the pictorial element in them, they may 
be called the metaphorical languages, while the Indo-European, 
from the prevailing style of their higher literature, may be called 


CLASSIFICATION OF LANGUAGES. xvil 


the philosophical languages. The Semitic nations also differ from 
the Indo-European in their national characteristics ; while they have 
lived with remarkable uniformity on the vast open plains, or wan- 
dered over the wide and dreary deserts of their native region, the 
Indo-Europeans have spread themselves over both hemispheres, 
and carried civilization to its highest development. But the Semitio 
mind has not been without influence on human progress. It early 
recorded its thoughts, its wants, and achievements in the hiero- 


glyphs of ancient Egypt; the Phoenicians, foremost in their day in 


commerce and the arts, invented alphabetic letters, of which all 
the world kas since made nse. The Jewish portion of the race, 
long in communication with Egypt, Phoenicia, Babylonia, and 
Persia, could not fail to impart to these nations some knowledge of 
their religion and literature, and it cannot be doubted that many 
new ideas and quickening influences were thus set in motion, and 
communicated to the more remote countries both of the East and 
West. 

The most ancient languages of the Indo-European stock may be 
grouped in two distinct family pairs: the Aryan, which comprises 
two leading families, the Indian and Iranian, and the Greco-Italic 
or Pelasgic, which comprises the Greek family and its various dia- 
lects, and the Italic family, the chief sub-divisions of which are 
the Etruscan, the Latin, and the modern languages derived from 
the Latin. The other Indo-European families are the Lettic, Slavic, 
Gothic, and Celtic, with their various sub-divisions, 

The word Aryan (Sanscrit, Arya), the oldest known name of the 
entire Indo-European family, signifies well-born, and was applied 
by the ancient Hindus to themselves in contradistinction to the 
rest of the world, whom they considered base-born and con- 
temptible. 

In the country called Aryavarta, lying between the Himalaya and 
the Vindhya Mountains, the high table-land of Central Asia, more 
than two thousand years before Christ, our Hindu ancestors had 
their early home. From this source there have been historically 
two great streams of Aryan migration. One, towards the south 
stagnated in the fertile valleys where they were walled in from all ° 
danger of invasion, by the Himalaya Mountains on the north, the 
Indian Ocean on the south, and the deserts of Bactria on the west, 
snd where the people sunk into a life of inglorious ease, or wasted 
their powers in the regions of dreamy mysticism. The other mi- 
gration, at first northern, and then western, includes the great 


Xvi CLASSIFICATION OF LANGUAGES. 


families of nations in northwestern Asia and in Europe. Forced 
by circumstances into a more objective life, and under the stimulus 
of more favorable influences, these nations have been brought into 
a marvellous state of individual and social progress, and to this 
branch of the human family belongs all the civilization of the 
present, and most of that which distinguishes the past. 

The Indo-European family of languages far surpasses the Semitic 
in variety, flexibility, beauty, and strength. Itis remarkable for its 
vitality, and has the power of continually regenerating itself and 
bringing forth new linguistic creations. It renders most faithfully 
the various workings of the human mind, its wants, its aspirations, 
its passion, imagination, and reasoning power, and is most in har- 
mony with the ever progressive spirit of man. In its varied scien- 
tific and artistic development it forms the most perfect family of 
languages on the globe, and modern civilization, by a chain reaching 
through thousands of years, ascends to this primitive source. 


Hanp-Book orf UNIVERSAL LITERATURE. 





HEBREW LITERATURE. 


1. Hebrew Literature; its Divisions.—2. The Language; its Alphabet; its Struc: 
ture; Peculiarities, Formation, and Phases.—8. The Old Testament.—4. Hebrew Edu- 
cation.—5. Fundamental Idea of Hebrew Literature.—6. Hebrew Poetry.—7. Lyrie 
Poetry; Songs; the Psalms ; the Prophets.—8. Pastoral Poetry.—9. Didactic Poetry; 
the Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.—10, Epic and Dramatic Poetry; the Book of Job.— 
11. Hebrew History ; the Pentateuch and other Historical Books,—12, Hebrew Philoso- 
phy.—18. Restoration of the Sacred Books,—14. Manuscripts and Translations.— 

15. Rabbinical Literature, 


1, Hesrew Lirerature.—The Hebrew Literature expresses. 
_ the national character of that ancient people, who were selected 
by God as the conservators of His revelation, and who, for a 
period of four thousand years, through captivity, dispersion and 
persecution of every kind, present the wonderful spectacle of a 
race preserving its nationality, its peculiarities of worship, of 
doctrine and of literature. Its history reaches back to the 
earliest period of the world, its code of laws has been studied, 
and imitated by the legislators of all ages and countries, and its 
literary monuments surpass in credibility, originality, poetic 
strength and religious importance those of any other nation 
before the Christian Era. The literature of the Hebrews may 
be divided into the four following periods : 

The first, extending from remote antiquity to the time of 
David, B.c. 1048, includes all the records of patriarchal civil- 
ization, transmitted by tradition, previous to the age of Moses, 
and contained in the Pentateuch, or five books, written by him 
under divine inspiration, after he had delivered the people from: 
the bondage of Egypt. 

The second period extends from the time of David to the 


HEBREW LITERATURE. 


death of Solomon, s.c. 1048-962, and to it we refer the Psalms © 
of David, the Song of Solomon, the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, 
Joshua, the J udges, Samuel, the Books of Kings, ‘Esther, Ruth, 
and the Chronicles. 

The third period extends from the death of Solomon to the 
return from the Babylonish captivity, 962-532, and to this age 
belong the writings of the Prophets, and those of Ezra and 
Nehemiah. 

The fourth period extends from the return from the Baby- 
lonish captivity to the present time; to it belong the Septua- 
gint translation of the Bible, the writings of Josephus, of Phile 
of Alexandria, and the Rabbinical literature. 


2. Toe Lanevace.—The Hebrew language is of Semitic 
origin ; its alphabet consists of twenty-two letters, 6f which five 
are considered as vowels, each divided into a long and short 
vowel, to which may be added others called semi-vowels, which 
serve to connect the consonants. The number of accents is 
nearly forty, some of which distinguish the sentences like the 
punctuation of our language, and others serve to determine the 
number of syllables, or ‘to mark the tone with which they are to 
be sung or spoken. 

The Hebrew character is of two kinds, the ancient or square, 
and the modern or rabbinical. In the first of these the Scrip- 
tures were originally written. The last is deprived of most of its 
angles, and is more easy and flowing. The Hebrew words as 
well as letters are written from right to left in common with the 
Semitic tongues generally, and the language is regular, particu- 
larly in its conjugations. Indeed it has but one conjugation, 
but with seven or eight variations, having the etiect of as many 
different conjugations, and giving great variety of expression. 
The predominance of these modifications over the noun, the idea 
of time contained in the roots of almost all its verbs, so expres- 
sive and so picturesque, and even the scarcity of its prepositions, 
adjectives and adverbs, make this language in its organic struc- 
ture breathe life, vigor and emotion, and its tenses, fluctuating 
between the past, present and future, express most truly and 
energetically the character of the divine poetry, by which the 
prophetic idea of the future is united with the present, and both 
are identified in eternity. If this language lacks the flowery 
and luxuriant elements of the other oriental idioms, no one of 
these can be compared with the Hebrew tongue for the richnesa 
of its figures and imagery, for its depth and for its majestic and 
imposing features. 


AEBREW LITERATURE. 11 


In the formation, development and decay of this language, 
the following periods may be distinguished : 

First, From Abraham to Moses, when the old stock was 

changed by the infusion of the Egyptian and Arabic. Abraham, 
residing in Chaldea, spoke the Chaldaic language, then travel- 
ling through Egypt, and establishing himself in Canaan or Pales- 
tine, his language mingled its elements with the tongues spoken 
by those nations, and perhaps also with that of the Phenicians, 
who early established commercial intercourse with him and his 
descendants. It is probable that the Hebrew language sprung 
from the mixture of these elements. 

Second. From Moses and the composition of the Pentateuch 
to Solomon, when it attained its perfection, not without being 
influenced by the Phenician. This is the Golden Age of the 
Hebrew language. 

Third. From Solomon to Ezra, when, although increasing in 
beauty and sweetness, it became less pure by the adoption of 
foreign ideas and idioms. 

Fourth, From Ezra to the end of the reign of the Maccabees, 
when it was gradually lost in the Aramezan tongue, and became 
a dead language. 

The Jews of the Middle Ages, incited by the learning of the 
Arabs in Spain, among whom they received the protection 
denied them by Christian nations, endeavored to restore their 
language to something of its original purity, and to render the 
Biblical Hebrew again a written language ; but the Chaldaic 
idioms had taken too deep root to be eradicated—and besides, 
the ancient language was found insufficient for the necessities of 
an advancing civilization. Hence arose a new form of written 
Hebrew, called rabbinical from its origin and use among the 
Rabbins. It borrowed largely from many contemporary lan- 
guages, and though it became richer and more regular in its 
structure, it retained little of the sane and purity of. the 
ancient Hebrew. 


3. Toe OLD eee The literary productions of the 
Hebrews are collected in the sacred books of the Old Testament, 
in which, according to the celebrated Orientalist, Sir William 
Jones, we can find more eloquence, more historical and moral 
truth, more poetry—in a word, more beauties than we could 
gather from all other books together of whatever country or 
language. Aside from its supernatural claims, this book stands 
slone among the literary monuments of other nations, for the 
wublimity of its doctrine, as well as for the simplicity of its style 


12 HEBREW LITERATURE. 


It is the book of all centuries, countries and conditions, and 
affords the best solution of the most mysterious problems con- 
cerning God and the world. It cultivates the taste, it elevates 
the mind, it nurses the soul with the word of life, and it has 
inspired the best productions of human genius. | 


4. Hesrew Epvucation.—Religion, morals, legislation, history, 
poetry and music were the special objects, to which the atten- 
tion of the Levites and Prophets was particularly directed. 
The general education of the people, however, was rather simple 
and domestic. ‘They were trained in husbandry, and in mili- 
tary and gymnastic exercises, and they applied their minds 
almost exclusively to religious and moral doctrines and to divine 
worship ; they learned to read and write their own language 
correctly, but they seldom learned foreign languages or read 
foreign books, and they carefully prevented strangers from obtain- 
ing a knowledge of their own. 


5. Funpamentat Inpza or Hesrew Lireratore.—Monotheism 
was the fundamental idea of the Hebrew literature, as well as 
of the Hebrew religion, legislation, morals, politics and philoso- 
phy. ‘The idea of the unity of God constitutes the most striking 
characteristic of Hebrew poetry, and chiefly distinguishes it from 
that of all mythological nations. Other ancient literatures have 
created their divinities, endowed them with human passions, and 
painted their achievements in the glowing colors of poetry. 
The Hebrew poetry, on the contrary, makes no attempt to por- — 
tray the Deity by the instruments of sensuous representation, 
but simple, majestic and severe, it pours forth a perpetual 
anthem of praise and thanksgiving. The attributes of God, his 
power, his paternal love and wisdom, are described in the most 
sublime language of any age or nation. His seat is the heavens, 
the earth is his footstool, the heavenly hosts his servants ; the 
sea is his, and he made it, and his hands prepared the dry land. 

Placed under the immediate government of Jehovah, having 
with Him common objects of aversion and love, the Hebrews 
reached the very source of enthusiasm, the fire of which burned 
in the hearts of the prophets so fervently, as to cause them to 
utter the denunciations and the promises of the Eternal in a — 
tone suited to the inspired of God, and to sing his attributes 
and glories with a dignity and authority becoming them, as the 
vicegerents of God upon earth. 


6. Hesrew Porerry.—The character of the people and theit 


HEBREW LITERATURE. 13 


fanguage, its mission, the pastoral life of the patriarchs, the 
beautiful and grand scenery of the country, the wonderful his- 
tory of the nation, the feeling of divine inspiration, the promise 
of a Messiah who should raise the nation to glory, the imposing 
solemnities of the divine worship, and finally, the special order 
of the prophets, gave a strong impulse to the poetical genius of 

- the nation, and concurred in producing a form of poetry which 
gannot be compared with any other for its simplicity and clear- 
ness, for its depth and majesty. 

These features of Hebrew poetry, however, spring from its 
internal force rather than from any external form. Indeed, the 
Hebrew poets soar far above all other poets in that energy of 
feeling, impetuous and irresistible, which penetrates, warms and 
moves the very soul. They reveal their anxieties as well as 
their hopes; they paint with truth and love the actual condition 

of the human race, with its sorrows and consolations, its bopes 
and fears, its love and hate. They select their images from the 
habitual ideas of the people, and they personify inanimate 
objects—the mountains tremble and exult, deep cries unto deep. 
Another characteristic of Hebrew poetry is the strong feeling of 
nationality it expresses. Of their two most sublime poets, one 
was their legislator, the other their greatest king. 


7. Lyric Porrry.—In their national festivals the Hebrews 
sang the hymns of their lyric poets, accompanied by musical 
instruments. The art of singing, as connected with poetry, 
flourished especially under David, who instituted twenty-four 
choruses, composed of four thousand Levites, whose duty it was 
to sing in the public solemnities. It is generally believed that 
the Hebrew lyric poetry was not ruled by any measure, either 
of syllables or of time. Its predominant form was a succession 
of thoughts and a rhythmic movement, less of syllables and words 
than of ideas and images systematically arranged. The Psalms, 
especially, are essentially symmetrical, according to the ritual of 
the Hebrews, the verses being sung alternately by the Levites 
and by the people, both in the synagogues and more frequently 
in the open air. The song of Moses after the passage of the 
Red Sea is the most sublime triumphal hymn in any language, 
and of equal merit is his song of thanksgiving in Deuteronomy. 
Beautiful examples of the same order of poetry may be found in 
the song of Judith (though not canonical), and the songs of 
Deborah and Balaam. But Hebrew poetry attained its meridian 
splendor in the Psalms of David. The works of God in the 
creation of the world, and in the government of men; the illus- 


14 HEBREW LITERATURE, 


trious deeds of the House of Jacob ; the wonders and mysteries 
of the new Covenant are sung by David in a fervent out-pouring 
of an impulsive, passionate spirit, that alternately laments and 
exults, bows in contrition, or soars to the sublimest heights of 
devotion. ‘The Psalms, even now, reduced to prose, after three 
thousand years, present the best and most sublime collection 
of lyrical poems, unequalled for their aspiration, their living 
imagery, their grand ideas, and majesty of style. 

When, at length, the Hebrews, forgetful of their high duties 
and calling, trampled on their institutions and laws, prophets 
were raised up by God to recall his wandering people to their 
allegiance. Isaran, whether he foretells the future destiny of 
the nation, or the coming of the Messiah, in his majestic elo- 
quence, sweetness, and simplicity, gives us the most perfect 
model of lyric poetry. He prophesied during the reigns of 
Azariah and Hezekiah, and his writings bear the mark of true 
inspiration. 

JEREMIAH flourished during the darkest period in the history 
of the kingdom of Judah, and under the last four kings, pre- 
vious to the Captivity. The Lamentations, in which he pours 
forth his grief for the fate of his country, are full of touching 
melancholy and pious resignation, and, in their harmonious and 
beautiful tone, show his ardent patriotism and his unshaken 
trust in the God of his fathers. He does not equal Isaiah in 
the sublimity of his conceptions and the variety of his imagery, 
but whatever may be the imperfections of his style, they are 
lost in the passion and vehemence of his poems. 

DanteL, after having struggled against the corruptions of 
Babylon, boldly foretells the decay of that empire with terrible 
power. His conceptions and images are truly sublime ; but his 
style is less correct and regular than that of his predecessors, his 
language being a mixture of Hebrew and Chaldaic. 

Such is also the style of HzexreL, a pupil of Daniel, who 
sings the development of the obscure prophecies of his mas 
ter. His writings abound in dreams and visions, and convey 
rather the idea of the terrible than of the sublime. 

These four, from the length of their writings, are called the 
Greater Prophets, to distinguish them from the twelve Minor 
Prophets: Hosna, Jozi, Amos, Opap1aH, Jonan, Mican, Nanvum, 
HaBaKKUK, Z.wPHANIAN, Haaeat, Z.nCHARIAH, and Matacm, all 
of whom, ‘though endowed with different characteristics and 
genius, show in their writings more or less of that fire and 
vigor, which can only be found in writers who were moved and 
warmed by the very spirit of God. 





HEBREW LITERATURE, 18 


8 Pastorai. Porrry.—The Song of Solomon and the histury 
of Ruth are the best specimens of the Hebrew idyl, and breathe 
nl] the simplicity of pastoral life. be 


_ 9. Dipactic Porrry.—The books, of Proverbs and EKcelesi- 
astes contain treatises on moral philosophy, or rather, didactic 
poems, ‘The Proverb, which is a maxim of wisdom, greatly used 
by the ancients before the introduction of dissertation, is, as the 
name indicates, the prevalent form of the first of these books. 
In Ecclesiastes we have described the trials of a mind which has 
lost itself in undefined wishes and in despair, and the efficacious 
remedies for these mental diseases are shown in the pictures of 
the vanity of the world and in the final divine judgment, in 
which the problem of this life will have its complete solution. 
Sotomon, the author of these works, adds splendor to the sub- 
limity of his doctrines by the dignity of his style. 


10. Eric anp Dramatic Porrry.—The Book of Job may be 
considered as belonging either to epic or to dramatic poetry. 
Its exact date is uncertain ; some writers refer it to the primitive 
period of Hebrew literature, and others to a later age; and, 
while some contend that Job was but an ideal, represent- 
ing human suffering, and whose story was sung by an anonymous 
poet, others, with more probability, regard him as an actual 
person, exposed to the trials and temptations described in this 
wonderful book. However this may be, it is certain that this 
monument of wisdom stands alone, and that it can be compared: 
to no other production for the sublimity of its ideas, the vivacity: 
and force of its expressions, the grandeur of its imagery, and 
the variety of its characters. No other work represents, in more 
true and vivid colors, the nobility and misery of humanity, the 
laws of necessity and Providence, and the trials to which the 
good are subjected for their moral improvement. Here the 
great struggle between evil and good appears in its true light, 
and human virtue heroically submits itself to the ordeal of 
misfortune. Here we learn that the evil and good of this life 
are by no means the measure of morality, and here we witness 
the final triumph of justice. 


11. Hesrew Hisrory.—Moses, the most ancient of all his- 
torians, was also the first leader and legislator of the Hebrews. 
When, at length, the traditions of the patriarchs had become 
obscured and confused among the different nations of the earth, 
God commanded Moses to write, under his own inspiration, the- 


16 HEBREW LITERATURE. 


history of the human race, and especially of his chosen people, 
in order to bequeath to coming centuries a memorial of the 
revealed truths and of the divine works of eternal Wisdom, 
Thus, Moses, in the first chapters of Genesis, without aiming te 
write the complete annals, of the first period of the world, 
summed up the general history of man, and described, more 
especially, the genealogy of the patriarchs and of the genera- 
tions previous to the time of the dispersion. He then com- 
mences the particular history of the Hebrews, from Adam to 
Joseph, a period of two thousand four hundred years. Here, 
we find the history of the Creation, especially of man, in his 
first unfallen state, his subsequent fall and misery, the corrup- 
tion of mankind, the deluge, the origin of the arts, of govern- 
ments, the distribution of the land, the propagation of the race, 
and many other facts of no less importance. The book of 
Genesis bears internal evidence of its divine origin; it is the 
foundation of all history, a precious monument of the first records 
of our race. 

The subject of the book of Exodus is the delivery of the peo- 
ple from the Egyptian bondage, and is not less admirable for 
the importance of the events which it describes, than for the 
manner in which they are related. In this, and in the following 
book of Numbers, the record of patriarchal life gives place to 
the teachings of Moses and to the history of the wanderings in 
the deserts of Arabia. 

In Leviticus the constitution of the priesthood is described, as 
well as the peculiarities of a worship, which was but the symbol 

and preparation of the future sacrifice of the Son of God. 
' Deuteronomy records the laws of Moses, and concludes with 
his sublime hymn of thanksgiving. 

The historical books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, 
Chronicles, Ezra, etc., contain the history of the Hebrew nation 
for nearly a thousand years, and relate the prosperity and the 
disasters of the chosen people, and the stupendous works which 
God wrought in their behalf. Here are recorded the deeds of 
Joshua, of Samson, of Samuel, of David, and of Solomon, the 
pbuilding of the Temple, the division of the tribes into two king 
doms, the prodigies of Elijah and Elisha, the impieties of Ahah, 
the calamities of Jedekiah, the destruction of Jerusalem and of 
the first Temple, the dispersion and the Babylonish captivity, 
the deliverance under Cyrus, and the rebuilding of the city and 
temple under Ezra, and other great events in Hebrew history. 

The internal evidence derived from the peculiar character of 
each of the historical books is decisive of their genuinenesg 


Pes 


HEBREW LITERATURE, 17 


whivh is sappoxted above all suspicion of alteration or addition 
_ by the scrupulous conscientiousness and veneration with which 
the Hebrews regarded their sacred writings. Their authenticity 
is also proved by the uniformity of doctrine, which pervades 
them all, though written at different periods by the simplicity 
and naturalness of the narrations and by the sincerity of the. 
writers. 

These histories display neither vanity nor adulation, nor do 
they attempt to conceal from the reader whatever might be 
considered as faults in their authors or their heroes. While 
they select facts with a nice judgment, and present the mosé 
luminous picture of events and of their causes, they abstain 
_ from reasoning or speculation in regard to them. 


12. -Hesrew Puitosorny.—Although the Hebrews, in their 
different sacred writings, have transmitted to us the best solu- 
tion of the ancient philosophical questions on the creation of the 
world, on the Providence which rules it, on monotheism, and on 
the origin of sin, yet they have nowhere presented us with a 
complete system of philosophy. 

During the Captivity, their doctrines were influenced by ' 
those of Zoroaster, and later, when many of the Jews established 
themselves in Egypt, they acquired some knowledge of the 
Greek philosophy, and the tenets of the sects of Hssenes bear 
a strong resemblance to the Pythagorean and Platonic schools. 
This resemblance appears most clearly in the writings of Phile 
of Alexandria, a Jew, born a few years before the birth of our 
Saviour. Though not belonging to the sect of the Essenes, he 
followed their example in adopting the doctrines of Plato, and 
taking them as the criterion in the interpretation of the Scrip- 
tures. So, also, Flavius Josephus, born in Jerusalem, 37 «., 
and Numenius, born in Syria, in the second century a.D., 
adopted the Greek philosophy, and by its doctrines amplified 
and expanded the tenets of Judaism. 


13. Restoration or THE SacreD Booxs.—One of the most 
important eras in Hebrew literature is the period of the resto- 
ration of the Mosaic institutions, after the return from the 
Captivity. At that time, Ezra established the great Synagogue, 
a college of one hundred and twenty learned men, who were 
appointed to collect copies of the ancient sacred books, the 
originals of which had been lost in the capture of Jerusalem 
by Nebuchadnezzar, and Nehemiah soon after placed this, 
ot a new collection, in the temple. The design of these re 


os ee 


18 HEBREW LITERATURE. 


formers to give the people a religious canon in their ancient 
tongue induces the belief, that they engaged in the work with 
the strictest fidelity to the old Mosaic institutions, and it is cer- 
tain that the canon of the Old Testament, in the time of the 
Maccabees, was the same as that which we have at present. 


14. Manuscripts anp TransLations.—Of the canonical books 
of the Old Testament we have Hebrew manuscripts, printed 
editions and translations. The most esteemed manuscripts are 
those of the Spanish Jews, of which the most ancient belong 
to the 11th and 12th centuries. The printed editions of the 
Bible in Hebrew are numerous. The earliest are those of 
Italy. Luther made his German translation from the edition 
of Brescia, printed in 1494. The earliest and most famous 
translation of the Old Testament is the Septuagint, or Greek 
translation, which was made about 283 B.c. It may, probably, 
be attributed to the Alexandrian Jews, who, having lost the 
knowledge of the Hebrew, caused the translation to be made 
by some of their learned countrymen, for the use of the Syna- 
gogues of Egypt. It was probably accomplished under the 
authority of the Sanhedrim, composed of seventy elders, and 
therefore called the Septuagint version, and from it the quota- 
tions in the New Testament are chiefly taken. It was regarded 
as canonical by the.Jews to the exclusion of other books written 
in Greek, but not translated from the Hebrew, which we now 
call, by the Greek name, the Apocrypha. 

The Vulgate or Latin translation, which has official authority 
in the Catholic Church, was made gradually from the 8th to the 
16th century, partly from an old translation which was made 
from the Greek in the early history of the Church, and partly — 
from translations from the Hebrew made by St. Jerome. 

The English version of the Bible now in use in England and 
America was made by order of James I. It was accomplished 
vy forty-seven distinguished scholars, divided into six classes, to 
each of which a part of the work was assigned. ‘This translae 
t10n occupied three years, and was printed in 1611. 


15, Rassrnica Lireratore.—Rabbinical literature includes 
all the writings of the rabbins, or teachers of the Jews in the 
later period of Hebrew letters, who have interpreted and deve- 
loped the literature of the earlier ages. The language made use 
of by them has its foundation in the Hebrew and Chaldaic, with 
various alterations and modifications in the use of words, the 
meaning of which they have considerably enlarged and extended 





HEBREW LITERATURE, 19 


The rabbins have frequently borrowed from the Arabic, Greek 


and Latin, and from those modern tongues spoken where they — 


severally resided. 

The Talmud, from the Hebrew word signifying he has learned, 
is a collection of traditions illustrative of the laws and usages of 
the Jews. The Talmud consists of two parts, the Mishna and 
the Gemara. The Mishna or second law is a collection of rab- 
binical rules and precepts made in the second century. The 
Gemara (completion or doctrine) was composed in the third 
century. It is a collection of commentaries and explanations 
of the Mishna, and both together formed the Jerusalem Tal- 
mud. 

About 500 a.v., the Babylonian rabbins composed new com- 
mentaries on the Mishna, and this formed the Babyloman Tal- 
mud. At the period of the Christian Era, the civil constitution, 
language and mode of thinking among the Jews had undergone 
a complete revolution, and were entirely different from what 
they had been in the early period of the commonwealth. The 
Mosaic books contained rules no longer adapted to the situa- 
tion of the nation, and many difficult questions arose to which 
their law afforded no satisfactory solution. The rabbins under- 
took to supply this defect, partly by commentaries on the Mosaic 
precepts, and partly by the composition of new rules. 

The Talmud requires that wherever twelve adults reside 
together in one place, they shall erect a synagogue and serve 
the God of their fathers by a multitude of prayers and formali- 
ties, amidst the daily occupations of life. It allows usury, treats 
agricultural pursuits with contempt, and requires strict separa- 
tion from the other races, and commits the government to the 
rabbins. The Talmud is followed by the Rabbinites, to which 
sect nearly all the European and American Jews belong. The 
sect of the Caraites reject the Talmud and hold to the law of 
Moses only. It is less numerous and its members are found 
chiefly in the east, or in Turkey and Eastern Russia. 

The Cabala, or oral tradition, is, according to the Jews, a 
perpetual divine revelation, preserved among the Jewish people 
by secret transmission. It sometimes denotes the doctrines of 
the prophets, but most commonly the mystical philosophy, which 
was probably introduced into Palestine from Egypt and Persia. 
It was first committed to writing in the second century, 4.p. The 
Yabala is divided into the symbolical and the’ real, of which the 
former gives a mystical signification to letters. The latter com- 
prehends doctrines, and is divided into the theoretical and prac- 
tical. The first aims to explain the Scriptures according to the 


20 HEBREW LITERATURE, 


secret traditions, while the last pretends to teach the art of 
performing miracles by an artificial use of the divine names and 
sentences of the sacred Scriptures. 

The Jews of the Middle Ages acquired great reputation for 
learning, especially in Spain, where they were allowed to study 
astronomy, mathematics and medicine in the schools of the 
Moors. Granada and Cordova became the centres of rabbinical 
literature, which was also cultivated in France, Italy, Portugal 
and Germany. In the 16th century the study of Hebrew and 
rabbinical literature became common among Christian scholars, 
and in the following centuries it became more interesting and 
important from the introduction of comparative Philology in 
the department of languages. At the present time, rabbin- 
ical literature has its students and interpreters. In Padua, 
Berlin and Metz there are seminaries for the education of rab- 
bins, which supply with able doctors the synagogues of Italy, 
Germany and France; the Polish rabbins and Talmudists, 
however, are the most celebrated. 


SYRIAC, CHALDAIO AND PHGNICIAN 
LITERATURES. 


1, The Languages.—2. Syriac Language and Literature.—8. Chaldaic Language and 
Literature.—4, Phosnician Litorature. 


1. Tue Lanevaces.—The Syriac, Chaldaic and Phenician 
languages bear a close analogy to the Hebrew, and belong like 
that to the Semitic family. The Syriac and Chaldaic are dis- 
tinguished from the Hebrew, however, by a less abundance of 
resounding vowels, fewer inflections, and by other pecuiiarities, 
while the Phenician is almost identical with it. 


2. Syriac Laneuace anp Lirerature.—The translation of 
the New Testament from the original Greek, made in the 
second century a.D., is the only monument of Syriac literature 
which has been preserved. The language of the translation, 
however, is not pure, but contains many words and phrases of 
Greek origin, introduced into it during the domination of the 
successors of Alexander the Great in that country. 

The language spoken by the Jews in Syria at the time of 
the birth of our Saviour, called the Syro-Chaldaic, was also 
impure, as is that spoken in our day in Mesopotamia. Since 
the fifth and sixth centuries, this language has been used by 
the Nestorians and Maronites in their religious services and in 
their literary works, 

The spoken language of Syria has passed through many 
changes, corresponding to the political changes of the country. 


3. Cuatpatc Lanevacr anpD Lirerature.—The Chaldaic lan- 
guage was spoken by the people of the Babylonian Empire, 
the literary men of which were called Chaldeans, and under 
that name they formed a separate body among the people, and 
lived in a manner similar to that of the Egyptian priests. Their 
ee occupation was study, and they were exempted by law 

om any other office or duty. The Chaldeans made tne earliest 


22 SYRIAC, CHALDAIC AND PH@NICIAN LITERATURES. 


discoveries in astronomy ; they understood the movements of the 
heavenly bodies, and the use of the sun-dial. They divided the 
year into 365 days, 6 hours and 11 minutes. Callisthenes, who 
accompanied the expedition of Alexander, brought with him from 
Babylon on his return the astronomical observations of 1903 - 
years. Unfortunately, the Chaldeans perverted astronomy to 
the service of astrology, and claimed from their astronomical 
observations to foretell the future. Babylon retained for a 
long time its ancient splendor after the conquest by Cyrus and 
the final fall of the empire, and in the first period of the Mace 
donian sway. But soon after that, its fame was extinguished, 
and its monuments, arts and sciences perished. A part of the 
books of Daniel and of Ezra were written in the Chaldaic 
ianguage. Some fragments of the history of Babylon written 
by Berosus, a Chaldean who lived in the third century B.c., ~ 
were preserved by Josephus. 

During the Babylonian exile, the Hebrews learned the Chal- 
daic language, which, as we have seen, was closely allied to their 
own, and on their return to Palestine it was for some time used 
with the Hebrew, the latter remaining the written and sacred 
tongue. Gradually, however, the Hebrew lost this prerogative, 
and in the second century a.p. the Chaldaic was the only spoken 
ianguage in Palestine. 


4, Pua@nician Lirerature.—The Phoenicians from the earliest 
ages were noted for their knowledge of the arts and sciences, 
and above all for their extensive commerce. From Pheenicia 
Greece received the science of arithmetic and the invention of 
letters, but of its literature little is known. ‘Their national his- 
torian, Sanconiathon, lived 1250 B.c. He wrote, besides a his- 
tory of the Phenicians, treatises on philosophy and Egyptian 
theology. Of these two works there are no remains, ‘The 
history was translated into Greek in the second century .D., 
but of this there remains only a long fragment preserved 
by Eusebius, the authenticity of which is by some writera 
denied. 


\ 


HINDU OR SANSCRIT LITERATURE. 


1, Sanscrit Literature and its Divisions.—2. The Sanscrit Language and its Ant’ quity ; 
ts Structure and Dialects.—38. Social Constitution of India.—4. Brahmanism.—5. The 
Vedas and the other Sacred Books.—6. Sanscrit Poetry.—7. Epic Poetry; the Rama- 
yana; the Mahabharata.—8. Lyric Poetry.—9. Didactic Poetry; the Hitopadesa.— 
10. Dramatic Poetry.—11. History and Science.—12. Philosophy.—13. Buddhism.— 
14. Moral Philosophy; the Code of Manu.—15. Modern Literatures of India.—16. Edu- 
cation in India. ; 


1. Sanscrrr LireraturE anp its Drvistons.—The literary 
monuments of the Sanscrit language are ranked among the most 
ancient in the world, and they correspond to the great eras of 

the history of India. The first period reaches back to that 
remote age, when those tribes of the Aryan race speaking 
Sanscrit emigrated to the northwestern portion of the Indian 
Peninsula, and established themselves there, an agricultural and 
pastoral people. That was the age in which were composed the 
prayers, hymus and precepts, afterwards collected in the form 
of the Vedas, the sacred books of the country. In the second 
period, the people, incited by the desire of conquest, penetrated 
into the fertile valleys lying between the Indus and the Ganges ; 
and the struggle with the aboriginal inhabitants, which followed 
their invasion, gave birth to epic poetry, in which the wars of 
the different races were celebrated and the extension of Hindu 
civilization related. The third period embraces the successive 
ages of the formation and development of a learned and artistic 
literature. It contains collections of the ancient traditions, 
expositions of the Vedas, works on grammar, lexicography and 
science ; and its conclusion forms the golden age of Sanscrit 
literature, when the country being ruled by liberal princes, poetry, 
and especially the drama, reached its highest degree of perfection. 

The chronology of these pericds varies according to the systems 
of different orientalists. It is, however, admitted that the 
Vedas are the first literary productions of India, and that their 
origin cannot be later than the 15th century B.c. The period 
of the Vedas embraces the other sacred books, or commentaries 
founded upon them, though written several centuries afterwards, 
The second period, to which belong the two great epic poems, 


24 HINDU OR SANSCRIT LITERATURE. 


the ‘“‘ Ramayana” and the ‘‘ Mahabharata,” according to the best 
authorities, ends with the 6th or 7th century B.c. ‘The ‘hird 
period embraces all the poetical and scientific works written 
from that time to the 3d or 4th century B.c., when the language 
having been progressively refined, became fixed in the writings of 
Kalidasa, Jayadeva, and other poets. A fourth period, including 
the 10th century a.D., may be added, distinguished by its eru- 
dition, grammatical, rhetorical and scientific disquisitions, which, 
however, is not considered as belonging to the classical age 
From the Hindu languages, originating in the Sanscrit, new 
literatures have sprung ; but they are essentially founded on the 
ancient literature, which far surpasses them in extent and im 
portance, and is the great model of them all. Indeed its influ- 
ence has not been limited to India ; all the poetical and scientific 
works of Asia, China and Japan included, have borrowed 
largely from it, and in Southern Russia the scanty literature of 
the Kalmucks is derived entirely from Hindu sources. The 
Sanscrit literature has been known to Europe only recently, 
through the researches of the English and German orientalists, 
and has now become the auxiliary and foundation of all philo- 
logical studies. 


2. Tae Sanscrit Lanevace.—Sanscrit is considered as the 
most primitive of all the idioms of the great Indo-European 
family, which more or less reflect the internal features of that 
language. Though in a rude state, long antecedent to the 
15th century B.c. it must have been spoken in India. In a 
later age, used in the sacred writings, it acquired by degrees 
that softness, flexibility and polish, which appear in the great 
Sanscrit poems. It is probable that in the 3d or 4th century 
B.c., this language was yet spoken, though in a corrupt 
form originating in the mixture of different races and in various 
political convulsions; till at length it was entirely superseded by 
new dialects, engrafted on the ancient stock of the Sanscrit, 
which, however, has continued to be revered and used by the 
Hindus as the sacred and literary language of the country. 

The Sanscrit, meaning perfected, is founded on a vast logical 
system of grammar, whose equal cannot be found in any other 
language. It is written from left to right, and its alphabet 
consists of fifty letters, of which sixteen are vowels and thirty- 
four consonants ; two accessory signs serve to modify and 
enrich the language. By different combinations of these letters 
all the vocal sounds and their numberless modifications can be 
sleatly expressed, and an exact symmetry and an admirable clear 


es ie 
1200 x. 


HINDU OR SANSCRIT LITERATURE, 28. 


ness obtained. The Sanscrit is richly endowed with monosyllabic 
notes, and though inferior in variety and richness to the Greek 
and some other languages of the Indo-European family, it 
unites many qualities which belong separately to them, and the 
study of it is important in a historical and philological point of 
view. Its declension is composed of three genders, three num- 
bers and eight cases, and its conjugation of three persons, six 
moods and six tenses. 

At an early period, Sanscrit became the language of the 
privileged classes. While the people of the north spoke the 
Prakrit, which contained the same elements, though in a differ- 
ent and less refined form, in the southern portion of the 
country the Pali prevailed, which was also a close derivative 
from the Sanscrit. Among the modern tongues of India, the 
Hindui and the Hindustani may be mentioned ; the former, 
the language of the pure Hindu population, is written in 
Sanscrit characters ; the latter is the language of the Moham- 
medan-Hindus in which Arabic letters are used. Many of the 
other dialects spoken and written in northern India are derived 
from the Sanscrit. Of the more important among them there 
are English grammars and dictionaries. 


3. Soctat Constitution or Inp1a.— Hindu literature takes its 
character both from the social and the religious institutions of 
the country. The social constitution is based on the distinction 
of classes into which the people, from the earliest times, have 

_ been divided, and which were the natural effect of the long 
struggle between the aboriginal tribes and the new race which 
had invaded India. - These castes are four: 1st. The Brahmins 
or priests ; 2d. The warriors and princes ; 3d. The husband- 

‘men; 4th. The laborers. There are besides several impure 
classes, the result of an intermingling of the different castes. 
Of these lower classes some are considered utterly abominable— 
as that of the Pariahs. The different castes are kept distinct 
from each other by the most rigorous laws ; though in modern 
times, the system has been somewhat modified. 


4. Branmantsu.—The Hindu religion is called Brahmanism, 
from Brahman, or worship. In the period of the Vedas, 
this religion was founded on the simple worship of nature. 
In the succeeding period, that of the epic poetry, this was 
represented in vast cycles of myths and symbols which 
gave birth to innumerable divinities; among them are three 
gods which constitute the Trimurtz, or god under three forms— 

< 


20 HINDU OR SANSCRIT LITEXATUBE. 


Brahma, Siva and Vishnu. Brahma, the impersonal soul of 
the universe, the essence of nature, immense, indeterminate 
and absolute, existed in itself from eternity ; from this principle 
nature emanated, and from it also the personal and active 
Brahma developed himself. The more this principle develops 
itself, the more it differs from itself; hence the differences 
of all things consist only in the different degrees of their 
distance from Brahma, and the mixture of these degrees consti- 
tutes the multiplicity of things. Hence, nature is Brahma in 
an impure and degraded condition ; and it must return into” 
Brahma by purification. The human soul can only obtain this 
purification through virtue and piety, and through an assiduous 
and silent contemplation of Brahma. According to the sins or 
merits of its former existence, the soul migrates into the body of 
a higher or lower being, either to finish or to begin anew its 
purification. Thus Brahmanism is essentially founded on the 
doctrines of emanation and metempsychosis. 

Siva is the second form of the Hindu deity, and represents 
the primitive animating and destroying forces of nature. His 
symbols relate to these powers, and are worshipped more espe- 
cially by the Sivaites—a numerous sect of this religion. The 
worshippers of Vishnu, called the Preserver, the first born of 
Brahma, constitute the most extensive sect of India, and their 
ideas relating to this form of the Divinity are represented by 
tradition and poetry, and are particularly developed in the great 
monuments of Sanscrit literature. The myths connected with 
Vishnu refer especially to his incarnations or corporeal appa- 
ritions both in men and animals, which he submits to in order 
to conquer the spirit of evil. 

These incarnations are called Avatars, or deghenfieael and 
form an important part of Hindu epic poetry. Of the ten Ava- © 
tars, which are attributed to Vishnu, nine have already taken 
place ; the last is yet to come, when the god shall descend 
again from heaven, to destroy the present world, and to restore 
peace and purity. The three forms of the Deity, emanating 
mutually from each other, are expressed by the three sym- 
bols, A U M, forming the mystical name Om, which never 
escapes the lips of the Hindus, but is meditated on in silence. 
The predominant worship of one or the other of these forms 
constitutes the peculiarities of the numerous sects of this religion. 

There are other inferior divinities, symbols of the forces of 
yature, guardians of the world, demi-gods, demons and heroes, 
whose worship, however, is considered as a mode of reaching 
that divine rest, immersion and absorption in Brahma, which ig | 





HINDU OR SANSCRIT LITERATURE. 2? 


the object of this religion. To this end are directed the sacri- 
fices, the prayers, the ablutions, the pilgrimages and the pen- 
ences, which ovcupy so large a place in the Hindu worship. 


5. Tae VEDAS AND THE OTHER SacreD Booxs.—The Vedas 
{knowledge or science) are the Bible of the Hindus,and con- 
fain the revelation of Brahma, which was preserved by tradition 
und collected by Vyasa, a name which means compiler, and 
presents an epoch, probably the fifteenth century B.c., in 
ghich the Brahmanic traditions were collected and disposed in 
the form of a book. ‘The Vedas are three in number: Ist. The 
fug- Veda, consisting of hymns, and of mystic prayers ; 2d. The 
Yajwr- Veda, containing the religious rites ; and, 3d. The Sama- 
Veda, with prayers in the form of songs. A fourth Veda is 
usually added, which consists chiefly of formulas of consecration, 
expiation and imprecation. But this last book is evidently of a 
more recent date. Each Veda is divided into two parts: the 
first contains the prayers and invocations, the most of which are 
of a rhythmical character ; the second records the precepts 
relative to those prayers and to the ceremonies of the sacrifices, 
and describes the religious myths and symbols. 

There are many commentaries on the Vedas of an ancient 
date, which are considered as sacred books, and relate to medi- 
cine, music, astronomy, astrology, grammar, philosophy, juris- 
prudence and, indeed, to the whole circle of Hindu science. 

The Puranas (ancient writings) hold an eminent rank in the 
_ ‘eeligion and literature of the Hindus. ‘Though of a more 
recent date than the Vedas, they possess the credit of an ancient 
and divine origin, and exercise an extensive and practical influ- 
ence upon the people. They comprise vast collections of ancient 
traditions relating to theology, cosmology and to the genealogy 
of gods and heroes. ‘There are eighteen acknowledged Puranas, 
which altogether contain 400,000 stanzas. The Upapwranas, 
also eighteen in number, are commentaries on the Puranas. 
Finally, to the sacred books, and next to the Vedas both in 
antiquity and authority, belong the Manavadharmasastra, or the 
ordinances of Manu, spoken of hereafter. 

6. Sanscrir Portry.—This poetry, springing from the lively 
and powerful imagination of the Hindus, is inspired by their 
religious doctrines, and embodied in the most harmonious lan- 
guage. Exalted by their peculiar belief in pantheism and 
metempsychosis, they consider the universe and themselves as 
ilirectly emanating from Brahma, and they strive to lose their own 
individuality in its infinite essence. Yet, as impure beings, they 


28 HINDU OR SANSCRIT LITERATURE. 


feel their incapacity to obtain the highest moral perfection, 
except through a continual atonement, to which all nature is 
condemned. Hence Hindu poetry expresses a profound melan 
choly, which pervades the character as well as the literature of 
that people. This poetry breathes a spirit of perpetual sacrifice 
of the individual self, as the ideal of human life. The bards of 
- India, inspired by this predominant feeling, have given to poetry 
nearly every form it has assumed in the western world, and in 
each and all they have excelled. 

Sanscrit poetry is both metrical and rhythmical, equally free 
from the confused strains of unmoulded genius and from the ser- 
vile pedantry of conventional rules. The verse of eight syllables 
is the source of all other metres, and the sloka or double distich is 
the stanza most frequently used. Though this poetry pre- 
sents too often extravagance of ideas, incumbrance of episodes, 
and monstrosity of images, as a general rule it is endowed with 
simplicity of style, pure coloring, sublime ideas, rare figures, and 
chaste epithets. Its exuberance must be attributed to the 
strange mythology of the Hindus, to the immensity of the 
fables which constitute the groundwork of their poems, and to 
the gigantic strength of their poetical imaginations. A striking 
peculiarity of Sanscrit poetry is its extensive use in treating of 
those subjects apparently the most difficult to reduce to a metri- 
cal form—not only the Vedas and Manu’s code are composed in | 
verse, but the sciences are expressed in this form. Even in the 
few works which may be called prose, the style is so modulated 


and bears so great a resemblance to the language of poetry as . 


scarcely to be distinguished*from it. The history of Sanscrit 
poetry is, in reality, the history of Sanscrit literature. , 


1. Epic Porrry.—The subjects of the epic poems of the 
Hindus are derived chiefly from their religious tenets, and relate 
to the incarnations of the gods, who, in their human forms 
become the heroes of this poetry. The idea of an Almighty 
power warring against the spirit of evil destroys the possibility 
of struggle, and impairs the character of epic poetry ; but the 
iindu poets, by submitting their gods both to fate and to the 
condition of men, diminish their power and give them the charac: 
ter of epic heroes. 

The Hindu mythology, however, is the great obstacle which 
must ever prevent this poetry from becoming popular in the 
western world. The great personifications of the Deity have 
not been softened down, as in the mythology of the Greeks, te 
the perfection of human symmetry, but are here exhibited is 





HINDU OR SANSCRIT LITERATURE. 2% 


their original gigantic forms, Majesty is often expressed by enor. 
mous stature ; power, by multitudinous hands; providence, by 
countless eyes ; and omnipresence, by innumerable bodies. 

In addition to this, Hindu epic poetry departs so far from 
what may be called the vernacular idiom of thought and feeling, 
and refers to a people whose political and religious institutions, 
as well as moral habits, are so much at variance with our own, 
that no labor or skill could render its associations familiar. 

The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are the most important 
and sublime creations of Hindu literature, and the most colos- 
sal epic poems to be found in the literature of the world. They 
surpass in magnitude the Iliad and Odyssey, the Jerusalem 
Delivered and the Lusiad, as the Pyramids of Egypt tower 
above the temples of Greece. 

The Ramayana (Rama and yana expedition) describes the 
exploits of Rama, an incarnation of Vishnu, and the son of 
Dasaratha, king of Oude. Ravana, the prince of demons, had 
stolen from the gods the privilege of being invulnerable, and had 
thus acquired an equality with them. He could not be over- 
come except by a man, and the gods implored Vishnu to 
become incarnate in order that Ravana might be conquered. 
The origin and the development of this Avatar, the departing 
of Rama for the battle-field, the divine signs of his mission, 
his love and marriage with Sita, the daughter of the -king 
Janaka, the persecution of his step-mother, by which the 
hero is sent into exile, his penance in the desert, the abduc- 
tion of his bride by Ravana, the gigantic battles that ensue, the 
rescue of Sita, and the triumph of Rama constitute the principal 
plot of this wonderful poem, full of incidents and episodes of the 
most singular and beautiful character. Among these may be 
mentioned the descent of the goddess Ganga, which relates to 
the mythological origin of the river Ganges, and the story of 
Yajnadatta, a young penitent, who through mistake was killed 
by Dasaratha ; the former splendid for its rich imagery, the 
latter incomparable for its elegiac character, and for its expres 
sion of the passionate sorrow of parental affection. 

The Ramayana was written by Valmiki, a poet belongin, 
to an unknown period. It consists of seven cantos, and contains 
twenty-five thousand verses. The original, with its trans 
lation into Italian, has recently been published in Paris by 
the government of Sardinia. 

The Mahabharata (the great Bharata) has nearly the 
same antiquity as the Ramayana. It describes the greatest 
Avatar of Vishnu, the incarnation of the god in Krishna, and it 


4 ; Se, eee 
c 7 : Aas’ py - 


20 HINDU OR SANSCRIT LITERATURE. 


presents a vast picture of the Hindu religion. It relates to the 
legendary history of the Bharata dynasty, especially to the wars 
between the Pandus and Kurus, two branches of a princely 
family of ancient India. Five sons of Pandu, having been 
unjustly exiled by their uncle, return, after many wonderful ad- 
ventures, with a powerful army to oppose the Kurus, and being 
aided by Krishna, the incarnated Vishnu, defeat their enemies 
and become lords of all the country. The poem describes the 
birth of Krishna, his escape from the dangers which surrounded 
his cradle, his miracles, his pastoral life, his rescue of sixteen 
thousand young girls who had become prisoners of a giant, his 
heroic deeds in the war of the Pandus, and finally his ascent to 
heaven, where he still leads the round dances of the spheres. ‘This 
work is not more remarkable for the grandeur of its conceptions, 
than for the information it affords respecting the social and reli- 
gious systems of the ancient Hindus, which are here revealed with 
majestic and sublime eloquence. Five of its most esteemed 
episodes are called the Five Precious Stones. First among these 
may be mentioned the ‘‘ Bhagavad-Gita,” or the Divine Song, con 
taining the revelation of Krishna, in the form of a dialogue between 
the god and his pupil Arjuna. Schlegel calls this episode the 
most beautiful, and perhaps the most truly philosophical poem, 
that the whole range of literature has produced. . 

The Mahabharata is divided into 18 cantos, and it contains 
200,000 verses. It is attributed to Vyasa, the compiler of the 
Vedas, but it appears that it was the result of a period of liter- 
ature rather than the work of a single poet. Its different inci- 
dents and episodes were probably separate poems, which from 
the earliest age were sung by the people, and later, by degrees, 
collected in one complete work. Of the Mahabharata we possess 
only a few episodes translated into English, such as the Bhaga- 
vad-Gita, by Wilkins. 

At a later period other epic poems were written, either as 
abridgments of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, or 
founded on episodes contained in them. These, however, 
belong to a lower order of composition, and cannot be com- 
pared with the great works of Valmiki and Vyasa. 

8. Lyric Porrry.—In the development of Lyrie poetry the 
Hindu bards, particularly those of the third period, have 
been eminently successful; their power is great in the sub 
lime and the pathetic, and manifests itself more particularly ir 
awakening the tender sympathies of our nature. Here we find 
many poems full of grace and delicacy, and splendid for their 
charming descriptions of nature. Such are the “ Meghaduta’” 





HINDU OR SANSCRIT LITERATURE. 3) 


and the “ Ritusanhara” of Kalidasa, the ‘‘ Madhava and Radha” 
of Jayadeva, and especially the ‘ Gita-Govinda” of the same 
poet, or the adventures of Krishna as a shepherd, a poem in 
which the soft languors of love are depicted in enchanting colors, 
and which is adorned with all the magnificence of language 
and sentiment. 


9. Dinactic Porrry.—Hindu poetry has a particular tend 
ency to the didactic style and to embody religious and his 
torical knowledge ; every subject is treated in the form of 
verse, such as inscriptions, deeds and dictionaries. Splendid ex 
amples of didactic poetry may be found in the episodes of the epic 
poems, and more particularly in the collections of fables and apo- 
logues in which the Sanscrit literature abounds. Among these 
the “‘ Hitopadesa” is the most celebrated, in which Vishnu-sarma 
_ instructs the sons of a king committed to his care. Perhaps 

there is no book, except the Bible, which has been translated 
into so many languages as these fables. They have spread in 
two branches over nearly the whole civilized world. ‘The one, 
under the original name of the Hitopadesa, remains almost con- 
fined to India, while the other, under the title of Calila and Dim- 
na, has become famous over all western Asia and in all the 
eountries of Hurope, and has served as the model of the fables 
of all languages. To.this department belong also the Adven- 
tures of the “Ten Princes,” by Dandin, which, in an artistic point 
of view, is far superior to any other didactic writings of Hindu 
_ literature. 


10. Dramatic Porrry.—Hindu dramatic poetry had its most 
flourishing period in the 3d or 4th century B.c. It has a moral 
and a religious character. Its origin is attributed to Brahma, 
and its subjects are selected from the mythology. Whether the 
drama represents the legends of the gods, or the simple circum- 
stances of ordinary life; whether it describes allegorical or histor- 
ical subjects, it bears always the same character of its origin and 
of its tendency. Simplicity of plot, unity of episodes, and purity 
of language, unite in the formation of the Hindu dramas. 
Prose and verse, the serious and the comic, pantomime and mu: 
sic are intermingled in their representations. Only the principal 
characters, the gods, the Brahmins, and the kings speak San- 
Berit ; women and the less important characters speak Prakrit, 
“more or less refined according to their rank. Whatever may 
offend propriety, whatever may produce an unwholesome excite 
ment, is excluded ; for the hilarity of the audience there is ar 


22 HINDU OR SANSCRIT LITERATURE. 


occasional introduction on the stage of a parasite or 4 buffooa, 
The representation is usually opened by an apologue and always 
roncluded with a prayer. 

Kalidasa, the Hindu Shakspeare, has been ealled by his coun- 
trymen the Bridegroom of poetry. His language is harmonious 


and elevated, and in his compositions he unites grace and ten- 


derness with grandeur and sublimity. Many of his dramas con- 
tain episodes selected from the epic poems and are founded on 
the principles of Brahmanism. The ‘ Messenger Cloud” of this 
author, a monologue rather than a drama, is unsurpassed in 
beauty of sentiment by any European poet. ‘ Sakuntala,” or the 
Fatal Ring, is considered one of the best dramas of Kalidasa. 
It has been translated into English by Sir W. Jones. 

Bhavabhuti, a Brahmin by birth, was called by his contem- 
poraries the Sweet Speaking. He was the author of many 
dramas of distinguished merit, which rank next to those of 
Kalidasa. 


11. History anp Science.—History, considered as the devel- 
opment of mankind in relation to its ideal, is unknown to San- 
scrit literature. Indeed, the only historical work thus far dis- 
covered is the ‘‘ History of Cashmere,” a series of poetical compo- 
sitions, written by different authors at different periods, the last 
of which brings down the annals to the 16th century a.p., 
when Oashmere became a province of the Mogul empire. 

In the scientific department, the works on Sanscrit Grammar 
and Lexicography come first, several of which are models of - 
logical and analytical research. There are also some valuable 
works, and some rhythmical ones, on jurisprudence and its various — 
divisions, on medicine, on rhetoric, poetry, musie and other arts. 
Several works of modern times, on mathematics, are considered 
of a high standing ; and it is well established that the Arabs 
derived from India the figures which, at a later period, they 
communicated to Kurope. It appears, also, that at an early 
age the Hindus were acquainted with the first principles of 
algebra. 


12. Putosorpxy.—The object of Hindu philosophy consists in 
obtaining emancipation from metempsychosis, through the absorp- 
tion of the soul into Brahma, or the universal being, Accord- 
ing to the different principles which philosophers adopt in 
attaining this supreme object, their doctrines are divided inte 
the four following systems: Ist. Sensualism; 2d. Idealism 
3d. Mysticism ; 4th. Eclecticism. | 


p HINDU OR SANSCRIT LITERATURE, 33 


_ Sensualism is represented in the school of Kapila, according 
to whose doctrine the purification of the soul must be effected 
through knowledge, the only source of which lies in sensual 
perception. In this system, nature, eternal and universal, is 
considered as the first cause, which produces intelligence and all 
the other principles of kuowledge and existence. ‘This philoso- 
phy of nature leads some of its followers to seek their purifica- 
tion in the sensual pleasures of this life, and in the loss of 
their own individuality in nature itself, in which they strive to 
be absorbed. Materialism, fatalism and atheism are the natural 
consequences of the system of Kapila. 

_ Idealism is the foundation of three philosophical schools: the 
Dialectic, the Atomic and the Vedanta. The Dialectic school 
considers the principles of knowledge as entirely distinct from 
nature; it admits the existence of universal ideas in the human 
mind ; it establishes the syllogistic form as the complete method 
of reasoning, and finally, it holds as fundamental the duality 
of intelligence and nature. In this theory, the soul is con- 
sidered as distinct from Brahma and also from the body. Man 
can approach Brahma, can unite himself to the universal soul, 
but can never lose his own individuality. 

The Atomic doctrine explains the origin of the world through 
the combination of eternal, simple atoms. It belongs to Idealism, 
for the predominance which it gives to ideas over sensation, and 
for the individuality and consciousness which it recognizes in man. 

The Vedanta is the true ideal pantheistic philosophy of India. 
It considers Brahma in two different states: first, as a pure, 
simple, abstract and inert essence; secondly, as an active indi- 
widuality. Nature in this system is only a special quality or 
quantity of Brahma, having no actual reality, and he who turns 
away from all that is unreal and changeable and contemplates 
Brahma unceasingly, becomes one with it, and attains libera- 
tion. 

Mysticism comprehends all doctrines which deny authority to 
reason, and admit no other principles of knowledge or rule of 

life than supernatural or direct revelation. To this system 
belong the doctrines of Patanjali, which teach that man must 
emancipate himself from metempsychosis through contemplation 
and ecstasy to be attained by the calm of the senses, by cor- 
poreal penance, suspension of breath, and immobility of position. 
The followers of this school pass their lives in solitude, absorbed 
in this mystic contemplation. The forests, the deserts and the 
environs of the temples are filled with these mystics, who, thus 
separated from eae believe themselves the subjects of 


ee et 
84 HINDU OR SANSCRIT LITZRATURE. 


supernatural illumination and power. The Bhagavad Gita 
already spoken of, is the best exposition of this doctrine. 

The Eclectic school comprises all theories which deny the 
authority of the Vedas, and admit rational principles borrowed 
both from sensualism and idealism. Among these doctrines, 
Buddhism is the principal. 


13. Buppsisé.—Buddhism is so called from Buddha, a name 
meaning deified teacher, which was given to Sakyamuni, or 
Saint Sakya, a reformer of Brahmanism, who introduced into 
the Hindu religion a more simple creed, and a milder and more 
humane code of morality. The date of the origin of this reform 
is uncertain. It is probably not earlier than the sixth century, 
B.c. Buddhism, essentially a proselyting religion, spread over 
central Asia and through the island of Ceylon. Its followers in 
India being persecuted and expelled from the country, penetrated 
into Thibet, and pushing forward into the wilderness of the 
Kalmucks and Mongols, entered China and Japan, where they — 
introduced their worship under the name of the religion of Fo, 
Buddhism is more extensively diffused than any other form of 
religion in the world. Though it has never extended beyond 
the limits of Asia, its followers number three hundred millions. 

As a philosophical school, Buddhism partakes both of sen- 
sualism and idealism ; it admits sensual perception as the source 
of knowledge, but it grants to nature only an apparent exist — 
ence. Qn this universal illusion, Buddhism founded a gigantic 
system of cosmogony, establishing an infinity of degrees in the 
scale of existences, from that of pure being without form or 
quality to the lowest emanations. According to Buddha, the 
object of philosophy, as well as of religion, is the deliverance 
of the soul from metempsychosis, and therefore from all pain 
and illusion. He teaches that to break the endless rotation of 
transmigration the soul must be prevented from being born again, 
by purifying it even from the desire of existence. Buddha 
denied the authority of the Vedas, and abolished or ignored the 
division of the people into castes, admitting whoever desired it 
to the priesthood. Though his morals and his precepts are 
pure and elevated in theory, the metempsychosis and the panthe — 
ism, which are essential parts of the system, often inculeate in 
practice more regard to animals than to men, and place the 
highest moral perfection in the destruction of personality. In 
the course of time, much was added to the original doctrine of 
Buddha in the way of mythology, sacrifices, penances, hierarchy 
and mysticism. 0 





- . ‘ 
a a a ee a 





HINDU OR SANSCRIT LITERATURE. 33 


_A comp-ete collection of the sacred books of Buddhism 
_ forms a theological body of 108 volumes. These works were 
originally written in Sanscrit, and afterward translated into 
Thibetan. Buddhism possesses a literature of its own; its 
language and style are simple and intelligible to the common 
people, to whom it is particularly addressed. For this reason, 
the priests of this religion prefer to write in the dialects used by 
_ the people, and indeed some of their principal works are written 
in Prakrit or in Pali. Among these are many legends, and 
chronicles, and books on theology and jurisprudence. ‘The literary 
men of Buddhism are generally the priests, who receive different 
names in different countries. 


14, Moran Puttosoppy.—The moral philosophy of India is 
contained in the Sacred Book of Manavadharmasastra, or Code 
of Manu. ‘This embraces a poetical account of Brahma and 
other gods, of the origin of the world and man, and of the 
duties arising from the relation of mau towards Brahma and 
towards his fellow-men. Whether regarded for its great anti- 
quity and classic beauty, or for its importance as being con- 
sidered of divine revelation by the Hindu people, this Code 
must ever claim the attention of those who devote themselves 
to the study of the Sanscrit literature. Though inferior to the 
Vedas in antiquity, it is held to be equally sacred; and being 
more closely connected with the business of life, it has done 
so much towards moulding the opinions of the Hindus, that it 
would be impossible to comprehend the literature or local usages 
of India without being master of its contents. 

It is believed by the Hindus, that Brahma taught his laws to 
Manu in 100,000 verses, and that they were afterwards abridged 
for the nse of mankind to 4,000. It is most probable, that the 
work attributed to Manu is a collection made from various 
sources and at different periods. 

Among the duties prescribed by the laws of Mann, man is 
enjoined to exert a full dominion over his senses, to study sacred 
science, to keep his heart pure, without which sacrifices are use- 
less, to speak only when necessity requires, and to despise worldly 
honors. His principal duties toward his neighbor are to honor 
old age, to respect parents, the mother more than a thousand 
fathers, and the Brahmins more than father or mother, to injure 
“no one even in wish. Woman is taught that she cannot aspire 
to freedom, a girl is to depend on her father, a wife on her hus 
band, and a widow on her son, The law forbids ber to marry. 
a second time. 


+ Ss . 
te? es tg ia 
86 HINDU OR SANSCRIT LITERATURE. 


The Code of Manu is divided into twelve books or chap 
ters, in which are treated separately the subjects of crea 
tion, education, marriage, domestic economy, the art of living, 
penal and civil laws, of punishments and atonements, of trans 
migration, and of the final blessed state. These ordinances or 
institutes contain much to be admired and much to be con- 
demned. ‘They form a system of despotism and priesteraft, both 
limited by law, but artfully conspiring to give mutual support, 
though with mutual checks. A spirit of sublime elevation and 
amiable benevolence pervades the whole work, sufficient to prove 
she author to have adored not the visible sun, but the incom- 
parably greater light, according to the Vedas, which illuminates 
all, delights all, from which all proceed, to which all must return, 
and which alone can irradiate our souls. 


15. Mopvern Lrterarures or Inpta.—The literature of the 
modern tongues of the Hindus consist chiefly of imitations 
and translations from the Sanscrit, Persian, Arabic, and from 
European languages. There is, however, an original epic poem, 
written in Hindui by 'l'shand, under the title of the “ Adventures 
of Prithivi Raja,” which is second only to the great Sanscrit 
poems. This work, which relates to the twelfth century a.D., 
describes the struggle of the Hindus against their Mohamme- 
dan conquerors. ‘The poem of ‘‘ Ramayana,” by Tulsi-Das, and 
that of the “Ocean of Love,” are extremely popular in India. 
The modern dialects contain many religious and national songs 
of exquisite beauty and delicacy. Among the poets of India, 
who have written in these dialects, Sauday, Mir-Mohammed 
Taqui, Wali, and Azad are the principal. 


16. Epucation 1n Inpra.—The state of education is exceedingly 
backward; the women and children of the lower classes are in gene- 
ral entirely ignorant. Those in a higher station are instructed by 
the Brahmins in arithmetic, and taught to read and write. The 
pupil first begins to write upon the sand with his finger, and 
afterward upon palm leaves with the reed. There is no choice 
of profession, every one following that of his father; and the 
student is instructed chiefly in the Vedas, and in the ceremo- 
nies of his religion. The mass of the people, however, are 
entirely ignorant of the spirit of their religion, which consists 
for the most part in an endless detail of troublesome ceremonies 
deeply interwoven with the whole system of life. 

For the education of the Brahmins and of the higher classes, 
there is at Benares, the Hindu capital, a Sanserit College, 


ed i al tt i 





' 0S ws om », ? 
- - 2 = : f 
ie. . 4 ie 
HID HINDU oR SANSORIT LITERATURE, 37 


: ee 


ork: course of instruction embraces Sanscrit, 
, Hindu law and general literature. Lately a 
lege has been established in Benares, in which the 
e of European literature and science is thrown oper 
ndus. Similar institutions may es found in Calcutta, 





tal 


OM 


PERSIAN LITERATURE. - \ 


. The Persian Language and its Divisions.—2. Zendic Literature; The Zendavesta,-—& 
Pehlvi and Parsee Literatures.—4, The Cureiform Inscriptions.—5. The Ancient 
Religion of Persia; Zoroaster.—6. Modern Uiterature.—7. The Sufis.—8. Persian 
Poetry.—9. cane Poets; Ferdusi; Essedi of Tus; Togray, ete.—10. History and 
Philosophy.—1]. Hanoation in Becataa 


1. Toe Prerstan Lanevace anv irs Divistons.—The Persian 
language and its varieties, as far as they are known, belong to the 
great Indo-European family, and this common origin explains 
the affinities that exist between them and those of the ancient 
and modern languages of Europe. During successive ages, four 
idioms have prevailed in Persia, and Persian literature may be 
divided into four corresponding periods. 

First. The period of the Zend (living), the most ancient of the 
Persian languages; it was from a remote, unknown age spoken in 
Media, Bactria, and in the northern part of Persia. ‘This lan- 
guage par takes of the character both of the Sanscrit and of the 
Chaldaic. It is written from right to left, and it possesses, in its 
grammatical construction and its radical words, many elements 
in common with the Sanscrit and the German languages. 

Second. The period of the: Pehlvi, or language of heroes, 
anciently spoken in the western part of the country. Its alpha- 
bet is closely allied with the Zendic, to which it bears a great 
resemblance. It attained a high degree of perfection under the 
Parthian kings, 246 B.c. to 229 a.p. 

Third. The period of the Parsee or the dialect of the south 
western part of the country. It reached its perfection under 
the dynasty of the Sassanides, 229-636 a.p. It has great 
analogy with the Zend, Pehlvi and Sanscrit, and is endowed 
with peculiar grace and sweetness. 

Fourth. The period of the modern Persian. After the con- 


quest of Persia, and the introduction of the Mohammedan faith. 


in the seventh century a.p., the ancient Parsee language became 
greatiy modified by the Arabic. It adopted its alphabet, ad- 


ding to it, however, four letters and three points, and borrowed — 





PERSIAN LITERATURE. 39 


from it not only words but whole phrases, aud thas from the 
union of the Parsee and the Arabic was formed the modern 
Persian. Of its various dialects, the Deri is the language of 
the court and of literature. 


2. Zendic Lirerature.—To the first period belong the 
ancient sacred books of Persia, collected under the name of Zen- 
davesta (living word), which contain the doctrines of Zoroaster 
the prophet and lawgiver of ancient Persia. The Zendavesta 
is divided into two parts, one written in Zend, the other in Pehlvi ; 
it coutains traditions relating to the primitive condition and colo- 
nization of Persia, moral precepts, theological dogmas, prayers, — 
and astronomical observations. The collection originally con- 
sisted of twenty-one chapters or treatises, of which only three 
have been preserved. Besides the Zendavesta there are two 
other sacred books, one containing prayers and hymns, and the 
other prayers to the Genii who preside over the days of the 
month. To this first period some writers refer the fables of 
Lokman, who is supposed to have. lived in the 10th century 
B.c., and to have been a slave of Hthiopic origin ; his apologues 
have been considered: the model on which Greek fable was con- 
structed. The work of Lokman, however, existing now only in 
_ the Arabic language, is believed by other writers to be of 
Arabie origin. It has been translated into the Kuropean lan- 
guages, and is still read in the Persian schools. Among the 
Zendic books preserved in Arabic translations may also be men- 
tioned the ‘“‘ Giavidan Kird,” or the Eternal Reason, the work 
of Hushang, an ancient priest of Persia, a book full of beautiful: 
and sublime maxims. 


3. Prnivi and Parsee Lireratvres.—The second period of 
Persian literature includes all the books written in Pehlvic, 
and especially all the translations and paraphrases of the works 
of the first period. There are also in this language a manual of 
the religion of Zoroaster, dictionaries of Pehlvi explained by the 
Parsee, inscriptions and legends. . 

When the seat of the Persian empire was transferred to the 
southern states under the Sassanides, the Pehlvi gave way to_ 
the Parsee, which became the prevailing language of Persia 
in the third period of its literature. The sacred books were 
translated into this tongue, in which many reccrds, annals, and 
treatises on astronomy and medicine were also written. But all 
these monuments of Persian literature were destroyed by tha 
conquest of Alexander the Great, and by the fury of the Mon. 


40 PERSIAN LITERATURE, 


gols and Arabs. This language, however, has been immortal 
ized by Ferdusi, whose poems contain little of that admixture of 
Arabic, which characterizes the writings of the modern poets 
of Persia. . 


4, Tur Cunetrorm Inscriprions.—To the period of the 
ancient dialects of Persia are referred the inscriptions found in 
the ruins of Persepolis. The single character used in these inserip- 
tions engraved on rocks, monuments and public buildings, is in 
the shape of an arrow, or rather of a nail, and the writing is 
formed by its different combinations in vertical, horizontal, or 
diagonal lines. It appears that this character was used only 
for inscriptions in all the countries which anciently composed the 
great Persian empire, and its combinations were probably modi- 
fied according to the different dialects. Similar inscriptions have 
been discovered in the ruins of Babylon and Nineveh, and also 
in Egypt, where the cuneiform character was brought by the 
Persians, in their conquest of that country under Cambyses. 


5. Toe Ancrent Reticion or Prrsta.—The ancient litera- 
ture of Persia is mainly the exposition of its religion. Persia, 
Media and Bactria acknowledged as their first religious prophet 
Honover, or Hom, symbolized in the star Sirius, and himself the 
symbol of the first eternal word, and of the tree of knowledge. 
In the numberless astronomical and mystic personifications under 
which Hom was represented, his individuality was lost, and little 
is known of his history or of his doctrines. It appears, how: 
ever, that he was the founder of the magi (priests), the con- 
servators and teachers of his doctrine, who formed a particular 
order, like that of the Levites of Israel and of the Chaldeans 
of Assyria. They did not constitute a hereditary caste like 
the Brahmins of India, but they were chosen from among the 
people. ‘They claimed to foretell future events. They wor- 
shipped fire and the stars, and believed in two principles of good 
and evil, of which light and darkness were the symbols. 

Zoroaster, one of these magi, who probably lived in the eighth 
century B.c., undertook to. elevate and reform this religion, which 
had then fallen from its primitive purity. Availing himself of 
the doctrines of the Chaldeans and of the Hebrews, Zoroaster, 
endowed by nature with extraordinary powers, sustained by 
popular enthusiasm, and aided by the favor of powerful princes, 
extended his reform throughout the country, and founded a new 
religion on the ancient worship According to this religion the 
awo great principles of the world were represented by Ormuzd 


PERSIAN LITERATURE. 4° 


and Anriman, both born from eternity, and both contending for 
the dominion of the world. Ormuad, the principle of good, is 
represented by light, and Ahriman, the principle of evil, by 
darkness. Light, then, being the body or symbol of Ormuzd, is 
worshipped in the sun and stars, in fire, and wherever it is found 
Men are either the servants of Ormuzd, through virtue and wis- 
dom, or the slaves of Ahriman, through folly and vice. Zoroaster 
explained the history of the world as the long contest of these 
two principles, which was to close with the conquest of Ormuzd 
over Ahriman. 

The moral code of Zoroaster is pure and elevated. It aims 
to assimilate the character of man to light, to dissipate the dark- 
ness of ignorance ; it acknowledges Ormuzd as the ruler of the 
universe ; it seeks to extend the triumph of virtue over the mate- 
rial and spiritual world. 

The religion of Zoroaster prevailed for many centuries in 
Persia. The Greeks adopted some of its ideas into their philo- 
sophy, and through the schools of the Gnostics and Neo-Platon- 
ists, its influence extended over Europe. After the conquest 
of Persia by the Mohammedans, the Fire-worshippers were 
driven to the deserts of Kerman, or took refuge in India, where, 
under the name of Parsees or Guebers, they still keep alive the 
sacred fire, and preserve the code of Zoroaster, 


6. Moprrn Lirerature.—Some traces of the modern litera 
ture of Persia appeared shortly after the conquest of the country 
by the Arabians in the Tth century a.p.; but the true era dates 
from the 9th or 10th century. It may be divided into the depart- 
ments of Poetry, History and Philosophy. 


1. Tae Suris.—After the introduction of Mohammedanism 
into Persia, there arose a sect of pantheistic mystics called 
Sufis, to which most of the Persian poets belong. They teach 
their doctrine under the images of love, wine, intoxication, etc., 
by which, with them, a divine sentiment is always understood. 
The doctrines of the Sufis are undoubtedly of Hindu origin. 
Their fundamental tenets are, that nothing exists absolutely 
but God ; that the human soul is an emanation from his essence 
and will finally be restored to him ; that the great object of life 
should be a constant approach to the eternal spirit, to form aa 
periect a union with the divine nature as possible. Hence all 
worldly attachments should be avoided, and in all that we do a 
spiritual object should be kept in view. The great end with these 
philosophers is to attain to a state of perfection in spirituality 


42 PERSIAN LITERATURE. 


and to be absorbed in holy contemplation, to the exclusion of ali 
worldly recollections or interests. 


8. Persian Portry.—The Persian tongue is peculia”ly adapted 
to the purposes of poetry, which in that language is rich in foreible 
expressions, in bold metaphors, in ardent sentiments, and in de- 
scriptions animated with the most lively coloring. Tn poetical 
composition there is much art exercised by the Persian poets, and 
the arrangement of their language is a work of great care. One 
favorite measure which frequently ends a poem, is called the 
Suja, literally the cooumg of doves. 

The poetical compositions of the Persians are of several kinds ; 
the gazel or ode usually treats of love, beauty or friendship. The 
poet generally introduces his name in the last couplet. The idyl 
resembles the gazel, except that it is longer. Poetry enters asa 
universal element into all compositions ; physics, mathematics, 
medicine, ethics, natural history, astronomy, grammar—all lend 
themselves to verse in Persia. 

The works of favorite poets are generally written on fine, silky 
paper, the ground of which is often powdered with gold or ‘silver 
dust, the margins illuminated, and the whole perfumed with some 
costly essence. ‘The magnificent volume containing the poem of 
Yussuf and Zuleika in the public library at Oxford, affords a 
proof of the honors accorded to poetical composition. One of 
the finest specimens of caligraphy and illumination is the exor- 
dium to the life of Shah Jehan, for which the writer, besides the 
stipulated remuneration, had his mouth stuffed with pearls. 

There are three principal love stories in Persia which, from 
the earliest times, have been the themes of every poet. Scarcely 
one of the great masters of Persian literature but has adopted 
and added celebrity to these beautiful and interesting legends, 
which can never be too often repeated to an Oriental ear. They 
are, the “‘ History of Khosru and Shireen,” the “‘ Loves of Yussuf 
and Zuleika,” and the “ Misfortunes of Mejnoun and Leila.” So 
powerful is the charm attached to these stories, that it appears 


to have been considered almost the imperative duty of all the 


poets to compose a new version of the old, familiar and beloved 
traditions. Even down to a modern date, the Persians have not 
deserted their favorites, and these celebrated themes of verse re- 
appear, from time to time, under new auspices. Hach of these 
poems is expressive of a peculiar character. That of Khosru 
and Shireen may be considered exclusively the Persian romance ; 
that of Meinoun the Arabian ; and that of Yussuf and Zuleike 


the sacred. The first presents a picture of happy love and female — 





PERSIAN LITERATURE. 43 


excellenee in Shireen ; Mejnoun is a representation of unfortu- 
nate love carried to madness ; the third romance contains the 
ideal of perfection in Yussuf (Joseph) and the most passionate 
and imprudent love in Zuleika (the wife of Potiphar), and exhi- 
bits in strong relief the power of love and beauty, the mastery 
of mind, the weakness of overwhelming passion, and the victo- 
rious spirit of holiness. 


9. Prrstan Ports.—The first of Persian poets, the Homer of 
his country, is Abul Kasim Mansur, called Ferdusi or “‘ Paradise,” 
from the exquisite beauty of his compositions. He flourished in 
the reign of the Shah Mahmud (940-1020 a.p.). Mahmud 
commissioned him to write in his faultless verse a history of the 
monarchs of Persia, promising that for every thousand couplets 
he should receive a thousand pieces of gold. For thirty years 
he studied and labored on his epic poem, “‘ the Shah Namah,” or 
Book of Kings, and when it was completed he sent a copy of it, 
exquisitely written, to the sultan, who received it coldly, and 
treated the work of the aged poet with contempt. Disappointed 
at the ingratitude of the Shah, Ferdusi wrote some satirical lines, 
which soon reached the ear of Mahmud, who, piqued and of- 
fended at the freedom of the poet, ordered sixty thousand small 
pieces of money to be sent to him, instead of the gold which he 
had promised. Ferdusi was in the public bath when the,money 
was given to him, and his rage and amazement exceeded all 
bounds when he found himself thus insulted. He distributed 
the paltry sum among the attendants of the bath and the slaves 
who brought it. 

He soon after avenged himself by writing a satire full of 
stinging invective, which he caused to be transmitted to the 
favorite vizier who had instigated the sultan against him. It 
was carefully sealed up, with directions that it should be read to 
Mahmud on some occasion when his mind was perturbed with 
affairs of state, and his temper ruffled, as it was a poem likely 
to afford him entertainment. Ferdusi having thus prepared his 
vengeance, quitted the ungrateful court without leave-taking 
and was at a safe distance when news reached him that his lines 
had fully answered their intended purpose. Mahmud had 
heard and trembled, and too late discovered that he had ruined 
his own reputation forever. After the satire had been read by 
Shah Mahmud, the poet sought shelter in the court of the 
caliph of Bagdad, in whose honor he added a thousand couplets 
to the poem of the Shah Namah, and who rewarded him with 
\he sixty thousand gold pieces, which had been withheld by 


44 PERSIAN LITERATURE. 


Mahmud. Meantime, Ferdusi’s poem of Yussuf, and nis mag 
nificent verses on several subjects, had received the fame they 
deserved. Shah Mahmud’s late remorse awoke, Thinking by 
a tardy act of liberality to repair his former meanness, he dis- 
patched to the author of Shah Namah the 60,000 pieces he had 
promised, a robe of state and many apologies and expressions 
of friendship and admiration, requesting his return, and professing 
great sorrow for the past. But when the message arrived, 
Ferdusi was dead, and his family devoted the whole sum to the 
benevolent purpose he had intended,—the erection of public 
buildings, and the general improvement of his native village, Tus. 
He died at the age of 80. The Shah Namah contains the his 
tory of the kings of Persia, down to the death of the last of 
the Sassanide race, who was deprived of his kingdom by the 
invasion of the Arabs during the caliphat of Omar, 636 a.p. 
The language of Ferdusi may be considered as the purest speci- 
men of the ancient Parsee—Arabic words are seldom intro- 
duced, There.are many episodes in the Shah Namah of great 
beauty, and the power and elegance of its verse are unrivalled. 

Essedi, of Tus, is distinguished as having been the master of 
Ferdusi, and as having aided his illustrious pupil in the comple- 
tion of his great work. Among many poems which he wrote, 
the ‘‘ Dispute between Day and Night” is the most celebrated. 

Togray was a native of Ispahan and contemporary with Fer- 
fusi. He became so celebrated as a writer, that the title of 
Honor of Writers was given him. He was an alchemist, and 
wrote a treatise on the philosopher’s stone. 

Moasi, called King of Poets, lived about the middle of the 
11th century. He obtained his title at the court of Ispahan, 
and rose to high dignity and honor. So renowned were his odes, 
that more than a hundred poets endeavored to imitate his style. 

Omar Khiam, who was one of the most distinguished of the 
poets of Persia, lived toward the close of the 11th century. ~ 
He was remarkable for the freedom of his religious opinions, 
and the boldness with which he denounced hypocrisy and intol- 
erance. He particularly directed his satire against the mystic 
poets. 

Nizami, the first: of the romantic poets, flourished in the latter 
part of the 12th century, a.v. His principal works are called the 
‘Five Treasures,” of which the “‘ Loves of Khosru and Shireen,” 
is the most celebrated, and in the treatment of which he has 
succeeded beyond all other poets. 

Sadi (1194-1282) is esteemed among the Persians as a mas 
ter in poetry and in morality. He is better knowe ‘n Europe 


— 
— } 
ve 
’ 
« 


PERSIAN LITERATURE. 45 


than any other eastern author, except Hafiz, and has been more 
frequently translated. Jami calls him the nightingale of the 
groves of Shiraz of which city he was a native. He spent 
a part of his long life in travel and in the acquisition of 
knowledge, and the remainder in retirement and devotion 
His works are termed the salt-mine of poets, being revered 
as unrivalled models of the first genius in the world. His phi- 
_losophy enabled him to support all the ills of life with patience 
and fortitude, and one of his remarks, arising from the desti- 
tute condition in which he once found himself, deserves preser- 
vation: “I never complained of my condition but once, when 
my feet were bare, and I had not money to buy shoes; but I 
met a man without feet, and I became contented with my lot.” 
The works of Sadi are very numerous, and are popular and 
familiar everywhere in the Hast. His two greatest works are 
the “ Bostan” and “ Gulistan,” (Bostan, the rose garden, and 
Gulistan, the fruit garden). They abound in striking beauties, 
and show great knowledge of human nature. 

Attar (1119-1233) was one of the great Sufi masters, and 
spent his life in devotion and contemplation. He died at the 
advanced age of 114. It would seem that poetry in the Hast 
was favorable to human life, so many of its professors attained 
to a great age, particularly those who professed the Sufi doc- 
trine. The ereat work of Attar is a poem containing useful 
oral maxims. 

Roumi (1203-1272), usually called the Mulah, was an 
enthusiastic follower of the doctrine of the Sufis. His son sue- 
ceeded him at the head of the sect, and surpassed his father not 
only in the virtues and attainments of the Sufis, but by his 
splendid poetical genius. His poems are regarded as the most 
perfect models of the mystic style. Sir William Jones says, 
“There is a depth and solemnity in his works unequalled by any 
»0et of this class, even Hafiz must be considered inferior to 

im.” ; 

Among the poets of Persia, the name of Hafiz (d. 1389), the 
prince of Persian lyric poets, is most familiar to the English 
reader. He was born at Shiraz. Leading a life of poverty, of 
which he was proud, for he considered poverty the companion 
of genius, he constantly refused the invitation of monarchs te 
visit their courts. There is endless variety in the poems of 
Hafiz, and they are replete with surpassing beauty of thought, 
feeling and expression. The grace, ease and fancy of his num: 
bers are inimitable, and there is a magic in his lays which few 
even of lis professed enemies have been able to resist. ‘To the 


a ie | eee 


16 PERSIAN LITERATURE, 


young, the gay and the enthusiastic, his verses ure eve. welecmeé 
and the sage discovers in them a hidden mystery, which recon 
ciles him to their subjects. His tomb, near Shiraz, is visited as 
a sacred spot by pilgrims of ali ages. The place of his birth is 
held in veneration, and there is not a Persian whose heart does 
not echo his strains. 

Jami (d. 1492) was born in Khorassan, in the village of Jam, 
from whence he is named—his proper appellation being Abd 
Arahman. He was a Sufi, and preferred, like many of his 
fellow-poets, the meditations and ecstasies of mysticism to 
the pleasures of a court. His writings are very voluminous ; 
he composed nearly forty volumes, all of great length, of 
which twenty-two are preserved at Oxford. The greater 
part of them treat of Mohammedan theology, and are written 
in the mystic style. He collected the most interesting under 
the name of the “Seven Stars of the Bear,” or the “Seven 
Brothers,” and among these is the famous poem of Yussuf and 


Zuleika. This favorite subject, which every Persian poet has — 


touched with more or less success, has never been so beautifully 
rendered as by Jami. Nothing can exceed the admiration which 
this poem inspires in the Hast. 

Hatifi (d 1520) was the nephew of the great poet Jami. It 


was his ambition to enter the lists with his uncle, by composing 


poems on similar subjects. Opinions are divided as to whether 


he succeeded as well as his master, but none can exceed him in- 


sweetness and pathos. His version of the sad tale of Mejnoun 
and Leila, the Romeo and Juliet of the East, is confessedl 
superior to that of Nizami. 
The lyrical compositions of Scheik Feizi (d. 1575) are highly 
valued. In his mystic poems he approaches to the sublimity of 
Attar. His ideas are tinged with the belief of the Hindus, in 
which he was educated. When a boy he was introduced to the 
Brahmins by the Sultan Mohammed Akbar, as an orphan of 
their tribe, in order that he might learn their language and 
obtain possession of their religious secrets. He became attached 
to the daughter of the Brahmin who protected him, and she was 
offered to him in marriage by the unsuspecting parent. After a 
struggle between inclination and honor, the latter prevailed and 
he confessed the fraud. The Brahmin, struck with horror, 
attempted to put anend to his own existence, fearing that he 
had betrayed his oath and brought danger and disgrace on his 
sect. Feizi, with tears and protestations, besought him to for- 
bear, promising to submit to any command he might impose on 
him The Brahmin consented to live, on condition that Feizi 





PERSIAN LITERATURE. 4 


should take an oath never to translate the Vedas nor to repeat 
to any one the creed of the Hindus. Feizi entered into the 
desired obligations, parted with his adopted father, bade adieu to 
his love, and with a sinking heart returned home. Among his 
works the most important is the ‘“ Mahabarit,” which contains 
the chronicles of the Hindu princes, and abounds in romantic 
episodes. 

_ The most celebrated recent Persian poet is Blab Phelair (1729. 
1825.) He left many astronomical, moral, political, and literary 
works. He is called the Persian Voltaire.- 

Among the collections of novels and fables, the ‘‘ Lights of 
Canope” may be mentioned, imitated from the Hitopadesa. 
Persian literature is also enriched by translations of the standard 
works in Sanscrit, among which are the epic poems of Valmiki 
and Vyasa. ; 


10. History anp Puttosopxy.—Among the most celebrated of 
the Persian historians is Mirkhond, who lived in the middle of the 
15th century. His great work on universal history contains an ac- 
count of the origin of the world, the life of the patriarchs, prophets, 
and philosophers of Persia, and affords valuable material, espe- 
tially for the history of the Middle Ages. His son, Khor demir, 
distinguished himself in the same branch of literature, and wrote 
two works which, for their historical correctness and elegance of 
style, are in great favor among the Persians. Ferischta, who 
flourished in the beginning of the 17th century, is the author of 
a valuable history of India. Mirgholah, a historian of the 
18th century, gives a contemporary history of Hindustan and of 
his own country, under the title of “A Glance at Recent A.rairs,” 
and in another work he treats of the causes which, at some future 
time, will probably lead to the fall of the British power in India, 
The ‘ History of the Reigning Dynasty” is among the principal 
modern historical works of Persia. 

The Persians possess numerous works on rhetoric, geography, 
medicine, mathematics, and astronomy, few of which are entitled 
to much consideration. In philosophy may be mentioned the 
“ Essence of Logic,” an exposition in the Arabic language of the 
doctrines of Aristotle on logic; and the “ Moral System of 
Nasir,” published in the 13th century a.p., a valuable treatise 
pn morals, economy, and politics. . 


11. Epucation in Persta.—There are established, in every 
town and city, schools in which the poorer children can be 
instructed in the rudiments o* the Persian and Arabic languages 


48 PERSIAN LITERATURE. 


The pupil, after he has learned the alphabet, reads the Koran 
in Arabic; next, fables in Persian; and lastly is taught to 
write a beautiful hand, which is considered a great accomplish- 
ment. The Persians are fond of poetry, and the lowest artisans 
can read or repeat the finest passages of their most admired 
poets. For the education of the higher classes, there are in 
Persia many colleges and universities, where the pupils are 
taught grammar, the Turkish and Arabic languages, rhetoric, 
philosophy and poetry. ‘The literary men are numerous; they 
pursue their studies till they are entitled to the honors of the 
colleges; afterwards they devote themselves to copying and 
illuminating manuscripts. : 


CHINESE LITERATTRE. 


1, Chinese Literature and its Divisions.—2. The Language.—38. The Writing —4, Canon 
cal and Classic Writings,—The ’U-King; Ta-hio.—5. Chinese Religion and Philosophy ; 
Lao-tsé ; Confucius ; Meng-tsé; the Religion of Fo.—6. Social Constitution cf China,— 
7. History.—8. Science.—9. Poetry and Fiction; Lyric Poetry; The Drama; Ro- 
mances.—10, Education in China, 


1. Cutnese LireraturE anp irs Dtvistons.—The Chinese 
literature ranks among the most important of those of Asia. 
Originating in a vast empire, it is diffused among a population 
numbering nearly half the inhabitants of the globe; it is ex- 
pressed by an original language differing entirely from all others ; 
it refers to a nation whose history may be traced back nearly 
five thousand years in an alnwst unbroken series of annals, and 
it illustrates the peculiar eharacter of a people long unknown to 
the western world. It is one of the most voluminous of all 
literatures ; the printed catalogue of the library of the emperor 
Khian-Lung, who reigned at the close of the last century, con- 
sists of 122 volumes, and a selection only of works from this 
literature ordered by the same emperor was to have contained 
180,000 volumes, of which 78,781 had already appeared in 
1818. 

The Chinese literature may be divided into four departments 
Ist. The canonical and classic writings. 2d. History. 38d 
Science. 4th. Poetry and Fiction. 


2. Tar Lancvace.—The Chinese belongs to the monosyllabic 
family of languages. In it every syllable expresses an idea or a 
word, and every syllable begins with a consonant or with a pecu- 
liar aspiration, and ends in a vowel or in a sign expressing a 
nasal sound. Its radical words number 450; but, as many of 
these, by being pronounced with a different accent, convey a. 
different meaning, in reality they amount to 1,203. The system 
of its declensions and conjugations is chiefly based on particles, 
which, prefixed or suffixed to the nouns or verbs, produce their 
different modifications. Its construction is regular, -and the 
meaning of a word often depends on its position. Its pro 

3 





50 CHINESE LITERATURE. 


nunciation varies in the different provinces, but that of Nan 
king, the ancient capital of the empire, is considered the most 
pure. Many dialects also are spoken in the various parts of 
tne country. ‘The Chinese proper, however, is the literary tongue 
of the nation, the language of the court, of high officers, of 


volite society, and it is vernacular in that portion of China 


which is called the Middle Kingdom, 

3. THe Writinc.—There is an essential difference between 
the Chinese language as spoken and written ; and the poverty of 
the former presents a striking contrast with the exuberance of 


the latter. Chinese writing, generally speaking, does not express — 


the sounds of the words, but it represents the ideas or the 
objects indicated by them. Its alphabetical characters are there- 
fore ideographic and not phonetic.. They were originally rude 
representations of the thing signified ; but they have undergone 
various changes from picture-writing to the present more sym- 
bolical and more complete system. | 

As the Chinese alphabetic signs represent objects or ideas, it 
would follow that there must be in writing as many characters 
as words in the spoken language. Yet many words, which have 
the same sound, represent different ideas; and these must be 
represented also in the written language. ‘Thus the number of 
the written words far surpasses that of the spoken language. 
As far as they are used in the common writing, they amount to 


2,425. These characters are divided into six classes. Thelst 


consists of single images of perceptible objects, as of the sun, 
moon, etc. The 2d, of those formed of two or more images, 
as of an eye and water, meaning tear. The 3d, of those ex- 
pressing position, as above, below, etc. The 4th, of those 
representing certain relations of position, as up to down, left to 
right, etc. The 5th, of metaphoric and symbolic signs, as heart 
for affection, etc. Finally, the 6th class embraces characters 
both phonetic and ideographie ; or those images which have 
been chosen for signs of sound, and which, as such, have lost their 


original meaning. So the word 2, written alone, signifies a mile, 


but united to the image of a fish, conveys the idea of a carp, 
The greater part of the Chinese signs belong to this class ; they 
amount to 21,810. The number: of characters in the Chinese 
dictionary is 40,000, of which, however, only 10,000 are re- 
quired for the general-purposes of literature. They are disposed 


under 214 signs, which serve as keys, and which correspond to 


our alphabetic order. 
The Chinese language is written from right to left, in vertica! 
solumns or in horizontal lines. 


ee 





CHINESE LITERATURE, 54 


4. CanonicaL anp Cuassic Writines.—The ’U-king (five 
canons, -or fundamental doctrines) are the most ancient monu: 
ments of the Chinese poetry, history, philosophy and legislation, 
and some fragments of them, at least, belong to the most 
ancient writings of the world. ‘They are divided as follows: 
Ist, Y-king, or the book of transformations, the oldest of the 
five canons. Its date is probably not later than 2,800 B.c. It 
contains a system of symbolic combinations of signs, which refer 
to the first principles of all existence and knowledge. Many 
commentaries have been written on this singular book. 2d. 
Shu-king, or annals, containing a collection of documents relat- 
ing to the history of the first four dynasties of China. 3d. 
Siui-king, or the book of chants, a collection of songs and hymns, 
some of which are remarkable for their sublimity. 4th. 
Liki, or the ritual and mirror of morality, a collection of 
moral laws and precepts, which is still the basis of the religion 
of the cultivated classes. 5th. Chun-tsiew, or the Spring-Autumn, 
a history of China, beginning from the year 770 B.c., and con- 
tinued to 550. Of these canonical books, the three first were 
collected and arranged by Confucius, the two last were written 
either by Confucius himself or by some of his disciples. To Confu- 
cius are also referred the Sse-shw, or the four classic books ; the 
most important of which is Za-/i0, the Great Doctrine, or the 
art of good government through self-dominion. This book, how- 
ever, with the exception of the first chapter, like the other three 
attributed to Confucius, was probably written by his disciples 
from-his oral instructions, and all of them are full of practical 
wisdom and moral precepts of the purest and most sublime 
character. Innumerable commentaries, having great authority, 
have been written on all these works. 

In the 3d century B.c., one of the emperors conceived the mad 
scheme of destroying all existing records, and writing a new set 
of annals in his own name, in order that posterity might con- 
sider him the founder of the empire. Sixty years after this bar- 
barous decree had: been carried into execution, one of his suc- 
eessors, who desired as far as possible to repair the injury, caused 
these books to be re-written from a copy which had escaped 
destruction. 


5. Cuinese Rericion anp PuttosopHy.—Thiee perivds may: 
be distinguished in the history of the religious and philosophical 
progress of China. ‘The first relates to ancient tradition, to the 
idea of one supreme God, to the patriarchal institutions, which 
were the foundation of the social organization of the empire, ana 


Pe ne eee 


b2 CHINESE LITERATURE. 


to the primitive customs and moral doctrines. It appears thas 
this religion at length degenerated into that mingled idolatry 
and indifference, which still characterizes the people of China. 
In the 6th century B.c., the corruption of the ancient religion 
having reached its height, a reaction took place, which gave birth 
to the second, or philosophical period, which produced three sys 
tems. Lao-tsé, born 604 B.c., was the founder of the religion 
of the Tao, or of the external and supreme reason. The Tao is 
the primitive existence and intelligence, the great principle of the 


spiritual and material world, which must be worshipped through | 


the purification of the soul, by retirement, abnegation, contem- 
plation and metempsychosis. ‘his school gave rise to a sect of 
mystics similar to those of India. 

Confucius was the founder of the second school, which has 
exerted a far more extensive and beneficial influence on the 
political and social institutions of China. Confucius is a Latin 
name corresponding to the original Kung-fu-tsé, Kung being the 
proper name, and Fu-tsé signifying reverend teacher or doctor. 
He was born 551 B.c., and educated by his mother, who impressed 
upon him astrong sense of morality. After a careful study of the 
ancient writings, he decided to undertake the moral reform of 
his country, and giving up his high position of prime minister, 
he travelled extensively in China, preaching justice and virtue 
wherever he went. His doctrines, founded on the unity of God 
and the necessities of human nature, bore essentially a moral 
character, and being of a practical tendency, they exerted a great 
influence not only on the morals of the people, but also on their 
legislation, and the authority of Confucius became supreme. He 
died 479 B.c., at the age of 72, eleven years before the birth of 
Socrates. He left a grandson, through.whom the succession has 
been transmitted to the present day, and his descendants consti- 
tute a distinct class in Chinese society. 

At the close of the 4th century B.c., another philosopher 
appeared by the name of Meng-tsé, or eminent and venerable 
teacher, whose method of instruction bore a strong similarity to 
that of Socrates. His books rank among the classies, and breathe 
a spirit of freedom and independence ; they are full of irony on 
petty sovereigns aud on their vices ; they establish moral good 
ness above social position, and the will of the people above the 
arbitrary power of their rulers. He was much revered, and con: 
sidered even bolder and more eloquent than Confucius. 

The third period of the intellectual development of the Chinese 
dates from the introduction of Buddhism into the country, under 
the name of the religion of Fo, 70 years a.v. The emperor him 


ie 





CHINESE LITERATURE. bo 


self professes this relizion, and its followers have the largest 
number of temples. Buddhism, however, has lost in China much 
of its originality, and for the mass it has sunk into a low and debas- 
ing idolatry. Recently a new religion has sprung up in China, 
a mixture of ancient Chinese and Christian doctrines, which 
apparently finds great favor in some portions of the country. 


6. Soctat Constitution or Cuina.—The social constitution of 
China rests on the ancient traditions preserved in the canonical 
and classic books. The Chinese empire is founded on the patri- 
archal system, in which all authority over the family belongs 
to the pater-familias. 'The emperor represents the great father 
of the nation, and is the supreme master of the state and the 
head of religion. All his subjects being considered as his chil- 
dren, they are all equal before him, and according to their 
capacity are admitted to the public offices. Hence no distinction 
of castes, no privileged classes, no nobility of birth ; but a gene 
ral equality under an absolute chief. The public administration - 
is entirely in the hands of the emperor, who is assisted by his 
mandarins, both military and civil. They are admitted to this 
rank only after severe examinations, and from them the members 
of the different councils of the empire are selected. Among these 
the Board of Control, or the all-examining Court, and the Court 
of history and literature, deserve particular mention, as being 
more closely related to the subject of this work. The duty of 
this Board consists in examining all the official acts of the govern- 
ment, and in preventing the enacting of those measures which 
they may deem detrimental to the best interests of the country. 
They can even reprove the personal acts of the emperor, an 
office which has afforded many occasions for the display of elo- 
quence. ‘The courage of some of the members of this Board 
has been indeed sublime, and gave to their words wonderful 
power. 

The Court of history and literature superintends public educa- 
tion, examines those who aspire to the degree of mandarins, and 
decides on the pecuniary subsidies, which the government usually 
grants for defraying the expenses of the publication of grea: 
works on history and science. 


7. History anp Geocraray.—The historical and geographical 
works of China form the most valuable and interesting depart- 
ment of its literature. The historical era of the empire begins 
2697 B.c. ‘The Chinese eras are not formed of centuries, but 
ef cycles of 60 years, each of which has a particular name 


4 CHINESE LITERATURE, 


Chinese history, however, refers rather to the dynasties than te 
_ the people, as every fact of any importance, every invention and 
improvement, is attributed to the emperor, who thus becomes a 
symbol of his age. Generally speaking, the history of one 
dynasty is not written until after the succession of another. 
Among the Chinese historians, Sse-mathan is called the prince 
of history, as he was the collector and the compiler of the 
ancient documents relating to the history of China. The “ His- 
torical Memoirs” of his son, Sse-ma-thian, published 100 years 
B.c., contains the history of China from the earliest times to the 
beginning of the second century B.c. This work has been conti- 
nued under the patronage of the different dynasties, and forms, 
with the exception of a few interruptions, a most complete collec- 
tion of the annals of the empire to the year 1643 a.v. There 
exists another collection called the 22 Histories, divided into 
416 volumes, and containing official annals from 2698 B.c. to 
1645 a.p. The ‘ Exact Examination of Documents,” written in 
ethe 14th century by Ma-tuan-lin, is a complete historical, geo- 
graphical and universal history ; it is divided into 348 books, 
and covers a period of forty centuries. This, and many similar 
contributions, either of a general or of a local character, unite 
in rendering this department rich and important for those who 
are interested in the history of Asiatic civilization. 'To these 
great works may be added many chronological tables, numerous - 
biographies and biographical lexicons, the “‘ General Geography 
of the Chinese Empire,” the huge collection of the statistics of 
the country, divided into 260 volumes, with maps and tables, — 
and above all, the great collection of the “Statutes of the 
reigning Dynasty from the year 1818,” which alone forms more 
than one thousand volumes. 


8. Scrence.—Comparing the scientific development of the 
Chinese with that of the western world, it may be said that they 
have made little progress in any branch of science. There are, 
however, to be found in.almost every department some works of , 
no indifferent merit. In mathematics, they begin only now to 
make some progress, since the mathematical works of Europe 
have been introduced into their country. Astrology still takes 
the place of astronomy, and the almanacs prepared at the ob- 
servatory of Pe-king are made chiefly by foreigners. Books 
on natural philosophy abound, some of which are written by 
the emperors themselves. Medicine is imperfectly understood 
They possess several valuable works on Chinese jurisprudence 
on agriculture, economy, mechanics, trades, many eyclopedias 


CHINESE LITERATURE. 55 





and compendia, and several dictionaries, composed with extra: 
ordinary skill and patience. 

To this department may be referred all educational books, 
the most of them written in rhym’, and according to a system 
of intellectual gradation. 


9. Porrry anp Fiction.—Chinese poetry consists chiefly of 
short measured sentences, delivered as instructions to the people, 
such as are found in the ancient writings and in the moral 
maxims of Confucius. The Chinese people are all fond of poetry, 
and the literary man who does not write verses is compared to 
a flower without fragrance. They have their rules of rhyme, 
measure and quantity, the last of which is given by the tones 
and accentuations, which are entirely modern. The Chinese 
have no epic poems, pastorals nor satires, but they have songs, 
and a variety of other. poems. 

The Shz-keng is a collection of upwards of three hundred odes. 
The lines consist of no definite number of syllables, some con- 
taining three, some seven, but the greater part limited to four. 
The rhyme is equally irregular, some having none, in others 
every line terminating with the same word. Sometimes six lines 
rhyme in a stanza of eight lines, occasionally four, three, and 
sometimes only the first and last. ‘There is not much sublimity 
or depth of thought in these odes, but they abound in touches 
of nature, and are exceedingly interesting and curious, as show- 
ing how little change time has effected in the manners and cus- 
toms of this singular people. Similar in character are the poems 
of the Tshian-teng-shi, another collection of lyrics published at 
the expense of the emperor in several thousand volumes. Among 
modern poets, may be mentioned the emperor Khian-lung, who 
died at the close of the last century. 

Dramatic poetry constitutes a large department in Chinese 
literature, though there are, properly speaking, no theatres in 
China. <A platform in the open air is the ordinary stage, the 
decorations are hangings of cotton supported by a few poles 
of bamboo, and the action is frequently of the coarsest kind. 
When an actor comes on the stage he says, ‘I am the mandarin 
so-and-so.” If the drama requires the actor to enter a house, 
he takes some steps and says, ‘I have entered ;” and if he is 
supposed to travel, he does so by rapid running on the stage, 
cracking his whip, and saying afterwards, “I have arrived.” 
The dialogue is written partly in verse and partly in prose, and 
the poetry is sometimes sung and sometimes recited. Many of 
their dramas are full of bustle and abound in incident. They 





56 CHINESE LITERATURE, 


often contain the life and adventures of an individual, some great 
sovereign or general,.a history, in fact, thrown into action. 
Two thousand volumes of dramatic compositions are known, and — 
the best of these amount to five hundred pieces. Among them 
may be mentioned the ‘‘ Orphan of the House of Tacho,” and the 
“Heir in old Age,” which have much force and character, and 
vividly describe the habits of the people. 

The Chinese are fond of historical and moral romances, which, 
however, are founded on reason and not on imagination, as are 
the Hindu and Persian tales. Their subjects are not submarine 
abysses, enchanted palaces, giants and genii, but man as he is 
in his actual life, as he lives with his fellow-men, with all his 
virtues and vices, sufferings and joys. But the Chinese novelists 
show more skill in the details than in the conception of their 
works; the characters are finished and developed in every 
respect. The pictures with which they adorn their works are 
minute and the descriptions poetical, though they often sacrifice 
to these qualities the unity of the subject. The characters of 
their novels are principally drawn from the middle class, as 
governors, literary men, etc. The episodes are, generally speak- 
ing, ordinary actions of common life—all the quiet incidents - 
of the phlegmatic life of the Chinese, coupled with the regular 
and mechanical movements which distinguish that people. 
Among the numberless Chinese romances, there are several which 
are considered classic. Such are the “Four great Marvels’ 
Books,” and the “ Stories of the Pirates on the coast of Kiang- 
nan.” 


10. Enucatton iv Cutna.—Most of the Chinese people have a 
knowledge of the rudiments of education. There is scarcely a 
man who does not know how to read the books of his profession. 
Fublic schools are everywhere established ; in the cities there 
are colleges, in which pupils are taught the Chinese literature ; 
and in Pe-king there is an imperial college for the education of 
the mandarins. The offices of the empire are only attained by 
scholarship. There are fur literary degrees, which give title te 
different positions in the country. The government fosters the 
higher branches of education, patronizes the publication of lite- 
rary works, which are distributed among the libraries, colleges, 
and functionaries. The press is restricted only from publishing 
licentious and revoluticnary books. 








EGYPTIAN LITERATURE. 


1, Egyptian Literature.—2. [he Language.—8. The Writing.—4. The Discovery of 
Chempollion.- 5, Egyptian Monuments.—6. History; Manetho.—7. The Religion of 
Egypt.—8. Science.—9. Literary Condition of Modern Hgypt. 


1, Keyprrian Lirerature.—The ancient literature of Egypt is 
enveloped in the darkness of antiquity and in the symbols of 
mythology. Such remains of it as have been preserved, consist 
of papyrus manuscripts, sculptures, inscriptions and tablets found 
in the tombs, temples and in other ruins. ‘They are either his- 
torical or religious, ‘The historical papyri are either records of 
the exploits of the Egyptian kings, or accounts of contemporary 
events. The religious manuscripts contain portions or entire 
copies of the Funeral Ritual—which was a collection of prayers 
and instructions, belonging, probably, to different ages, and re 
lating to the future state of the soul. The historical inscriptions 
are generally inflated records of the successes of the kings, in 
explanation of the historical scenes engraved and sculptured on 
the walls of the temples and of the tombs. The religious inscrip- 
tions are often taken from the funeral ritual, but sometimes they 
are simple prayers to the gods, or an enumeration of their titles. 
The history of the Dynasties of Egypt, by Manetho—or, rather, 
the few remaining fragments, though originally written in Greek, 
are important memorials of Egyptian literature. 

According to the mythological traditions of the Egyptians, 
the god or demi-god Hermes was the inventor of letters and 
science, and transmitted his wisdom to posterity by engraving it 
upon pillars of stone. These inscriptions were afterwards col- 
lected, and became the sacred books of the nation. 

It is doubtful if any of the literary productions of ancient 
Egypt were written in verse. 


2. Tae Lanevacr.—While some Egyptologists consider the 
ancient language of Egypt as belonging to the Semitic family, 
others regard it as essentially distinct from that branch. From 
the earliest times, it was divided into three dialects: The 
Memphitic or Coptic, spoken Mt Memphis, and through Lower 

3 oT 


Se a ee 


58 EGYPTIAN LITERATURE. 


Egypt ; the Zheban or Sahidic, spoken in Thebes and tnrougn 
Upper Egypt, and the Bashmuric, a provincial variety, be- 
longing to the oases of the Libyan Desert. The Coptic, though 
afterward mingled with Greek and Arabic words, and written 
in the Greek alphabet, was used in Egypt until the 10th cen- 
tury a.D., when it gave way to the Arabic. It is still in use, 
_ however, in the monasteries of the Copts, the principal sect of 
Christians in Egypt, who preserve it in their worship, and in 
their translation of the Bible. 

By rejecting all the foreign elements of the Coptic, Bgyptolo- 
gists have been enabled to study this ancient language in its 
purity, and to establish its grammar and construction. Though 
the spoken and written language of Egypt was originally the 
same, a vulgar dialect made its appearance about the 7th cen- 
tury B.C., which, at a later age, was written in the demotic 
alphabet. 


3. Tae Wrertinc.—Three different modes of writing prevailed _ 
among the ancient Egyptians. The characters used in the first 
were the /zeroglyphic; in the second the Aeratec; and in the 
third the demotic. ‘The hieroglyphics expressed words partly by 
representation of objects, or by symbols of ideas, and partly by 
phonetic signs, indicating the letters of a word. At first, these 
characters were a combination of picture-writing with signs 
indicating sounds ; but soon more simple forms and outlines of 
objects were introduced, and formed with one or two strokes. 
The hieroglyphics are written either horizontally, or vertically 
downward, from right to left, or from left to right. The 
earliest hieroglyphic writings found in Egypt date 2440 B.c., 
and the latest, 250 a.v. The hieroglyphic signs were used ~ 
chiefly for inscriptions. The hieratic characters present a flow- 
ing and abbreviated form of hieroglyphic writing, and are usually 
written in horizontal lines, from right to left. They were used 
more particularly in the papyri. ‘The hieratic system must have 
been invented soon after the hieroglyphic. Its latest remains 
extant date 1220 3.c., though it was probably employed as late 
as the 2d century a, The demotic characters were formed from 
the hieratic, and composed of fewer signs, more rude and simple, 
and more easily written, and among them the phonetic pre 
dominated. This writing arose from the necessity of new char 
acters adapted to express the vulgar dialect, which had long 
before, as we have seen, arisen from the corruption of the ancient 
language. It was written in horizental lines, from right to left, 
and used especially in legal documents and religious manuscripts 





EGYPTIAN LITERATURE. 5% 


This system did not come into general use until the 2d or 3d 
century B.c., and it seems to have been abandoned about the 
close of the 3d century a.p., when the Coptic borrowed from 
the Greek its alphabet, using, however, demotic signs for those 
sounds which had no equivalent letters in the Greek language. 
In these three forms of Egyptian writing, the characters are 
figurative, symbolical, or phonetic. ‘The figurative signs repre 
sent the visible objects which they are intended to indicate. 
Thus, the idea of a horse, a crown, etc., is expressed by a draw- 
ing of these objects, either entirely, or by some contraction. 
The symbolic signs express abstract ideas by the figure of a 
physical object whose qualities bear some analogy with the idea 
to be expressed, and the phonetic signs represent the sounds of 
the spoken language. 


4. Tue Discovery or Cnampoiiion.—During the expedition 
into Egypt, in 1799, in throwing up some earthworks near Ro- 
tetta, a town on the western arm of the Nile, an officer of 
the French army discovered a block or tablet of black basalt, 
upon which were engraved inscriptions in Egyptian and Greek 
characters. This tablet, called the Rosetta Stone, was sent to 
France and submitted to the orientalists for interpretation. The 
inscription was found to be a decree of the Egyptian priests ir 
honor of Ptolemy Epiphanes (196 B.c.) which was ordered tc 
be engraved on stone in sacred (hier oglyphic), common (demotic), 
and Greek characters. Through this interpretation, Champol- 
lion (1790-1832), after much study, discovered and established 
the alphabetic system of Egyptian writing, and applying his 
discovery more extensively, he was able to decipher the names 
of the kings of Egypt from the Roman emperors back, 

through the Ptolemies, to the Pharaohs of ‘the elder dynasties. 
The opinion which had previously prevailed) among scholars, 
that this writing was only intelligible to the priests and to those 
initiated into their mysteries, was thus overthrown. This discoy- 
ery was the key to the interpretation of all the ancient monu- 
ments of Egypt ; by it the history of the country was thrown 
open for a period of twenty-six centuries, the annals of the neigh- 
boring nations were rendered more intelligible, the religion, arts, 
sciences, life, and manners of the ancient Eeyptians were re- 
vealed to the modern world, and the obelisks, the innumerable 
pyri, and the walls of the temples and tombs were transformed 
to inexhaustible mines of historical and scientific knowledge. 


§ Egyrrian Monvuents.-—The literary remains of ancient 


60 EGYPTIAN LITERATURE. 


Egypt consist of inscriptions painted or engraved on moruments, 
or of written manuscripts buried in the tombs, or beneath the 
ruins of teraples. The inscriptions and manuscripts, both histor- 
ical and religious, have either a sepulchral or a votive character, 
as they generally refer to the dead or to the deities, most fre- 
quently to both. The inscriptions which relate to the triumphs 
of the kings have also a votive character, ascribing their exploits 
to the gods. The papyri, frequently found in the sarcophagi of 
monuments, contain prayers tc certain gods expressed in the name 
of the deceased ; the upper partuf each manuscript is occupied by 
a series Of pictured tablets, and under them are vertical columns 
of hieroglyphics, divided into paragraphs with a tablet between 
each ; the first words are written in redink, the others in black. 
Names of the gods, and symbolical signs representing their dif- 
ferent powers and the reverence due to them, are almost always 
found in these manuscripts. 

The monuments of Egypt are religious, as the temples; sepul- 
chral, as the necropoles; or triumphal, as the obelisks, ‘The 
temples were the pr incipal structures of the Egyptian cities. 
Memphis, Thebes, dnd other localities present splendid remains 
of these edifices, covered with inscriptions relating to the history 
and to the religion of the country. In the vicinity of all the 
principal cities, there are necropoles, or catacombs, excavated 
into the mountains or hillsides, or constructed within the 
pyramids ; they consist of rows of chambers with halls supported 
by columns, which, with the walls, are often covered with paint- 
ings in fresco, or with painted reliefs, partly historical and partly 
monumental, representing, for the most part, scenes from domes- 
tic or civil life. The most splendid necropoles of Egypt are 
those of Memphis and Thebes, and to the necropolis of the for- 
mer the pyramids of El-Geezeh, near Cairo, are especially 
related. The Egyptian pyramids are gigantic quadrangular 
structures, having a broad base, contracting gradually toward 
the top, sometimes terminating in a point, sometimes in a plane 


surface. ‘They are generally built of large limestones, with the - 


four sides placed so as to face the four cardinal points. Their 
interior is divided into various chambers, in which are found sar- 


cophagi of granite. The great pyramids were probably built — 


for the sepulchres of the kings and their families, and the smal- 

ler ones for the tombs of inferior persons—their walls are coy: 

ered with painted sculptures. The great pyramids of Hl-Geezeh 

were probably erected during the four centuries which preceded 

the invasion of the Shepherd Kings, from the year 2200 te 
800 B.c. 





EGYPTIAN LITERATURE, 61 


Of the triumphal monuments the most magnificent are the 
vbelisks, which are gigantic monoliths of red or white granite, 
‘some more than 200 feet in height, covered with inscriptions, on 
which the image of the triumphant king was engraved or 
painted. ‘The splendid obelisk, which adorns the Place de la 
Concorde in Paris, was removed from the portal of the temple of 
Kl-Uksur, of Thebes, and placed where it now stands ir 1836 
It has on each side three vertical lines of hieroglyphics, peauti 
fully cut, which celebrate the glories of Rameses LI. 

One of the most characteristic of the Egyptian monuments 
is the enigmatic statue of the Sphinx, so frequently found in the 
temples and the necropoles of Egypt. It is a recumbent figure 
formed of a human head and breast and the body of a lion, with 
the fore paws stretched forward. Whatever idea the Egyptians 
may have attached to this symbol, the sphinx represents most 
truly the character of that people, andthe struggle of mind to 
free itself from the instincts of brutal nature. 


6. History.—All the literary remains of ancient Egypt relate 
either to its history or to its religion. The Egyptian priests, 
from the earliest times, must have preserved the annals of their 
country, though obscured by myths and symbols. These, how: 
ever, were entirely destroyed by Cambyses (500 z.c.), who during 
his invasion of Egypt, burned the temples where they were pre- 
served, They were doubtless soon composed again by the priests, 
as Herodotus, in visiting Egypt 450 years B.c., was shown a list 
of 330 kings who had been the predecessors of Meeris, who 
reigned in the 17th century s.c._ The history of the succession 
of the kings of Hgypt was written in the Greek language by: 
Manetho, a priest and librarian of Heliopolis, who lived in the 
3d century B.c., and who numbered thirty dynasties from Menes,, 
the founder of the Egyptian monarchy, to Nectanebes IT., the 
last native king. Though the original work of Manetho was lost, 
important fragments of it have been preserved by other writers. 

Archeologists do not agree as to the antiquity of the history of 
Egypt, according to the dynasties of Manetho. Some suppose 
these dynasties to have ruled consecutively ; and assign to the 
Egyptian monarchy, from its origin to its fall (350 B.c.), a dura- 
tion of upward of 5,000 years. Others maintain that many of 
them were contemporaneous in different parts of Heypt, and thus 
reduce the period. Whatever be the true solution of this ques- 
tion, the duration of the monarchy cannot have been less than. 
2,700 years, and its history, founded on the computations of 
Manetho, may be divided into four periods, each of which was 





62 EGYPTIAN LITERATURE, 


marked by great changes in the social and political constitution 
of the country. In the first epoch, when, according to Manetho, 
Egypt was under the rule of the gods, demi-gods and heroes, the 
country was probably colonized, and ruled by the priests in the 
name of the gods. The second period extends from Menes, the 
founder of the Egyptian monarchy, to the invasion of the Shepherd 
Kings, pr obably | from 2200 to 1800 B.c. In this era, hereditary 
monarchy took the place of theocracy. On the extinction of 

each dynasty, the election of the succeeding one was chiefly in the 
hands of the priests. The third period (1800-1580 B.c.) em- 
braces the invasion and the dominion of the country by foreign 
tribes, probably Phoenicians, who, under the title of Shepherd 
Kings, ruled Egypt for three centuries, and established in the 
country a kind of feudal system. It was one of these kings or Pha 
raohs, of whom Joseph was the prime minister. They were at last 
expelled by the native inhabitants and the Egyptian rule restored. 
The fourth period (1580—350 B.c.) comprises the history of the 
other dynasties to Nectanebes II., when Egypt fell under the 
power of Persia. This period is perhaps the richest in historical 
materials, and to it belong the most numerous and important 
inscriptions, sculptures and papyri. The dynasties of Manetho 
embrace the whole range of these periods, which contain the 
entire history of ancient Egypt. From the middle of the 4th 
century B.c. to the present time, a period of twenty-two centu- 
ries, no native ruler has sat on the throne of that country. It 
was conquered by Alexander the Great, who left it under the 
sway of the Ptolemies ; it was then conquered by the Romans ; 
it became a province of the Byzantine empire ; then the prey of 
the Saracens, next of the Mamelukes, afterwards of the Turks ; 
and since 1841 it has been governed by a viceroy, under a nomi- 
nal dependence on the sultan. 


1. Tue Renicion or Eeypr.—Though the popular religion of 
Egypt, by confounding symbols with realities, early degenerated 
into materialism and idolatry, the secret doctrines of the priests 
were more elevated ; they were founded on a personification of 
‘he forees of nature identified and centred in a mysterious unity. 

,ecording to their belief, Num, under various names, was the 
oul of the universe, the pro-creator of the material ‘world, of 
divinities and of men. Primitive matter sprang from his mouth, 
a spLere, the egg of the universe. Athor, the goddess of dark- 
ness, generated the seed of all things ; and matter, united to the 
light which flashed from Num, produced Phtha, the god of fire and 
of lifs, the creator of the sun and moon, symbolized by Osiris and 





_ EGYPTIAN LITERATURE, 63 


{sis, a gud and goddess who in turn produced Horus and other 
divinities, Osiris instructed mankind in the useful arts, and 
was more highly revered than the other gods of Egypt. He was 
slain by T'yphon, his adversary, but rose again, and became the 
judge of the dead. Isis, the consort of Osiris, presided over 
funeral rites, and was present with Horus and assisted in the 
judgment of men after death. The gods of Egypt, like those of 
India, were grouped in trinities, which presided over all things, 
Osiris, Isis, and Horus composed the trinity to which the govern- 
ment of our world was intrusted, and they formed the last link 
in the great theogonic chain that encircled the universe, and that 
from trinity to trinity extended at last to Num, the great original 
source of all things. 

The worship of animals and reverence for the dead formed 
the two principal features of the religion of the Hvyptians. 
Their innumerable divinities, doubtless, in the minds of the priests, 
originally personified attributes of the one supreme deity, anc 
these attributes they represented under the form of such animals 
as were endowed with like qualities. very god was symbolized 
by some animal, which thus became an object of worship. But 
the immaterial was soon lost sight of in the material, and this 
worship sunk into a degrading idolatry. 

Among the Egyptians, a belief in the immortality of the soul, 
and in metempsychosis, was, doubtless, connected with their 
reverence for the dead. The judgment after death is frequently 
represented on the sarcophagi. ‘The deceased is brought before 
Osiris, and his heart weighed against the feather of truth. If 
he is found guiltless, he takes the form of Osiris, and lives in a 
state of happiness among the gods, in a region of perpetual day. 
If guilty, he is changed into the form of an animal, or is con- 
signed to a fiery place of punishment, in perpetual night. 


8. Eeyprran Scrence.—The priests of Egypt were the scien- 
tific and literary men of the country ; and whatever written 
knowledge they possessed, was engraved on stone, or transcribed 
on papyrus, and jealously concealed in subterranean parts of 
their temples. Tueir science or philosophy was secret and sym- 
bolical, while that which they imparted to the people was of a 
more material and sensuous character. The Greek philoso- 
phers, many of whom visited Egypt, borrowed freely from their 
doctrines. 

Geometry originated with the Egyptians, who, from remote 
ages, must have been acquainted witk the principles of this 
wience as well as with those of hydrostatics and mechanics, as. 


ee ee 


64 EGYPTIAN LITERATURE. 


is proved by their immense structures, and by those great works 
which still speak of the past grandeur of the country. As 
tronomy was cultivated from the earliest times by them, and 
history has transmitted to us their observations on the move. 
ments of the stars and planets. The obelisks served them as 
sun-dials, and the pyramids as astronomical observatories. They 
had great skill in medicine, and much knowledge of anatomy, 
and they possessed the art of preparing mummies, many of 
which have remained perfect four thousand years. 

Egypt, in its flourishing period, having contributed to the 
civilization of Greece, became, in its turn, the pupil of that 
country. In the century following the age of Alexander the 
Great, under the rule of the Ptolemies, the philosophy and lit- 
erature of Athens were transfered to Alexandria. Ptolemy 
Philadelphus, in the 3d century B.c., completed the celebrated 
Alexandrian Library, formed, for the most part, of Greek 
books, and presided over by Greek librarians. The school of 
Alexandria had its poets, its grammarians and philosophers ; 
but its poetry lacked the fire of genius, and its grammatical pro- 
ductions were more remarkable for sophistry and subtility, than 
for soundness and depth of research. In the phiiosophy of 
Alexandria the Eastern and Western systems combined, and this 
school had many distinguished disciples. 

In the first century of the Christian era, Egypt passed from 
the Greek kings to the Roman emperors, and the Alexandrian 
school continued to be adorned by the first men of the age. 
This splendor, more Grecian than Kgyptian, was extinguished in 
the Tth century by the Saracens, who conquered the country, and, 
it is believed, burned the great Alexandrian Library. After the 
wars of the immediate successors of Mohammed, the Arabian 
princes protected literature, Alexandria recovered its schools, 
and other institutions of learning were established ; but in the 
conquest of the country by the Turks, in the 13th century, all 
literary light was extinguished. 


9. Lirerary Conpition or Mopern Ecypr.—When Moham- 
med Ali was confirmed as viceroy of Egypt under the sultan of 
Turkey, in 1841, he endeavored to improve the means of educa- 
tion by establishing common and special schools, and by sending 
young men to Kurope for scientific study. He founded, 
besides elementary schools, schools of language and medicine, 
and established a printing press, which has been used for the 
publication of valuable works ; but at his death in 1848, his re 
‘orms had not produced all the anticipated results. 


EGYPTIAN LITERATURE, 65 


At the ancient Arabic university of Cairo, students receive 
free instruction in grammar, rhetoric, versification, logic, the 
ology, religious, moral and civil law, and devote much time to 
the study and interpretation of the Koran. The number of 
students is from 1,500 to 2,000. 

The middle and higher classes of Egypt speak Arabic with 
more or less correctness—the mass of the people are entirely 
ignorant, particularly the women, for whose education no pro 
vision is made. 


GREEK LITERATURE. . 


IyrroDUCTION.--1. %reek Literature and its Divisions.—2. The Language.—8. The 
Religion. 

Periop First.—1. Ante-Homeric Songs and Bards.—2. Poems of Homer; the Iliad 
the Odyssey.—3. The Cyclic Poets and the Homeric Hymns.—4, Poems of Hesiod: 
the Works and Days; the Theogony.—5. Elegy and Epigram; Tyrtzeus ; Archilochus ; 
Simonides.—6. Iambic Poetry, the Fable and Parody; Msop.—7. Greek Music and 
Lyric Poetry; Terpander.—8. Molic Lyric Poets; Alczeus; Sappho; Anacreon.— 
9. Doric, or Choral Lyric Poets; Aleman; Stesichorus; Pindar.—i0. The Orphic 
Doctrines and Poems.—11. Pre-Socratic philosophy; Ionian, Eleatic, Pythagorean 
Schools.—12. History ; Herodotus. 

Preriop Seconp.—1. Literary predominance of Athens.—2. Greek Drama.—3. Trage- 


dy.—4. The Tragic Poets; Mschylus; Sophocles; Euripides.—5, Comedy; Aristo- 


phanes; Menander.—6. Oratory, Rhetoric and History; Pericles; the Sophists; 
Lysias; Isocrates; Demosthenes; Thucydides; Xenophon.—7. Socrates and the So- 
cratic Schools; Plato; Aristotle. 

Preriop Tuirp.—1. Origin of the Alexandrian Literature.—2. The Alexandrian 
Poets; Philetas; Callimachus; Theocritus; Bion; Moschus.—8. The Prose Writers 
of Alexandria; Zenodotus; Aristophanes; Aristarchus ; Eratosthenes; Euclid; Archi- 
medes.—4. Philosophy of Alexandria; Neo-Platonism.—5. Anti-Neo-Platonic Tenden- 
cies; Epictetus; Lucian; Longinus —6. Greek Literature in Rome; Dionysius of Hali- 
carnassus ; Flavius Josephus; Polybius’; Diodorus; Strabo; Plutarch.—7. Continued 
decline of Greek Literature. 8 Last Echoes of the Old Literature; Hypatia ; Nonnus; 
Muszus; Byzantine Literature.—9. The New Testament and the Greek Fathers. 


INTRODUCTION. 


1. Greek Lirerature anp irs Drvistons.—The literary his- 
tories thus far sketched, with the exception of the Hebrew, 
occupy a subordinate position, and constitute but a small part 
vf the general and continuous history of literature. As there 
are States whose interests are so detached from foreign nations 
and so centred in themselves, that their history seems to form 
no link in the great chain of political events—so there are 
bedies of literature cut off from all connection with the course 
of general refinement, and bearing no relation to the develop- 
ment of mental power in the most civilized portions of the globe. 
Thus, the literature of India—with its great antiquity—its lan 
guage, which, in fulness of expression, sweetness of tone, and 
regularity of structure, rivals the most perfect of those western 
tongues to which it bears such an affinity, with all its affluence 
of imagery and its treasures of thought, has hitherto been desti- 


a a 








GREEK LITERATURE. 67 


tute of any direct infiuence on the progress of general literature, 
and China has contributed still less to its advancement. Other 
branches of Oriental literature, as the Persian and Arabian, 
were equally isolated, until they were brought into contact with 
the European mind through the medium of the Crusaders and 
of the Moorish empire in Spain. 

We come now io speak of the literature of the Greeks ; 
literature whose continuous current has rolled Gown from ets 
ages to our own day, and whose influence has been more exten- 
sive and lasting than that of any other nation of the ancient 01 
modern world. Endowed with profound sensibility and a lively 
imagination, surrounded by all the circumstances that could aid 

_in perfecting the physical and intellectual powers, the Greeks 
early acquired that essentially literary and artistic character, 
which became the source of the greatest productions of literature 
and art. ‘This excellence was, also, in some measure, due to 
their institutions ; free from the system of castes which prevailed 
in India and Egypt, and which confined all learning by a sort 
of hereditary right to the priests, the tendency of the Greek 
mind was, from the first, liberal, diffusive and esthetic. The 
manifestation of their genius, from the first dawn of their intel- 
lectual culture, was of an original and peculiar character, and 
their plastic minds gave a new shape and value to whatever 
materials they drew from foreign sources. The ideas of. the 
Egyptians and Orientals which they adopted into their mytho- 
logy, they cast in new moulds, and reproduced in more beautiful 
forms. ‘The monstrous they subdued into the vast, the gro- 
tesque they softened into the graceful, and they diffused a fine 
spirit of humanity over the rude proportions of the primeval 
figures. So with the dogmas of their philosophy borrowed from 
the same sources ; all that could beautify the meagre, harmonize 
the incongruous, enliven the dull or convert the crude materials 
of metaphysics into an elegant department of literature, belongs 
to the Greeks themselves. The Grecian mind became the 
foundation of the Roman and of all modern literatures, and its 
maste~-pieces afford the most splendid examples of artistic 
beauty and perfection that the world has ever seen. 

The history of Greek literature may be divided into three 
periods, The first, extending from remote antiquity to the age 
of Herodotus (484 B.c.), includes the earliest poetry of Greece, 
the ante-Homeric and the Homeric eras, the origin of Greek 
elegy, epigram, iambic and lyric poetry, and the first develop. 
ment of Greek philosophy. 

The second, or Athenian period, the golden age of Greek 


Te oe te 
68 GREEK LITERATURE. 


literature, extends from the age of Herodotus (484 8.c.) to the — 
death of Alexander the Great (323 B.c.), and comprehends the 
development of the Greek drama in the works of Alschylus, 
Sophocles and Euripides, of political oratory, history and phi- 
losophy, in the works of Demosthenes, Thucydides, Xenophon, 
Plato and Aristotle. 

The third, or the period of the decline of Greek literature, 
extending from the death of Alexander the Great (323 B.c.) 
to the fall of the Byzantine empire (1453 a.p.), is character- 
ized by the removal of Greek learning and literature from Ath- 
ens to Alexandria, and by its gradual decline and extinction. 


2. THe Lancvace.—Of all known languages, none has 
attained so high a degree of perfection as that of the Greeks. 
Belonging to the great Indo-European family, it is rich in sig- 
nificant words, strong and elegant in its combinations and 
phrases, and extremely musical, not only in its poetry, but in its 
prose. The Greek language must have attained great excel- 
lence at a very early period, for it existed in its essential perfec- 
tion in the time of Homer. It was, also, early divided into dia- 
lects, as spoken by the various Heilenic tribes that inhabited dif- 
ferent parts of the country. The principal of these found in writ- 
ten composition are the AXolic, Doric, onic and Attic,of which 
the AXolic, the most ancient, was spoken north of the Isthmus, 
in the Aolic colonies of Asia Minor and in the northern islands 
of the Augean Sea. It was chiefly cultivated by the lyric poets. 
The Doric, a variety of the AXolic, characterized by its strength, 
was spoken in Peloponnesus, and in the Dorie colonies of Asia 
Minor, Lower Italy and Sicily. The Ionic, the most soft and 
liquid of all the dialects, belonged to the Ionian colonies of 
Asia Minor and the islands of the Archipelago. It was the 
language of Homer, Hesiod and Herodotus. The Attic, which 
was the Ionic developed, enriched and refined, was spoken in At- 
tica, and prevailed in the flourishing period of Greek literature. 

After the fall of Constantinople, in 1453, the Greek language, 
which had been gradually declining, became entirely extinct, and 
a dialect, which had long before sprung up among the common 
people, took the place of the ancient, majestic and refined 
tongue. This popular dialect in turn continued to degenerate 
until the middle of the last century. Recently, institutions 
of learning have been established, and a new impulse given to 
improvement in Greece. Great progress has been made in the 
cultivation of the language, and great care is taken by modern 
Greek writers to avoid the use of foreign idioms and to preservs 


GREER LITERATURE, 69 


the ancient orthography. Many newspapers, periodicals, srigi- 
nal works and translations are published every year in Greece. 
The name Romaic, which has been applied to modern Greek, is 
now almost superseded by that of Neo-Hellenic. 


3. Toe Reticion.—In the development of the Greek religior 
two periods may be distinguished, the ante-Homeric and the 
Homeric. As the heroic age of the Greek nation was preceded 
by one in which the cultivation of the land chiefly occupied the 
attention of the inhabitants, so there are traces and remnants ot 
a state of the Greek religion, in which the gods were considered 
as exhibiting their power chiefly in the changes of the seasons 
and in the operations and phenomena of outward nature. 
Imagination led these early inhabitants to discover, not only in 
the general phenomena of vegetation, the unfolding and death of 
the leaf and flower, and in the moist and dry seasons of the year, 
but also in the peculiar physical character of certain districts, a 
sign of the alternately hostile or peaceful, happy or ill-omened 
juterference of certain deities. There are still preserved in the 
Greek mythology many legends of charming and touching sim- 
plicity, which had their origin at this period, when the Greek 
religion bore the character of a worship of the powers of nature. 

Though founded on the same ideas as most of the religions of 
the Hast, and particularly of Asia Minor, the earliest religion 
of the Greeks was richer and more various in its forms, and took 
a loftier and a wider range. The Grecian worship of nature, in 
all the various forms which it assumed, recognized one deity, as 
the highest of all, the head of the entire system, Zews, the god 
of heaven and light; with him, and dwelling in the pure expanse 
of ether, is associated the goddess of the earth, who, in different 
temples, was worshipped under different names, as Hera, Demeter 
and Dione. Besides this goddess, other beings are united with 
the supreme god, who are personifications of certain of his ener- 
gies ; powerful deities who carry the influence of light over the 
earth, and destroy the opposing powers of darkness and confu- 
sion ; as Athena, born from the head of her father, and Apollo, 
the pure and shining god of light. There are other deities allied 
with earth and dwelling in her dark recesses; and as life appears 
not only to spring from the earth but to return whence it 
sprung, these deities are, for the most part, also connected with 
death ; as Hermes, who brings up the treasures of fruitfulness 
from the depths of the earth, and Cora, the child, now lost and 
now recovered by her mother Demeter, the goddess both of 
reviving and of decaying nature. The element of water, Posedon, 





70 GREEK LITERATURE, 


was also introduced into this assemblage of the personified 


powers of nature, and peculiarly connected with the goddess of | 


the earth ; fire, Hephastus, was represented as a powerful prin- 
ciple deriv ed from heaven, having dominion over the earth, and 
vlosely allied with the goddess, who sprang from the head of 
the supreme god. Other deities form less important parts of this 
system, as Dionysus, whose alternate joys and sufferings show a 
strong resemblance to the form which religions notions assumed 
in Asia Minor, Though not, like the gods of Oiympus, recog- 
nized by all the races of the Greeks, Dionysus exerted an 
important influence on the spirit of the Greek nation, and in 
sculpture and poetry gave rise to bold flights of imagination, 
and to powerful emotions, both of joy and sorrow. 

These notions concerning the gods must have undergone many 
changes before they assumed the form under which they appear 
in the poems of Homer and Hesiod. The Greek religion, as mani- 
fested through them, reached the second period of its develop- 
ment, belonging to that time when the most distinguished and 
prominent part of the people devoted their lives to the affairs of 
the state and the occupation of arms, and in which the heroic 
spirit was manifested according to these ideas. On Olympus, iy- 
ing near the northern boundary of Greece, the highest mountain 
of that country, whose summit seems to touch the heavens, there 
rules the assembly or family of the gods; the chief of which, 


Zeus, summons at his pleasure the other gods to council, as Aga- 


memnon summons the other princes. He is acquainted ‘with the 
decrees of fate, and able to control them, and being himself 
king among the gods, he gives the kings of the earth their 
powers and dignity. By his side is his wife, Hera, whose station 
entitles her to a large share of his rank and dominion ; and a 
daughter of masculine character, Athena, a leader of battles and 
a protectress of citadels, who, by her wise counsels, deserves the 
confidence which her father bestows on her ; besides these, there 
is a number of gods, with various degrees of kindred, who have 
each their proper place and allotted duty on Olympus. The 


attention of tlis divine council is chiefly turned to the fortunes 


of nations and cities, and especially to the adventures and enter- 
prises of the heroes, who, being themselves, for the most part, 
sprung from the blood of the gods, form ‘the connecting link 
between them and the ordinary herd of mankind. At this 
stage the ancient religion of nature had disappeared, and the 
gods, who dwelt on Olympus, scarcely manifested any connection 
with natural phenomena, Zeus exercises his power as a ruler 
and a king; Hera, Athena and Apollo nc longer symbolize 


—_, — 


ie 


a 
errs 





oT 


——?*, 


—?: Tees ee 


GREEK LITERATURE. 71 


the fertility of the earth, the clearness of the atmosphere and the 
arrival of the serene spring ; Hephestus has passed from the 
powerful god of fire in heaven and earth into a laborious smith 
and worker of metals ; Hermes is transformed into the messen- 
ger of Zeus ; and the other deities which stood at a greater dis 
tance from the affairs of men, are entirely forgotten, or scarcely 
mentioned in the Homeric mythology. 

These deities are known to us chiefly through the names 
given to them by the Romans, who adopted them at a later 
period, or identified them with deities of their own. Zeus was 
called by them Jupiter; Hera, Juno; Athena, Minerva; Ares, 
Mars ; Artemis, Diana ; Hermes, Mercury ; Cora, Proserpine ; 
Hlephestus, Vulcan; Poseidon, Neptune; Aphrodite, Venus, 
Dionysus, Bacchus. 


PERIOD FIRST. 


From Remote Antiquiry to Herroporus (484 B.c.). 


1. Anrse-Homeric Sones anp Barps.—Many centuries must 
have elapsed before the poetical language of the Greeks could 
have attained the splendor, copiousness and fluency found in the 
poems of Homer. The first outpourings of poetical enthusiasm 
were, doubtless, songs describing, in few and simple verses, events 
which powerfully affected the feelings of the hearers, It is 
probable that the earliest were those that referred to the scasons 
and their phenomena, and that they were sung by the peasants 
at their corn and wine harvests, and had their origin in times of 
ancient rural simplicity. Songs of this kind had often a plaintive 
and melancholy character. Such as the song Linus mentioned by 
Homer, which was frequently sung at the grape-picking. This 
Linus evidently belongs to a class of heroes or demi-gods, of 
which many instances occur in the religions of Asia Minor. 
Boys of extraordinary beauty and in the flower of. youth were 
supposed to have been drowned, or devoured by raging dogs, 
and their death was lamented at the harvests and other periods 
of the hot season. According to the tradition, Linus sprang 
from a divine origin, grew up with the shepherds among the 
lambs, and was torn in pieces by wild dogs, whence arose the 
festival of the lambs, at which many dogs were slain. The real 
object of lamentation was the tender beauty of spring destroyed 
by the summer heat, and other phenomena of the same kind, 
which the imagination of those times invested witk a personal 
form, and represented as beings of a divine nature. Of similar 


72 GREEK LITERATURE. 


meaning are many other songs, which were sung at the time of 
the summer heat or at the cutting of the corn. Such was the 
song called Bormus from its subject, a beautiful boy of that 
name, who, having gone to fetch water for the reapers, was, 
while drawing it, borne down by the nymphs of the stream 
Such were the cries for the youth Hylas, swallowed up by the 
waters of a fountain, and the lament for Adonzs, whose untimely 
death was celebrated by Sappho. 

The Peans were songs originally dedicated to Apollo, and 
afterwards to other gods ; their tune and words expressed hope 
and confidence to overcome, by the help of the god, great and 
imminent danger, or gratitude and thanksgiving for victory and 
safety. To this class belonged the vernal Paans, which were 
sung at the termination of winter, and those sung in war before 
the attack on the enemy. ‘The Threnos, or lamentations for the 
dead, were songs containing vehement expressions of grief, sung 
by professional singers standing near the bed upon which the 
body was laid, and accompanied by the cries and groans of 
women. The Hymencos was the joyful bridal song of the wed- 
ding festivals, in which there were ordinarily two choruses, one 
of boys bearing burning torches and singing the hymenzos to 
the clear sound of the pipe, and another of young girls dancing 
to the notes of the harp. The Chorus originally referred chiefly 
to dancing. The most ancient sense of the word is a place for 
dancing, and in these choruses young persons of both sexes 


danced together in rows, holding one another by the hand, while — 


the citharist, or the player on the lyre, sitting in their midst, 
accompanied the sound of his instrument with songs, which took 
their name from the choruses in which they were sung. 

Besides these popular songs, there were the religious and 
heroic poems of the bards, who were, for the most part, natives 
of that portion of the country which surrounds the mountains of 
Helicon and Parnassus, distinguished as the home of the Muses. 
Among the bards devoted to the worship of Apollo and other 
deities, were Marsyas, the inventor of the flute, Muszeus and Or- 
pheus. Many names of these ancient poets are recorded, but of 
their poetry, previous to Homer, not even a fragment remains. 


The bards or chanters of epic poetry were called Rhupsodtsts, 


from the manner in which they delivered their compositions ; 
this name was applied equally to the minstrel who recited his 
own poems, and to him who declaimed anew songs that had 
been heard a thousand times before. The form of these heroic 
songs, probably settled and fixed by tradition, was the hexame 
ter, as this metre gave to the epic poetry repose, majesty » 





ees 


GREEK LITERATURS. 73 


- lofty and solemn tone, and rendered it equally adapted to the 
pythoness who announced the decrees of the deity, and to the 
rhapsodist who recited the battles of heroes. The bards held 
an important post in the festal banquets, where they tlattered the 
pride of the princes by singing the exploits of their forefathers. 


2. Poems or Homer.—Although seven cities contended for 
the honor of giving birth to Homer, it was the prevalent belief, 
in the flourishing times of Greece, that he was a native of 
Smyrna. He was probably born in that city about 1000 B.c. 
Little is known of his life, but the power of his transcendent 
genius is deeply impressed upon his works, He was called by 
the Greeks themselves, the poet ; and the Iliad and the Odyssey 
were with them the ultimate standard of appeal on all matters 
of religious doctrine and early history. They were learned by 
boys at school, and became the study of men in their riper years, 
and in the time of Socrates there were Athenians who could 
repeat both poems by heart. In whatever part of the world a. 
Greek settled, he carried with him a love for the great poet, 
and long after the Greek people had lost their independence, 
the Iliad and the Odyssey continued to maintain an undiminished 
hold upon their affections. ‘The peculiar excellence of these 
poems lies in their sublimity and pathos, in their tenderness and 
simplicity, and they show in their author an inexhaustible vigor, 
that seems to revel in an endless display of prodigious energies. 
The universality of the powers of Homer is their most astonish- 
ing attribute. He is not great in any one thing ; he is greates* 
in all things. He imagines with equal ease the terrible, the 

. beautiful, the mean, the loathsome, and he paints them all 
with equal force. In his descriptions of external nature, in his 
exhibitions of human character and passion, no matter what the 
subject, he exhausts its capabilities. His pictures are true to 
the minutest touch ; his men and women are made of flesh and 
blood. They lose nothing of their humanity for being cast in a 
heroic mould. He transfers himself into the identity of those 
whom he brings into action ; masters the interior springs of 
their spiritual mechanism ; and makes them move, look, speak 
and do exactly as they would in real life. 

In the legends connected with the Trojan war, the anger of 
Achilies and the return of Ulysses, Homer found the subjects of 
the Iliad and Odyssey. The former relates that Agamemnon 
had stolen from Achilles, Briseis, his beloved slave, and describes 
the fatal consequences which the subsegent anger of Achilles 
brought upon the Greeks ; and how the loss of his dearest 

~ 


74 GREEK LITERATURE, 


friend, Patroclus, suddenly changed his hostile attitude, and 


brought about the destruction of Troy and of Hector, its mag- 
nanimous defender. The Odyssey is composed on a more arti- 
ficial and complicated plan than the Iliad. The subject is the 
return of Ulysses from a land beyond the range of human know: 
ledge to a home invaded by bands of insolent intruders, who 
seek to kill his son and rob him of his wife. The poem begins 
at that point where the hero is considered to be furthest froin 
his home, in the central portion of the sea, where the nymph 
Calypso has kept him hidden from all mankind for seven years, 
Having by the help of the gods passed through innumerable 
dangers, after many adventures he reaches Ithaca, and is finally 
introduced into his own house as a beggar, where he is made to 
suffer the harshest treatment from the suitors of his wife, in 
order that he may afterwards appear with the stronger right as 
a terrible avenger. In this simple story a second was interwoven 
by the poet, which renders it richer and more complete, though 
more intricate and less natural. It is probable that Homer, 
after having sung the Iliad in the vigor of his youthful years, 
either composed the Odyssey in his old age, or communicated 
to some devoted disciple the plan of this poem. 

In the age immediately succeeding Homer, his great poems 
were doubtless recited as complete wholes, at the festivals of 
the princes ; but when the contests of the rhapsodists became 
more animated, and more weight was laid on the art of the 
reciter than on the beauty of the poem he recited, and when 
other musical and poetical performances claimed a place, then 
they were permitted to repeat separate parts of poems, and the 


iad and Odyssey, as they had not yet been reduced to writing, | 


existed for a time only as scattered and unconnected fragments ; 
and we are still indebted to the regulator of the poetical con- 
tests (either Solon or Pisistratus), for having compelled the 
rhapsodists to follow one another according to the order of the 
poem, and for having thus restored these great works to their pris- 
tine integrity. The poets, who either recited the poems of Homer 
or imitated him in their compositions, were called Homerides, 


3. THe Cycric Porrs anp THE Homeric Hymns.—The poems 
of Homer, as they became the foundation of all Grecian litera. 


ture, are likewise the central point of the epic poetry of Greece. 
All that is most exceiient in this line originated from them, and 
was connected witk them in the way of completion or continua- 
tion. After the time of Homer, a class of poets arose who, 
from their constant endeavor to connect their poems with those 


GREEK LITERATURE, 75 


of this master, so that they might form a great cycle, were called 
the Cycle Poets. They were probably Homeric rhapsodists by 
profession, to whom the constant recitation of the ancient Ho- 
meric poems would naturally suggest the idea of continuing them 
by essays of their own. The poems known as Homeric hymns 
formed an essential part of the epic style. They were hymns to 
the gods, bearing an epic character, and were called proemaa, or 
preludes, and served the rhapsodists either as introductory strains 
for their recitation, or as a transition from the festivals of the 
gods to the competition of the singers of heroic poetry. 


4. Porms or Hesiop.—Nothing certain can be affirmed 
respecting the date of Hesiod ; a Beotian by birth, he is con- 
sidered by some ancient authorities as contemporary with Homer, 
while others suppose him to have flourished two or three genera- 
tions later. ‘The poetry of Hesiod is a faithful transcript of the 
whole condition of Beeotian life. It has nothing of that youth- 
ful and inexhaustible fancy of Homer, which lights up the sub- 
lime images of a heroic age, and moulds them into forms of 
surpassing beauty. The poetry of Hesiod appears struggling 
to emerge out of the narrow bounds of common life, which he 
strives to ennoble and to render more endurable. It is purely 
didactic, and its object is to disseminate knowledge, by which 
life may be improved, or to diffuse certain religious notions as to 
the influence of a superior destiny. His poem entitled ‘‘ Works 
and Days” is so entirely occupied with the events of common 
life, that the author would not seem to have been a poet by pro- 
fession, but some Beeotian husbandman whose mind had been 
moved by circumstances to give a poetical tone to the course of - 
his thoughts and feelings. The unjust claim of Perses, the 
brother of Hesiod, to the small portion of their father’s land 
which had been allotted to him, called forth this poem, in which 
he seeks to improve the character and habits of Perses, to deter 
him from acquiring riches by litigation, and to incite him to a 
life of labor, as the only source of permanent prosperity. He _ 
points out the succession in which his labors must follow if he 
determines to lead a life of industry, and gives wise rules of 
econony for tbe management of a family ; and to illustrate and 
enforce the principal idea, he ingeniously combines with his pre- 
cepts mythical narratives, fables and descriptions. The “ The- 
ogony” of Hesiod is a production of the highest importance, as 
it contains the religious faith of Greece. It was through it 
that Gzeece first obtained a religious code, which, although 
without external sanction or priestly guardians and interpreters 


76 GREEK LITERATURE, 


must have produced the greatest influence on the religious 
condition of the Greeks. | 


5. Evecy anp Eprcram.—Until the beginning of the 7th 
century B.c., the epic was the only kind of poetry cultivated in 
Greece, with the exception of the early songs and hymns, and 
the hexameter the only metre used by the poets. This exclusive 
prevalence of epic poetry was doubtless connected with the 
political state of the country. ‘The ordinary subjects of these 
poems must have been highly acceptable to the princes who 
derived their race from the heroes, as was the case with all the 
royal families of early times. The republican movements, which 
deprived these families of their privileges, were favorable to the 
stronger development of each man’s individuality, and the poet, 
who in the most perfect form of the epos was completely lost 
in his subject, now came before the people as a man with 
thoughts and objects of his own, and gave free vent to the emo- 
tions of his soul in elegiac and iambic strains. The word 
elegecon means nothing more than the combination of a hexame- 
ter and a pentameter, making together a distich, and an elegy 
is a poem of such verses. It was usually sung at the Symposia 
or literary festivals of the Greeks ; in most cases its main sub- 
ject was political ; it afterwards assumed a plaintive or amatory 
tone. The elegy is the first regularly cultivated branch of Greek 
poetry, in which the flute alone and neither the cithara nor lyre 
was employed. It was not necessary that lamentations shoule 
form the subject of it, but emotion was essential, and excited by 
events or circumstances of the time or place the poet poured forth 
his heart in the unreserved expression of his fears and hopes. 

‘Tyrteeus (fl. 694 B.c.) who went from Athens to Sparta, com- 
posed the most celebrated of his elegies on the occasion of the 
Messenian war, and when the Spartans were on a campaign, it 
was their custom after the evening meal, when the pean had 
been sung in honor of the gods, to recite these poems. From 
this time we find a union between the elegiac and iambic poetry; 
the same poet, who employs the elegy to express his joyous and 
melancholy emotions, has recourse to the iambus when his cool 
sense prompts him to censure the follies of mankind. The rela- 
tion between these two metres is observable in Archilochus 
(fl. 688 B.c.) and Simonides (f1.664 B.c.). The elegies of Archi- 
lochus, of which many fragments are extant (while of Simonides 
we only know that he composed elegies), had nothing of that 
spirit of which his iambics were full, but they contain the frank 
expression of a mind powerfully affected by outward circum 








GREEK LITERATURE. ‘er 


stances. With the Spartans, wine and the pleasures of the 
feast became the subject of the elegy, and it was also recited at 
the solemnities held in honor of all who had fallen for their 
country. The elegies of Solon (592-559 B.c.) were pure ex- 
pressions of his political feelings. Simonides of Scios, the re- 
nowned lyric poet, the contemporary of Pindar and Adschylus,- 
was one of the great masters of elegiac song. 

The epigram was originally an inscription on a tombstone, or 
a votive offering in a temple, or on any other thing which 
required explanation. ‘The unexpected turn of thought and 
pointedness of expression, which the moderns consider the 
essence of this species of composition, were not required in the 
ancient Greek epigram, where nothing was wanted but that 
the entire thought should be conveyed within the limit of a few 
distichs, and thus, in the hands of the early poets, the epigram 
was remarkable for the conciseness and expressiveness of its 
language and differed in this respect from the elegy, in which 
full expression was given to the feelings of the poet. 

It was Simonides that first gave to the epigram all the per- 
fection of which it was capable, and he was frequently employed 
by the States which fought against the Persians, to adorn with 
inscriptions the tombs of their fallen warriors. The most cele- 
brated of these is the inimitable inscription on the Spartans 
who died at Thermopyle: “ Foreigner, tell the Lacedzmonians 
that we are lying here in obedience to their laws.” On the 
Rhodian lyric poet, Timocreon, an opponent of Simonides in his 
art, he wrote the following in the form of an epitaph: “ Having 
eaten much and drank much and said much evil of other men, 
here I lie, Timocreon the Rhodian.” 


6. Jamptc Porrry, THE Fase and Paropy.—The kind of 
poetry known by the ancients as Jambic was created among the 
Athenians by Archilochus at the same time as the elegy. It 
arose at a period when the Greeks, accustomed only to the 
calm, unimpassioned tone of the epos, had but just found a tem: 
perate expression of lively emotion in the elegy. It was a light, 
tripping measure, sometimes loosely constructed, or purposely 
halting and broken, well adapted to vituperation, unrestrained 
by any regard to morality and decency. At the public tables 
of Sparta keen and pointed raillery was permitted, and some of 
the most venerable and sacred of their religious rites afforded 
occasion for their unsparing and audacious jests. This raillery 
was so ancient and inveterate a custom, that it had given rise 
to a peculiar word, which originally denoted nothing but the 


jests and banter used at these festivals, namely Jambus. All 
the wanton extravagance which was elsewhere repressed by law 
or custom, here, under the protection of religion, burst forth with 
boundless license, and these scurrilous effusions were at length re- 
duced by Archilochus into the systematic form of iambic metre. 

Akin to the iambic are two sorts of poetry, the fable and the 
parody, which, though differing widely from each other, have 
both their source in the turn for the delineation of the ludicrous, 
and both stand in close historical relation to the iambic. ‘The 
fable in Greece originated in an intentional travesty of human 
affairs. It is probable that the taste for fables of beasts and 
numerous similar inventions found its way from the East, since 
this sort of symbolical narrative is more in accotdance with the 
Oriental than with the Greek character. 

sop (fl. 572 B.c.) was very far from being regarded by the 
Greeks as one of their poets, and still less as a writer. They 
considered him merely as an ingenious fabulist, to whom, at a 
later period, nearly all fables, that were invented or derived 
from any other source, were attributed. He was a slave, whose 
wit and pleasantry procured him his freedom, and who finally 
perished in Delphi, where the people, exasperated by his sar- 
castic fables, put him to death on a charge of robbing the 
temple. No metrical versions of these fables are known to 
have existed in early times. 

The word parody means an adoption of the form of some 
celebrated poem with such changes as to produce a totally 
different effect, and generally to substitute mean and ridiculous 
for elevated and poetical sentiments. The “Battle of the Frogs 
and Mice,” attributed to Homer, but bearing evident traces of a 
later age, belongs to this species of poetry. 


78 GREEK LITERATURE. 


7. Greek Music anp Lyric Porrry.—It was not until the 
minds of the Greeks had been elevated by the productions of the 
epic muse, that the genius of original poets broke loose from the 
dominion of the epic style, and invented new forms for express- 
ing the emotions of a mind profoundly agitated by passing 
events ; with few innovations in the elegy, but with greater 
boldness in the iambic metre. In these two forms, Greek poetry 
entered the domain of real life. The Elegy and Iambus contain 
the germ of the lyric style, though they do not themselves come 
under that head. The Greek lyric poetry was characterized by 
the expression of deeper and more impassioned feeling, and a 
more impetuous tone than the Elegy and Iambus, and at the — 
same time the effect was heightened by appropriate vocal and 


so 
us 
Pe 
J * 
| . 


instrumental music, and often by the figures of the dance. In 
this union of the sister arts, poetry was indeed predominant, yet 
music, in its turn, exercised a reciprocal influence on poetry, sc 
that as it became more cultivated, the choice of the musical 
measure decided the tone of the whole poem. 

The history of Greek music begins with Terpander the Les- 
pian (fl. 670 B.c.), who was many times the victor in the musical 
contests at the Pythian temple of Delphi. He added three new 
strings to the cithara which had consisted only of four, and this 

_heptachord was employed by Pindar, and remained long in high 
repute; he was also the first who marked the different tones in 
music. With other musicians, he united the music of Asia 
Minor with that of the ancient Greeks, and founded on it a 
system in which each style had its appropriate character. By 
the efforts of Terpander and one or two other masters, music 
was brought to a high degree of excellence, and adapted to 
express any feeling to which the poet could give a more definite 
character and meaning, and thus they had solved the great 
problem of their art. It was in Greece the constant endeavor 
of the great poets, thinkers and statesmen who interested them- 
selves in the education of youth, to give a good direction to 
this art; they all dreaded the increasing prevalence of a luxuriant 
style of instrumental music and an unrestricted flight into the 
boundless realms of harmony. 

The lyric poetry of the Greeks was of two kinds, and 
cultivated by two different schools of poets. One, called the 
Afolic, flourished among the AXolians of Asia Minor, and par- 
ticularly in the island of Lesbos ; the other, the Doric, which, 
although diffused over the whole of Greece, was at first prin- 
cipally cultivated by the Dorians. These two schools differed 
essentially in the subjects, as in the form and style of their 
poems. ‘The Doric was intended to be executed by choruses, 
and to be sung to choral dances ; while the AXolic was recited by 
a single person, whe accompanied his recitation with a stringed 
instrument, generally the lyre. 


 GREBK LITERATURE. 79 


8. Aortic Lyric Porrs.—Aleeus (fl, 611 3.c.), born in 
Mytilene in the island of Lesbos, being driven out of his native 
city for political reasons, wandered about the world, and, in the 
midst of troubles and perils, struck the lyre and gave utterance 
to the passionate emotions of his mind. His war-songs express 
a stirring, martial spirit; ana a noble nature, accompanied with 
strong passions, appears in all his poems, especially in those 
in which he sings the praises of love and wine, though little of 


BO GREEK LITERATURE. 


nis erotic poetry has reached our time. It is evident that poetry 
was not with him a mere pastime or exercise of skill, but a 
means of pouring out the inmost feelings of the soul. 

Sappho (fl. 600 B.c.), the other leader of the Adolic school of 
poetry, was the object of the admiration of all antiquity. She 
was contemporary with Alceeus, and in her verses to him we 
plainly discern the feeling of unimpeached honor proper to a 
free-born and well-educated maiden. Alczeus testifies that the 
attractions and loveliness of Sappho did not derogate from her 


moral worth when he calls her “ violet-crowned, pure, sweetly — 


smiling Sappho.” This testimony is, indeed, opposed to the 
accounts of later writers, but the probable cause of the false 
imputations in reference to Sappho seems to be that the refined 
Athenians were incapable of appreciating the frank simplicity 
with which she poured forth her feelings, and therefore they 


confounded them with unblushing immodesty. While the men _ 


of Athens were distinguished for their perfection in every branch 
of art, none of their women emerged from the obscurity of 
domestic life. ‘That woman is the best,” says Pericles, “ of 
whom the least is said among men, whether for good or for evil.” 
But the Atolians had in some degree preserved the ancient 
Greek manners, and their women enjoyed a distinct individual 
existence and moral character. They doubtless participated in 
the general high state of civilization, which not only fostered 
poetical talents of a high order among women, but produced in 
them a turn for philosophical reflection. This was so utterly 
inconsistent with Athenian manners, that we cannot wonder 
that women, who had in any degree overstepped the bounds pre- 
scribed to their sex at Athens, should he represented by the 
licentious pen of Athenian comic writers as lost to every sense 
of shame and decency. Sappho, in her odes, made frequent 
mention of a youth to whom she gave her whole heart, while he 
requited her love with cold indifference ; but there is no trace 
of her having named the object of her passion. She may have 
celebrated the beautiful and mythical Phaon in such a manner, 
that the verses were supposed to refer to a lover of her own. 
The account of her leap from the Leucadian rock is rather a 


poetical image, than a real event in the life of the poetess, 


The true conception of the erotic poetry of Sappho can only be 
drawn from the fragments of her odes, which, though numerous, 
are for the most part very short. Among them, we must dis 
tinguish the Epithalamia or hymeneals, which were peculiarly 
adapted to the genius of the poetess from the exquisite percep 
tion she seems to have had of whatever was attractive in eithe1 





‘QRREK LITERATURE. 8} 


sex. From the numerous fragments that remain, these poems 
appear to have had great beauty and much of that expression 
which the simple and natural manners of the times allowed, and the 
warm and sensitive heart of the poetess suggested. That 
Sappho’s fame was spread throughout Greece, may be seen from 
the history of Solon, who was her contemporary. Hearing his 
nephew recite one of her poems, he said that he would not 
willingly die until he had learned it by heart. And, doubtless, 
from that circle of accomplished women, of whom she formed the 
brilliant centre, a flood of poetic light was poured forth on every 
side. Among them may be mentioned the names of Damophila, 
and Hrinna, whose poem, the ‘‘ Spindle,” was highly esteemed by 
the ancients. 

The genius of Anacreon (fl. 540 3.c.), though akin to that of 
Alceeus and Sappho, had an entirely different bent. He seems 
to consider life as valuable only so far as it can be spent in wine, 
love and social enjoyment. ‘The Ionic softness and departure 
from strict rule may also be perceived in his versification. The 
different odes preserved under his name are the productions 
of poets of a much later date. With Anacreon ceased the 


_ species of lyric poetry in which he excelled ; indeed he stands 


alone in it, and the tender softness of his song was soon drowned 
by the louder tones of the choral poetry. 

The Scolia were a kind of lyric songs sung at social meals, 
when the spirit was raised by wine and conversation to a lyrical 
pitch. The lyre or a sprig of myrtle was handed round the 
table and presented to any one who could amuse the company 
oy a song or even a good sentence in a lyrical form, 


9. Doric, on Cuorat Lyric Porrs.—The chorus was in general 
use in Greece before the time of Homer, and nearly every 
variety of the choral poetry, which was afterwards so brilliantly 
developed, existed at that remote period in a rude, unfinished 
state. After the improvements made by Terpander and others 
in musical art, choral poetry rapidly progressed towards perfec- 
tion, The poets during the period of progress were Aleman and 
Stesichorus, while finished lyric poetry is represented by Ibyeus, 
Simonides, his disciple Bacchylides and Pindar. These great 
poets were only the representatives of the fervor with whick 
the religious festivals inspired all classes, Choral dances were 


_ performed by the whole people with great ardor and enthusiasm; 


every considerable town had its poet, who devoted his whole life 
to the training and exhibition of choruses. 
Aleman (b. 660 8.c.) was a Lydian of Sardis, and an eman 
4% 





$2 GREEK LITERATUR, 


cipated slave. His poems exhibit a great variety of metre, cf 
dialect and of poetic tone. He is regarded as having overcome 
the difficulties presented by the rough dialect of Sparta, and as 
naving succeeded in investing it with a certain grace. He is 
one of the poets whose image is most effaced by time, and of 
whom we can obtain little accurate knowledge. ‘The admiration 
awarded him by antiquity is scarcely justified by the extant re- 
mains of his poems. 

Stesichorus (fl. 611 3.c.) lived at a time when the predominant 
tendency of the Greek mind was towards lyric poetry. His 
special business was the training and direction of the choruses, 
and he assumed the name of Stesichorus, or leader of choruses, 
his real name being Tesias. His metres approach more nearly to 
the Epos than those of Aleman. As Quintilian says, he sustained 
the weight of epic poetry with the lyre. His language accorded 
with the tone of his poetry, and he is not less remarkable in him- 
self, than as the precursor of the perfect lyric poetry of Pindar. 

Arion (625-585 3.c.) was chiefly known in Greece as the 
perfecter of the “ Dithyramb,” a song of Bacchanalian festivals, 
doubtless of great antiquity. Its character, like the worship to 
which it belonged, was always impassioned and enthusiastic; the 
extremes of feeling, rapturous pleasure and wild lamentatio on, 
were both expressed in it. 

Ibycus (b. 528 3.c.) was a wandering poet, as is attested by 
the story of bis death having been avenged by the cranes. His 
poetical style resembles that of Stesichorus, as also his subjects. 
The erotic poetry of Ibycus is most celebrated, and breathes a 
fervor of passion far exceeding that of any similar production of 
Greek literature. 

Simonides (556-468 B.c.) has already been described as one 
of the great masters of the Elegy and Hpigram. In depth and 
novelty of ideas, and in the fervor of poetic feeling, he was far 
inferior to his contemporary Pindar, but he was probably the 
most prolific lyric poet of Greece. ‘According to the frequent 
reproach of the ancients, he was the first that sold his poems 
for money. His style was not as lofty as that of Pindar, but 
what he lost in sublimity he gained in pathos. 

Bacchylides (fl. 450 B.c.), the nephew of Simonides, devoted his 
genius chiefly to the pleasures of private life, love and wine, and 
his productions, when compared with those of Simonides, are 
marked by less moral elevation. 

Timocreon the Rhodian (fl. 471 3B.c.) owes his chief celebrity 
among the ancients to the hate he bore to Themistocles in polite 
cal life, and to Simonides on the field of poetry. 


J ee ee SS - 


- = ll a ie 


| 
| 
: 


en E 


GREEK LITERATURE. &3 


Pindar (522-435 3.c.) was the contemporary of Auschylus, 
but as the causes which determined his poetical character are to 
be sought in an earlier age, and in the Doric and Molic parts 
of Greece, he may properly be placed at the close of the early 
Bee. while Auschylus stands at the head of the new epoch of 
iterature. Like Hesiod, Pindar was a native of Beotia, and 


_ that there was still much love for music and poetry there, is 


proved by the fact that two women, Myrtis and Corinna, had 
obtained great celebrity in these arts during the youth of this 
poet. Myrtis (fl. 490 z.c.) strove with him for the prize at the 
public games, and Corinna (fl. 490 B.c.) is said to have gained 
the victory over him five times. Too little of the poetry of 
Corinna has been preserved to allow a judgment on her style of 
composition. Pindar made the arts of poetry and music the 
business of his life, and his fame soon spread throughout Greece 
and the neighboring countries. He excelled in all the known 
varieties of choral poetry, but the only class of poems that enables 
us to judge of his general style are his triumphal odes. When a 
victory was gained in a contest at a festival by the speed of 
horses, the strength and dexterity of the human body, or by 
skill in music, such a victory, which shed honor not only on the 
victor, but also on his family, and even on his native city, de- 
manded a public celebration. An occasion of this kind had 
always a religions character, and often began with a procession 
to an altar or temple, where a sacrifice was offered, followed by 
a banquet, and the solemnity concluded with a merry and bois- 
terous revel. At this sacred and at the same time joyous 
festival, the chorus appeared and recited the triumphal hymn, 
which was considered the fairest ornament of the triumph. Such 
an occasion, a victory in the sacred games and its end, the 
ennobling of a ceremony connected with the worship of the 
gods, required that the ode should be composed in a lofty 
and dignified style. Pindar does not content himself with 
celebrating the bodily prowess of the victor alone, but he usu- 
ally adds some moral virtue which he has shown, and whick 
he recommends and extols. Sometimes this virtue is modera. 
tion, wisdom, or filial love, more often piety to the gods, and 
he expounds to the victor his destiny, by showing him the 
flependence of his exploits on the higher order of things, 


_ Mythical narratives occupy much space in these odes, for in 


the time of Pindar the mythical past was invested with a 
splendor and sublimity, of which even the faint reflection was 
sufficient to embellish the preseat. 





84 GREEK LITERATURE. 


10. Orpnic Doctrines anp Porms.—The interval between 
Homer and Pindar is an important period in the history of 
Greek civilization. In Homer we perceive that infancy of 
the mind which lives in seeing and imagining, and whose 
moral judgments are determined by impulses of feeling rather 
than by rules of conduct, while with Pindar the chief effort 
of his genius is to discover the true standard of moral gov- 
ernment. ‘This great change of opinion must have been effected 
by the efforts of many sages and poets. All the Greek religious 
poetry, treating of death and of the world beyond the grave, 
refers to the deities whose influence was supposed to be exer- 
cised in the dark regions at the centre of the earth, and who had 
little connection with the political and social relations of human 
life. 'They formed a class apart from the gods of Olympus; the 
mysteries of the Greeks were connected with their worship 
alone, and the love of immortality first found support in a belief 
in these deities. The mysteries of Demeter, especially those 
celebrated at Hleusis, inspired the most animating hopes with 
regard to the soul after death. These mysteries, however, had 
little influence on the literature of the nation; but there was a 
society of persons called the followers of Orphevs, who published 
their notions and committed them to literary works. Under the 
guidance of the ancient mystical poet, Orpheus, they dedicated 
themselves to the worship of Bacchus or Dionysus, in which they 
sought satisfaction for an ardent longing after the soothing and 
elevating influences of religion, and upon the worship of this 
deity they founded their hopes of an ultimate immortality of the 
soul. Unlike the popular worshippers of Bacchus, they did not 
indulge in unrestrained pleasure or frantic enthusiasm, but 
rather aimed at an ascetic purity of life and manners. It ig 
difficult to tell when this association was formed in Greece, bu‘ 
we find in Hesiod something of the Orphic spirit, and the begin 
ning of higher and more hopeful views of death. 

The endeavor to obtain a knowledge of divine and humar 
things was in Greece slowly and with difficulty evolved from 
their religious notions, and it was for a long time confined to the 
refining and rationalizing of their mythology. An extensive 
Orphic literature first appeared at the time of the Persian 
war, when the remains of the Pythagorean order in Magna 
Greecia united themselves to the Orphic associations. The phi 
losophy of Pythagoras, however, had no analogy with the spirit — 
of the Orphic mysteries, in which the worship of Dionysus was 
the centre of all religious ideas, while the’ Pythagorear. philoso 
phers preferred the worship of Apollo and the Muses. In the 


———- 





GREEK LITERATURE. 85 


Orphic theogony we find, for the first time, the idea of creation 
Another difference between the notions of the Orphic poets and 
those of the early Greeks was that the former did not limit 
their views to the present state of mankind, still less did they 
acquiesce in Hesiod’s melancholy doctrine of successive ages, 
each one worse than the preceding; but they looked for a cessa- 
tion of strife, a state of happiness and beatitude at the end of 
all things. ‘Their hopes of this result were founded on Dionysti, 
from the worship of whom all their peculiar religious ideas were 
derived. This god, the son cf Zeus, is to succeed him in the 
government of the world, to restore the Golden Age, and to libe- 
rate human souls, who, according to an Orphic notion, are pun- 
ished by being confined in the body as in a prison. ‘The suffer- 
ings of the soul in its prison, the steps and transitions by which 
it passes to a higher state of existence, and its gradual purifica- 
tion and enlightenment, were all fully described in these poems 
Thus, in the poetry of the first five centuries of Greek literature, 
especially at the close of this period, we find, instead of the calm 
enjoyment of outward nature which characterized the early epic 
poetry, a profound sense of the misery of human life, and an 
ardent longing for a condition of greater happiness: This feel- 
ing, indeed, was not so extended as to become common to the 
whole Greek nation, but it took deep root in individual minds, 
and was connected with more serious and spiritual views of 
numan nature. 


11. Pre-Socratic Pattosopny.—Philosophy was early culti- 
vated by the Greeks, who first among all nations distinguished it 
from religion and mythology. For some time, however, after its 
origin, it was as far removed from the ordinary thoughts and, 
occupations of the people, as poetry was intimately connected 
with them. Poetry idealizes all that is most characteristic of a 
nation ; its religion, mythology, political and social institutions 
and manners. Philosophy, on the other hand, begins by de- 
taching the mind from the opinions and habits in which it has 
been bred up, from the national conceptions of the gods and the 
universe, and from traditionary maxims of ethics and politics. 
The philosophy of Greece, antecedent to the time of Socrates, is: 
contained in the doctrines of the Ionic, Eleatic and Pythagorean 
schools. ‘Thales of Miletus (639-548 3.c.) was the first in the 
series of the Ionic philosophers. He was one of the Seven Sages, 
who by their practical wisdom nobly contributed to the flourishing 
condition of Greece. Thales, Solon, Bion (fl. 570 B.c.), Cleobulus 
‘fl, 542 3.c.), Peviander (fl. 598 3.c.), Pittacus of Mytilene 


86 GREEK LITERATURE. 


(579 3.c.), and Chilon (fl. 542 3B.c.), were the seven phi 
losophers called the seven sages by their countrymen. ‘Thales 
is said to have foretold an eclipse of the sun, for which 
he doubtless employed astronomical formule, which he had 
obtained from the Chaldeans. His tendency was practical, 
and where his own knowledge was insufficient, he applied the 
discoveries of other nations more advanced than his own. He 
considered all natures as endowed with life, and sought to dis- 
cover the principles of external forms in the powers which lie 
beneath ; he taught that water was the principle of things. 


' Anaximander (fl. 547 3.c.), and Anaximenes (fl. 548 B.c.) were — 


the other two most distinguished representatives of the Ionic 
school. The former believed that chaotic matter was the prin- 
ciple of all things, the latter taught that it was air. The Hle- 
atic school is represented by Xenophanes, Parmenides and Zeno. 
As the philosophers of the first school were called Ionians from 
the country in which they resided, so these were named from 
Elea, a Greek colony of Italy. Xenophanes (fl. 538 B.c.), the 
founder of this school, adopted a different principle from that 
of the Ionic philosophers, and proceeded upon an ideal system, 
while that of the latter was exclusively founded upon experience. 
He began with the idea of the godhead, and showed the neces- 
sity of considering it as an eternal and unchanging existence, 
and represented the anthropomorphic conceptions of the Greeks 
concerning their gods as mere prejudices. In his works he re- 
tained the poetic form of composition, some fragments of which 
he himself recited at public festivals, after the manner of the 
rhapsodists. Parmenides flourished 504 years B.c. His philoso- 
phy rested upon the idea of existence which excluded the idea 


of creation, and thus fell into pantheism. His poem on 


“ Nature” was composed in the epic metre, and in it he ex- 
pressed in beautiful forms the most abstract ideas. Zeno of Elea 
(fl. 500 B.c.) was a pupil of Parmenides, and the earliest prose 
writer among the Greek philosophers. He developed the doc- 
trines of his master, by showing the absurdities involved in the 
ideas of variety and of creation, as opposed to one and universal 
substance. Other philosophers belonging to Ionia or Elea 
may be referred to these schools, as Heraclitus, Empedocles, 
Democritus, and Anaxagoras, whose doctrines, however, 
vary from those of the representatives of the philosophical sys- 
tems above named. Heraclitus (fl. 505 B.c.) dealt rather in 
intimations of important truths than in popular exposition of 
them ; his cardinal doctrine seems to have been that everything 
is in perpetual motion, that n»thing has any permanent existenca 


, 





——- ~~» 


GREEK LITERATURE, . 87 


and that everything is assuming a new form or perishing: the 
principle of this perpetual motion he supposed to be fire, though 
probably he did not mean material fire, but some higher and 
more universal agent. Like nearly all the philosophers, he de- 
spised the popular religion. Empedocles (fl. 440 B.c.) wrote a 
doctrinal poem concerning nature, fragments of which have been 
preserved. He denied the possibility of creation, and held 
the doctrine of an eternal and imperishable existence ; but he 
considered this existence as having different natures, and ad- 
mitted that fire, earth, air, and water were the four elements of 
all things.. These elements he supposed to be governed by two 
principles, one positive and one negative, that is to say, connecting 
love and dissolving discord. Democritus (fl. 460 B.c.) embodied 
his extensive knowledge in a series of writings, of which only a 
few fragments have been preserved. Cicero compared him with 
Plato for rhytha and elegance of language. He derived the 
manifold phenomena of the world from the different form, dis- 
position and arrangement of the innumerable elements or atoms 
as they become united. Heis the founder of the atomic doctrine. 
Anaxagoras (fl. 456 3.c.) rejected all popular notions of religion, 
excluded the idea of creation and destruction, and taught that 
atoms were unchangeable and imperishable; that spirit, the purest 
and subtlest of all things, gave to these atoms the impulse 
by which they took the forms of individual things and beings ; 
and that this impulse was given in circular motion, which kept 
the heavenly bodies in their courses. But none of his doctrines 
gave so much offence or was considered so clear a proof of his. 
atheism, as his opinion that the sun, the bountiful god Helios, 
who shines both upon mortals and immortals, was a mass of red- 
hot iron. His doctrines tended powerfully by their rapid diffu- 
sion to undermine the principles on which the worship of the 
ancient gods rested, and they therefore prepared the way for the. 
subsequent triumph of Christianity. 

The Pythagorean or Italic School was founded by Pythagoras, 
who is said to have flourished between 540 and 500 8.c.  Pytha- 
goras was probably an Ionian who emigrated to Italy, and there 
established his school. His principal efforts were directed to. 
practical life, especially to the regulation of political institutions, 
and his influence was exercised by means of lectures, or sayings, 
or by the establishment and direction of the Pythagorean asso- 
eiations. He encouraged the study of mathematics and music, 
end considered singing to the cithara as best fitted to produce. 
that mental repose and harmony of soul, which he regarded as. 
the highest object of education. 


B8 ‘ GREEK. LITERATURE. 


12. Hisrory.—It is remarkable, that a peuple so cultivated as 
the Greeks should have been so long without feeling the want 
ef a correct record of their transactions in war and peace. The 
uifference between this nation and the Orientals, in this respect, 
is very great. But the division of the country into numerous 
small States, and the republican form of the governments, pre- 
vented a concentration of interest on particular events and per- 
sons, and owing to the dissensions between the republics, their 
historical traditions could not but offend some while they flat- 
tered others ; it was not until a late period, that the Greeks con- 
sidered contemporary events as worthy of being thought or 
written of. But for this absence of authentic history, Greek 
literature could never have become what it was. By the 
purely fictitious character of its poetry, and its freedom from the 
shackles of particular truths, it acquired that general probability, 
which led Aristotle to consider poetry as more philosophical than 
history. Greek art, likewise, from the lateness of the period at 
which it descended from the representation of gods and heroes 
to the portraits of real men, acquired a nobleness and beauty | 
of form, which it could not otherwise have obtained. ‘This poet- 
ical basis gave the literature of the Greeks a noble and liberal 
turn. 

Writing was probably known in Greece some centuries before 
the time of Cadmus of Miletus (fl. 522 B.c.), but it had not 
been employed for the purpose of preserving any detailed histo- 
tical record, and even when, towards the end of the age of the 
Seven Sages (550 B.c.), some writers of historical narratives be- 
gan to appear, they did not select recent historical events, but 
those of distant times and countries; so entirely did they believe, 
that oral tradition and the daily discussions of common life were 
sufficient records of the events of their own time and country 
Cadmus of Miletus is mentioned as the first historian, but 
his works seem to have been early lost. ‘To him, and other 
Greek historians before the time of Herodotus, scholars have 
given the name of Logographers, from Logos, signifying any dis- 
course in prose. 

The first Greek, to whom it occurred that a narrative of facts 
might be made intensely interesting, was Herodotus (484-432 
B.C.), a native of Halicarnassus in Asia Minor, the Homer of 
Greek history. . Obliged, for political reasons, to leave his native 
land, he visited many countries, such as Hgypt, Babylon and 
Persia, and spent the latter years of his life in one of the Gre 
cian settlements in Italy, where he devoted himself to the com 
vosition of his work. His travels were undertaken from the 








GREEK LITERATURE, gO 


pure spirit of inquiry, and for that age they were very extensive 
and important. it is probable that his great and intricate 
plan, hitherto unknown in the historical writings of the Greeks, 
did not at first occu: to him, and that it was only in his later 
years that he conceived the complete idea of a work so far be- 
_, yond those of his predecessors and contemporaries. It is stated 
that he recited his history at different festivals, which is quite 
credible, though there is little authority for the story that at one 
of these Thucydides was present as a boy, and shed tears, drawn 
forth by his own desire for knowledge and his intense interest in 
the narrative. His work comprehends a history of nearly all 
the nations of the world at that time known. It has an epic 
character, not only from the equable and uninterrupted flow of 
the narrative, but also from certain pervading ideas which give a 
tone to the whole. The principal of these is the idea of a fixed 
destiny, of a wise arrangement of the world, which has pre- 
scribed to every being his path, and which allots ruin and de- 
struction not only to crime and violence, but to excessive power 
and riches and the overweening pride which is their companion. 
In this consists the envy of the gods so often mentioned by He- 
rodotus, and usually called by the other Greeks the divine LNe- 
mests. He constantly adverts in his narrative to the influence of 
this divine power, the Demonion, as he calls it. He shows 
how the Deity visits the sins of the ancestors upon their de- 
scendants, how man rushes, as it were, wilfully upon his own 
destruction, and how oracles mislead by their ambiguity, when 
interpreted by blind passion. He shows his awe of the divine 
Nemesis by his moderation and the firmness with which he keeps 
down the ebullitions of national pride. He points out traits 
of greatness of character in the hostile kings of Persia, and 
shows his countrymen how often they owed their successes to 
Providence and external advantages rather than to their own 
valor and ability. Since Herodotus saw the working of a 
divine agency in all human events, and considered the exhibition 
of it as the main object of his history, his aim is totally different 
from that of a historian who regards the events of life merely 
with reference to men. He is, in truth, a theologian and a poet 
as well as a historian. It is, however, vain to deny that when 
Herodotus did not see himself the events which he describes, he 
is often deceived by the misrepresentations of others ; yet, with- 
out his single-hearted simplicity, his disposition to listen to every 
remarkable account, and his admiration for the wonders of the 
eastern world, Herodotus would never have imparted to us 
many valuable accounts. Modern travellers, naturalists and 





BO GREEK LITERATURE 


geographers have often had occasiun to admire the truth and 
correctness of the information contained in his simple and mar- 
vellous narratives. But no dissertation on this writer can con- 
vey any idea of the impression made by reading his work; his lan- 
guage closely approximates to oral narration ; it is like hearing 
a person speak who has seen and lived through a variety of re- 
markable things, and whose greatest delight consists in recalling 
these images of the past. Though a Dorian by birth, he adopted 
the Ionic dialect, with its uncontracted terminations, its accu- 
inulated vowels, and its soft forms. These various elements con- 
spire to render the work of Herodotus a production as perfect 
in its kind as any human work can be. 


PERIOD SECOND, 
Tue Epoch or raz ArHentan Lirerature (484-322 B.c.) 


1. Lirerary Prepominance or ATHEeNs.—Among the Greeks 
a national literature was early formed. LHvery literary work in 
the Greek language, in whatever dialect it might be composed, 
was enjoyed by the whole nation, and the fame of remarkable 
writers soon spread throughout Greece. Certain cities were 
consideved almost as theatres, where the poets and sages could 
bring their powers and acquirements into public notice. Among 
these, Sparta stood highest down to the time of the Persian war. 
But when Athens, raised by her political power and the mental 
qualities of her citizens, acquired the rank of the capital of 
Greece, literature assumed a different form, and there is no more - 
important epoch in the history of the Greek intellect, than the 
time when she obtained this preéminence over her sister States. 
The character of the Athenians peculiarly fitted them to take 
this lead; they were lonians, and the boundless resources and 
mobility of the Ionian spirit are shown by their astonishing pro- 
iluctions in Asia Minor and in the islands, in the two centuries 
previous to the Persian war ; in their iambic and elegiac poetry, 
and in the germs of philosophic i inquiry and historical composi- 
tion. The literature of those who remained in Attica seemed 
poor and meagre when compared with that luxuriant outburst; 
nor did it appear, till a later period, that the progress of the 
Athenian intellect was the more sound and lasting. The Ionians 
of Asia Minor, becoming at length enfeebled and corrupted by 
the luxuries of the East, passed easily under the power of the 
Fersians, while the inhabitants of Attica, encompassed and 


GREEK LITERaTURE. 91 


oppressed by the manly tribes ot’ Greece, and forced to keep the 
sword constantly in their hands, exerted all their talents and 
thus developed all their extraordinary powers. 

- Solon, the great lawgiver, arose to combine moral strictness 
and order with freedom of action. After Solon came the do- 
minion of the Pisistratids, which lasted from about 560 to 
510 p.c. They showed a fondness for art, diffused a taste for 
poetry among the Athenians, and naturalized at Athens the 
best literaiy ‘productions of Greece. They were unquestionably 
the first to introduce the entire recital of the Iliad and Odyssey; 
they also brought to Athens the most distinguished lyric poets 
of the time, Anacreon, Simonides and others. But, notwith- 
standing their patronage of literature and art, it was not till 
after the fall of their dynasty that Athens shot up with a vigor, 
that can only be derived from the consciousness of every citizen 
that he has a share in the common weal. 

‘It is a remarkable fact that Athens produced her most excel- 
lent works in literature and art in the midst of the greatest 
political convulsions, and of her utmost efforts for conquest and 
self-preservation. The long dominion of the Pisistratids produced 
nothing more important than the first rudiments of the tragic 
drama, for the origin of comedy at the country festivals of Bac- 
chus falls in the time before Pisistratus. On the other hand, 
the thirty years between the expulsion of Hippias, the last of the 
Pisistratids, and the battle of Salamis (B.c. 510-480), was a 
period marked by great events both in polities and literature. 
Athens contended with success against her warlike neighbors, 
supported the Ionians in their revolt against Persia, and warded 
pff the first powerful attack of the Persians upon Greece. Dur- 
ing the same period, the pathetic tragedies of. Phrynichus and 
the lofty tragedies of Auschylus appeared on the stage, political 
eloquence was awakened in Themistocles, and everything seemed 
to give promise of future greatness. 

The political events which followed the Persian war gradu- 
ally gave to Athens the dominion over her allies, so that she 
became the sovereign of a large and flourishing empire, compre- 
hending the islands and coasts of the Augean and a part of 
the Euxine sea. In this manner was gained a wide basis for 
the lofty edifice of political glory, which was raised by her states- 
men. The completion of this splendid structure was due to 
Pericles (500-429 B.c.) ‘Through his influence Athens be 
eame a dominant community, whose chief business it was to 
administer the affairs of an extensive empire, flourishing in agri- 
eulture, industry and commerce. Pericles, however, did not 





92 GREEK LITERATURE. 





make the acquisition of power the highest object of his Siti 
his aim was to realize in Athens the idea which he had con. 
ceived of human greatness, that great apd noble thoughts 
should pervade the whole mass of the ruling people ; and this 
was, in fact, the case as long as his influence lasted, to a greater 
degree than has occurred in any other period of history. 
The objects to which Pericles directed the people, and for 
which he accumulated so much power and wealth at Athens, 
may be best seen in the still extant works of architecture and 
sculpture which originated under his administration. He induced 
the Athenian people to expend on the decoration of Athens a 
larger part of its ample revenues than was ever applied to 
this purpose in any other State, either republican or monarchical, 
Of the surpassing skill with which he collected into one focus the 
rays of artistic genius at Athens, no stronger proof can be 
afforded, than the fact that no subsequent period, through the 
patronage of Macedonian or Roman princes, produced works of 
equal excellence. Indeed, if, may be said that the creations of 
the age of Pericles are the only works of art which completely 
satisty the most refined and cultivated taste. 

But this brilliant exhibition of human excellence was not 
without its dark side, nor the flourishing state of Athenian 
civilization exempt from the elements of decay. The political 
position of Athens soon led to a conflict between the patriotism 
and moderation of her citizens, and their interests and passions. 
From the earliest times, this city had stood in an unfriendly 
relation to the rest of Greece, and her policy of compelling so 
many cities to contribute their wealth in order to make her the 
focus of art and civilization was accompanied with offensive 
pride and selfish patriotism. The energy in action, which dis- 
tinguished the Athenians, degenerated into a restless love of 
adventure ; and that dexterity in the use of words, which they 
eultivated more than the other Greeks, induced them to subject 
everything to discussion, and destroyed the habits founded on 
unreasoning faith. The principles of the policy of Pericles were 
closely connected with the. demoralization which followed his 
administration. By founding the power of the Athenians on the 
dominion of the sea, he led them to abandon land war and the 
military exercises requisite for it, which had hardened the old 
warriors at Marathon. As he made them a dominant people, 
whose time was chiefly devoted to the business of governing 
their widely-extended empire, it was necessary for him to pro 
vide that the common citizens of Athens should be able to gain 
@ livelihood by their attention to public business, and accord 





; 
| 





GREEK LITERATURE, 93 


ingly, a large revenue was distributed among them in the form 
of wages for attendance in the courts of justice and other public 
assemblies. ‘These payments to citizens for their share in the 
public business were quite new in Greece, and many considered 
the sitting and listening in these assemblies as an idle life in 
comparison with the labor of the ploughman and vine-grower in 
the country, and for a long time the industrious cultivators, the 
brave warriors, and the men of old-fashioned morality, were 
opposed, among the citizens of Athens, to the loquacious, 
luxurious and dissolute generation, who passed their whole time 
in the market-place and courts of justice. The contests 
between these two parties is the main subject of the early Attic 
comedy. 

Literature and art, however, were not, during the Pelopon- 
nesian war, affected by the corruption of morals. The works of 
this period exhibit not only a perfection of form but also an ele- 
vation of soul and a grandeur of conception, which fill us with 
admiration not only for those who produced them, but for those 
who could enjoy such works of art. A step further, and the love 
of genuine beauty gave place to a desire for evil pleasures, and 


. the love of wisdom degenerated into an idle use of words. 


2. THe Drama.—The spirit of an age is more completely 
represented by its poetry than by its prose composition; and 
accordingly we may best trace the character of the three 
different stages of civilization among the Greeks in the three 
grand divisions of their poetry. ‘The epic belongs to the 
monarchical period, when the minds cf the people were impreg- 
nated and swayed by legends handed down from antiquity. 
Elegiac, iambic and lyric poetry arose in the more stirring and 
agitated times which accompanied the development of republican 


‘governments, times in which each individual gave vent to his 


eg aims and wishes, and all the depths of the human 
reast were unlocked by the inspirations of poetry. And now, 
when at the summit of Greek civilization, in the very prime of 
Athenian power and freedom, we see dramatic poetry spring up 
as the organ of the prevailing thoughts and feelings of the time, 
we are naturally led to ask, how it comes that this style of poetry 
agreed so well with the spirit of the age, and so far outstripped 
its competitors in the contest for public favor. 

Dramatic poetry, as its name implies, represents actions, which 
are not as in the epos merely narrated, but seem to take place 
before the eyes of the spectator. The epic poet appears to regard 
she events, which he relates from afar, as objects of calm com 





4 GREEK LITERATURE, 


templation and admiration, and is always conscious of the great 
interval between him and them, while the dramatist plunges with 
his entire soul into the scenes of human life, and seems himself 
te experience the events which he exhibits to our view ‘The 
drama comprehends and develops the events of human life with 
wu force and depth, which ne other style of poetry can reach. 

If we carry ourselyes in imagination back to a time when 
dramatic composition was unknown, we must acknowledge that 
its creation required great boldness of mind. Hitherto the bard 
had only sung. of gods and heroes; it was, therefore, a great 
change for the poet himself to come forward all at once in the 
character of the god or hero, in a nation which, even in its 
amusements, had always adhered closely to established usages. 
It is true that there is much in human nature which impels it to 
dramatic representations, such as the universal love of imitating 
other persous, and the child-like liveliness with which a narrator, 
strongly impressed with his subject, delivers a speech which he 
has heard or perhaps only imagined. Yet there is a wide step 
from these disjomted elements to the genuine drama, and it 
seems that no nation, except the Greeks, ever made this step 
The diamatic poctry of the Hindus belongs to a time when there 
had been much intercourse between Greece and India : even in 
ancient Greece and Italy, dramatic poetry, and especially 
tragedy, attained to perfection only in Athens, and here it was 
only exhibited at a few festivals of a single god, Dionysus, while 
epic rhapsodies and lyric odes were recited on various occasions, 
All this is incomprehensible, if we suppose dramatic poetry to- 
have originated in causes independent of the peculiar circum- 
stances of time and place. Ifa love of imitation and a delight 
in disguising the real person under a mask, were the basis upon 
which this style of poetry was raised, the drama would have 
heen as natural and as universal among men, as these qualities 
ure common to their nature. 

A more satisfactory explanation of the origin of the Greek 
drama may be found in its connection with the worship of the 
gods, and particularly that of Bacchus. The gods were 
supposed to dwell in their temples and to participate in their 
festivals, and it was not considered presumptuous or unbecoming 
so represent them as acting like human beings, as was frequently 
done by mimic representations, The worship of Bacchus had 
one quality which was more than any other calculated to give 
birth to the drama, and particularly to tragedy, namely, the 
enthusiasm which formed an essential part of it, and whick 
proceeded from an impassioned sympathy with the events 








GREEK LITERATURE. 9s 


of nature in ‘onnection with the course of the seasons. The 
original participators in these festivals believed that they per- 
ceived the god to be really affected by the changes of nature, 
killed or dying, flying and rescued, or reanimated, victorious and 
dominant. Although the great changes, which took place in 
the religion and cultivation of the Greeks, banished from their 
minds the conviction that these events really occurred, yet an 
enthusiastic sympathy with the god and his fortunes, as with 
real events, always remained. The swarm of subordinate beings 
by whom Bacchus was surrounded—-satyrs, nymphs, and a 
variety of beautiful and -grotesque forms—were ever present to 
the fancy of the Greeks, and it was not necessary to depart very 
widely from the ordinary course of ideas, to imagine them visible 
to human eyes among the solitary woods and rocks. The custom, 
so prevalent at the festivals of Bacchus, of taking the disguise of 
satyrs, doubtless originated in the desire to approach more 
nearly to the presence of their divinity. ‘The desire of escaping 
from self into something new and strange, of living in an 
imaginary world, broke forth in a thousand instances in those 
festivals. It was seen in the coloring of the body, the wearing 
of skins and masks of wood or bark, and in the complete costume 


belonging to the character. 


The learned writers of antiquity agree in stating that tragedy, 
as well as comedy, was originally a choral song. The action, 
the adventure of the gods, was presupposed or only symbolically — 
indicated; the chorus expressed their feelings upon it. This 
choral song belonged to the class of the dethyrambd, an enthusiastic 
ode to Bacchus, capable of expressing every variety of feeling 
excited by the worship of that god. It was first sung by 
revellers at convivial meetings, afterwards it was regularly 
executed by a cnorus. The subject of these tragic choruses 
sometimes changed from Bacchus to other heroes distinguished 
for their misfortunes and- suffering. The reason why the 
dithyramb and afterwards tragedy was transferred from that 
god to heroes and not to other gods of the Greek Olympus, was 
that the latter were elevated above the chances of fortune and 
the alternations of joy and grief, to which both Bacchus and the 
heroes were subject. 

It is stated by Aristotle, that tragedy originated with the 
chief singers of the dithyramb. It is probable that they repre- 
sented Bacchus himself or his messengers, that they came for- 
ward and narrated his perils and escapes, and that the chorus 
chen expressed their feeling, as at passing events. The chorus 
thus naturally assured the character of satellites o® Bacchus 


- een 


86 GREEK LITERATURE. i 


waence they easily fell into the parts of satyrs, who were his com 
panions in sportive adventures, as well as in combats and misfor- 
tunes. The name of tragedy, or goat’s song, was derived from the 
resemblance of the singers, in their character of satyrs, to goats 

Thus far tragedy had advanced among the Dorians, who, 
therefore, considered themselves the inventors of it. All its 
further development belongs to the Athenians. In the time of 
Pisistratus, Thespis (506 B.c.) first caused tragedy to become a 
drama, though a very simple one. He connected with the 
choral representation a regular dialogue, by joining one person 
to the chorus who was the fist actor. He introduced linen 
masks, and thus the one actor might appear in several charac- 
ters. In the drama of Thespis we find the satyric drama con- 
founded with tragedy, and the persons of the chorus frequently 
representing satyrs. ‘The dances of the chorus were still a prin- 
cipal part of the performance; the ancient tragedians, in general, 
were teachers of dancing, as well as poets and musicians. 

In Phrynichus (fl. 512 B.c.) the lyric predominated over the 
dramatic element. Like Thespis, he had only one actor, but he 
used this actor for different characters, and he was the first who 
brought female parts upon the stage, which, according to the 
manners of the ancients, could be acted only by men. In seve- 
ral instances it is remarkable that Phrynichus deviated from 
mythical subjects to those taken from contemporary history. 


3. Tracepy.—The tragedy of antiquity was entirely different 
from that which, in progress of time, arose among other nations; 
a picture of human life, agitated by the passions, and corre- 
sponding as accurately as possible to its original in all its fea- 
tures. Ancient tragedy departs entirely from ordinary life; its 
character is in the highest degree ideal, and its development 
necessary, and essentially directed by the fate to which gods 
and men were subjected. As tragedy and dramatic exhibitions, 
generally, were only seen at the festivals of Bacchus, they re- 
tained a sort of Bacchic coloring, and the extraordinary excite- 
ment of all minds at these festivals, by raising them above the 
tone of every<lay existence, gave both to the tragic and comic 
muse unwonted energy and fire. 

The Bacchic festal costume, which the actors wore, consistec 


of long striped garments reaching to the ground, over which 


were thrown upper garments of some brilliant color, with gay 
trimmings and gold ornaments. The choruses also vied with 
each other in the splendor of their dress, as well as in the excel 
‘ence of their singing and dancing. The chorus, which alwaye 


wf 


4 
4 


oo 


ne 
J ' W r 


GREEK LITERATURE. | 97 


fore a subordinate part in the action of the tragedy, was in ne 
respect distinguished from the stature and appearance of ordinary 
men, while the actor, who represented the god or hero, required to 
be raised above the usual dimensions of mortals. A tragic actor 
was a strange, and, according to the taste of the ancients them: 
selves at a later period, a very monstrous being. His person 
was lengthened out considerably beyond the proportions of the 
human figure by the very high soles of the tragic shoe, and by 
the Jength of the tragic mask, and the chest, body, legs and 
arms were stuffed and padded to a corresponding size; the body 
thus lost much of its natural flexibility, and the gesticulation 
consisted of stiff, angular movements, in which little was left to 
the emotion or the inspiration of the moment. Masks, which 
had originated in the taste for mumming and disguises of all 
sorts, prevalent at the Bacchic festivals, were an indispensable 
accompaniment to tragedy. They not only concealed the indi- 
vidual features of well-known actors, and enabled the spectators 
entirely to forget the performer in his part, but gave to his 
whole aspect that ideal character which the tragedy of antiquity 
demanded. The tragic mask was not intentionally ugly and 
caricatured like the comic, but the half open mouth, the large 
eye-sockets, and sharply-defined features, in which every charac- 
teristic was presented in its utmost strength, and the bright and 
hard coloring were calculated to make the impression of a being 
agitated by the emotions and passions of human nature in a de- 
gree far above the standard of common life. The masks could, 
however, be changed between the acts, so as to represent the 
necessary changes in the state or emotions of the persons. 

The ancient theatres were stone buildings of enormous size, 
calculated to accommodate the whole free and adult population 
of a great city at the spectacles and festal games. These the- 
atres were not designed exclusively for dramatic poetry; choral 
dances, processions, and revels, all sorts of representations were 
held in them. We find theatres in every part of Greece, though 
aramatic poetry was the peculiar growth of Athens. 

The whole structure of the theatre, as well as the drama itself, 
inay be traced to the chorus, whose station was the original 
centre of the whole performance. The orchestra, which occu- 
pied a circular level space in the centre of the building, grew 
out of the chorus or dancing place of the Homeric times. The 
altar of Bacchus, around which the dithyrambic chorus danced 
in a circle, had given rise to a sort of raised platform in the cen- 
xe of the orchestra, which served as a resting-place for the . 
chorus 

5 


98 GREEK LITERATURE. . 


The chorus sang alone when the actors had quitted the stage, 
or alternately with the persons of the drama, and sometimes en: 
tered into dialogues with them. These persons represented 
heroes of the mythical world, whose whole aspect bespoke some. 
thing mightier and more sublime than ordinary humanity, and it 
was the part of the chorus to show the impression made by the 
incidents of the drama on lower and feebler minds, and thus, as 
it were, to interpret them to the audience, with whom they 
owned a more kindred nature. The ancient stage was remark: 
ably long, and of little depth; it was called the proscenvwm, be- 
cause it was in front of the scene. Scene properly means éent or 
fut, such as originally marked the dwelling of the principal per- 
son. ‘Chis hut at length gave place to a stately scene, enriched 
with architectural decorations, yet its purpose remained the same. 

We have seen how a single actor was added to the cho- 
rus by Thespis, who caused him to represent in succession all 
the persons of the drama. Aischylus added a second actor in 
order to obtain the contrast of two acting persons on the stage; 
even Sophocles did not venture beyond the introduction of « 
third. But the ancients laid more stress upon the precise num- 
ber and mutual relations of these actors, than can here be ex- 
plained. 


4. Tue Tractc Porrs,—Aschylus (525-477 B.c.), like 
almost all the great masters of poetry in ancient Greece, was a 
poet by profession, and from the great improvements which he 
introduced into tragedy, he was regarded by the Athenians as 
its founder. Of the seventy tragedies which he is said to have 
written, only seven are extant. Of these, the “ Prometheus” is 
beyond all question his greatest work. The genius of Adschylus 
inclined rather to the awful and sublime, than to the tender and 
pathetic. He excels in representing the superhuman, in depict- 
ing demigods and heroes, and in tracing the irresistible march of 
fate. The depth of poetical feeling in him is accompanied with 
intense and philosophical thought; be does not merely represent 
individual tragical events, but he recurs to the greater elements 
of tragedy—the subjection of the gods and Titans, and the 
original dignity and greatness of nature and of man. He de- 
lights to portray this gigantic strength, as in his Prometheus 
chained and tortured, but invincible; and these representations 
have a moral sublimity far above mere poetic beauty. His tra 
gedies were at once political, patriotic and religious. 

Sophocles (495-406 B.c.), as a poet, is universally allowed ta 
nave brought the drama to the highest degree of perfection of 





i Dek i er ae 


> a 








GREEK LITERATURE, 94 


whieh it was susceptible. Indeed, the Greek mind may be said 
to have culminated in him; his writings overflow with that inde 
seribable charm, which only flashes through those of other poets 
His plots are worked up with more skill and care than those of 
either of his great rivals, Adschylus or Euripides, and he added 
the last improvement to the form of the drama by the introduc- 
tion of a third actor—a change which greatly enlarged the scope 
of the action. Of the many tragedies which he is said to have 
written, only seven are extant. Of these, the ‘‘ Edipus Tyran- 
nus” is particularly remarkable for its skillful development, and 
for the manner in which the interest of the piece increases 
through each succeeding act. Of all the poets of antiquity, 
Sophocles has penetrated most deeply into the recesses of the 
human heart. His tragedies appear to us as pictures of the 
mind, as poetical developments of the secrets of our souls, and 
of the laws to which their nature makes them amenable. 

In Enripides (480-407 z.c.), we discover the first traces of 
decline in the Greek tragedy. He diminished its dignity by 
depriving it of its ideal character, and by bringing it down to 
the level of every-day life. All the characters of Euripides have 
that loquacity and dexterity in the use of words which distin- 
guished the Athenians of his day; yet in spite of all these faults 
he has many beauties, and is particularly remarkable for pathos, 
so that Aristotle calls him the most tragic of poets. Eighteen 
of his tragedies are still extant. 

The contemporaries of the three great tragic poets, Auschylus, 
Sophocles and Euripides, must be regarded for the most part as 
far from insignificant, since they maintained their place on the 
stage beside them, and not unfrequently gained the tragic prize 
in competition with them; yet the general character of these 
poets must have been deficient in that depth and peculiar force 
of genius, by which these great tragedians were distinguished. If 
this had not been the case, their works would assuredly have 
attracted greater attention, and would have been read more fre- 
juently in later times. 


5. Comepy.—Greek comedy was distinguished as the Old, the 
Middle and the New. As tragedy arose from the winter feast 
of Bacchus, which fostered an enthusiastic sympathy with the 
apparent sorrows of the god of nature, comedy arose from the 
concluding feast of the vintage, at which an exulting joy over 
the inexhaustible riches of nature, manifested itself in wantonnesg 
of every kind. In such a feast, the Comus, or Bacchanalian 
procession, was a principal ingredient. This was a tumultuous 


100 GREEK LITERATURE. . | 


mixture of the wild carouse, the noisy song-and the drunken 
dance ; and the meaning of the word comedy is a comus song. 
It was from this lyric comedy that the dramatic comedy was 
gradually produced. It received its full development from Cra- 
tinus, who lived in the age of Pericles. Cratinus and his 
younger contemporaries, Eupolis (431 B.c.) and Aristophanes 
(452-380 B.c.), were the great poets of the old Attic comedy. 
Of their works, only eleven dramas of Aristophanes are extant. 
The chief object of these comedies was to excite laughter by the 
boldest and most ludicrous caricature, and, provided that end 
was obtained, the poet seems to have cared little about the jus- 
tice of the picture. It is scarcely possible to imagine the un- 
measured and unsparing license of attack assumed by these com- 
edies upon the gods, the institutions, the politicians, philoso- 
phers, poets, private citizens and women of Athens. With this 
universal liberty of subject there is combined a poignancy of de- 
rision and satire, a fecundity of imagination, and a richness of 
poetical expression, such as cannot be surpassed. Towards the 
end of the career of Aristophanes, however, this unrestricted 
license of the comedy began gradually to disappear. 


The Old comedy was succeeded by the Middle Attic comedy, 


in which the satire was no longer directed against the influential 
men or rulers of the people, but was rich in ridicule of the Pla- 
tonic Academy, of the newly revived sect of the Pythagoreans, 
and of the orators, rhetoricians and poets of the day. In this tran- 
sition from the Old to the Middle comedy, we may discern at 
once the great revolution that had taken place in the domestic 
history of Athens, when the Athenians, from a nation of politi- 
cians became a nation of literary men ; when it was no longer 
the opposition of political ideas, but the contest of opposing 
schools of philosophers and rhetoricians, which set all heads in 
motion. ‘The poets of this comedy were very numerous. 

The last poets of the Middle comedy were contemporaries of 
the writers of the New, who rose up as their rivals, and who 
were only distinguished from them: by following the new ten- 
dency more decidedly and exclusively. Menander (842-293 B.c.) 
was one of the first of these poets, and he is also the most per- 
fect of them. The Athens of his day differed from that of the 
time of Pericles, in the same way as an old man, weak in body 
but foud of life, good-humored and self-indulgent, differs from 
the vigorous, middle-aged man at the summit of his mental 
strength and bodily energy. Since there was so little in politics 
to interest or to employ the mind, the Athenians found an ob- 
ject in the occurrences of social life and the charm of dissolute 


Sy a ee 








, ; GREEK LITERATURE 101 


exjoyment. Dramatic poetry now, for the first time, centred in 
love, as it has since done among all nations to whom the Greek 
cultivation has descended. But it certainly was not love in 
those nobler forms to which it has since elevated itself Menan- 
der painted truly the degenerate world in which he lived, actu- 
ated by no mighty impulses, no noble aspirations. He was con- 
temporary with Hpicurus, and their characters had much in com- 
mon ; both were deficient in the inspiration of high moral ideas. 

The comedy of Menander and his contemporaries completed 
what Huripides had begun on the tragic stage a hundred years 
before their time. They deprived their characters of that ideal 
grandeur which had been most conspicuous in the creations of 
Aischylus and the earlier poets, and thus tragedy and comedy, 
which had started from such different beginnings, here met as at 
the same point. The comedies of Menander may be considered 
as almost the conclusion of Attic literatmve ; he was the last 
original poet of Athens; those who arose at a later period were 
but gleaners after the rich harvest of Greek poetry had been 
gathered. 


6. Oratory, Ruetoric anp History.—We may distinguish 
three epochs in the history of Attic prose from Pericles to Alex- 
ander the Great: first, that of Pericles and Thucydides; 
second, that of Lysias, Socrates and Plato ; and, third, that 
of Demosthenes and Aischines. Public speaking had been com. 
mon in Greece from the earliest times, but as the works of Athe. 
nian orators alone have come down to us, we may conclude that 
oratory was cultivated in a much higher ‘degree at Athens thav. 
elsewhere. No speech of Pericles has been preserved in writ, 


- ing; only a few of nis emphatic and nervous expressions wers 


kept in remembrance; but a general impression of the grandeur 
of his oratory long prevailed among the Greeks, from which we 
may form a clear conception of his style. The sole object of the 
oratory of Pericles was to produce conviction ; he did not aim 
to excite any sudden or transient burst of passion by working on 
the emotions of the heart ; nor did he use any of those means 
employed by the orators of a later age to set in motion the un- 
ruly impulses of the multitude. His manner was tranquil, with 
hardly any change of feature ; his garments were undisturbed by 
any oratorical gesticulations, and his voice was equable and sus- 
tained. He never condescended to flatter the people, and his 
dignity never stooped to merriment. Although there was more 
of reasoning than imagination in his speeches, he gave a vivid 
and impressive coloring to his language by the use of striking 


102 GREEK LITERATURE, | 


metaphors and comparisons, as when, at the funeral of a number 
of young persons who had fallen in battle, he used the beautiful 
figure, that “the year had lost its spring.” 

The cultivation of the art of oratory among the Athenians was 
ue to a combination of the natural eloquence displayed by the 
Athenian statesmen, and especially by Pericles, with the rhetori- 
cal studies of the sophists, who exercised a greater influence on the 
culture of the Greek mind than any other class of men, the poets 
excepted. The sophists, as their name indicates, were persons who 
made knowledge their profession, and undertook to impart it to 
every one who was willing to place himself under their guidance; 
they were reproached with being the first to sell knowledge for 
money, for they not only demanded it from those who came to 
hear their lectures, but they undertook, for a certain sum, to give 
young men a complete sophistical education. Pupils flocked to 
them in crowds, and they acquired such riches as neither art nor 
science had ever before earned among the Greeks. If we con- 
sider their doctrines philosophically, they amounted to a denial 
or renunciation of all true science. They were able to speak 
with equal plausibility for and against the same position ; not in 
order to discover the truth, but to show the nothingness of truth, 
In the improvement of written composition, however, a high 
value must be set on their services. They made language the 
object of their study ; they aimed at correctness and beauty of 
style, and they laid the foundation for the polished diction of 
Plato and Demosthenes. They taught that the sole aim of the 
orator is to turn the minds of his hearers into such a train as may 
best suit his own interest ; that, consequently, rhetoric is the 
agent of persuasion, the art of all arts, because the rhetorician 
is able to speak well and convincingly on every subject, though 
he may have no accurate knowledge respecting it. 

The Peloponnesian war, which terminated in the downfall of 
Athens, was succeeded by a period of exhaustion and repose 
The fine arts were checked in their progress, and poetry degene- 
rated into empty bombast. Yet, at this very time, prose 
literature began a new career, which led to its fairest develop 
ment. 

Lysias and Isocrates gave an entirely new form to oratory by 
the happy alterations which they in different ways introduced 
into the old prose style. Lysias (fl. 359 B.c.), in the 50th year 
of his age, began to follow the trade of writing speeches for 


such private individuals as could not trust their own skill in~ 


addressing a court ; for this object, a plain, unartificial style wag 
hest suited, becarse citize,s who called in the aid of the speech 


, GREEK LITERATURE. 103 


writer had no knowledge of rhetoric, and thus Lysias was 
obliged to originate a style, which became more and more con- 
firmed by habit. The consequence was, that for his contem- 
‘poraries and for all ages, he stands forth as the first and in 
many respects the perfect pattern of a plain style. The narrative 
part of the speech, for which he was particularly famous, is 
always natural, interesting and. lively, and often relieved by 
mimic touches which give “it a wonderful air of reality. The 
proofs and confutations are distinguished by a clearness of 
reasoning and a boldness of argument which leave no room for 
doubt; in a word, the speeches are just what they ought to be 
in order to obtain a favorable decision, an object in which, it 
seems, he often succeeded. Of his many orations, thirty-five 
have come down to us. 

Isocrates (fl. 338 B.c.) established a school for political 
oratory, which became the first and most flourishing in Greece. 
His orations were mostly destined for this school. Though 
neither a great statesman nor philosopher in himself, Isocrates 
constitutes an epoch as a rhetorician or artist of language. His 
influence extended far beyond the limits of his own school, and 
without his reconstruction of the style of Attic oratory, we 
could have had no Demosthenes and no Cicero ; through these, 
the school of Isocrates has extended its influence even to the 
oratory of our own day. 

The verdict of lis contemporaries, ratified by posterity, has 
pronounced Demosthenes (380-322 B.c.) the greatest orator that 
has ever lived, yet he had no natural advantages for oratory. 
A feeble frame and a weak voice, a shy and awkward manner, 
the ungraceful gesticulations of one whose limbs had never been 
duly exercised, and a defective articulation, would have deterred 
most men from even attempting to address an Athenian assem- 
bly; but the ambition and perseverance of Demosthenes enabled 
him to triumph over every disadvantage. He improved his 
bodily powers by running, his voice by speaking aloud as he 
walked up hill, or declaimed against the roar of the sea; he 
practised graceful delivery before.a looking-glass, and controlled 
his unruly articulation by speaking with pebbles in his mouth. 
His want of fluency he remedied by diligent composition and by 
copying and committing to memory the works of the best 
authors. By these means, he came forth as the acknowledged 
leader of the assembly, and, even by the confession of his 
deadliest enemies, the first orator of Greece. His harangues 
to the people, and his speeches on public and private causes, 
which have heen preserved, form a collection of sixty-one orations 


% 


104 GREEK LITERATURE. 


The most important efforts of Demosthenes, however, were the 
series of public speeches referring to Philip of Macedon, ana 
known as the twelve Philippics, a name which has become a 


general designation for spirited invectives. The main charac: 


teristic of his eloquence consisted in the use of the common 
language of his age and country. He took great pains in the 
choice and arrangement of his words, and aimed at the utmost 
conciseness, making epithets, even common adjectives, do the 
work of a whole sentence, and thus, by his perfect delivery and 
action, a sentence composed of ordinary terms sometimes smote 
with the weight of a sledge-hammer. In his orations, there 
is not any long or close train of reasoning, still less any pro- 
found observations or remote and ingenious allusions, but a con- 
stant succession of remarks, bearing immediately on the matter 
in hand, perfectly plain, and as readily admitted as easily under- 
stood. ‘These are intermingled with the most striking appeals 
either to feelings which all were conscious of, and deeply agitated 
by, though ashamed to own; or to sentiments which every man 


was panting to utter and delighted to hear thundered forth,— - 


bursts of oratory, which either overwhelmed or relieved the 
audience. Such characteristics constituted the principal glory 
of the great orator. 

The most eminent of the contemporaries of Demosthenes, 
were Iseeus (420-348 B.c.), an artificial and elaborate orator; 
Lycurgus (393-328 B.c.), a celebrated civil reformer of 
Athens; Hypereides, contemporary of Lycurgus; and, above all, 
AEschines (389-314 B.c.), the great rival of Demosthenes, of 
whose numerous speeches only three have been preserved 
At a later period, we find two schools of Rhetoric, the Attic, 
founded by Auschines, and the Asiatic, established by Hegesias 
of Magnesia. The former proposed as models of oratory the 
great Athenian orators, the latter depended on artificial man- 
ners, and produced speeches distinguished rather by rhetorical 
ornaments and a rapid flow of diction, than by weight and foree 
of style. 

cated historical department, Thucydides (471-391 B.c.) com- 
menced an entirely new class of historical writing. While 
Herodotus aimed at giving a vivid picture of all that fell under 
the cognizance of the senses, and endeavored to represent a 
superior power ruling over the destinies of princes and people, 
the attention of Thucydides was directed to human action, 
as it is developed from the character and situation of the 
individual. His history, from its unity of action, may be con 


videred as a historical drama, the subiect being the Atheniax 











, ee a se 



























GREEK LITERATURE. 105 


 omination over Greece, and the parties the belligerent repub- 
ics. Clearness in the narrative, harmony and consistency 
of the details with the general history, are the characteristics 
of his work; and in his style, he combines the concise and 
pregnant oratory of Pericles with the vigorous but artificial 
style of the rhetoricians. Demosthenes was so diligent a 
studeat of Thucydides, that he copied out his history eight 
‘imes. 

Xenophon (445-391 s.c.) may also be classed among the 
great historians, his name being most favorably known from the 
** Anabasis,” in which he describes the retreat of the ten thousand 
Greek mercenaries in the service of Cyrus, the Persian king, 
among whom he himself played a prominent part. The minute- 
ness of detail, the picturesque simplicity of the style, and the air 
of reality which pervades it, have made it a favorite with every 
age. In his memorials of Socrates, he records the conversations 
of a man whom he had admired and listened to, but whom he 
did not understand. In the language of Xenophon, we find the 
first approximation to the common dialect, which became after- 
wards the universal language of Greece. He wrote several 
other works, in which, however, no development of one great and 
pervading idea can be found; but in all of them there is a 
singular clearness and beauty of description. 


7. Socrates AND THE Socratic ScHoors.—Although Socrates 
468-399 z.c.) left no writings behind him, yet the intellect of 

reece was powerfully affected by the principles of his philoso- 
phy, and the greatest literary genius that ever appeared in 
Hellas owed most of his mental training to his early intercourse 
with him. It was by means of conversation, by a searching 
process of question and answer, that Socrates endeavored to 
lead his pupils to a consciousness of their own ignorance, and 
thus to awaken in their minds an anxiety to obtain more exact 
views. ‘This method of questioning he reduced to a scientific pro- 
cess, and “dialectics” became a name for the art of reasoning 
and the science of logic. The subject-matter of this method 
was moral science considered with special reference to politics. 
To him may be justly attributed induction and general defini- 
tions, and he applied this practical logic to a common sense 
estimate of the duties of man both as a moral being and as a 
member of a community, and thus he first treated moral philo- 
sophy according to scientific principles. No less than ten schools 
of philosophers claimed him as their head, though the majority 
ef them imperfectly represented his doctrines By his influence 

&* 


106 GREEK LITERATURE. 


on Plato, and through him on Aristotle, he constituted himsef 
the founder of the philosophy which is still recognized in the 
civilized world. 

From the doctrine held by Socrates, that virtue was depend: 
ent on knowledge, Hucleides of Megara (fl. 398 B.c.), the founder 


of the Megaric school, submitted moral philosophy to dialectical — 


reasoning and logical refinements; and from the Socratic princi- 
ple of the union between virtue and happiness, Aristippus of 
Cyrene (fl. 396 3B.c.) deduced the doctrine, which became the 
characteristic of the Cyrenian school, affirming that pleasure 
was the ultimate end of life and the higher good; while Antis- 
thenes (fl. 396 B.c.) constructed the Cynic philosophy, which 
placed the ideal of virtue in the absence of every need, and 


hence in the disregarding of every interest, wealth, honor and 


enjoyment, and in the independence of any restraints of life and 
society. Diogenes of Sinope (fl. 300 B.c.) was one of the most 
prominent followers of this school. He, like his master, Antis- 
thenes, always appeared in the most beggarly clothing, with the 
staff and wallet of mendicancy ; and this ostentation of self 
denial drew from Socrates the exclamation, that he saw the 
vanity of Antisthenes through the holes in his garments. 

Plato (429-848 B.c.) was the only one of the disciples of 
Socrates, who represented the whole doctrines of his teacher. 
We owe to him that the ideas which Socrates awakened have 
been made the germ of one of the grandest systems of specula- 
tion that the world has ever seen, and that it has been conveyed 
to us in literary compositions which are unequalled in refine- 
ment of conception, or in vigor and gracefulness of style. At 
the age of nineteen he became one of the pupils and associates 
of Socrates, and did not leave him until that martyr of intellee- 
tual freedom drank the fatal cup of hemlock. He afterwards 
travelled in Asia Minor, in Egypt, in Italy and Sicily, and made 
himself acquainted with all contemporary philosophy. During 
the latter part of his life he was engaged as a public lecturer on 
philosophy. His lectures were delivered in the gardens of the 
Academia, and they have left proof of their celebrity in the 
structure of language, which has derived from them a term now 
common to all places of instruction. Of the importance of the 


Socratic and Pythagorean elements in Plato’s philosophy there 


can be no doubt; but he transmuted all he touched into his own 
forms of thought and language, and there was no branch of 


speculative literature which he had not mastered. By adopting — 


the form of dialogue, in which all his extant works have come 


flown to us, he was ‘enabled to criticise the various systems of 





ii GREEK LIYERATURE. 


philosophy then current in Greece, and also to gratify his own 
dramatic genius, and his almost unrivalled power of keeping up 
an assumed character. The works of Plato have been divided 
into three classes: first, the elementary dialogues, or those 
which contain the germs of all that follows, of logic as the instru- 
ment of philosophy, and of ideas as its proper object; second, 
progressive dialogues, which treat of the distinction between. 
philosophical and common knowledge, in their united application 
to the proposed and real sciences, ethics and physics; thord, the 
constructive dialogues, in which-the practical is completely united 
with the speculative, with an appendix containing laws, epis 
tles, ete. 

The fundamental principle of Plato’s philosophy is the belief 
in an eternal and self-existent cause, the origin of all things. 
From this divine Being emanate not only the souls of men, 
which are immortal, but that of the universe itself, which is sup- 
posed to be animated by a divine spirit. The material objects 
of our sight, and other senses, are mere fleeting emanations of 
the divine idea; it is only this idea itself that is really existent; 
the objects of sensuous perception are mere appearances, taking 
their forms by participation in the idea; hence it follows, that in 
Plato’s philosophy all knowledge is znnate, and acquired by the 
soul before birth, when it was able to contemplate real exist- 
ences, and all our ideas of this world are mere reminiscences of 
their true and eternal patterns. The belief of Plato in the im- 
mortality of the soul naturally led him to establish a high 
standard of moral excellence, and, like his great teacher, he con- 
stantly inculcates temperance, justice and purity of life. His 
political views are developed in the ‘“ Republic” and in the 
“ Laws,” in which the main feature of his system is the subor- 
dination, or rather the entire sacrifice of the individual to the 
State. 

The style of Plato is in every way worthy of his position in 
universal literature, and modern scholars have confirmed the en- 
comium of Aristotle, that all his dialogues exhibit extraordinary 
acuteness, elaborate elegance, bold originality and curious specu- 
lation. In Plato, the powers of imagination were just as con- 
spicuous as those of reasoning and reflection; he had all the chief 
characteristics of a poet, especially of a dramatic poet, and if 
his rank as a philosopher had been lower than it is, he would 

still have ranked high among dramatic writers for his life-like 
representations of the personages whose opinions he wished te 
combat or to defend. 

Aristotle (884-322 B.c.) occupies a position among the 


10% 





108 GREEK LITERATURE. 


leaders of human thought not inferior to that of his teacher, 
Plato. He was a native of Stagyra, in Macedonia, and is 
hence often called the Stagyrite. He early repaired to Athens, 
and became a pupil of Plato, who called him the soul of his 
school. He was afterwards invited by Philip of Macedon to 
undertake the literary education of Alexander, at that time 
thirteen years old. This charge continued about three years. 
He afterwards returned to Athens, where he opened his school 
in a gymnasium called the Lyceum, and here he delivered his 
lessons walking to and fro, and from these saunters his scholars 
were called Peripatetics, or saunterers. During this period he 
composed most of his extant works. Alexander placed at hit 
disposal a large sum for his collections in natural history, and 
employed some thousands of men in procuring specimens for his 
museum. After the death of Alexander, he was accused of 
blasphemy to the gods, and warned by the fate of Socrates, he 
withdrew from Athens to Chalcis, where he afterwards died. 

- In looking at the mere catalogue of the works of Aristotle, 
we are struck with his vast range of knowledge. He aimed at 
nothing less than the completion of a general encyclopedia of 
philosophy. He was the author of the first scientific cultivation 
of each science, and there was hardly any quality distinguishing 


a philosopher as such, which he did not possess in an eminent 


degree. Of all the philosophical systems of antiquity, that of 
Aristotle was the best adapted to the physical wants of man- 
kind. His works consisted of treatises on natural, moyal, and 
political philosophy, history, rhetoric, criticism—indeed, there 
was scarcely a branch of knowledge which his vast and compre- 
hensive genius did not embrace. His greatest claim to our ad- 
miration is as a logician. He perfected and brought into form 
those elements of the dialectic art which had been struck out by 
Socrates and Plato, and wrought them, by his additiens, into so 
complete a system, that he may be regarded as, at once, the 
founder and perfecter of logic as an art, which has since, ever 
down to our own days, been but very little improved. The style 
of Aristotle has nothing to attract those who prefer the embe! 
lishments of a work to its subject-matter and the stieatific re 
sults which it presents. 





GREEK LITERATURE. 109 





PERIOD THIRD. 


THR EPOCH OF THE DeciINE OF GREEK LITERATURE, 
322 B.c.-1453 A.D. 


1. Opicin or THE ALEXANDRIAN Lirerature,—As the literary 
predominance of Athens was due mainly to the political impor- 
tance of Attica, the downfall of Athenian independence brought 
_ with it a deterioration, and ultimately an extinction of that in- 
- tellectual centralization, which for more than a century had fos- 
tered and developed the highest efforts of the genius and culture 
of the Greeks. While the living literature of Greece was thus 
dying away, the conquests of Alexander prepared a new home 
for the muses on the coast of that wonderful country, to which 
all the nations of antiquity had owed a part of their science and 
religious belief. In Egypt, as in other regions, Alexander gave 
directions for the foundation of a city to be called after his own 
name, which became the magnificent metropolis of the Hellenic 
world. This capital was the residence of a family who attracted 
to their court all the living representatives of the literature of 
Greece, and stored up in their enormous library all the best 
works of the classical period. It was chiefly during the reign 
of the first three Ptolemies that Alexandria was made the new 
home of Greek literature. Ptolemy Soter (306-285 B.c.) laid 
the foundations of the library, and instituted the Museum, or 
temple of the muses, where the literary men of the age were 
maintained by endowments. ‘This encouragement of literature 
was continued by Ptolemy Philadelphus (285-247 3.c.). He: 
had the celebrated Callimachus for his librarian, who bought up: 
not only the whole of Aristotle’s great collection of works, but 
transferred the native annals of Egypt and Judea to the domain 
of Greek literature by employing the priest Manetho to trans- 
late the hieroglyphics of his own temple-archives into the lan- 
guage of the court, and by procuring from the Sanhedrim of 
Jerusalem the first part of that celebrated version of the Hebrew 
sacred books, which was afterwards completed and known as the 
Septuagint, or version of the Seventy. Ptolemy Euergetes 
(247-222 B.c.) increased the library by depriving the Athenians. 
of their authentic editions of the great dramatists. In the 
course of time the library founded at Pergamus was transferred 
to Egypt, and thus we are indebted to the Ptolemies for pre- 
serving to our times all the best specimens of Greek literature 





110 | GREEK LITERATURE. 


which have come down to us. This encouragement of letters 
however, called forth no great original genius; but a few eminent 
men of science, many second-rate and artificial poets, and a none 
of grammarians and literary pedants. 


2. Taz ALExaNDRIAN Porers.—Among the poets of the period, 
Philetas, Callimachus, Lycophron, Apollonius and the writers 
of idyls,. Theocritus, Bion and Moschus are the most eminent 
The founder of a school of poetry at Alexandria, and the model 
for imitation with the Roman writers of elegiac poetry, was Phi 
letas of Cos (fl. 260 B.c.), whose extreme emaciation of person ex- 
posed him to the imputation of wearing lead in the soles of his — 
shoes, lest he should be blown away. He was chiefly celebrated 
as an elegiac poet, in whom ingenious, elegant, and harmonious 
versification took the place of higher poetry. Callimachus 
(fl. 260 B.c.) was the type of an Alexandrian man of letters, 
distinguished by skill rather than genius, the most finished speci- 
men of what might be effected by talent, learning, and ambition, 
backed by the patronage of a court. ‘He was a living repre 
sentative of the great library over which he presided; he was not 
only a writer of all kinds of poetry, but a critic, grammarian, 
historian and geographer. Of his writings, a few poems only 
are extant. Next to Callimacnus, as a representative of the 
learned poetry of Alexandria, stands the dramatist Lycophron 
(fl. 250 B.c.). All his works are lost, with the exception of the 
oracular poem called the “ Alexandra, ” or “ Cassandra,” on the 
merits of which very opposite opinions are entertained. Apol- 
lonius, known as the Rhodsan (fl. 240 B.c.), was a native of 
Alexandria, and a pupil of Callimachus, through whose influence 
he was driven from his native city, when he established himself 
in the island of Rhodes, where he was so honored and distin- 
guished that he took the name of the Rhodian. On the death 
of Callimachus, he was appointed to succeed him as librarian at 
Alexandria. His reputation depends on his epie poem, the 
‘* Argonautic Expedition.” 

Of all the writers of the Alexandrian period, the bucolie poets” 
have enjoyed the most popularity. Their pastoral poems were 
called J/dyls, from their pictorial and descriptive character, that 
is, little pictures of common life, a name for which the later 
writers have sometimes substituted the term Eclogues, i, e., selec: 
tions which is applicable to any short poem, whether complete 
and original, or appearing as an extract. The name of Idyls, 
however, was afterwards applicable to pastoral poems. Theo- 
critus (fl 272 B.c.) gives his name to the most important of thesa 








GREEK LITERATURE, 11] 


extant bucolics. He had an original genius for poetry of the 
highest kind; the absence of the usual affectation of the Alex- 
andrian school, constant appeals to nature, a fine perception 
of character, and a keen sense of both the beautiful and the . 
ludicrous, indicate the high order of his literary talent, and 
account for his unversal and undiminished popularity. The two 
other bucolic poets of the Alexandrian school were Bion 
(fl. 275 B.c.), born near Smyrna, and his pupil Moschus of 
Syracuse (fl. 273 z.c.). It appears, from an elegy by Moschus, 
that Bion migrated from Asia Minor to Sicily, where he was 
poisoned. He wrote harmonious verses with a good deal of 
pathos and tenderness, but he is as inferior to Theocritus as he 
is superior to Moschus, whose artificial style characterizes him 
rather as a lear .ed versifier than a true poet. 


3. Prosz Writers or ALExXaNpRIA.—Many of the most eml- 
nent poets were also prose writers, and they exhibited their ver- 
satility by writing on almost every subject of literary interest 
The progress of prose writing manifested itself from grammar 
and criticism to the more elaborate and learned treatment of 
history and chronology, and to observations and speculations in 
pure and mixed mathematics. Demetrius the Phalerian (fl. 295 
 B.c.), Zenodotus (fl. 279 8.c.), Aristophanes (fl. 200 B.c ), and 
Aristarchus (fl. 156 8.c.), the three last of whom were succes- 
sively intrusted with the management of the Library, were the 
representatives of the Alexandrian school of grammar and criti- 
cism. ‘They devoted themselves chiefly to the revision of the 
text of Homer, which was finally established by Aristarchus. 

In the historical department, may be mentioned Ptolemy 
Soter, who wrote the history of the wars of Alexander 
the Great; Apollodorus (fl. 200 B.c.), whose ‘ Bibliothecs” con- 
tains a general sketch of the mystie legends of the G-eeks ; 
Eratosthenes (fl. 235 3.c.), the founder of scientific chronology 
in Greek history ; Manetho (fl. 280 3.c.), who introduced the 
Greeks to a knowledge of the Egyptian religion and annals; and 
Berosus of Babylon, his contemporary, whose work, frag ments 
of which were preserved by Josephus, was known as the “ Baby- 
lonian Annals.” While the Greeks of Alexandria thus gained 
a knowledge of the religious books of the nations conquered by 
Alexander, the same curiosity, combined with the necessities of 
the Jews of Alexandria, gave birth to the translation of the 
Bible into Greek, known under the name of Septuagint, which 
has exercised a more lasting influence on the civilized world than 
that of any book that has ever appeared in a new tongue The 


hi2 GREEK LITERATURE. 





beginning of that translation was probably made in the reigns 
of the first Ptolemies (820-249 B.c.), while the remainder waa 
completed at a later period. 

The wonderful advance, which took place in pure and applied - 
mathematics, is chiefly due to the learned men who settled in 
Alexandria ; the greatest mathematicians and the most eminent 
founders of scientific geography were all either immediately or 
indirectly connected with the school of Alexandria. Euclid (fl. 300 
B.c.) founded a famous school of geometry in that city, in the 
reign of the first Ptolemy. Almost the only incident of his life, 
which is known to us, is a conversation between him and that 
king, who having asked if there was no easier method of learning 
the science, Kuclid is said to have replied, that ‘‘ there was no 
royal path to geometry.” His most famous work is his “ Hle- 
inents of Pure Mathematics,” at the present time a manual of in- 
struction and the foundation of all geometrical treatises. Archi- 
medes (287-212 B.c.) was a native of Syracuse, in Sicily, but he 
travelled to Egypt at an early age, and studied mathematics 
there in the school of Euclid. He not only distinguished himself 
as a pure mathematician and astronomer, and as the founder of 
the theory of statics, but he discovered the law of specific gravity, 
and constructed some of the most useful machines in the mechanic _ 
arts, such as the pulley and the hydraulic screw. His works are 
written in the Dorie dialect. Apollonius of Perga (221-204 B.c.) 
distinguished himself in the mathematical department by his 
work on ‘‘ Conic Elements.” Hratostuenes was not only promi- 
nent in the science of chronology, but was also the founder of 
astronomical geography, and the author of many valuable works 
in various branches of philosophy. Hipparchus (fl. 150 B.c.) is 
considered the founder of the science of exact astronomy, from 
his great work, the ‘“‘ Catalogue of the Fixed Stars,” his disco — 
very of the precession of the equinoxes, and many other valuable 
astronomical observations and calculations. : 


4, ALEXANDRIAN PxiosopHy.—Athens, which had been the 
centre of Greek literature during the second or classical period 
of its development, had now, in all respects but one, resigned the 
jutellectual leadership to the city of the Ptolemies. While 
Alexandria was producing a series of learned poets, scholars, 
and discoverers in science, Athenian literature was mainly repre 
sented by the establishment of certain forms of mental and moral 
philosophy founded on the various Socratic schools. Two 
schools of philosophy were established at Athens at the time of 
the death of Aristotle ; that of the Academy, in which he him 














GREEK LITERATURE, 113 


velf had studied, aad that of the Lyceum, which he had founded, 
us the seat of his peripatetic system. But the older schools soon 
reappeared under new names: the Megarics, with an infusion 
of the doctrines of Democritus, revived in the skeptic philosophy 
of Pyrrhon (375-285 3.c.). Hpicurus (842-370 z.c.) foundea 
the school to which he gave his name, by a similar combination 
of Democritean philosophy with the doctrines of the Cyrenaics; 
the Cynics were developed into Stoics by Zeno (841-260 8.c.), who 
borrowed much from the Megaric school and from the old Aca- 
demy; and finally, the Middle and New Academy arose from a com- 
bination of doctrines, which were peculiar to many of these sects. 
Though these different schools, which flourished at Athens, 
had early representatives in Alexandria, their different doctrines, 
coming iu contact with the ancient religious systems of the Persi- 
ans, Jews and Hindus, underwent essential modifications, and gave 
birth to a kind of eclecticism, which became later an important 
element in the development of Christian history. . The rational- 
ism of the Platonic school and the supernaturalism of the Jew- 
ish scriptures were chiefly mingled together, and from this amal- 
gamation sprang the system of Neo-Platonism. When the 
early teachers of Christianity at Alexandria strove to show the 
harmony of the Gospel with the great principles of the Greco- 
Jewish philosophy, it underwent new modifications, and the Neo- 
Platonic school, which sprang up in Alexandria three centuries B.c., 
was completed in the Ist and 2d centuries of the Christian era. 
The common characteristic of the Neo-Platonists was a tendency 
to mysticism. Some of them believed that they were the sub- 
jects of divine inspiration and illumination ; able to look into the 
future and to work miracles. Philo-Judeeus (fl. 20 B.c.), Numen- 
ius (fl. 150 a.n.), Ammonius Saccas (fl. 200 a.p.), Plotinus 
(fl. 260 a.p.), Porphyry (fl. 260 a.p.), and several fathers of the 
Greek Church are among the principal disciples of this school. 


5. Anti-Nro-Piatonic TenpEnctEs.— While the Neo-Platonism 
of Alexandria introduced into Greek philosophy oriental ideas and 
tendencies, other positive and practical doctrines also prevailed, 
founded on common sense and conscience ; first among these 
were the tenets of the Stoics, who owed their system mainly and 
immediately to the teaching of Epictetus (fl. 60 a.v.), who op- 
posed the oriental enthusiasm of the Neo-Platonists. He was 
originally a slave, and became a prominent teacher of philosophy 
in Rome, in the reign of Domitian. He left nothing in writ- 
wg, and we are indebted for a knowledge of his doctrines to 
Arrian, who compiled his lectures or philosophical dissertations 


ila GREEK LITERATURE, 


In eight books, of which only four are preserved, and the 
‘Manual of Epictetus,” a valnable compendium of the doe- 
trines of the Stoics. The Emperor Marcus Aurelias not only 
lectured at Rome on the principles of Epictetus, but he left us 
his private meditations, composed in the midst of a camp, and 
exhibiting the serenity of a mind which had made itself indepen- 
dent of outward actions and warring passions within. Lucian 
(fl. 150 a.p.) may be compared to Voltaire, whom he equalled 
in his powers both of rhetoric and ridicule, and surpassed in his 
more conscientious and courageous love of truth. Though the 
results of his efforts against heathenism were merely negative, 
he prepared the way for Christianity by giving the death-blow 
to declining idolatry. Lucian, as a man of letters, is on many 
accounts interesting, and in reference to his own age and tc 
the literature of Greece he is entitled to an important posi 
tion both with regard to the religious and philosophical results 
of his works, and to the introduction of a purer Greek style, 
which he taught and exemplified. Longinus (fl. 230 a.p.), both 
as an opponent of Neo-Platonism and as a sound and sensible 
critic, occupies a position similar to that of Lucian, in the de- 
clining period of Greek literary history. During a visit te the 
East, he became known to Zenobia, queen of Palmyra, who 
adopted the celebrated scholar as her instructor in the language 
and literature of Greece, her adviser and chief minister ; and 
when Palmyra fell before the Roman power he was put to death by 
the Roman emperor. To his treatise on ‘The Sublime” he is 
chiefly indebted for hisfame. When France, in the reign of Louis 
XIV., gave a tone to the literary judgments of Hurope, this 
work was translated by Boileau, and received by the wits of 
Paris as an established manual in all that related to the sublime 
and beautiful. 


6. Greek Lirerature In Rome.—After the subjugation of 
Greece by the Romans, Greek authors wrote in their own lan- 
guage and published their works in Rome ; illustrious Romans 
chose the idiom of Plato as the best medium for the expression of 
their own thoughts; dramatic poets gained a reputation by imitat- 
ing the tragedies and comedies of Athens, and every versifier felt 
compelled by fashion to receive the metres of ancient Greece. 
This naturalization of Greek literature at Rome was due to the 
» rudeness and poverty of the national literature of Italy, to the 
influence exerted by the Greek colonies, and to the political subju 
gation of Greece. In Rome, Greek libraries were established by 
the emperor Augustus and his successors; and the knowledge of the 















GREEK LITERATURE. 115 


Greek language was’ considered a necessary accomplishment 
Cicero made his countrymen acquainted with the philosophical 
schools of Athens, and Rome became more and more the rival of 
_ Alexandria, both as a receptacle for the best Greek writings 
and as a seat of learning, where Greek authors found apprecia- 
tion and patronage. ‘The Greek poets, who were fostered and 
encouraged at Rome, were chiefly writers of epigrams, and their 
poems are preserved in the collections called Axthologies. 'The 
growing demand and forensic eloquence naturally led the Roman 
orators to find their examples in those of Athens, and to the 
study of rhetoric in the Grecian writers. 

Among the writers on rhetoric, whose works seem to have 
produced the greatest effect at the beginning of the Roman 
period, we mention Dionysius of Halicarnassus (fl. 7 B.c.). As 
a critic, he occupies the first rank among the ancients. Besides 
his rhetorical treatises, he wrote a work on “ Roman Archso- 
logy,” the object of which was to show that the Romans were 
not, after all, barbarians, as was generally supposed, but a 
pure Greek race, whose institutions, religion and manners were 
traceable to an identity with those of the noblest Hellenes. 

What Dionysius endeavored to do for the gratification of his 
own countrymen, by giving them a Greek version of Roman 
history, an accomplished Jew, who lived about a century later, 
attempted, from the opposite point of view, for his own fallen 
race, in a@ work which was a direct imitation of that just 
described. Flavius Josephus (fl. 60 a.p.) wrote the “ Jewish 
Archeology” in order to show the Roman conquerors of Jeru- 
salem that the Jews did not deserve the contempt with which 
they were universally regarded. His “ History of the Jewish 
Wars” is an able and valuable work. 

At an earlier period, Polybius (204-122 3.c.) wrote to 
explain to the Greeks how the power of the Romans had estab- 
lished itself in Greece. His great work was a universal history, 
but of the forty books of which it consisted only five have 
been preserved ; perhaps no historical work has ever been writ- 
ten with such definiteness of purpose or unity of plan, or with 
such self-consciousness on the part of the writer. The object to 
which he directs attention is the manner in which fortune or 
providence uses the ability and energy of man as instruments in 
carrying out what is predetermined, and specially the exempli- 
fication of these principles in the wonderful growth of the Romar 
rn during the fifty-three years of which he treats. Taking 

is history as a whole, it is hardly possible to speak in too high 
wrms of it, though the style has many blemishes, such as endlesa 


116 GREEK LITERATURE, — a 


digressions, wearisome repetition of his own principles and colle 
quial vulgarisms. 

Diodorus, a native of Sicily, generally known as the Sicilian. 
(Siculus), flourished in the time of the first two Ceesars. In hia 
great work, the “ Historical Library,” it was his object to write 
a history of the world down to the commencement of Cesar’s 
Gallic wars. He is content to give a bare recital of the facts, 
which crowded upon him and left him no time to be diffuse or 
ornamental. | 

The geography of Strabo (fl. 10 a.p.),. which has made his 

.name familiar to modern scholars, has come down to us very 
nearly complete. Its merits are literary rather than scientific 
His object was to give an instructive and readable account of 
the known world, from the point of view taken by a Greek 
man of letters. His style is simple, unadorned and unaf 
fected. | 

Plutarch (40-120 a.v.) may be classed among the philo- 
sophers as well as among the historians. Though he has left 
many essays and works on different subjects, he is best known 
as a biographer. His lives of celebrated Greeks and Romans 
have made his name familiar to the readers of every country. — 
The universal popularity of his biographies is due to the faet 
that they are dramatic pictures, in which each personage is — 
represented as acting according to his leading characteristics. 

Pausanias (fl. 184 a.p.), a professed describer of countries and 
of their antiquities and works of art, in his “ Gazetteer of 
Hellas ” has left the best repertory of information for the topo- 
graphy, local history, religious observances, architecture and 
sculpture of the different states of Greece. 

Among the scientific men of this period we find Ptolemy, 
whose name for more than a thousand years was coextensive with 
the sciences of astronomy and geography. He was a native of 
Alexandria, and flourished about the latter part of the second 
century. The best known of his works is his ‘ Great Construe- 
tion of Astronomy.” He was the first to indicate the true shape 
of Spain, Gaul and Ireland; as a writer, he deserves to be held 
in high estimation. Galen (fl. 130 a.p.) was a writer on philosophy 
and medicine, with whom few could vie in productiveness. It 
was his object to combine philosophy with medical science, and 
his works for fifteen centuries were received as oracular authori 
ties throughout the civilized world, 


7. ContinvEp Decrinz or Greex Lirerature.—The adoption of 


the Christian religion by Constantine, and his establishment of the | 


' 


al 





GREEK LITERATURE. l17 


seat of government in his new city of Constantinople concurred 
in causing the rapid decline of Greek ‘iterature in the fourth 
and following centuries. Christianity, no longer the object 
of persecution, became the dominant religion of the State, and 
the profession of its tenets was the shortest road to influence 
and honor. ‘The old literature, with its mythological allusions, 
beeame less and less fashionable, and the Greek poets, philose- 
phers and orators of the better periods gradually lost their attrac- 
tions. Greek, the official language of Constantinople, was spoken 
there, with different degrees of corruption, by Syrians, Bulga- 
rians and Goths, and thus, as Christianity undermined the old 
élassical literature, the political condition of the capital deterio- 
rated the language itself. Other causes accelerated the deca- 
dence of Greek learning : the great library at Alexandria, and 
the school which had been established in connection with it, 
were destroyed at the end of the fourth century by the edict of 
Theodosius, and the conquest of Egypt by the Saracens in the 
seventh century only completed the work of destruction. 
Justinian closed the schools of Athens, and prohibited the teach- 
ing of philosophy ; the Arabs overthrew those established else- 
where, and there remained only the institutions of Constanti- 
nople. But long before the establishment of the Turks on the 
ruins of the Byzantine empire, Greek literature had ceased to 
claim any original or independent existence. The opposition 
between the literary spirit of heathen Greece and the Christian 
scholarship of the time of Constantine and his immediate suc- 
eessors, which grew up very gradually, was the result of the 
oriental superstitions, which distorted Christianity and disturbed 
the old philosophy. ‘The abortive attempt of the emperor 
Julian to create a reaction in favor of heathenism was the cause 
of the open antagonism between the classical and Christian 
forms of literature. The church, however, was soon enabled not 
only to dictate its own rules of literary criticism, but to destroy 
the writings of its most formidable antagonists. The last 
rays of heathen cultivation in Italy were extinguished in 
she gloomy dungeon of Boethius, and the period so justly 
designated as the Dark Ages commenced both in eastern and 
western Europe. 


8. Last Ecnors or toe Orv Lireratvre.—From the time 
when Christianity placed itself in opvosition to the old culture 
wf heathen Greece and Rome down to the period of the revival 
of classical literature in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, 
the classical spirit was nearly extinct both in eastern and west 





118 GREEK LITERATURE, 


ern Europe. In Italy, the triumph of barbarism was mors 
sudden and complete. In the eastern empire there was a cer: 
tain literary activity, and in the department of history, By- 
zantine literature was conspicuously prolific. 

The imperial family of the Commeni, in the eleventh and 
twelfth centuries, and the Paleologi, who reigned from the 
thirteenth century to the end of the eastern empire, endeavered 
te revive the taste for literature and learning. But the echoes 
of the past became fainter and fainter, and when Constantino- 
ple fell into the hands of the Turks, 1453 a.p., the wandering 
Greeks who found their way into Italy could only serve as lan- 
guage-masters to a race of scholars, who thus recovered the 
learning that had ceased to exist among the Greeks them. 
selves. 

The last manifestations of the old classical learning by the 
Alexandrian school, which had done so much in the second and 
first centuries before our era, may be divided into three classes. 
In the first are placed the mathematical and geographical 
studies, which had been brought to such perfection by Huclid, 
his successors, and after him by Ptolemy. In the second class 
we have the substitution of prose romances for the bucolie and 
erotic poetry of the Alexandrian and Sicilian writers. In the 
third class the revival, by Nonnus and his followers, of a learned 
pos, of much the same kind as the poems of Callimachus. 
Among the representatives of the mathematical school of Alex- 
andria was Theon, whose celebrity is obscured by that of his 
daughter Hypatia (fl. 415 a.p.), whose sex, youth, beauty and cruel 
fate have made her a most interesting martyr of philosophy. She ~ 
presided in the public school at Alexandria, where she taught 
mathematics, and the philosophy of Ammonius and Plotinur 
Her influence over the educated classes of that city excited 
the jealousy of the archbishop. She was given up to the 
violence of a superstitious and brutal mob, attacked as she was 
pasting through the streets in her chariot, torn in pieces, and 

er mutilated body thrown to the flames. 

When rhetorical prose superseded composition in verse, the 
greater facility of style naturally led to more detailed narratives, 
and the sophist who would have been a poet in the time of Calli- 
machus, became a writer of prose romances in the final period of 
Greek literature. The first ascertained beginning of this style of 
light reading, which occupies so large a space in the catalogues of 
modern libraries, was in the time of the Emperor Trajan, when : 
a Syrian or Babylonian freedman, named Iamblichus, published a 
love story called the ‘‘ Babylonian Adventures.” Among his 











GREEK LITERATURE. 119 


successors is Longus, of whose work “The Lesbian Adventure,” 
it is sufficient to say, that it was the model of the “ Diana” of 
Montemayor, the ‘‘ Aminta” of Tasso, the “ Pastor Fido” of 
Guarini, and the “‘ Gentle Shepherd” of Allan Ramsay. 

While the sophists were amusing themselves by clothing 
erotic.and bucolic subjects in rhetorical prose, an Egyptian 
boldly revived the epos which had been cultivated at Alexandria 
in the earliest days of the Museum. Nonnus probably flourished 
at the commencement of the fifth century a.p. His epic poem, 
which, in accordance with the terminology of the age, is called 
“ Dionysian Adventures,” is an enormous farrago of learning on 
the well-worked subject of Bacchus. The most interesting of 
the epic productions of the school of Nonnus is the story of 
“Hero and Leander,” in 340 verses, which bears the name of 
Museeus. For grace of diction, metrical elegance and simple 
pathos, this little canto stands far before the other poems of the 
same age. ‘The Hero and Leander of Muszus is the dying 
swan-note of Greek poetry, the last distinct note of the old music 
of Hellas. 

In the Byzantine literature, there are works which claim no 
originality, but have a higher value than their contemporaries, 
because they give extracts or fragments of the lost writings of 
the hest days of Greece. Next in value follow the lexi- 
cographers, the grammarians and commentators. The most 
voluminous department, however, of Byzantine literature, was 
that of the historians, annalists, chroniclers, biographers and 
antiquarians, whose works form a continuous series of Byzantine 
annals from the time of Constantine the Great to the taking of 
the capital by the Turks. This literature was also enlivened by 
several poets, and enriched by some writers on natural history 
and medicine. 


9. Toe New Testament AND THE GREEK Farners.—The 
history of Greek literature would be imperfect without some 
allusion to a class of writings not usually included in the range 
of zlassical studies. The first of these works, the Septua- 
gint version of the Old Testament, before mentioned, and the 
Greek Apocrypha, may properly be termed Hebrew-Grecian. 
Their spirit is wholly at variance with tnat of pagan literature, 
and it cannot be doubted that they exerted great influence when 
made known to the pagans of Alexandria. Many of the books 
termed the Apocrypha were originally written in Greek, and 
mostly before the Christian era. Many of them contain anthenti¢ 
narratives, and are valuable as illustrating the circumstances of 


420 GREEK LITERATURE, 


the age to which they refer. The other class of writings alludea 
to comprehends the works of the Christian authors. As the in- 
fluence of Christianity became more diffused during thie first and 


second centuries, its regenerating power became visible. After 


the time of Christ, there appeared, in both the Greek and Latin 
tongues, works wholly different in their spirit and character 
from all that is found in pagan literature. The collection of 
sacred writings contained in the New Testament and the works 
of the early fathers, constitute a distinct and interesting feature 
in the literature of the age in which they appeared. ‘The 
writings of the New Testament, considered simply in their 
literary aspect, are distinguished by a simplicity, earnestness, 
naturalness and beauty, that find no parallel in the literature of 
the world. But the consideration must not be overlooked, that 
they were the work of those men who wrote as they were moved 
of the Holy Ghost, that they contain the life and the teachings 
of the great Founder of our faith, and that they come to us 
invested with divine authority. Their influence upon the ages 
which have succeeded them is incalculable, and it is still widen- 
ing as the knowledge of Christianity increases. ‘The composition 
of the New Testament is historical, epistolary and prophetic. 
The first five books, or the historical division, contain an account 
of the life and death of our Saviour, and some account of the 
_ first movements of the Apostles. The epistolary division consists 
of letters addressed by the Apostles to the different churches or 
to individuals. The last, the book of ‘‘ Revelation,” the only 
part that is considered prophetic, differs from the others in its 
use of that symbolical language which had been common to the 
Hebrew prophets, in the sublimity and majesty of its imagery, 
-and in its prediction of the final and universal triumph of 
Christianity. 

The writings of the Apostolic Fathers, or the immediate suc- 
cessors of the Apostles, were held in high estimation by the 
primitive Christians. Of those who wrote under this denomina- 
tion, the venerable Polycarp and Ignatius, after they had both 
attained the age of eighty years, sealed their faith in the blood 
of martyrdom. The former was burned at the stake in Smyrna, 
and the latter devoured by lions in the amphitheatre of Rome. 
In the second and third centuries, Christianity numbered among 
its advocates many distinguished scholars and philosophers, par- 
\icularly among the Greeks. Their productions may be classed 
under the heads of biblical, controversial, doctrinal, historical 
and homiletical. Among the most distinguished of the Greek 
fathers, were Justin Martyr (fl. 89 a.p.), an eminent Christiaw 


i BO 








philusopher and speculative thinker; Clement of Alexandria 
(fl. 190 a.p.), who has left us a collection of works, which, for 
learning and literary talent, stand unrivalled among the writings 
of the early Christian fathers ; Origen (184-253 a.p.), who 
in his numerous works attempted to reconcile philosophy with 
Christianity; Eusebius (fl. 325 a.p.), whose ecclesiastical history 
is ranked among the most valuable remains of Christian antiquity; 
Athanasius, famous for his controversy with Arius; Gregory 

- Nazianzen (829-390 a.p.), distinguished for his rare union 
of eloquence and piety, a great orator and theologian; Basil 
(329-379 a.p.), whose works, mostly of a purely theological 
character, exhibit occasionally decided proofs of his strong feel- 
ing for the beauties of nature ; and John Chrysostom (347-407 
A.D.), the founder of the art of preaching, whose extant homilies 
breathe a spirit of sincere earnestness and of true genius. To 
these may be added Nemesius (fl. 400 a.p.), whose work on the 
“Nature of Man” is distinguished by the purity of its style and 
by the traces of a careful study of classical authors, and Syne- 
sius (878-430 a.p.), who maintained the parallel importance of 
pagan and Christian literature, and who has always been held in 
high estimation for his epistles, hymns and dramas. 


GREEK LITERATURE, 12) 





- 


ROMAN LITERATURE. 


intropucTioN..—1. Roman Literature and its Divisions,—2. The La-guage: Ethne 
g:aphical elements of the Latin Language; the Umbrian; Oscan; Etruscan; the old 
Roman tongue; Saturnian verse; peculiarities of the Latin language.—3. The Romaa 
Religion. : 

Psriop First.—i. Karly Literature of the Romans; the Fescennine Songs; the Fabula 
Atellane.—2. Early Latin Poets; Livius Andronicus, Nevius and Ennius.—3. Roman 
Uomedy.—4. Comic Poets; Plautus, Terence and Statius.—5. Roman Tragedy.—6. 
Tragic Poets; Pacuvius and Attius.—7. Satire; Lucilius.—8, History and Oratory; 
Fabius Pictor; Cencius Alimentus ; Cato; Varro; M. Antonius; Crassus; Hortensius.— 
9. Roman Jurisprudence.—10. Grammarians. 

Period Seconp.—l. Development of the Roman Literature.—2. Mimes, Mimogra- 
phers, Pantomime; Laberius and P. Lyrus.—8 Epic Poetry; Virgil; The Aineid.—4. Di- 
dactic Poetry; the Bucolics; the Georgics; Lucretius.—5. Lyric Poetry; Catullus; 
Horace.—6, Elegy ; Tibullus ; Propertius ; Ovid.—7. Oratory and Philosophy ; Cicera.— 
8. History; J. Cesar; Sallust ; Livy.—9. Other Prose Writers. 

Periop THirD.—1. Deoline of Romsn Literature.—2. Fable; Phzedrus.—8. Satire and 
Epigram; Persius, Juvenal, Martial—4. Dramatic Literature; the Tragedies of Seneca. 
—5. Epic Poetry; Lucan; Silius Italicus; Valerius Flaccus; P. Statius.—6, History 3 
Paterculus; Tacitus: Suetonius; Q. Curtius; Valerius Maximus.—7,. Rhetoric and 


Eloquence; Quintilian; Pliny the Younger,—8. Philosophy and Science; Seneca: — 


Pliny the Elder; Celsus; P. Mela; Columella; Frontinus.—9. Roman Literature from 
Hadrian to Theodoric; Claudian; Eutropius; A. Marcellinus; §. Sulpicius; Gellius; 
Macrobius; L. Apuleius; Boethius ; the Latin Fathers.—10. Roman Jurisprudence. 


INTRODUCTION. 


1. Roman Lireratvre anp irs Divistons.—Inferior to Greece 
in the genius of its inhabitants, and, perhaps, in the intrinsie 
greatness of the events of which it was the theatre, un- 
questionably inferior in the fruits of intellectual activity, Italy 
holds the second place in the classic literature of antiquity. 
Etruria could boast of arts, legislation, scientific knowledge, a 
fanciful mythology, and a form of dramatic spectacle, before the 
foundations of Rome were laid. But, like the ancient Egyptians, 
the Ktrurians made no progress in composition. Verses of an 
irregular structure and rude in sense and harmony appear to 
have formed the highest limit of their literary achievements, 
Nor did even the opulent and luxurious Greeks of Southern 
Italy, while they retained their independence, contribute much 
‘o the glory of letters in the West. It was only in their fall that 
they. did good service to the case when they redeemed the die 








ROMAN LITERATURE. 123 


grace of their political humiliation by the honor of communicat- 
ing the first impulse towards intellectual refinement to the 
bosoms of their conquerors. When, in the process of time, 
Sicily, Macedonia and Achaia had become Roman provinces, 
some acquaintance with the language of their new subjects 
proved to be a matter almost of necessity to the victorious 
people; but the first impression made at Rome by the pro- 
ductions of the Grecian Muse, and the first efforts to create a 
_ similar literature, must be traced to the conquest of 'Tarentum, 
(272 B.c.) From that memorable period, the versatile talents 
which distinguished the Greeks in every stage of national 
decline, began to exercise a powerful influence on the Roman 
mind, which was particularly felt in the departments of education 
and amusement. ‘The instruction of the Roman youth was 
committed to the skill and learning of Greek slaves ; the spirit 
of the Greek drama was transferred into the Latin tongue, and, 
somewhat later, Roman genius and ambition devoted their 
united energies to the study of Greek rhetoric, which long: con- 
tinued to be the guide and model of those schools, in whose 
exercises the abilities of Cicero himself were trained. Prejudice 
and patriotism were powerless to resist this flood of foreign 
innovation ; and for more than a century after the Tarentine 
war, legislative influence strove in vain to counteract the pre- 
dominance of Greek philosophy and eloquence. But this imita- 
tive tendency was tempered by the pride of Roman citizenship. ° 
That sentiment breaks out, not merely in the works of great 
statesmen and warriors, but quite as strikingly in the productions 
of those in whom the literary character was all in all. It is as 
prominent in Virgil and Horace as in Cicero and Cesar ; and if 
the language of Rome, in other respects so inferior to that of 
Greece, has any advantage over the sistur tongue, it lies in that 
accent of dignity and command which seems inherent in its 
tones. The austerity of power is not shaded down by those 
graceful softenings so agreeable to the disposition of the most 
‘polished Grecian communities. In the Latin forms and syntax 
we are everywhere conscious of a certain energetic majesty and 
forcible compression. We hear, as it were, the voice of one who 
claims to be respected, and resolves to be obeyed. 

The Roman classical literature may be divided into three 
periods. The first embraces its rise and progress, oral and 
traditional compositions, the rude elements of the drama, the 
mtroduction of Greek literature, and the construction and per: 
fection of comedy. To this period the first five centuries of 
the republic may be considered as introductory, for Rc me had, 





124 ROMAN LITERATURE. 


properly speaking, no literature until the conclusion of tne first 
Punic war (241 B.c.), and the first period, commencing at that 
time, extends through 160 years—that is, to the first appear: 
ance of Cicero in public life, 74 B.c. 

The second period ends with the death of Augustus, 14 a.p. 
It comprehends the age of which Cicero ig the representative 
as the most accomplished orator, philosopher and prose-writer 
of his time, as well as that of Augustus, which is commonly 
ealled the Golden Age of Latin poetry. 

The third and last period terminates with the death of 
Theodoric, 526 a.v. Notwithstanding the numerous excellences 
which distinguished the literature of this time, its decline had 
evidently commenced, and, as the age of Augustus has been 
distinguished by the epithet “‘ golden,” the succeeding period, te 
the death of Hadrian, 138 a.p., on account of its comparative 
inferiority, has been designated “the Silver Age.” From this 
time to the close of the reign of Theodoric, only a few distin- 
guished names are to be found. 


2. Tue Lanevace.—The origin of the Latin language is 
necessarily connected with that of the Romans themselves. In 
the most distant ages to which tradition extends, Italy appears 
to have been inhabited by three stocks or tribes of the great 
Indo-European family. One of these is commonly known by . 
the name of QOscans; another consisted of two branches, the 
Sabelians or Sabines, and the Umbrians; the third was called 
Sikeli, sometimes Vituli or Itali. 

The original settlements of the Umbrians extended over the 
district bounded on one side by the Tiber, and on the other by 
the Po. All the country to the south was in possession of the 
Oscans, with the exception of Latium, which was inhabited by 
the Sikeli, But, in process of time, the Oscans, pressed upon 
by the Sabines, invaded the abodes of this peaceful and rural 
people, some of whom submitted, and amalgamated with their 
conquerors; the rest were driven across the narrow sea inte 
Siqly, and gave their name to the island. 

‘These tribes were not left in undisturbed possession of their 
rich inheritance. More than 1000 B.c. there arrived in the 
northern part of Italy the Pelasgians (or dark Asiatics), an en- 
terprising race, famed for their warlike spirit and their skill in 
the arts of peace, who became the civilizers of Italy. They were 
far advanced in the arts of civilization and refinement, and in the 
science of politics and social life. They enriched their newly 
acquired country with commerce, and filled it with strongly 





} ROMAN LITERATURE. 128 


fortsfied and populous cities, and their dominion rapidly spread 
over the whole peninsula. Entering the territory of the Um- 
brians, they drove them into the mountainous districts, or com- 
pelled them to live among them as a subject people, while they 
possessed themselves of the rich and fertile plains. ‘The head- 
quarters of the invaders was Etruria, and that portion of them 
who settled there were known as Ktrurians. Marching southward, 
they vanquished the Oscans and occupied the plains of Latium, 
They did not, however, remain long at peace in the districts 
which they had conquered. The old inhabitants returned from 
the neighboring highlands to which they had been driven, and 
subjugated the northern part of Latium, and established a 
federal union between the towns of the north, of which Alba 
was the capital, while of the southern confederacy the chief city 
was Lavinium. 

At a later period, a Latin tribe, belonging to the Alban 
federation, established itself on the Mount Palatine, and founded 
Rome, while a Sabine community occupied the neighboring 
heights of the Quirinal. Mutual jealousy of race kept them, for 
some time, separate from each other; but at length the two 
communities became one people, called the Romans. These 
were, at an early period, subjected to Etruscan rule, and when 
the Etruscan dynasty passed away, its influence still remained, 
and permanently affected the Roman language. 

The Etruscan tongue being a compound of Pelasgian and Um- 
brian, the language of Latium may be considered as the result of 
those two elements combined with the Oscan, and brought to- 
gether by the mingling of those different tribes. These elements, 
which entered in the formation of the Latin, may be classified under 
two heads: the one which has, the other which has not a re- 
semblance to the Greek. All T.atin words which resemble the 
Greek are Pelasgian, and all which do not are Etruscan, Oscan 
or Umbrian. From the first of these classes must be excepted 
those words which are directly derived from the Greek, the origin 
of which dates partly from the time when Rome began to have 
intercourse with the Greek colonies of Magna Grecia, partly afte: 
the Greeks exercised a direct influence on Roman literature. 

Of the ancient languages of Italy, which concurred in the 
formation of the Latin, little is known. The Eugubine Tables 
are the only extant fragments of the Umbrian language. These 
were found in the neighborhood of Ugubio, in the year 1444 
a.D.; they date as early as 354 B.c, and contain prayers and 
rules for religious ceremonies. Some of these tables were 
engraved in Ktruscan or Umbrian characters, others in Latin 


126 RUMAN LITERATURE, 


letters. The remains which have come down to us of the Oseaa 
language, belong to a composite idiom made up of the Sabine 
and Oscan, and consist chiefly of an inscription engraved on a 
brass plate, discovered in 1793 av. As the word Bansa 
occurs in this inscription, it has been supposed to refer to the 
town of Bantia, which was situated not far from the spot where 
the tablet was found, and it is, therefore, called the Bantine 
Table. The similarity between some of the words found in the 
Kugubine Tables and in Etruscan inscriptions, shows that the 
Etruscan language was composed of the Pelasgian and Umbrian, 
and from the examples given by ethnographers, it is evident 
that the Etruscan element was most influential in the formation 
of the Latin language. 

The old Roman tongue, or ngwa prisca, as it was composed 
of these materials, and as it existed previous to coming in con- 
tact with the Greek, has almost entirely perished ; it did not 
grow into the new, like the Greek, by a process of intrinsic 
development, but it was remoulded by external and foreign 
influences. So different was the old Roman from the classical Latin, 
that some of those ancient fragments were with difficulty intelligi- 
le to the cleverest and best educated scholars of the Augustan age. 

An example of the oldest Latin extant is contained in the 
sacred chant of the Fratres Arvales. These were a college of 
priests, whose function was to offer prayers for plenteous har- 
vests, in solemn dances and processions at the opening of spring. 
Their song was chanted in the temple with closed doors, accom- 
panied by that peculiar dance which was termed the tripudium, 
from its containing three beats. The inscription which embodied 
this litany was discovered in Rome in 1778 a.v.. The monument 
belongs to the reign of Heliogabalus, 218 a.p., but although the 
date is so recent, the permanence of religious formulas renders it 
probable that the inscription contains the exact words sung by 
this priesthood in the earliest times. The ‘‘ Carmen Saliare,” or 
the Salian hymn, the leges regiz, the Tiburtine inscription, the 
inscription on the sarcophagus of L. Cornelius Scipio Barba- 
tus, the great-grandfather of the conqueror of Hannibal, the 
epitaph of Lucius Scipio his son, and above all, the Twelve 
Tables, are the other principal extant monuments of ancient 
Latin. The laws of the Twelve Tables were engraven on 
tablets of brass, and publicly set up in the comitium; they were 
first made public 449 B.c. 

Most of these literary monuments were written in Saturnian 


verse, the oldest measure used by the Latin poets. It was pro — 


oably erived from the Etruscans, and until Ennius introduced 


oe ee ee a a a a 





ee ea a Pe 
















ROMAN .wITERATURE. 127 


the heroic hexameter, the strains of the Italian bards flowed in 
this metre. The structure of the Saturnian is very simple, and 
its rhythmical arrangement is found in the poetry of every age 
and country. Macaulay adduces, as an example of this measure, 
_ the following line from the well known nursery song : 


“The queén was in her parlor, | eating bread and honey.” 


From this species of verse, which probably prevailed among the 
uatives of Provence (the Roman Provincia), and into which, at 
a later period, rhyme was introduced as an embellishment, the 
_'Troubadours derived the metre of their ballad poetry, and thence 
introduced it into the rest of Europe. 

A wide gap separates this old Latin from the Latin of Ennius, . 
whose style was formed by Greek taste ; another not so wide is 
interposed between the age of Ennius and that of Plautus and 
Terence, and lastly, Cicero and the Augustan poets mark 
another age. But in all its periods of development, the Latin 
bears a most intimate relation with the Greek. ‘This similarity 
is the result both of their common origin from the primitive 
Pelasgian, and of the intercourse which the Romans ata later 
period held with the Greeks. Latin, however, had not the 
plastic property of the Greek, the faculty of transforming itself 
into every variety of form and shape conceived by the fancy and 
imagination ; it partook of the spirit of Roman nationality, of 
the conscious dignity of the Roman citizen, of the indomitable 
will that led that people to the conquest of the world. In its 
construction, instead of conforming to the thought, it bends the 
thought to its own genius. It is a fit language for expressing 
the thoughts of an active and practical, but not of an imaginative 
and speculative people. It was propagated, like the dominion 
of Rome, by conquest. It either took the place of the language 
of the conquered nation, or became ingrafted upon it, and 
gradual y pervaded its composition; hence its presence is 
discernible in all European languages. 


8. Tue Reticion.—The religion and mythology of Etruria 
left an indelible stamp on the rites and ceremonies of the Roman 
people. At first they worshipped heaven and earth personified 
in Saturn and Ops, by whom Juno, Vesta and Ceres were 
generated, symbolizing marriage, family and fertility ; soon after, 
other Etruscan divinities were imtroduced, such as Jupiter, 
Minerva and Janus; and Sylvanus ard Faunus, who delighted 
in the simple occupations of rural and pastoral life. From the 





128 ROMAN LITERATURE. 


a 
a” 
: 
+ 
‘ 
L 


Etrurians the Romans borrowed, also, the institution of the 
Vestals, whose duty was to watch and keep alive the sacred fire 
of Vesta ; the Lares and the Penates, the domestic gods, whick 
presided over the dwelling and family; Terminus, the god of 
property and the rites connected with possession; and tx 
orders of Augurs and Aruspices, whose office was to consult 
the flight of birds or to inspect the entrails of animals offered in 
sacrifice, in order to ascertain future events. The family of the 
Roman gods continued to increase by adopting the divinities of 
the conquered nations, and more particularly by the introdue- 
tion of those of Greece. The general division of the gods was 
twofold—the superior and inferior deities. ‘The first class con- 
tained the Consentes and the Select2 ; the second, the Indigetes and 
Semones. The Consentes, so called because they were supposed to 
form the great council.of heaven, consisted of twelve: Jupiter, 
Neptune, Apollo, Mars, Mercury, Vulcan, Juno, Minerva, Ceres, 
Diana, Venus and Vesta. The Sedecte were nearly equal to them 
in rank, and consisted of eight: Saturn, Pluto, Bacchus, Janus, 
Sol, Genius, Rhea and Luna. The Indigetes were heroes who 
were ranked among the gods, and included particularly Hercules, 
Castor and Pollux, and Quirinus or Romulus. The Semones com- 
prehended those deities that presided over particular objects, as 
Pan, the god of shepherds ; Flora, the goddess of flowers, etc. 
Besides these, there were among the inferior gods a numerous 
class of deities, including the virtues and vices and other objects 
personified. ; 

The religion of the Romans was essentially political, and 
employed as a means of promotirg the designs of the state. 
It was prosaic in its character, and in this respect differed essen- 
tially from the artistic and poetical religion of the Greeks. The 
Greeks conceived religion as a free and joyous worship of 
nature, a centre of individuality, beauty and grace, as well as a 
source of poetry, art and independence. With the Romans, 
on the contrary, religion conveyed a mysterious and hidden 
idea, which gave to this sentiment a gloomy and unattractive 
character, without either moral or artistic influence. 


PERIOD FIRST. 


FROM THE CONCLUSION OF THE FIRST PUNIC WAR TO THE AGE OF 
cicero (241-74 B.c.) 


\. Harty Literature or THE Romans.—The Romans, like all 
other nations, had oral poetical compositions before they pos 
sessed any written literature. Cicero speaks of the banquet being 








, ROMAN LITERATURE. 123 


enlivened hy the songs of bards, in which the exploits of heroes 
were recited and celebrated. By these lays national pride and 
family vanity were gratified, and the anecdotes thus preserved, 
furnished sources of early legendary history. But these legends 
must not be compared to those of Greece, in which the religious 
sentiment gave a supernatural glory to the effusions of the bard, 
painted men as heroes and heroes as deities, and, while it was 
the natural growth of the Greek intellect, twined itself around the - 
affections of the people. The Roman religion was a ceremoniai 
for the priests, and not for the people, and in Roman tradition 
there are no traces of elevated genius or poetical inspiration. 
The Romans possessed the germs of those faculties which admit 
of cultivation and improvement, such as taste and genius, and the 
appreciation of the beautiful; but they did not possess those 
natural gifts of fancy and imagination which formed part of the 
Greek mind, and which made that nation in a state of infancy, 
almost of barbarism, a poetical people. W_éth them literature 
was not of spontaneous growth; it was chiefly the result of the 
influence exerted by the Ktruscans, who were their teachers in 
everything mental and spiritual. 

The tendency of the Roman mind was essentially utilitarian. 
Even Cicero, with all his varied accomplishments, will recognize 
but one end and object of all study, namely, those sciences which 
will render man useful to his country, and the law of literary 
development is modified according to this ruling principle. From 
the very beginning, the first cause of Roman literature will be 
found to have been a view to utility and not to the satisfaction 
of an impulsive feeling. 

In other nations, poetry has been the first spontaneous pro- 
duetion. With the Romans, the first written literary effort was 
history; but even their early history was a simple record of facts, 
not of ideas or sentiments, and valuable only for its truth and 
accuracy.. Their original documents, mere records of memorable 
events anterior to the capture of Rome by the Gauls, perished 
in the conflagration of the city. 

The earliest attempt at versification made by the rude inhabit. 
ants of Latium was satire in a somewhat dramatic form, ‘The 
Fescennine songs were metrical, for the accompaniments of music 
and dancing necessarily restricted them to measure, and, like the 
dramatic exhibitions of the Greeks, they had their origin among the 
rural pepulation, not like them in any religious ceremonial, but 
in the pastimes of the village festival. At first they were inno- 
cent and gay, but liberty at length degenerated into license, and 
yave hirth to malicious and libellous attacks upon persons of 


130 ROMAN LITERATURE. — 
































irreproachable character. This infancy of song illustrates tha 
character of the Romans in its rudest and coarsest form. ‘They 
loved strife, both bodily and mental, and they thus early displayea 
that taste which, in more polished ages, and in the hands of cul 
tivated poets, was developed in the sharp, cutting wit, and the 
lively but piercing points of Roman satire. 

In the Fescennine songs the Etruscans probably furnished the 
‘ spectacle, all that which addresses itself to the eye, while the 
habits of Italian rural life supplied the sarcastic humor and 
yeady extemporaneous gibe, which are the essence of the true 
tomic. ‘The next advance in point of art must be attributed to 
the Oscans, whose entertainments were most popular among the 
Italian nations. They represented in broad caricature national 
peculiarities, Their language was, originally, Oscan, as well 
as the characters represented, The principal one resembled the 
clown of modern pantomime ; another was a kind of pantaloon 
or charlatan, and much of the rest consisted of practical jokes, 
like that of the Italian Polincinella. After their introduction 
at Rome, they received many improvements; they lost their na- 
tive rusticity; their satire was good-natured; their jests were 
seemly, and kept in check by the laws of good taste. They 
were not acted by common professional performers, and even a 
Roman citizen might take part in them without disgrace. They 
were known by the name of ‘‘ Fabule Atellane,” from Attela, a 
town in Campania, where they were first performed. They re- 
mained in favor with the Roman people for centuries. Sylla 
amused his leisure hours in writing them, and Suetonius bears 
testimony to their having been a popular amusement under the 
empire. 

Towards the close of the 4th century, the Etruscan histreones 
were introduced, whose entertainments consisted of graceful 
national dances, accompanied with the music of the flute, but 
without either songs or dramatic action. With these dances the 
Romans combined the old Fescennine songs, and the varied 
metres, which their verse permitted to the vocal parts, gave to this 
mixed entertainment the name of Satura (a hodge-podge or pot- 
pourri), from which, in after times, the word satire was derived. 


2. Harry Latin Porrs.—At the conclusion of the first Punic 
war, when the influence of Greek intellect, which had already 
long been felt in Italy, had extended to the capital, the Romans 
were prepared for the reception of a more regular drama. But 
not only did they owe to Greece the principles of literary taste; 
theit earliest poet was one of that nation. Livius Androricus — 


— 


ROMAN LITERATURE. 131 





(fl 240 8.c.), though born in Italy, and educated at Rome, is sup 
posed to have been a native of the Greek colony of Tarentum 
_ He was at first a slave, probably a captive taken in war, but 
was finally emancipated by his master, in whose family he occu- 
pied the position of instructor to his children. He wrote a 
translation, or perhaps an imitation of the Odyssey, in the old 
Saturnian metre, and also a few hymns. His principal works, 
however, were tragedies; but, from the few fragments of his 
writings extant, it is impossible to form an estimate of his ability 
as a poet. According to Livy, Andronicus was the first who 
_ substituted, for the rude extemporaneous effusions of the Fescen- 
nine verse, plays with a regular plot and fable. In consequence 
of losing his voice, from being frequently encored, he obtained 
permission to introduce a boy to sing the ode or air to the ae 
companiment of the flute, while he himself represented the action 
of the song by his gestures and dancing. . 
Neevius (fl. 235 3.c.) was the first poet who really deserves 
the name of Roman. He was not a servile imitator, but applied 
Greek taste and cultivation to the development of Roman senti- 
ments, and was a true Roman in heart, unsparing in his censure 
of immorality and his admiration for heroic self-devotion. His 
honest principles cemented the strong friendship between him and 
the upright and unbending Cato, a friendship which probably 
contributed to form the political and literary character of that 
stern old Roman. The comedies of Nevius had undoubted 
pretensions to originality ; he held up to public scorn the vices 
and follies of his day, and, being a warm supporter of the people 
against the encroachments of the nobility, and unable to resist 
indulgence in his satiric vein, he was exiled to Utica, where he 
died. He was the author of an epic poem on the Punic war. 
Ennius and Virgil unscrupulously copied and imitated him, and 
Horace writes that in his day the poems of Nevius were in the 
hands and hearts of everybody. ‘The fragments of his writings 
extant are not more numerous than those of Livius. 

Neevius, the last of the older school of writers, by introducing 
new principles of taste to his countrymen, prepared the way fora 
new one; and Greek literature having now driven out its prede- 
cessor, a new school of poetry arose, of which Ennius (239-169 B.c.) 
was thefounder. He earned a subsistence as a teacher of Greek, 
was the friend of Scipio, and, at his death, was buried in the family 
tomb of the Scipios, at the request of the great conqueror of 
Hannibal, whose fame he contributed to hand down to posterity 
Cicero always uses the appellation, owr own Ennius, when he 
quotes his poetry. Horace cails him Father Ennius—a term tw 





132 ROMAN LITERATURE. ~ 


plying reverence and regard—-as much as that he was the founder 
of Latin poetry. He was,like his friends Cato the censor, and 
Scipio Africanus the elder, a man of action as well as philosophica) 
thought, and not only a poet, but a brave soldier, with all the 
singleness of heart and simplicity of manners which marked the 
old times of Roman virtue. Ennius possessed great power over 
words, and wielded that power skillfully. He improved the 
language in its harmony and its grammatical forms, and in 
creased its copiousness and power. What he did was improved 
upon, but was never undone, and upon the foundations he laid 


the taste of succeeding ages erected an elegant and beautiful — 


superstructure. His great epic poem—the “ Annals ”—gained 
him the attachment and admiration of his countrymen. In this 
he first introduced the hexameter to the notice of the Romans, 
and detailed the rise and progress of their national glory, from the 
earliest legendary period down to his own times. ‘The fragments 
of this work which remain are amply sufficient to show that he 
possessed picturesque power, both in sketching his narratives and 
in portraying his characters, which seem to live and breathe; his 
language, dignified, chaste and severe, rises as high as the most 
majestic eloquence, but it does not soar to the sublimity of 
poetry. Asa dramatic poet, Ennius does not deserve a high 
reputation. In comedy, as in tragedy, he never emancipated 
himself from the Greek originals, 


3. Roman Comens.—The rude comedy of the early Romans 
made little progress beyond personal satire, burlesque extrayva- 
gance and licentious jesting, but upon this was ingrafted the 
new Greek comedy, and hence arose that phase of the drama, of 
which the representatives were Plautus, Statius and Terence. 
The Roman comedy was calculated to produce a moral result, 
although the morality it inculeated was extremely low. Its 
standard was worldly prudence, its lessons utilitarian, and its 
philosophy Epicurean. There is a want of variety in the plots, 
but this defect is owing to the social and political condition of 
ancient Greece, which was represented in the Greek comedies 
and copied by the Romans. There is also a sameness in the 
dramatis persone, the principal characters being always a morose 
or a gentle father, who is sometimes also the henpecked husbara 
of a rich wife, an affectionate or domineering wife, a goo@ 
natured profligate, a roguish servant, a calculating slave-deale: 
and some others, 

The actors wore appropriate masks, the features of whie 
were not only grotesque, but much exaggerated and magniged 





— 

fa 

7 r ' 

. ROMAN LITERATURE, 133 
This was rendered necessary by the immense size of the theatre 
and stage, and the mouth of the mask answered the purpose of 
a speaking-trumpet, to assist in conveying the voice to every 
part of the vast building. The characters were known by a con- 
ventional costume; old men wore robes of white, young men 
were attired in gay clcthes, rich men in purple, soldiers in 
scarlet, poor men and slaves in dark and scanty dresses. The 
comedy had always a musical accompaniment of flutes of dif- 
ferent kinds. 

In order to understand the principles which regulated the 
Roman comic metres, it is necessary to observe the manner in 
which the language itself was affected by the common conver- 
sational pronunciation. Latin, as it was pronounced, was very 
different from Latin as it is written ; this difference consisted in 
abbreviation, either by the omission of sounds altogether, or by 
the contraction of two sounds into one, and in this respect the 
conversational language of the Romans resembled that of modern 
nations ; with them, as with us, the mark of good taste was ease 
and the absence of pedantry and affectation. In the comic 
writers we have a complete representation of Latin as it was 
commonly pronounced and spoken, and but little trammelled or 
confined by a rigid adhesion to Greek metrical laws. 


4. Comic Porrs.—Plautus (227-184 B.c.) was a contem- 
porary of Ennius ; he was a native of Umbria, and of humble 
origin. Education did not overcome his vulgarity, although it 
produced a great effect upon his language and style. He 
must have lived and associated with the people whose manners 
he describes, hence his pictures are correct and truthful. The 
class, from which his representations are taken, consisted of 
clients, the sons of freedmen and the half-enfranchised natives of 
Italian towns. He had no aristocratic friends, like Ennius and 
Terence ; the Roman public were his patrons, and notwithstand- 
ing their faults, his comedies retained their popularity even iu 
the Augustan age, and were acted as late as the reign of 
Diocletian. Life, bustle, surprise, unexpected: situations, sharp, 
sparkling raillery that knew no restraint nor bound, left his 
audience no time for dullness or weariness. Although Greek 
was the fountain from which he drew his stores, his wit, thought 
and language were entirely Roman, and his style was Latin of 
the purest and most elegant kind—-not, indeed, controlled by 
much deference to the laws of metrical harmony, but full of pith 
and sprightliness, bearing the stamp of colloquial vivacity, and 
suitable to the general briskness of his scenes. Yet we miss all 


134 ROMAN LITERATURE. 


symptoms of deference, in the tone of his dialogue, to the taste 
of the more polished classes of society. Almost all his comedies 
were adopted from the new comedy of the Greeks, and though 
he had studied both the old and the middle comedy, Menander 
and others of the same school furnished him the originals of his 
plots. ‘The popularity of Plautus was not confined to Rome, 
either republican or imperial. Dramatic writers of modern times, 
as Shakspeare, Dryden and Moliere, have recognized the effect- 
iveness of his plots, and have adopted or imitated them. About 
twenty of his plays are extant, among which the Captivi, the 
Hpidicus, the Cistellaria, the Aulularia and the Rudens are 
considered the best. 

Terence (193-158 B.c.) was a slave in the family of a Roman 
senator, and was probably a native of Carthage. His genius 
presented the rare combination of all the fine and delicate 
qualities which characterized Attic sentiment, without corrupt- 
ing the native purity of the Latin language. The elegance and 
gracefulness of his style show that the conversation of the 
accomplished society, in which he was a welcome guest, was not 
lost upon his correct ear and quick intuition. So far as it can 
be so, comedy was, in the hands of Terence, au instrument of 
moral teaching, Six of his comedies only remain, of which the 
Andrian and the Adelphi are the most interesting. If Terence 
was inferior to Plautus in life, bustle and intrigue, and in the 
delineation of national character, he is superior in elegance of 
language and refinement of taste. ‘The justness of his refleetions 
more than compensates for the absence of his predecessor’s 
humor; he touches the heart as well as gratifies the intellect. 

Of the few other writers of comedy among the Romans, Statius 
may be mentioned, who flourished between Plautus and Terence. 
He was an emancipated slave, born in Milan. Cicero and Varro 
have pronounced judgment upon his merits, the substance of 
which appears to be, that his excellences consisted in the conduct 
of the plot, in dignity and in pathos, while his fault was too 
little care in preserving the purity of the Latin style. The frag- 
ments, however, of his works, which remain, are not sufficient to 
test the opinion of the ancient critics. , 


5. Roman Tracepy.—While Roman comedy was brought to 
perfection under the influence of Greek literature, Roman 
tragedy, on the other hand, was transplanted from Athens, and, 
with few exceptions, was never anything more than translation 
or imitation. In the century during which, together with 
comedy, it flourished ard decayed, it boasted of five distin 








ished writers, Livius, Nevius, Ennius (already spoken of), 

acuvius and Attius. In after ages, Rome did not produce one 
tragic poet, unless Varius be considered an exception. The 
tragedies attributed to Seneca were never acted, and were only 
composed for reading and recitation. 

Among the causes which prevented tragedy from flourishing 
at Rome, was the little influence the national legends exerted 
over the people. ‘These legends were more often private than 
public property, and ministered more to the glory of private 
families than to that of the nation at large. They were 
embalmed by their poets as curious records of antiquity, but they 
did not, like the venerable traditions of Greece, twine them- 
selves around the heart of the nation. Another reason why 
Roman legends had not the power to move the affections of the 
Roman populace, is to be found in the changes the masses had 
undergone. The Roman people were no longer the descendants 
of those who had maintained the national glory in the early 
period ; the patrician families were almost extinct ; war and 

~ poverty had extinguished the middle classes and miserably 
thinned the lower orders. Into the vacancy thus caused, poured 
thousands of slaves, captives in the bloody wars of Gaal, Spain, 
Greece and Africa. These and their descendants replaced the 
ancient people, and while many of them by their talents and 
energy arrived at wealth and station, they could not possibly be 
Romans at heart, or consider the past glories of their adopted 
country as their own. It was to the rise of this new element of 
population, and the displacement or absorption of the old race, 
that the decline of patriotism was owing, and the disregard of 
everything except daily sustenance and daily amusement, which 
paved the way for the empire and marked the downfall of liberty. 
With the people of Athens, tragedy formed a part of the 
national religion. By it the people were taught to sympathize 
with their heroic ancestors; the poet was held to be inspired, and: 
poetry the tongue in which the natural held communion with the 
supernatural. . With the Romans, the theatre was merely a place 
for secular amusement, and poetry only an exercise of the fancy. 
Again, the religion of the Romans was not ideal, like that of the . 
Greeks. The old national faith of Italy, not being rooted in the 
heart, soon became obsolete, and readily admitted the ingraft- 
ing of foreign superstitions, which had no hold on the belief or 
love of the people. Nor was the genius of the Roman people 
such as to sympathize with the legends of the past; they lived: 
only in the present and the future ; they did not look back on 
their national heroes as demigods; they were pressing forward ta 


ROMAN TATERATURE. 135 


.- oe 


136 ROMAN LITERATURE, 


extend the frontiers »f their empire, to bring under their yoke 
nations which their forefathers had not known. If they re: 
garded their ancestors at all, it was not in the light of men 
of heroic stature as compared with themselves, but as those 
whom they could equal or even surpass. 

The scenes of real life, the bloody combats of the gladiators, 
the captives and malefactors stretched on crosses, expiring in 
excruciating agonies or mangled by wild beasts, were the 
tragedies which most deeply interested a Roman audience. 

The Romans were a rough people, full of physical rather than 
of intellectual energy, courting peril and setting no value on 
human life or suffering. ‘Their very virtues were stern and 
severe ; they were strangers to both the passions which it was 
the object of tragedy to excite—pity and terror. In the public 
games of Greece, the refinements of poetry mingled with those 


exercises which were calculated to invigorate the physical powers, 


und develop manly beauty. Those of Rome were sanguinary and 
brutalizing, the amusements of a nation to whom war was a 
pleasure and a pastime. 

It cannot be asserted, however, that tragedy was never to a 
certain extent an acceptable entertainment at Rome, but only 
that it never flourished there as it did at Athens, and that no 
Roman tragedies can be compared with those of Greece. 


6. Tracic Porrs.—Three separate eras produced tragic poets. 
In the first flourished Livius Andronicus, Neevius and Ennius ; 
in the second, Pacuvius and Attins; in the third, Asinius 
Pollio wrote tragedies, the plots of which seem to have been 
taken from Roman history. Ovid attempted a ‘ Medea,” and 
even the emperor Augustus, with other men of genius, tried 
their hand, though unsuccessfully, at tragedy. 

In the second of the eras mentioned, Roman tragedy reached 
its highest degree of perfection simultaneously with that of 
comedy. While Terence was successfully reproducing the wit 
and manners of the new Attic comedy, Pacuvius (220-130 B.c.) 
was enriching the Roman drama with free translations of the 
Greek tragedians. He was a native of Brundusium and a 
grandson of the poet Ennius. At Rome he distinguished him- 
self as a painter as well asa dramatic poet. His tragedies were 
not mere translations, but adaptations of Greek tragedies to the 
Roman stage. The fragments which are extant are full of new 
and original ‘thoughts, and the very roughness of his style and auda- 
city of his expressions have somewhat of the solemn grandeur and 
‘picturesque boldness, which dis‘inguish the father of Attic tragedy 











ROMAN LITERATURE, 137 


Attius (fl. 138 3.c.), though born later than Pacuvius, was 
almost his contemporary, and a competitor for popular applause. 
He is said to have written more than fifty tragedies, of which 
fragments only remain. His taste is chastened, his sentiments 
noble, and his versification elegant. With him, Latin tragedy 
disappeared. The tragedies of the third period were written 
expressly for reading and recitation, and not for the stage— 
they were dramatic poems, not dramas. Amidst the scenes of 
horror and violence which followed, the voice of the tragic muse 
was hushed. Massacre and rapine raged through the streets 
of Rome, itself a theatre, where the most terrible scenes were 
daily enacted. 


7. Sattre.—The invention of satire is universally attributed 
to the Romans, and this is true as far as the external form 
is concerned, but the spirit is found in many parts of the 
literature of Greece. Ennius was the inventor of the name, but 
Lucilius (148-102 3.c.) was the father of satire, in the proper 
sense. His satires mark an era in Roman literature, and prove 
that a love for this species of poetry had already made great 
progress. Hitherto, literature, science and art had been con- 
sidered the province of slaves and freedmen. The stern old Ro- 
man virtue despised such sedentary employment as intellectual 
cultivation, and thought it unworthy of the warrior and states- 
man. Some of the higher classes loved literature and patronized 
it, but did not make it their pursuit. Lucilius was a Roman 
knight, as well as a poet. His satires were comprised in thirty 
books, numerous fragments of whick are still extant. He was a 
man of high moral principle, though stern and stoical; a relent- 
less enemy of vice and profligacy, and a gallant and fearless 
defender of truth and honesty. After the death of Lucilius 
satire languished, until half a century later, when it assumed a 
new garb in the descriptive scenes of Horace, and put forth its 
original vigor in the burning thoughts of Persius and Juvenal. 


8. History anp Oratory.—Prose was far more in accordance 
with the genius of the Romans, than poetry. As a nation, they 
had little or no imaginative power, no enthusiastic love of natural 
beauty, and no acute perception of the sympathy between man 
and the external world. The favorite civil pursuit cf an en- 
lightened Roman was statesmanship, and the subjects akin to it, 
history, jarisprudence and oratory, the natural language of which 
was prose, not poetry. And their practical statesmanship gave 
¢n early encouragement to oratory, which is peculiarly the litera 


138 ROMAN LITERATURE. 


ture of active life. As matter was more valued than manner bs 
this utilitarian people, it was long before it was thought necessary 
to embellish prose composition with the graces of rhetoric. The 
fact that Roman literature was imitative rather than inventive, 
gave a historical bias to the Roman intellect, and a tendency to 
study subjects in a historical point of view. But even in history, 
they never attained that comprehensive and philosophical spirit, 
which distinguished the Greek historians. 

The most ancient writer of Roman history was Fabius Pictor 
(fi. 219 B.c.) His principal work, written in Greek, was a history 
_ of the first and second Punic war, to which subsequent writers 
were much indebted. Contemporary with Fabius was Cincius 
Alimentus, also an annalist of the Punic war, in which he was. 
personally engaged. He was a prisoner of Hannibal, who de- 
lighted in the society of literary men, and treated him with great 
kindness and consideration, and himself communicated to him 
the details of his passage across the Alps. Like Fabius, he 
wrote his work in Greek, and prefixed to it a brief abstract of 
Roman history. ‘Though the works of these annalists are valu- 
able as furnishing materials for more philosophical minds, they 
are only such as could have existed in the infancy of a national 
literature. They were a bare compilation of facts—the mere 
framework of history—diversified by no critical remarks or 
political reflections, and meagre and insipid in style. 

The versatility of talent displayed by Cato the censor (224-144 
B.C.) entitles him to a place among orators, jurists, economists 
and historians. His life extends over a wide and important 
period of literary history, when everything was in a state of 
change in morals, social habits and literary taste. Cato was 
born in Tusculum, and passed his boyhood in the pursuits of rural 
life at a small Sabine farm belonging to his father. The skill 
with which he pleaded the causes of his clients before the rural 
magistracy, made his abilities known, and he rose rapidly to 
eminence as a pleader. He filled many high offices of state; his 
energies were not weakened by advancing age, and he was 
always ready as the advocate of virtue, the champion of the 
oppressed, and the punisher of vice. With many defects, Cato 
was morally and intellectually one of the greatest men Rome 
ever produced. He had the ability and the determination to excel 
in everything which he undertook. His style isrude, unpolished, 
ungraceful, because to him polish was superficial, and, therefore, 
anreal. His statements, however, were clear, his illustrations 
striking; the words with which he enriched his native tongue 
were full of meaning; his wit was keen and lively, and his argu’ 








ROMAN LITERATURE. 139 


eens went straight to the intellect, and carried conviction with 
them. | 

Cato’s great historical and antiquarian work, ‘‘ The Origins,” 
was a history of Italy and Rome from the earliest times to the 
latest events which occurred in his own lifetime. It was a work 
of great research and originality, but only brief fragments 
of it remain. In the “‘ De Re Rustica,” which has come down 
to us in form and substance as it was written, Cato maintains 
in the introduction, the superiority of agriculture over other 
modes of gaining a livelihood. The work itself is a common- 
place book of agriculture and domestic economy; its object is 
utility, not science: it serves the purpose of a farmer’s and gar- 
dener’s manual, a domestic medicine, herbal and cookery book. 
Cato teaches his readers, for example, how to plant osier beds, 
to cultivate vegetables, to preserve the health of cattle, to pickle 
pork, and to make savory dishes. 

Of the “ Orations ” of Cato, ninety tities are extant, together 
with numerous fragments. In style he despised art. He was 
too fearless and upright, too confident in the justness of his_ 
cause to be a rhetorician; he imitated no one, and no one was 
ever able to imitate him. Niebuhr pronounces him to be the 
only great man in his generation, and one of the greatest and 
most honorable characters in Roman history. 

Varro (116-28 3.c.) was an agriculturist, a grammarian, a 
_ critic, a theologian, a historian, a philosopher, a satirist. Of his 
miscellaneous works considerable portions are extant, sufficient 
to display his erudition and acuteness, yet, in themselves, more 
eurious than attractive. 

Eloquence, though of a rude, unpolished kind, must have been, 
in the very earliest times, a characteristic of the Roman people. 
It is a plant indigenous to a free soil. As in modern times it 
has flourished especially in England and America, fostered by 
_ the unfettered freedom of debate, so it found a congenial home 
in free Greece and republican Rome. Oratory was, in Rome, 
the unwritten literature of active life, and recommended itself to 
a warlike and utilitarian people by its utility and its antagonistic 
spirit. Long before the art of the historian was sufficiently 
advanced to record a speech, the forum, the senate, the battle- 
field, and the threshold of the jurisconsult had been nurseries of 
Roman eloquence, or schools in which oratory attained a vigorous 
youth, and prepared for its subsequent maturity. 

While the legal and political constitution of the Roman 
people gave direct encouragement o deliberative and judicial 
oratory, respect for the illustrious dead furnished opportunities 


140 : ROMAN LITERATURE. 


for panegyric. The song of the bard in honor of the departed 
warrior gave place to the funeral oration. Among the orators 
of this time were the two Scipios, and Galba, whom Cicere 
praises as having been the first Roman who understood how ta 
apply the theoretical principles of Greek rhetoric. 

All periods of political disquiet are necessarily favorable ta 
eloquence, and the era of the Gracchi was especially so. Aftet 
a struggle of nearly four centuries, the old distinction of plebeian 
and patrician no longer existed. Plebeians held high offices, and 
patricians, like the Gracchi, stood forward as champions of popu- 
lar rights. These stirring times produced many celebrated 
orators. The Gracchi themselves were both eloquent and pos- 
sessed of those qualities and endowments which would recommend 
their eloquence to their countrymen. Oratory began now to he 
studied more as an art, and the interval between the Gracchi 
and Cicero boasted of many distinguished names; the most 
illustrious among them are M. Antonius, Crassus, and Cicero’s 
contemporary and most formidable rival, Hortensius. 

M. Antonius (fl. 119 B.c.) entered public life as a pleader, and 
thus jaid the foundation of his brilliant career; but he was 
through life greater as a judicial than as a deliberative orator. 
He was indefatigable in preparing his case, and made every 
point tell. He was a great master of the pathetic, and knew 
the way to the heart. Although he did not himself give his 
speeches to posterity, some of his most pointed expressions and 
favorite passages left an indelible impression on the memories 
of his hearers, and many of them were preserved by Cicero. In 
the prime of life he fell a victim to political fury, and his 
bleeding head was placed upon the rostrum, which was so fre- 
quently the scene of his eloquent triumphs. 

L. Licinius Crassus was four years younger than Antonius, 
and acquired great reputation for his knowledge of jurisprudence, 
for his eminence as a pleader, and, above all, for his powerful 
and triumphant orations in support of the restoration of the 
judicial office to the senators. From among the crowd of orators, 
which were then flourishing in the last days of expiring Roman 
liberty, Cicero selected Crassus to be the representative of his 
sentiments in his imaginary conversation in ‘The Orator.” 
Like Lord Chatham, Crassus almost died on the floor of the 
Senate house, and his last effort was in support of the aristo- 
cratic party. 

Q. Hortensius was born 114 3.c. He was only eight yeara 
senior to the greatest of all Roman orators. He early com 
menced his career as a pleader, and he was the acknowledgec 





: . 
: 
a 
S - 


RUMAN LITERATURE, 14) 


leader of the Roman bar, until the star of Cicero arose. His 
political connection with the faction of Sylla, and his unscrupulous 
support of the profligate corruption which characterized that 
administration, both at home and abroad, enlisted his legal 
talents in defence of the infamous Verres; but the eloquence of 

Cicero, together with the justice of the cause which he espoused, 
prevailed; and from that time forward, his superiority over 
Hortensius was established and complete. The style of 
Hortensius was Asiatic—more florid and ornate than polished 
and refined. 


9. Roman Jurisprupence.—The framework of their juris 
prudence the Romans derived from Athens, but the complete 
structure was built up by their own hands. They were the 
authors of a system possessing such stability that they bequeathed 
it, as an inheritance, to modern Europe, and traces of Roman 
law are visible in the legal systems of the whole civilized world. 

The complicated principles of jurisprudence of the Roman 
constitution became, in Rome, a necessary part of a liberal 
education. When a Roman youth had completed his studies, 
ander his teacher of rhetoric, he not only frequented the forum, 
in order to learn the application of the rhetorical principles he had 
acquired, and frequently took some celebrated orator as a model, 
but also studied the principles of jurisprudence under eminent 
jurists, and attended the consultations in which they gave to 
their clients their expositions of law. 

The earliest systematic works on Roman law were the 
“Manual” of Pomponius, and the ‘ Institutes” of Gaius, who 
flourished in the time of Hadrian and the Antonines. Both of 
these works were, for a long time, lost, though fragments were 
preserved in the pandects of Justinian. In 1816, however, 
Niebuhr discovered a palimpsest MS., in which the epistles of 
St. Jerome were written over the erased “ Institutes ” of Gaius. 
From the numerous misunderstandings of the Roman historians 
respecting the laws and constitutional history of their country, 
the subject continued long in a state of confusion, until Vico, in 
his ‘‘ Scienza nuova,” dispelled the clouds of error, and redaced 
it to a system; and he was followed so successfully by Niebuhr, 
that modern students can have a more comprehensive and 
antiquarian knowledge of the subject, than the writers of the 
Augustan age. 

The earliest Roman laws were the ‘‘Leges Regie,” which 
were collected and codified by Sextus Papirius, and were hence 
talled the Papirian code; but these were rude and unconnected, 


142 ROMAN TITERATURE. 


—<imply a eollection of isolated enactments The laws of the 
“Twelve Tables” stand next in point of antiquity. They 
exhibited the first attempt at regular system, and embodied not 
only legislative enactments, but legal principles. So popular 
were they that when Cicero was a child every Roman boy com- 
mitted them to memory, as our children do their catechism, 
and the great orator laments that in the course of his lifetime 
this practice had become obsolete. 

The oral traditional expositions of these laws formed the 
groundwork of the Roman civil law. To these were added, 
from time to time, the decrees of the people, the acts of the 
senate, and pretorian edicts, and from these various elements the 
whole body of Roman law was composed. So early was the 
subject diligentiy studied, that the age preceding the first twocen- . 
turies of our era was rich in jurists, whose powers are celebrated 
in history. 

The most eminent jurists, who adorned this period, were the 
Scevole, a family in whom the profession seems to have been 
hereditary. After them flourished Ailias Gallus (123-67 B.c.), 
eminent as a law reformer, C. Juventius, Sextus Papirius and — 
L. Lucilius Balbus, three distinguished jurists, who were a Eo 
years senior to Cicero 


10. Grammarians.—Towards the conclusion of this literary 
period a great increase took place in the numbers of those 
learned men whom the Romans at first termed literati, but 
afterwards, following the custom of the Greeks, grammarians. 
To them literature was under great obligations. Although 
few of them were authors, and all of them possessed acquired 
learning rather than original genius, they exercised a powerful — 
influence over the public mind as professors, lecturers, critics and 
schoolmasters. By them the youths of the best families not 
only were imbued with a taste for Greek philosophy and poetry, 
but were also taught to appreciate the literature of their own 
country. lLivius Andronicus and Ennius may be placed at the 
head of this class, followed by Crates Mallotes, C. Octavius 
Lampadio, Leelius, Archelaus, and others, most of whom were 
emancipated slaves, either from Greece, or from other foreign 
countries, ‘4 








ROMAN LITERATURE, 143 


PERIOD SECOND, 


FROM THE AGE OF CICERC TO THE DEATH (F avaustus (7T4 B.a 
| 14 a.D.) 


1. DEVELOPMENT OF THE Roman Lirrrature.—Latin literature, 
at first rude, and, for five centuries, unable to reach any high 
excellence, was, as we have seen, gradually developed by the 
example and tendency of the Greek mind, which moulded 
Roman civilization anew. The earliest Latin poets, historians 
and grammarians were Greeks. ‘The metre which was brought 
to such perfection by the Latin poets was formed from the 
Greeks, and the Latin language more and more assimilated to 
the Hellenic tongue. 

As civilization advanced, the rude literature of Rome was 
compared with the great monuments of Greek genius, their 
superiority was acknowledged, and the study of them encouraged. 
The Roman youth not only attended the schools of the Greeks, 
in Rome, but their education was considered incomplete, unless 
they repaired to those of Athens, Rhs-les and Mytilene. Thus, 
whatever of national character existed in the literature, was 
gradually obliterated, and what it gained in harmony and finish 
it lost in originality. The Roman writers imitated more particu- 
larly the writers of the Alexandrian school, who, being more 
artificial, were more congenial than the great writers of the age 
of Pericles. 

Roman genius, serious, majestic, and perhaps more original 
than at a later period, was manifest even at the time of the 
Punic wars, but it had not yet taken form ; and while thought 
was. vigorous and powerful, expression remained weak and 
uncertain. But, under the Greek influence, and aided by the 
vigor imparted by free institutions, the union of thought and 
form was at length consummated, and the literature reached its 
culminating point in the great Roman orator. The fruits which 
-had grown and matured in the centuries preceding, were gathered 
by Augustus; but the influences that contributed to the splendor 
of his age belong rather to the republic than the empire, and 
with the fall of the liberties of Rome, Roman literature de- 
clined. 


2. Mrmres, MmocrarpHers AND Pantomme.—Amidst all the 
splendor of the Latin literature of this period, dramatic poetry 
never recovered from the trance into which it aad fallen, though 


144 ROMAN LITERATURE, 
the stage had not altogether lost its popularity. Adsopus aid 
Roscius, the former the great tragic actor, and the latter the 
favorite comedian, in the time of Cicero, enjoyed his friendship, 
and that of other great men, and both amassed large fortunes. 
But although the standard Roman plays were constantly repre 
sented, dramatic literature had become extinct. The entertain- 
ments, which had now taken the place of comedy and tragedy, 
were termed mimes. These were laughable imitations of manners 
and persons, combining the features of comedy and farce, for 
comedy represents the characters of a class, farce those of in- 
dividuals. ‘Their essence was that of the modern pantomime, 
and their coarseness, and even indecency, gratified the love of 
broad humor which characterized the Roman people. After a 
time, when they became established as popular favorites, the 
dialogue occupied a more prominent position, and was written in 
verse, like that of tragedy and comedy. During the dictator 
ship of Cesar, a Roman knight named Laberius (107-45 B.c. 
became famous for his mimes. The profession of an actor 
of mimes was infamous, but Laberius was a writer, not an 
actor. On one occasion, Cesar offered him a large sum of 
money to enter the lists on a trial of his improvisatorial skill. 
Laberius did not submit to the degradation for the sake of the 
money, but he was afraid to refuse. The only method of 
retaliation in his power was sarcasm. His part was that of a 
slave; and when his master scourged him, he exclaimed: “ Porro, 
Quirites, libertatem perdimus!” His words were received with 
a round of applause, and all eyes were fixed on Cesar. The 
dictator restored him to the rank of which his act had deprived 
nim, but he could never recover the respect of his countrymen. 
As he passed the orchestra, on his way to the stalls of the 
knights, Cicero cried out: “If we were not so crowded, I 
would make room for you here.” Laberius replied, alluding to 
Cicero’s lukewarmness as a political partisan: ‘‘ lam astonished 
that you should be crowded, as you generally sit on two stools.” 
Another writer and actor of mimes was’ Publius Syrus, 
originally a Syrian slave. Tradition has recorded a bon mot of 
his which is as witty as it is severe. Seeing an ill-tempered 
man named Mucius in low spirits, he exclaimed: ‘ Hither some 
ill fortune has happened to Mucius, or some good fortune to one 
of his friends!” : 
The Roman pantomime differed somewhat from the mime. It 
was a ballet of action, performed by a single dancer, who not 
only exhibited the human figure in its most graceful attitudes, 
but represented every passion and emotion with such truth that 









































di i i a Ot al 





ROMAN LITERATURE. 145 


the spectators could, without difficulty, understand the story. 
The pantomime was licentious in its character, and the actors 
were forbidden by ‘Tiberius to hold any intercourse with Romans 
of equestrian or senatorial dignity. 

These were the exhibitions which threw such discredit on the 
stage, which called forth the well-deserved attacks of the early 
Christian fathers, and caused them to declare that whoever at- 
tended them was unworthy of the name of Christian. Had the 
drama not been so abused, had it retained its original purity, 
and carried out the object attributed to it by Aristotle, they 
would have seen it, not a nursery of vice, but a school of virtue; 
not only an innocent amusement, but a powerful engine to form 
the taste, to improve the morals, and to purify the feelings of a 
people. 


3. Epic Portry.—The epic poets of this period selected their 
subjects either from the heroic age and the mythology of Greece, 
or from their own national history. The Augustan age abounds 
in representatives of these two poetical schools, though possess- 
ing little merit. But the Romans, essentially practical and 
positive in their character, felt little interest in the descriptiors 
of manners and events remote from their associations, and poetry, 
restrained within the limits of their history, could not rise to 
that height of imagination demanded by the epic muse. Virgil 
united the two forms by selecting his subject from the national 
history, and adorning the ancient traditions of Rome with the 
splendor of Greek imagination. 

Virgil (70-19 B.c.) was born at Andes, near Mantua; he 
was educated at Cremona and at Naples, where he studied 
Greek literature and philosophy. After this he came to Rome, 
where, through Mecenas, he became known to Octavius, and 
basked in the sunshine of court favor. His favorite residence 
was Naples. On his return from Athens, in company with 
Augustus, he was seized with an illness of which he died. He 
was buried about a mile from Naples, on the road to Pozzuoli; 
and a tomb is still pointed out to the traveller which is said to 
be that of the poet. Virgil was deservedly popular both as a 
poet and as a man. The emperor esteemed him and people 
respected him ; he was constitutionally pensive and melancholy, 
temperate and pure-minded in a profligate age, and his popularity 
aever spoiled his simplicity and modesty. In his last’ momenta 
he was anxious to burn the whole manuscript of the Auneid, and 
directed his executors either to improve it or commit it to the 
flames, | 


146 ROMAN LITERATURE. 


The ides and plan of the Auneid are derived from Homer. Ags 
the wravh of Achilles is the mainspring of the Iliad, so the 
unity of the AMneid results from the anger of Juno. The arrival 
of ANneas in Italy after the destruction of Troy, the obstacles 
that opposed him through the intervention of Juno, and the 
adventures and the victories of the hero form the subject of the 
poem, Leaving Sicily for Latium, Auneas is driven on the 
zoast of Afiica by a tempest raised against him by Juno; at 
Carthage he is welcomed by the queen Dido, to whom he relates 
his past adventures and sufferings. By his narrative he wins 
her love, but at the command of Jupiter abandons her. Unable 
to retain him, Dido, in the despair of her passion, destroys her- 
self. After passing through many dangers, under the guidance 
of the Sibyl of Cuma, he descends into the kingdom of the dead 
to consult the shade of his father. There appear to him the 
souls of the future heroes of Rome. On his return, he becomes 
a friend of the king of Latium, who promises to him the hand 
of his daughter, which is eagerly sought by King Turnus. A 
fearful war ensues between the rival lovers, which ends in the 
victory of Atneas. 

Though the poem of Virgil is in many passages an imitation 
from the Iliad and the Odyssey, the Roman element predomi- 
nates in it, and the Aineid is the true national poem of Rome, 
There was no subject more adapted to flatter the vanity of the 
Romans, than the splendor and antiquity of their origin. 
Augustus is evidently typified under the character of Aineas ; 
Cleopatra is boldly sketched as Dido; and Turnus as the 
popular Anthony. ‘The love and death of Dido, the passionate 
victim of an unrequited love, give occasion to the poet to sing 
the victories of his countrymen over their Carthaginian rivals ; 
the Pythagorean metempsychosis, which he adopts in the deserip- 
tion of Elysium, affords an opportunity to exalt the heroes of 
Rome; and the wars of Aineas allow him to describe the 
localities and the manners of ancient Latium with such truth- 
fulness, as to give to his verses the authority of historical 
quotations. In style, the Auneid is a model of purity and — 
elegance, and for the variety and the harmony of its incidents, — 
for the power of its descriptions, and for the interest of its plot 
and episodes, second only to the Iliad. It has been observed 
that Virgil’s descriptions are more like landscape painting than 
those of any by his predecessors, whether Greek or Roman, and 
it is a remarkable fact, that landscape painting was first intro 
duced in his time, | 


‘a 








ROMAN LITERATURE 143 


4 Duimacric Porrry.—The poems, which first established the 
reputation of Virgil as a poet, belong to didactic poetry. 
They are his Bucolics and Georgics. The Bucolics are pastoral 
idyls; the characters are Italian in all their sentiments and 
feelings, acting, however, the unreal and assumed part of Greek 
shepherds. ‘The Italians never possessed the elements of pasto- 
ral life, and could not furnish the poet with originals and 
models. from which to draw his portraits. When represented as 
Virgil represents them in his Bucolics, they are in masquerade, 
and the drama in which they form ‘the characters is of an 
allegorical kind. Even the scenery is Sicilian, and does not 
truthfully describe the tame neighborhood of Mantua. In fact, 
these poems are imitations of Theocritus ; but, divesting our- 
selves of the idea of the outward form which the poet has 
chosen to adopt, we are touched by the simple narrative of 
disappointed loves and childlike woes; we appreciate the 
delicately-veiled compliments paid by the poet to his patron; we 
enjoy the inventive genius and poetical power which they 
display, and we are elevated by the exalted sentiments which 
they sometimes breathe. 

The Georgics are poems on the labors and enjoyments of rural 
life, a subject for which Rome offered a favorable field. Though 
in this style Hesiod was the model of Virgil, his system is per- 
fectly Italian, so much so, that many of his rules may be traced 
in modern Italian husbandry, just as the descriptions of imple- 
ments in the Greek poet are frequently found to agree with 
those in use in modern Greece. The great merit of the 
Georgics consists in their varied digressions, interesting episodes, 
and in the sublime bursts of descriptive vigor which are 
interspersed throughout them. They have frequently been 
taken as models for imitation by the didactic poets of all 
nations, and more particularly of England. The “ Seasons,” 
for instance, is a thoroughly Virgilian poem. 

Lucretius (95-51 B.c.) belongs to the class of didactic 
poets. He might claim a place among philosophers as well 
as poets, for his poem marks an epoch both in poetry and 
philosophy. But his philosophy is a mere reflection from 
that of Greece, while his poetry is bright with the rays of 
original genius. His poem on “The Nature of Things” is in 
imitation of that of Kmpedocles. Its subject is philosophical 
and its purpose didactic; but its unity of design gives to 
it almost the rank of an epic. Its structure prevents it 
from being a complete and systematic survey of the whole 
Epicurean philosophy, but as far as the form of the poem 


148 ROMAN LITERATURE, 


permitted, it presents an accurate view of the philosophy 
which then enjoyed the highest popularity. 

The object of the poem of Lucretius is to emancipate man 
kind from the debasing effects of superstition by an exposition 
of philosophy, and though a follower of Hpicurus, he is not 
entirely destitute of the religious sentiment, for he deifies nature 
and has a veneration for her laws ; his infidelity must be viewed 
rather in the light of a philosophical protest against the results 
of heathen superstition, than a total rejection of the principles of 
religious faith. 

Lucretius valued the capabilities of the Latin language ; he 
wielded at will its power of embodying the noblest thoughts, and 
showed how its copious and flexible properties could overcome 
the hard technicalities: of science. The great beauty of his 
poetry is its variety ; his fancy is always lively, his imagination 
has always free scope. He is sublime, as a philosopher who 
penetrates the secrets of the natural world, and discloses to 
the eyes of man the hidden causes of its wonderful phenomena. 
His object was a lofty one; for although the absurdities of the 
national creed drove him into skepticism, his aim was to set the 
intellect free from the trammels of superstition. But besides 
grandeur and sublimity, we find the totally different qualities of 
softness and tenderness. Rome had long known nothing but 
war, and was now rent by civil dissension. Lucretius yearned 
for peace ; and his prayer, that the fabled goddess of all that is 
beautiful in nature would heal the wounds which discord had 
made, is distinguished by tenderness and pathos even more than 
by sublimity. He is superior to Ovid in force, though inferior 
in facility; not so smooth or harmonious as Virgil, his poetry 
always falls upon the ear with a swelling and sonorous melody. 
Virgil appreciated his excellence, and imitated not only single 
expressions, but almost entire verses and passages; and Ovid 
exclaims, that the sublime strains of Lucretius shall never 
perish until the world shall be given up to destruction. 


5. Lyric Porrry. —T’he Romans had not the ideality and the 
enthusiasm, which are the elements of lyric poetry, and in all 
the range of their literature, there are only two poets who, 
greatly inferior to the lyric poets of Greece, have a positive claim 
to a place in this department, Catullus and Horace. Catullus 
(86-46 B.c.) was porn near Verona. At an early age he went 
to Rome, where he plunged into all the excesses of the capital, 
and where his sole ovcupation was the cultivation of his literary 
tastes and talents A career of extravagance and debauchery 





terminated in the ruin of his fortune, and he died at the age of 
forty. The works of Catullus consist of numerous short pieces 

_ of a lyrical character, elegies and other poems. He was one ot 
the most popular of the Roman poets, because he possessed 

_ those qualities which the literary society at Rome most valued, 
polish and learning, and because, although an imitator, there 
was a truly Roman nationality in all that he wrote. His satire 
was the bitter resentment of a vindictive spirit ; his love and his 
hate were both purely selfish, but his excellences were of the 
most alluring and captivating kind. He has never been sur- 
passed in gracefulness, melody and tenderness. 

Horace (65-8 s.c.), like Virgil and other poets of his time, 
enjoyed the friendship and intimacy of Mecenas, who procured 
for him the public grant of his Sabine farm, situated about 
fifteen miles from Tivoli. At Rome he occupied a house on the 
beautiful heights of the Esquiline. The rapid alternation of 
town and country life, which the fickle poet indulged in, gives a 
peculiar charm to his poetry. His Satires were followed by the 
publication of the “Odes” and the “ Hpistles.” The satires of 
Horace occupied the position of the fashionable novel of our day. 
In them is sketched boldly, but good-humoredly, a picture of 
Roman social life, with its vices and follies. ‘They have nothing 
of the bitterness of Lucilius, the love of purity and honor that 
adorns Persius, or the burning indignation of Juvenal at the 
loathsome corruption of morals. Vice, in his day, had not 
reached that appalling height, which it attained in the time of 
the emperor who succeeded Augustus. Deficient in moral 
purity, nothing would strike him as deserving censure, except 
such excess as would actually defeat the object which he pro- 
posed to himself, namely, the utmost enjoyment of life. In the 
 Hpistles,” he lays aside the character of a moral teacher or 
censor, and writes with the freedom with which he would con- 
verse with an intimate friend. But it is in his inimitable 
“Odes” that the genius of Horace as a poet is especially dis- 
played ; they have never been equalled in beauty of sentiment, 
gracefulness of language and melody of versification ; they com- 
prehend every variety of subject suitable to the lyric muse ; 
they rise without effort to the most elevated topics ; and they 
descend to the simplest joys and sorrows of every-day life. 

The life of Horace is especially instructive, as a mirror in 
which is reflected a faithful image of the manners of his day. 
He is the representative of Roman refined society, as Virgil is 
of the national mind. His morals were lax, but not worse than 
those of his contemporaries. He looked at virtue and vice from 


ROMAN LITERATURE. 149 


150 ROMAN LITERATURE. 

























a worldly, not from a moral point of view, and with him the one. 
was prudence and the other folly. 
In connection with Horace, we may mention Mecenas, who, 
by his good taste and munificence, exercised a great influence 
upon literature, and literary men of Rome were much indebted 
to him for the use he made of his friendship with Augustus, to 
whom, probably, his love of literature and of pleasure -and his 
imperturbable temper recommended him as an agreeable com- 
panion. He had wealth enough to gratify his utmost wishes, 
and his mind was so full of the delights of refined society, of 
palaces, gardens, wit, poetry and art, that there was no room in ~ 
it for ambition. All the most brilliant men of Rome were found 
at his table—Virgil, Horace, Propertius and Varius were 
among his friends and constant associates. He was a fair 
specimen of the man of pleasure and society—liberal, kind- 
hearted, clever, refined, but luxurious, self-indulgent, indolent — 
and volatile, with good impulses, but without principle. 


6. Errcy.—Tibullus (b. 54 B.c.) was the father of the Roman | 
elezy. He was a contemporary of Virgil and Horace. The ~ 
style of his poems and their tone of thought are like his 
character, deficient in vigor and manliness, but sweet, smooth 
polished, tender, and never disfigured by bad taste. He passed 
his short life in peaceful retirement, and died soon after Virgil. — 
The poems ascribed to Tibullus consist of four books, of which 
only two are genuine, 

Propertius (b. 150 8.c.), although a contemporary and friend ~ 
of the Augustan poets, may be considered as belonging to a 
somewhat different school of poetry. While Horace, Virgil and 
Tibullus imitated the noblest poets of the Greek age, Propertius, 
like the minor Roman poets, aspired to nothing more than the 
imitation of the graceful, but feeble strains of the Alexandrian — 
poets. If he excels Tibullus in vigor of fancy, expression and 
coloring, he is inferior to him in grace, spontaneity and delicacy; 
he cannot, also, be compared with Catullus, who greatly sur- 
passes him in his easy and effective style. 

Ovid (43 B.c.—6 a.p.), the most fertile of the Latin poets, nod 
only in elegy, but also in other kinds of poetry, was enabled by 
his rank, fortune and talents to cultivate the society of men of 
congenial tastes, A skeptic and an epicurean, he lived a life of 
continual indulgence and intrigue. He was a universal admirer 
of the female sex, and a favorite among them. He was pop 
ns a poet, successful in society, and possessed all the enjoymenta 
that wealth could bestow ; but later in life he incurred the ang 





ROMAN LITERATURE. 15] 


_»f Augustus, and was banished to the very frontier of the 


o 


Koman empir2, where he lingered for a few years and died in 
great misery. The “Epistles to and from women of the heroic 
age,” are a series of love-letters; with the exception of the 
‘** Metamorphoses,” they have been greater favorites than any 


_ other of his works. Love, in the days of Ovid, had in it nothing 


pure or chivalrous. The age in which he lived was morally pol- 


_ luted, and he was neither better nor worse than his contem- 


poraries, hence grossness is the characteristic of his “ Art of 
Love.” His “‘ Metamorphoses” contain a series of mythological 
narratives from the earliest times to the translation of the soul 
of Julius Cesar from earth to heaven, and his metamorphosis 
into a star. In this poem especially may be traced that study 
and learning, by which the Roman poets made all the treasures 
of Greek literature their own. ‘The Fasti,” a poem on the 
Roman calendar, is a beautiful specimen of simple narrative in 
verse, and displays, more than any of his works, his power 


 9f telling a story without the slightest effort, in poetry as well 


as prose. The five books of the “ Tristia,” and the “‘ Epistles 
from Pontus,” were the outpourings of his sorrowful heart, during 
the gloomy evening of his days. 


7. Oratory and Puitosopny.—As oratory gave to Latin 
prose-writing its elegance and dignity, Cicero (106-43 B.c.) is 
rot only the representative of the flourishing period of the 
language, but also the instrumental cause of its arriving at per- 
fection. He gave a fixed character to the Latin tongue ; 
showed his countrymen what vigor it possessed, and of what 
elegance and polish it was susceptible. The influence of Cicero 
on the language and literature of his day was not only extensive, 
but permanent, and it survived almost until the language was 
corrupted by barbarism. After travelling in Greece and Asia, 
and holding a high office in Sicily, he returned to Rome, resumed 
his forensic practice, and was made consul. The conspiracy of 
Catiline was the great event of his consulship. The prudence 
and tact, with which he crushed this, gained him the applause 
end gratitude of his fellow-citizens, who hailed him as the father 
of his country ; but he was obliged, by the intrigues of his 
enemies, to fly from Rome ; his exile was decreed, and his town 
and country houses given up to plunder. He was, however, 
recalled, and appointed to a seat in the college of Augurs. In 
the struggle between Pompey and Cesar, he followed the for- 
tunes of the former; but Cesar, after his triumph, granted him a 
fall and free pardon. After the assassination of Cesaz, Cicero 


152 ROMAN LITERATURE. : 


delivered that torrent of indignant and eloquent invective, his 
twelve Philippic orations, and became again the popular idol , 
but when the second triumvirate was formed, and each member 
gave up his friends to the vengeance of his colleagues, Octavius 
did not hesitate to sacrifice Cicero. Betrayed by a treacherous 
freedman, he would not permit his attendants to make any 
resistance, but courageously submitted to the sword of the 
assassins, who cut off his head and hands, and carried them to 
Anthony, whose wife, Julia, gloated with inhuman delight upon 
the pallid features, and in petty spite pierced with a needle the 
once eloquent tongue. Cicero had numerous faults; he was 
vain, vacillating, inconstant, timid, and the victita of morbid sen- — 
sibility; but he was candid, truthful, just, generous, pure-minded 
and warm-hearted. Gentle, sympathizing an1 affectionate, he — 
lived as a patriot and died as a philosopher. . 
The place, which Cicero occupies in the history of Roman ~ 
literature, is that of an orator and philosopher. ‘The effective- 
ness of his oratory was mainly owing to his knowledge of the — 
human heart, and of the national peculiarities of his countrymen, — 
Its charm was owing to his extensive acquaintance with the 
stores of literature and philosophy, which his sprightly wit 
moulded at will; to the varied learning, which his unpedantie 
mind made so pleasant and popular; and to his fund of illustra- 
tion, at once interesting and convincing. He carried his hearers 
with him ; senate, judges and people understood his arguments, — 
and felt his passionate appeals. Compared with the dignified — 
energy and majestic vigor of Demosthenes, the Asiatic exuber- — 
. ance of some of his orations may be fatiguing to. the more sober — 
and chaste taste of modern scholars ; but in order to form a just 
appreciation, we must transport ourselves mentally to the — 
excitements of the thronged forum, to the senate, composed of 
statesmen and warriors in the prime of life, maddened with the 
party-spirit of revolutionary times. Viewed in this light, his — 
most florid passages will appear free from affectation—the 
natural flow of a speaker carried away with the torrent of his 
enthusiasm. Among his numerous orations, in which, according 
to the criticisms of Quintilian, he combined the force of Demos- 
thenes, the copiousness of Plato, and the elegance of Isocrates, 
we mention the six celebrated Verrian harangues, which are 
considered masterpieces of Tullian eloquence. In the speech 
for the poet Archias, he had evidently expended all his resources 
of art, taste and skill; and his oration in defence of Milo, for 
force, pathos and the externals of eloquence, deserves to bé 
reckoned among is most wonder‘ul efforts. The oratory of 








ROMAN LITERATURE. 158 


Cicero was essentially judicial ; even his political orations are 
rather judicial than deliberative. He was not born for a 
politician ; he did not possess that analytical character of mind, 
which penetrates into the remote causes of human action, nor 
the synthetical power, which enables a man to follow them out 
to their furthest consequences. Of the three qualities necessary 
for a statesman, he possessed only two—honesty and patriotism; 
he had not political wisdom. Hence, in the finest specimens of 
his political orations, his Catilinarians and Philippics, we look in 
vain for the calm, practical weighing of the subject, which is, 
necessary in addressing a deliberative assembly. Nevertheless, 
so irresistible was the influence which he exercised upon the 
minds of his hearers, that all his political speeches were triumphs. 
His panegyric on Pompey carried his appointment as commander- 
in-chief of the armies of the East ; he crushed in Catiline one of 
the most formidable traitors that had ever menaced the safety 
of the republic, and Anthony’s fall followed the complete exposure 
of his debauchery in private life, and the factiousness of his 
public career. 

In his rhetorical works, Cicero left a legacy of practical in- 
struction w> posterity. The treatise “‘On Invention” is merely 
interesting as the juvenile production of a future great man. 
“The Orator,” “‘ Brutus, or the illustrious Orators,” and “ The 
Orator to Marius Brutus,” are the results of his matured ex- 
perience. They form together one series, in which the princi- 
ples are laid down, and their development carried out and illus- 
trated ; and in the Orator he places before the eyes of Brutus 
the model of ideal perfection. In his treatment of that subject, 
he shows a mind imbued with the spirit of Plato; he invests 
it with dramatic interest, and transports the reader into the 
seene which he so graphically describes, 

Roman philosophy was neither the result of original investi- 
gation, nor the gradual development of the Greek system. It 
arose rather from a study of ancient philosophical literature, 
than from an emanation of philosophical principles. It consisted 
in a kind of eclecticism with an ethical tendency, bringing to- 
gether doctrines and opinions scattered over a wide field in 
reference to the political and social relations of man. Greek 
philosophy was probably first introduced into Rome, 166 B.c. 
But although the Romans could appreciate the majestic dignity 
and poetical beauty of the style of Plato, they were not equal 
to the task of penetrating his hidden meaning ; neither did the 
peripatetic doctrines meet with much favor. The philosophical 
eystem which first arrested the attention of the Romans, and 































154 ROMAN LITERATURE. 


gained an influence over their minds, was the Epicurean. That — 
of the Stoics also, the severe principles of which were in har- — 
mony with the stern old Roman virtues, had distinguished disci- 
ples. The part, which Cicero’s character qualified him to per- 
form in the philosophical instruction of his countrymen, was 
scarcely that of a guide ; he could give them a lively interest in 
the subject, but he could not mould and form their belief, and 
train them in the work of original investigation. Not being de 
voutly attached to any system of philosophical belief, he would 
be cautious of offending the philosophical prejudices of others. - 
He was essentially an eclectic in accumulating stores of Greek 
erudition, while his mind had a tendency, in the midst of a va- 
riety of inconsistent doctrines, to leave the conclusion undeter- 
mined. He brought everything to a practical standard ; he ad- 
mired the exalted | purity of stoical morality, but he feared that it 
was impractical. He believed in the existence of one supreme cre- 
ator, in his spiritual nature, and the immortality of the soul; 
but his belief was rather the result of instinctive conviction, than 
of proof derived from philosophy. | 

The study of Cicero’s philosophical works is invaluable, in 
order to understand the minds of those who came after him. 
Not only all Roman philosophy after his time, but a great part 
of that of the middle ages, was Greek philosophy filtered 
through Latin, and mainly founded on that of Cicero. Among 
his works on speculative philosophy are ‘The Academics, or a— 
history and defence of the belief of the new Academy ;” “‘ Dia-— 
logues on the Supreme Good, the end of all moral action ;” 
“The Tusculan Disputations, ” containing five, treatises on the 
fear of death, the endurance of pain, power of wisdom over sor- 
row, the morbid passions, and the relation of virtue to happiness. — 
His moral philosophy comprehends the ‘ Duties,” a stoical 
treatise on moral obligations, and the unequalled little essays 
~ on “Friendship and Old Age.” His political works are “The 
Republic” and “ The Laws ; ;” but these remains are fragment- 
ary. 

The extent of Cicero’s correspondence is since incredible, 
Even those epistles, which remain, consist of more than eight 
hundred. In them we find the eloquence of the heart, not of the 
rhetorical school ; they are models of pure Latinity, elegant 
without stiffness, the natural outpourings of a mind which could — 
not give birth to an ungraceful idea. In his letters to Atticus 
he lays bare the secrets of his heart ; he trusts his life in his 
hands ; he is not only his friend but his confidant, his second 
self, In the letters of Cicero we have the description of the 





. 


ROMAN LITERATURE. 158 


riod of Roman history, and the portrait of the inner life of 
man society in his day. 


8. History.—lIn their historical literature the Romans exhi- 
bited a faithful transcript of their mind and character. History 


_ at once gratified their patriotism, and its investigations were in 
_-accordance with their love of the real and the practical. In 


this department, they were enabled to emulate the Greeks and 


_ to be their rivals, and sometimes their superiors. The elegant 


simplicity of Ceesar is as attractive as that of Herodotus ; none 


_ of the Greek historians surpasses Livy in talent for the pictur- 


esque and in the charm with which he invests his spirited and 
living stories ; while for condensation of thought, terseness of 
expression and politica! and philosophical acumen, Tacitus is not 
inferior to Thucydides. The cataisgue of Roman historians con- 
tains many writers whose works are iost ; such as L. Lucretius, 
the friend and correspondent of Cicero, L. Lucullus, the 
illustrious conqueror of Mithridates, and Cornelius Nepos, of 
whom only one work was preserved, the ‘“ Lives of Hminent 
Generals ;” the authenticity of this work is, however, disputed. 
But, at the head of this department, as the great representatives 
of Roman history, stand Julius Cesar, Sallust, Livy and Taci- 


_ tus, all of whom, except the last, belong to the Augustan age. 


Julius Cesar (100-44 3B.c.) was descended from one of the 
oldest among the patrician families of Rome. He attached 
timself to the popular party, and his good taste, great tact, and 
pleasing manners contributed, together with his talents, to insure 
his popularity. He became a soldier in the nineteenth year of 
his age, and hence his works display all the best qualities which 
are fostered by a military education—frankness, simplicity and 
brevity. His earliest literary triumph was as an orator, and 
according to Quintilian, he was a worthy rival of Cicero. When 
he obtained the office of Pontifex Maximus, he diligently exa- 


_ mined the history and nature of the Roman belief in augury, 
and published his investigations. When his career as a military 


commander began, whatever leisure his duties permitted him to 


enjoy, he devoted to the composition of his memoirs, or commen 


taries of the Gallic and civil wars. He wrote, also, some minor 
works on different subjects, and he left behind him various let- 
ters, some of which are extant. 

But by far the most important of the works of Cesar is his 
** Commentaries,” which have come down to us in a tolerably 
perfect state. They are sketches taken on the spot, in the 
midst of action, while the mind was full, and they have all the 


a 


156 ROMAN LITERATURE. 


graphic power of a master-mind and the vigorous touches of a 
master-hand. ‘he Commentaries are the materials for history. . 
notes jotted down for future historians. The very faults, which 
may justly be found with the style of Caesar, are such as reflect 
the man himself. ‘The majesty of his character consists chiefiy 
in the imperturbable calmness and equanimity of his temper ; he 
had no sudden bursts of energy and alternations of passion and 
inactivity. The elevation of his character was a high one, but 
it was a level table-land. This calmness and equability pervades 
his writings, and for this reason they have been thought to want 
life and energy. The beauty of his language is, as Cicero says, 
statuesque rather than picturesque. Simple and severe, it con- 
veys the idea of perfect and well-proportioned beauty, while it 
banishes all thoughts of human passion. In relating his own 
deeds, he does not strive to add to his own reputation by de- 
tracting from the merits of those who served under him, He is 
honest, generous and candid, not only towards them, but also 
towards his brave enemies. He recounts his successes without 
pretension or arrogance, though he has evidently no objection to 
be the hero of his own tale. His Commentaries are not confes- 
sions, although he is the subject of them; not a record of a 
weakness appears, nor even a defect, except that which the Ro- 
mans would readily forgive, cruelty. His savage waste of hu- 
inan life he recounts with perfect self-complacency. Vanity, the 
crowning error in his career as a statesman, though hidden by 
the reserve with which he speaks of himself, sometimes discovers 
itself in the historian. 

The Commentaries of Cesar have been compared with the 
work of the great soldier-historian of Greece, Xenophon. Both 
are eminently simple and unaffected, but there the parallel ends. 
The severe contempt of ornament, which characterizes the stern 
Roman, is totally unlike the mellifluons sweetness of the Attic 
writer. ; 

Sallust (85-35 B.c.) was born of a plebeian family, but having 
served the offices of tribune and questor, attained senatorial 
rank. He was expelled from the Senate for his profligacy, but 
restored again to his rank through the influence of Caesar, whose 
party. he espoused. He accompanied his patron in the African 
war, and was made governor of Numidia. While in that capa- 
city, he accumulated by rapacity and extortion enormous wealth, 
which he lavished in expensive but tasteful luxury. The gar- 
dens on the Quirinal, which bore his name, were celebrated fot 
their beauty ; and there, surrounded by the choicest works of 
art, he devoted his retirement to composing the historical re 





eee ee” a ee dr oll 


a ae ee ee ee 


‘ROMAN LITERATURE. loge 


cords which survived him. As a politician, he was a mere par: 
tisan of Cesar, and therefore a strenuous opponent of the higher 
classes and of the supporters of Pompey. ‘The object of his ha- 
tred was not the old patrician blood of Rome, but the new aris 
tocracy, which had of late years been rapidly rising up and dis- 
placing it. That new nobility was utterly corrupt, and their 
corruption was encouraged by the venality of the masses, whose 
poverty and destitution tempted them to be the tools of unscru- 
pulous ambition. Sallust strove to place that party in the un- 
favorable light which it deserved; but notwithstanding the 
truthfulness of the picture which he draws, selfishness and not 
etn was the mainspring of his politics; he was not an 

onest champion of popular rights, but a vain and conceited 
man, who lived in an immoral and corrupt age, and had not the 
strength of principle to resist the force of example and tempta- 


tion. If, however, we make some allowance for the politica] 


bias of Sallust, his histories have not only the charms of the his 
torical romance, but are also valuable political studies. His 
characters are vigorously and naturally drawn, and the more his 
histories are read, the more obvious it is that he always writes 
with an object, and uses his facts as the means of enforcing a 
great political lesson. 

His first work is on the ‘‘ Jugurthine War ;” the next related 
to the period from the consulship of Lepidus to the preetorship 
of Cicero, and is unfortunately lost. This was followed by a 
history of the conspiracy of Catiline, “The war of Catiline,” 
in which he paints in vivid colors the depravity of that order of 
society who, bankrupt in fortune and honor, still plume them- 
selves on their rank and exclusiveness. ‘To Sallust must be con- 


_ ceded the praise of having first conceived the notion of a history, 


in the true sense of the term. He was the first Roman histo- 
rian, and the guide of future historians. He had always an ob- 
ject to which he wished all his facts to converge, and he brought 
them forward as illustrations and developments of principles. 
He analyzed and exposed the motives of parties, and laid bare the - 
inner life of those great actors on the public stage, in the inter- 


esting historical scenes which he describes. His style, although 


ostentatiously elaborate and artificial, is, upon the whole, 
nme and almost always transparently clear. Following 
Phucydides, whom he evidently took as his model, he strives to 
imitate his brevity; but while this quality with the Greek his 
torian is natural and involuntary, with the Roman it is inten 
tional and studied. The brevity of Thucydides is the result of 


- condensation, that of Sallust is elliptical expression. 


7” 


eee 
158 ROMAN LITERATURE, . a 


Livy (59-18 3B.c.) was born in Padua, aud came to Koma 
iuring the reion of Augustus, where he resided in the enjoyment 
-of the imperial favor and patronage. He was a warm and open 
admirer of the ancient institutions of the country, and esteemed 
Pompey as one of its greatest heroes; but Augustus did not 
allow political opinions to interfere with the regard which he en: 
tertained for the historian. His great work is a history of . 
Rome, which he modestly terms ‘ Annals,” in 142 books, of 
which 35 are extant. Besides his history, Livy is said to have 
written treatises and dialogues, which were partly philosophi 
eal and partly historical. 

The great object of Livy’s history was to celebrate the glories 
of his native country, to which he was devotedly attached. He 
was a patriot: his sympathy was with Pompey, called forth 
by the disinterestedness of that great man, and perhaps by his 
sad end. He delights to put forth his powers in those passages 
which relate to the affections. He is a biographer quite as much — 
as a historian; he anatomizes the moral natureof his heroes, 
and shows the motive springs of their noble exploits. His cha- 
racters stand before us like epic heroes, and he tells his story like 
a bard singing his lay at a joyous festive meeting, checkered by 
alternate successes and reverses, though all tending to a happy 
result at last. But while these features constitute his charm as 
a narrator, they render him less valuable as a historian. Although 
he would not be willfully inaccurate, if the legend he was about to 
tell was interesting, he would not stop toinquire whether or not 
it was true. ‘Taking upon trust the traditions which had been 
handed down from generation to generation, the more flattering 
and popular they were, the more suitable would he deem them 
for his purposes. He loved his country, and he would scarcely 
believe anything derogatory to the national glory. Whenever 
Rome was false to treaties, unmerciful in victory, or unsuccessful 
in arms, he either ignores the facts or is anxious to find excuses, 
He does not appear to have made researches into the many ori- 
. ginal documents which were extant at his time, but he trusted 
to the annalists, and took advantage of the investigations of pre- 
ceding historians. His descriptions of military affairs are often 
vague and indistinct, and he often shows himself ignorant of the ~ 
localities which he describes. Such are the principal defects of 
Livy, who otherwise charms his readers with his romanti¢e narra- 
tives, and his lively, fresh, and fascinating style. 


9. Orner Prost Wrirers.—Though the grammarians of this 
period were numerous, they added little or nothing to its literary 





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— 


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ROMAN LITERATURE. . 46 
reputation The most conspicuous among them were Atteius, a 
friend of Sallust ; Epirota, the correspondent of Cicero ; Julius 
Hyginus, a friend of Ovid ; and Nigidius Figulus, an orator as 
well as grammarian. M. Vitruvius Pollio, the celebrated archi- 
tect, deserves to be mentioned for his treatise on architecture. 
He was prubably native of Verona, and served under Julius 
Cesar in Africa, as a military engineer. Notwithstanding the 
defects of his style, the language of Vitruvius is vigorous, and his 
descriptions bold ; his work is valuable as exhibiting the prin- 
ciples of Greek architectural taste and beauty, of whicn he was 
a devoted admirer. 


PERIOD THIRD. 


FROM THE DEATH OF AUGUSTUS TO THE CLOSE OF THE REIGN 
OF THEODORIC (14-526 a.p.) 


1. Decirne or Roman Lirerature.—With the death of Augus- 
tus commenced the decline of Roman literature, and a few names 
only rescue the first years of this period from the charge of a 
eorrupt and vitiated taste. After a while, indeed, political cir- 
cumstances again became more favorable ; the dangers, which 
paralyzed genius and talent and prevented their free exercise 
under Tiberius and his tyrannical successors, diminished, and a 
more liberal system of administration ensued under Vespasian 
and Titus. Juvenal and Tacitus then stood forth, as the repre- 
sentatives of the old Roman independence. Vigor of thought 
2ommunicated itself to the language ; a taste for the sublime and 
beautiful, to a certain extent, revived, although it did not attain 


to the perfection which shed a lustre over the Augustan age. 


Between the ages of Horace and Juvenal, Cicero and Tacitus, 
there was a gap of half a century, in which Roman genius was 
slumbering. ‘The gradual growth of a spirit of adulation de- 
terred all, who were qualified for the task of the historian, from 
attempting it. Fear, during the lifetime of Tiberius and Cali- 
gula, Claudius and Nero, and hatred, stillfresh after their deaths, 
rendered all accounts of their reigns false. And the same causes 
which silenced the voice of history, extinguished the genius of 
poetry and oratory. As liberty declined, natural eloquence de- 
eayed ; the orator sought only to please the corrupt taste of his 
audiences with strange and exaggerated statements ; the poet 
aimed to win public admiration through a style overladen witb 
ornament, and florid and diffuse descriptions. Literature, in order 


a 


160 ROMAN LITERATURE. 


to flourish, requires the genial sunshine of human sympathy ; it 
needs either the patronage of the great, or the favor of the people. 
Immediately after the death of Augustus, patronage was with 
drawn, and there was no public sympathy to supply its place. 
In the reign of Nero, literature partially revived ; for though the 
bloodiest of tyrants, he had a taste for art and poetry, and an 
ambition to excel in refinement. 


2. Fasrir.—In fable, as in other fields of literature, Rome was 
an imitator of Greece, but nevertheless Pheedrus struck out a 
new line for himself, and through’ his fables became not only a 
moral instructor, but a political satirist. Pheedrus (fl. 16 a..), 
the originator and only author of Roman fable, though born 
in the reign of Augustus, wrote when the Augustan age had 
passed away. His works are, as it were, isolated ; he had no 
contemporaries. Nevertheless, his solitary voice was lifted up 
when those of the poet, the historian and the philosopher were 
silenced. The moral and political lessons conveyed in his fables 
were suggested by the evils of the times in which he lived. Some 
of them illustrate the danger of riches and the comparative safety 
of obscurity and poverty, in an age when the rich were marked 
for destruction, in order that the confiscation of their property 
might glut the avarice of the emperor and of his servants; others 
were suggested by historical events, being nevertheless satirical 


strictures on individuals. Thestyle of Pheedrus is pure and clas- — 


sical, and combines the simple neatness and graceful elegance of 
the golden age with the vigor and terseness of the silver one. 
He has the facility of Ovid and the brevity of Tacitus. In the 
construction of his fables, he displays observation and ingenuity; 
but he is deficient in imagination. He makes his animals the 
vehicles of his wisdom, but he does not throw himself into them, 
or identify himself with them; while they look and act like ani- 
mals, they talk like human beings. In this consists the great 
superiority of “soy to his Roman imitator; his brutes are a 
superior race, but they are still brutes, and it would seem that 
the fabulist had lived among them, as one of themselves, had 
adopted their mode of life, and conversed with them in their own 
language. In Phedrus we have human sentiments translated 
into the language of beasts, while in Ausop we have beasts giving 
atterance to such sentiments as would be naturally theirs if they 
were placed in the position of men. 


_ 8. Satire anp Eprcram.-—Roman satire, subsequently t¢ 
‘Horace, is represented by Persius and Juvenal. Persius (84 


| . 
. . 


ROMAN LITERATURE. 16! 


62 a.p.) early attached himself to the Stoic philosophy. He was 
pure in mind, and free from the corrupt taint of an immoral 
age. Although Lucilius was, to a certain extent, his model, 
he does not attack vice with the biting severity of the old satir- 
ist, nor do we find in his writings the enthusiastic indignation 
which burns in the verses of Juvenal. His purity of mind and 
kindliness of heart disinclined him to portray vice in its hideous 
and loathsome forms, and to indulge in that bitterness of invective 
which the prevalent enormities of his times deserved. His up- 
rightness and love of virtue are shown by the uncompromising 
severity with which he rebukes sins of not so deep a die ; and 
the heart which was capable of being moulded by his example, 
and influenced by his purity, would have shrunk from the fearful 
crimes which deform the pages of Juvenal. The greatest defect 
in Persius as a satirist is, that the Stoic philosophy in which he 
was educated rendered him indifferent to the affairs of the 
world. His contemplative habits led him to criticise, as his 
favorite subjects, false taste in poetry and empty pretensions to 
philosophy. Horace mingled in the society of the profligate, and 
considering them as fools, laughed their folly toscorn. Juvenal 
looked down upon the corruption of the age from the eminence 
of his virtue, and punished it like an avenging deity. Persius, 
pure in heart and passionless by education, while he lashes wick- 
edness in the abstract, almost ignores its existence, and shrinks 
from probing to the bottom the vileness of the human heart. 
His works comprise six satires, all of which breathe the natural 
amiability and placid cheerfulness of his temper. 

Juvenal flourished in the reign of Domitian, towards the close 
of the first century a.p., a dark period, which saw the utter 
moral degradation of the people, and the bloodiest tyranny and 
oppression on the part of their rulers. The picture of Roman 
manners, as painted by his glowing pencil, is truly appalling. 
The fabric of society was in ruins, the popular religion way 
rejected with scorn, and the creed of natural religion had not 
occupied its place. ‘The emperors took part in public scenes of 
folly and profligacy, and exposed themselves as charioteers, as 
dancers and as actors. Nothing was respected but wealth, 
nothing provoked contempt but poverty. Players and dancers 
had all honors and offices at their disposal; the city swarmed 
with informers, who made the rich their prey; every man feared 
his most intimate friend, and the only bond of friendship was to 
be an accomplice in crime. The teacher would corrupt his 
puri! and the guardian defraud his ward. Crimes which cannot 

named were common, and the streets of Rom: were the cov 


oa 





162 ROMAN LITERATURE. 


stant svene of robbery, assault and assassination. 'The morale 
of women were as depraved as those of men, and there was no 
public amusement so immoral or so cruel, as not to be countenanced 
by their presence. In this period of moral dearth, the fountains 
of genius and literature were dried up. There was criticism, 
declamation, panegyric and verse writing, but no oratory, history 
or poetry. Juvenal, though himself not free from the decla- 
matory affectation of the day, attacked the false literary taste © 
of his contemporaries, as unsparingly as he did their depraved 
morality. His sixteen satires exhibit an enlightened, truthful 
and comprehensive view of Roman manners, and of the inevitable 
result of such depravity. The two finest of them are those 
which Dr. Johnson has thought worthy of imitation. 

‘The historical value of these satires must not be forgotten.” 
Tacitus lived in the same perilous times as Juvenal, and when they 
aad come to an end and it was not unsafe to speak, he wrote 
their public history, which the poet illustrates by displaymg the 
social and inner life of the Romans. ‘Their works are parallel, 
and each forms a commentary upon the other. The style of 
Juvenal is vigorous and lucid; his morals were pure in the 
midst of a debased age, and his language shines forth in classic 
elegance, in the midst of specimens of declining and degenerate 
taste, 

Juvenal closes the list of Roman satirists, properly speaking. 
The satirical spirit animates the piquant epigrams of his friend 
Martial, but their purpose is not moral or didactic. They 
sting the individual, and render him an object of scorn and 
disgust, but they do not hold up vice itself to ridicule and 
detestation. 

Martial (43-104 a.p.) was born in Spain. He early emi- 
erated to Rome, where ne became a favorite of Titus and 
Domitian, and in the reign of the latter he was appointed to 
the office of court-poet. During thirty-five years, he lived at 
Rome the life of a flatterer and a dependant, and then he 
returned to his native town, where his death was hastened by 
his distaste for provincial life. Measured by the corrupt 
standard of morals, which disgraced the age in which he lived, 
Martial was probably not worse than most of his contempo- 
iaries ; for the fearful profligacy, which his powerful pen describes 
in such hideous ter ms, had spread through Rome its loathsome 
infection. Had he lived in better times, “his talents night have 
been devoted to a purer object; as it was, no language is 
strong enough to denounce the impurities of his page,and his 
moral taste must have been thoroughly depraved pot to have 





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ROMAN LITERATURE, 163 


turned with disgust from the contemplation of such subjects 
But not all his poems are of this character. Amidst some 
obscurity of style and want of finish, many are redolent of Greek 
sweetness and elegance. Here and there are pleasing descrip- 
tions of the beauties of nature, and many are kind-hearted and 
full of varied wit, pcetical imagination and graceful expression. 
To the original characteristics of the Greek epigram, Martial, 
more than any other poet, added that which constitutes an 
epigram in the modern sense of the term, pointedness either in 
jest or earnest, and the bitterness of personal satire. 


4. Dramatic Lirerature.- -Dramatic literature never flourished 
in Rome, and still less under the empire. During this period 
there were not wanting some imitators of Greece in this noble 
branch of poetry, but their productions were rather literary than 
dramatic ; they were poems composed in a dramatic form, 
intended to be read, not acted. They contain noble philo- 
sophical sentiments, lively descriptions, and passages full of ten- 
derness and pathos, but they are deficient in dramatic effect, and 

ositively offend against those laws of good taste which regu- 
lated the Athenian stage. In the Augustan age, a few writers 
attained some excellence in tragedy, at least in the opinion of 
ancient critics. 

- Under the tyrant Nero, dramatic literature reappeared, 
specimens of which are extant in the ten tragedies attributed to 
Seneca. But the genius of the author never grasps, in their 
wholeness, the characters which he attempts to copy ; they are 
distorted images of the Greek originals, and the shadowy 
grandeur of the godlike heroes of A‘schylus stands forth in 
corporeal vastness, and appears childish and unnatural, like the 


- giants of a story-book.- The Greeks believed in the gods and 


heroes whose agency and exploits constituted the machinery of 
tragedy, but the Romans did not, and we cannot sympathize 
with them, because we see that they are insincere. 

An awful belief in destiny, and the hopeless yet patient 
struggle of a great and good man against this all-ruling power, 
are the mainspring of Greek tragedy. This belief the Romans 
did not transfer into their imitations, but they supplied its place 
with the stern fatalism of the Stoics. The principle of destiny 
entertained by the Greek poets is a mythological, even a 
religious one. It is the irresistible will of God. God is at 
the commencement of the chain of causes and effects, by which 
she event is brought about which God has ordained ; his 
inspired prophets have power to foretell, and mortals cannot 


“ 


Paar 
De Vow 


164 ROMAN LITERATURE. 


resist or avoid. It israther predestination than destiny. The 
fatalism of the Stoics, on the other hand, is the doctrine of 
practical necessity. It ignores the almighty power of the 
Supreme Being, and although it does not deny his existence, it 
strips bim of his attributes as the moral governor of the universe. 
These doctrines, expressed equally in the writings of Seneca the 
philosopher, and in the tragedies attributed to him, lead to the 
probability, amounting almost to certainty, that he was their 
author. But whatever be the case in regard to their author- 
ship, it is certain that, notwithstanding their false rhetorical 
taste and the absence of all ideal and creative genius, they have 
found many admirers and imitators in modern times. The 
French school of tragic poets took them for their model ; 
Corneille evidently considered them the ideal of tragedy, and 
Racine servilely imitated them. 


5. Epic Porrry.—At the head of the epic poets who flourished 
during the Silver Age, stands Lucan (39-66 av.) He was 
born at Cordova, in Spain, and probably came to Rome when 
very young, where his literary reputation was soon established. 
But Nero, who could not bear the idea of a rival, forbade him 
to recite his poems, then the common mode of publication, 
neither would he allow him to plead as an advocate. Smarting 
under this provocation, he joined in a conspiracy against the 
emperor’s life. The plot failed, but Lucan was pardoned on 
condition of pointing out his confederates, and in the vain hope 
of saving himself from the monster’s vengeance, he actually 
impeached his mother. ‘This noble woman was incapable of 
treason. Tacitus says, ‘‘ the scourge, the flames, the rage of the 
executioners who tortured her the more savagely, lest they 
should be scorned by a woman, were powerless to extort a false 
confession.” Lucan never received the reward which he pur- 
chased by treachery. When the warrant for his death was 
issued, he caused his veins to be cut asunder, and expired in the 
twenty-seventh year of his age. 

The only one of his works which survives is the “ Pharsalia,” 
an epic poem on the subject of the civil war between Cesar and 
Pompey. It bears evident marks of having been left unfinished ; 
it has great faults and at the same time great beauties. The 
sentiments contained in this poem breathe a love of freedom and 
an attachment to the old Roman republicanism, Its subject is 
a noble one, full of historic interest, and it is treated with spirit, 
brilliancy and animation. The characters of Caesar and Pom 
pey are master-pieces ; but while some passages are scarcely 


ee 





inferior to any written by the best Latin poets, others have 
neither the dignity of prose, nor the melody of poetry. Descrip- 
tion forms the principal feature in the poetry of Lucan; in fact, 
it constitutes one of the characteristic features of Roman 
literature in its decline, because poetry had become more than 
ever an art, and the epoch one of erudition. 

Silius Italicus (fl. 54 a.v.) was, the favorite and intimate of 
two- emperors, Nero and Vitellius. He left a poem, the 
“ Punica,” which contains the history in heroic verse of the 
second Punic war. The Aneid of Virgil was his model, and the 
narrative of Livy furnished his materials. It is considered the 
dullest and most tedious poem in the Latin language, though its 
versification is harmonious, and will often, in point of smooth- 
ness, bear comparison with that of Virgil. 

Valerius Flaccus flourished in the reign of Vespasian. He is 
author of the “ Argonautica,” an imitation and in some parts a 
translation of the Greek poem of Apollonius Rhodius on the 
same subject. He evidently did not live to complete his original 
design. In the Argonautica, there are no glaring faults or 
blemishes, but there is also no genius, no inspiration. He has 
some talents as a descriptive poet; his versification is harmonious 
and his style graceful. 

P. Statius (61-95 av.) was the author of the Silvie, 
Thebaid and Achilleid. The “ Silvie” are the rude materials of 
thought springing up spontaneously in all their wild luxuriance, 
from the rich, natural soil of the imagination of the poet. The 
subject of the “'Thebaid” is the ancient Greek legend respecting 
the war of the Seven against Thebes, and the ‘Achilleid” was 
intended to embrace all the exploits of Achilles, but only two 
books were completed. The poems of Statius contain many 
poetical incidents, which might stand by themselves as perfect 
fugitive pieces. In these we see his natural and unaffected 
elegance, his harmonious ear, and the truthfulness of his 
perceptions. But, as an epic poet, he has neither grasp of 
mind nor vigor of conception; his imaginary heroes do 
not inspire and warm his imagination; and his genius was 
anable to rise to the highest departments of art. 


ROMAN LITERATURE. 165 


6. Hisrory.—For the reasons already stated, Rome for a 
fong period could boast of no historian ; the perilous nature of 
the times, and the personal obligations under which learned 
men frequently were to the emperors, rendered contemporary 
history a means of adulation and servility. To this class of his 
torians belongs Paterculus (fl. 30 a.v.), who wrote a history of 





166 RuMAN LITERATURE. 


Rome, which is partial, prejudiced and adulatcry. He wes a 
man of lively talents, and his taste was formed after the model — 
of Sallust, of whom he was an imitator. His style is often over- 
strained and unnatural. - 

Under the genial and fostering influence of the Emperor 
Trajan, the fine arts, especially architecture, flourished, and 
literature revived. The same taste and execution, which are 
visible in the bas-reliefs on the column of Trajan, adorn the litera- 
ture of his age as illustrated by its two great lights, Tacitus and 
the younger Pliny. There is not the rich, graceful manner 
which inves‘s with such a charm the writers of the golden age, 
but the absence of these qualities is amply compensated by dig- 
nity, gravity and honesty. 'Truthfulness beams throughout the 
writings of these two great contemporaries, and incorruptible 
virtue is as visible in the pages of Tacitus, as benevolence and 
tenderness are in the letters of Pliny. They mutually influenced 
each other’s characters and principles ; their tastes and pursuits 
were similar ; they loved each other dearly, corresponded regu- 
larly, corrected each other’s works, and accepted patiently and 
gratefully each other’s criticism, 

Tacitus (60-135 a.p.) was of equestrian rank, and served in 
several important offices of the empire. His works now extant 
are a life of his father-in-law, Agricola, a tract on the manners 
and nations of the Germans, a small portion of a voluminous 
work entitled ‘‘ Histories,” about two-thirds of another historical 
work, entitled “ Annals,” and a dialogue on the decline of elo- 
quence. The life of Agricola, though a panegyric rather than a bio- 
graphy, is a beautiful specimen of the vigor and force of expression 
with which this greatest painter of antiquity could throw off any 
portrait which he attempted. ven if the likeness be some- 
what flattered, the qualities which the writer possessed, his 
insight into character, his pathetic power, and his affectionate 
heart, render this short piece one of the most attractive biogra- 
phies ‘extant, The treatise on the “ Geography, Manners and 
Nations of Germany,” though containing geographical deserip- 
tions often vague and inaccurate, and accounts evidently founded 
on mere tales of travellers, bears tue mmpress of truth in the 
salient points and characteristic features of the national man- 
ners and institutions of Teutonic nations. The “ Histories,” his. 
earliest historical work, of which only four books and a portion ot 
the fifth are extant, extended from the year 69 to 96 a.p., and it 
was his intention to have added the reigns of Nero and Trajan 
In this work he proposed to investigate the political state of the 
commonwealth, the feeling of its armies, the sentiments of its 





ROMAN LITERATURE. 167 


provinces, the eiuments of its strength and weakness, and the causes 
and reasons for each historical phenomenon. ‘The principal fault 
which diminishes the value of his history as a record of events, 
is his too great readiness to accept evidence unhesitatingly, and 
to record popular rumors without taking sufficient pains to 
examine into their truth. His incorrect account of the history, 
constitution and manners of the Jewish people, is one among the 
few instances of this fault, scattered over a vast field of faithful 
history. The “ Annals” consist of sixteen books ; they com- 
mence with the death of Augustus, and conclude with that of 
Nero (14-68 a.p.). The object of Tacitus was to describe the 
influence which the establishment of tyranny on the ruins of 
liberty exercised for good or for evil in bringing out the charac- 
ter of the individual. In the extinction of freedom there still exist 
ed in Rome bright examples of heroism and courage, and instances 
not less prominent of corruption and degradation. In the 
annals of Tacitus these individuals stand out in bold relief, either 
singly or in groups upon the stage, while the emperor forms the 
principal figure, and the moral sense of the reader is awakened 
to admire instances of patient suffering and determined 
bravery, or to witness abject slavery and remorseless despotism. 

Full of sagacious observation and descriptive power, ‘Tacitus 
engages the most serious attention of the reader by the gravity 
of his condensed and comprehensive style, as he does by the 
wisdom and dignity of his reflections. Living amidst the influ- 
ences of a corrupt age, he was uncontaminated ; by his virtue 
and integrity, and his chastened political liberality, he commands 
our admiration as a man, while his love of truth is reflected in 
his character as a historian. In his style the form is always 
subordinate to the matter ; his sentences are suggestive of far 
more than they express, and his brevity is enlivened by copious- 
ness, variety and poetry ; his language is highly figurative ; 
his descriptions of scenery and incidents are eminently pic- 
turesque, his characters dramatic, and the expression of his own 
sentiments almost lyrical. 

Suetonius was born about 69 a.p.- His principal extant 
works are the “ Lives of the Twelve Caesars,” ‘‘ Notices of illus- 
trious Grammarians and Rhetoricians,” and the Lives of the 
Poets Terence, Horace, Persius, Lucan and Juvenal. The use 
which he makes of historical documents proves that he was a 
man of diligent research, and as a biographer, industrious and 
careful. He indulges neither in ornament of style nor in roman- 
tic exaggeration. ‘The pictures which he draws of some of the 
Ceesars are indeed terrible, but they are fully suppcerted by the 


168 ROMAN LITERATURE, 


contemporary authority of Juvenal and Tacitus. As a histo 
rian, Suetonius had not that comprehensive and philosophicas 
mind which would qualify him for taking an enlarged view ot 
his subject ; he has no definite plan or method, and wanders at 
will from one subject to another just as the idea seizes him. 

Curtius is considered by some writers as belonging to the sil- 
ver age, aud by others to a later period. His biography of 
Alexander the Great is deeply interesting. It is a romance 
rather than a history. He never loses an opportunity, by the 
coloring which he gives to historical facts, of elevating the 
Ma7edonian conqueror to a superhuman standard. His florid 
and ornamented style is suitable to the imaginary orations which 
are introduced in the narrative, and which constitute the most 
striking portions of the work. 

Valerius Maximus flourished during the reign of Tiberius 
His work is a collection of anecdotes entitled ‘‘ Memorable Say 
ings and Deeds,” the object of which was to illustrate by 
examples the beauty of virtue and the deformity of vice. The 
style is prolix and declamatory, and characterized by awkward 
affectation and involved obscurity. 


7. Rueroric anp ELoquence.—Under the empire, schools of 
rhetoric were multiplied, as harmiess as tyranny could desire. 
In these the Roman youth learned the means by which the 
absence of natural endowments could be compensated. The 
students composed their speeches according to the rules of 
rhetoric ; they were then corrected, committed to memory and 
recited, partly with a view to practice, partly in order to amuse 
an admiring audience. Nor were these declamations confined 
to mere students. Public recitations had, since the days of Juve- 
nal, been one of the crying nuisances of the times. Seneca, the 
father of the philosopher of the same name, a famous rhetorician 
himself, left two works containing a series of exercises in oratory, 
which show the hollow and artificial system of those schools. He 
vas born in Cordova, in Spain (61 a.p.), and as a proseeleniet 
rbetorician amassed a considerable fortune. 

Quintilian (40-118 a.p.) was the most distinguished teacher _ 
of rhetoric of this age. He attempted to restore a purer and 
more classical taste, and although to a certain extent he was 
successful, the effect which he produced was only temporai 
For the instruction of his elder son he wrote his great be 
‘Institutes of Oratory,” a complete system of instruction in 
the art of oratory ; and in it he shows himself far superior te 
Cicero as a teacher, though he was inferior to bim as an orator 


~ 


ROMAN LITERATURE, | 168 





His work is divided into twelve books, in which he traces 
the progress of the orator from the very cradle until he arrives 
at perfection. In this monument of his taste and genius he fully 
and completely exhausted the subject, and left a text-book of the 
science and art of nations, as well asa masterly sketch of the 
eloquence of antiquity. 

The disposition of Quintilian was as affectionate and tender as 
his genius was brilliant and his taste pure ; few passages through- 
out the whole range of Latin literature can be compared to 
that in which he mourns the loss of, his wife and children. It is 
the touching eloquence of one who could not write otherwise 
than gracefully. 

Among the pupils of Quintilian, Pliny the younger took the 
highest place in the literature of his age. He was bornin Como, 
61 a.p., and adopted and educated by his maternal uncle, the 
elder Pliny. He attained great celebrity as a pleader, and 
stood high in favor with the emperor. His works consist of a 
panegyric on Trajan, and a collection of letters in ten books. The 
panegyric is a piece of courtly flattery in accordance with the 
cringing and fawning manners of the times. The letters are 
very valuable, not only for the insight which they give into his 
own character, but also into the manners and modes of thought 
of his illustrious contemporaries, as well as the politics of the 
day. For liveliness, descriptive power, elegance and simplicity 
of style, they are scarcely inferior to those of Cicero, whom he 
evidently took for his model. ‘These letters show how accurate 
and judicious was the mind of Pliny, how prudent his adminis- 
tration in the high offices which he filled under the reign of Tra- 
jan, and how refined his taste for the beautiful. The tenth book, 
which consists of the letters to Trajan, together with the empe- 
ror’s rescripts, will be read with the greatest interest. The fol- 
lowing passages from his dispatch respecting the Christians, 
written while he was procurator of the province of Bithynia, 
and the emperor’s answer, are worthy of being transcribed, 
both because reference is so often made to them, and because 
they throw light upon the marvellous and rapid propagation of 
te Gospel, the manners of the early Christians, the treat 

ent to which their constancy exposed them, and the severe 
jealousy with which they were regarded : 

“Tt is my constant practice, sire, to refer to you all subjects 
on which I entertain doubt. For who is better able to direct 
my hesitation, or to instruct my ignorance? I have never been 
present at the trials of Christians, and, therefore, I do not know 
i what way, or to what extent it is usual to question or te 

8 


Ad Iie 
a ad. 
- ar es 


170 ROMAN LITERATURE. 


punish them. JI have also felt no small difficalty in deciding 
whether age should make any difference, or whether those of the 
tenderest and those of mature years should be treated alike ; 


whether pardon should be accorded to repentance, or whether, . 


where a man has once been a Christian, recantation should profit 
him ; whether, if the name of Christian does not imply crimi- 
nality, still the crimes peculiarly belonging to the name should 
be punished. Meanwhile, in the case of those against whem 
informations have been laid before me, I have pursued the follow: 
ing line of conduct: I have put to them, personally, the question 
whether they were Christians. If they confessed, I interrogated 
them a second and third time, and threatened them with punish- 
ment. If they still persevered, I ordered their commitment ; for 
I had no doubt whatever, that whatever they confessed, at any 
rate, dogged and inflexible ubstinacy deserved to be punished. 
There were others who displayed similar madness ; but, as they 
were Roman citizens, I ordered them to be sent back to the city. 
Soon, persecution itself, as is generally the case, caused the 
crime to spread, and it appeared in new forms. An anonymous 
information was laid against a large number of persons, but they 
deny that they are, or ever have been, Christians. As they 
invoked the gods, repeating the form after me, and offered prayer 
with incense and wine, to your image, which I had ordered 
to be brought together with those of the deities, and besides, 
cursed Christ, while those who are true Christians, it is said, 
cannot be compelled to do any one of these things, I thought it 
right to set them at liberty. Others, when accused by an infor- 
mer, confessed that they were Christians, and soon after denied 
the fact. They said they had been, but had ceased to be, some 
three, some more, not a few even twenty years previously. All 
these worshipped your image and those of the gods, and cursed 
Christ. But they affirmed that the sum-total of their fault, or 
their error, was that they were accustomed to assemble on a 
fixed day, before dawn, and sing an antiphonal hymn to Christ 
as God ; that they bound themselves by an oath, not to the 
commission of any wickedness, but to abstain from theft, robbery 
and adultery ; never to break a promise, or to deny a deposi 

when it was demanded back. When these ceremonies were con- 
cluded, it was their custom to depart, and again assemble toge- 
ther to take food harmlessly and in common. That after my 
proclamation, in which, in obedience to your command, I had 
forbidden associations, they had desisted from this practice. For 
these reasons, I the more thought it necessary to investigate the 
real truth, by putting to the torture two maidens who were 


‘ 


ia 





ROMAN LITERATURE. 171 


ealled deaconesses; but I discovered nothing, but a perverse and 
excessive superstition. I have, therefore, deferred taking cog- 
nizance of the matter until I had consulted you ; for it seemed 
to me a case requiring advice, especially on account of the num- 
ber of those in peril or many of every age, sex and rank are, 
and will continue to be called in question. The infection, in fact, 
has spread not only through the cities, but also through the vil- 
lages and open country ; but it seems that its progress can be 
arrested. At any rate, it is clear that the temples, which were 
almost deserted, begin to be frequented ; and solemn sacrifices, 
which had been long intermitted, are again performed, and vic- 
sms are being sold everywhere, for which, up to this time, a 
purchaser could rarely be found. It is, therefore, easy to con- 
ceive that crowds might be reclaimed, if an opportunity for 
repentance were given.” 

_ Trajan to Pliny : “In sifting the cases of those who have 
been indicted on the charge of Christianity, you have adopted, my 
dear Secundus, the right course of proceeding ; for no certain 
rule can be laid down, which will meet all cases. They must not 
be sought after, but if they are informed against, and convicted, 
they must be punished ; with this proviso, however, that if any 
deny that he is a Christian, and proves the point by offering 
prayers to our deities, notwithstanding the suspicions under 
which he has labored, he shall be pardoned on his repentance. 
On no account should any anonymous charges be attended to, 
for it would be the worst possible precedent, and is inconsistent 
with the habits of our time.” 


8. Pxitosopny and Scrence.—Philosophy, and particularly 
moral philosophy, became a necessary study at this time, when 
the popular religion had lost its influence. In the general ruin 
of public and private morals, virtuous men found in this science a 
guide in the dangers by which they were continually threatened, 
and a consolation in all their sorrows. The Stoic among the 
other schools met with most favor from this class of men, for it 
uffered better security against the evils of life, and taught men 
how to take shelter from baseness and profligacy under the influ. 
ence of virtue and courage. The doctrines of the Stoics suited 
the rigid sternness of the Roman character. They embodied 
that spirit of self-devotion and self-denial with which the Roman 
patriot, in the old times of simple republican virtue, threw him- 
self into his public duties, and they enabled him to meet death 
with a courageous spirit in this degenerate age, in which many 
vf the best and noblest willingly died by their own hands, at the 


-a ee 
172 ROMAN LITERATURE, 


imperial mandate, in order to save their name from infamy, and 
their inheritance from confiscation. 

Seneca (12-69 a.p.), a native of Cordova, in Spain, was the 
greatest philosopher of this age. He early displayed great 
talent as a pleader, but in the reign of Claudius, he was banished 
to Corsica, where he solaced his exile with the study of the Stoic 
philosophy ; and though its severe precepts exercised no mora) 
influence on his conduct, he not only professed himself a Stoie, 
but imagined that he was one. A few years after, he was 
recalled by Agrippina, to become tutor to her son Nero. He 
was too unscrupulous a man of the world to attempt the correc- 
tion of the vicious propensities of his pupil, or to instill into him 
high principles. After the accession of Nero, he endeavored to 
arrest his depraved career, but it was too late. Seneca had, by 
usury and legacy-hunting, amassed one of those large fortunes, of 
which so many instances are met with in Roman history ; feel- 
ing the dangers of wealth, he offered his property to Nero, who 
refused it, but resolved to rid himself of his former tutor, and 
easily found a pretext for his destruction. In adversity the cha- 
racter of Seneca shone with brighter lustre. Though he had lived 
ill, he could die well. He met the messengers of death without 
trembling. His noble wife, Paulina, determined to die with him. 
The veins of both were opened at the same time, but the little 
blood which remained in his emaciated frame refused to flow. He 
suffered excruciating agony. A warm bath was tried, but in vain; 
and a draught of poison was equally ineffectual. At last he was 
suffocated by the vapor of a stove. 

Seneca lived in a perilous atmosphere. He had not firmness 
to act up to the high moral standard which he proposed to him- 
self. He was avaricious, but avarice was the great sin of his 
times. The education of one, who was a brute rather than a man, 
was a task to which no one would have been equal; he therefore 
retained the influence which he had not the uprightness to com- 
mand, by miserable and sinful expedients. He had great abili- 
ties, and some of the noble qualities of the old Romans ; and had 
he lived in the.days of the republic, he would have been a great 
man. 
Seneca was the author of twelve ethical treatises, the best of 
which are entitled, ‘‘On Providence,” ‘‘On Consolation,” and 
“On the Perseverance of wise men.” He cared little for abstract 
speculation, and delighted to inculcate precepts rather than ta 
investigate principles. He was always a favorite with Christian 
writers, and some of his sentiments are truly Christian. There ig 
even a tradition that he was acquainted with St. Paul. He may 


ROMAN LITERATURE. 178 
anconsciously have imbibed some of the principles of Christianity 
The Gospel had already made great and rapid strides over the 
civilized world, and thoughtful minds may have been enlightened 
by some of the rays of divine truth dispersed by the moral 


atmosphere, just as we are benefited by the light of the sun, even 


“= 


when its disk is obscured by clouds. His epistles, of which there 
are 124, are moral essays, and are the most delightful of his 
works. ‘They are evidently written for the public eye ; they are 
rich in varied thought, and their reflections flow naturally, and 
without effort. They contain a free and unconstrained picture 
of his mind, and we see in them how he despised verbal subtle- 
ties, the external badges of a sect or creed, and insisted that the 
great end of science is to learn how to live and how to die. The 
style of Seneca is too elaborate to please. It is affected, often 
florid and bombastic ; there is too much sparkle and glitter, too 
little repose and simplicity. 

Pliny the elder (a.p. 23-79) was born probably at Como, the 
family residence. He was educated at Rome, where he practised 
at the bar, and filled different civil offices. He perished a mar- 
tyr to the cause of science, in the eruption of Vesuvius, which 
took place in the-reign of Titus, the first of which there is any 
record in history ‘The circumstances of his death are described 
by his nephew, Pliny the younger, in two letters to Tacitus. He 
was at Misenum, in command of the fleet, when observing the 
first indications of the eruption, and wishing to investigate it 
more closely, he fitted out a light galley, and sailed towards the 
villa of a friend at Stabie. He found his friend in great alarm, 
but Pliny remained tranquil and retired to rest. Meanwhile, 
broad flames burst forth from the volcano, the blaze was reflect- 
ed-from the sky, and the brightness was enhanced by the dark- 
ness of the night. Repeated shocks of an earthquake made the 
houses rock to and fro, while in the air the fall of half burnt 
pumice-stones menaced danger. He was awakened, and he and 
his friend, with their attendants, tied cushions over their heads 
to protect them from the falling stones, and walked out to see 
if they might venture on the water. It was now day, but the 
darkness was denser than the darkest night, the sea was a waste 
of stormy waters, and when at Jast the flames and the sulphu- 
reous smell could no longer be endured, Pliny fell dead, suf 
focated by the dense vapor. 

The natural history of Pliny is an unequalled monument of 
studious diligence and persevering industry. It consists of thirty: 
seven books, and contains 20,000 facts (as he believed them to 
he) connected with nature and art, the result not of original 


research, but as he honestly confessed, culled from tue iabors of 
vther men. 

Owing to the extent of his reading, his love of the marvellous, 
and his want of judgment in comparing and selecting, he does 
not present us with a correct view of the science of his own age - 
He reproduces errors evidently obsolete and inconsistent with 
fucts and theories which had afterwards replaced them. With 
him, mythological traditions appeared to have almost the same 
authority as modern discoveries; the earth teems with monsters, — 
not exceptions to the regular order of nature, but specimens of 
her ingenuity. His peculiar pantheistic belief prepared him to 
consider nothing incredible, and his temper inclined him to admit 
ail that was credible as true. 

He tells us of men whose feet were turned backwards, of 
others whose feet were so large as to shade them when they lay 
in the sun; others without mouths, who fed on the fragrance of 
fruits and flowers. Among the lower animals, he enumerates 
horned horses furnished with wings; the mantichora, with the 
face of a man, three rows of teeth, a lion’s body, and a scorpion’s 
tail; the basilisk, whose very glance is fatal ; and an insect 
which cannot live except in the midst of the flames. But 
notwithstanding his credulity and his want of judgement, this” 
elaborate work contains many valuable truths and much enter 
taining information. ‘The prevailing character of his philosophi- 
eal belief, though tinctured with the stoicism of the day, is queru- 
lous and melancholy. Believing that nature is an all powerful 
principle, and the universe instinct with deity, he saw more of 
evil than of good in the divine dispensation, and the result was a 
gloomy and discontented pantheism. 

Celsus probably lived in the reign of Tiberius. He was the 
author of many works, on various subjects, of which one, in 
eight books, on medicine, is now extant. The independence of 
his views, the practical, as well as the scientific nature of his 
instructions, and above all, his knowledge of surgery, and his 
clear exposition of surgical operations, have given his work 
great authority; the highest testimony is borne to its merits by 
the fact of its being used as a text-book, even in the present 
advanced state of medical science. The taste of the age in which 
he lived turned his attention also to polite literature, and to that 
may be ascribed the Augustan purity of his style. 

Pomponius Mela lived in the reign of Claudius. He is consi 
dered as the representative of the Roman geographers. Though 
his book, “The Place of the World,” is but an epitome of former 


aa 


trace ROMAN LITERATURE. 


ROMAN LITERATURE. 175 





__Wreatises, it is interesting for the simplicity of its style and the 
. purity of its language. 
Columella fl-arished in the reignsof Claudius and Nero. He 
is author of an agricultural work, ‘ De Re rustica,” in which he 
gives, in smooth and fluent, though somewhat too diffuse a style, 
the fullest and completest information on practical agriculture 
among the Romans in the first century of the Christian era. 
Frontinus (fl. 78 a.p.) left two valuable works, one on military 
tactics, the other a descriptive architectural treatise on those 
wonderful monuments of Roman art, the aqueducts. Besides 
these there are extant fragments of other works on surveying, 
and on the laws and customs relating to landed property, which 
assign Frontinus an important place in the estimation of the 
students of Roman history. 


9. Roman Literature rrom Haprian To Toeoporic (138-526 
A.D.).—From the death of Augustus, Roman literature had gra- 
dually declined, and though it shone forth for a time with classic 
radiance in the writings of Persius, Juvenal, Quintilian, Tacitus, 
and the Plinies, with the death of freedom, the extinction of 
patriotism, and the decay of the national spirit, nothing could 

avert its fall. Poetry had become declamation; history had de- 
generated either into fulsome panegyric or the fleshless skeletons 
of epitomes ; and at length the Romans seemed to disdain the 
use of their native tongue, and wrote again in Greek, as they 
had in the infancy of the national literature. The emperor 
Hadrian resided long at Athens, and became imbued with a taste 
and admiration for Greek; and thus the literature of Rome 
became Hellenized. From this epoch the term classical can no 
longer be applied to it, for it no longer retained its purity. To 
Greek influence succeeded the still more corrupting one of foreign 
nations. With the death of Nerva, the uninterrupted succession 
of emperors of Roman or Italian birth ceased. Trajan himself 
was a Spaniard, and after him not only foreigners of every Eu- 
ropean race, but even Orientals and Africans were invested with 
the imperial purple, and the empire also over which they ruled 
was one unwieldy mass of heterogeneous materials. The literary 
influence of the capital was not felt in the interior portions of 
the Roman dominions. Schools were established in the very 
heart of nations just emerging from barbarism ; and though the 
blessings of civilization and intellectual culture were thus distri- 
buted far and wide, still literary taste, as it flowed through the 
minds of foreigners, became corrupted, and the language of the 


ia. - 
. = Geers a 
7 


imperial city,exposed to the infecting contact of barbarous idioms 
lost its purity. 

The Latin authors of this age were numerous, but few had 
taste to appreciate and imitate the literature of the Augustan 
age. ‘They may be classified according to their departments of 
poetry, history, grammar, and oratory, philosophy and science, 

The brightest star of the poetry of this period was Claudian 
(865-404 a.p.), in whom the graceful imagination of classical 
antiquity seems to have revived. He enjoyed the patronage of 
Stilicho, the guardian and minister of Honorius, and in the praise 
and honor of him and of his pupil, he wrote ‘‘'The Rape of Pro- 
serpine,” the ‘‘ War of the Giants,” and several other poems. His 
descriptions indicate a rich and powerful imagination, but neglect- 
ing substance for form, his style is often declamatory and affected. 
Among the earliest authors of Christian hymns were Hilarius 
and Prudentius. Those of the former were expressly designed to 
be sung, and are said to have been set to music by the author 
himself. Prudentius (fl. 348 a.p.) wrote many hymns and poems 
in defence of the Christian faith, more distinguished for their 
pious and devotional character than for their lyric sublimity or 
purity of language. To this age belong also the hymns of Dama- 
sus and of Ambrose. 

Among the historians are Flavius Eutropius, who lived in the 
4th century, and by the direction of the emperor Valens com- 
posed an ‘‘Kpitome of Roman History,” which was a favorite 
book in the middle ages. Ammianus Marcellinus, his contem- 
porary, wrote a Roman history in continuation of Tacitus 
and Suetonius; though his style is affected and often rough and 
inaccurate, his work is interesting for its digressions and obser- 
vations. Severus Sulpicius wrote the history of the Hebrews, and 
of the four centuries of the church. His “ Sacred History,” for 
its language and style, is one of the best works of that age. 

In the department of oratory may be mentioned Cornelius 
Fronton, who flourished under Domitian and Nerva, and was 
endowed with a rich imagination and a mind stored with vast 
erudition in Greek and Latin literature, Symmachus, distin- 
guished for his opposition to Christianity, and Cassiodorus, min- 
ister and secretary of the Emperor Theodoric. 

In the decline of Roman, as of Greek literature, grammarians 
took the place of poets and of historians ; they commented on 
and interpreted the ancient classics, and transmitted to us 
valuable information concerning the Augustan writers. Amo 
the most important works of this kind are the “ Attic Nights 
of Gellius, who was born in Rome, and lived under Hadriapr 


\7e ROMAN LITERATURE, 


a — 
es 
—) 


€ : ROMAN LITERATURE. 177 


and the Aatonines [n his work are preserved many valuable 
passages of the classics which would otherwise have been lost. 
Macrobius, who flourished in the middle of the fifth century, was 
the author of different works in which the doctrines of the Neo 
Platonic school are expounded. His style, however, is very 
defective. 

A striking characteristic of the writings, both in Greek and 
Latin, of the last ages of the empire, is the prevalence of prin- 
ciples and opinions imported from the Hast. The Neo-Platonic 
school, imbued with oriental mysticism, had diffused the belief 
in spirits and magic, and the philosophy of this age was a mix 
ture of ancient wisdom with new superstitions belonging to the 
ages of transition between the decadence of the ancient faith 

_ and the development of a new religion. ‘The best representative 
of the philosophy of this age is Apuleius, born in Africa in the 
reign of Hadrian. After having received his education in Ca1- 
thage and Athens, he came to Rome, where he acquired grea‘ 
reputation as a literary man, and as the possessor of extraordi 
nary supernatural powers. ‘To his extensive philosophical 
knowledge and immense erudition, he united great polish of 
manner and remarkable beauty of person. He wrote much on 

_ philosophy ; but his most important work is a romance known 

___ as “ Metamorphoses, or the Golden Ass,” containing his philo- 

_ sophical and mystic doctrines. In this book, the object of which 
is to encourage the belief in mysticism, the writer describes the 
transformation of a young man into an ass, who is allowed to 
take his primitive human form only through a knowledge of 
the mysteries of Isis. The story is well told, and the romance 
is full of interest and sprightliness ; but its style is incorrect, 
florid aud bombastic. 

Boethius (470-524), the last of the Roman philosophers, 
was the descendant of an illustrious family. He made Greek 
philosophy the principal object of his meditations. He was 
raised to the highest honors and offices in the empire by Theo- 
doric, but finally, through the artifices of enemies who envied 
his reputation, he lost the favor of his patron, was imprisoned, 

and at length beheaded. Of his numerous works, founded on 
_ the peripatetic philosophy, that which has gained him the 
greatest celebrity is entitled “On the Consolations of Philoso- 
phy,” composed while he was jn prison. It is in the form of a 
dialogue, in which philosophy appears to console him with the 
idea of Divine Providence. The poetical part of the book is 
written with elegance and grace, and his prose, though not 
pure, is fluent and full of frunfall dignity. The work of Boe 
. 8 


— 


178 ROMAN LITERATURE. 


thius, which is known in all modern languages, was translateq 
into Anglo-Saxon by King Alfred, 900 a.p. 

The fathers of the church followed more particularly the ph 
losophy of Plato, which was united and adapted to Christianity. 
St. Augustine is the most illustrious among the Christian Pla- 
tonists. 

The most eloquent orators and writers of this period were 
found among the advocates of Christianity ; and among the 
most celebrated of these Latin Fathers of the Christian church, 
we may mention the following names. Tertullian (160-285 a.p.), 
in his apology for the Christians, gives much information on the 
manners and conduct of the early Christians ; his style is concise 
and figurative, but harsh, unpolished and obscure. St. Cyprian 
(200-258), beheaded at Carthage for preaching the Gospel 
contrary to the orders of the government, wrote an explanation 
of the Lord’s Prayer, which affords a valuable illustration of 
the ecclesiastical history of the time. Arnobius (fl. 300) refuted 
the objections of the heathen against Christianity with spirit 
and learning, in his ‘‘ Disputes with the Gentiles,” a work rich 
in materials for.the understanding of Greek and Roman mytho- 


logy. Lactantius (d. 325), on account of his fine and eloquent 


language, is frequently called the Christian Cicero ; his “ Divine 
Institutes” are particularly celebrated. St. Ambrose (840-397) 
obtained great honor by his conduct as Bishop of Milan, and 
his writings bear the stamp of his high Christian character. 
St. Augustine (360-430) was one of the most renowned of all 
the Latin fathers. Though others may have been more learned 
or masters of a purer style, none more powerfully touched and 
warmed the heart towards religion. His “ City of God” is one 
of the great monuments of human genius. St. Jerome (830-420) 
wrote many epistles full of energy and affection, as well as of 


religious zeal. He made a Latin version of the Old Testament, 


which was the foundation of the Vulgate, and which gave a new 
impulse to the study of the Holy Scriptures. Leo the Great 
(fl. 440) is the first pope whose writings have been preserved. 
They consist of sermons and letters. His style is finished and 
rhetorical. 


10. Roman Jurtsprupence.—In the period which followed, 
from the death of Augustus to the time of the Antonines, 
Roman civilians and legal writers continued to be numerous, 
and as a professional body they seem to have enjoyed high 
consideration until the close of the reign of Alexander Seve 
tus, 335 ap. After that time they were held in much less 





. 
bi... 
I ed oe ee 


= te | 


’ ROMAN LITERATURE. 179 


estimation, as the science fell into the hands of ftreedmen 
and plebeians, who practised it as a sordid and pernicious 
trade. With the reign of Constantine, the credit of the pro- 
fession revived, and the vouth of the empire were stimulated to 
pursue the study of the law by the hope of being ultimately 
rewarded by honorable and lucrative offices, the magistrates 
being almost wholly taken from the class of lawyers. Two 
jurists of this reign, Gregorianus and Hermogenianus, are par- 
ticularly distinguished as authors of codes which are known by 
their names, and which were recognized as standard authorities 
in courts of justice. The “‘ Code of Theodosius” was a collec- 
tion of laws reduced by that emperor, and promulgated in both 
empires 438 a.p. It retained its authority in the western empire 
until its final overthrow, 476 a.p., and even after this, though 
modified by the institutions of the conquerors. In the eastern 
empire, it was only superseded by the code of Justinian. This 
emperor undertook the task of reducing to order and system the 
great confusion and perplexity in which the whole subject of 
Roman jurisprudence was involved. For this purpose he em- 
ployed the most eminent lawyers, with the celebrated Tribonian 
at their head, to whom he entrusted the work of forming and 
publishing a complete collection of the preceding laws and 
edicts, and who devoted several years of unwearied labor and 
‘research to this object. They first collected and redaced the 
imperial constitutions from the time of Hadrian downwards, 
which was promulgated as the “ Justinian Code.” Their next 
labor was to reduce the writings of the jurisconsults of the pre- 
ceding ages, especially those who had lived under the empire, 
and whose works are said to have amounted to two thousand 
volumes. This work was published 533 a.p., under the title of 
“ Pandects,” or ‘ Digest,” the former title referring to their 
- completeness as comprehending the whole of Roman jurispru- 
dence, and the latter to their methodical arrangement. At the 
same time, a work prepared by Tribonian was published by the 
order of the emperor, on the elements or first principles of 
Roman law, entitled ‘ Institutes,” and another collection con- 
sisting of constitutions and edicts, under the title of “ Novels,” 
chiefly written in Greek, but known to the moderns by a Latin 
translation. ‘These four works, the Code, the Pandects, the 
Institutes and the JVovels, constituted what is now called thé 
Body of Roman Law. 
The system of jurisprudence established by Justinian remained 
in force in the eastern empire until the taking of Constantinople, 
1453 a.v. After the fall of the western empire, these laws had 


aa: 


180 ROMAN LITERATURE. 


little sway until the twelfth century, when Irnerius, a German 
lawyer who had studied at Constantinople, opened a school at 
Bologna, and thus revived and propagated in the West a know- 
ledge of Roman civil law. Students flocked to this school from 
all parts, and by them Roman jurisprudence, as embodied in 
the system of Justinian, was transmitted to most of the coun- 
tries of Europe. 

During the fourth and fifth centuries, the process of the 
_ debasement of the Roman tongue went on with great rapidity. 
The influence of the provincials began what the irruptions of the 
northern tribes consummated. In many scattered parts of the 
empire it is probable that separate Latin dialects arose, and 
the change upon the whole structure of the tongue was pro- 
digious, when the Goths poured into Italy, established them- 
selves in the capital, and began to speak and write in a language 
previously foreign to them. With the close of the reign of 
Theodoric the curtain falls upon ancient literature. 








i Fo 


Pa‘ 









ARABIAN LITERATURE. 


1, furopean Literature in the Dark Ages.—2. The Arabian Language.—¥%, are 
bian Mythology and the Koran.—4. Historical Development of Arabian Lue 
rature.—5, Grammar and Rhetoric.—6. Poetry.—7. The Arabian Tales.—8. History 
and Science. 


1. European Literature In THE Dark Acrs.—About four 
hundred and fifty years, from the middle of the 6th century after 
Christ to the commencement of the 11th, may be marked out 
as the period intervening between ancient and modern literature, 
—a period known in history as the Dark Ages. At the first of 
these epochs classical genius was already extinct, and the purity 
of the classical tongues was yielding rapidly to the corruptions of 
the provinces and of the new dialects. At the second epoch, 
mauy causes conspired to work great changes in. the fabric of 
society, and in the manifestations of human intellect. The ages 
that lie between, though not unconnected with those that follow, 
have some features peculiar to themselves. Throughout their 
course, the treasures of Greek and Latin literature, exposed to 
the danger of perishing and impaired by much actual loss, ex 
erted no influence on the minds of those who still used the tongues 
to which they belong. Greek letters, as we have seen, decayed 
with the Byzantine power, and the vital principle in both became 
extinct long before the sword of the Turkish conqueror inflicted: 
the final blow. ‘The fate of Latin literature was not less deplor- 


able. When province after province of the Roman dominions 


ras overrun by the northern hordes, when the imperial schools 
were suppressed and the monuments of ancient genius destroyed, 
an enfeebled people and a debased language could not withstand 
such adverse circumstances. During the Tth and 8th centuries, 
Latin composition degenerated into the rudeness of the monkish 
style. The care bestowed by Charlemagne upon education in the 
9th century produced some purifying effect upon the writings of 
the cloister ; the 10th was distinguished by an increased zeal in 
the task of transcribing the classical authors, and in the 11th 
the Latin works of the Normans display some masculine force 
and freedom. Latin was the repository of such knowledge as 

181 





182 ARABIAN LITERATUR. 


the times could boast ; it was used in the service of the church, 
and in the chronicles that supplied the place of history, but it 
was not the vehicle of any great production stamped with true 
genius and impressing the minds of posterity. Still, genius was 
not altogether extinguished in every part of Europe. ‘The north 
which sent out its daring tribes to change the aspect of civil life, — 
furnished a fresh source of mental inspiration, which was destined, 
with the recovered influence of the classic spirit and other pro- 
lific causes, to give birth to some of the best portions of modern 
hterature.- 

At the memorable epoch of the overthrow of the Roman do- 
minion in the West (476 a.p.), the seats of the Teutonic race 
extended from the banks of the Rhine and the Danube to the 
rock-bound coasts of Norway. - The victorious invaders, who 
occupied the southern provinces of Europe, speedily lost their 
own forms of speech, which were broken down, together with . 
those of the vanquished, into a jargon unfit for composition. But 
in Germany and Scandinavia, where the old language retained 
its purity, song continued to flourish. There, from the most dis- 
tant eras described by Tacitus and other Latin writers, the 
favorite attendants of kings and chiefs were those celebrated bards 
who preserved in their traditionary strains the memory of great 
events, the praises of the gods, the glory of warriors and the 
laws and customs of their countrymen. Intrusted, like the 
Grecian heroic minstrelsy, to oral recitation, it was not until the - 
propitious reign of Charlemagne that these verses were collected. 
But, through the bigotry of his successor or the ravages of time, not 
a fragment of this collection remains. We are enabled, however, to 

‘form an idea of the general tone and tenor of this early Teutonic 
poetry from other interesting remains. The “‘ Nibelungen-Lied,” 
(Lay of the Nibelungen) and “Heldenbuch” (Book of Heroes) may 
be regarded as the Homeric poems of Germany. After an ex — 
amination of their monuments, the ability of the ancient bardag 
the honor in which they were held, and the enthusiasm whic 
they produced, will not be surprising. 

Equally distinguished were the Scalds of Scandinavia, Ever 
ia the train of princes and gallant adventurers, they chanted 
their rhymeless verse for the encouragement and solace of heroes, 
Their oldest songs, or sagas, are mostly of a historical import 
In the Icelandic Edda, however, the richest monument of thig 
species of composition, the theological element of their poetry 
is shadowed out in the most picturesque and fanciful legends. 

Such was the intellectual state of Kurope down to the age of 
Charlemagne. While in the once famous seats of arts and arms 


searcely a ray of native genius or courage was visible, the light 
of human intellect still burned in lands whose barbarism had fur- 
nished matter for the sarcasm of classical writers. 

Charlemagne encouraged jearning, established schools and 
filled his court with men of letters ; while in England, the illus- 

* trious Alfred, himself a scholar and an author, improved and en- 
riched the Anglo-Saxon dialect, and exerted the most beneficial 
influence on his contemporaries. 

The confusion and debasement of language in the south of 
Europe has already been alluded to. But the force and activity 
of mind, that formed an essential characteristic of the conquering 
race, were destined ultimately to evolve regularity and harmony 
out of the concussion of discordant elements. ‘The Latin and 
Teutonic tongues were blended together, and hence proceeded all 
the chief dialects of modern Europe. Over the south, from Por- 
tugal to Italy, the Latin element prevailed ; but even where the 
Teutonic was the chief ingredient, asin the English and German, 
there has also been a large infusion of the Latin. To these two 
languages, and to the Provencal, French, Italian, Spanish and 
Portuguese, called, from their Roman origin, the Romance or 
Romanic languages, all that is prominent and precious in modern 
letters belongs. But it is not until the 11th century that their 
progress becomes identified with the history of literature. Up to 
this period there had been little repose, freedom, or peace- 
ful enjoyment of property. The independence and industry of 
the middle classes were almost unknown, and the chieftain, the 
vassal, and the slave, were the characters which stood out in the 
highest relief. Throughout the whole of the 11th century, the 
social chaos seemed resolving itself into some approach to order 
and tranquillity. The gradual abolition of personal servitude, 
hardly accomplished in three successive centuries, now began. A 
third estate arose. The rights of cities, and the corporation- 
spirit, the result of the necessity that drove men to combine for 
mutual defence, led to intercourse among them and to consequent 
improvement in language. Chivalry, also, served to mitigate the 
oppressions of the nobles, and to soften and refine their manners. 
From the date of the first crusade (1093 a.p.) down to the close 
of the 12th century, was tne golden age of chivalry. The prin 
cipal thrones of Europe were occupied by her foremost knights 
The East formed a point of union for the ardent and adventurous 
of different countries, whose courteous rivalry stimulated the 
growth of generous sentiments and the passion for brave deeds. 

The genius of Europe was roused by the passage of thousands 
of her sons through Greece into Asia and Egypt, amidst the 





ARABIAN LITERATURE, 183 





184 ARABIAN LITERATURE, 


ancient seats of art, science and refinement. The minds of 
men received a fresh and powerful impulse. They were led ta 
compare, to reflect, to aspire and to imitate. It was during the 
11th century that the brilliancy of the Arabian literature 
reached its culminating point, and through the intercourse of the 
Troubadours witr the Moors of the peninsula, and of the Crusa- * 
ders with the Arabs in the East, began to influence the progress 

of letters in Hurope. The sudden rise of the Arabian empire, 
and the rapid development of its literature,were the great phe- 
nomena of the period of which we are speaking. 


2. Tue Arapian Lancuace.—The Arabian language belongs 
to the Semitic family; it has two principal dialects—the northern, 
which has, for centuries, been the general tongue of the empire, 
and is best represented in literature, and the southern, a branch 
of which is supposed to be the mother of the Ethiopian language. — 
The former, in degenerated dialects, is still spoken in Arabia, in 
parts of western Asia and throughout northern Africa, and 
forms an important part of the Turkish, Persian and other 
oriental languages. The Arabic is characterized by its guttural 
sounds, by the richness and pliability of its vowels, by its dignity, 
volume of sound, and vigor of accentuation and pronunciation. 
Like all Semitic languages, it is written from right to left ; the 
characters are of Syrian origin, and were introduced into Arabia 
before the time of Mohammed. They are of two kinds, the 
Cufic, which were first used, and the eskhi, which superseded 
them, and which continue in use at the present day. ‘The 
Arabic alphabet was, with a few modifications, early adopted by 
the Persians and Turks. 


3. ARABIAN MytHoLoay anp THE Koran.—Before the time 
of Mohammed, the Arabians were gross idolaters. They had 
some traditionary idea of the unity and perfections of the 
Deity, but their creed embraced an immense number of sub-— 
ordinate divinities, represented by images of men and women, 
beasts and birds. The essential basis of their religion was 
Sabeism, or star-worship, The number and beauty of the hea- 
venly luminaries, and the silent regularity of their motions, could 
not fail deeply ta impress the minds of this imaginative people, 
living in the open air, under the clear and serene sky, and wan. 
dering among the deserts, oases, and picturesque mountains of 
Arabia, They had seven celebrated temples dedicated te 
the seven planets. Some tribes exclusively reverenced the 
moon ; others the dog-star Some had received the religion of 





a 


es Ue |e! ee CO 


J 
c 

, 

be 

* 





- ARABIAN LITERATURE 188 


tne Magi, or fir-worshippers, while others } ud become converts 
to Judaisin. 

Ishniael is one of the most venerated progenitors of the nation; 
and it is believed by them that Mecca, then an arid wilderness, 
was the spot where his life was providentially saved, and where 
Hagar, his mother, was buried. The well pointed out by the 
angel, they believe to be the famous Zemzem, of which all pious 
Mohammedans drink to this day. To commemorate the miracu- 
lous preservation of Ishmael, God commanded Abraham to build 
a temple, and he erected and consecrated the Caaba, or sacred 
house, which is still venerated in Mecca; and the black stone 
incased within its walls is the same on which Abraham stood. 

Mohammed (569-632 a.v.) did not pretend to introduce a 
new religion ; his professed object was merely to restore the 
primitive and only true faith, such as it had been in the days of 
the patriarchs ; the fundamental idea of which was the unity of 
God. He made the revelations of the Old and New Testaments 
the basis of his preaching. He maintained the authority of the 
books of Moses, admitted the divine mission of Jesus, and he 
enrolled himself in the catalogue of inspired teachers. 'This doc- 
trine was proclaimed in the memorable words, which for so many 
centuries constituted the war cry of the Saracens—Tvere is no 
God but God, and Mchammed is has apostle. Mohammed 
preached no dogmas substantially new, but he adorned, ampli- 
fied and adapted to the ideas, prejudices and inclinations of the 
orientals, doctrines which were as old as the race. He enjoined 
the ablutions suited to the manners and necessities of hot 
climates. He ordained five daily prayers, that man might learn 
habitually to elevate his thoughts above the outward world. 
He instituted the festival of the Ramadan, and the pilgrimage 
to Mecca, and commanded that every man should bestow in 
alms the hundredth part of his possessions ; observances which, 
for the most part, already existed in the established customs of 
the country. 

The Koran (Reading), the sacred book of the Moham 
medans, is, according to their belief, the revelation of God 
to their prophet Mohammed. It contains not only their 
religious belief, but their civil, military and political code. 
It is divided into 114 chapters, and 1666 verses. The Koran 
is written in rhythmical prose, and its materials are bor- 
rowed from the Jewish and Christian scriptures, the legends 
of the Talmud, and the traditions and fables of the Arabian 
aud Persian mythologies. It is not written according to the 
rules of rhetoricians. Confusion of ideas, obscurity and contra 


Oe 
en ee ae 
186 ARABIAN LITERATURE. 


dictions destroy the unity and even the interest of this work. 
The chapters are preposterously distributed, not according tu theit 
date or connection, but according to their length, beginning with 
the longest, and ending with the shortest ; and thus the work 
becomes often the more unintelligible by its singular arrangement. 
But notwithstanding this, there is scarcely a volume in the 
Arabic language which contains passages breathing more sub- 
lime poetry, or more enchanting eloquence ; and the Koran is so 
far important in the history of Arabian letters, that when the 
scattered leaves were collected by Abubeker, the successor of 
Mohammed (635 a.p.), and afterwards revised, in the 30th year 
of the Hegira, they fixed at once the classic language of the 
Arabs, and became their standard in style as well as in religion. 

This work and its commentaries are held in the highest reve- 
rence by the Mohammedans. It is the principal book taught in 
their schools ; they never touch it without kissing it, and carry- — 
ing it to the forehead, in token of their reverence ; oaths before 
the courts are taken upon it; itis learned by heart, and repeated 
every forty days ; many believers copy it several times in their 
lives, and often possess one or more copies ornamented with gold 
and precious stones. 

The Koran treats of death, resurrection, the judgment, para 
dise and the place of torment, in a style calculated powerfully to 
affect the imagination of the believer. The joys of paradise, 
promised to all who fall in the cause of religion, are those most 
captivating to an Arabian fancy. When Al Sirat, or the Bridge 
of Judgment, which is as slender as the thread of a famished spi- 
der, and as sharp as the edge of a sword, shall be passed by the 
believer; he will be welcomed into the gardens of delight by 
black-eyed Houris, beautiful nymphs, not made of common clay, 
but of pure essence and odors, free from all blemish, and subject 
to no decay of virtue or of beauty, and who await their destined 
lovers in rosy bowers, or in pavilions formed of a single hollow 
pearl. ‘The soil of paradise is composed of musk and saffron, 
sprinkled with pearls and hyacinths. The walls of its mansions 
are of gold and silver ; the fruits, which bend spontaneously to 
him who would gather them, are of a flavor and delicacy un- 
known to mortals. Numerous rivers flow through this blissful 
abode; some of wine, others of milk, honey and water, the peb- 
bly beds of which are rubies and emeralds, and their banks of 
musk, camphor and saffron. In paradise the enjoyment of the 
believers, which is subject neither to satiety nor diminution, will 
be greater than the human understanding can compass. The 
meanest among them will have eighty thousand servants, and 


X 


ARABIAN LITERATURE, 18% 





seveuty-two wives. Wine, though forbidden on earth, will 
there be freely allowed, and will not hurt or inebriate. The 
ravishing songs of the angels and of the Houris will render all 
the groves vocai with harmony, such as mortal ear never heard. 
At whatever age they may have died, at their resurrection all 
will be in the prime of manly and eternal vigor. It would be a 
journey of a thousand years for a true Mohammedan to travel 
through paradise, and behold all the wives, servants, gardens, 
robes, jewels, horses, camels and other things, which belong 
exclusively to him. 

The hell of Mohammed is as full of terror, as his heaven is of 
delight. The wicked, who fall into the gulf of torture from the 
oridge of Al Sirat, will suffer alternately from cold and heat; 
when they are thirsty, boiling water will be given them to 
‘drink ; and they will be shod with shoes of fire. The dark man- 
sions of the Christians, Jews, Sabeans, Magians and idolaters are 
sunk below each other with increasing horrors, in the order of 
their names. ‘The seventh or lowest hell is reserved for the 
faithless hypocrites of every religion, Into this dismal recep 
tacle the unhappy sufferer will be dragged by seventy thousand 
__ halters, each pulled by seventy thousand angels, and exposed to 
the scourge of demons, whose pastime is cruelty and pain: 

It is a portion of the faith inculcated in the Koran, that both 
angels and demons exist, having pure and subtle bodies, created 
of fire, and free from human appetites and desires. The four 
principal angels are Gabriel, the angel of revelation ; Michael, 
the friend and protector of the Jews; Azrael, the angel of 
death; and Izrafel, whose office it will be to sound the trumpet 
at the last day. Every man has two guardian angels to attend 
him and record his actions, good and evil. The doctrine of the 
angels, demons and jins or genii, the Arabians probably derived 
from the Hebrews. The demons are fallen angels, the prince of 
whom is Lbs; he was at first one of the angels nearest to 
God’s presence, and was called Azazel. He was cast out of 
heaven, according to the Koran, for refusing to pay homage to 
Adam at the time of the creation. The genii are intermediate 
creatures, neither wholly spiritual nor wholly earthly, some of 
whom are good and entitled to salvation, and others infidels and 
devoted to eternal torture. Among them are several ranks and 
degrees, as tle Peris, or fairies, beautiful female spirits, who 
seek to do good upon the earth, and the Deev, or giants, 
who frequently make war upon the Peris, take them captive 
and shut them up in cages. The genii, both good and bad, 
tave the power of making themselves invisible at pleasure 


a 


a 
> 
an 


188 ARABIAN LITERATURE. 


Besides the mountain of Kaf, which is their chief place of resort. 
they dwell in ruined cities, uninhabited houses, at the bottom of 
wells, in woods, pools of water and among the rocks and sand: 
hills of the desert. Shooting stars are still believed by the people 
of the East to be arrows shot by the angels against the genii, who 
transgress these limits and approach too near the forbidden regions 
of bliss. Many of the genii delight in mischief ; they surprise and 
mislead travellers, raise whirlwinds and dry up springs in the 
desert. The Ghoul lives on the flesh of men and women, whom 
he decoys to his haunts in wild and barren places, in order to 
kill and devour them, and when he cannot thus obtain food, 
he enters the graveyards and feeds upon the bodies of the dead. 

The fairy mythology of the Arabians was introduced into 
Europe in the 11th century by the 'Troubadours and writers 
of the romances of chivalry, and through them it became an im-— 
portant element in the literature of Hurope. It constituted the 
machinery of the Yabliauz of the Trouvéres, and of the romantic 
epics of Boccaccio, Ariosto,Tasso,Spenser, Shakspeare and others 

The three leading Mohammedan sects are the Sunnees, the 
Sheahs and the Wahabees. The Sunnees acknowledge the 
authority of the first Caliphs, from whom most of the traditions 
were derived. The Sheahs assert the divine right of Ali to 
succeed to the prophet; consequently they consider the first 
Caliphs, and all their successors, as usurpers. ‘The Wahabees 
are a sect of religious reformers, who took their name from 
Abd al Wahab (1700-1750), the Luther of the Mohammedans, 
They became a formidable power in Arabia, but they were 
finally overcome by Ibrahim Pacha in 1816. 


4, HisrortcAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE ARABIAN LiITERATURE.— 
The literature of the Arabians has, properly speaking, but one 
period ; although from remote antiquity poetry was with them 
a favorite occupation, and long before the time of Mohammed 
the roving tribes of the desert had their annual conventions, 
where they defended their honor and celebrated their heroic 
deeds. As early as the 5th century a.p., at the fair of Ochadh, 
thirty days every year were employed not only in the exchange 
of merchandise, but in the nobler display of rival talents. A 
place was set apart for the competitions of the bards, whose 
highest amb:tion was to conquer in this literary arena, and the 
victorious compositions were inscribed in golden letters upon 
Hevptian paper, and suspended upon the doors of the Caaba, 
the ancient national sanctuary of Mecca. Seven of the most 
famous of these ancient poets have been celebrated by oriental 


a 
Sie 


; 
‘ 








AZABIAN LITERATURE. 189 


writers under the title of the Arabian Pleiades, and their songs, 
still preserved, are full of passion, manly pride, and intensity of 
imagination and feeling. ‘These and similar effusions constituted 
the entire literature of Arabia, and were the only archives of 
the nation previous to the age of Mohammed. 

The peninsula of Arabia, hitherto restricted to its natural 
boundaries, and peopled by wandering tribes, had occupied but 
a subordinate place in the history of the world. But the 
success of Mohammed and the preaching of the Koran were fol- 
lowed by the union of the tribes who, inspired by the feelings of 
national pride and religious fervor, in less than a century 
made the Arabian power, tongue and religion predominant 
over a third part of Asia, almost one-half of Africa, and a 
part of Spain, and, from the 9th to the 16th century, the lite- 
rature of the Arabians far surpassed that of any contemporary 
nation. 

After the fall of the Roman empire in the 5th century a.p., 
when the western world sunk into barbarism, and the inhabitants, 
ever menaced by famine or the sword, found full occupation in 
struggling against civil wars, feudal tyranny and the invasion 
of barbarians; when poetry was unknown, philosophy was 
proscribed as rebellion against religion, and barbarous dialects 
had usurped the place of that beautiful Latin language which 
had so long connected the nations of the West, and preserved to 
them so many treasures of thought and taste, the Arabians, 
who by their conquests and fanaticism had contributed more 
than any other nation to abolish the cultivation of science and 
literature, having at length established their empire, in turn 
devoted themselves to letters. Masters of the country of the 
magi and the Chaldeans, of Egypt, the first storehouse of human 
science, of Asia Minor, where poetry and the fine arts had their 
birth, and of Africa, the country of impetuous eloquence and 
subtle intellect—they seemed to unite in themselves the advan- 
tages of all the nations which they had thus subjugated. Innu- 
merable treasures had been the fruit of their conquests, and 
this hitherto rude and uncultivated nation now began to indulge 
in the most unbounded luxury. Possessed of all the delights 
that human industry, quickened by boundless riches, could pro- 
cure, with all that could flatter the senses and attach the heart 
to life, they now attempted to mingle with these the pleasures 
of the intellect, the cultivation of the arts and sciences, and all 
that is most excellent in human knowledge. In this new 
career, their*conquests were not less rapid than they had been 
in the field; nor was the emyire which they founded less extended 


7 ~ 
190 ARABIAN LITERATURE, 


With a celerity equally surprising, it rose to a gigantic height, 
but it rested on a foundation no less insecure, and it was quite as 
transitory in its duration. 

The Hegira, or flight of Mohammed from Mecca to Medina, 
corresponds with the year 622 of our era, and the supposea 
burning of the Alexandrian library by Amrou, the general of 
the Caliph Omar, with the year 641. This is the period of the 
deepest barbarism among the Saracens, and this event, doubtful 
as it is, has left a melancholy proof of their contempt for letters. 
A century had scarcely elapsed from the period to which this 
barbarian outrage is referred, when the family of the Abassides, 
who mounted the throne of the Caliphs in 750, introduced a 
vassionate love of art, of science and of poetry. In the litera- 
ture of Greece, nearly eight centuries of progressive cultivation 
succeeding the Trojan war had prepared the way for the age of 
Pericles. In that of Rome, the age of Augustus was also in 
the eighth century after the foundation of the city. In French 
literature, the age of Louis XIV. was twelve centuries subse- 
quent to Clovis, and eight after the development of the first 
rudiments of the language. But, in the rapid progress of the 
Arabian empire, the age of Al Mamoun, the Augustus of Bag- 
dad, was not removed more than one hundred and fifty years 
from the foundation of the monarchy. All the literature of the 
Arabians bears the marks of this rapid development. 

Ali, the fourth Caliph from Mohammed, was the first who 
extended any protection to letters. His rival and successor, 
Moawyiah, the first of the Ommyiades (661-680), assembled 
at his court all who were most distinguished by scientific 
acyairements ; he surrounded himself with poets; and as he had 
subjected to his dominion many of the Grecian islands and 
provinces, the sciences of Greece under him first began to 
obtain any influence over the Arabians. 

After the extinction of the dynasty of the Ommyiades, ‘that 
of the Abassides bestowed a still more powerful patronage on 
letters. The celebrated Haroun al Raschid (786-809) acquired 
a glorious reputation by the protection he afforded to letters. 
He never undertook a journey without carrying with him at 
least a hundred men of science in his train, and he never built a 
mosque without attaching to it a school. 

But the true protector and father of Arabic literature was 
Al Mamoun, the son of Haroun al Raschid (813-833), who ren- 
dered Bagdad the centre of literature. He invited to his court 
from every part of the world all the learned men-with whose 
existence: he was acquainted, and he retained them by rewards, 
















& 


ARABIAN LITERATURE, 191 


nonors and distinctions of every kind. He exacted, as the most 
precious tribute from the conquered provinces, all the important 
books and literary relics that could be discovered. Hundreds 
of camels might be seen entering Bagdad, loaded with nothing 
but manuscripts and papers, and those most proper for instruc- 
tion were translated into Arabic. Instructors, translators and 
commentators formed the court of Al Mamoun, which appeared 
to be rather a learned academy, than the seat of government in 
@ warlike empire. The Caliph himself was much attached to the 
study of mathematics, which he pursued with brilliant success. 
He conceived the grand design of measuring the earth, which 
was accomplished by his mathematicians, at his own expense. 
Not less generous than enlightened, Al Mamoun, when he par- 
doned one of his relatives who had revolted against him, ex- 
claimed, “‘ If it were known what pleasure I experience in grant- 
ing pardon, all who have offended against me would come and 
confess their crimes.” 

The progress of the Arabians in science was proportioned te 
the zeal of the sovereign. In every town of the empire schools, 
colleges and academies were established. Bagdad was the 
capital of letters as well as of the Caliphs, but Bassora and Cufa 
almost equalled that city in reputation, and in the number of 
celebrated poems and treatises that they produced. Balkh, 
Ispahan and Samarcand were equally the homes of science. 
Cairo contained a great number of colleges ; in the towns of 
Fez and Morocco the most magnificent buildings were appro- 
priated to the purposes of instruction, and in their rich libraries 
were preserved those precious volumes, which had been lost in 
other places. 

What Bagdad was to Asia, Cordova was to Europe, where, 
particularly in the 10th and 11th centuries, the Arabs were 
the pillars of literature. At this period, when learning found 
scarcely anywhere either rest or encouragement, the Arabians 
were employed in collecting and diffusing it in the three great 
divisions of the world. Students travelled from France and 
other European countries to the Arabian schools in Spain, par- 
ticularly ‘o learn medicine and mathematics. Besides the 
avad2my at Cordova, there were established fourteen others in 
different parts of Spain, exclusive of the higher schools. The 
Arabians made the most rapid advancement in all the depart- 
ments of learning, especially in arithmetic, geometry and astrono- 
way. In the various cities of Spain, seventy libraries were 
nee fur public instruction at the period when all the rest of 
urope, without books, without learning, without cultivation 


“ 7. 
oe, 
° , p “ -7P 


192 ARABIAN LITERATURR. 


was plunged in the most disgraceful ignorance. The number of 
Arabic authors which Spain produced was so prodigious, that 
many Arabian bibliographers wrote learned treatises on the au 
thors born in particular towns, or on those among the Spaniards 
who devoted themselves to a single branch of study, as.philoso- 
phy, medicine, mathematics or poetry. Thus, throughout the vast 
extent of the Arabian empire, the progress of letters had fol- 
lowed that of arms, and for five centuries this literature pre- 
served all its brilliancy. 


5. GRAMMAR AND Ruetoric.—The perfection of the language 
was one of the first objects of the Arabian scholars, and from 
the rival schools of Cufa and Bassora, a number of distinguished 
men proceeded, who analyzed with the greatest subtlety all its 
rules and aided in perfecting it. As early as in the age of Ali, 
the fourth Caliph, Arabian literature boasted of a number 
of scientific grammarians. Prosody and the metric art were 
reduced to systems. Dictionaries of the language were com- ~ 
posed, some of which are highly esteemed at the present day. 
Among these, may be mentioned the “‘ Al Sehah,” or Purity, 
and ‘‘ Hl Kamus,” or the Ocean, which is considered the best dic- 
tionary of the Arabian language. The study of rhetoric was 
united to that of grammar, and the most celebrated works of 
the Greeks on this art were translated and adapted to the 
Arabic. After the age of Mohammed and his immediate suc 
cessors, popular eloquence was no longer cultivated. Hastern 
despotism having supplanted the liberty of the desert, the heads 
of the state or army regarded it beneath them to harangue the 
people or the soldiers ; they called upon them only for obedience, 
But though political eloquence was of short duration among the 
Arabians, on the other hand they were the inventors of that 
species of rhetoric most cultivated at the present day, that of 
the academy and the pulpit. Their philosophers in these 
learned assemblies displayed all the measured harmony of which 
their language was susceptible. Mohammed had ordained that 
his faith should be preached in the mosques ;—-~- many of the 
harangues of these sacred orators are still preserved in the 
Kscurial, and the style of them is very similar to that of the 
Christian orators. 


6. Porrry.—Poetry still more than eloquence was the favor 
ite occupation of the Arabians from their origin as a nation 
It is said that this people alone have produced more poets than 

 athers united. Mohammed himself, as well as some of his 





ARABIAN LITERATURE. 195 


first companions, cultivated this art, but it was under Haroun 
al Raschid and his successor, Al Mamoun, and more especially 
under the Ommyiades of Spain that Arabic poetry attained its 
highest splendor. But the ancient impetuosity of expression, 
the passionate feeling, and the spirit of individual independence 
no longer characterized the productions of this period, nor is 
there among the numerous constellations of Arabic poets any 
star of distinguished magnitude. With the exception of Mo- 
hammed and a few of the Saracen conquerors and sovereigns, 
there is scarcely an individual of this nation whose name is 
familiar to the nations of Christendom. 

The Arabians possess many heroic poems composed for the 
purpose of celebrating the praises of distinguished men, and of 
animating the courage of their soldiers. ‘They do not, however, 
boast of any epics ; their poetry is entirely lyric and didactic. 
They have been inexhaustible in their love poems, their elegies, 
their moral verses—among which their fables may be reckoned— 
their eulogistic, satirical, descriptive, and above all, their didactic 
poems, which have graced even the most abstruse science as 
grammar, rhetoric and arithmetic. But among all their poems, 
the catalogue alone of which, in the Hscurial, consists of twenty- 
four volumes, there is not a single epic, comedy or tragedy. 

In those branches of poetry which they cultivated they dis- 
played surprising subtlety and great refinement of thought, but 
the fame of their compositions rests, in some degree, on their 
bold metaphors, their extravagant allegories, and their excessive 
hyperboles. The Arabs despised the poetry of the Greeks, 
which appeared to them timid, cold and constrained, and among 
all the books which, with almost superstitious veneration, they 
borrowed from them, there is scarcely a single poem which 
they judged worthy of translation. The object of the Arabian 
poets was to make a brilliant use of the boldest and most 
gigantic images, and to astonish the reader by the abruptness 
of their expressions. ‘They burdened their compositions with 
riches, under the idea that nothing which was beautiful could 
be superfluous. They neglected natural sentiment, and the. 
more they could multiply the ornaments of art, the more 
admirable in their eyes did the work appear. 

The nations who possessed a classical poetry, in imitating na- 
ture, had discovered the use of the epic and the drama, in which 
the poet endeavors to express the true language of the human 
heart. The people of the East, with the exception of the Hin- 
dus, never made this attempt—their poetry is entirely lyric; but 
under whatever name it may be known, it is always found to be 


194 ARABIAN LITERATURE. 


the language of the passions. The poetry of the Arabians is 
rhymed like our own, and the rhyming is often carried still fur 
ther in the construction of the verse, while the uniformity of 
sound is frequently echoed throughout the whole expression. 
The collection made by Aboul Teman (fl. 845 a.p.) containing the 
Arabian poems of the age anterior to Mohammed, and that of 
Taoleti, which embraces the poems of the subsequent periods, are 
considered the richest and most complete anthologies of Ara 
bian poetry. 


7. Tue Arapian TatEs.—If the Arabs have neither the epie 
nor the drama, they have been, on the other hand, the inventors 
of a style of composition which is related to the epic, and which 
supplies among them the place of the drama. We owe to them 
those tales, the conception of which is so brilliant and the imagin- 
ation so rich and varied : tales which have been the delight of — 
our infancy, and which at a more advanced age we can never 
read without feeling their enchantment anew. Every one is 
acquainted with the “ Arabian Nights’ Entertainments;” but in 
our translation we possess but a very small part of the Arabian 
- collection, which is not confined merely to books, but forms the 
treasure of a numerous class of men and women, who, through- 
out the Kast, find a livelihood in reciting these tales to 
crowds, who delight to forget the present, in the pleasing 
dreams of imagination. In the coffee-houses of the Levant, one 
of these men will gather a silent crowd around him, and picture 
to his audience those brilliant and fantastic visions, which are the — 
patrimony of eastern imaginations The public squares abound 
with men of this class, and their recitations supply the place of 
our dramatic representations. The physicians frequently recom- 
mend them to their patients in order to soothe pain, to calm 
agitation, or to produce sleep; and these story-tellers, accus- 
tomed to sickness, modulate their voices, soften their tones, and 
gently suspend them as sleep steals over the sufferer. 

The imagination of the Arabs in these tales is easily distin- 

uished from that of the chivalric nations. The supernatural 
world is the same in both, but the moral world is different. 
The Arabian tales, like the romances of chivalry, convey 
us to the fairy realms, but the human personages which 
they introduce are very dissimilar. They had their birth 
after the Arabians had devoted themselves to commerce, 
literature and the arts, and we recognize in them the 
style of a mercantile people, as we do that of a warlike nation 
in the romances of chivalry. Valor and military achievements 


——-. i 
i . 





E 


ARABIAN LITERATURE, 195 


here insnire terror but no enthusiasm, and on tnis account the 
Arabian tales are often less noble and heroic than we usually 
expect in compositions of this nature. But on the other hand, the 
Arabians are our masters in the art of producing and sustaining 
this kind of fiction. They are the creators of that brilliant 
mythology of fairies and genii which extends the bounds of the 
world, and carries us into the realms of marvels and prodigies. 
It is from them that European nations have derived that intoxi- 
cation of love, that tenderness and delicacy of sentiment, and 
that reverential awe of women, by turns slaves and divinities, 
which have operated so powerfully on their chivalrous feelings. 
We trace their effects in all the literature of the south, which 
owes to this cause its mental character. Many of these tales had 
séparately found their way into the poetic literature of Europe, 
long before the translation of the Arabian Nights. Some are 
to be met with in the old fabhauz, in Boccaccio and in Ariosto, 
and these very tales which have charmed our infancy, passing 
from nation to nation through channels frequently unknown, are 
now familiar to the memory and form the delight of the imagin- 
ation of half the inhabitants of the globe. i 

The author of the original Arabic work is unknown, as is 
also the period at which it was composed. It was first intro- 


duced into Europe from Syria, where it was obtained, in the lat- 


ter part of the 17th century, by Galland, a French traveller, who 
was sent to the East by the celebrated Colbert, to collect manu- 
scripts, and by him first translated and published. 


8. History anp Scrence.—<As early as the 8th century a.p., 
history became an important department in Arabian literature. 
Atlater periods, historians who wrote on all subjects were nu- 
merous. Several authors wrote universal history from the begin- 
ning of the world to their own time ; every state, province, and 
city possessed its individual chronicle. Many, in imitation of 
Plutarch, wrote the lives of distinguished men ; and there wus 
such a passion for every species of composition, and such a desire 
to leave no subject untouched, that there was a serious history 
written of celebrated horses, and another of camels that had 
risen to distinction. They possessed historical dictionaries, and 
made use of all those inventions which curtail labor, and dispense 
with the necessity of research. Every art and science had its 
history, and of these tis nation possessed a more complete col- 
lection than any other, either ancient or modern. The style 
yf the Arabian historians is simple and unadorned. 

Philosophy was passionately cultivated by the Ara*ians, anc 


196 ARABIAN LITERATURE. 


npon it was founded the fame of many ingenious and sagaciony 
men, whose names are still revered in Hurope. Among them, were 
Averrhoes of Cordova (d. 1198), the great commentator on the 
works of Aristotle, and Avicenna (d. 1037), a profound philo 
sopher as well as a celebrated writer on medicine. Arabian 
philosyphy penetrated rapidly into the West, and had greater 
influcace on the schools of Europe than any branch of Arabic 
literature ; and yet it was the one in which the progress was, in 
fact, the least real, The Arabians, more ingenious than pro- 
found, attached themselves rather to the subtleties than to the 
connection of ideas ; their object was more to dazzle than to in- 
struct, and they exhausted their imaginations in search of mys- 
teries. Aristotle was worshipped by them, as a sort of divinity 
In their opinion all philosophy was to be found in his writings, 
and they explained every metaphysical question according to the 
scholastic standard. 

The interpretation of the Koran formed another important 
part of. their speculative studies, and their literature abounds 
with exegetic works on their sacred book, as well as with com- 
mentaries on Mohammedan law. ‘The learned Arabians did 
not confine themselves to the studies which they could only pro- 
secute in their closets ; they undertook, for the advancement of 
science, the most perilous journeys, and we owe to Aboul Feda . 
(1273-1331) and other Arabian travellers the best works on 
geography written in the middle ages. 

The natural sciences were cultivated by them with great ardor, 
and many naturalists among them merit the gratitude of poste- 
rity. Botany and chemistry, of which they were in some sort 
the inventors, gave them a better acquaintance with nature than 
the Greeks or Romans ever possessed, and the latter science was 
applied by them to all the necessary arts of life. Above all, agri- 
culture was studied by them with a perfect knowledge of the 
climate, soil and growth of plants. From the 8th to the 11th 
century, they established medical schools in the principal cities 
of their dominions, and published valuable works on medica? 
science. They introduced more simple principles into mathe- 
matics, and extended the use and application of that seience, They 
added to arithmetic the decimal system, and the Arabic numerals, 
which, however, are of Hindu origin; they simplified the 
trigonometry of the Greeks, and gave algebra more useful and 
general applications. Bagdad and Cordova had celebrated 
schools of astronomy and observatories, and their astronomers 
made important discoveries ; a great number of scientific words 
ire evidently Arabic, such as algebra, alcohol, zenith, nadir, ete. 





ARABIAN LITERATURE. 19% 


; inti many of the inventions, which at the present day add to the 
_ evomforts of life, are due to the Arabians, Paper, now so neces: 


sary to the progress of intellect, was brought by them from 
Asia. In China, from all antiquity, it had been manufactured 
from silk, but about the year 30 of the Hegira (649 a.p.) the 
manufacture of it was introduced at Samarcand, and when that 
city was conquered by the Arabians, they first employed cotton 
in the place of silk, and the invention spread with rapidity 
throughout their dominions. The Spaniards, in fabricating paper, 
substituted flax for cotton, which was more scarce and dear; but 
it was not till the end of the 13th century, that paper mills 
were established in the Christian states of Spain, from whence 
the imvention passed, in the 14th century only, to Treviso 
and Padua. Tournaments were first instituted among the Ara- 
bians, from whom they were introduced into Italy and France. 
Gunpowder, the discovery of which is generally attributed to a 
German chemist, was known to the Arabians at least a century 
before any trace ‘of it appeared in European history. The com- 
pass, also, the invention of which has been given alternately to 
the Italians and French in the 13th century, was known to the 
Arabians in the 11th. The number of Arabic inventions, of 
which we enjoy the benefit without suspecting it, is prodigious. 

Such, then, was the brilliant light which literature and science 
displayed from the 9th to the 14th century of our era in those 
vast countries which had submitted to the yoke of Islamism. In 
this immense extent of territory, twice or thrice as large as 
Europe, nothing is now found but ignorance, slavery, terror and 
death. Few men are there capable of reading the works of their 
illustrious ancestors, and of the few who could comprehend them, 
none are able to procure them. ‘The prodigious literary riches 
of the Arabians no longer exist in any of the countries where 
the Arabians or Mussulmans rule. It is not there that we must 
seek for the fame of their great men or for their writings. What 
has been preserved is in the hands of their enemies, in the con 
vents of the monks, or in the royal libraries of Europe. 


ITALIAN LITERATURE. 


IstropvcTion.—1. Italian Literature and its Divisions.—2. The Language. 

Prertop First.—1. Early Poetry and Prose.—2. Dante; the Divine Comedy. -8. Pe 
trarch.—4. Boccaccio and other prose writers; Villani, Sacchetti—5. The first declina 
of Italian Literature; the fifteenth Century. 

Prerrop Szeconp.—1. The close of the fifteenth Century ; Lorenzo de’ Medici—2. The 
origin of the Drama and Romantic Epic; Poliziano, Pulci, Boiardo.—3. Romantic Epic 
Poetry; Ariosto.—4. Heroic Epic Poetry; Tasso.—5. Lyric Poetry; Bembo, Molza, 
Tarsia, V. Colonua.—6. Dramatic Poetry; Trissino, Rucellai, the writers of Comedy. 
—T. Pastoral Drama and Didactic Poetry; Beccari, Sannazzaro, Tasso, Guarini, 
Rucellai, Alamanni.—8. Satirical Poetry, Novels and Tales; Berni, Grazzini, Firenzu- 
ola, Bandello, and others.—9, History ; Machiavelli, Guicciardini, Nardi, and others. 
—10. Grammar and Rhetoric ; the Academy della Orusca, Della Casa, Speroni, and 
others.—l1. Science, Philosophy and Politics; the Academy del Cimento, Galileo, 
Torricelli, Borelli, Patriz:, Telesio, Campanella, Bruno, Castiglione, Machiavelli, and 
others.x—12. Decline of the Literature in the seventeenth Century.—13. Epic and Lyric 
Poetry ; Marini, Filicaja.—1l4. Mock Heroic Poetry, the Drama and Satire; Tassoni, _ 
Bracciolini, Andreini, and others.—15. History and epistolary writings ; Davila, Benti- 
voglio, Sarpi, Redi. 

Periop Tu1rpd.—1. Historical Development of the Third Period.—2. The Melodrama; 
Rinuccini, Zeno, Metastasio.—3, Comedy; Goldoni, C, Gozzi, and others.—4. Tragedy ; 
Maffei, Alfieri, Monti, Manzoni, Nicolini, and others.—5. Lyric, Epic, and Didactic 
Poetry ; Parini, Monti, Ugo Foscolo, Leopardi, Grossi, Lorenzi, and others.—6, Heroie- 
Comic Poetry, Satire, and Fable; Fortiguerri, Passeroni, G@. Gozzi, Parini, Giusti, 
and others.—7. Romances ; Verri, Manzoni, D’Azeglio, Cantu, Guerrazzi, and others,— 
8. History; Muratori, Vico, Giannone, Botta, Colletta, Tiraboschi, and others,— 
9. Aisthetics, Criticism, Philology, and Philosophy; Baretti, Parini, Giordani, Gioja, 
Romagnosi, Galluppi, Rosmini, Gioberti, 


INTRODUCTION, 


1. Iranian LireraturE and its Drvistons.—The fall of the 
Western Empire, the invasions of the northern tribes, and the 
subsequent wars and calamities, did not entirely extinguish the 
fire of genius in Italy. As we have seen, the Crusades had 
opened the East and revealed to Europe its literary and artistic 
treasures ; the Arabs had: established a celebrated school of 
medicine in Salerno, and had made known the ancient classies ; 
a school of jurisprudence was opened in Bologna, where Roman 
law was expounded by eminent lecturers ; and the spirit of 
thivalry, while it softened and refined human character, awoke 


the desire of distinction in arms and poetry. The origin of the 
198 








es a oe =e. 





iTALIAN LITERATURE. 199 


Italian republics, giving scope to individual agency, marked 
another era in civilization ; while the appearance of the Italian 
language Guickened the national mind and led to a new literature. 
The spirit of freedom, awakened as early as the 11th century, 
received new life in the 12th, when the Lombard cities, becoming 
independent, formed a powerful league against Frederick Barba- 
rossa. ‘The instinct of self-defence thus developed increased 
the necessity of education. Meanwhile, a kingdom was formed in 


‘Sicily, where, at the court of Frederick II., the new language re- 


ceived its first impulse to refinement, and poetry was first culti- 
vated. In the 13th and 14th centuries, Italian literature 
acquired its national character and rose to its highest splendor, 
through the writings of Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio, whose 
inflnence has been more or less felt in succeeding centuries, 
Dante, above all, has been the ruling spirit of Italian literature, 


which has risen or declined, as the inspirations of this great 


genius have been more or less regarded. 

The literary history of Italy may be divided into three peri- 
ods, each of which presents two distinct phases, one of progress 
and one of decline. The first period, extending from 1100 to 
1475, embraces the origin. of the literature, its development 
through the works of Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio in the 13th 
and 14th centuries, and its first decline in the 15th, when it was 
supplanted by the absorbing study of the Greek and Latin classics. 

The second period, commencing 1475, embraces the age of 
Lorenzo de’ Mediciand Leo X., when literature began to revive ; 
the: age of Ariosto, Tasso, Machiavelli and Galileo, when it 
reached its meridian splendor ; its subsequent decline, through 
the school of Marini ; and its last revival towards the close of 


the 17th century. 


The third period, extending from the close of the 17th cen- 
tury to the present time, includes the development of Italian 
literature, its decline under French infiuence, and its subsequent 


_ national tendency, through the writings of Metastasio, Goldoni, 


Alfieri, Parini, Monti, Manzoni and Leopardi. 


2. Tue Lanevace.—The ancient popular dialects of Italy 
Cuming in contact with the Latin, or rather with the language 
spoken by the Roman people, called Lingua Romana, and at a 
later period with the idioms of the people who successively in- 
vaded the country, were moulded in new forms and organized inta 
new languages. One of these dialects, which had preserved 
much of the primitive Roman structure, was spoken as early as 
the 13th century at the court of Freder‘ck JI. at Palermo, 


1 
( 


200 ; ITALIAN LITERATURE, 


where it began to be used by the primitive bards of Italy. 
From that court it received a more elegant form, and those 
laws of grammar which, originally founded upon custom, early 
obtained the ascendency over it. Soon after, it came into 


general use in Tuscany ; and previous to the close of the 13th — 


century it had received great stability from several writers in 
verse and in prose, until with Dante it was carried to a degree 
of perfection which it has ever since maintained. Of all modern 
languages, the Italian possesses the greatest flexibility. By its 
copiousness, its freedom-of arrangement and construction, and 
the great beauty and harmony of its sounds, it happily adapts 
itself to almost all subjects, either in prose or in poetry ; and it 
is perhaps the most perfect of all the modern dialects which 
have arisen out of the ruins of the ancient. 

The Italian, together with the French and Spanish languages, 
are called by the general appellation of Romanic, or Romance 
tongues, to distinguish them as those transmitted by the Roman 
empire, from the dialects of the northern invaders. According 
to the opinion of some modern scholars, the Romance idioms were 
not of Roman origin, but originated at a period far beyond the 
historic age, and were derived from a now unknown language 
belonging to the Indo-European family, which in various dialects 
prevailed in Italy, Gaul and Spain. 


PERIOD FIRST. 


Tue Rise or Itarian Literature AND ITs First Deciine 
(1200-1475). 


1. Harty Porrry anp Prosr or Iraty.—In the beginning 
of the 13th century, the poetical genius of the Italians wag 


awakened by the Provengal muse at the courts of Frederick II. - 


and of Charles of Anjou. From that time, there were many 


Italian bards who sang in the Provencal language and took a | 


high rank among the troubadours Soon after in the same cen- 
tury, at first in Sicily, then in Tuscany and elsewhere, a multi- 
tude of poets arose who composed their verses in the Italian 
language, while they borrowed the forms and thé structure of 
their verse from the troubadours. Frederick himself, his sons 
Manfredi and Enzio and Pier delle Vigne, his chancellor (fl. 1235), 
amused themselves in writing and singing Italian love stanzas ; 
and their example was followed by many bards of that age, 
With all these poets love was the subject of their song ; not the 
love that nature inspires, but such as the false and affected taste 








ITALIAN LITERATURE. 201 


of the times demanded. The chief merit of these bards was that 

they abandoned the degenerate Latin to the schools and monas- 

teries, and consecrated by their poetry the vernacular tongue, 

which had before served only for the common intercourse of the 
eople. 

B From the favor with which story-tellers were received in the 

courts and castles of the princes and lords of Italy, prose writing 


~ was early cultivated, especially in Tuscany, where it flourished 


before the 14th century. Of these stories, the ‘‘ Novellino” is 
one of the best collections. It consists of one hundred tales, 
full of life and simplicity, some of which belong to the age 
of Frederick II. ‘The first literary work, however, of any con- 
siderable length, is the ‘‘ History of Florence,” by Malaspini 
(d. 1281), written without method and unadorned in style 
This history was continued by a nephew of Malaspini, and after 
wards brought down by Dino Compagni to 1312. The great 
events which occurred in the country at that period, in which 
the author took an active part, his perfect knowledge of his 
subject, his political wisdom and his patriotism, have all con- 
tributed to give to him a high place among the historians of 
Italy. His style is forcible, and his work interesting, both in 
a historical and artistic point of view. 


2. Dante.—No poet had yet arisen gifted with absolute 
power over the empire of the soul; no philosopher had pierced 
into the depths of feeling and of thought, when Dante, the 
greatest name of Italy and the father of Italian literature, 
appeared in the might of his genius, and availing himself of the 
rude and imperfect materials within his reach, constructed his 
magnificent work. Dante was born at Florence in 1265, of the 
noble family of Alighieri, which was attached to the papai, or 
Guelph party, in opposition to the imperial, or Ghibelline. He 
was but a child when death deprived him of his father ; but his 
mother took the greatest pains with his education, placing hin 
under the tuition of Brunetto Latini, and other masters of emi 
nence. He early made great progress, not only in an acquaint 
ance with classical literature and politics, but in music, drawing, 
horsemanship and other accomplishments suitable to his statiun. 
As he grew up, he pursued his studies in the universities of 
Padua, Bologna and Paris; he became an accomplished seno 
lar, and at the same time appeared in public as a gallant and 
high-bred man of the world. At the age of twenty-five, he took 
arms on the side of the Florentine Guelphs, and distinguished 
himself in two battles against the Ghibellines of Arezzo aud 

‘ Q 


» So ae ; 
. o 
4 - 7 = . 


202 ITALIAN LITERATURE. 


Pisa. But before Dante was either a student or a soldier, he 
had become a lover ; and this character, above all others, was 
impressed upon him for life. Ata May-day festival, when only 
nine years of age, he had singled out a girl of his own age, by the 
name of Bice, or Beatrice, who thenceforward became the object 
of his constant and passionate affection. His attachment was 
of a singularly pure and romantic character, and the lady reci- 
procated it with corresponding tenderness and delicacy ; but 
before his twenty-fifth year she was separated from him by 
death. His passion, he informs us, was not extinguished but 
refined by this event ; not buried with her body but translated 
with her soul, which was its object. On the other hand, the 
affection of Beatrice for the poet troubled her spirit amid the 
bliss of Paradise, and the visions of the eternal world with which 
he was favored were a device of hers for reclaiming him from 
sin, and preparing him for everlasting companionship with herself. 
He subsequently married a lady belonging to one of the most 
powerful and turbulent families in Tuscany, Madonna Gemma, 
by whom he had five sons and a daughter, whom he called 
Beatrice. 

At the age of thirty-five he was elected prior, or supreme 
magistrate of Florence, an honor from which he dates all his sub- 
sequent misfortunes. During his priorship, the citizens were di- 
vided into two factions called the Neri and Bianchi, as bitterly 
opposed to each other as both had been to the Ghibellines. In 
the absence of. Dante on an embassy to Kome, a pretext was 
found by the Neri, his opponents, for exciting the populace 
against him. His dwelling was demolished, his ‘property confis- 
cated, himself and his friends condemned to perpetual exile, with 
the provision that, if taken, they should be burned alive. ‘After 
a fruitless attempt, by himself and his party, to surprise Florence, 
he quitted his companions in disgust, and passed the remainder 
of his life in wandering from one court of Italy to another, eat- 
ing the bitter bread of dependence, which was granted him often 
as analms. The greater part of his poem was composed during 
this period; but it appears that till the end of his fife he con 
tinued to retouch the work. 

The last and most generous patron of Dante was Guido di 
Polenta, lord of Ravenna, and father of Francesca da Rimini, 
whose fatal love has been the theme of poets and painters. 
Polenta treated him, not as a dependant but as an honored guest, 
and in a dispute with the Republic of Venice he employed the 
poet as his ambassador, to effect a reconciliation; but he waa 
refused even an audience, and, returning disappointed and broken: 





IFALIAN LITERATURE, 202 


hearted to Ravenna, he died soon after at the age of fifty-six 
(1321) having been in exile nineteen years. 

His fcllow-citizens, who had closed their hearts and their gates 
against him while living, now deeply bewailed his death; and, 
during the two succeeding centuries, embassy after embassy was 
vainly sent from Florence to recover his honored remains. 
Not long after his death, when the municipality of Florence was 
entirely in the hands of his enemies, those who had oxiled him 
and confiscated his property, provided that his poem should be 
read and expounded to the people in a church. Boccaccio was 
appointed to this professorship. Before the end of the 16th cen- 
tury, the “‘ Divine Comedy” had gone through sixty editions. 

The Divine Comedy is one of the greatest monuments of 
human genius. It is an allegory conceived in the form of a 
vision, which was the most popular style of poetry at that age. 
At the close of the century, in the year 1300, Dante supposes 
himself to be wandering in the deserts near Jerusalem, and to be 
favored with the means of access to the realms of shadows. He 
is there met by Virgil, who takes upon himself the office of guide. 
By the decree of the Most High, they are enabled to pass the 
gates of hell, and to penetrate into the dismal region beyond. 
This, as represented by Dante, consists of nine circles, forming 
an inverted cone, of the size of the earth, each succeeding circle 
being lower and narrower than the former, while Lucifer is . 
chained in the centre and at the bottom of the dreadful crater 
Each circle contains various cavities, where the punishments vary 
in proportion to the guilt, and the suffering increases in intensity 
as the circles descend and contract. In the first circle were 
neither cries nor tears, but the eternal sighs of those who, having 
never reccived Christian baptism, were, according to the poet’s 
ereed, forever excluded from the abodes of bliss. In the next 
circle, appropriated to those whose souls had been lost by the in- 
dulgence of guilty love, the poet recognizes the unhappy Fran- 
cesca da Rimini, whose history forms one of the most beautiful 
episodes of the poem. ‘The third circle includes gluttons; the 
fourth misers and spendthrifts; each succeeding circle embracing 
what the poet deems a deeper shade of guilt, and inflicting ap- 
propriate punishment. The Christian and heathen systems of 
theology are here freely interwoven. We have Minos visiting 
the Stygian Lake, where heretics are burning; we meet Cerberus 
and the harpies, and we accompany the poet across several of the 
fabulous rivers of Erebus. A fearful scene appears in the deepest 
eircle of the infernal abodes. Here, among those who have 
hetrayed their country, and are entombed in eternal ice, is Count 


204 ITALIAN LITERATURE. 


Ugolina, who, by a series of treasons, had made himself master 
of Pisa. He is gnawing with savage ferocity the skull of the 
archbishop of that state, who had condemned him and his 
children to die by starvation, The arch-traitor, Satan, stands 
fixed in the centre of hell and of the earth. All the streams 
of guilt keep flowing back to him as their source, and from he- 
neath his threefold visage issue six gigantic wings with whick 
he vainly struggles to raise himself, and thus produces winds 
which freeze him more firmly in the marsh. 

After leaving the infernal regions, and entering purgatory, 
they find an immense cone divided into seven circles, each 
of which is devoted to the expiation of one of the seven mortal 
sins. The proud are overwhelmed with enormous weights ; the 
envious are clothed in garments of horse-hair, their eye-lids 
closed ; the choleric are suffocated with smoke; the indolent are 
compelled to run about continually; the avaricious are prostrated 
upon the earth; epicures are afflicted with hunger and thirst; and 
the incontinent expiate their crimes in fire. In this portion of 
the work, however, while there is much to admire, there is less 
to excite and sustain the interest. On the summit of the purga- 
torial mountain is the terrestrial paradise, whence is the only 
ascent to the celestial. Beatrice, the object of his early and con- 
stant affection, descends hither to meet the poet. Virgil disap- 
pears, and she becomes his only guide. She conducts him 
through the nine heavens, and makes him acquainted with the 
great men who, by their virtuous lives, have deserved the highest 
enjoyments of eternity. In the ninth celestial sphere, Dante is 
favored with a manifestation of divinity, veiled, however, by 
three hierarchies of attending angels. He sees the Virgin Mary, 
and the saints of the Old and New Testament, and by these per- . 
sonages, and by Beatrice, all his doubts and difficulties are finally 
solved, and the conclusion leaves him absorbed in the beatific 
vision, 

The power of the human mind was never more forcibly demon- 
strated, in its most exquisite masterpieces, than in the poem of 
Dante. Without a prototype in any existing language, equally 
novel in all its various parts, and in the combination of the whole, 
it stands alone as the first monument of modern genius, the first 
_ great work which appeared in the reviving literature of Europe. 
It possesses unity of design and execution, and bears the visible 
impression of a mighty genius, capable of embracing at once the 
parts and the whole of its scheme; of employing with facility the 
most stupendous materials, and of observing all the required nice 
ties of proportion. But this poem cannot with propriety be re 





ITALIAN LITERATURE, 205 


ferred to any particular class of composition, and its author is only 
fo be judged by the rules he thought fit to impose upon himself. 
In his powerful hands the Italian language of the 13th century 
displays a richness of expression, a purity, and an elegance, which 
Le was the first to elicit, and by which it has ever since been dis- 
tinguished. The personages whom he mentions are moving and 
- breathing beings ; his pictures are nature itself; his language 
speaks at once to the imagination and the judgment, and it would 
be difficult to point out a passage in his poem which would not 
form a subject for the pencil. While the faults of Dante belong 
to the age in which he lived, his manifold excellences are due to 
his transcendent genius alone. 

The measure in which the poem is written, called the Terza Rama, 
consists of three lines so arranged that the first and third rhyme 
together, the middle one with the first and third of the succeed- 
ing triplet. Hach line consists of eleven syllables, with deter- 
mined accents, the only measure used in the epic poetry and in 
the sonnets of Italy. The whole work includes 100 cantos. 

The modesty of the poet induced him to give his poem the 
title of a comedy, in order to place it in a rank inferior to the 
epic, and to indicate that it was written ina language which had 
not yet been used in the treatment of lofty subjects. ‘To this, 
the epithet Dive was added by his countrymen, a title hap- 
pily bestowed upon a production which stands withovt a rival. 
Besides this great poem, Dante wrote the ‘‘ New Life,” a compo- 
sition partly in prose and partly in verse, in which he relates the 
history of his love ; the ‘‘ Rhymes,” or sonnets and odes ; the 
“ Banquet,” a work full of philosophy and patriotism ; and trea- 
tises in Latin, on ‘‘ Monarchy,” and ‘‘ Vulgar Eloquence.” 


3. Prerrarcu.—Petrarch (1304-1374) belonged to a Floren- 
tine family respected for their moral worth. His father was the per- 
sonal friend of Dante, and a partaker of the same exile. While 
at Avignon, then the seat of the papal court, on one occasion 
he made an excursion to the fountain of Vaucluse, taking with 
him his son, the future poet, then in the tenth year of his age. 
The wild and solitary aspect of the place inspired the boy with 
an enthusiasm beyond his years, leaving an impression which was 
never afterwards effaced, and which affected his future life and 
writings. As Petrarch grew up, unlike the haughty, taciturn, 
- and sarcastic Dante, he seems to have made friends wherever he 
went. With splendid talents, engaging manners, a handsome 

rson, and an affectionate and generous disposition, he became 
the darling of his age, a man whom princes delighted to honor 


206 ITALIAN 11TERATURE, 


At the age of twenty-three, he first met Laura de Sade in s 
church at Avignon. She was only twenty years of age, and had 
been for three years the wife of a patrician of tuat city. Laura 
was not more distinguished for her beauty and fortune, than for 
the unsullied purity of her manners in a licentious court, where 
she was one of the chief ornaments. The sight of her beauty 
inspired the young poet with an affection which was as pure 
and virtuous as it was tender and passionate. He poured 
forth in song the fervor of his love and the bitterness of 
his grief. Upwards of three hundred sonnets, written at 
various times, commemorate all the little circumstances of 
this attachment, and describe the favors which, during an ac« 
quaintance of fifteen or twenty years, never exceeded a kind 
word, a look less severe than usual, or a passing expression of 
regret at parting. He was not permitted to visit at Laura’s 
house ; he had no opportunity of seeing her except at mass, at 
the brilliant levees of the pope, or in private assemblies of beauty 
and fashion; but she forever remained the dominant object of his 
existence. He purchased a house at Vaucluse, and there, shut 
in by lofty and craggy heights, the river Sorgue traversing the 
valley on one side, amidst hills clothed with umbrageous trees, 
cheered only by the song of birds, the poet passed his lonely 
days. Again and again he made tours through Italy, Spain, and 
Flanders, during one of which he was crowned with the poet’s 
laurel at Rome, but he always returned to Vaucluse, to Avig- 
non, to Laura. Thus years passed away. Laura became the 
mother of a numerous family, and time and care made havoc of 
her youthful beauty. Meanwhile, the sonnets of Petrarch had 
spread her fame throughout France and Italy, and attracted 
many to the court of Avignon, who were surprised and disap 

ointed at the sight of her whom they had believed to be the 
loveliest of mortals. In 1347, during the absence of the poet 
from Avignon, Laura fell a victim to the plague, just twenty- 
one years from the day that Petrarch first met her. Now all 
his love was deepened and consecrated, and the effusions of his 
poetic genius became more melancholy, more passionate and 
more beautiful than ever. He declined the offices and honors 
that his countrymen offered him, and passed his life in retire- 
ment. He was found one morning by his attendants dead in his 
library, his head resting on a book. 

The celebrity of Petrarch at the present day depends chiefly 
on his lyrical poems, which served as mudels to all the distin: 
guished poets of southern Europe. They are restricted to twa 
forms: the sonnet, borrowed from the Sicilians, and the canzone, 


ale 


ITALIAN LITERATURE, : 207 





from the Provengals. The subject of almost all these poems is 
the same—the hopeless affection of the poet for the high-minded 
Laura. This love was a kind of religious and enthusiastic pas- 
_ sion, such as mystics imagine they feel towards the Deity, or such 
as Plato believes to be the bond of union between elevated 
-tainds. There is no poet in any language more perfectly pure 
than Petrarch—more completely above all reproach of laxity or 
immorality. This merit, which is equally due tothe poet and to 
his Laura, is the more remarkable, considering the models which 
he followed and the court at which Laura lived. ‘The labor of 
Petrarch in polishing his poems did much towards perfecting 
the language, which through him became more elegant and 
more melodious ; he introduced into the lyric poetry of Italy 
the pathos and the touching sweetness of Ovid and Tibullus, 
as well as the simplicity of Anacreon. 

Petrarch attached little value to his Italian poems ; it was on 
his Latin works that he founded his hopes of renown. But his 
highest title to immortal fame is his prodigious labor to promote 
the study of ancient authors. Wherever he travelled, he sought 
with the utmost avidity for classic manuscripts, and it is difficult 
to estimate the effect produced by his enthusiasm. He corres- 
ponded with all the eminent literati of his day, and inspiredthem 
with his own tastes. Now for the first time there appeared a 
kind of literary republic in Europe united by the magic bond of 
Petrarch’s influence, and he was better known and exercised a 
more extensive and powerful influence than many of the sove- 
reigns of the day. He treated with various princes rather in the 
character of an arbitrator than an ambassador, and he not only 
directed the tastes of his own age, but he determined those of 
succeeding generations. 


4, Boccaccio anD orHER Prose Wrirers.—The 14th century 
forms a brilliant era in Italian literature, distinguished beyond 
any other period for the creative powers of genius which it ex- 
hibited. In this century, Dante gave to Europe his great epic 
poem, the lyric muse’ awoke at the call of Petrarch, while Boc- 
zaccio created a style of prose, harmonious, flexible and engag- 
ing, and alike suitable to the most elevated and to the most 
playful subjects. 

Boccaccio (1813-1375) was the sen of a Florentine merchant ; 
he early gave evidence of superior talents, and his father vainly 
attempted to educate him to follow his own profession. He 
resided at Naples, where he became acquainted with a lady 
velebrated in his writings under the name of Fiammetta, It wag 


208 ITALIAN LITERATURE, 


at her desire thav most of his early pieces were written, and the 
very exceptionable moral character which attaches to them 
must pe attributed, in part, to her depraved tastes. ‘The souree 
of Boccaccio’s highest reputation, and that which entitles him 
to rank as the third founder of the national literature, is his 
“Decameron,” a collection of tales written during the period 
when the plague desolated the south of Europe, with a view to 
amuse the ladies of the court during that dreadful visitation, 
The tales are united under the supposition of a party of ten who 
aad retired to one of the villas in the environs of Naples to 
strive, in the enjoyment of innocent amusement, to escape the 
danger of contagion. It was agreed that each person should 
tell a new story during the space of ten days, whence the title 
Decameron. ‘The description of the plague, in the intro- 
duction, is considered not only the finest piece of writing 
trom Boccaccio’s pen, but one of the best historical descriptions 
that have descended to us. The stories, a hundred in num- 
ber, are varied with considerable art, both in subject and 
in style, from the most pathetic and sportive to the most 
licentious. The great merit of Boccaccio’s composition consists 
in his easy elegance, his naiveté, and, above all, in the ,correct- 
ness of his language. 

The groundwork of the Decameron has been traced to an old 
Indian romance, which, after passing through all the languages 
of the East, was translated into Latin as early as the 12th cen- 
tury; the originals of several of thes? tales have been found in the 
ancient French Fabliauz, while others are believed to have been 
borrowed from popular recitation or from real occurrences. But 
if Boccaccio cannot boast of being the inventor of all, or even 
any of these tales, he is still the father of this class of modern 
Italian literature, since he was the first to transplant into the 
world of letters, what had hitherto been only the subject of 
social mirth. These tales have in their turn been repeated anew ~ 
m almost every language of Europe,.and have afforded reputa- 
tions to numerous imitators. One of the most beautiful and 
anexceptionable tales in the Decameron is that of Griselda, the 
fast in the collection. It is to be regretted that the author did 
not prescribe to himself the same purity in his images that he did 
in his phraseology. Many of these tales are not only immoral 
but grossly indecent, though but too faithful a representation of 
the manners of the age in which they were written, ‘The De 
zameron was published towards the middle of the 14th century, 
and, from the first discovery of printing, it was freely circulated 
in Italy, until the Council of Trent proscribed it in the middl¢ 





{TALIAN LITERATURE. 209 


of the 14th century. It was, however, again published in 1570, 
purified and abridged. 
Boccaccio is the author of two romances, one called “ Fiam- 


_ wnetta,” the other the “ Filocopo;” the former distinguished for 


the fervor of its expression, the latter for the variety of its ad- 
ventures and incidents. He wrote also two romantic poems, in 
which he first introduced the ottava rma, or the stanza composed 
of six lines, which rhyme interchangeably with each other, and 
are followed by a couplet. In these he strove to revive ancient 
mythology, and to identify it with modern literature. His Latin 
compositions are voluminous, and materially contributed to the 
advancement of letters. 

While Boccaccio labored so successfully to reduce the lan- 
guage to elegant and harmonious forms, he strove like Petrarch 
to excite his contemporaries to the study of the ancient classics. 
He induced the senate of Florence to establise a professorship 
of Greek, entered his name among the first of the students, 
and procured manuscripts at his own expense. Thus Hellenic 
literature was introduced into Tuscany, and thence into the rest 
of Europe. 

Boccaccio, late in life, assumed the ecclesiastical habit, and 
entered on the study of theology. When the Florentines 
founded a professorship for the reading and exposition of the 
Divine Comedy, Boccaccio was made the first incumbent. The 
result of his labors was a life of Dante, and a commentary on 
the first seventeen cantos of the Inferno. With the death of 
Petrarch, who had been his most intimate friend, his last tie to 
earth was loosed ; he died at Certaldo a few months later, in 
the sixty-third year of his age. His dwelling is still to be seen, 
situated on a hill, and looking down on the fertile and beautiful 
valley watered by the river Hlsa. 

_ Of the other prose writers of the 14th century the most re- 
markable are the three Florentine historians named Villani, the 
eldest of whom (1310-1348) wrote a history of Florence, which 
was continued afterwards by his brother and by his nephew; a 


- work highly esteemed for its historical interest, and for its purity 


of language and style; and Franco Sacchetti (1335-1400), who 
approaches the nearest to Boccaccio. His ‘‘ Novels and 'Tales” 
are valuable for the purity and eloquence of their style, and for 
the picture they afford of the manners of his age. 


5. Tue First Decune or Irauian Lireratore.—The pas 
sionate study of the ancients, of which Petrarch and Boccaccio 
bad given an example. suspended the progress of Italian litera 


a). oe ga 
% 
230 ITALIAN LITERATURE. (ee 


ture in the latter part of the 14th century, and through almost 
all the 15th. The attention of the literary men of this time was 
wholly engrossed by the study of the dead languages, and of 
manners, customs and religious systems equally extinct. ‘They 
present to our observation boundless erudition, a just spirit of 
criticism, and nice sensibility to the beauties and defects of the 
great authors of antiquity ; but we look in vain for that true 
eloquence, which is more the fruit of an intercourse with the 
world than of a knowledge of books. ‘They were still more un- 
sucerssful in poetry, in which their attempts, all in Latin, are 
few in number, and their verses harsh and heavy, without | 
originality or vigor. It was not until the period when Italian 
poetry began to be again cultivated, that Latin verse acquired 
any of the characteristics of genuine inspiration. 

But towards the close of the 15th century the dawn of a new 
literary era appeared, which soon shone with meridian light. At 
this time, the universities had become more and more the subjects 
of attention to the governments ; the appointment of eminent 
professors, and the privileges connected with these institutions, 
attracted to them large numbers of students, and the concourse 
was often so great that the lectures were delivered in the 
churches and in public squares. Those republics which still ex- 
isted, and the princes who had risen on the ruins of the more 
ephemeral ones, rivalled each other in their patronage of literary 
men : the popes, who in the preceding ages had denounced all 
secular learning, now became its munificent patrons ; and two 
of them, Nicholas V. and Pius II., were themselves scholars of 
high distinction. The Dukes of Milan, and the Marquises of 
Mantua and Ferrara, surrounded themselves in their capitals 
with men illustrious in science and letters, and seemed to vie 
with each other in the favors which they lavished upon them. 
In the hitherto free republic of Florence, which had given birth 
to Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio, literature found support in 
a family which, at no distant period, employed it to augment 
their power, and to rule the city with an almost despotic sway. 
The Medici had been long distinguished for the wealth they had 
acqcired by commercial enterprise, and for the high offices which 
they held in the republic. Cosmo de’ Medici had acquired a 
degree of power which shook the very foundations of the State. 
He was master of the moneyed credit of Europe, and almost 
tLe equal of the kings with whom he negotiated ; but in the 
midst of the projects of his ambition he opened his palace as an 
asylum to the scholars and ariists of the age, turned its gardens 
into an academy, and effected a revolution in philosophy by set 





ITALIAN LITERATURE. 211 


lung up the authority of Plato against that of Aristotle. His 
banks, which were scattered over Europe, were placed at the 
service of literature as well as commerce. His agents abroad 
sold spices and bought manuscripts ; the vessels which returned 
to him from Constantinople, Alexandria and Smyrna, were often 
laden with volumes in the Greek, Syriac and Chaldaic lan- 
guages. Being banished to Venice he continued his protection 
of letters, and on his return to Florence he devoted himself more 
than ever to the cause of literature. In the south of Italy, 
Alphonso V., and, indeed, all the sovereigns of that age, pursued 
the same course, and chose for their chancellors and ambassadors 
the same scholars who educated their sons, and expounded the 
classics in their literary circles. 

This patronage, however, was confined to the progress of 
ancient letters, while the native literature, instead of redeeming 
the promise of its infancy, remained at this time mute and inglo- 
rious. Yet the resources of poets and orators were multiplying 
a thousand fold. The exalted characters, the austere laws, the 
energetic virtues, the graceful mythology, the thrilling eloquence 
of antiquity, were annihilating the puerilities of the old Italian 
rhymes, and creating purer and nobler tastes. ‘The clay which 
was destined for the formation of great men was undergoing a 
new process; a fresh mould was cast, the forms at first appeared 
lifeless, but ere the end of the 15th century the breath of genius 
entered into them, and a new era of life began. 


PERIOD SECOND. 


REVIVAL OF ITALIAN LITERATURE AND ITS SECOND DECLINE 


1. Tae Ciose or tHe Firrerenta Century.—The first man 
who contributed to the restoration of Italian poetry, was Lorenzo 
de Medici (1448-1492), the grandson of Cosmo. In the bril- 
liant society that he gathered around him, a new era was 
opened in Italian literature. Himself a poet, he attempted to 
restore poetry to the condition in which Petrarch had left it ; 
although superior in some respects to that poet, he had less 
power of versification, less sweetness and harmony, but his 
ideas were more natural, and his style was more simple. He 
attempted all kinds of poetizal composition, and in all he dis- 

layed the versatility of his talents and the exuberance of 
bis imagination. But to Lorenzo poetry was but an amusement, 
yearcely regarded in his brilliant political career. He concen 


212 ITALIAN LITERATURE, 


trated in himself all the power of the republice—he was the 
arbiter of the whole political state of Italy, and from the 
splendor with which he surrounded himself, and his celebrity, he 
received the title of Lorenzo the magnoficent. He continued to 
collect manuscripts, and to employ learned men to prepare them 
for printing. His Platonic Academy extended its researches 
into new paths of study. The collection of antique sculpture, 
the germ of the gallery of Florence, which had been established 
by Cosmo, he enriched, and gave to it a new destination, which 
was the occasion of imparting fresh life and vigor to the liberal 
arts. He appropriated a part of his gardens to serve as a 
school for the study of the antique, and placed his statues, busts 
and other models of art in the shrubberies, terraces and build- 
ings. Young men were liberally paid for the copies which they 
made while pursuing their studies. It was this institution that 
kindled the flame of genius in the breast of Micliael Angelo, and 
to it must be attributed the splendor which was shed by the 
fine arts over the close of the 15th century, and which extended 
rapidly from Florence throughout Italy, and over a great part 
of Europe. Among the friends of Lorenzo may be mentioned 
Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494), one of the most prominent 
men of his age, who left in his Latin and Italian works monu: 
ments of his vast erudition and exuberant talent. 

The 15th century closed brightly on Florence, but it was other- 
wise throughout Italy. Some of its princes still patronized the 
sciences, but most of them were engaged in the intrigues of 
ambition ; and the storms which were gathering soon burst on 
Florence itself. Shortly after the death of Lorenzo, nearly the 
whole of Italy fell under the rule of Charles VIII., and the 
voice of science and literature was drowned in the clash of 
arms ; military violence dispersed the learned men, and pillage 
destroyed or scattered the literary treasures. Literature and 
the arts, banished from their long-loved home, sought an 
ther asylum. We find them again at Rome, cherished by 
a more powerful and fortunate protector, Pope Leo X., 
the son of Lorenzo (1475-1521). Though his_ patronage 
was confined to the fine arts and to the lighter kinds of 
fomposition, yet owing to the influence of the newly invented 
urt of printing, the discovery of Columbus, and the reformation, 
new energies were imparted to the age, the Italian mind was 
awakened from its slumber, and prepared for a new era in 
literature. 


2 Tue oriaty or raz Drama anp Romantic Eric—Among 


us aes 





ITALIAN LITERATURE. 214 


_ the gifted individuals in the circle of Lorenzo, the highest rank 
may be assigned to Poliziano (1454-1494). He revived on the 
modern stage the tragedies of the ancients, or rather created a 
new kind of pastoral tragedy, on which Tasso did not disdain to 
employ his genius. His “‘ Orpheus,” composed within ten days, 
was performed at the Mantuan court in 1483, and may be con- 
sidered as the first dramatic composition in Italian. The univer- 
sal homage paid to Virgil had a decided influence on this kind 
of poetry. His Bucolics were looked upon as dramas more 
poetical than thosé of Terence and Seneca. The comedies of 
Plautus were represented, and the taste for theatrical perform- 
ances was eagerly renewed. In these representations, however, 
the object in view was the restoration of the classics rather 
than the amusement of the public ; and the new dramatists con- 
fined themselves to a faithful copy of the ancients. But the 
Orpheus of Poliziano caused a revolution. The beauty of the 
verse, the charm of the music, and the decorations which 
accompanied its recital, produced an excitement of feeling and 
intellect that combined to open the way for the true dramatic 
art. 

At the same time, several eminent poets devoted their atten- 
tion to that style of composition, which was destined to form the 
glory of Ariosto. The trouveres chose Charlemagne and his pala 
dins as the heroes of their poems and romances, and these, com- 
posed for the most part in Frenchin the 12th and 138th centuries, 
were early circulated in Italy. Their origin accorded with the 
vivacity of the prevailing religious sentiment, the violence of the 
passions and the taste for adventures, which distinguished the 
first crusades; while from the general ignorance of the time, 
their supernatural agency was readily admitted. But at the 
close of the 15th century, when the poets possessed themselves 
of these old romances, in order to give a variety to the adven- 
tures of their heroes, the belief in the marvellous was much 
diminished, and they could not be recounted without a mix- 
ture of mockery. ‘The spirit of the age did not admit in the 
Italian language a subject. entirely serious. He who made pre 
tensions to fame was compelled to write in Latin, and the 
choice of the vulgar tongue was the indication of a humorous 
subject, The language had adopted since the time of Boccaccio 
a character of naive/é mingled with satire, which still remains, 
and which is particularly remarkable in Ariosto. 

The “ Morgaute Maggiore ” of Pulci (1431-1470) is the first 
of these romantic poems. It is alternately burlesque and serious, 
aud it abounds with passages of great pathos and beauty. The 


Se ee ey 
: "*) 


fil ITALIAN LITERATURE, 


“ Orlando Innamorato ” of Boiardo (1430-1494) is a poem some 
what similar to that of Pulci. It was, however, remodelled by 
Berni sixty years after the death of the author, and from the 
variety aud novelty of the adventures, the richness of its descrip- 
tions, the interest excited by its hero, and the honor rendered to 
the female sex, it excels the Morgante. 


3. Romantic Eric P rrry.—The romances of chivalry, which 
had been thus versified by Pulci and Boiardo, were elevated to 
the rank of epic poetry by the genius of Ariosto (1474-1533), 
He was born at Reggio, of which place his father was governor. 
As the means of improving his resources, he early attached him- 
self to the service of Cardinal D’Hste, and afterwards to that of 
the Duke of Ferrara. At the age of thirty years he commenced 
his “ Orlando Furioso,” and continued the composition for 
eleven years. While the work was in progress, he was in the 
habit of reading the cantos, as they were finished, at the courts 
of the cardinal and duke, which may account for the manner in 
which this hundred-fold tale is told, as if delivered spon- 
taneously before scholars and princes, who assembled to listen to 
the marvellous adventures of knights and ladies, giants and 
magicians, from the lips of the story-teller. Ariosto excelled in 
the practice of reading aloud with distinct utterance and animated 
elocution, an accomplishment of peculiar value at.a time when 
books were scarce, and the emoluments of authors depended 
more on the gratuities of their patrons than the sale of their 
works. In each of the four editions which he published, he 
improved, corrected and enlarged the original. No poet, per- 
haps, ever evinced more fastidious taste in adjusting the nicer 
points that affected the harmony, dignity and fluency of his com- 
position, yet the whole seems as natural as if it had flowed 
extemporaneously from his pen. ‘Throughout life it was the lot 
of Ariosto to struggle against the difficulties inseparable from 
harrow and precarious circumstances. His patrons, among 
them Leo X., were often culpable in exciting expectations, 
and afterwards disappointing them. The earliest and latest 
works of Ariosto, though not his best, were dramatic. He 
wrote also some satires in the form of epistles. He died in the 
58th year of his age, and his ashes now rest under the mag- 
nificent monument in the new church of the Benedictines in 
Ferrara. The house in which the poet lived, the chair in 
which he was wont to study, and the inkstand whence he filled 
his pen, are still shown as interesting memorials of his life and 
labors. 





STALIAN LITERATURE. 215 
Auiosto, like Pulci and Boiardo, undertook to sing the 
paladins and their amours at the court of Charlemagne, during the 
fabulous wars of this emperor against the Moors. In his poem 
he seems to have designedly thrown off the embarrassment of a 
unity of action. ‘he Orlando Furioso is founded on three prin- 
cipal narratives, distinct but often intermingled ; the history of 
the war between Charlemagne and the Saracens, Orlando’s love 
for Angelica, his madness on hearing of her infidelity, and 
Buggiero’s attachment to Bradamante. These stories are inter- 
woven with so many incidents and episodes, and there is in the 
_ poem such a prodigious quantity of action, that it is difficult to 
assign its central point. Indeed, Ariosto, playing with his 
readers, seems to delight in continually misleading them, and 
allows them no opportunity of viewing the general subject of the 
poem. This want of unity is essentially detrimental to the 
general impression of the work, and the author has succeeded in 
throwing around its individual parts an interest which does not 
attach to it as a whole. The world to which the poet trans- 
ports his readers is truly poetic; all the factitious wants of com- 
mon life, its cold calculations and its imaginary distinctions dis- 
appear ; love and honor reign supreme, and the prompting of 
the one and the laws of the other are alone permitted to stimu- 
late and regulate a life, of which war is the only business and 
gallantry the only pastime. The magic and sorcery, borrowed 
from the Hast, which pervade these chivalric fictions, lead us still 
further from the world of realities. Nor is it the least charm, 
that all the wonders and prodigies here related are made to 
appear quite probable from the apparently artless, truthful style 
of the narrations. The versification of the Orlando is more 
distinguished for sweetness and elegance than for strength ; but, 
in point of harmony, and in the beauty, pathos and grace of his 
descriptions, no poet surpasses Ariosto, 


4. Heroic Eric Porrry.-—While in the romantic epic of the 
middle ages unity of design was considered unnecessary, and 
truthfulness of detail, fertility of imagination, strength of color- 
ing, and vivacity of narration were alone required, heroic poetry 
was expected to exhibit, on the most extensive scale, those laws 
of symmetry which adapt all the parts to one object, which com- 
bine variety with unity, and, as it were, initiate us into the 
secrets of creation, by disclosing the single idea which governs 
the most dissimilar actions, and harmonizes the most opposite in- 
terests. It was reserved to Torquato Tasso to raise the Italian 
language to this kind of epic poetry. 


— 
. 2 


216 ITALIAN LITERATURE. 


Tasso (1544-1595) was born in Sorrento, and many marvels 
are told by his biographers of the precocity of his genius. Politi- 
cal convulsions early drove his father into exile. He went ta 
Rome and sent for his son, then ten years of age. When the ex- 
iles were no longer safe at Rome, an asylum was offered them a‘ 
Pess”o by the Duke of Urbino. Here young Tasso pursueé 
his studies in all the learning and accomplishments of the age 
In his 17th year he had completed the composition of an epic 
poem on the adventures of Rinaldo, which was received with 
passionate admiration throughout Italy. The appearance of this 
poem proved not only the beginning of the author’s fame, but 
the dawn of a new day in Italian literature. In 1565, Tasso 
was nominated by the Cardinal D’ Este as gentleman of his house- 
hold, and his reception at the court was in every respect most 
pleasing to his youthful ambition. He was honored by the inti- 
mate acquaintance of the accomplished princesses Lucretia and 
Leonora, and to this dangerous friendship must be attributed 
most of his subsequent misfortunes, if it be true that he cherished 
a secret attachment for Leonora. 

During this prosperous period of his life, Tasso prosecuted his 
great epic poem, the ‘‘ Jerusalem Delivered,” and as canto after 
canto was completed and recited to the princesses, he found in 
their applause repeated stimulus to proceed. While steadily 
engaged in his great work, his fancy gave birth to numerous 
fugitive poems, the most remarkable of which is the “ Aminta.” 
After its representation at the court of Ferrara, all Italy re- 
sounded with the poet’s fame. It was translated into all the 
languages of Europe, and the name of Tasso would have, been 
immortal even though he had never composed an epic. The 
various vexations he endured regarding the publication of his 
work at its conclusion, the wrongs he suffered from both patrons 
and rivals, together with disappointed ambition, rendered him the 
subject of feverish anxiety and afterwards the prey of restless fear 
and continual suspicion. His mental malady increased, and he wan- 
dered from place to place without finding any permanent home. 
Assuming the disguise of a shepherd, he travelled to Sorrento, 


to visit his sister; but soon tired of seclusion, he obtained per- — 


mission to return to the court of Ferrara. He was coldly re 
ceived by the duke, and was refused an interview with the prin- 
cesses. He left the place in indignation, and wandered from one 
city of Italy to another, reduced to the appearance of a wretched 
itinerant, sometimes kindly received, sometimes driven away as a 
vagabond, always restless, suspicious, and unhappy. In this mood 
he again returned to Ferrara, at a moment when the duke was 





ee 7 - ‘ 
‘ 
> 
L 


ITALIAN LITERATURE. 2i7 


too much occupied with the solemnities of his own marriage to 
attend to the complaints of the poet. ‘Tasso became infuriated, 
retracted all the praises he had bestowed on the house of Este, 
and indulged in the bitterest invectives against the duke, by 
whose orders he was afterwards coimitted to the hospital for 
lunatics, where he was closely confined, and treated with extreme 
rigor. If he had never been insane before, he certainly now 
became se. To add to his misfortune, his poem was printed 
without his permission, from an imperfect copy, and while editors 
aud printers enriched themselves with the fruit of his labors, the 
poet himself was languishing in a dungeon, despised, neglected, 
sick, and destitute of the common conveniences of life, and above 
all, deafened by the frantic cries with which the hospital conti- 
nually resounded. When the first rigors of his imprisonment were 
relaxed, ‘Tasso pursued his studies, and poured forth his emotions 
in every form of verse. Some of his most beautiful minor poems 


"were composed during this period. After more than seven years’ 


confinement, the poet was liberated at the intercession of the 
Duke of Mantua. From this time he wandered from city to 
city ; the hallucinations of his mind never entirely ceased. 
Towards the close of the year 1594, he took up his residence at 
Rome, where he died at the age of fifty-two. 

asso was particularly happy in choosing the most engaging 
subject that could inspire a modern poet—the struggle between 
the Christians and the Saracens. The Saracens considered them 
selves called on to subjugate the earth to the faith of Moham- 
med; the Christians to enfranchise the sacred spot where their 
divine founder suffered death. The religion of the age was 
wholly warlike. It was a profound, disinterested, enthusiastic, 
and poetic sentiment, and no period has beheld such a brilliant 
display of valor. The belief in the supernatural, which formed 
a striking characteristic of the time, seemed to have usurped the 
laws of nature and the common course of events. 

‘The faith against which the crusaders fought appeared to them 
the worship of the powers of darkness. They believed that a 
contest might exist between invisible beings as between different 
nations, and when Tasso armed the dark powers of enchantment 
against the Christian knights, he only developed and embellished 
a popular idea. 

The scene of the Jerusalem Delivered, so rich in recollections 
and associations with all our religious feelings, is one in which 
nature displays her riches and treasures, and where descriptions, 
jn turn the most lovely and the most austere, attract the pen of 
the poet. All the nations of Christendom send forth their war 

10 


218 ITALIAN LITERATURE. 


riors to the army of the cross, and the whole world thus becomes 
his patrimony. Whatever interest the taking of Troy might 
possess for the Greeks, or the vanity of the Romans might at- 
tach to the adventures of Aineas, whom they adopted as their 
progenitor, it may be asserted that neither the Iliad nor the 
Aineid possesses the dignity of subject, the interest at the same 
time divine and human, and the varied dramatic action which are 
peculiar to the Jerusalem Delivered. 

The whole course of the poem is comprised in the campaign of 
1093, when the Christian army, assembled on the plain of Tor- 
tosa, marched towards Jerusalem, which they besieged and cap- 
tured. From the commencement of the poem, the most tender 
sentiments are combined with the action, and love has been as- 
signed a nobler part than has been given to it in any other epic 
poem. Love, enthusiastic, respectful, and full of homage, was 
an essential characteristic of chivalry and the source of the 
noblest actions. While with the heroes of the classic epic it 
was a weakness, with the Christian knights it was a devotion. 
In this work are happily combined the classic and romantic 
styles. It is classic in its plan, romantic in its heroes; it is con- 
ceived in the spirit of antiquity, and executed in the spirit of 
medieval romance. It has the beauty which results from unity 
of design and from the harmony of all its parts, united with the 
romantic form, which falls in with the feelings, the passions, and 
the recollections of Europeans. Notwithstanding some defects, 
which must be attributed rather to the taste of his age than to 
his genius, in the history of literature Tasso may be placed by 
the side of Homer and Virgil, 


5, Lyric Porrry.—Lyric poetry, which had been brought to 
such perfection by Petrarch in the 14th century, but almost lost 
sight of in the 15th, was cultivated by all the Italian poets of 
this period. Petrarch became the model, which every aspirant 
endeavored to imitate. Hence arose a host of poetasters, who 
wrote with considerable elegance, but without the least power 
of imagination. We must not, however, confound with the ser- 
vile imitators of Petrarch those who took nothing from his school 
but purity of language and elegance of style, and who conse- 
crated the lyre not to love alone, but to patriotism and religion, 
First of these are Poliziano and Lorenzo de’ Medici, in whose 
ballads and stanzas the language of Petrarch reappeared with al} 
its beauty and harmony. Later, Cardinal Bembo (1470-1547), 
Molza (1489-1544), Tarsia (1476-1535), Guidiccioni (1480- 
1541), Della Casa (1503-1556), Costanzo (1507-1585), and later 





ATALIAN LITERATURE. 219 


still, Chiabrera (1552--1637), attempted to restore Italian poetry 
to iis primitive elegance. Their sonnets and canzoni contributed 
much to the revival of a purer style, although their elegance is 
often too elaborate and their thoughts and feelings too artificial, 
Besides these, Ariosto, Tasso, Machiavelli and Michael Angelo, 
whose genius was practised in more ambitious tasks, did not 
disdain to shape and polish such diminutive gems as the canzone, 
the madrigal and the sonnet. - 

This reform of taste in lyric composition was also promoted by 
several women, among whom the most distinguished at once for 
beauty, virtue, and talent, was Vittoria Colonna (1490-1547). 
She was daughter of the high constable of Naples, and married to 
the Marquis of Pescara. Karly left a widow, she abandoned herself 
to sorrow. ‘That fidelity which made her refuse the hand of 
princes in her youth, rendered her incapable of a second attach- 
ment in her widowhood. The solace of her life was to mourn 
the loss and cherish the memory of Pescara. After passing se- 
veral years inretirement, Vittoria took up her residence at Rome, 
and became the intimate friend of the distinguished men of her 
time. Her verses, though deficient in poetic fancy, are full of 
tenderness and absorbing passion. Vittoria Colonna was reck- 
oned by her contemporaries as a being almost more than human, 
and the epithet dzvene was usually prefixed to her name. By her 
death-bed stood Michael Angelo, who was considerably her 
junior, but who enjoyed her friendship and regarded her with 
enthusiastic veneration. He wrote several sonnets in her praise. 


6. Dramatic Porrry.—Tragedy, in the hands of the Romans, 
had exhibited no national characteristics, and disappeared with 
the decline of their literature. When Europe began to breathe 
again, the natural taste of the multitude for games and specta- 
cles revived ; the church entertained the people with its repre 
sentations, which, however, were destitute of all literary charac- 
ter. At the commencement of the 14th century we find traces 
of Latin tragedies, and these, during the 15th century, were fre- 
quently represented, as we have seen, more as a branch of 
ancient art and learning, than as matter of recreation. After 
the “ Orpheus” of Poliziano had appeared on the stage, the 
first drama in the Italian tongue, Latin tragedies and comedies 
were translated into the Italian, but as y+t 1¢ one had ventured 
beyond mere translation. 

Leo X. shed over the dramatic art the same favor which he 
bestowed von the other liberal arts, and the theatricals of the 
Vatican were of the most splendid description. During his pow 


220 ITALIAN LITERATURE. 


tificate, Trissino (1478-1550), dedicated to him the tragedy of 
“Sofonisha,” formed on the Greek model, the first regular tra 
gedy which had appeared since the revival of letters. Its subject 
is found entire in the work of Livy, and the invention of the poet 
has added little to the records of the historian. The piece is not 
divided into acts and scenes, and the only repose given to the 
action is by the chorus, who sing odes and lyric stanzas. ‘The 
story is well conducted, the characters are all dramatic, and the 
incidents arise spontaneously out of each other; but the style of 
the tragedy has neither the sublimity nor the originality which 
becomes this kind of composition, and which distinguished the 
genius of the dramatic poets of Athens. 

The example of Trissino was. followed by Rucellai (1475- 
1525), who left two dramas, ‘“‘Rosamunda” and “ Orestes,” 
written in blank verse, with a chorus, much resembling the 
Greek tragedies. This poet used much more license with his 
subject than Trissino ; his plot is less simple and pathetic, but 
abounds in horror, and his style is florid and rhetorical. ‘Tasso, 
Speroni (1500-1588), Giraldi (1504-1573), and others, at- 
tempted also this species of composition, and their dramas are 
considered the best of the age. 

As the tragic poets of this century servilely imitated Sopho-” 
cles and Huripides, the comic writers copied Plautus and 
Terence. ‘The comedies of Ariosto, of which there are five, dis- 
play considerable ingenuity of invention and an elegant vivacity 
of language. ‘The dramatic works of Machiavelli approach more 
nearly to the middle comedy of the Greeks. They depict and 
satirize contemporaneous rather than obsolete manners, but the 
characters and plots awaken little interest. 

Bentivoglio (1506-1573), Salviati (1540-1589), Firenzuola 
(1493-1547), Caro (1507-1566), Cardinal Bibiena (1470- 
1520), Aretino (1492-1556), and others, are among the princi- 
pal comic writers of the age, who displayed more or less dra- 
matic talent. Of all the Italian comedies composed in the 
16th century, however, scarcely one was the work of eminent 
genius. A species of comic drama, known under the name of 
Commedia dell’ arte, took its rise in this century. The charac: 
teristic of these plays is that the story only belongs to the 
poet, the dialogue being improvised by the actors. The fout 
principal characters denominated masks, were Pantaloon, a mer 
chant of Venice, a doctor of laws from Bologna, and two ser 
vants known to us as Harlequin and Columbine. When we 
add to these a couple of sons, one virtuous and the other profli 
zate ; a couple of daughters, and a pert, intriguing chambet 








a - a ‘ 


ITALIAN LITERATURE. - 231 


maid, we have nearly the whole dramatis persone of these plays. 
The extempore dialogue by which the plot was developed was 
replete with drollery and wit, and there was no end to the 
novelty of the jests. 


7. PastoraL Drama and Dinactic Porrry.—The pastoral 
drama, which describes characters and passions in their primitive 
simplicity, is thus distinguished from tragedy and comedy. It is 
probable that the idyls of the Greeks afforded the first germ 
of this species of composition, but Beccari, a poet of Ferrara. 
(1510-1590), is considered the father of the genuine pastoral 
drama. Before him Sannazzaro (1458-1530) had written the 
“ Arcadia,” which, however, bears the character of an eclogue 
rather than that of a drama. It is written in the choicest 
Italian ; its versification is melodious, and it abounds with 

_ beautiful descriptions; as an imitation of the ancients, it is 
entitled to the highest rank. The beauty of the Italian land- 
scape and the softness of the Italian climate seem naturally 
fitted to dispose the poetic soul to the dreams of rural life, and 
the language seems, by its graceful simplicity, peculiarly adapted 
to express the feelings of a class of people whom we picture to 
ourselves as ingenuous and infantine in their natures. The man- 
ners of the Italian peasantry are more truly pastoral than those 
of any other people, and a bucolic poet in that fair region need 
not wander to Arcadia. But Sannazzaro, like all the early 
pastoral poets of Italy, proposed to himself, as the highest 
excellence, a close imitation of Virgil; he took his shepherds 
from the fabulous ages of antiquity, borrowed the mythology of 
the Greeks, and completed the machinery with fauns, nymphs 
and satyrs. Like Sannazzaro, Beccari places his shepherds in 
Arcadia, and invests them with ancient manners ; but he goeg 
beyond mere dialogue ; he connects their conversations by a 
series of dramatic actions. The representation of one of these - 
poems incited Tasso to the composition of his ‘ Aminta,” the 
suecess of which was due less to the interest of the story than to 
the sweetness of the poetry, and the soft voluptuousness which 
breathes in every line. It is written in flowing verse of various 
measures without rhyme, and enriched with lyric choruses of 
uncommon beauty. 

The imitations of the Aminta were numerous, but with one 
exception, which has disputed the palm with its model, they had 
an ephemeral existence. Guarini (1537-1612) was the author 
of the “ Pastor Fido,” which is the principal monument of his 
genius ; its chief merit lies in the poetry in which the tale ig 





282 ITALIAN LITERATURE. 


embodied, the simplicity and clearness of the diction, the tender: 
ness of the sentiments, and the vehement passion which gives 
life to the whole. This drama was first performed in 1585 at 
Turin, during the nuptial festivities of the prince of Savoy. Its 
success was triumphant, and Guarini was justly considered as 
second only to Tasso among the poets of the age. Theatrical 
music, which was now beginning to be cultivated, found its way 
into the acts of the pastoral drama, and in one scene of the 
Pastor Fido, it is united with dancing ; thus was opened the 
way for the Italian Opera. : 

Among the didactic poets, Rucellai may be first mentioned. 
His poem of “The Bees” is an imitation of the fourth book 
of the Georgics; he does not, however, servilely follow his 
model, but gives an original coloring to that which he borrowed. 
Alamanni (1495-1556) occupies a secondary rank among epic, 
tragic and comic poets, but merits a distinguished place in di- 
dactic poetry. His poem entitled “ Cultivation” is pure and 
elegant in its style. 


8. SarrricaL Porrry, Novers anp Tatzs.—In an age when 
every kind of poetry that had flourished among the Greeks and 
Romans appeared again with new lustre, satire was not want. 
ing. There is much that is satirical in the Divine Comedy of 
Dante. Three of Petrarch’s sonnets are satires on the court of 
Rome; those of Ariosto are valuable not only for their flowing 
style, but for the details they afford of his character, taste and 
circumstances. The satires of Alamanni are chiefly political, 
and in general are characterized by purity of diction and by a 
high moral tendency. 

There is a kind of jocose or burlesque satire peculiar to Italy, 
and in which the literature is very rich. If it serves the cause 
of wisdom, it is always in the mask of folly, The poet who 
carried this kind of writing to the highest perfection, was Berni 
(1499-1536). Comic poetry, hitherto known in Italy as bur- 
lesque, of which Burcchiello was the representative in the 15th 
century, received from Berni the name of Bernesque, in its more 
refincd and elegant character. His satirical poems are full ot 
light and elegant mockery, and his style possesses nature and 
comic truth. In his hand, everything was transformed into 
ridicule ; his satire is almost always personal, and his laughter 
is not always restrained by respect for morals or for decency. 
To burlesque poetry may be referred also the Macaronic style, 
a ludicrous mixture of Latin and Italian, introduced by Merline 
Coccajo (1491-1544). His poems are as full of lively descrip 


ITALIAN LITERATURE. 228 


tions and piquant satire, as they are wanting in decorum and 
morality. 

The story-tellers of the 16th century are numerous. Some 
times they appear as followers of Boccaccio ; sometimes they 
attempt to open new paths for themselves. The class of pro- 
ductions, of which the ‘‘ Decameron” was the earliest example in 
the 14th century, is called by the Italians ‘ Novelle””’ In 
general, the interest of the tale depends rather on a number of 
incidents slighty touched, than on a few carefully delineated ; 
from the difficulty of developing character in a few isolated 
acenes, the story-teller trusts for effect to the combination of 
incident and style, and the delineation of character, which is the 
nobler part of fiction, is neglected. Italian novelists, too, have 
often regarded the incidents themselves but as a vehicle for fine 

_ writing. An interesting view of these productions is, that they 
form a vast repository of incident, in which we recognize the 
origin of much that has since appeared in our own and other 
languages. 

Machiavelli was one of the first novelists of this age. His 
little tale, ‘‘ Belfagor,” is pleasantly told, and has been trans 
lated into all languages. ‘The celebrated ‘“ Giulietta,” of Luigi 
da Porta, is the sole production of the author, but it has served 
to give him a high place among Italian novelists. This is 
Shakspeare’s Romeo and Juliet in another shape, though it is 
not probable that it was the immediate source from which the 
great dramatist collected the materials for his tragedy. The 
“ Hundred Tales” of Cinzio Giraldi (1504-1573) are distin- 
guished by great boldness of conception, and by a wild and tragic 
horror which commands the attention, while it is revolting to 
the feelings. He appears to have ransacked every age and 
country, and to have exhausted the catalogue of human crimes 
in procaring subjects for his novels. 

Grazzini, called Lasca (1503-1583), is perhaps the best of the 
Italian novelists after Boccaccio. His manner is light and 
graceful. His stories display much ingenuity, but are often 
improbable and cruel in their nature. The Fairy Tales of 
Strapparola (b. 1500) are the earliest specimens of the kind in 
the prose literature of Italy, and this work has been a perfect 
storehouse from which succeeding writers have derived a vast 
multitude of their tales. To this, also, we are indebted for the 
legend of “Fair Star,” ‘“ Puss in Boots,” “ Fortunio,” and 
others which adorn our nursery libraries. 

Firenzuola (1493-1547) occupies a high rank among the 
\talian vovelists; his “Golden Ass,” from Apuleius, and his 


224 ITALIAN LITERATURE, . 


“Discourses of Animals” are distinguished for their originality 
and pe of style. 

Bandello (1480-1562) is the novelist best known to foreigners 
after BUscHese: Shakspeare and other English dramatists have 
drawn largely from his voluminous writings. His tales are 
founded upon history rather than fancy. 


9.° History.—Historical composition was cultivated with 
much success by the Italians of the 16th century; yet such was 
the altered state of things, that, except at Venice and Genoa, 
republics had been superseded by princes, and republican 
authority by the pomp of regal courts. Rome was a nest of 
intrigue, luxury and corruption ; Tuscany had become the prey 
of a powerful family ; Lombardy was but a battle-field for the 
rival powers of France and Germany, and the lot of the people - 
was oppression and humiliation. High independence of mind, 
one of the most valuable qualities in connection with historical 
research, was impossible under these circumstances, and yet, some 
of the Italian writers of this age exhibit genius, strength of 
character, and a conscientious sense of the sacred commission 
of the historian. 

Machiavelli (1469-1527) was born in Florence of a family 
which iad enjoyed the first offices in the republic. At the age 
of thirty, he was made chancellor of the state, and from that 
time he was constantly employed in public affairs, and par- 
ticularly in embassies. Among those to the smaller princes 
of Italy, the one of the longest duration was to Cxsar Borgia, 
whom he narrowly observed at the very important period when 
this illustrious villain was elevating himself by his crimes, and 
whose diabolical policy he had thus an opportunity of studying. 
He had a considerable share in directing the counsels of the 
republic, and the influence to which he owed his elevation was 
that of the free party, which censured the power of the Medici, 
and at that time held them in exile. When the latter were 
recalled, Machiavelli was deprived of all his offices and 
banished. He then entered into a conspiracy against the 
usurpers, Which was discovered, and he was put to the torture, 
but without wresting from him any confession which could 
impeach either himself or those who had confided in his honor. 
Leo X., on his elevation to the pontificate, restored him te 
liberty. At this time he wrote his “ History of Florence,” 
in which he united eloquence of style with depth of reflection, 
and which is an elegant, animated and picturesque compositica 
but it is not the fruit of mnch research and industry. 


ITALIAN LITERATURE. 225 


Before this history, Machiavelli wrote his discourses on the first 
vecade of Livy, considered his best work, and “The Art of 
War,” which is an invaluable commentary on the history of the 
times. These works had the desired effect of inducing the 
Medici family to use the political services of the author, and at 
the request of Leo X. he wrote his essay ‘On the Reform of the 
Florentine Government.” 

Suicciardini (1483-1541), the friend of Machiavelli, is con- 
sidered the greatest historian of this age. He was born of an 
ancient and noble family of Florence; at an early age he devoted 
himself to the study of the law, and obtained so high a reputa- 
tion for talent and prudence that the government confided to him 
several important diplomatic commissions. During his absence 
from his native city, the Florentines were compelled to receive 

the Medici. Guicciardini obtained the confidence of the new 
rulers, attached himself to the service of Leo X., and was raised 
to high offices and honors by him and the two succeeding popes. 
On the expulsion of the Medici from Florence, the republican 
party having obtained the ascendency, he was obliged to fly from 
the city. From this time he manifested an utter abhorrence of 
all popular institutions, and threw himself heart and soul into the 
interests of the Medici. He displayed his zeal at the expense of 
the lives and liberties of the most virtuous among his fellow-citi- 
zens. Having aided in the elevation of Cosmo, afterwards Grand 
Duke of Tuscany, and being requited with ingratitude and 
neglect, he retired in disgust from public life, and devoted him- 
self wholly to the completion of his history of Italy. This work, 
which is a monument of his genius and industry, commences with 
the coming of Charles VIII. to Italy, and concludes with the 
year 1534, embracing one of the most important periods of 
Italian history: His powerfully-drawn pictures exhibit the men 
and the times so vividly, that they seem to pass before our eyes. 
His delineations of character, his masterly views of the course of 
events, the conduct of leaders and the changes of war, claim our 
highest admiration. His faults are occasional prolixity in de- 
scribing incidents of minor interest, and the too frequent introdue- 
tion and unnatural length of the speeches which he puts into the 
mouths of his characters. His language is pure and his style 
pegant, though sometimes too Latinized. . 

Numberless historians, of more or less merit, stimulated by the 
renown of Machiavelli and Guicciardini, composed annals of the 
states to which they belonged, while others undertook to write 
the histories of foreign nations. Nardi (1496-1556), one of the 
most ardent and pure patriots of his age, takes the first placa 
19* 





226 ITALIAN LITERATURE. 


He wrote the history of the Florentine Revolution of 1527, a 
work which, though defective in style, is distinguished for its 
truthfulness. The histories of Florence by Adriani, Varchi, ang 
Segni (1499-1559), are considered the best works of their kind, 
for elegance of style and for interest of the narrative. Almost 
all the other cities of Italy had their historians, but the palm 
must be awarded to the Florentine writers, not only on account 
of their number, but for the elegance and purity of their style, 
for their impartiality and the sagacity of their research into 
matters of fact. Among the writers of the second class may be 
mentioned Davanzati (1519), the translator of Tacitus, who 
wrote, in the Florentine dialect, a history of the schism of Eng- 
land; Giambullari (1495-1564), who wrote a history of Europe; 
D’ Anghiera (fl. 1536), who, after having examined the papers of 
Christopher Columbus, and the official reports transmitted from 
America to Spain, compiled an interesting work on ‘“ Ocean 
Navigation and the New World.” His style isincorrect; but this 
is compensated for by the fidelity of his narration. Several of 
the German States, France, the Netherlands, Poland, Hun- 
gary, and the Hast Indies, found Italian authors in this age 
to digest and arrange their chronicles, and give them historical 
form. 

To this period belong also the ‘‘ Lives of the Most Celebrated 
Artists,” written by Vasari (1512-1574), himself a distinguished 
artist, a work highly interesting for its subject and style, and 
the Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (b. 1500), one of the 
most curious works which was ever written in any language. 


10. Grammar AND Rueroric.—The Italian language was 
used both in writing and conversation for three centuries be- 
fore its rules and principles were reduced to a scientific form. 
Bembo was the first scholar who established the grammar. 
Grammatical writings and researches were soon multiplied 
and extended. Salviati was one of the most prominent gram- 
marians of the 16th century, and Buonmattei and Cinonio 
of the 17th. But the progress in this study was due less te 
the grammarians, than to the Dictionary della Crusca. Among 
the scholars who took part in the exercises of the Floren- 
sine Academy, founded by Cosmo de’ Medici, there were some 
who, dissatisfied with the philosophical disputations which were 
the object of this institution, organized another association for 
the purpose of giving a new impulse to the study of the language. 
This academy, inaugurated in 1587, was called della Crusca, 
literally, of the bran. The object of this new association being 


ITALIAN LITERATURE. 227 


to sift all impurities from the language, a sieve, the emblem of 
the academy, was placed in the hall; the members at their meet 
ings sat on flour-barrels, and the chair of the presiding officer 
stood on three mill-stones. The first work of the academy was 
to compile a universal dictionary of the Italian language, which 
was published in 1612. Though the Dictionary della Crusca 
Was conceived in an exclusive spirit, and admitted, as linguistic 
authorities, only writers of the 14th century, belonging to Tus 
cany, it contributed greatly to the progress of the Italian 
tongue. 

Every university of Italy boasted in the 16th century of some 
ce.ebrated rhetoricians, all of whom, however, were overshadowed 
by Vettori (1499-1585), distinguished for the editions of the 
Greek and Latin classics published under his superintendence, 
and for his commentaries on the rhetarical books of Aristotle. 
B. Cavalcanti (1503-1562) was also celebrated in this depart- 
ment, and his “ Rhetoric” is the best work of the age on that 
subject. 

The oratory of this period is very imperfect. Orations were 
written in the style of Boccaccio, which, however suitable for 
the narration of merry tales, is entirely unfit for oratorical 
compositions. Among those who most distinguished them- 
selves in this department are Della Casa (1503-1556), whose 
harangues against the Emperor Charles V. are full of elo- 
quence ; Speroni (1500-1588), whose style is more perfect 
than that of any other writer of the 16th century ; and 
Lollio (d. 1568), whose orations are the most polished. At 
that time, in the forum of Venice, eloquent orators pleaded the 
eauses of the citizens, and at the close of the preceding cen- 
tury, Savonarola (1452-1498), a preacher of Florence, thundered 
against the abuses of the Roman church, and suffered death in 
consequence. Among the models of letter-writing, Caro takes 
the first place. His familiar letters are written with that 
graceful elegance which becomes this kind of composition. The 
letters of Tasso are full of eloquence and philosophy, and are 
written in the most select Italian. 


11. Science, Poitosopxy anp Poritics.—The sciences, during 
this period, went hand in hand with poetry and history. Libra- 
ries and other aids to learning were multiplied, and academies 
vere organized with other objects than those of enjoyment of 
mere poetical triumphs or dramatic amusements. The Academy 
del Cimento was founded at Florence in 1657 by Leopold de’ 
Medici for promoting the study of thenatural sciences, and similar 


228 ITALIAN LITERATURE. 


institutions were established in Rome, Bologna and Naples, and 
other cities of Italy, besides the Royal Academy of Londoz 
(1660), and the Academy of Sciences in Paris (1666). From 
the period of the first institution of universities, that of Bologna 
had maintained its preéminence. Padua, Ferrara, Pavia, Turin, 
Florence, Siena, Pisa, and Rome were also seats of learning. 
The men who directed the scientific studies of their country and 
of Europe were almost universally attached as professors to these 
institutions. Indeed, at this period, through the genius of Galileo 
and his school, European science first dawned in Italy. Galileo 





(1564-1641) was a native of Pisa, and professor of mathematics | 


in the university of that city. Being obliged to leave it on ac- 
count of his scientific opinions, at that time at variance with 
universally received principles, he removed to the university of 
Padua, where for eighteen years he enjoyed the high considera- 
tion of his countrymen, He returned to Pisa, and at the age of 
seventy was summoned to Rome by the Inquisition, and required 
to renounce his doctrines relative to the Copernican system, of 
which he was a zealous defender, and his life was spared only on 
condition of his abjuring his opinions. It is said that on rising 
from his knees, after making the abjuration of his belief that 
the earth moved round the sun, he stamped his foot on the 
floor and said : ‘It does move, though.” To Galileo science is 
indebted for the discovery of the laws of weight, the scientific 
construction of the system of Copernicus, the pendulum, the im- 
provement of many scientific instruments, the invention of the 
hydrostatic balance, the thermometer, proportional compasses, 
and, above all, the telescope. He discovered the satellites of 
Jupiter, the phases of Venus, the mountains of the moon, the 
spots and the rotation of the szn. Science, which had consisted 
for centuries only of scholastic subtleties and barren dialectics, 
he established on an experimental basis. In his works he unites 
delicacy and purity with vivacity of style. 

Among the scholars of Galileo, who most efficaciously contri 
buted to the progress of seience, may be mentioned Torricelli 
(1608-1647), the inventor of the barometer, an elegant and 
profound writer ;.Borelli (1608-1679), the founder of animal 
mechanics, or the science of the movements of animals, distin- 
guished for his works on astronomy, mathematics, anatomy, and 
natural philosophy ; Cassini (1625-1712), a celebrated astrono- 
mer, to whom France is indebted for its meridian ; Cavalieri 
(1598-1648), distinguished for his works on geometry, which 
paved the way to the discovery of the infinitesimal calculus. 

In the scientific department of the earlier part of this period 


a 





ITALIAN LITERATURE. 229 


may also be mentioned Tartaglia (d. 1657) and Cardano (1501- 
_ 1576), celebrated for their researches on algebra and geometry; 
Vignola (1507-1573) and Palladio (1518-1580), whose werks 
on architecture are still held in high estimation, as well as the 
work of March (fl. 1550) on military construction. Later, 
Redi ¢1626-1697) distinguished himself as a natural philosopher, 
a physician and elegant writer, both in prose and verse, and Mal- 
pighi (1628-1694) and Bellini (1643-1704) were anatomists of 
high repute. Scamozzi (1550-1616) emulated the glory formerly 
‘won by Palladio in architecture, and Montecuccoli (1608-1681), 
a great general of the age, ably illustrated the art of strategy. 

The 16th century abounds in philosophers who, abandonding 
the doctrines of Plato, which had been in great favor in the 
15th, adopted those of Aristotle. Some, however, dared to 
throw off the yoke of philosophical authority, and to walk in 
new paths of speculation. Patrizi (1529-1597) was one of the 
first who undertook to examine for himself the phenomena of 
nature, and to attack the authority of Aristotle. Telesio 
(1509-1588), a friend of Patrizi, joined him in the work of 
overthrowing the Peripatetic idols ; but neither of them dared 
to renounce entirely the authority of antiquity. The glory 
of having claimed absolute freedom in philosophical speculation 
belongs to Cardano, already mentioned, to Campanella (1568- 
1639), who for the boldness of his opinions was put to the 
torture and spent thirty years in prison, and to Giordano Brung 
(1550-1600), a sublime thinker and a bold champion of freedom, 
who was burned at the stake. 

Among the moral philosophers of this age may be mentioned 
Speroni, whose writings are distinguished by harmony, freedom 
and eloquence of style ; Tasso, whose dialogues unite loftiness of 
thought with elegance of style; Castiglione (1468-1529), 
whose ‘“ Cortigiano” is in equal estimation as a manual of ele 
gance of manners and as a model of pure Italian, and Della Casa, 
_ whose “ Galateo” is a complete system of politeness, couched in 
elegant language, and a work to which Lord Chesterfield was 
much indebted. 

Political science had its greatest representative in Machiavelh, 
who wrote on it with that profound knowledge of the human 
heart which he had acquired in publie life, and with the habit of 
unweaving, in all its intricacies, the political perfidy which then 
prevailed inItaly. The “ Prince” is the best known of his politi- 
eal works, and from the infamous principles which he has here. 
leveloped, though probably with good intentions, his name is 
allied with everything false and perfidious in politics. The 


230 ?TALIAN LITERATURE, 


object of the treatise is to show how a new prince may establish 
and consolidate his power, and how the Medici might not oniy 
confirm their authority in Florence, but extend it over the 
whole of the Peninsula. At the time that Machiavelli wrote, 
{taly had been for centuries a theatre where might was the only 
right. He was not a man given to illusive fancies, and through- 
out a long political career nothing had been permitted to escape 
his keen and penetrating eye. In all the affairs in which he 
had taken part he had seen that success was the only thing 
studied, and therefore to succeed in an enterprise, by whatever 
means, had become the fundamental idea of his political theory. 
His Prince reduced to a science the art, long before known anc 
practised by kings and tyrants, of attaining absolute power by 
deception and cruelty, and of maintaining it afterwards by the 
dissimulation of leniency and virtue. It does not appear that 
any exception was at first taken to the doctrines which have 
since called forth such severe reprehensiop, and from the mo- 
ment of its appearance the Prince became a favorite at every 
court. But soon after the death of Machiavelli, a violent out- 
cry was raised against him, and although it was first heard 
with amazement, it soon became general. The Prince was laid 
under the ban of several successive popes, and the name of 
Machiavelli passed into a proverb of infamy. His bones lay 


undistinguished for nearly two centuries, when a monument was ~ 


erected to his memory in the church of Santa Croce, through the 
influence of an English nobleman. 


12. Decrine or THE LiteRaTuRE IN THE 1l7rH CENTURY. 


—The 16th century reaped the fruits that had been sown in 
the 15th, but it scattered no seeds for a harvest in the 17th, 
which was therefore doomed to general sterility. In the 
reigns of Charles V. and Philip II. the chains of civil and re- 
ligious despotism were forged which subdued the intellect and 
arrested the genius of the people. The Spanish viceroys ruled 


with an iron hand over Milan, Naples, Sicily and Sardinia, — 
Poverty and superstition wasted and darkened the minds of the 
people, and indolence and love of pleasure introduced almost _ 


universal degeneracy. But the Spanish yoke, which weighed so 


heavily at both extremities of the Peninsula, did not extend te’ 


the republic of Venice, or to the duchy of Tuscany ; and the 


heroic character of the princes of Savoy alone would have 
served to throw a lustre over this otherwise darkened period, 


In literature, too, there were a few who resisted the torrent of 


bad taste, amidst many who opened the way for a crowd of for 





ITALIAN LITERATURE. 231 





fowers in te false route, and gave to the age that character of 
extravageice for which it is so peculiarly distinguished. 

The literary works of the 17th century may be divided into 
three classes, the first of which, under the guidance of Marini, 
attained the lowest degree of corruption, and remain in the 
annals of literature as monuments of bombastic style and bad 
taste. The second embraces those writers who were aware of 
the faults of the school to which they belonged, and who, while 
they endeavored to follow a better style, partook more or less 
of the character of this age. To this class may be referred 
Chiabrera, already named, and more particularly Filicaja and 
other poets of the same school. The third class is composed of a 
few writers who preserved themselves faithful to the principles 
of true taste, and among them are Menzini, Salvator Rosa, Redi, 
and more particularly T'assoni, 


13. Epic ann Lyric Porrry.—Marini (1569-1625), the 
celebrated innovator on classic Italian taste, is considered as 
the first who seduced the poets of the 17th century into a 
labored and affected style. He was born at Naples and edu- 
cated for the legal profession, for which he had little taste, and 
on publishing a volume of poems, his indignant father turned him 
out of doors. But his popular qualities never left him without 
friends. He was invited to the Court of France, obtained the 
favor of Mary de’ Medici, and the situation of gentleman to the 
king. He became exceedingly popular among the French 
nobility, many of whom learned Italian for the sole purpose of 
reading his works. It was here that he published the most 
celebrated of his poems, entitled ‘ Adonis.” He afterwards 
purchased a beautiful villa near Naples, to which he retired, and 
where he soon after died. The ‘‘ Adonis” of Marini is a mixture 
of the epic ind the romantic style, the subject being taken from the: 
well-known story of Venus and Adonis. He renounced all keep. | 
ing and probability, both in his incidents and descriptions; if he 
could present a series of enchanting pictures, he was little soli 
citous as to the manner of their arrangement, But the work has 
much beauty and imagination, and is often animated by the 
true spirit of poetry. Its principal faults are that it is sadly 
wire-drawn, and abounds in puns, endless antitheses and in- 
ventions for surprising or bewildering the reader; graces which 
were greatly admired by the contemporaries of the poet. Marini 
was a voluminous writer, and was not only extolled in his own 
country above its classic authors, and in France, but the 
Spaniards held him in the highest esteem, and imitated and even. 


surpassed him in his own eccentric career. He had also innumerx 
ble imitators in Italy, many of whom attained a high reputation 
during their lives, and afterwards sunk into complete oblivion. 

Filicaja (1642-1709) stands at the head of the lyric poets 
of the 17th century. His inspiration seems first to have 
been awakened when Vienna was besieged by the Turks in 
1683, and gallantly defended by the Christian powers. His 
verses on this occasion awoke the most enthusiastic admiration 
and called forth the eulogies of princes and poets. ‘The admira- 
tion which he excited in his day, is scarcely to be wondered at ; 
for, though this judgment has not been ratified by posterity, 
Filicaja has at least the merit of having raised the poetry of 
Italy fom the abject service of mere amorous imbecility to the 
noble office of embodying the more manly and virtuous senti- 
ments ; and though his style is infected with the bombastic spirit 
of the age, it is even in this respect singularly moderate, com- 
pared with that of his contemporaries. 





. 232 ITALIAN LITERATURE, 


14, Mock Herotc Porrry, tHe Drama and Satire.—The 
full maturity of the style of mock-heroic poetry is due to 
Tassoni (1565-1685). He first attracted public notice by dis- 
puting the authority of Aristotle, and the poetical merits of 
Petrarch. In 1622, he published his ‘‘ Rape of the Bucket,” a 
burlesque poem on the petty wars which were so common be- 
tween the towns of Italy in the 13th and 14th centuries. The 
heroes of Modena had, in 1325, discomfited the Bolognese, and 
pursued them to the very heart of their city, whence they carried 
off, as a trophy of their victory, the bucket belonging to the 
public well. ‘The expedition, undertaken by the Bolognese for 
its recovery, forms the basis of the twelve mock-heroie cantos of 
Tassoni. ‘To understand this poem requires a knowledge of the 
vulgarisms and idioms which are frequently introduced in it. 

About the same period, Bracciolini (1566-1645) produced 
unother comic-heroic poem, entitled the ‘‘ Ridicule of the Gods,” 
in which the ancient deities are introduced as mingling with the 
peasants, and declaiming in the low, vulgar dialect, and making 
themselves most agreeably ridiculous. Somewhat later, appeared 
pne more example of the same species of epic, ‘The Malmantile,” 
by Lippi (1606-1664. This poem is considered a pure model 
of the dialect of the Florentines, which is so graceful and har: 
monious even in its homeliness. 

The 17th century was remarkable for the prodigious number — 
of its dramatic authors, but few of them equalled and none ex 
telled those of the preceding age. The opera, or melo-drama, 


_ 


ITALIAN LITERATURE, 238 


which had arisen out of the pastoral, seemed te monopolize 
whatever talent was at the disposal of the stage, and branches 
formerly cultivated sank below mediocrity. Amid the crowd of 
theatrical corrupters, the name of Andreini (1574-1652) de- 
serves peculiar mention, not from any claim to exemption from 
the general censure, but because his comedy of ‘‘ Adam” is be- 
lieved to have been the foundation of Milton’s “Paradise Lost.” 
Andreini was but one of the common throng of dramatic 
writers, and it has been fiercely contended by some, that it is 
impossible that the idea of so sublime a poem should have been 
taken from so ordinary a composition as his “ Adam.” His 
piece was represented at Milan as early as 1613, and so has at 
least the claim of priority. 

Menzini (1646-1708) and Salvator Rosa (1615-1675) were 
the representatives of the satire of this century ; the former 
distinguished for the purity of his language and the harmony 
of his verse; the latter for his vivacity and sprightliness- 


15. History anp Epistotary Writines.—The number of his- 
torical works in this century is much greater than in that of the 
preceding, but they are generally far from possessing the same 
merit or commanding the same interest. The historians seem to 
have lost all feeling of national dignity ; they do not venture to 
unveil the causes of public events, or to indicate their results, 
Even those that dared treat of Italy or its provinces, confined 
themselves to the reigning dynasties, and overlooking the causes 
which most deeply affected thé happiness of the people, described 
only the festivities, battles and triumphs of their princes. A 
large number of historians chose foreign subjects ; the history 
of France was remarkable for the number of Italians who en- 
deavored to relate it in this age. The work of Davila (1576- 
1630) on “The Civil Wars of France,” however, throws all 
the rest into the shade. What gives to it peculiar value is | 
the carefulness with which the materials were collected, in con- 
nection with the opportunities its author enjoyed for gaining 
information. This history is considered as superior to that of 
Guicciardini in its matter, as the latter excels it in style. It is 
wanting in that elegance which characterized the Florentine 
historians of the 16th century. Bentivoglio (1579-1644) was an 
eminent rival of Davila ; he wrote the history of the civil wars 
of Flanders ; a work remarkable for the elegance and correct- 
ness of its style. Above all, stand the works of Sarpi, who lived 
between 1552 and 1623, and who defended with great courage 
the authority of the Senate of Venice against the power of the 


234 ITALIAN LITERATURE, 


Popes, notwitnstanding their excommunication and continued 
persecution. His history of the Council of Trent contains a 
curious aceount of the intrigues of the Court of Rome at the 
period of the Reformation. 

It was chiefly in the more showy departments of literature 
that the extravagance of the Marinists was most conspicuous, 
and the decay of native genius was most apparent. But this 
genius had turned into other paths, which it pursued with a 
steady, though less brilliant course. Of all branches of prose 
composition, the epistolary was the most carefully cultivated. 
The talent for letter-writing was often the means of considerable 
emolument, as all the petty princes of Italy and the cardinals of 
Rome were ambitious of having secretaries who would give 
them éclat in their correspondence, and these situations, which 
were steps to higher preferment, were eagerly sought ; hence 
the prodigious number of collections of letters which have at all 
times inundated Italy—specimens by which those who believed 
themselves elegant writers endeavored to make known their 
talent. The letters of Bentivoglio have obtained European 
celebrity. They are distinguished for elegance of style as well 
as for the interest of those listurical recollections which they 
transmit; they are considered superior to his history. But 
of all the letters of this or of the preceding age, none are 
more rich, more varied, or more pleasing than those of Redi, 
who threw into this form his discoveries in natural history. 
The driest subjects, even those of language and grammar, are 
here treated in an interesting and agreeable manner. 


PERIOD THIRD. 


THE SECOND REVIVAL OF Irat1aN LITERATURE, AND ITS PRESENT 
CONDITION (1675-1859). 


1. HistoricaAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE THIRD PERIOD.—At the 
close of the 17th century, a new dawn arose in the history of 
Italian letters, and the general corruption which had extended 
to every branch of literature and paralyzed the Italian mind, 
began to be arrested by the appearance of writers of better 
taste; the affectations of the Marinists and of the so-called 
Arcadian poets were banished from literature ; science was ele 
vated and its dominion extended, the melodrama, comedy and 
tragedy re-created, and a new spirit infused into every branch of 
composition. Amidst the clash of arms and the vicissitudes of 


4 
| 





| 


i 


ITALIAN LITERATURE. 935 


long and bloody wars, Italy began to awake from her lethargy, 
to the aspiration for greater and better things, and her intel- 
lectual condition soon underwent important changes anc 
improvements. In the 18th century, in Naples, Vico trans- 
formed history into a new science. Cirillo distinguished himself 
in medical science, Mazzocchi in archeology, Genovesi and 
Galiani in political economy; Filangeri contended with Mon- 
tesquieu for the palm of legislative philosophy ; and new light 
was thrown on criminal science by Mario Pagano. In Rome, 
letters and science flourished under the patronage of Benedict 
ALYV.,Clement XTV., and Pius VI., under whose auspices Quirico 
Visconti undertook his “ Pio Clementine Museum” and _ his 
“Greek and Roman Iconography,” the two greatest archeo- 
logical works of all ages. Padua was immortalized by the 
works of Cesarotti, Belzoni and Stratico; Venice by Goldoni ; 
Verona by Maffei, the critic and the antiquarian, as well as the 
first reformer of Italian tragedy. Tuscany took the lead of the 
intellectual movement of the country under Leopold and his suc- 
cessor Ferdinand, when Florence, Pisa and Siena again became 
seats of learning and of poetry and the arts. Maria Theresa and 
Joseph II. fostered the intellectual progress of Lombardy; 
‘Spallanzani published his researches on natural philosophy; 
Volta discovered the pile which bears his name ; a new era in 
poetry was created by Parini; another in criminal jurisprudence 
by Becearia ; history was reconstructed by Muratori ; mathe- 
matics promoted by Lagrange, and astronomy by Oriani; and 
Alfieri restored Italian letters to their primitive splendor. 

' At the close of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th, 
Italy became the theatre of political and military revolutions, 
whose influence could not fail to prove fatal to the literature of 
the country. ‘The galleries, museums, and the libraries of Rome, 
Florence, and other cities, were despoiled by military vandalism, 
and all their treasures, manuscripts and masterpieces of art 
carried to Paris as trophies of the victories of Napoleon ; the 
entire peninsula was subject to French influence, which, though 
beneficial to its material progress, could not fail to be detri 
mental to national literature. All new works were composed 
in French, and indifferent or bad translations from the Frenct. 
were widely circulated ; the French language was substituted 
for the Italian, and the national literature seemed about to dis- 
appear. But Italian genius was not wholly extinguished ; 
a few writers, among whom was Monti, powerfully opposed this 
new tendency, and preserved in its purity the language of Dante 
and Petrarch. Gradually the national spirit revived, and litera. 


236 ITALIAN LITERATURE. 





ture was again moulded in accordance with the natimal charac 
ter. Notwithstanding the political calamities of which, since 
the treaty of Vienna in 1815, Italy has been continually the 
victim, the literature of the country has awakened and fostered 
a sertiment of nationality, and Italian independence is at this 
present moment the aspiration of the entire people. 


2. Tue Mrtoprama.—The first result of the revival of letters 
at the close of the 17th century, was the reform of the theatre. 
The melodrama, or Italian opera, arose out of the pastoral 
drama, which it superseded. The astonishing progress of musical 
science succeeded that of poetry and sculpture, which fell into 
decline with the decay of literature. Music, rising into excel 
lence and importance at a time when poetry was on the decline, 
acquired such superiority, that verse, instead of being its mistress, 
became its handmaid. The first occasion of this inversion was 
in the year 1594, when Rinuccini, a Florentine poet, associated 
himself with three musicians to compose a mythological drama. 
This and several other pieces by the same author met with a 
brilliant reception. Poetry, written only in order to be sung, 
thus assumed a different character ; Rinuccini abandoned the 
form of the canzone which had hitherto been used in the lyrical 
part of the drama, and adopted the Pindaric ode. Many poets 
followed in the same path; more action was given to the 
dramatic parts, and greater variety to the music, in which the 
airs were agreeably blended with the recitative duets ; and other 
harmonized pieces were also added, and after the lapse of a 
century, Apostolo Zeno (1669-1750) still further improved the 
melodrama. But it was the spirit of Mctastasio that breathed 
a soul of fire into this ingenious and happy form created by 
others. Ye 

Metastasio (1698-1782) gave early indications of genius, and 
when only ten years of age, used to collect an audience in his 
father’s shop, by his talent for improvisation. He thus attracted 
the notice of Gravina, a celebrated patron of letters, who adopted 
him as his son, changed his somewhat ignoble name of Trepassi 
to Metastasio, and had him educated in every branch necessary _ 
ior a literary career. He still continued to improvise verses on 
any given subject for the amusement of company. His youth, 
his harmonious voice and prepossessing appearance, added 
greatly to the charm of his talent. It was one generally culti- 
vated in Italy at this time, and men of mature years often pre 
sented themselves as rivals of the boy. This occupation becom 
‘ng injurious to the youth, Gravina fortade him to compnss 


extempore verses any more, and this rule, imposed on him at 
sixteen, he never aftcrwards infringed. When Metastasio was 
in his twentieth year, Gravina died, leaving to him his fortune, 
most of which he squandered in two years He afterwards went 
to Naples, where, under a severe master, to whose control he 
submitted himself entirely, he devoted himself to the severest 
study and for two years resisted every solicitation to compose 
verses. At length, under promise of secrecy, he wrote a drama. 
All Naples resounded with its praise, and the author was soon 
discovered. Metastasio from this time followed the career for 
which nature seemed to have formed him, and devoted himself 
to the opera, which he considered to be the natural drama of 
Italy. An invitation to become the court poet of Vienna made 
his future life both stable and prosperous, On the death of 
Charles VI., in 1740, several other European sovereigns made 
advantageous overtures to the poet, but as Maria Theresa was 
-disposed to retain him, he would not leave her in her adverse 
circumstances. ‘The remainder of his life he passed in Germany, 
and his latter years were as monotonous as they were pros- 
perous. 

Metastasio seized with a daring hand the true spirit of the 
melodrama, and scorning to confine himself to unity of place, 
opened a wide field for the display of theatrical variety, on which 
the charm of the opera so much depends. The language in 
which he clothed the favorite passion of his drama, exhibits all 
that is delicate and yet ardent, and he develops the most 
elevated sentiments of loyalty, patriotism and filial love. The 
flow of his verse in the recitative is the most pure and har- 
monious known in any language, and the strophes at the close 
of each scene are scarcely surpassed by the first masters in lyric 
poetry. Metastasio is one of the most pleasing, at the same 
time one of the least difficult of the Italian poets, and the tyro 
in the study of Italian classics may begin with his works, and 
at once enjoy the pleasures of poetic harmony at their highest 
source. 


ITALIAN LITERATURE. 237 


3. Comepy.—The revolution, so frequently attempted in 

_ Italian comedy by men whose genius was unequal to the task, 
_ was reserved for Goldoni (1707-1792) to accomplish. His 
_ life, writtcn by himself, presents a picture of Italian manners in 
their gayest colors. He was a native of Venice, and from his 
_ early youth was constantly surrounded by theatrical people. At 
eight years of age he composed a comedy, and at fourteen he 
tan away from school with a company of strolling players. He 








938 ITALIAN LITERATURE. 


afterwards prepared for the medical, then for the legal prcfession, 
and finally, at the age of twenty-seven, he was installed poet te — 
a company of players. He now attempted to introduce the 
reforms that he had long meditated ; he attained a purer style, 
and became a censor of the manners and a satirist of the follies 
of his country. His dialogue is extremely animated, earnest 
and full of meaning; with a thorough knowledge of national 
manners, he possessed the rare faculty of representing them in 
the most life-like manner on the stage. The language used by 
the inferior characters of his comedies is the Venetian dialect. 

In his latter days, Goldoni was rivalled by Carlo Gozzi 
(1722-1806), who parodied his pieces, and, it is thought, was 
the cause of his retirement, in the decline of life, to Paris. 
Gozzi introduced a new style of comedy, by reviving the 
familiar fictions of childhood ; he selected and dramatized the 
most brilliant fairy tales, such as “ Blue Beard,” “The King of 
the Genii,” etc., and gave them to the public with magnificent — 
decorations and surprising machinery. If his comedies display 
little resemblance to nature, they at least preserve the kind of 
probability which is looked for in-a fairy tale. Many years 
elapsed after Goldoni and Gozzi disappeared from the arena, 
before there was any successor to rival their compositions. 

Among those who contributed to the perfection of Italian 
comedy, may be mentioned Albergati (fl. 1774), Gherardo 
de’ Rossi (1754-1827), and above all, Nota (d. 1847), who 
is preéminent among the new race of comic authors ; although 
somewhat cold and didactic, he at least fulfills the important 
office of holding the mirror up to nature. He exkibits a faith- — 
ful picture of Italian society, and applies the scourge of satire 
to its most pr evalent faults and follies. 






























4, Tracepy.—The reform of Italian eels was early 
attempted by Martelli (d. 1727) and by Scipione Maffei (1675- 
1755). But Martelli was only a tame imitator of French 
models, while Maffei, possessing real talent and feeling, deserved 
the extended reputation he acquired. His ‘‘ Merope” is con- 
sidered as the last and the best specimen of the elder school of 
Italian tragedy. It is free from striking defects rather than 
rich in peculiar beauties, and evinces the tasteful scholar more 
than the inspired poet. Its excellence consists rather in its 
general effect than in detached passages. 

The honor of raising tragedy to its highest standard was 
reserved for Alfieri (1749-1803). He was born in Piedmont, 
and from his autobiography we learn his remarkable ue 


’ ITALIAN LITERATURE. 239 


character, which exercised so powerful an influence over his 
works. He was possessed of an impetuosity which continually 
urged him towards some indefinite object, a craving for some- 
thing more free in politics, more elevated in character, more 
ardent in love, and more perfect in friendship ; of desires for a 
better state of things, which drove him from one extremity of 
Europe to another, but without discovering it in the realities of 
this every-day world. Finally, he turned to the contemplation 
of a new universe in his own poetical creations, and calmed his 
agitations by the production of those master-pieces which have 
secured his immortality. His aim in life, in the pursuit of which 
he never deviated, was that of founding a new and classic school 
of tragedy. He proposed to himself the severe simplicity of the 
Greeks with respect to the plot, while he rejected the pomp of 
poetry which compensates for interest among the classic writers 
of antiquity. Energy and conciseness are the distinguisning 
features of his style; and this, in his earlier dramas, is carried 
to the extreme. He brings the whole action into one focus ; 
the passion he would exhibit is introduced into the first verse and 
kept in view to the last. No event, no character, no conver- 
sation unconnected with the advancement of the plot is permitted 
to appear ; all confidants and secondary personages are, there- 
fore, excluded, and there seldom appear more than four inter- 
locutors. These tragedies breathe the spirit of patriotism and 
freedom, and for this character, even independently of their 
intrinsic merit, Alfieri is considered as the reviver of the 
national character in modern times, as Dante was in the 14th 
century. “Saul” is regarded as his master-piece ; it represents 
a noble character suffering under those weaknesses which some- 
times accompany great virtues, and governed by the fatality not 
of destiny, but of human nature. 

Among the earliest and most distinguished of those who followed 
in the path of Alfieri, was Monti (1754-1828). He was born 
in a village near Ravenna, and early found himself among the re- 
volutions of histime. Though endowed with a sublime imagina- 
tion and exquisite taste, his character was weak and vain, and he, 
in turn, celebrated every party as it became the successful one. 
Educated in the school of Dante, he introduced into Italian 

oetry those bold and severe beauties which adorned its infancy. 

is “ Aristodemus” is one- of the most affecting tragedies in 
ialia: literature. The story is founded on the narrative of 
Pausanias. It is simple in its construction, and its interest is 
confined alniost entirely to the principal personage. In the lofti- 
uess of the characters of his tragedies, and the energy of senté 


tr ae ae te 


240 ITALIAN LITERALUR3. 


ment and simplicity of action which characterize them, we recog 
nize the school of Alfieri, while in harmony and eleganve of style 
and poetical language, Monti is superior. 

Another follower of the school of Alfieri is Ugo Foscolo(1778- 
1827), one of the greatest writers of this age, and whose inspira- 
tion was derived from a lofty patriotism. At the time of the 
French revolution he joined the Italian army, with the object of 
restoring independence to his country. Disappointed in this hope, 
he left Italy for England, where he distinguished himself by his — 
writings. The best of his tragedies, ‘‘ Ricciarda,” is founded 
on events supposed to have occurred in the middle ages. While 
some of its scenes and situations are forced and unnatural, some 
of the acts are wrought with consummate skill and effect, and 
the conception of the characters is tragic and original. Foscolo 
adopts in his tragedies a concise and pregnant style, and displays 
great mastery over his native language. Marenco (d. 1846) is 
distinguished for the noble and moral ideas, lofty images, and 
affections of his tragedies; but he lacks unity of design and 
vigor of style. Silvio Pellico (1789-1854) was born in Pied- 
mont. Asa writer he is best known as the author of ‘‘ My Prisons,” 
a narrative full of simplicity and resignation, in which he relates 
his sufferings during ten years in the fortress of Spielberg. His 
tragedies are good specimens of modern art ; they abourd im fine 
thoughts and tender affections, but they lack that liveliness of 
\lialogue and rapidity of action, which give reality to the situa- 
tions, and that knowledge of the human heart and unity and gran- 
deur of conception which are the characteristics of true genius. 

Manzoni and Nicolini are the last of the modern representatives 
of the tragic drama of Italy. The tragedies of Manzoni, and 
especially his ‘‘ Conte di Carmagnola,” abound in exquisite beau 
ties. His style is simple and noble, his verse easy and harme 
nious, and his object elevated. The merits of these tragedies, 
however, belong rather to parts, and while the reading of them 
is always interesting on the stage they fail to awaken the inter- 
est of the audience. After Manzoni, Nicoliniis the most popular 
literary man of Italy at the present time. Lofty ideas, generous 
passions, splendor and harmony of poetry, purity of language 
variety of characters, and warmth of patriotism, constitute the 
merit of his tragedies ; while his faults consist in a style some 
what too exuberant and lyrical, in ideas sometimes too vague, 
and characters often too ideal. 


6, Lyric, Eric anp Dipactic Porrry.—In the latter part of 
‘he 18th century, a class of poets wha called themselva 


nal 


all 


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— 
L 2s 
_ “ 
: 


ITALIAN LITERATURE. 241 


“The Arcadians,” attempted to overthrow the artificial and bom 
bastie schoul of Marini ; but their frivolous and insipid produc 
tions had little effect on the literature. The first poets who gave 
a uew impulse to letters were Parini and Monti. Parini (1729-. 
1799) was a man of great genius, integrity and taste ; he con- 
tributed more than any other writer of his age jo the progress 
of literature and the arts. His lyrical poems abound in noble 
thoughts, and breathe a pure patriotism and high morality. His 
style is forcible, chaste, and harmonious. The poems of Monti 
have much of the fire and elevation of Pindar. Whatever object 
employs his thoughts, his eyes immediately behold ; and as it 
stands before him, a flexible and harmonious language is ever at 
his command to paint it in the brightest colors. His “ Basvil- 
liana” is the most celebrated of his lyric poems, and beyond 
every other is remarkable for majesty, nobleness of expression, 
and richness of coloring. 

The poetical writings of Pindemonte (1753-1828) are 
stamped with the melancholy of his character. Their subjects 
are taken from contemporary events, and his inspiration is drawn 
from nature and rural life. His “‘Sepulchres” breathes the 
sweetest and most pathetic tenderness, and the brightest hopes 
of immortality. The poems of Foscolo have the grace and ele- 
gance of the Greek poets ; but in his ‘‘ Sepulchres” the gloom of 
his melancholy imegination throws a funereal light over the 
nothingness of all things, and the silence of death is unbroken by 
any voice of hope in a future life. Torti (1774-1852), a pupil 
of Parini, rivalled his master in the simplicity of style and purity 
of his images ; while Leopardi (1798-1837) impressed upon 
his lyric poems the peculiarities of his own character. A sublime 

“poet and a profound scholar, his muse was inspired by a deep 
sorrow, and his poems, while they are exquisitely elegant, breathe 
a hopeless melancholy, and express the bitterest irony and dis 
gust of men and life. Berchet (1790-1851) is considered as 
the Italian Béranger, and his songs glow with patriotic fire. 
Those of Silvio Pellico, always sweet and truthful, bear the stamp 
of a calm resignation, hope and piety. The list of modern lyric 
poets closes with Manzoni, whose hymns are models of this style 
of poetry. 

‘In the epic department, the third period does not afford any 
poems of a high order. But the translation of the Iliad by 
Monti, that of the Odyssey by Pindemonte, for their purity of 
language and beauty of style, may be considered as epic additions 
to Itaiian literature. ‘The Longobards of the First Crusade,” 
written by Grossi (1791-1853), excels in beauty and splendor 

1] 


242 ITALIAN LITERATURE. 


of poetry all the epic poems of this age, though it lacks unity of 
design and comprehensiveness of thought. 

Among the didactic poems may be mentioned the “ Invita- 
tion of Lesbia,” by Mascheroni (1750-1800), a distinguished 
poet as well as a celebrated mathematician. This poem, which 
describes the beautiful productions of nature in the Museum 
of Pavia, is considered a masterpiece of didactic poetry. ‘The 
“ Riseide,” or cultivation of rice, by Spolverini (1695-1762), 
and the ‘“ Silkworm,” by Betti (1732-1788), are charac- 
terized by poetical beauties. The poem on the “ Immortality of 
the Soul,” by Fiorentino (1742-1815), though defective in style, 
is distinguished by its elevation of ideas and sentiments, ‘‘'The 
Cultivation of Mountains,” by Lorenzi (1782-1822), is rich in 
beautiful images and thoughts. ‘The Cultivation of Olive 
Trees,” by Arici (1782-1836), his “ Corals,” and other poems, 
especially in their descriptions, are graceful and attractive. ‘“ The 
Seasons” of Barbieri (1774-1852), though bearing marks of 
imitation from Pope, is written in a pure and elegant style 


6. Hxrorc-Como Poetry, SatrrE AND Fasie.—The period 
of heroic-comic poetry closes in the 18th century. ‘The Ricciar- 


detto” of Fortiguerri (1674-1735) is the last of the poems of - 


chivalry, and with it terminated the long series of romances 
founded on the adventures of Charlemagne and his paladins. 
The “‘ Cicero” of Passeroni (1713-1803) is a rambling compo- 
sition in a style similar to Sterne’s Zvistram Shandy, which, it 
appears, was suggested by this work 

Satiric poetry, which had flourished in the preceding period, 
was enriched by new productions in the 18th and 19th centuries, 


G. Gozzi (1713-1789) attacked in his satires the vices and pre- © 


judices of his fellow-citizens, in a forcible and elegant style ; and 
Parini, the great satirist of the 18th century, founded a school 
of satire, which proved most beneficial to the country, His 
poem, ‘‘ The Day,” is distinguished by fine irony and by the se- 
verity with which he attacks the effeminate habits of his age. 
He lashes the affectations and vices of the Milanese aristocracy 
with a sarcasm worthy of Juvenal. The satires of D’Elci, Gua- 
dagnoli, and others are characterized by wit and beauty of versi- 
fication. Those of Leopardi are bitter and contemptuous, while 
Giusti (1809-1850), the political satirist of his age scourged the 
petty tyrants of his country with biting severity and pungent 
wit ; the circulation of his satires throughout Italy, in defiance 
of its despotic governments, greatly contributed to the revolu 
tion of 1848. | 





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\ 
‘ 


ITALIAN LITERATURE. 243 


In the depa* sment of fable may be mentioned Roberti (1719- 
L786), Passeroni, Pignotti (1739-1812), and Clasio (1754- 
1825), distinguished for invention, purity, and simplicity of style. 


T. Romances.—Though the tales of Boccaccio and the story- 
tellers of the 16th century paved the way to the romances of the 
present time, it was only at a late period that the Italians gave 

their attention to this kind of composition. In the 18th 
century we find only two specimens of romance, ‘‘The Congress 
of Citera,” by Algarotti, of which Voltaire said that it 
was written with a feather drawn from the wings of love; and 

the “ Roman Nights,” by Alexander Verri (1741-1816). In 
his romance he introduces the shades of celebrated Romans, 
particularly of Cicero, and an ingenious comparison of ancient 
and modern institutions is made. The style is picturesque and 
poetical, though somewhat florid. 

This kind of composition has found more favor in the 19th 
century. First among the writers of this age is Manzoni, whose 
“ Betrothed” is a model of romantic literature. The variety, 
originality and truthfulness of the characters, the perfect know- 
ledge of the human heart it displays, the simplicity and vivacity 

_ of its style, from the principal merits of this work. The 
“Marco Visconti” of Grossi is distinguished for its pathos and 
for the purity and elegance of its style. 

The “ Httore Fieramosca” of Massimo d’Azeglio is dis- 
tinguished from the works already spoken of by its martial and 
national spirit. His “ Nicolo de Lapi,” though full of beauties, 
partakes in some degree of the faults common to the French 
school. After these, the ‘ Margherita Pusterla” of Canta, 
the “ Luisa Strozzi” of Rosini, the ‘‘ Lamberto Malatesta ” of 
Royani, the ‘ Angiola Maria” of Carcano, are the best histori- 
eal romances of Italian literature. Both in an artistic and 
moral point of view, they far excel those of Guerrazzi, which re- 
present the French school of George Sand in Italy, and whose 
“ Battle of Benevento,” “ Isabella Orsini,” ‘‘ Siege of Florence,” 

_ and “ Beatrice Cenci,” while they are written in pure language 
and abound in minor beauties, are exaggerated in their charac- 
ters, bombastic and declamatory in style, and overloaded in 
description. 

The “Last Letters of Jacopo Ortis,” by Foscolo, belongs to 
vhat kind of romance which is called sentimental. Overcome by 
the calamities of his country, with his soul full of fiery passion and 
sad disappointment, Foscolo wrote this romance, the protest of 
his heart against evi!s which he could not heal. 


244 ITALIAN LITERATURE, 


8. History.—Among the most prominent of the aumerous 
historians of this period, a few only can be named. Maratori 
(1672-1750), for his vast erudition and profound criticism, has 
no rivals. He made the most accurate and extensive researches 
and discoveries relating to the history of Italy, from the 5th to 
the 16th century, which he published in twenty-seven folio 
volumes ; the most valuable collection of historical documents 
which ever appeared in Italy. He wrote, also, a work on 
“Ttalian Antiquities,” illustrating the history of the middle 
ages through ancient monuments, and the “ Annals of Italy,” 
a history of the country from the beginning of the Christian era 
to his own age. Though its style is somewhat defective, the 
richness and abundance of its erudition, its clearness and 
arrangement, impart to this work great value and interest. 

Maffei, already spoken of as the first reformer of Italian 
tragedy, surpassed Muratori in the purity of his style, and was 
only second to him in the extent and variety of his erudition. 
He wrote several works on the antiquities and monuments of 
Italy. 7 

Bianchiui (1662-1729), a celebrated architect and scholar, 
wrote a ‘‘ Universal History,” which, though not complete, is 
characterized as a work of great genius. It is founded ex- 
clusively on the interpretations of ancient monuments in marble 
and metal. 

Vico (1670-1744), the founder of the philosophy of history, 
embraced with his comprehensive mind the history of all nations, 
and from the darkness of centuries he created the science of 
humanity, which he called ‘Scienza Nuova.” Vico does not 
propose to illustrate any special historical epoch, but follows the 
general movement of mankind in the most remote and obscure 
times, and establishes the rules which must guide us in inter- 
preting ancient historians. By gathering from different epochs, 
remote from each other, the songs, symbols, monuments, laws, 
etymologies, and religious and philosophical doctrines—in a 
word, the infinite elements which form the life of mankind—he 
establishes the unity of human history. The ‘Scienza Nuova” 
is one of the great monuments of human genius, and it has 
inspired many works on the philosophy of history, especially 
among the Germans, such as those of Hegel, Niebuhr, and others, 

Giannone (1676-1748) is the author of a “ Civil History of 
the Kingdom of Naples,” a work full of juridical science as well 
as of historical interest. Having attacked with much vioience 
the encroachments of the church of Rome on the rights of 
the State, he became the victim of a persecution which ended 








ITALIAN LITERATURE. 245 


in his death in the fortress of Turin. Giannone, in his history, 
gave the first example in modern times of that intrepidity and 
courage which belong to the true historian. 

Botta (1766-1837) is among the first historians of the 
present age. He was a physician and a scholar, and devoted 
to the freedom of his country. He filled important political 
offices in Piedmont, under the administration of the French 
government. In 1809, he published, in Paris, his ‘‘ History of 
the Ainerican Revolution,” a work held in high estimation 
both in this country and in Italy. In the political changes 
which followed the fall of Napoleon, Botta suffered many 
pecuniary trials, and was even obliged to sell, by weight, to a 


-druggist, the entire edition of his history, in order to pay for 


medicines for his sick wife. Meanwhile, he wrote a history of 
Italy, from 1789 to 1814, which was received with great en- 
thusiasm through Italy, and for which the Academy della 
Crusca, in 1830, granted to him a pecuniary reward. This was 
followed by the ‘‘ History of Italy,” in continuation of Guicciar- 
dini, from the fall of the Florentine Republic to 1789, a gigantic 
work, with which he closed his historical career. The histories 
of Botta are distinguished by clearness of narrative, vividness 
and beauty of description, by the prominence he gives to the 
moral aspect of events and characters, and by purity, richness 
and variety of style. 

Colletta (1775-1831) was born in Naples ; under the go- 
vernment of Murat he rose to the rank of general, and fell with 
his patron. His ‘ History of the Kingdom of Naples,” from 
1734 to 1825, is modelled after the annals of Tacitus. The 
style is simple, clear, and concise, the subject is treated without 
digressions or episodes; it is conceived in a partial spirit, and 
is a eulogium of the. administration of Joachim ; but no writer 
can rival Colletta in his descriptions of strategic movements, 
of sieges and battles. 

Balbo (1789-1853) was born in Turin ; during the adminis 
tration of Napoleon he filled many important political offices, 
and afterwards he entered the military career. Devoted to the 
freedom of his country, he strove to promote the progress of 
Italian independence. In 1847, he published the ‘‘ Hopes of 
Italy,” the first political work that had appeared in the 
peninsula since the restoration of 1814 ; it was the spark which 
kindled the movements of 1848. In the events of that and of 
the succeeding year, he ranked among the most prominent 
leaders of the national party. His historical works are a “ Life 
nf Dante,” considered the best on the subject; ‘‘ Historical 


246 TLALIAN LITERATURE. 


Contenplations,” in which he developed the history or mankind 
from a philosophical point of view; and “'The Compendium of the 
History of Italy,” which embraces in a synthetic form all the — 
history of the country from the earliest times to 1814. Hisstyle 
is pure, clear, and sometimes eloquent, though often concise 
and abrupt. 

Cantu, a living historian, has written a universal history, in — 
which he attempts the philosophical style. Though vivid in — 
his narratives, descriptions and details, he is often incorrect 
in his statements, and rash in his judgments ; his work, though 
professing liberai views, is essentially conservative in its tendency. — 
The same faults may be discovered in his more recent ‘“ History 
of the Italians.” a 

Tiraboschi (1731-1794) is the great historian of Italian — 
literature ; his work is biographical and critical, and is the most 
extensive literary history of Italy. His style is simple and ele- 
sant, and his criticism profound ; but he gives greater prominence 
to the biographies of writers than to the consideration of their 
works. This history was continued by Corniani (1742-1813), 
and afterwards by Ugoni (1784-1855). 


9. Aistuerics, CrivictsM, PHinoLoey aND PHILOSOPHY.— 
Italian literature is comparatively deficient in esthetics, the — 
science of the beautiful. The treatise of Gioberti on the 
“ Beautiful,” the last work which has appeared on this subject, 
is distinguished for its profound doctrines and brilliant style. 
Philology and criticism first began to flourish at the close of the 
17th century, and are well represented at the present time.~The 
revival of letters was greatly promoted by the criticism of 
Gravina (1664-1718), one of the most celebrated jurisconsults 
and scholars of his age, who, through his work, ‘‘ The Poetical 
Reason,” greatly contributed to the reform of taste. Zeno, — 
Maffei, and Muratori also distinguished themselves in the art 
of criticism, and by their works aided in overthrowing the school 
of Marini. Ata later date, Gaspar Gozzi, through his “ Obser- 
ver,” a periodical publication modelled after the “ Spectator” of 
Addison, undertook to correct the literary taste of the country; — 
for its invention, pungent wit and satire, and the purity and cor- 
rectness of its style, it is considered one of the best compositions 
of this kind. Baretti (1716-1789) propagated in Bngland the 
taste for Italian literature, and at the same time published his 
“ Literary Scourge,” a criticism of the ancient and modern writers 
of Italy. His style, though always pure, is often caustic. He 
wrote several books in the English language, one of which is in de 





— =" 
7 

c - 

) 


ITALIAN IITERATURE. 249 


fence of Shakspeare against Voltaire. Cesarotti (1730-1808), 
though eminentas a critic, introduced into the Italian language 
some innovations, which contributed to its corruption ; while the 
nice judgment, good taste, and pure style of Parini place him at 
the head of this department. In the latter part of this period 
we find, in the criticisms of Monti, vigorous logic and a splendia 
and attractive style. Foscolo is distinguished for his acumen and 
pungent wit. The works of Perticari (1779-1822) are writ- 
ten with extreme polish, erudition, judgment, and dignity ; in 
Leopardi, philosophical acumen equals the elegance of his style. 
Giordani (d. 1848), as a critic and an epigraphist, deserves 
to be noticed for his fine judgment and pure taste; and also 
Tommaseo and Cattaneo, who are both epigrammatic, witty and 
pungent. 

The golden age of philology dates from the time of Lorenzo de’ 
Medici to the 17th century; it then declined until the 18th, It 
revived in the works of Maffei, Muratori, Zeno, and others. In 
the same century this study was greatly promoted by Foscolo, 
Monti, and Cesari (1760-1828), who, among other philological 
works, published a new edition of the Dictionary della Crusca, 
revised and augmented. Of the modern writers on philology, 
Gherardini and Tommaseo are the most prominent. 

The revival of philosophy in Italy dates from the age of 
Galileo, when the authority of the Peripatetics was overthrown, 
and a new method introduced into scientific researches. From 
that time to the present, this science has been represented by 
opposite schools, the one characterized by sensualism and the 
other by rationalism. The experimental. method of Galileo 
paved the way to the first, which holds that experience is the 
only source of knowledge, a doctrine which gained ground in the 
17th century, and became universally accepted in the 18th, 
through the influence of Locke and Condillac, and contirued to 
prevail during the first part of the 19th. Gioja (1767-1829) 
and Romagnosi (1761-1835) are the greatest representatives of 
this system, in the last part of this period. But while the former 
developed sensualism in philosophy and economy, the latter ap- 
plied it to potitical science and jurisprudence. The numerous 
works of Gioja are distinguished for their practical value and 
ilearness of style, though they lack eloquence and purity ; those 
of Romagnosi are more abstract, and couched in obscure and 
often incorrect language, but they are monuments of vast erudi 
tion, acute and profound judgment, and powerful dialectics. 

Galluppi (1773-1846), though unable to extricate himself 
entirely from the sensualistic school, attempted the reform of 


248 ITALIAN LITERATURE. 


philosophy, which resulted in a movement in Italy similar to that 
produced by Reid and Dugald Stewart in Scotland. 

While sensualism was gaining ground in the 17th and 18th 
centuries, rationalism, having its roots in the Platonic system 
which had prevailed in the 15th and 16th, was remodelled under 


the influence of Descartes, Leibnitz and Wolf, and opposed to ~ 


the invading tendencies of its antagonist. From causes to he 
found in the spirit of the age and the political condition of the 
country, this system was unable to take the place to which it 
was entitled, though it succeeded in purifying sensualism from its 
more dangerous consequences, and infusing into it some of its own 
clements. But the overthrow of that system was only recently 
completed by the works of Rosmini and Gioberti. Rosmini 





(1795-1855), gave a new impulse to metaphysical researches, > 


and created a new era in the history of Italian philosophy. 
His numerous works embrace all philosophical knowledge in its 
auity and universality, founded on a new basis, and developed 
with deep, broad and original views. His philosophy, both 
inductive and deductive, rests on experimental method, reaches 
the highest problems of ideology and ontology, and infuses new 
life into all departments of science. This philosophical progress 


was greatly aided by Gioberti (180151), whose life, however, — 


was more particularly devoted to political pursuits. His work 
on “The Regeneration of Italy ” contains his latest and soundest 
views on Italian nationality. Another distinguished philosophi- 
cal and political writer, is Mamiani, whose recent work on ‘“ The 
Rights of Nations” deserves the attention of all students of his- 
tory and political science. As a statesman, he belongs to the 
National party, of which Cavour, himself an eminent writer on 
political economy, is the great representative, and to whose 
commanding influence is to be attributed the rapid progress 
which the Italian nation is now making towards unity and inde 
pendence. 


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FRENCH LITERATURE. 


Intropvuction.—1. French Literature and its Divisions,—2. The Language. 

Penriop First.—-1. The Troubadours.—2. The Trouvéres.—3, French Literature in th 
Fifteenth Century ; Charles ‘of Orleans, Villon, Ville-Hardouin, Joinville, Froissart, 
Philippe de Commines. 

Psriop Srconp.—1. The Renaissance and the Reformation; Marguerite de Valois 
Marot, Rabelais,Calvin, Montaigne, Charron, and others.—2. Light Literature; Ronsard, 
Jodelle, Hardy, Malherbe, Scarron, Madame de Rambouillet, and others.—3, The 
French Academy.—4. The Drama; Corneille.—5. Philosophy ; Descartes, Pascal; Port 

-Royal.—6. The rise of the Golden Age of French Literature; Louis XIV.—7. Tragedy ; 

Racine.—8. Comedy ; Moliére.—9. Fables, Satires, Mock-Heroic, and other Poetry ; 
La Fontaine, Boileau.—10. Eloquence of the Pulpit and of the Bar; Bourdaloue, Bos- 
suet, Massillon, Fléchier, Le Maitre, D’Aguesseau, and others.—1l1. Moral Philosophy ; 
Rochefoucauld, La Bruyére, Nicole.—12. History and Memoirs; Mézeray, Fleury, 
Rollin, Brantéme, the Duke of Sully, Cardinal de Retz.—18. Romance and Letter 
Writing; Fénelon, Madame de Sévigné. 

Periop Tuirp.—l. The Dawn of Skepticism; Bayle, J. B. Rousseau, Fontenelle, 
Lamotte.—2. Progress of Skepticism; Montesquieu, Voltaire —3. French Literature 
during the Revolution; D’Holbach, D’Alembert, Diderot, J. J. Rousseau, Buffon, Beau- 
marchais, St. Pierre, and others.—4. French Literature under the Empire; Madame 
de Staél, Chateaubriand, Royer-Collard, Bonald, De Maistre.—5. French Literature 
from the age of the Restoration to the present time; Barante, Guizot, Thierry, Miche- 
et, Thiers, Cousin, Lamennais, Comte; the Romantic School; Béranger, Delavigne, 
Lamartine, Victor Hugo, Sand, Sue, Scribe, and others, 


INTRODUCTION. 


1. Frenca Lirerature anp its Drivisions.—Towards the 
middle of the 5th century, the Franks commenced their invasions 
of Gaul, which ended in the conquest of the country, and the 
establishment of the French monarchy under Clovis. The period 
from Clovis to Charlemagne (487-768) is the most obscure of 
the Dark Ages. The principal writers, whose names have been 
preserved, are St. Rémy, the archbishop of Rheims (d. 535), 
distinguished for his eloquence, and Gregory of Tours (d. 595), 
whose contemporary history is valuable for the good faith in 
which it is written, in spite of the ignorance and credulity which 
it displays. The genius of Charlemagne (r. 768-814) gave a 
new impulse to learning. By his liberality he attracted the 
most distinguished scholars to his court, among others Alcuin, 
from England, whom he chose for his instructor; he established 


11* 249 


950 FRENCH LITERATURE. 





schools of theology and science, and appointed the most learned 
professors to preside over them. But in the century succeeding 
is death, the country relapsed into barbarism. 

In the south of France, Provence early became an independ- 
ent kingdom, and consolidating its language, laws, and manners, 
at the close of the 11th century it gave birth to the literature 
of the Troubadours; while in the north, the language and litera- 
ture of the Trouvéres, which were the germs of the national 
literature of France, were not developed until a century later. 

In the schools established by Charlemagne for the education 
of the clergy, the scholastic philosophy originated, which prevailed 
throughout Europe in the middle ages. The most distinguished 
schoolmen or scholastics in France during this period, are Ros- 
cellinus (fl. 1092), the originator of the controversy between the 
Nominalists and Realists, which occupied so prominent a place - 
in the philosophy of the time; Abelard (1079-1142), equally 
celebrated for nis learning, and for his unfortunate love for 
Héloise; St. Bernard (1091-1153), one of the most influential 
ecclesiastics of the middle ages ; and Thomas Aquinas (1227-— 
1274) and Bonaventure (1221-1274), Italians who taught the- 
ology and philosophy at Paris, and who powerfully influenced 
the intellect of the age. 

Beginning with the middle ages, the literary history of France 
may be divided into three periods. The first period extends 
from 1000 to 1500, and includes the literature of the 'Trouba- 
dours, the Trouveres, and of the 15th century. 

The second period extends from 1500 to 1700, and in- 
cludes the revival of the study of classical literature, or the 
Renaissance, and the golden age of French literature under 
Louis XIV. 

The thard period, extending from 1700 to 1859, comprises the 
age of skepticism introduced into French literature by Vol- 
taire, the Encyclopeedists and others, the Revolutionary era, the 
literature of the Empire and of the Restoration, and of the 
present time. . 














2. Tue Layavace.—After the conquest of Gaul by Julius 
Cesar, Latin became the predominant language of the country, 
but on the overthrow of the Western Empire, it was corrupted 
by the intermixture of elements derived from the northern 
invaders of the country, and from the general ignorance and 
barbarism of the times. At length a distinction was drawn 
between the language of the Gauls who called themselves 
Romans, and that of the Latin writers; and the Romana 


*. 
4 Se 





FRENCH LITERATURE. 251 


language arose from the former, while the Latin was per: 
petuated by the latter. At the commencement of the second 
race of monarchs, German was the language of Charle- 
magne and his court, Latin was the written language, and the 
Romance, still in a state of barbarism, was the dialect of the 
people. ‘The subjects of Charlemagne were composed of two 
different races, the Germans, inhabiting along and beyond the 
Rhine, and the Wallons, who called themselves Romans. The name 
of Welsch or Wallons, given them by the Germans, was the same as 
Galli, which they had received from the Latins, and as Keltaz, 
or Celts, which they themselves acknowledged. The language 
which they spoke was called after them the LRomance- Wallon, 
or rustic Romance, which was at first very much the same 
throughout France, except that as it extended southward the 
Latin prevailed, and in the north the German was more percep- 
tible. These differences increased, and the languages rapidly 
grew more dissimilar. ‘The people of the south called themselves 
Riomans-provencaux, while the northern tribes added to the name 
of Romans, which they had assumed, that of Wadllons, which 
they had received from the neighboring people. ‘The Provengal 
was called the Langue d’oc, and the Wallon the Langue doui, 
from the affirmative word in each language, as the Italian was 
then called the Langue de si, and the German the Langue 
de ya. 

The invasion of the Normans, in the 10th century, supplied 
new elements to the Romance Wallon. They adopted it as 
their language, and stamped upon it the impress of their own 
genius. It thus became Norman-French. In 1066, William 
the Conqueror introduced it into England, and enforced its use 
among his new subjects by rigorous laws; thus the popular French 
became there the language of the court, and of the educated 
classes, while it was still the vulgar dialect in France. 

From the beginning of the 12th century, the two dialects 
were known as the Provencal and the French. The former, 
though much changed, is still the dialect of the common people 
in Provence, Languedoc, Catalonia, Valencia, Majorca, and 
Minorea. In the 13th century, the northern French dialect 
gained the ascendency, chiefly in consequence of Paris becoming 
the centre of refinement and literature for all France. The 
Langue dow was, from its origin, deficient in that rhythm which 
exists in the Italian and Spanish languages. It was formed 
rather by an abbreviation than by a harmonious transformation 
of the Latin, and the metrical character of the language wag 
gradually lost. The French became thus more accusiomed to 





* ee 


rhetorical measure than to poetical forms, and the language led 
them rather to eloquence than poetry. Francis I. established a 
professorship of the French language at. Paris, and banished 
Latin from the public documents and courts of justice The 
Academy, established by Cardinal Richelieu (1635), put an end 
to the arbitrary power of usage, and fixed the standard of pure 
French, though at the same time it restricted the power of 
genius over the language. Nothing was approved by the 
Academy unless it was received at court, and nothing was 
tolerated by the public that had not been sanctioned by the 
Academy. The language now acquired the most admirable pre- 
cision, and thus recommended itself not only as the language of 
science and diplomacy, but of society, capable of conveying the 
most discriminating observations on character and manners, and 
the most delicate expressions of civility, which involve no obli- 
gation. Hence its adoption as the court language in so many 
European countries. Among the dictionaries of the French 
language, that of the Academy holds the first rank, 


252 FRENCH LITERATURE. 


PERIOD FIRST. 


ProvengaL AND Frenca Lireratures In THE Mippie AcEs 
(1000-1500). 


1. Tur Trousapours.—W hen, in the 10th century, the nations 
of the south of Europe attempted to give consistency to the rude 
dialects which had been produced by the mixture of the Latin 
with the northern tongues, the Provengal, or Langue d’oc, was 
the first to come to perfection. The study of this language be- 
came the favorite recreation of the higher classes during the 
10th and 11th centuries, and poetry the elegant occupation of 
those whose time was not spent in the ruder pastimes of the 
field. Thousands of poets, who were called troubadours (from 
trobar, to find or invent), flourished in this new language almost 
eontemporaneously, and spread their reputation from the ex- 
tremity of Spain to that of Italy. All at once, however, this 
ephemeral reputation vanished. ‘The voice of the troubadours 
was silent, the Provencal was abandoned and sunk into a mere 
ilialect, and after a brilliant existence of three centuries (950- 
1250), its productions were ranked among those of the dead 
languages. The high reputation of the Provencal poets, and 
the rapid decline of their language, are two phenomena equally 
atriking in the history of human culture. This literature, which 


a 





jee 


FRENCH LITERATURE, 253 


gave models to otner nations, yet among its crowds of agreeable 
poems did not produce a single master-piece destined to immor: 
tality, was entirely the offspring of the age, and not of individu 
als. It reveals to us the sentiments and imagination of modern 
nations in their infancy; it exhibits what was common to all and 
pervaded all, and not what genius superior to the age enabled a 
single individual to accomplish. 

Southern France, having been the inheritance of several of 
the successors of Charlemagne, was elevated to the rank of an 
independent kingdom in 879, by Bozon, and under his sover- 
eignty, and that of his successors for 213 years, it enjoyed a 
paternal government. The accession of the Count of Barcelona 
to the crown, in 1092, introduced into Provence the spirit both 
of liberty and chivalry, and a taste for elegance and the arts, 
with all the sciences of the Arabians. 'The union of these noble 
sentiments added brilliancy to that poetical spirit which shone 
aut at once over Provence and all the south of Kurope, like an 
electric flash in the midst of profound darkness, illuminating 


all things with the splendor of its flame. 


At the same time with Provencal poetry, chivalry had its rise; 
it was, in a manner, the soul of the new literature, and gave to 
it a character different from anything in antiquity. Love, in 
this age, while it was not more tender and passionate than 
among the Greeks and Romans, was more respectful, and 
women were regarded with something of that religious veneras 
tion which the Germans evinced towards their prophetesses. To 
this was added that passionate ardor of feeling peculiar to the 
people of the South, the expression of which was borrowed from 
the Arabians. But although among individuals love preserved 


this pure and religious character, the license engendered by the 


feudal system, and the disorders of the time, produced a univer- 
sal corruption of manners which found expression in the litera- 
tare of the age. Neither the serventes nor the chanzos of the 
troubadours, nor the fabhaux of the trouvéres, nor the 


romances of chivalry, can be read without a blush. On every 


page the grossness of the language is only equalled by the 
shameful depravity of the characters and the immorality of the 
incidents. In the south of France, more particularly, an extreme 
laxity of manners prevailed among the nobility. Gallantry seems 
to have been the sole object of existence. Ladies were proud 
of the celebrity conferred upon their charms by the songs of the 
troubadours, and they themselves often professed the Gay Sci- 
ence, as poetry was called. They instituted the Courts-of Love, 
where questions of gallantry were gravely discussed and decided 


254 FRENCH LITERATURE, 





by their suffrages; and they gave, in short, to the whole south 
of France the character of a carnival. No sooner had the Gag 
Scrence been established in Provence, than it became the rage 
of the surrounding countries. The sovereigns of Europe adopted —_ 
the Provencal language, and enlisted themselves among the 
poets, and there was soon neither baron nor knight who did not 
feel himself bound to add to his fame as a warrior the reputation 
of a gentle troubadour. Monarchs were now the professors of ~ 
the art, and the only patrons were the ladies. Women, no 
longer beautiful ciphers, acquired complete liberty of action, 
and the homage paid to them amounted almost to worship. 
At the festivals of the haughty barons, the lady of the castle, 
attended by youthful beauties, distributed crowns to the con- 
querors in the jousts and tournaments. She then, in turn, sur- 
rounded by her ladies, opened her Court of Love, and the candi- 
dates for poetical honors entered with their harps and contended __ 
for the prize in extempore verses called ¢ensons. ‘The Court of ~— 
Love then entered upon a grave discussion of the merits of the 
question, and a judgment or arrét d’amour was given, frequently 
in verse, by which the dispute was supposed to be decided. 
These Courts often formally justified the abandonment of moral 
duty, and assuming the forms and exercising the power of ordi- 
nary tribunals, they defined and prescribed the duties of the 
sexes, and taught the arts of love and song according to the 
most depraved moral principles, mingled, however, with an 
affected display of refined sentimentality. Whatever may have 
been their utility in the advancement of the language and the 
cultivation of literary taste, these institutions extended a legal 
sanction to vice, and inculcated maxims of shameful profligacy. 
The songs of the Provencals were divided into chanzos and 
sirventes ; the object of the former was love, and of the latter 
war, politics or satire. The name of tenson was given to those 
poetical contests in verse which took place in the Courts of Love, 
or before illustrious princes. The songs were sung from chateau 
- to chateau, either by the troubadours themselves, or by the 
jongleur or instrument player by whom they were attended ; 
they often abound in extravagant hyperboles, trivial conceits 
and grossness of expression. Ladies, whose attractions were. 
estimated by the number and desperation of their lovers, 
and the songs of their troubadours, were not offended 
if licentiousness mingled with gallantry in the songs cou- 
posed in their praise. Authors addressed prayers to the 
saints for aid in their amorous intrigues, and men, seemingly 
rational, resigned themselves to the wildest transports of passion 


a 









a . FRENCH LITERATURE, 255 


for individuals whom, in some cases, they had never seen. ‘This 
religious entausiasm, martial bravery and licentious love, so 
grotesquely mingled, formed the very life of the Middle Ages, and 
impossible as it is to transfuse into a translation the harmony of 
Provengal verse, or to find in it, when stripped of this harmony, 
) any poetical idea, the value of these remains consists chiefly in 
| this, that they present us with a living picture of life and man- 
ners as, they then prevailed. 

The intercourse of the Provengals with the Moors of Spain, 
which, as we have seen, was greatly increased by the union of 
Catalonia and Provence (1092), introduced into the North an 
acquaintance with the arts and learning of the Arabians. It was 
then that rhyme, the essential characteristic of Arabian poetry, 
was adopted by the troubadours into the Provencal language, 

and thence communicated to the nations of modern Europe. 
. The poetry of the troubadours borrowed nothing from history, 
| mythology, or from foreign manners, and no reference to the 
: sciences or the learning of the schools mingled with their simple 
| effusions of sentiment. ‘This fact enables us to comprehend how 
___ it was possible for princes and knights, who were often unable to 
read, to be yet ranked among the most ingenious troubadours. 
Several public events, however, materially contributed to enlarge 
the sphere of intellect of the knights of the Langue d’oc. The 
first was the conquest of Toledo and New Castile by Alphonso. 
VI., in which he was seconded by the Cid Rodriguez, the hero 
of Spain, and bya number of French Provengal knights ; the 
second was the preaching of the crusades. Of all the events 
recorded in the history of the world, there is, perhaps, not one 
of a nature so highly poetical as these holy wars; not one 
which presents a more powerful picture of the grand effects of 
enthusiasm, of noble sacrifices of self interest to faith, sentiment 
and passion, which are essentially poetical. Many of the trou- 
__badours assumed the cross; others were detained in Hurope by 
| the bonds of love, and the conflict between passion and religious 
enthusiasm lent its influence to the poems they composed. The 
third event was the succession of the kings of England to the 
sovereignty of a large part of the countries where the Langue 
d’oc prevailed, which influenced the manners and opinions of the 
‘roubadours, and introduced them to the courts of the most 
powerful monarchs ; while the encouragement given to them 
by the kings of the house of Plantagenet, had a great influence 
on the formation of the English language, and furnished Chaucer, 
the father of English literature, with his first models for imitation. 
The troubadours numbered among their ranks the most illus. 


—- TP 


vw, ee ee 


EE —————— ——_—_.-- . = 





856 FRENCH LITERATURE, 


trious sovereigns and heroes of the age. Among others, Richard 
Coeur de Lion who, as a poet and knight, united in his own per 
son all the brilliant qualities of the time. A story is told of him, 
that when he was detained a prisoner in Germany, the place of 
his imprisonment was discovered by Blondel, his minstrel, who 
sang beneath the fortress a tenson which he and. Richard had 
composed in common, and to which Richard responded. Ber- 
trand de Born, who was intimately connected with Richard, and 
who exercised a powerful influence over the destinies of the royal 
family of England, has left a number of original poems; Sor- 
dello, of Mantua, was the first to adopt the ballad form of 
writing, and many of his love songs are expressed in a pure and 
delicate style. Both of these poets are immortalized in the 
Divine Comedy of Dante. The history of Geoffroy Rudel illus- 
trates the wildness of the imagination and manners of the trou- 
badours. He was a gentleman of Provence, and hearing the 
knights who had returned from the Holy Land speak with 
enthusiasm of the. Countess of Tripoli, who had extended to 
them the most generous hospitality, and whose grace and beauty 
equalled her virtues, he fell in love with her without ever having 
seen her, and, leaving the court of England, he embarked for 
the Holy Land, to offer to her the homage of his heart. During 
the voyage he was attacked by a severe illness, and lost the 
power of speech. On his arrival in the harbor, the Countess, 
being informed that a celebrated poet was dying of love for 
her, visited him on ship-board, took him kindly by the hand, 
and attempted to cheer his spirits. Rudel revived sufficiently 
to thank the lady for her humanity and to declare his passion, 
when his voice was silenced by the convulsions of death. He 
was buried at Tripoli, and, by the orders of the Countess, a tomb 
of porphyry was erected to his memory. It is unnecessary to 
mention other names among the multitude of these poets, who all 
noid nearly the same rank. An extreme monotony reigns through- 
out their works, which offer little individuality of character. 
After the 13th century, the. troubadours were heard no 
more, and the efforts of the counts of Provence, the magistrates 
of Toulouse, and the kings of Arragon to awaken their genius 
by the Courts of Love and the Floral Games, were vain. They 
themselves attributed their decline to the degradation into 
which the jongleurs, with whom at last they were confounded, 
had fallen. But their art contained within itself a more imme 
diate principle of decay in the profound ignorance of its profes 
sors. ‘They had no other models than the songs of the Arar 
bians, which perverted their taste. They made no attempt at 





FRENCH LITERATURE. 257 


2pic or dramatic poetry ; they had no classical allusions, no 
mythology, nor even a romantic imagination, and deprived of 
the riches of antiquity, they had few resources within them- 
selves. ‘The poetry of Provence was a beautiful flower spring- 
ing up on a sterile soil, and no cultivation could avail in the 
absence of its natural nourishment. From the close of the 
12th century the language began to decline, and public events 
occurred which hastened its downfall, and reduced it to the con- 
dition of a provincial dialect. 

Among the numerous sects which sprung up in Christendom 
during the middle ages, there was one which, though bearing 
fifferent names at different times, more or less resembled what 
is now known as Protestantism ; in the 12th and 13th centuries 
it was called the faith of the Albigenses, as it prevailed most 
widely in the district of Albi. It easily came to be identified 
with the Provencal language, as this was the chosen vehicle of 
its religious services. This sect was tolerated and protected by 
the Court of Toulouse. It augmented its numbers ; it devoted 
itself to commerce and the arts, and added much to the pros- 
perity which had long distinguished the south of France. The 
Albigenses had lived long and peaceably side by side with the 
Catholics in the cities and villages; but Innocent III. sent 
legates to Provence who preached, discussed and threatened, 
and met a freedom of thought and resistance to authority which 
Rome was not willing to brook. Bitter controversy was now 
substituted for the amiable frivolity of the ¢ensons, and theological 
disputes superseded those on points of gallantry. The long 
struggle between the poetry of the troubadours and the preach- 
ing of the monks came to a crisis ; the severe satires which the 
flisorderly lives of the clergy called forth, became severer still, 
and the songs of the troubadours wounded the power and 
pride of Rome more deeply than ever, while they stimulated the 
Albigenses to a valiant resistance or a glorious death. A cru- 
sade followed, and when the dreadful strife was over, Provencal 
poetry had received its death blow. The language of Provence 
was destined to share the fate of its poetry ; it became identified 
in the minds of the orthodox with heresy and rebellion. When 
Charles of Anjou acquired the kingdom of Naples, he drew 
thither the Provencal nobility, and thus drained the kingdom of 
those who had formerly maintained its chivalrous manners. In 
the beginning of the 14th century, when the court of Rome was 
removed to Avignon, the retinues of the three successive popes 
were Italians, and the Tuscan language entirely superseded the 
Provencal among the higher classes. 


B58 FRENCH LITERATURE. 


2. Tue Trouvires.—While the Provengal was thus relaps 
ing into a mere dialect, the north of France was inaturing a 
new language and literature of an entirely different character 
Normandy, a province of France, was invaded in the 10th cen 
tury by a new northern tribe, who, under the command of Rolle 
or Raoul the Dane, incorporated themselves with the ancient 
inhabitants. The victors adopted the language of the van- 
quished, stamped upon it the impress of their own genius, and 
gave it a fixed form. It was from Normandy that the first 
writers and poets in the French language sprung. While the 
Romance Provencal spoken in the South was sweet, and expres- 
sive of effeminate manners, the Romance Wallon was energetic 
and warlike, and represented the severer manners of the 
Germans. Its poetry, too, was widely different from the Pro- 
vencal, It was no longer the idle baron sighing for his lady-love, 
but the songs of a nation of hardy warriors, celebrating the 
prowess of their ancestors with all the exaggerations that fancy 
could supply. The Langue d’oui became the vehicle of literature 
only in the 12th century—a hundred years subsequent to the 
Romance Provengal. ‘The poets and reciters of tales, giving the 
name of Troubadour a French termination, called themselves — 
Trouvéres. They originated the bridliant romances of chivalry, 
the fabliaux or tales of amusement, and the dramatic invention 
of the mysteries. ‘The first literary work in this tongue is the - 
versified romance of a fabulous history of the early kings of 
England, beginning with Brutus, the grandson of Auneas, who, 
after passing many enchanted isles, at length establishes himself 
in England, where he finds King Arthur, the chivalric institution 
of the Round Table, and the enchanter Merlin, one of the most — 
popular personages of the middle ages. Out of this legend 
arose some of the boldest creations of the human fancy. The 
word romance, now synonymous with fictitious composition, 
originally meant only a work in the modern dialect, as distin- 
guished from the scholastic Latin ; there is little doubt that these 
tales were originally believed to be strictly true. One of the 
first romances of chivalry was ‘‘'Tristam de Léonois,” written in 
1190. This was soon followed by that of the “San Graal” and 
“T,ancelot;” and previously to 1213, Ville-Hardouin had written 
in the French language a “ History of the Conquest of Con: 
stantinople.” The poem of “ Alexander,” however, which 
appeared about the same time, has enjoyed the greatest reputa- 
tion. It is a series of romances and marvellous histories, said ta 
be the result of the labors of nine celebrated poets of the time 
Alexander is introduced surrounded not by the pomp of anti 





FRENCH LITERATURE, 259 





quity, but by the splendors of chivalry. The high renown of 
this poem has given the name of Alexandrine verse to the mea 
sure in which it is written. 

The spirit of chivalry which burst forth in the romances of 
the trouveres ; the heroism of honor and love, the devotion of 
the powerful to the weak; the supernatural fictions, so novei 
and so dissimilar to everything in antiquity or in later times, the 
force and brilliancy of imagination which they display, have been 
variously attributed to the Arabians and the Germans, but they 
were undoubtedly the invention of the Normans. Of all the 
people of ancient Europe, they were the most adventurous and 
intrepid. They established a dynasty in Russia; they cut their 
way through a perfidious and sanguinary nation to Constanti- 
nople ; they landed on the coasts of England and France, and 
surprised nations who were ignorant of their existence ; they 
conquered Sicily, and established a principality in the heart of 
Syria. A people so active, so enterprising, and so intrepid, 
found no other delight in their leisure hours than in listening to 
tales of adventures, dangers and battles. The romances of 
chivalry are divided into three distinct classes. They relate to 
three different epochs in the early part of the middle ages, and 
represent three bands of fabulous heroes. In the romances of 
the first class, the exploits of Arthur, son of Pendragon, the last 
British king who défended England against the invasion of the 
Anglo-Saxons, are celebrated. In the second we find the Ama- 
dises, but whether they belong to French literature has been 
reasonably disputed. ‘The scene is placed nearly in the same 
countries as in the romances of the Round Table, but there is a 
want of locality about them, and the name and the times are 
absolutely fabulous. ‘‘ Amadis of Gaul,” the first of these 
romances, and the model of all the rest, is claimed as the work 
of Vasco Lobeira, a Portuguese (1290- -1325); but no doubt 
exists with regard to the continuations and numerous imitations 
of this work, - which are incontestably of Spanish origin, and 
were in their highest repute when Cervantes produced his inimit- 
able “Don Quixote.” The third class of chivalric romances, 
relating to the court of Charlemagne and his Paladins, is entir ely 
French, although their celebrity i is chiefly due to the renowned 
Italian poet who availed bimself of their fictions. The most 
uncient monument of the marvellous history of Charlemagne is 
the chronicle of Turpin, of uncertain date, and which, though 
fabulous, can scarcely be considered as a romance. This and 
other similar narratives furnished materials for the romances, 
which appeared at the conclusion of the crusades, when a know 


- 


260 FRENCH LITERATURE, 


ledge of the Kast had enriched the French imagination with ali 
the treasures of the Arabian. The trouveres were not only the 
inventors of the romances of chivalry, but they originated the 
allegories, and the dramatic compositions of southern Europe 
Although none of their works have obtained a high reputation 
or deserve to be ranked among the masterpieces of human intel- 
lect, they are still worthy of attention as monuments of the 
progress of mind. 

The term Poetry is applied to every composition in which men 
gifted with genius express their various emotions, and which 
unites harmony with richness of expression. The character of 
a people is always communicated to their poetry, which is 
ever in accordance with the qualities most powerfully devel- 
oped among the nations by whom it is cultivated. ‘Thus among 
the Provencals it is full of love and gallantry, among the Italians 
it abounds with playful imagination. The poetry of the Eng- 
lish is remarkable for its sensibility ; that of the Germans for 
its enthusiasm. In the poetry of Spain we remark a wildness of 
passion, and in that of Portugal-a spirit of soft melancholy and 
pastoral reflection. All these nations considered those subjects 
alone adapted to poetry which were in accordance with their — 
own dispositions, and they all agreed in considering the character 
of the French nation as anti-poetical. The latter from the — 
earliest period have shown an aversion to the*more contemplative 
qualities of the mind, and have given the preference to wit 
and argument over imagination. They have therefore become 
strangers to romantic poetry, and, detaching themselves from 
other modern nations, have placed themselves under the protec- 
tion of the ancients, who developed all the human faculties at 
one and the same time, because the French discovered in 
the classical writers the qualities upon which they themselves set 
the highest value. Modern writers have thus been divided int¢ 
two parties or schools, the Classic and Romantic, so diametrically 
opposed to each other that they each seem incapable of compre: 
hending the principles upon which the other proceeds. 

The French possessed, above every other nation of modern 
times, an inventive spirit, but they were, at the same time, tha 
originators of those tedious allegorical poems which have been — 
imitated by all the romantic nations. The most ancient and — 
celebrated of these is the “‘ Romance of the Rose,” though not 
a romance in the present sense of the word. At the period of 
its composition, the French language was still called the Romance, — 
and all its more voluminous productions Romances, The — 
“Romance of the Rose” was the work of two authors, Guil — 





— 
a FRENCH LITERATURE. 261 


—— 


laume de Lorris, who commenced it in the early part of the 13th 
rentury, and Jean de Meun (b. 1280), by wnom it was con- 
tinued. Although it reached the appalling length of 20,000 
verses, no book was ever more popular. It was admired as a 
masterpiece of wit, invention, and philosophy ; the highest mys- 
teries of theology were believed to be concealed in this poetical 
form, and learned commentaries were written upon its veiled 
meaning by preachers, who did not scruple to cite passages from 
it in the pulpit. But the tedious poem and its numberless imita- 
tions are nothing but rhymed prose, which it would be impos- 
sible to recognize as poetry, if the measure of the verse were 
taken away. 

In considering the popularity of these long, didactic works, 
it must not be forgotten that the people of that day were almost 
entirely without books. A single volume was the treasure of a 
whole household. In unfavorable weather it was read to a circle 
around the fire, and when it was finished the perusal was again 
commenced. No comparison with other books enabled them to 
form a judgment upon its merits. It was reverenced like holy 
writ, and they accounted themselves happy in being able to 
comprehend it. 

Another species of poetry peculiar to this period had at least 
the merit of being exceedingly amusing. This was the Fabliaux, 
tales written in verse in the 12th and 13th centuries. They are 
treasures of invention, simplicity and gaiety, of which other nations 
can furnish no instances, except by borrowing from the French. 
A collection of Indian tales, translated into Latin in the 10th 
or llth century, was the first storehouse of the trouvéres. 
The Arabian tales, transmitted by the Moors to the Castilians, 
and by the latter to the French, were in turn versified. But 
above all, the anecdotes collected in the towns and castles of 
France, the adventures of lovers, the tricks of gallants, and the 
numerous subjects gathered from the manners of the age, 
afforded inexhaustible materials for ludicrous narratives to the 
writers of these tales. They were treasures common to all. 
We seldom know the name of the trouvére by whom these 
anecdotes were versified. As they were related, each one varied 
them according to the impression he wished to produce. At 
this period there were neither theatrical entertainments nor 
games at cards to fill up the leisure hours of society, and the 
trouveres or relators of tales were welcomed at the courts, 
eastles, and private houses with an eagerness proportioned to 
the store of anecdotes which they brought with them to enliven 
tonversation. Whatever was the subject of their verse, legends 


262 FRENCH LITERATURE. 


miracles, or licentious anecdotes, they were equally acceptable 
These twles were the models of those of Boccaccio, La Fontaine, 
and oibers. Some of them have had great fame, and have 
passed from tongue to tongue, and from age to age, down to out 
own times. Several of them have been introduced upon the 
theatre, and others formed the originals of Parnell’s “ Hermit,” 
of the “ Zaire” of Voltaire, and of the ‘‘ Renard,” which Goethe 
has converted into a long poem. But perhaps the most inte: 
resting and celebrated of all the Fabliaux is that of “ Aucassin 
and Nicolette,” which has furnished the subject for a well-knc wn 
opera. | 


It was at this period, when the ancient drama was entirely q 


forgotten, that a dramatic form was given to the great events 
which accompanied the establishment of the Christian religion. 
The first who gave an impulse to this species of composition, 
were the pilgrims who had returned from the Holy Land. In 
the 12th or 13th centuries, their dramatie representations were 
first exhibited in the open streets ; but it was only at the con- 
clusion of the 14th, that a company of pilgrims undertook to 
amuse the public by regular dramatic entertainments. They 
were called the Fraternity of the Passion, from the passion of 
our Saviour being one of their most celebrated representations. 
This mystery, the most ancient dramatic work of modern Hurope, 
comprehends the whole history of our Lord, from his baptism 
to his death. ‘The piece was too long for one representation, it 
was therefore continued from day to day. Highty-seven charac- 
ters successively appear in this mystery, among whom are the 
three persons of the Trinity, angels, apostles, devils, and a host 
of other personages, the invention of the poet’s brain. ‘To fill 
the comic parts, the dialogues of the devils were introduced, 
and their eagerness to maltreat one another always produced 
much laughter in the assembly. Extravagant machinery was 
employed to give to the representation the pomp which we find 
in the modern opera; and this drama, placing before the eyes 
of a Christian assembly all those incidents for which they felt 
the highest veneration, must have affected them much more 
powerfully than even the finest tragedies can do at the present 
day. 

The mystery of the Passion was followed by a crowd of imi- 
tations. The whole of the Old Testament, and the lives of all 
the saints, were brought upon the stage. The theatre on which — 
these mysteries were represented, was always composed of an — 
elevated scaffold divided into three parts—heaven, hell, and the — 
earth between them The proceedings of vhe Deity and Lucifer 








es ——_—s- = 


| 





FRENCH LITERATURE, 263 


might be diseerned in their respective abodes, and angels de 
scended and devils ascended, as their interference in mundane 
affairs was required. ‘The pomp of these representations went 
on increasing for two centuries, and, as great value was set upon 


_ the length of the piece, some mysteries could not be represented 


in less than forty days. 

The “ Clerks of the Revels,” an incorporated society at Paris, 
whose duty it was to regulate the public festivities, resolved to 
amuse the people with dramatic representations themselves, but 
as the Fraternity of the Passion had obtained a royal license to 
represent the mysteries, they were compelled to abstain from 
that kind of exhibition. They therefore invented a new one, to 
which they gave the name of “ Moralities,” and which differed 
little from the mysteries, except in name. They were borrowed 
from the Parables, or the historical parts of the Bible, or they 
were purely allegorical. To the Clerks of the Revels we also 
owe the invention of modern comedy. They mingled their mo- 
ralities with farces, the sole object of which was to excite laugh- 
ter, and in which all the gaicty and vivacity of the French 
character were displayed. Some of these plays still retain their 
place upon the French stage. At the commencement of the 
15th century, another comic company was established, who intro- 
duced personal and even political satire upon the stage. Thus 
every species of dramatic representation was revived by the 
French. This was the result of the talent for imitation so pecu- 
liar to the French people, and to that pliancy of thought and 
correctness of intellect which enables them to conceive new cha- 
racters. All these inventions, which led to the establishment of 
the Romantic drama in: other countries, were known in France 
more than a century before the rise of the Spanish or Italian 
theatre, and even before the classical authors were first studied 
and imitated. At the end of the 16th century, these new pur- 
suits acquired a more immediate influence over the literature of 
France, and wrought a change in its spirit anc rules, without, 
however, altering the national character and taste which had 
been manifested in the earliest productions of the trouvéres. 


3 Frenco Literature IN THE Firreenta Century.—Frenct 
had as yet been merely a popular language ; it varied fiom pro- 
vince to province, and from author to author, because no master- 
piece had inaugurated any one of its numerous dialects. It was 
disdained by the more serious writers, who continued to employ 
the Latin. In the 15th century literature assumed a somewhat 
wider range, and the language began to take precision and force 


264 FRENUH LITERATURE. 





Bat with much general improvement and literary industry, there 
was still nothing great or original, nothing to mark an epoch in 
the history of letters. The only poets worthy of notice were 
Charles, Duke of Orleans (1391-1465), and Villon, a low ruf- 
fian of Paris (1431-1500). Charles was taken prisoner at the 
battle of Agincourt, and carried te England, where he was 
detained for twenty-five years, and where he wrote a volume of 
peems in which he imitated the allegorical style of the Romance 
of the Rose. The verses of Villon were inspired by the events 
of his not very creditable life. Again and again he suffered 
unprisonment for petty larcenies, and at the age of twenty-five 
was condemned to be hanged, His language is not that of the 
court, but of the people ; and his poetry marks the first sensible 
progress after the Romance of the Rose. 

It has been yell said, that literature begins with poetry ; but 
it is established by prose, which fixes the language. The earliest 
work in French prose is the chronicle of Ville-Hardouin (1150- 
1213), written in the 13th century. It is a personal narrative, 
auc relates with graphic particularity the conquest of Constanti- 
nople by the knights of Christendom. This ancient chronicle 
traces out for us some of the realities, of which the medisyval 
romances were the ideal, and enables us to judge in a measure 
how far these romances embody substantial truth. 

A great improvement in style is apparent in Joinville (1223- 
1317), the amiable and light-hearted ecclesiastie who wrote the 
Life of St. Louis, whom he had accompanied to the Holy Land, 
and whose pious adventures he affectionately records. Notwith- 
standing the anarchy which prevailed in France during the 14th 
century, some social progress was made ; but while public events 
were hostile to poetry, they gave inspiration to the historic 
muse, and Froissart arose to impart vivacity of coloring to 
historic narrative. 

Froissart (1337-1410) was an ecclesiastic of the day, but 
little in his life or writings bespeaks the sacred calling. Having 
little taste for the duties of his profession, he was employed by 
the Lord of Montfort to compose a chronicle of the wars of 
the time ; but there were no books to tell him of the past, no — 
regular communication between rations to inform him of the 
present; so he followed the fashion of knights errant, and set ont 
on horseback, not to seek adventures, but, as an itinerant histo. 
rian, to find materials for his chronicle. He wandered from town 
to town, and from castle to castle, to see the places of which he 
would write, and to learn events on the spot where they trans 
pired His first journey was to England ; here he was employed 








FRENCH LITERATURE. 265 





ey Queer Philippa of Hainault to accompany the Duke of 
Clarence to Milan, where he met Boccaccio and Chaucer. He 
afterwards passed into the service of severai of the princes of 
_ Kurope, to whom he acted as secretary and poet, always glean 
ing material for historic record. His book is an almost universal 
history of the different states of Europe, from 1322 to the end 
of the 14th century. He troubles himself with no explanations 
or theories of cause and effect, nor with the philosophy of state 
policy ; he is simply a graphic story-teller. Sir Walter Scott 
called Froissart his master. 

Philippe de Commines (1445-1509) was a man of his age, but in 
advance of it, combining the simplicity of the 15th century with 
the sagacity of a later period. An annalist, like Froissart, he 
was also a statesman, and a political philosopher ; embracing, 
like Machiavelli and Montesquieu, the remoter consequences 
which flowed from the events he narrated and the principles he 
unfolded. He was an unscrupulous diplomat in the service of 
Louis XI., and his description of the last years of that monarch 
is a striking piece of history, whence poets and novelists have 
borrowed themes in later times. But neither the romance of 
Sir Walter Scott nor the song of Béranger does justice to the 
reality, as presented by the faithful Commines. 


PERIOD SECOND. 


Tue RENAISSANCE AND THE GoLDEN AGE oF FrRENcH LITERATURE 
(1500-1700). 


1. Toe Renaissance AND THE Rerormation.—During the pre: 
ceding ages, erudition and civilization had not gone hand-in-hand. 
On the one side there was the bold, chivalric mind of young Eu- 
rope, speaking with the tongues of yesterday, while on the other 
was the ecclesiastical mind, expressing itself in degenerate Latin. 
The one was a life of gaiety and rude disorder—the life of court 
and castle as depicted in the literature just scanned ; the other, 
that of men separated from the world, who had been studying 
the literary remains of antiquity, and transcribing and treasuring 
them for future generations. Hitherto these two sections had 
held their courses apart ; now they were to meet and blend in 
harmony. The vernacular poets, on the one hand, borrowing 
thought and expression from the classics, and the clergy, on the 
pther, becoming purveyors of light literature to the eourt 
sircles, 

12 


266 FRENCH LITERATURE. 


The 15th century, though somewhat barren, had prepared for 
the fecundity of succeeding ages. ‘The revival of the study of 
ancient literature, which was promoted by the downfall of Con 
stantinople, the invention of printing, the discovery of the new 
world, the decline of feudalism, and the consequent elevation of 
the middle classes—all concurred to promote a rapid improve 
ment of the human intellect. 

During the early part of the 16th century, all the ardor of the 
French mind was turned to the study of the dead languages ; 
men of genius had no higher ambition than to excel in them, 
and many in their declining years went in their grey hairs to 
the schools where the languages of Homer and Cicero were 
taught. In civil and political society, the same enthusiasm 
manifested itself in the imitation of antique manners; people 
dressed in the Greek and Roman fashions, borrowed from them the 
usages of life, and made a point of dying like the heroes of 
Plutarch. 

The religious reformation came soon after to restore the 
Christian, as the revival of letters had brought back the pagan 
antiquity. Ignorance was dissipated, and religion was disen- 
gaged from philosophy. The Renaissance, as the revival of 
antique learning was called, and the Reformation at first made 
common cause. One of those who most eagerly imbibed the 
spirit of both, was the Princess Marguerite de Valois 
(1492-1549), elder sister of Francis I., who obtained the 
credit of many generous actions which were truly hers. The © 
principal work of this lady was “ L’Heptaméron,” or the His- 
tory of the Fortunate Lovers, written on the plan and in the 
spirit of the Decameron of Boccaccio, a work which a lady of 
our times would be unwilling to own acquaintance with, much 
ynore to adopt as a model; but the apology for Marguerite 
must be found in the manners of the times. L’Heptaméron 
is the earliest French prose that can be read without a 
glossary. 

In 1518, when Margaret was twenty-six years of age, she 
received from her brother,a gifted poet as valet-de-chambre ; 
this was Marot (1495-1544), between whom and the learned 
princess a poetical intercourse was maintained. Marot had 
imbibed the principles of Calvin, and had also drank deeply of 
the spirit of the Renaissanze ; but he displayed the poet more 
truly before he was either a theologian or a classical scholar. 
He may be considered the last type of the old French school, 
of that combination of grace and archness, of elegance and — 
simplicity, of familiarity and propriety, which is a national cha 





FRENCH LITERATURE. 26% 


‘racteristic of French poetic literature, and in which they have 
never been imitated. ; 
Francis Rabelais (1483-1553) was one of the most remark- 
able persons that figured in the Renaissance, a learned scholar, 
physician and philosopher, though known to posterity chiefly as 
a profane humorist. He is called by Lord Bacon ‘the great 
jester of France.” He was at first a monk of the Franciscan 
order, but he afterwards threw off the sacerdotal character, and 
studied medicine. From about ihe year 1534, Rabelais was in 
the service of the Cardinal Dubellay, and a favorite in the 
court cireles of Paris and Rome. It was probably during this 
period that he published, in successive parts, the work on which 
his popular fame has rested, the “Lives of Garagantua and 
Pantagruel.” It consists of the lives and adventures of these 
- two gigantic heroes, father and son, with the waggeries and 
practical jokes of Panurge, their jongleur, and the blasphemies 
and obscenities of Friar John, a fighting, swaggering, drinking 
monk. With these are mingled dissertations, sophistries, and 
allegorical satires in abundance. The publication of the work 
created a perfect uproar at the Sorbonne, and among the monks 
who were its principal victims; but the cardinals enjoyed its 
humor, and protected its author, while the king, Francis I., pro- 
nounced it innocent and delectable. It became the book of the 
day, and passed through countless editions and endless com- 
mentaries ; and yet it is agreed on all hands that there exists 
not another work, admitted as literature, that would bear a 
moment’s comparison with it, for indecency, profanity, and repul- 
sive and disgusting coarseness. His work is now a mere curiosity 
for the student of antique literature. 

As Rabelais was the leading type of the Renaissance, so was 
Calvin (1509-1564) of the Reformation. Having embraced 
the principles of Luther, he went considerably further in his 
views. In 1582, he established himself at Geneva, where he 
organized a church according to his own ideas. In 1535, he 
published his “ Institutes of the Christian Religion,” distinguished 
for great severity of doctrine. His next most celebrated work 
is a commentary on the Scriptures. 

Intellect continued to struggle with its fetters. Many, like 
Rabelais, mistrusted the whole system of ecclesiastical polity 
establixhed hy law, and yet did not pin their faith on the dictates 
of the austere Calvin. The almost inevitable consequence was a 
wide and universal skepticism, replacing the former implicit sub 
‘ection to Romanism. 

The most eminent type of this school was Montaigne (1533 


268 FRENCH LITERATURE. 


1592), who, in his Essays, shook the foundations of all the 
creeds of his day, without offering anything to replace them. 
He is considered the earliest philosophical writer in French 
prose, the first of those who contributed to direct the minds of 
their countrymen to the study of human nature. In doing «, 
he takes himself as his subject ; he dissects his feelings, emotions 
and tendencies with the coolness of an operating surgeon. Toa 
singular power of self-investigation and an acute observation 01 
the actions of men, he added great affluence of thought and 
excursiveness of fancy, which render him, in spite of his egotism, 
a most attractive writer. As he would have considered it dis- 
honest to conceal anything about himself, he has told much that. 
our modern ideas of decorum would deem better untold. . 

Charron (1541-1603), the friend and disciple of Montaigne, 
was as bold a thinker, though inferior as a writer. In his book, 
‘““ De la Sagesse,” he treats religion as a mere matter of specu- 
lation, a system of dogmas without practical influence. Other 
writers followed in the same steps, and affected, like him, to 
place skepticism at the service of good morals. ‘ License,” says 
a French writer, ‘ had to come before liberty, skepticism before 
philosophical inquiry, the school of Montaigne before that of 
Descartes.” On the other hand, St. Francis de Sales (1567- 
1622), in his ‘ Introduction to a Devout Life,” and other works, 
taught that the only cure for the evils of human nature was to 
be found in the grace which was revealed by Christianity. 

In these struggles of thought, in this conflict of creeds, the 
language acquired vigor and precision. In the works of Calvin, 
it manifested a seriousness of tone, and a severe purity of style 
which commanded general respect. An easy, natural tone was 
imparted to it by Amyot (1513-1593), professor of Greek and 
Latin at the University of Paris, who enriched the literature 
with elegant translations, in which he blended Hellenie graces 
with those strictly French. 


2. Licgut Lirerarurr.—Ronsard (1524-1585), the favorite 
poet of Mary Queen of Scots, flourished at the time that the 
rage for ancient literature was at its height. He traced the 
first outlines of modern French poetry, and introduced a higher 
style of poetic thought and feeling than had hitherto been 
known. ‘To him France owes the first attempt at the ode and 
the heroic wpic ; in the former, he is regarded as the precursor 
of Malherbe, who is still looked on as a model in this style, 
But Ronsard, and the numerous school which he formed, not 
only imitated the spirit and form of the ancients, but aimed te 





FKENCHU LITERATURE, 269 


sudject his own language to combinations and inversions like 
those of the Greek and Latin, and foreign roots and phrases 
began to overpower the reviving flexibility of the French 
idiom. 

- Under this influence, the drama was restored by Jodelle 
(1532-1573) and others, in the shape of imitations and transla- 
tions. ‘Towards the end of the century, however, there ap- 
peared a reaction against this learned tragedy, led by Alexander 
Hardy (1560-1631), who, with little or no original genius, pro- 
duced about 1,200 plays. He borrowed in every direction, and 
imitated the styles of all nations. But the general taste, how- 
ever, soon returned to the Greek and Roman school. 

The glorious reign of Henry IV. had been succeeded by the 
stormy minority of Louis XIII., when Malherbe (1556-1628), 
the tyrant of words and syllables, appeared as the reformer of 
poetry. He attracted attention by ridiculing the style of Ron- 
sard. He became the laureate of the court, and furnished for it 
that literature in which it was beginning to take delight. In 
the place of Latin and Greek French, he inaugurated the ex- 

reme of formality ; the matter of his verse was made subordi- 
nate to the manner; he substituted polish for native beauty, 
and effect for genuine feeling. } 

I. de Balzac (1594-1624), in his frivolous epistles, usec 
prose as Malherbe did verse, and a numerous school of the same 
character was soon formed. The works of Voiture (1598-1648) 
abound in the pleasantries and affected simplicity which best 
befit such compositions. The most trifling adventure—the 
death of a cat or a dog—was transformed into a poem, in which 
there was no poetry, but only a graceful facility, which was con- 
sidered perfectly charming. ‘Then, as though native affectation 
were not enough, the borrowed wit of Italian Marinism, which 
had been eagerly adopted in Spain, made its way thence into 
France, with Spanish exaggeration superadded. A disciple of 
this school declares that the eyes of his mistress are as “ large 
as his grief, and as black as his fate.” Malherbe and his school 
fell afterwards into neglect, for fashionable caprice had turned 
its attention to burlesque, and every one believed himself capa- 
ble of writing in this style, from the lords and ladies of the 
court down to the valets and maid-servants. It was men like 
Scarron (1610-1660), familiar with literary study, and, from 
choice, with the lowest society, whe introduced this form, the 
pleasantry of which was increased by contrast with the finical 
taste that had been in vogue. Fashion ruled the light litera- 

* fare of France during the first half of the 17th century, and 


z7a FRENCH LITERATURE, 


through all its diversities, its great characteristic is the absenca 
of ull true and serious feeling, and of that inspiration which ig 
drawn from realities. In the productions of half a century, we 
find not one truly elevated, energetic, or pathetic work. 

{t is during this time, that is, between the death of Henry 
IV. (1610), and that of Richelieu (1642), that we mark 
the beginning of literary societies in France. The earliest 
in point of date was headed by Madame de Rambouillet 
(1610-1642), whose hotel became a seminary of female 
authors and factious politicians. This lady was of Italian 
origin, of fine taste and education. She had turned away in — 
disgust from the rude manners of the court of Henry IV., and 
devoted herself to the study of the classics. After the death of 
the King, she gathered a distinguished circle round herself, com- 
bining the elegances of high life with the cultivation of literary 
taste. While yet young, Madame de Rambouillet was attacked 
with a malady which obliged her to keep her bed the greater 
part of every year. An elegant alcove was formed in the great 
salon of the house, where her bed was placed, and here she 
received her friends. The choicest wits of Paris flocked to her 
levees ; the Hotel de Rambouillet became the fashionable ren- — 
dezvous of literature and taste, and bas-bleu-ism was the rage, — 
Even the infirmities of this accomplished lady were imitated, — 
An alcove was essential to every fashionable belle, who, attired 
in a coquettish dishabille, and reclining on satin pillows, fringed 
with lace, gave audience to whispered gossip in the ruelle, as — 
the space around the bed was called. 

Among the personages renowned in their day, who frequented 
the Hotel Rambouillet, were Mademoiselle de Scudery (1607- 
1701), then in the zenith of her fame, Madame de Sévigné (1627— 
1696), Mademoiselle de la Vergne, afterwards Madame de Lafay- 
ette (1655-1693), eminent as literary characters; the Duchess de 
Longueville, the Duchess de Chevreuse, and Madame Deshou- 
lieres, afterwards distinguished for their political ability. At the 
feet of these noble ladies reclined a number of young seigneurs, 
dangling their little hats surcharged with plumes, while their 
mantles of silk and gold were spread loosely on the floor. And 
there, in more grave attire, were the professional littérateurs, 
such as Balzac, Voiture, Ménage, Scudery, Chaplain, Costart, 
Conrad, and the Abbé Bossuet. The Cupid of the hotel was 
striculy Platonic. The romances of Mademoiselle de Seudery were 
long-spun disquisitions on love ; her characters were drawn from 
the individuals around her, who in turn attempted to sustain the - 
characters and adopt the language suggested in her books. One: 








FRENCH LITERATURE. 271 


foily led on another, till at last the vocabulary of the salen be- 
came s9 artificial, that none but the initiated could understand 
it. As for Mademoiselle de Scudery herself, applying, it would 
‘seem, the impracticable tests she had invented for sounding the 
depths of the tender passion, though not without suitors, she 
died an old maid, at the advanced age of 94. 

The civil wars of the Fronde (1649-1654 ) were unfavorable 
to literary meetings. The women who took the most distin- 
guished part in these troubles had graduated, so to say, from the 
Hotel de Rambouillet, which, perhaps for this reason, declined 
with the ascendency of Louis XIV. The agitations of the 
Fronde taught him to distrust clever women, and he always 
showed a marked dislike for female authorship. 


3. THe French Acapemy.—The taste for literature, which 
had become so generally diffused, rendered the men whose pro- 
vince it was to define its laws the chiefs of a brilliant empire. 
Scholars, therefore, frequently met together for critical dis- 
cussion. About the year 1629 a certain number of men of let- 
_ ters agreed to assemble one day in each week. It was a union 
of friendship, a companionship of men of kindred tastes and 
occupations ; and to prevent intrusion, the meetings. were for 
some time kept secret. When Richelieu came to hear of the 
existence of the society, desirous to make literature subservient 
to his political glory, he proposed to these gentlemen to form 
themselves into a corporation, established by letters patent, at 
the same time hinting that he had the power to put a stop to 
their secret meetings. The argument was irresistible, and the 
little society consented to receive from his highness the title of 
the French Academy, in 1635. The members of the Academy 
were to occupy themselves in establishing rules for the French 
language, and to take cognizance of whatever books were written 
by its members, and by others who desired its opinions. 


4, Tur Drama.—The endeavor to imitate the ancients in the 
tragic art displayed itself at a very early period among the 
French, and they considered that the surest method of s 1eceed- 
ing in this endeavor was to observe the strictest outward regu 
larity of form, of which they derived their ideas more from Aris 
totle, and especially from Seneca, than from any intimate 
acquaintance with the Greek models :hemselves. Three of the 
most celebrited of the French tragic poets, Corneille, Racine anda 
Voltaire, have given, it would seem, an immutable shape to the 
tragic stage of France by adopting this system, which has beeu 


272 FRENCH LITERATURE, 


considered by the French critics universally as alone entitled ta — 
any authority, and who have viewed every deviation from it as — 
a sin against good taste. The treatise of Aristotle, from which 
they have derived the idea of the far-famed three unities, of 
action, time and place, which have given rise to so many critical 
wars, is a mere fragment, and some scholars have been of the ~ 
opinion that it is not even a fragment of the true original, but - 
of an extract which some person made for his own improvement. 
From this anxious observance of the Greek rules, under totally 
different circumstances, it is obvious that great inconveniences 
and incongruities must arise ; and the criticism of the Academy 
on a tragedy of Corneille, “that the poet, from the fear of 
sinning against the rules of art, had chosen rather to sin against 
the rules of nature,” is often applicable to the dramatic writers 
of France. 

Corneille (1606-1684 ) ushered in a new era in the French 
drama. It has been said of him that he was a man greater in 
himself than in his works, his genius being fettered by the rules 
of the French drama and the conventional state of French verse. — 
The days of mysteries and moralities was past, and the comedies 
of Hardy, the court poet of Henry LV., had, in their turn, been — 
consigned to oblivion, yet there was an increasing taste for the 
drama. The first comedy of Corneille, “ Mélite,” was followed 
by many others, which, though now considered unreadable, were 
better than anything then known. The appearance of the 
Cid,” in 1635, a drama constructed on the foundation of the old 
Spanish romances, constituted an era in the dramatic history of 
France. Although not without great faults, resulting from 
strict adherence to the rules, it was the first time that the 
depths of passion had been stirred on the stage, end the success 
was unprecedented. or years after, his pieces followed each 
other in rapid succession, and the history of the stage was that — 
of Corneille’s works. In the ‘ Cid,” the triumph cf love was 
exhibited ; in “‘ Les Horaces,” love was represented as punished | 
for its rebellion against the laws of honor ; in “ Cinna,” ail more 
tender considerations are sacrificed to the implacable duty of — 
avenging a father ; while in ‘‘ Polyeucte,” duty triumphs alone. 
Corneille did not boldly abandon himself to the guidance of his 
genius ; he feared criticism, although he defied it. His success — 
proved the signal for envy and detraction ; he became angry at 
being obliged to fight his way, and therefore withdrew from the 
path in which he was likely to meet enemies, His decline was ag” 
rapid as his success had been brilliant. “The fall of the great ; 
Corneille,” says Fontenelle, “may be reckoned as among the 





, FRENCH LITERATURE. 273 


most remarkable examples of the vicissitudes of human affairs 
Even that of Belisarius asking alms is not more striking.” As 
his years increased, he became more anxious for popularity; hav- 
ing been so long in possession of undisputed superiority, he could 
not behold without dissatisfaction the rising glory of his sue- 
cessors ; and, towards the close of his life, this weakness was 
greatly increased by the decay of his bodily organs, 


_ 5, Patmosopny.—During this period, in a region far above 
court favor, Descartes (1596-1650 ) elaborated his system of 
ae in creating a new method of philosophizing. The 
eading peculiarity of his system was the attempt to deduce all 
moral and religious truth from self-consciousness. J thenk, there 

ore I am, was the famous axiom on which the whole was built. 
rom this he inferred the existence of two distinct natures in 
man, the mental and the physical, and the existence of certain 
ideas which he called innate in the mind, and serving to connect 
it with the spiritual and invisible. Besides these new views in 
metaphysics, Descartes made valuable contributions to mathe- 

- matical and physical science ; and though his philosophy is now 
generally discarded, it is not forgotten that he opened the way 
for Locke, Newton and Leibnitz, and that his system was in 
reality the base of all those that superseded it. ‘There is scarcely 
a name on record, the bearer of which has given a greater 
impulse to mathematical and philosophical inquiry than Des- 
cartes, and he embodied his thoughts in such masterly language, 

_ that it has been justly said of him, that his fame as a writer 
would have been greater, if his celebrity as a thinker had been 
less. 

The age of Descartes was an interesting era in the annals of 
the human mind. The darkness of scholastic philosophy was 
gradually clearing away before the light which an improved 
method of study was shedding over the natural sciences. A 
system of philosophy, founded on observation, was preparing the 
downfall of those traditional errors which had long held the 
mastery in the schools. Geometricians, physicians and astrono- 
mers taught, by their example, the severe process of reasoning 
which was to regenerate all the sciences ; and minds of the first 
order, scattered in various parts of Europe, communicated to 
each other the results of their labors, and stimulated each other 
to new exertions. 

One of the most eminent contemporaries of Descartes was 

j Pascal (1628-1662). At the age of sixteen he wrote a treatise 
en conic sections, which was followed by several important dig 

12* 





274 FRENCH LITERATURE, 




























voveries in arithmetic and geometry. His experiments in natural 
science added to his fame, and he was recognized as one of the 
most eminent geometricians of modern times. But he soon 
formed the design of abandoning science for pursuits exclusivelv 
religious, and circumstances arose which became the oceasion ot 
those ‘‘ Provincial Letters,” which, with the “ Pensées de la Re- 
ligion,” are considered among the finest specimens of French 
literature. 

The abbey of Port Royal occupied a lonely situation about 
six leagues from Paris. Its internal discipline had recently — 
undergone a thorough reformation, and the abbey rose to such 
a high reputation, that men of piety and learning took up their 
abode in its vicinity, to enjoy literary leisure. ‘The establishment — 
received pupils, and its system of education became celebrated in — 
a religious and intellectual point of view. The great rivals of — 
the Port Royalists were the Jesuits. Pascal, though not a — 
member of the establishment, was a frequent visitor, and one of 
his friends there, having been drawn into a controversy with the — 
Sorbonne on the doctrines of the Jansenists, had recourse to his 
aid in replying. Pascal published a series of letters in a drama- — 
tic form, in which he brought his adversaries on the stage with — 
himself, and fairly cut them up for the public amusement. ‘These — 
letters, combining the comic pleasantry of Moliére with the 
eloquence of Demosthenes, so elegant and attractive in style, and 
so clear and popular that a child might understand them, gained 
immediate attention; but the Jesuits, whose policy and doc-— 
trines they attacked, finally induced the parliament of Provence ~ 
to condemn them to be burnt by the common hangman; and the 
Port Royalists, refusing to renounce their opinions, were driven 
from their retreat, and the establishment broken up. Pascal’s 
master-piece is the ‘“ Pensées de la Religion ;” it consists of 
fragments of thought, without apparent connection or unity of 
design. These thoughts are in some places obscure ; they con- 
tain repetitions, and even contradictions, and require that arrange- 
ment that could only have been supplied by the hand of the 
writer. It has often been lamented that the author never con- 
structed the edifice which it is believed he had designed, and of 
which these thoughts were the splendid materials, ? 


6. Tue Rise or raz Goupen AcE or Frencn LitERaTuRE.—- 
When Louis XIV. came to the throne (1638-1715), Franee 
had received various elements calculated to prepare her for a 
brilliant period in literature. She had been brought into close 
relations with Spain and Italy, the courtries then the most a¢ 


, FRENCH LITERATURE. 275 


vanced in intellectual culture ; and she had received from the 
study of the ancient masters, the best correctives of whatever 
might have been extravagant in the national genius. She had 
learned some useful lessons from the polemical distractions of the 
16th century. ‘The religious earnestness excited by controversy 
was gratified by preachers of high endowments, and the political 
ascendency of France, among the kingdoms of Europe, imparted 
a general freedom and buoyancy. But of all the influences 
which contributed to perfect the literature of France in the lat- 
ter half of the 17th century, none was so powerful as that of the 
monarch himself, who, by his personal power, rendered his court 
a centre of knowledge, and, by nis government, imparted a feeling 
of security to those who lived under it. The predominance of 
the sovereign became the most prominent feature in the social 
character of the age, and the whole circle of the literature bears 
_ itsimpress. louis raised and improved, in no small degree, the 
position of literary men, by granting pensions to some, while he 
raised others to high offices of state ; or they were recompensed 
by the public, through the general taste, which the monarch so 
largely contributed to diffuse. 

The age, unlike that which followed it, was one of order, and 
specialty in literature ; and in classifying its literary riches, we 
shall find the principal authors presenting themselves under the 
different subjects: Racine with tragedy, Moliere with comedy, 
Boileau with satirical and mock-heroic, La Fontaine with narra- 
tive poetry, Bossuet, Bourdaloue and Massillon with pulpit 
eloquence ; Patru, Pellisson, and some others with that of the 

_ bar; Bossuet, de Retz and St. Simon with history and memoirs; 
Rochefoucauld and La Bruyére with moral philosophy; Fénelon 
and Madame de Lafayette with romance; and Madame de 
Séviené with letter-writing. 

The persona] influence of the king was most marked on pulpit 
eloquence and dramatic poetry. Other branches found less 
favor, from his dislike to those who chiefly treated them. The 
recollections of the Fronde had left in his mind a distrust of 
Rochefoucauld. A similar feeling of political jealousy, with a 
thorough hatred of bel esprit, especially in a woman, prevented 
him from appreciating Madame de Sévigné ; and he seems not 
even to have observed La Bruyére, in his modest functions as 
teacher of history to the Duke of Burgundy. He had uno taste 

_ for the pure mental speculations of Malebranche or Fénelon ; 
- and in metaphysics, as in religion, had little patience for what 
was beyond the good sense of ordinary individuals, The same 
hatred of exvess rendered him equally the enemy of refiners and 





276 FRENCH LITERATURE. 

































free-thinkers, so that the like exile fell to the lot of Arnauld and 

Bayle, the one carrying to the extreme the doctrines of grace, — 
and the other those of skeptical inquiry. Nor did he relish the — 
excessive simplicity of La Fontaine, or deem that his talent was a 
sufficient compensation for his slovenly manners and inaptitude — 
for court life. Of all these writers it may be said, that they — 
flourished rather in spite of the personal influence of the monarch, 
than under his fayor. 


1. Tracepy.—The first dramas of Racine (1639-1699) 
were but feeble imitations of Corneille, who advised the ~ 
young author to attempt no more tragedy. He replied by pro- — 
ducing ‘‘ Andromaque,” which had a most powerful effect upon — 
the stage. The poet had discovered that sympathy was a more — 
powerful source of tragic effect than admiration, and he accord- — 
ingly employed the powers of his genius in a truthful expression — 
of feeling and character, and a thrilling alternation of hope and 
fear, anger and pity. Andromaque was followed almost every 
year by : a work of similar character. Henrietta of England in- 
duced Corneille and Racine, unknown to each other, to produce 
a tragedy on Berenice, in order to contrast the powers of these 
illustrious rivals, They were represented in the year 1670 ; that 
of Corneille proved a failure, but Racine’s was honored by the 
tears of the court and the city. Soon after, partly disgusted at 
the intrigues against him, and partly from religious principle, 
Racine abandoned his career while yet in the full vigor of his 
life and genius. He was appointed historiographer to the king, 
conjointly with Boileau, and after twelve years of silence he was 
induced by Madame de Maintenon to compose the drama of — 
“‘ Hsther,” for the pupils in the Maison de St. Cyr, which met — 
with prodigious success. ‘ Athalie,” considered the most per- 
fect of his works, was composed with similar views ; theatricals — 
having been abandoned at the school, however, the play was 
published, but found no readers. Discouraged by this second 
injustice, Racine finally abandoned the drama. Athalie was but 
little known till the year 1716, since when its reputation has 
considerably augmented. Voltaire pronounced it the most perfect 
work of human genius. The subject of this drama is taken from 
the twenty-second and twenty-third chapters of II. Chronicles, 
where it is written that Athaliah, to revenge the death of her 
son, destroyed all the seed royal of the house of Judah, but that 
the young Joash was stolen from among the rest by his aunt 
Jehoshabeath, the wife of the high priest, and hidden with his nurs se 
for six years in the temple. Besides numerovs tragedies, Racine 





FRENCH LITERATURE. 277 


composed odes, epigrams, and spiritual songs. By a rare com: 
bination of talents he wrote as well in prose as in verse. His 
History of the Reign of Louis XIV. was destroyed by a con- 
flagration, but there remain the History of Port Royal, some 
pleasing letters and some academic discourses. The tragedies 
of Racine are more elegant than those of Corneille, though less 
bold and striking. Corneille’s principal characters are heroes 
and heroines thrown into situations of extremity, and displaying 
strength of mind superior to their position. Racine’s characters 
ere men, not heroes, men such as they are, not such as they 
might possibly be. 

France produced no other tragic dramatists of the first class 
in this age. Somewhat later, Crébillon (1674-1762), in such | 
wild tragedies as “‘ Atrea,” “ Electra,” and “ Rhadamiste,” in- 
troduced a new element, that of terror, as a source of tragie 
effect. 

Cardinal Mazarin had brought from Italy the Opera or lyric 
tragedy, which was cultivated with success by Quinault (1637- 
1688). He is said to have taken the bones out of the French 
language by cultivating an art in which thought, incident and 
dialogue are made secondary to the development of tender and 
voluptuous feeling. 


8. Comepy.—The comic drama, which occupied the French. 
stage till the middle of the 17th century, was the comedy of 
intrigue, borrowed from Spain, and turning on disguises, dark 
lanterns and trap-doors to help or hinder the design of person- 
ages who were types, not of individual character, but of classes, 
as doctors, lawyers, lovers, and confidants. It was reserved for 
Moliére (1622-1673) to demolish all this childishness, and en- 
throne the true Thalia on the French stage. Like Shakspeare, 
he was both an author and an actor, The appearance of the. 
“Précieuses Ridicules” was the first of the comedies in which 
the gifted poet assailed the follies of his age. The object of this 
satire was the system of solemn sentimentality which at this 
time was considered the perfection of elegance. It will be re- 
membered that there existed at Paris a coterie of fashionable: 
women who pretended to the most exalted refinement both of 
feeling and expression, and that these were waited upon and 
worshipped by a set of nobles and littérateurs, who used towards: 
them a peculiar strain of high-flown pedantic gallantry. These 
ladies adopted fictitious names for themselves and gave 
enigmatical ones to the commonest things. They lavished 
upon each other the most tender appellations, as though im 


278 FRENCH LITERATURE. 


contrast to the frigid tone in which the Platonism of the Hotel 
required them to address the gentlemen of their circle. Ma 
chére, ma précieuse, were the terms most frequently used by the 
leaders of this world of folly, and a préczewse came to be synony- 
mous with a lady of the clique; hence the title of the comedy. 
The piece was received with unanimous applause; a more signal 
victory could not have been gained by a comic poet, and from 
the time of its first representation this bombastic nonsense was 
given up. Moliere, perceiving that he had struck the true vein, 
resolved to study human nature more and Plautus and Terence 
less. Comedy after comedy followed, which were true pictures 
of the follies of society; but whatever was the theme of his satire, 
all proved that he had a falcon’s eye for detecting vice and folly 
in every shape, and talons for pouncing upon all as the natural 
prey of the satirist. On the boards he always took the principal 
character himself, and he was a comedian in every look and ges- 
ture. The ‘ Malade Imaginaire” was the last of his works. 
When it was produced upon the stage, the poet himself was 
really ill, but repressing the voice of natural suffering, to affect 
that of the hypochondriac for public amusement, he was seized 
with a convulsive cough, and carried home dying. Though he 
was denied the last offices of the church, and his remains were 
with difficulty allowed Christian burial, in the following century 
his bust was placed in the Academy, and a monument erected 
to his memory in the cemetery of Pere la Chaise. The best of 
Moliére’s works are, ‘‘ Le Misanthrope,” “ Les Femmes Savantes,” 
and ‘‘'Tartufe ;” these are considered models of high comedy. 
Other comedians followed, but at a great distance from him in 
point of merit. . 


9. Fasre, Satire, Mock-Heroic, anpD OTHER Portry.— 
La Fontaine (1621-1695) was the prince of fabulists ; his fables 
appeared successively in three collections, and although the sub- — 
jects of some of these are borrowed, the dress is entirely new. 
His versification constitutes one of the greatest charms of his 
poetry, and seems to have beea the result of an instinctive sense 
of harmony, a delicate taste and rapidity of invention. There 
are few authors in France more popular, none so much the © 
familiar geuius of every fireside. La Fontaine himself was a mere’ 
child of nature, indolent, and led by the whim of the moment, 
rather than by any fixed principle. He was desired by his 
father to take charge of the domain of which he was the keeper, — 
and to unite himself in marriage with a family relative. With — 
unthinking docility he consented to both, but neglected alike 








— 


FRENCH LITERATURE. 279 


his official duties and domestic obligations with an innocent un- 
consciousness of wrong. He was taken to Paris by the Duchess 
of Bouillon and passed his days in her coteries, and those of 
Racine and Boileau, utterly forgetful of his home and family, 
except when his pecuniary necessities obliged him to return to 
sell portions of his property to supply his wants. When this 
was exhausted, he became dependent on the kindness of female 
discerners of merit. Henrietta of England attached him to her 
suite ; and after her death, Madame de la Sabliere gave him 
apartments at her house, supplied his wants, and indulged his 
humors for twenty years. When she retired to a convent, 
Madame d’Hervart, the wife of a rich financier, offered him a 
similar retreat. While on her way to make the proposal, she 
met him in the street, and said, ‘‘ La Fontaine, will you come and 
live in my house?” “TI was just going, madame,” he replied, as 
i#his doing so had been the simplest and most natural thing in 
the world. And here he remained the rest of his days. France 
has produced numerous writers of fables since the time of La Fon- 
taine, but none worthy of comparison with him. 

The writings of Descartes and Pascal, with the precepts of 
the Academy and Port Royal, had established the art of prose 
composition, but the destiny of poetry continued doubtful. 
Corneille’s masterpieces afforded models only in one department; 
there was no specific doctrine on the idea of what poetry ought 
to be. 'To supply this was the mission of Boileau (1636-1711) ; 
and he fulfilled it, first by satirizing the existing style, and then, 
by composing an “ Art of Poetry,” after the manner of Horace. 
In the midst of men who made verses for the sake of making 
them, and composed languishing love-songs upon the perfections 
of mistresses who never existed except in their own imaginations, 
Boileau determined to write nothing but what interested his: 
feelings, to break with this affected gallantry, and draw poetry 
only from the depths of his own heart. His debut was made in. 
unmerciful satires on the works of the poetasters, and he con- 
tinued to plead the cause of reason against rhyme, of true poetry 
ugainst false; despite the anger of the poets and their friends, his 
satires enjoyed immense favor, and he consolidated his victory: 
by writing the Art of Poetry, in which he attempted to restore 
it to its true dignity. This work obtained for him the title of 
Legislator of Parnassus. The mock-heroic poem of the “ Lutrin”™ 
is considered as the happiest effort of his muse, though inferior: 
to the “ Rape of the Lock,’ a composition of a similar kind 
The oecasion of this poem was a frivolous dispute between the 
treasurer and the chapter of a cathedral concerning the placiny. 





280 FRENCH LITERATURH. 


of a reading-desk (Iutrin), A friend playfully challengetl Boileau 
to write a heroic poem on the subject, to verify his own theory, 
that the excellence of a heroic poem depended upon the power 
of the inventor to sustain and enlarge upon a slender ground- 
work, Boileau was the last of the great poets of the golden 
age. 

The horizon of the poets was at this time somewhat circum- 
scribed. Confined to the conventional life of the court and the 
city, they enjoyed little opportunity for the contemplation of 
nature. The policy of Louis XIV. proscribed national recollec- 
tions, so that the social life of the day was alone open to them. 
Poetry thus became abstract and ideal, or limited to the deline- 
ation of those passions which belong to a highly artificial state 
of. society. Madame Deshouliéres (1634-1694) indeed wrote 
some graceful idyls, but she by no means entered into the ore 
of rural life and manners, like La Fontaine. 


— 1 


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10. Enoquence or THE Putrit AND oF THE Bar.—Louis XIV. 
afforded to religious eloquence the most efficacious kind of encou- 
ragement, that of personal attendance. The court preachers 
had no more attentive auditor than their royal master, who was 
singularly gifted with that tenderness of conscience which leads 
a man to condemn himself for his sins, yet indulge in their com- 
mission ; to feel a certain pleasure in self-accusation, and to enjoy — 
that reaction of mind which consists in occasionally holding his 
passions in abeyance. ‘This attention on the part of a great 
monarch, the liberty of saying everything, the refined taste of the 
audience, who could on the same day attend a sermon of Bour- 
daloue and a tragedy of Racine, all tended to lead pulpit elo- 
quence to a high degree of perfection; and, accordingly, we find 
the function of court preacher exercised successively by Bossuet _ 
(1627-1704), Bourdaloue (1632-1704), and Massillon (1663— 
1742), the greatest names that the Roman Catholic Church has 
boasted in any age or country. Bossuet addressed the conscience — 
through the imagination, Bourdaloue through the judgment, and 
Massillon through the feelings. Fléchier (1632-1710), another. 
court preacher, ‘renowned chiefly as a rhetorician, was not free 
from the affectation of Les Préceuses ; but Bossuet was perhaps 
the most distinguished type of the age of Lows XTYV., in all save 
its vices. For the instruction of the Dauphin, to whom he had 
been appointed preceptor, he wrote his ‘‘ Discourse upon Univers — 
sal History,” by which he is chiefly known to us. The Protestant — 
controversy elicited his famous “‘ Exposition of the Catholic Doc | 
trine.” A still more celebrated work is the “History of tit 





FRENCH LITERATURE, 28: 


Variations,” the leading principle of which is, that to forsake 
the authority of the church leads one knows not whither, that 
there can be no new religious views except false ones, and that 
Shere can be no escape from the faith transmitted from age to 
age, save in the wastes of skepticism. In his controversy with 
Fénelon, in relation to the mystical doctrines of Madame Guyon, 
Bossuet showed himself irritated, and at last furious, at the mode- 
rate and submissive tone of his opponent. He procured the 
banishment of Fénelon from court, and the disgrace of his friends; 
and through his influence the pope condemned the ‘‘ Maxims of 
the Saints,” in which Fénelon endeavored to show that the 
views of Madame.Guyon were those of others whom the church 
had canonized. The sermons of Bossuet were paternal and fa- 
miliar exhortations ; he seldom prepared them, but, abandoning 
himself to the inspiration of the moment, was now simple and 
touching, now energetic and sublime. His familiarity with the 
language of inspiration imparted to his discourses a tone of 
almost prophetic authority ; his eloquence appeared as a native 
instinct, a gift direct from heaven, neither marred nor improved 
by the study of human rules. France does not acknowledge the 
Protestant Saurin (1677-1730), as the Revocation of the Edict 
of Nantes expatriated him in childhood; but his sermons occupy 
a distinguished place in the theological literature of the French 
language. 

Political or parliamentary oratory was as yet unknown, for 
the parliament no sooner touched on matters of state and govern- 
ment, than Louis XIV. entered, booted and spurred, with whip 
in hand, and not figuratively, but literaliy, lashed the refractory 
assembly into silence and obedience. But the eloquence of the 
bar enjoyed a considerable degree of freedom in this age. Law 
gud reason, however, were too often overlaid by worthless con- 
ceits, and a fantastic abuse of classic and scriptural citations. Le 
Maitre (1608-1658), Patru (1604-1681), Pellisson (1624- 
1693), Cochin (1687-1749), and D’Aguesseau (1668-1751), 
successively purified and elevated the language of the tribu- 
nals. ; 


11. Morat Puttosopny.—The most celehrated moralist of 
the age was the Duke de Rochefoucauld (1613-1680). He 
was early drawn into those conflicts known as the wars of the 
Fronde, though he seems to have had little motive for fighting 
or intriguing, except his restlessness of spirit and his attachment 
to the Duchess de Longueville. He soon quarrelled with the 
duvhess, dissolved his alliance with Condé, and being afterwards 

























282 FRENCH LITERATURE, 


included in the amnesty, he took up his residence at Paris, where — 
he was one of the brightest ornaments of the court of Louis XIV _ 
His chosen friends, in his declining years, were Madame de Sévigné, — 
one of the most accomplished women of the age, and Madame da 
Lafayette, who said of him, “ He gave me intellect, and 1 ~ 
reformed his heart.” But if the taint was removed from his 
heart, it continued in the understanding. His famous ‘‘ Maxims,” 
published in 1665, gained for the author a lasting reputation, not 
less for the perfection of his style, than for the boldness of his — 
paradoxes. The leading peculiarity of this work is the principle 
that self-interest is the ruling motive in human nature, placing — 
every virtue, as well as every vice, under contribution to itself. - 
It is generally agreed that Rochefoucauid’s views of human ~ 
nature were perverted by the specimens of it which he had — 
known in the wars of the Fronde, which were stimulated by 
vice, folly, and a restless desire of power. His “‘ Memoirs of the 
Reign of Anne of Austria” embody the story of the Fronde, 
and his Maxims the moral philosophy he deduced from it. ; 
While Pascal, by proving all human remedies unworthy cf 
confidence, had sought to drive men upon faith by pursuing them — 
with despair, and Rochefoucauld, by his pitiless analysis of the 
disguises of the human heart, led his readers to suspect their most 
natural emotions, and well-nigh took away the desire of virtue — 
by proving its impossibility, La Bruyére (1639-1696 ) endea- — 
vored to make the most of our nature, such as it is, to render — 
men better, even with their imperfections, to assist them by a mo- — 
ral code suited to their strength, or rather to their weakness. His 
“Characters of our Age” is distinguished for the exactness and — 
variety of the portraits, as well as for the excellence of its style. — 
The philosophy of La Bruyére is unquestionably based on reason, 
and not on revelation. 
In the moral works of Nicole, the Port Royalist (1611- — 
645), we find a system of truly Christian ethics, derived from 
uhe precepts of revelation; they are elegant in style, though 
they display little originality. if 
The only speculative philosopher of this age, worthy of mens 
tion, is Malebranche (1631-1715), a disciple of Descartes; but, — 
ualike his master, instead of admitting innate ideas, he held that 
we sce all in Deity, and that it is only by our spiritual union 
with the Being who knows all things that we know anything, 
He professed optimism, and explained the existence of evil by 
saying that the Deity acts only as a universal cause. His object — 
was to reconcile philosophy with revelation ; his works, thougr — 
roodels of style, are now little read, 4 





; 
: 


FRENCH LITERATURE. 283 


12. History anp Memorrs.—History attained no degree of 
excellence during this period. Bossuet’s ‘‘ Discourse on Univer- 
gal History” was a sermon, with general hi8tory as the text, 
At a somewhat earlier date, Mézeray (1610-1683) compiled 
a history of France. The style is clear and nervous, and the 
spirit which pervades it is bold anu independent, but the facts 
are not always to be relied on. ‘The “ History of Christianity,” 


by the Abbé Fleury (1640-1723), was pronounced by Voltaire 


to be the best work of the kind that had ever appeared. Rollin 
(1661-1741 ) devoted his declining years to the composition of 
historical works for the instruction of young people. His 
“ Ancient History ” is more remarkable for the excellence of his 
intentions than for the display of historical talent. Indeed, the 
historical writers of this period may be said to have marked, 
rather than filled a void. 

The writers of memoirs were more happy. At an earlier 
period, Brantéme (1527-1614), a gentleman attached to the 
suite of Charles IX. and Heury III., employed his declining 
years in describing men and manners as he had observed them ; 
and his memoirs are admitted to embody but too faithfully a 
representation of that singular mixture of elegance and gross- 
ness, of superstition and impiety, of chivalrous feelings and 
licentious morals, which characterized the 16th century. The 
Duke of Sully (1559-1641), the skillful financier of Henry IV., 
left valuable memoirs of the stirring-events of his day. The 
“* Memoirs” of the Cardinal de Retz (1614-1679), who took so 
active a part in the agitations of the Fronde, embody the 
enlarged views of the true historian, and breathe the impetuous 
spirit of a man whose native element is civil commotion, and who 
looks on the chieftainship of a party as worthy to engage the 
best powers of his head and heart ; but his style abounds with 
negligences and irregularities, which would have shocked the 
littérateurs of the day.. 

The Duke de St. Simon (1675-1755 ) is another of those who 
made no pretensions to classical writing. All the styles of the 
17th century are found in him. His language has been com- 
pared to a torrent, which appears somewhat encumbered by 
tie débris which it carries, yet makes its way with no less 
rapidity. 

Count Hamilton (1646-1720) narrates the adventures of his 
brother-in-law, count de Grammont, of wnich La Harpe says, 
“Of all frivolous books, it is the most diverting and ingenious.” 
Much lively narration is here expended on incidents better for 
gotten. 


77 
284 FRENCH LITERATURE. 


18. Romance anp Lerrer-writine.—The growth of kingly 
power, the order which it established, and the civilization which 
followed in its train, restrained the development of public life 
and increased the interests of the social relations. From this 
new state of things arose a modified kind of romance, in which 
elevated sentiments replaced the achievements of medizeval — 
fiction and the military exploits of Mademoiselle de Scudery’s 
tales. Madame de La Fayette introduced that kind of 
romance in which the absorbing interest is that of conflicting 
passion, and external events were the occasion of developing the 
inward life of thonght and feeling. She first depicted manners 
as they really were, relating natural events with gracefulness, 
instead of narrating those that never could have had existence. 

The illustrious Fénelon (1651-1715) was one of the few 
authors of this period who belonged exclusively to no one class. 
He appears as a divine in his ‘‘Sermons” and “ Maxims ;” as a 
rhetorician in his ‘‘ Dialogues on Hloquence :” as a moralist in 
his ‘‘ Education of Girls ;” as a politician in his “ Examination 
of the Conscience of a King ;” and it may be said-that all these | 
characters are combined in ‘‘Telemachus,” which has procured 
for him a wide-spread fame, and which classes him among the 
romancers. ‘Telemachus was composed with the intention of 
its. becoming a manual for his pupil, the young Duke of Burgun- 
dy, on his entrance into manhood. Though its publication 
caused him the loss of the king’s favor, it went through nume- 
rous editions, and was translated into every language of Europe. 
It was considered, in its day, a manual for kings, and it became 
a standard book, on account of the elegance of its style, the 
purity of its morals, and the classic taste it was likely to foster — 
in the youthful mind. 

Madame de Sévigné made no pretensions to authorship. 
Her letters were written to her daughter, without the slightest 
idea that they would be read, except by those to whom 
they were addressed; but they have immortalized their gifted 
uuthor, and have been pronounced worthy to occupy an eminent 
place among the classics of French literature. The matter which — 
these celebrated letters contain is multifarious ; they are sketches — 
of Madame de Sévigneé’s friends, Madame de La Fayette, Madame’ 
Scarron, and all the principal personages of that brilliant court, — 
from which, however, she was excluded, in consequence of her early 
alliance with the Fronde, her friendship for Fouquet, and her 
Jansenist opinions. All the occurrences, as well as the charac 
ters of the day, are touched in these letters ; and so graphic is 
the pen, so clear and easy the style, that we seem to live in those — 





FRENCH LISFERATURE. 985 


brilliant days, and to sce all that was going on. Great eventa 
are detailed in the same tone as court gossip; Louis XIV, 
Turenne, Condé, the wars of France and of the empire, are freely 
mingled with details of housewifery, projects of marriage—in short, 
_ the 17th century is depicted in the correspondence of two women, 
who knew nothing so important as their own affairs, 
Considerable interest attaches also to the letters of Madame de 
Maintenon (1635-1719), a lady whose life presents singular 
contrasts, worthy of the time. To her influence on the king, 
after her private marriage to him, is attributed much that is in. 
ausp.cious in the latter part of his reign, the combination of 
ascetic devotion and religious bigotry with the most flagrant im- 
morality, the appointment of unskillful generals and weak-minded 
ministers, the persecution of the Jansenists, and above all, the 
revocation of the Edict of Nantes, which had secured religious 
freedom to the Protestants. 


PERIOD THIRD. 


Tae Literature oF THE AGE OF THE REVOLUTION AND OF THE 
Ninereenta Century. (1700-1859.) 


1, Taz Dawn or Sxeprictsu.—In the age just past we have 
‘seen religion, antiquity, and the monarchy of Louis XIV., each 
exercising a distinct and powerful influence over the buoyancy of 
French genius, which cheerfully submitted to their restraining 
power. A school of taste and elegance had been formed, under 
these circumstances, which gave law to the rest of Europe and 
constituted France the leading spirit of the age. On the other 
hand, the dominant influences of the 18th century were a skep- 
tical philosophy, a preference for modern literature, and a rage 
for political reform. The transition, however, was not sudden 
nor immediate, and we come now to the consideration of those 
works which occupy the midway position between the submissive 
age of Louis XIV., and the daring infidelity and republicanism 
of the 18th century. 

The 18th century began with the first timid protestation 
pgainst the splendid monarchy of Louis XIV., the domination 
of the Catholic church, and the classical authority of antiquity, 
and it ended when words came to deeds, in the sanguinary revo- 
lution of 1789. When the first generation of great men who 
punned themselves in the glance of Louis XIV. had passed 
gway, there were nune to succeed them; the glory of the mon 


286 FRENCH LITERATURE. 



























arch began to fade as the noble cortége disappeared, and admire 
tion and enthusiasm were no more. The new generation, which. 
had not shared the glory and prosperity of the old monarch, was 
not subjugated by the recollectious of his early splendor, and 
was not, like the preceding, proud to wear his yoke. A certain 
indifference to principle began to prevail; men ventured to doubt 
opimions once unquestioned; the habit of jesting with everything 
and unblushing cynicism appeared almost under the eyes of aged 
Louis; even Massillon, who exhorted the people to obedience, at 
the same time reminded the king that it was necessary to merit 
it by respecting their rights. The Protestants, exiled by the 
Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, avenged themselves by in- 
veighing against the monarch and the church, and these works 
found their way into France, and fostered there the rising dis- 
content and contempt for the authority of the government. 
Among these refugees was Bayle (1647-1706), the coolest 
and boldest of doubters. He wrote boldly against the intoler- 
ance of Louis NIV., and he affords the first announcement of 
the characteristics of the century. His “‘ Historical and Critical 
Dictionary,” a vast magazine of knowledge and incredulity, was — 
calculated to supersede the necessity of study to a lively and 
thoughtless age. His skepticism is learned and philosophical, 
and he ridicules those who reject without examination still more 
than those who believe with docile credulity. Jean Baptiste — 
Rousseau (1670-1741), the lyric poet of this age, displayed in — 
his odes considerable energy, and a kind of pompous harmony, 
which no other had imparted to the language, yet he fails to ex- 
vite the sympathy. In his writings we find that free comming- 
ling of licentious morals with a taste for religious sublimities, — 
which characterized the last years of Louis XIV. The Abbé 
Chaulieu (1639-1720) earned the appellation of the Anacreon 
of the Temple, but he did not, like Rousseau, prostitute poetry 
in strains of low debauchery. 
The tragedians followed in the footsteps of Racine with more — 
or less success, and comedy continued, with some vigor, to repre- — 
sent the corrupt manners of the age. Le Sage (1668-1747) 
applied his talent to romance; and, like Moliére, appreciated — 
human folly without analyzing it. “Gil Blas” isa picture of 
the human heart under the aspect at once of the vicious and the — 
ridiculous. ; 
Fontenelle (1657-1757), a nephew of the great Corneille, is 
regarded as the link between the 17th and 18th centuries, he 
having witnessed the splendor of the best days of Louis XIV. 


tary. He made his debut in tragedy, in which, however, he 
found little encouragement. In his “ Plurality of Worlds,” and 
“ Dialogues of the Dead,” there is much that indicates the man 
of science. His other works are valued rather for their delicacy 
and impartiality than for striking originality. 

Lamotte (1672-1731) was more distinguished in criticism 

than in any other sphere of authorship. He raised the standard 
of reyol{ against the worship of antiquity, and would have de- 
throned poetry itself on the ground of its inutility. Thus skep- 
ticism commenced by established literary doctrines becoming 
matters of doubt and controversy. Before attacking more 
serious creeds it fastened on literary ones. 

Such is the picture presented by the earlier part of the 18th 
century. Part of the generation had remained attached to the 
traditions of the great age. Others opened the path into which 
the whole country was about to throw itself. The faith of the 
nation in its political institutions, its religious and literary 
ereed, was shaken to its foundation; the positive and pak 

able began to engross every interest hitherto occupied by 
the ideal ; and this disposition, so favorable to the cultivation 
of science, brought with it a universal spirit of criticism. 
The habit of reflecting was generally diffused, people were 
not afraid to exercise their own judgment, every man had 
begun to have a higher estimate of his own opinions, and to 
care less for those hitherto received as of undoubted authority. 
Still literature had not taken any positive direction, nor had 
there yet appeared men of sufficiently powerful genius to give it 
a decisive impulse. 


FRENCH LITERATURE. 287 


2. Procress or Sxepricisu.—The first powerful attack on 
the manners, institutions and establishments of France, and in- 
deed of Europe in general, is that contained in the “ Persian 
Letters” of the Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755); in which, 
under the transparent veil of pleasantries aimed at the Moslem 
religion, he sought to consign to ridicule the belief in every 
species of dogma. But the celebrity of Montesquieu is founded 
on his “Spirit of Laws,” the greatest monument of human 
genius in the 18th century. It is a profound analysis of law in 
its relation with government, customs, climate, religion and 
commerce. The book is inspired with a spirit of justice and 
humanity ; but it places the mind too much under the dominion 
of matter, and argues for necessity rather than liberty, thus de 
priving moral obligation of much of its absolute character. Itis 
an extraordinary specimen of argument, terseness, and erudition 


88 FRENCH LITERATURE, 







The maturity of the 18th century is found in V vltaire (169 
1778); he was the personification of its rashness, its zeal, its 
derision, its ardor, and its universality. In him nature had, sa 
to speak, identified the individual with the nation, bestowing on 
hin a character in the highest degree elastic, having lively sen- 
sibility but no depth of passion, littie system of principle or 
vouduct, but that promptitude of self-direction which supplies its 
place, a quickness of perception amounting almost to intuition, 
and an unexampled degree of activity, by which he was in some 
sort many men at once. No writer, even in the 18th century 
knew so many things or treated so many subjects. That which 
was the ruin of some minds was the strength of his. Rich in 
diversified talent and in the gifts of fortune, he proceeded to the 
conquest of his age with the combined power of the highest en- 
dowments under the most favorable circumstances. Driven 
again and again, as a moral pest, from the capital of France by 
the powers that fain would have preserved the people from his 
opinions, yet ever gaining ground, his wit always welcome, and 
his opinions gradually prevailing, one audacious sentiment after 
another broached, and branded with infamy, yet secretly enter- 
tained, till the struggle was at length given up, and the nation, 
as with one voice, avowed itself his disciple. | 

It has been said that Voltaire showed symptoms of infidelity 
from infancy. When at college he gave way to sallies of wit, 
mirth and profanity, which astonished his companions and terri- 
fied his preceptors. He was twice imprisoned in the Bastile, 
and many times obliged to fly from the country. In England 
he became acquainted with Bolingbroke and all the-most distin- 
guished men of the time, and in the school of English philosophy 
he learned to use argument, as well as ridicule, in his war with 
religion. In 1740 we find him assisting Frederick the Great to 
get up a refutation of Machiavelli; again, he is appointed histo- 
riographer of France, Gentleman of the Bed-chamber, and 
Member of the Academy; then he accepts an invitation to reside — 
at the court of Prussia, where he soon quarrels with the king, 
After many vicissitudes he finally purchased the estate of 
Ferney, near the Lake of Geneva, where he resided during the 
rest of his days. From this retreat he poured out an exhaust- 
less variety of books, which were extensively circulated and — 
eagerly perused. He was the admiration of all the wits and — 
philosophers of Europe, and numbered among his pupils and — 
correspondents some of the greatest sovereigns of the age, At — 
the age of eighty-four he again visited Paris. Here his levees 
were more crowded tha those of any emperor; princes and — 


¥RENCH LITERATURE. 289 





peers thronged his ante-chamber, and when he rode through the 
_. Btreets a train attended him which stretched far over the city 
He was made president of the Academy, and crowned with 
laurel at the theatre, where his bust was placed on the stage 
and adorned with palms and garlands. He died soon after, 
without the rites of the church, and was interred secretly at a 
Benedictine abbey. 

The national enthusiasm which decreed Voltaire, as he de- 
‘scended to the tomb, such a triumph as might have honored a 
benefactor of the race, gave place to doubt and disputation as 
to his merits. In tragedy he is admitted to rank after Corneille 
and Racine; in “Zaire,” which is his master-piece, there is 
neither the lofty conception of the one, nor the perfect versifica- 
tion ol the other, but there is a warmth of passion, an enthusi- 
asm of feeling and a gracefulness of expression which fascinate 
and subdue. As anepic poet he has least sustained his renown; 
though the “ Henriade” has unquestionably some great beauties, 
its machinery is tame, and the want of poetic illusion is severely 
felt. His poetry, especially that of his later years, is by no 
means so disgraceful to the author as the witticisms in prose, 
the tales, dialogues, romances, and pasquinades which were 
eagerly sought for and readily furnished, and which are, with 
little exception, totally unworthy of an honorable man. Asa 
historian, Voltaire lacked reflection and patience for investiga- 
tion. His “ History of Charles XII.,” however, was deservedly 
successful. The reason being that he chose for his hero the 
most romantic and adventurous of sovereigns, to describe whom 
there was more need of rapid narrative and brilliant coloring 
than of profound knowledge and a just appreciation of human 
nature. In his history of the age of Louis XIV., Voltaire 
sought not only to present a picture, but a series of researches 
destined to instruct the memory and exercise the judgment. 
The English historians, imitating his mode, have surpassed him 
in erudition and philosophic impartiality. Still later, his own 
countrymen have carried this species of writing to a high degree 
of p»rfection. ‘Throughout the “ Essay on the Manners of 
Nations ” we find traces of that hatred of religion which he uns 
blushingly adopted in the latter part of his life. The style, 
however, is pleasing, the facts well arranged, and the portraits 
traced with originality and vivacity. 

Some have attributed to Voltaire the serious design of over- 
turning the three great bases of society, religion, morality, and 
civil government ; but he had not the genius of a philosopher, 
end there is no system of philosophy in his works, ‘That he had 

13 


. 


290 FRENCH LITERATURE, 


























a design to amuse and influence his age, and to avenge himseiy 

on his enemies, is obvious enough. Envy and hatred employed 
against him the weapons of religion, hence he viewed it only as 
an instrument of persecution. His great powers of mind were — 
continually directed by the opinions of the times, and the desire 
of popularity was his ruling motive. The character of his earlier 
writings shows that he did not bring into the world a very in- — 
dependent spirit ; they display the lightness and frivolity of the 
time with the submission of a courtier for every kind of authority, — 
but as his success increased everything encouraged him to imbue — 
his works with that spirit which found so general a welcome. 
In vain the authority of the civil government endeavored to ar- 
rest the impulse which was gaining strength from day to day; 
in vain this director of the public mind was imprisoned and ex- 
iled ; the further he advanced in his career and the more auda-— 
ciously he propagated his views on religion and government, the 
more he was rewarded with the renown which he sought. — 
Monarchs became his friends and his flatterers; opposition only 
increased his energy, and made him often forget moderation and 
good taste. 


3. Frenca Literature DURING THE Revo.ution.—The names — 
of Voltaire and Montesquieu eclipse all others in the first half 
of the eighteenth century, but the influence of Voltaire was by 
far the most immediate and extensive. After he had reached 
the zenith of his glory, about the middle of the century, there — 
appeared in France a display of various talent, evoked by his 
example and trained by his instructions, yet boasting an inde- 
pendent existence. In the works of these men was cousum- 
mated the literary revolution of which we have marked the 
beginnings, a revolution more striking than any other ever wit- 
nessed in the same space of time. It was no longer a few 
eminent men that surrendered themselves boldly to the skeptical 
philosophy which is the grand characteristic of the eighteenth 
century; writers of inferior note followed in the same path; the 
new opinions took entire possession of all literature and coépe-— 
rated with the state of the morals and the government to bring 
about a fearful revolution. The whole strength of the literature - 
of this age being directed towards the subversion of the national 
institutions and religion, formed a homogeneous body of sciences, 
literature, and the arts, and a compact phalanx of all writers under 
the common name of philosophers. Women had their share in the 
maintenaxce of this league ; the salons of Mesdames du Deffi 
(1696-1780), Geoffrin (b. 1777) and de ’Espinasse (1732-1776), 


—— e 


were ils favorite resorts ; but the great rendezvous was that of 
the Baron d’Holbach, whence its doctrines spread far and wide, 
blasting, like a malaria, whatever it met with on its way that 
had any connection with religion, morals, or venerable social 
evstoms. Besides Voltaire, who presided over this coterie, at 
least in spirit, the daily company included Diderot, an enthusiast 
by nature and a cynic and sophist by profession ; D’Alembert, 
a genius of the first order in mathematics, though less distin- 
guished in literature ; the malicious Marmontel, the philosopher 
Helvetius, the Abbé Raynal, the furious enemy of all modern 
institutions; the would-be sentimentalist Grimm, and D’Holbach 
himself. Hume, Gibbon, Bolingbroke and others were affiliated 
members. ‘Their plan was to write a book which would in some 
sense supersede all others, itself forming a library containing the 
most recent discoveries in philosophy, and the best explanations 
and details on every topic, literary and scientific. 

The project of this great enterprise of an Encyclopedia as an 
immense vehicle for the development of the opinions of the philoso- 
phers, alarmed the government, and the parliament and the 
clergy pronounced its condemnation. ‘The philosophy of Des- 
cartes and the eminent thinkers of the seventeenth century 
assumed the soul of man as the starting-point in the investiga- 
tion of physical science. The men of the eighteenth century 
had become tired of following out the sublimities and abstrac- 
tions of the Cartesians, and they took the opposite course; 
beginning from sensation, they did not stop short of the grossest 
materialism and positive atheism, 

Such were the principles of the Encyclopedia, more fully de- 
veloped and explained in the writings of Condillac (1715-1780), 
the head of this school of philosophy. His first work, ‘‘ On the 

- Origin of Human Knowledge,” contains the germ of all that he 
afterwards published. In his ‘Treatise on Sensation,” he endea 
vored, but in vain, to derive the notion of duty from sensation, 
and expert as he was in logic, he could not conceal the great 
gulf which his theory left between these two terms. Few 
writers have enjoyed more success; he brought the science of 
thought within the reach of the vulgar by stripping it of every- 
thing elevated, and every one was surprised and delighted to 
find that philosophy was so easy a thing. Having determined 
not to establish morality on any innate principles of the soul, 
these philosophers founded it on the fact common to all animated 
hature, the feeling of self-interest. Already deism had rejected 
the evidence of a divine revelation, now atheism raised a more 
sudacious fron‘, and proclaimed that all religious sentiment wag 


Se 
FRENCH LITERATURE. 291 



























+ 
292 FRENCH LITERATURE. 


but the reverie of a disordered mind. The works in whica thig — 
dpinion is most expressly announced, date from the period of the 
Encyclopedia. 
D’Alembert (1717-1773) is now chiefly known as the author 
of the preliminary discourse of the Encyclopedia, which is 
ranked among the principal works of the age. . 
Diderot (1714-1784), had he devoted himself to any one 
sphere, instead of wandering about in the chaos of opinions 
which rose and perished around him, might have left a lasting 
reputation, and posterity, instead of merely repeating his name, 
would have spoken of his works. He may be regarded as a 
writer injurious at once to literature and to morals. 
The most faithful disciple of the philosophy of this period was 
Helvetius (1715-1771), known chiefly by his work “On the — 
Mind,” the object of which is to prove that physical sensi- — 
bility is the origin of all our thoughts. Of all the writers who 
maintained this opinion, none have represented it in so gross a — 
manner. His work was condemned by the Sorbonne, the Pope, 
and the parliament; it was burned by the hand of the hang- — 
man, and the author was compelled to retract it. 
Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) was a writer wha 
- marched under none of the recognized banners of the day. 
The Encyclopedists had flattered themselves that they had — 
tuned the opinion of all Europe to their philosophical strain, 
when suddenly they heard his discordant note. Without family, 
without friends, without home, wandering from place to place, 
from one wondition in life te another, he conceived a species of 
revolt against society, and a feeling of bitterness against those — 
civil organizations in which he could never find a suitable place. — 
He combated the atheism of the Encyclopeedists, their material- 
ism and contempt for moral virtue, for pure deism was his creed. _ 
He believed in a Supreme Being, a future state, and the excel- — 
ience of virtue, but denying all revealed religion, he would have 
men advance in the paths of virtue, freely and proudly, from 
love of virtue itself, and not from any sense of duty or — 
obligation. In the “Social Contract” he traced the princi- — 
ples of government and laws in the nature of man, and en- 
deavored to show the end which they proposed to themselves — 
by living in communities, and the best means of attaining this 
end. iky 
But the two most notable works of Rousseau, are “Julie, — 
or the “Nouvelle Héloise,” and ‘ Emile.’ The former is a kind of - 
romance, owing its inter est mainly to development of character 


and not to incident or plot. Emile embodies a system of edu 


ee 





FRENCH LITERATURE. £98 


eation in which the author’s thoughts are digested and arranged. 
He gives himself an. imaginary pupil, the representative of that 
life of spontaneous development which was the writer’s ideal. 
In this work there is an episode, the ‘‘ Savoyard Vicar’s Confes- 
sion of Faith,” which is a declaration of pure deism, levelled 
especially against the errors of Catholicism. It raised a perfect 
tempest against the author from every quarter. The council of 
Geneva caused his book to be burned by the executioner, and 
the parliament of Paris threatened him with imprisonment. 
Under these circumstances he wrote his ‘‘ Confessions,” which 
he believed would prove ‘his vindication before the world. The 
reader, who may expect to find this book abounding with at 
least as much virtue as aman may possess without Christian 
principle, will find in it not a single feature of greatness; it is a 
proclamation of disagreeable faults; and yet he would persuade 
us that he was virtuous, by giving the clearest proofs that he 
was not. 

To the names of Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Rousseau, must 
be added that of Buffon (1707-1788), and we have the four 
_ writers of this age who left all their contemporaries far behind. 
Buffon having been appointed superintendent of the Jardin des 
Plantes, and having enriched this fine establishment, and 
gathered into it, from all parts of the world, various productiona 
of nature, conceived the project of composing a natural history, 
which should embrace the whole immensity of being, animate 
and inanimate. He first laid down the theory of the earth, 
then treated the natural history of man, afterwards that of 
viviparous quadrupeds and birds. The first volumes of his work 
appeared in 1749; the most important of the supplementary 
matter which followed was the ‘‘ Hpochs of Nature.” He gave 
incredible attention to his style, and is one of the most brilliant 
writers of the eighteenth century. No naturalist has ever 
equalled him in the magnificence of his theories, or the anima- 
tion of his descriptions of the manners and habits of animals. 
It is said that he wrote the Epochs of Nature eleven times 
- over. He not only recited his compositions aloud, in order to 
judge of the rhythm and cadence, but he made a point of being 
in full dress before he sat down to write, believing that the 
splendor of his habiliments impressed his language with that 
pomp and elegance which he so much admired, and which is his 
distinguishing characteristic. Buffon, while maintaining friendship 
with the celebrated men of his age, did not identify himself with 
the party of the encyclopedists, er the sects into which they 
were divided But he lived among men who deemed physical 


294 FRENCH LITERATURE. 




























nature alone worthy of study, and the wits of the age had suo 
ceeded in discovering how a Supreme Being might be dispensed — 
with ; Buffon evaded the subject entirely, and amid all his lofty 
soarings showed no disposition to rise to the Great First Cause. 
After his time, science lost its contemplative and poetical cha- 
racter, and acquired that of intelligent observation. It became 
a practical thing, and entered into close alliance with the arts. 
The arts and sciences, thus combined, became the glory of 
France, as literature had been in the preceding age. 

The declining years of Voltaire and Rousseau witnessed ne — 
rising genius of similar power, but some authors of a secondary 
rank deserve notice. Marmontel (1728-1799) is distinguished 
as the writer of ‘‘ Belisarius,” a philosophical romance, “ Moral 
Tales,” and ‘‘ Elements of Literature.” He endeavors to lead 
his readers to the enjoyments of literature, instead of detaining 
them with frigid criticisms. 

La Harpe (1739-1803) displayed great eloquence in literary 
criticism, and some of his works maintain their place, though 
they have little claim to originality. , 

Many writers devoted themselves to history, but the spirit 
of French philosophy was uncongenial to this species of com-— 
position, and the age does not afford one remarkable historian. 
The fame of the Abbé Rayn@l (1718-1796) rests chiefly on his 
“ History of the Two Indies.” It is difficult to conceive how a — 
sober man could have arrived at such delirium of opinion, and 
how he could so complacently exhibit principles which tended — 
to overthrow the whole system of society. Scarcely a crime 
was committed during the revolution, with which this century 
closes, but could find its advocate in this declaimer. When, 
however, Raynal found himself in the midst of the turmoils he —_ | 
suggested, he behaved with justice, moderation and courage ; 
thus proving that his opinions were not the result of experience. 
When he lays down his pen, he again becomes what he really i is, 
a lover of peace, justice, and humanity. 

‘The days of true religious eloquence were past; faith was 
extinct among the ereater part of the community, and cold and 
timid among the rest. Preachers, in deference to their audience, 
kept out of view whatever was purely religious, and enlarged on 
those topics which coincided with mere human morality. Reli- 
gion was introduced only as an accessory which it was necessary 
to disguise skillfully, in order to escape derision. Genuine 
pulpit “eloquence was out of the question under these ci | 
ptances. the 

Forensic eloquence had been improving in simplicity and 


FRENCH LITERATURE. 225 





seriousness sinv2 the commencement of the eighteenth ceutury, 
and men of the law were now led by the circumstances of tne 
times to trace out universal principles, rather than to discuss 
isolated facts. The eloquence of the bar thus acquired more 
extensive influence ; the measures of the government converted 
it into a hostile power, and it furnished itself with weapons of 
reason and erudition which had not been thought of before. 

We come now close upon the epoch when the national spirit 
was no longer to be traced in books, but in actions. The reign of 
Lonis XV had been marked with general disorder, ana while he 
was sinking into the grave, amid the scorn of the people, the 
magistrates were punished for opposing the royal authority, and 
the public were indignant at the arbitrary proceeding. Beau- 
marchais (1732-1799) became the organ of this feeling, and his 
memoirs, like his comedies, are replete with enthusiasm, cyn- 
icism, and buffoonery. Literature was never so popular; it was 
regarded as the universal and powerful instrument which it 
behooved every man to possess. All grades of society were 
filled with authors and philosophers ; the public mind was tend- 
ing towards some change, without knowing what it would have; 
from the monarch on ‘the throne to the lowest of the people, 
all perceived the utter discordance that prevailed between 
existing opinions and existing institutions. 

In the midst of the dull murmur which announced the 
approaching storm, literature, as though its work of agitation 
had been completed, took up the shepherd’s reed for public 
aimusement. ‘‘ Posterity would scarcely believe,” says an emi- 
nent historian, ‘‘ that ‘Paul and Virginia,’ and the ‘ Indian 
Cottage,’ were composed at this juncture by Bernardin de St. 
Pierre (1737-1814), as also the ‘ Fables of Florian,’ which are 
the only ones that have been considered readable since those of 
La Fontaine.” About the same time appeared the ‘‘ Voyage of 
Anacharsis,” in which the Abbé Barthélemy (1716-1795) em- 
bodied his erudition in an attractive form, presenting a lively 
picture of Greece in the time of Pericles, 

Among the more moral writers of this age, was Necker 
(1732-1804), the financial minister of Louis XVI., who main- 
tained the cause of religion against the torrent of public opinion 
in works distinguished for delicacy and e.evation, seriousness and 
elegance. 

When the storm at length burst, the country was exposed to 
every kind of revolutionary tyranny. The first actors in the 
work of destruction were, for the most part, actuated by good 
intentions : but these were soon superseded by men of a lowe 


296 FRENCH LITERATURE, 




























class, envious of all distinctions of rank and deeply imbued with 
the spirit of the philosophers. Some derived, from the writings — 
of Rousseau, a hatred of everything above them; others had — 
taken from Mably his admiration of the ancient republics of — 
Greece and Rome, and would reproduce them in France; others — 
- had borrowed from Raynal the revolutionary torch which he — 
had lighted for the destruction of all institutions ; others, edu- 
cated in the atheistic fanaticism of Diderot, trembled with rage 
at the very name of priest or religion; and thus the Revolution 
was gradually handed over to the guidance of passion and per- 
sonal interest. 

In hurrying past these years of anarchy and bloodshed, we 
cast a glance upon the poet, André Chénier (1762-1794), who 
dared to write against the excesses of his countrymen, in conse- 
quence of which he was cited before the revolutionary tribunal, 
condemned, and executed. 


4, Frenca LireratuRE UNDER THE Ewpire.—Napoleon, on 
the establishment of the empire, gave great encouragement to — 
the arts, but none to literature. Books were in little request ; 
old editions were sold for a fraction of their original price ; but | 
new works were dear, because the demand for them was su 
limited. When literature again lifted its head, it appeared that — 
in the chaos of events a new order of thought had been generated. — 
The feelings of the people were for the freer forms of modern 
literature, introduced by Madame de Staél and Chateaubriand, 
rather than the ancient classics and the French models of the 
lTth century. 

Madame de Staél (1766-1817) has been pronounced by the | 
eeneral voice the greatest of all female authors. Though pos- 
sessing an exuberance of childish buoyancy, she seems never to 
have been a child in intellect. She was early introduced to the 
society of the cleverest men in Paris, with whom her father’s 
house was a favorite resort; and before she was twelve years of — 
age, such men as Raynal, -Marmontel, and Grimm used to 
converse with her as though she were twenty, calling out her 
ready eloquence, inquiring into her studies, and recommending 
new books. She thus early imbibed a taste for society and dis- 
tinction, and for bearing her part in the brilliant conversation 
of the salon. At the age of twenty she became the wife of the 
Baron de Staél, the Swedish minister at Paris, and her portrait, — 
at that time, is thus drawn by a contemporary : “ Her large, 
dark eyes sparkle with genius ; her hair, black as ebony, fally 
on her shoulders in waving ringlets, and her features express 





FRENCH LITERATURE. 297 


something superior to the destiny of her sex. Whenever she 
appeared, there was a breathless silence. When she sang, she 
extemporized the words of her song ; when she spoke, her coun- 
tenance continually varied, and her voice exhibited a thousand 
modulations in harmony with her thoughts; even if her words 
were not heard, their meaning might have been gathered from 
her look, her gestures and the inflections of her voice.” 
Madame de Staél, on her return to Paris after the Reign of 
Terror, became the centre of a political society, and her draw- 
ing-rooms were the resort of distinguished foreigners, ambassa- 
dors, and authors. On the accession of Napoleon, a mutual 
hostility arose between him and this celebrated woman, which 
ended in her banishment and the suppression of her works. 

“The Six Years of Exile” is the most simple and interesting 
of her productions. Her ‘“ Considerations on the French Revo- 
tion ” is the most valuable of her political articles. Among her 
works of fiction, “‘ Corinne” and “ Delphine” have had the high- 
est popularity. But of all her writings, that on “ Germany ” is 
considered worthy of the highest rank, and it was calculated to 
- influence most beneficially the literature of her country. In it 
she taught her countrymen to blush for the pedantic exclusive- 
ness with which they had circumscribed themselves, and her 
writings have, beyond all others, vanquished and subdued that 
spirit of illiberality that tended to cripple genius, more than to 
repel the encroachments of bad taste. She promoted enthusiasm 
to the place hitherto occupied by fastidiousness, and aided the 
man of genius in daring to be himself. Writers like Delavigne, 
Lamartine, Béranger, De Vigny, and Victor Hugo, though in 
no respect imitators of Madame de Staél, are probably much 
indebted to her for the stimulus to originality which her writings 
afforded. But while she was liberal and enlightened, she was 
not wholly dispassionate, and in her abhorrence of trivial criti- 
zism, she sometimes indulged in sweeping assertions and broad 
classifications in defiance of facts. Madame de Staél was one 
of those great poets who are poetical only in prose; the mechanical 
difficulties of versification fettered her imagination, but her prose 
writings abound with poetic ornaments of the most brilliant 
kind. Corinne presents, perhaps, a greater number of ex- 
amples of poetry in prose than any other single work in the 
language. 

Another female author, who lived, like Madame de Stael, 
through the Revolution, and exercised an influence on public 
bvents, was Madame de Genlis (1746-1830). Her works, 
which extend to at least eighty volumes, are chiefly educational 

13* 


298 FRENCH LITERATURE, se i 

































treatises, moral tales, and historical romances. Her politica) 
power depended rather on. her private influence in the Orleang 
family than upon her pen. 

Chiteaubriand (1769-1848) must be placed side by side with 
Madame de Staél, as another of those brilliant and versatile — 
geniuscs who have dazzled the eyes of their countrymen, and — 
exerted a permanent influence on French literature. In each 
of his capacities, as orator, minister, diplomatist, traveller, poet, — 
theologian, journalist, and pamphleteer, he engaged attention, 
and frequently commanded admiration. The appearance of | 
“Atala” elicited a burst of astonishment and admiration, 
Innumerable editions and translations into different languages 
spread the fame of the author in a few months from Lisbon to — 
St. Petersburg. The “ Martyrs,” a prose epic on the theme 
of the sufferings of the Christians under Diocletian and Galerius, 
is considered the best of Chateaubriand’s fictions. ‘The Genius 
of Christianity ” was the crowning work of a series, in which — 
the religious views of the author are prominent and pervading, — 
It is full of brilliant beauties and glaring defects, passages that 
all must admire, and errors that might be detected by a child, 
Many episodes-in the ‘History of English Literature” are 
admirable ; its faults are those of the whole, its beauties those 
of detail. 

Some of the characteristics of Chateaubriand have, without 
doubt, produced a seriously injurious effect on French literature, 
and of these one of the most contagious and corrupting is his pas- 
sion for the glitter of words, and the pageantry of high-sounding — 
phrases. His vivid fancy and glowing declamation, however, 
were never prostituted in the cause of vice ; though often in~ 
the clouds, he is never in the mire; yet he seems to be answer- 
able for having set the example of stringing together declama- 
tions upon feeling and sentiment instead of exhibiting the play of | 
great passions, rendering subjects, which ought to be gravely 
examined and deeply felt, the lay-figures for tawdry and ilk 
placed rhetoric. The false system which he commenced for 
virtuous objects, has been pressed into the service of vice by 
writers who have neither his heart nor his intellect. : 

The salutary reaction against skepticism, produced in literature 
by Madame de Stael and Chateaubriand, was carried into philoso 
phy by Maine de Biran (1766-1824), and more particularly | 
Royer-Collard (1763-1846), who took a decided stand agai 
the school gf Condillae and the materialists of the 18th cen ry 





. 
‘ 
“8 





FRENCH LITERATURE. 299 


veries of the Scotch school. Benjamin Constant (1767-1830) 
infused into political science a spirit of freedom before quite 
unknown. In his works he attempted to limit the authority of 
the government, to build up society on personal freedom, and on 
the guaranties of individual right. His writings combine 
extraordinary power of logic with great variety and beauty of 
style. 

Proceeding in another direction, Bonald (1753-1846) op- 
posed the spirit of the French Revolution, by establishing the 
authority of the church as the only criterion of truth and 
morality. As Rousseau had piaced sovereign power in the will 
of the people, Bonald placed it in that of God, as it is manifested 
to man through language and revelation, and of this revelation 
he regarded the Catholic church as the interpreter. He deve- 
lops his doctrines in numerous works, especially in his ‘‘ Primitive 
Legislation,” which is characterized by boldness, dogmatism, 
sophistry in argument, and by severity and purity of style. 

The peculiarities of Bonald were carried still farther by 
De Maistre (1755-1852), whose hatred of the Revolution led 
him into the system of an absolute theocracy, such as was 
dreamed of by Gregory VII. and Innocent III. His “ Sorées 
de St. Petersbourg,” ‘‘le Pape,” and “V?Eglse Gallicane,” are 
the brilliant exponcats of an absurd and revolting system of , 
despotism, of which the Pope is the ruling power and his minis- 
ters the executioners. 


5. Frencnu Literature From THE RestToraTION TO THE PRE- 
sENT Tre.—The influences already spoken of, in connection with 
the literary progress which began in Germany and England to- 
wards the close of the 18th century, produced in the beginning 
of the 19th a revival in French literature; but the conflict 
of opinions, the immense number of authors, and their extra. 
ordinary fecundity, render it difficult to examine or classify them. 
We first notice the great advances in history and biography. 
Among the earlier specimens may be mentioned the voluminous 
works of Sismondi and the Biographie Universelle, in fifty-two 
closely printed volumes, the most valuable body of biography, 
that any modern literature can boast. Since 1830, historians 
and literary critics have occupied the foreground in French 
literature. The historians have divided themselves into two 
schools, the descriptive and the philosophical. With the one 
class history consists of a narration of facts in connection with a 
picture of manners, bringing scenes of the past vividly before the 
mizd of ‘he reader leaving him to deduce gencral truths from 


800 FRENCH LITERATURE, 
































the particular ones brought before him. The style of these 
writers is simple and manly, and no opinions of their own shine 
through their statements. The chief representatives of this class, 
who regard Sir Walter Scott as their master, are Thierry, — 
Villemain, Barante, and in historical sketches and ‘novels, Dumas” 
and De Vieny. 

The philosophical school, on the other hand, consider this 
scenic narrative more suitable to romance than to history; they 
seek in the events of the past the chain of causes and effects in 
order to arrive at general conclusions which may direct the con- 
duct of men in the future. At the head of this school is Guizot, — 
who has developed. his historical views in his essays on the 
‘‘ History of France,” and more particularly in his “ History of 
European Civilization, ” in which he points out the origin of — 
modern civilization, and follows the progress of the human mind > 
from the fall of the Roman Empire. The philosophical historians — 
have been again divided according to their different theories, 
but the most eminent of them are those whom Chateaubriand — 
calls fatalists ; men who, having surveyed the course of public 
events, have come to the conclusion that individual character 
has had little influence on the political destinies of mankind, 
that there is a general and inevitable series of events which 
regularly succeed each other with the certainty of cause and 
effect, dnd that it is as easy to trace it as it is impossible to 
resist or divert it from its course. A tendency to these views is 
visible in almost every French historian and philosopher of ne 
present time. The philosophy of history thus grounded has, i 
their hands, assumed the aspect of a science. 

Among the celebrated writers who have combined the philo- 
sophical and the narrative styles are Thierry, whose “ History of 
France,” and ‘‘ Conquest of England by the Normans,” are ex 
amples ‘of each ; Sismondi (1773-1842), whose histories of th 2 
“ Ttalian Republics ” and of the “ French People” are chara ore 
ized by immense erudition; Michelet, who seeks in his works the 
general principles which preside over the historical developments 
of the world, and, at the same time, enlivens his narrative with the 
bright hues of the imagination ; Thiers, distinguished by the 
clearness of his style, combined with eloquence and comprehen- 
siveness; Mignet, celebrated for his history of the French Revo- 
lution ; Louis Blanc, whose work on the same subject is marke¢ 
by a democratic tendency, as well as by philosophical eriti 
and Lamartine, whose historical works are characterized mor 
by a magnificence of style than by critical judgment. 

Literary criticism in connection with history has recently 





eras 
i 
‘ 5 « 
7 
i 2 
, 
, 


FRENCH LITERATURE. 301 


eupied a latge space in French literature. Not to dwell on 
Sismondi’s “ Literature of Southern Europe,” which appeared 
soon after the peace of 1815, with the almost contemporary 
work of Ginguené (1747-1815) on “ Italian Literature,” and 
Renouard on “ Provengal Poetry,” there have been, and still 
are, in the field a host of authors whose chief study has been the 
literature of their own country, such as Guizot, Ste. Beuve, Ville- 
main, Nisard, Vinet, Barante, St. Mare Girardin, and many 
others. In intellectual philosophy, Jouffroy (1795-1842) and 
Damiron continued the work commenced by Royer-Collard, that 
of destroying the influence of sensualism and materialism. But 
the glory of introducing eclecticism was reserved for Cousin ; 
by its elevated tendencies, the soundness of its doctrines and 
method, this school has greatly promoted the intellectual de- 
velopment of France. The philosophical writings of Cousin are 
models of didactic prose, distinguished by depth of thought and 
eloquence of style. In his work on “The Beautiful, True and 
Good,” he has raised the science of esthetics to its highest 
dignity. 

Lamennais (1782-1854), in the beginning of his career, fol- 
lowed the principles of the theological school. In his ‘‘ Essay 
on Indifference in Matters of Religion,” published soon after the 
Restoration, he combines the warmth of Rousseau with the 
vigor of Bossuet. After the revolution of 18380, he laid aside 
the doctrine of absulute theocracy, and became the defender 
of religious and civil liberty. His famous ‘‘ Words of a Believer,” 
though written in prose, was called the revolutionary poem. In 
his ‘Sketch of Philosophy,” Lamennais follows a system of pure: 
rationalism, and denies all the principal truths of Christianity. 
Comte (1798-1857) is among the most recent philosophers of 
France ; his ‘‘ Positive Philosophy ” is characterized by novelty 
of speculation, force of logic, and power of generalization ; but. 
his works bear the stamp of his atheistic and socialistic tenden- 
cies. 

If to the philosophers we add the investigators of science— 
Cuvier, preéminent in natural history, Beaumont in mineralogy, 
Thénard in chemistry, Biot in physical sciences, Arago in 
astronomy, De Tocqueville and Chevalier in political science, 
Dupin in jurisprudence, Raoul Rochette in archeology, besides 
many others—we have before us the men who form the intel- 
lectual glory of their age and nation. 

After the restoration of 1814, a literary society arose in the 
aristocratic salons of Paris, composed of celebrated men and 
women, whose aim was the revival of letters, aud of monarchicalk 


802 . FRENCH LITERATURE. 




























and religious institutions. Victor Hugo and Lamartine were — 
prominent members of this society, and they publishéd their con- 
tributions in a periodical paper called ‘The French Muse.” 
Another party, more or less connected with the school of Vok — 
taire, attempted to counteract the influence of this aristocratic 
circle, and opposed it chiefly through the works of Béranger, — 
Delavigne, and Paul Louis Courier, Since 1824, the school of — 
the French Muse has gradually emancipated itself from its ultra- 
monarchical tendencies, and become imbued with a more liberal — 
spirit. It has received the name of the Romantic School, from ita — 
opposition in style to classical prose and poetry. This school has — 
introduced into literature the grotesque as a correlative element — 
of the beautiful, and for the simplicity and loftiness of the classie 
character, has substituted a fantastic and. exaggerated style. — 
Under the influence of these new tendencies, the present era — 
has exhibited some marked features in poetry. 
The position of France, on the fall of Napoleon, awoke the 7 
patriotism of Béranger (1780- -1857), and inspired his heart-— 
stirring songs. Hitherto France had had no popular ballad-litera- 
ture; all that was previously written was intended to be sung in 
courtly halls, and partook more or less of courtly affectation, But — 
Béranger was the poet of the people; most of his earlier compo: — 
sitions were political, either extolling the greatness of the fallen 
empire, or bewailing the low state of France under the restored — 
dynasty. ‘They were received with enthusiasm, and sung from one — 
end of the country to the other. The later songs of “Béranger- 
exhibit a not unpleasing change from the audacious ani too — 
often licentious tone of his earlier days. His gaiety is tempered — 
with seriousness ; the tumult of political strife at an end, and 
the fervor of youth subdued by the experience of age, his mind 
turns with a closer sympathy to the contemplation of those suf 
ferings which he daily witnessed in the annals of the poor. 
These he depicts with a truth and vigor which have seldom been — 
equalled. ‘The striking characteristic of Béranger’s poems is, 
that they have a carefully arranged plan, each one forming a 
complete whole, from which no verse can be taken ie in- 
juring the eeneral effect. a 
The patriotism of Delavigne (1793-1843) took a more seris 
ous tone than that of Beranger. While the allied armies were | yet 
in France, and her pride was feeling the sting of this humilia 
tion, Delavigne sang her misfortunes with power and at 3, 
giving his poems an elegiac form. Their exaggerations wer¢ 
very suitable to the feeling that pervaded the country just at 
that time; but as these emotions subsided, and the pecple ba 


FRENCH LITERATURE. | 808 


eame more Teconciled to the new regime, the celebrity of Dela 
vigne diminished in proportion. 

Lamartine and Victor Hugo are confessedly the best lyric 
poets of this age. In the hands of the former, the language, 
softened and harmonized, loses that clear, glancing, epigrammatit 
expression, which before him had appeared inseparable from 
French poetry. His works are pervaded by an earnest reli. 
gious feeling, and a chasteness and delicacy which render them 
favorites at the domestic hearth. The best collection of Lamar: 
tine’s lyrics are his ‘‘ Meditations,” which appeared just at the 
time that a pensive religious feeling, fostered by the works of 
Chateaubriand, had settled over France after the Restoration, 
and nothing could have given it a more perfect expression. The 
“ Harmonies ” likewise chimed in with the passion for mysticism 
which prevailed a short time previous to the political and lite- 
rary revolution of 1830. ‘They are of unequal merit, some rising 
to loftier notes than those of the Meditations, while few, if 
any, are so perfect throughout. ‘The fame of Lamartine, as a 
poet, rests chiefly on the Meditations, Harmonies, and on 
“ Jocelyn,” a kind of religious romance in verse, turning on the 
sorrows of an attached pair, who were separated by the hero 
being induced to take holy orders. 

Victor Hugo, as a lyric poet, is distinguished by the rich. 
imagery with which his verse is adorned. His “ Orientales ” 
are brilliant specimens of word painting, while his ‘ Autumn 
Leaves” contain tender strains, charged with the sweet recol- 
lections of youthful hopes, sorrows, friendships, and loves. To 
the school of Victor Hugo belong De Vigny, whose poems are 
specimens of a sweet, chaste and elegant style, though lacking 
the enthusiasm and the energy which become lyric compositions ;. 
A. de Musset, whose charming inspirations are too often mingled 
with the grotesque and extravagant ; and Ste. Beuve, a model 
of familiar and delicate simplicity, not unlike Wordsworth. 

The latter part of this period is prolific in light litera- 
ture, chiefly romances and dramas, which bear, more or less, thie 
romantic character. In these two kinds of composition, this. 
school in general bears marks of chaos of opinion, as well as of 

litical uncertainty. Its literature is not professedly infidel, 
like that of the 18th century, any more than one of positive 
faith and general conviction, like that of the 17th. It seems ta 
have no general aim, the efforts, like the opinions of the authors, 
contradicting one another, and seldom being consistent with 
themselves for any length of time. The extravagant fictions of 
this school have created an unreal world, emancipated from all. 


B04 FRENCH LITERATURE, 


































the laws and accidents of the actual, and even from the conven 
tional rules that preside over ordinary fiction. They often — 
abound in details of the most frightful atrocities, and the most — 
singular alliances between the ludicrous and the terrible, the 
voluptuous and the terrific ; in the prevalence of a fatalism, on 
the one hand, and a desperation on the other, which vents itself in _ 
impiety, or. evaporates in sarcasm. ‘The style of these works — 
partakes of the wild, incongruous character of the incidents. No — 
one denies to this literature the credit of engaging the reader’s — 
most intense interest by the seductive sagacity of the move- 
ment, the variety of incident, and the perfect command which 
the authors seem to have of all those appliances which, coarse 
as they are, are the most calculated to affect minds which have 
been rendered callous to gentler emotions. Among these writers 
Victor Hugo is one of the most prominent. His “ Last day of 
a Condemned Man,” and especially “‘ Notre Dame de Paris, » are 
masterpieces of this kind of composition. The historical romance — 
of “Cing Mars,” by De Vigny, has also obtained a lasting repu- — 
tation. The novels of this writer are composed with great care, — 
highly polished, and distinguished for their elegance, good taste, a 
and propriety. 
Balzac is one of the most popular and copious of mcr 
writers, but while his style is in some instances pure and beauti- — 
ful, in others it is extravagant and overwrought, and many of — 
his works are of a decidedly immoral tendency. 
The novels of the celebrated George Sand, Madame Dudevant, 
afford a lamentable proof of the aberrations into which a highly — 
gifted mind may be led, under the influence of unsanctified sor- 
row. Her earlier novels are highly wrought pictures of the — 
wretchedness of married life, the heroines being women of warm — 
affections and fine sensibilities, chained by mariages de convenance — 
to men of gross and uncongenial habits, and escaping a prema- 
ture grave only by repudiating the duty of conjugal fidelity, 
which is made to appear as a venial error. It is right to add 
that this lady’s mind has undergone a signal change since the 
publication of those works, and some of her more recent produc: 
tions are what may be ter med religious novels. 2 
Eugene Sue (1804-1857) was the first to introduce the mari- 
time novel into F rance. Most of his scenes and characters are 
overwrought and exaggerated, but his chief fault appears to be 
that he undertakes to uphold the fatal paradox that virtue ix 
always unfortunate in this world, and crime always triumphant 
His ‘“‘ Mysteries of Paris” commands absorbing interest, though 
trowded, like most of his works, with atrocities and extrava 





FRENCH LITERATURE. 805 


gances. His “ Martin,” and also his “‘ Mysteries of the People,” 
often deficient in purity of style, express with boldness the con- 
trast between wealth and poverty, and embody ix attractive 
stories the principal features of socialism. 

Paul de Kock, abjuring the ordinary materials of fashionable 
fiction, has turned, like Dickens, to the common walks of life, 
and rendered his novels especially attractive to certain classes 
of society ; it may be added, however, that though free from the 
extravagances of the school already described, this author is 
not over-scrupulous in relation to delicacy of expression, and 
greatly deficient in purity of sentiment. 

Dumas is the most popular among the modern writers of 
romance. While the works of Balzac are specimens of fine 
observations, and those of Sue and Sand profess a tendency to 
social reform, the romances of Dumas aim only to amuse—an 
object which they do not fail to attain. They are always inte- 
resting for their dramatic character, and charming for their 
brilliancy and wit. His “Trois Mousquetaires,” and the “ Count 
of Monte Christo,” are considered the best of his novels. 

The remarks made on the unnatural and depraved state of 
fictitious narrative, introduced by the romantic school, apply 
still more forcibly to the theatre. The dramatists seem to 
spurn all the established rules, to indulge in the strangest conceits 
and the wildest innovations, vying with each other in the 
delineation of vice and wretchedness in their most degraded 
forms. ‘Tragedy has been supplanted by the romantic drama, of 
which Victor Hugo and Dumas are the best representatives, 
while Scribe is the exponent of the new style of comedy, which 
is called Vaudeville. The comedies of Scribe represent the 
manners of the salons of the middle classes. They are animated, 
witty and well arranged, and rich in their resources. The 
dramas of Victor Hugo, and yet more those of his school, lack 
dramatic effect, and, while they abound in lyric flights, are 
entirely deficient in the structure of their plots, in the pro- 
portion of their scenes, and in the reality of their characters. 
Dramatic effect is the principal feature of the theatrical works 
of Dumas, which are characterized by great power of invention, 
by passionate rapture, and by an almost brutal force of instinct 
and sensation. In his scenes he does not address himself to the 
heart, or to the mind of his audiences, but rather to their 


passions. 


SPANISH LITERATURE. 


A 






















Istropuction.--1. Spanish Literature and its divisions.—2. The Language. ; 
Pzriop First,—1. Early National Literature; the Poem of the Cid; Berceo, Alfonso — 
Ihe Wise, Segura; Don Juan Manuel, the Archpriest of Hita, Santob, Ayala—2. Old 
Ballads.—8. The Chronicles.—4. Romances of Chivalry.—5. The Drama,—6, Provencal 
Literature in Spain.—T, The influence of Italian Literature in Spain.—8. The Canci- — 
oneros and Prose writing.—9. The Inquisition. ss q 
Prriop Sxconp.—The effect of Intolerance on Letters.—2. Influence of Italy on — 
Spanish Literature; Boscan, Garcilasso dela Vega, Diego de Mendoza.—8. History; 
Cortez, Gomara, Oviedo, Las Casas.—4. The Drama, Rueda, Lope de Vega, Cal- — 
deron de la Barca.—5. Romances and Tales; Cervantes, and other writers of — 
fiction.—6. Historical Narrative Poems; Ercilla.—7. Lyric Poetry; the Argenso- 
las; Luis de Leon, Quevedo, Herrera, Gongora, and others.—8. Satirical and other 
Poetry.—9. History and other prose writing; Zurita, Mariana, Sandoval, and 
others. 
Periop Turrp.—1. French influence on the Literature of Spain.—2. The dawn of 
Spanish Literature in the 18th century; Feyjoo, Isla, Moratin the elder, Yriarte, Me- 3 
lenuez, Gonzalez, Quintana, Moratin the younger.—8. Spanish Literature in the 19th — 
century. 2 


F 


INTRODUCTION, ? 

j 

1. Spanisn Lirerature anv rrs Drvtstons.—At the period o fi 
tne subversion of the Empire of the West, in the 5th century, 
Spain was invaded by the Suevi, the Alans, the Vandals and the 
Visigoths.. The country which had for six centuries been sub- 
jected to the dominion of the Romans, and had adopted the lan- 
guage and arts of its masters, now experienced those changes in 
manners, opinions, military spirit and language, which took place 
in the other provinces of the empire, and which were, in fact, the 
origin of the nations which arose on the overthrow of the Roman 
power. Among the conquerors of Spain, the Visigoths were the 
most numerous; the ancient Roman subjects were speedily on 
founded with them, and their dominion soon extended over nea ‘ly 
the whole country. In the year 710, the peninsula was invaded 
by the Arabs or Moors, and from that time the active and in 
cessant struggles of the Spanish Christians against the invaders 
and their necessary contact with Arabian civilization, began to 
elicit sparks of intellectual energy. Indeed, the first utterance 


of that popular feeling which became the foundation of the 
806 


F SPANISH LITERATURE. 307 
national literature, was heard in the midst of that extraordinary 
contest, which lasted for more than seven centuries, so that the 
earliest Spanish poetry seems but a breathing of the energy and 
heroism, which, at the time it appeared, animated the Spanish 
Christians throughout the peninsula. Overwhelmed by the Moors, 
they did not entirely yield; a small but valiant band, re 
treating before the fiery pursuit of their enemies, establishec. 
themselves in the extreme northwestern portion of their native 
land, amidst the mountains and the fastnesses of Biscay and As- 
turias, while the others remained under the yoke of the conquerors, 
adopting, in some degree, the manners and habits of the Arabians, 
On the destruction of the caliphat of Cordova, in the year 1031, 
the dismemberment of the Moslem territories into petty independ- 
ent kingdoms, often at variance with each other, afforded the 
Christians a favorable opportunity of reconquering their country. 
One after another the Moorish states fell before them. The 
Moors were driven further and further to the south, and by the 
middle of the 13th century they had no dominion in Spain except 
the kingdom of Granada, which for two centuries longer con- 
tinued the splendid abode of luxury and magnificence. 

As victory inclined more and more to the Spanish arms, the 
Castilian dialect rapidly grew into a vehicle adequate to express 
the pride and dignity of the prevailing people, and that enthu- 
siasm for liberty which was long their finest characteristic. The 
poem of the Cid early appeared, and in the 18th century a nu- 
merous family of romantic ballads followed, all glowing wit 
heroic ardor. As another epoch drew near, the lyric form - 
began to predominate, in which, however, the warm expressions of 
the Spanish heart were restricted by a fondness for conceit and 
allegory. The rudiments of the drama, religious, pastoral, and 
satiric,soon followed, marked by many traits of original thought 
und talent. ‘Thus the course of Spanish literature proceeded, 
animated and controlled by the national character, to the end of 
the 15th century. 

In the 16th, the original genius of the Spaniards, and their 
proud consciousness of national greatness, contributed to the 
maintenance and improvement of their literature in the face of 
the Inquisition itself. Released by the conquest of Granada 
(1492) from the presence of internal foes, prosperous at home 
and powerful abroad, Spain naturally rose to high mental dig- 
ity; and with all that she gathered from foreign contributions, 
her writers kept much of their native vein, more free than at first 
from Orientalism, but still breathing of their own romantic land. 
A close connection, however, for more than ore hundred years 


808 SPANISH LITERATURE. 




























with Italy, familiarized the Spanish mind with eminent Ttalian ; 
authors and with the ancient classics. 4 
During the 17th century, especially from the middle to the 
close, the decay of letters kept pace with the decline of Spanish | 
power, until the humiliation of both seemed completed in the — 
reign of Charles II. About that time, however, the Spanish — 
drama received a full development and attained its perfection. 
In the 18th century, under the government of the Bourbons, 
and partly through the patronage of Philip V., there was a cer- 
tain revival of literature; but unfortunately, parties divided, and — 
many of the educated Spaniards were so much attracted by — 
French glitter, as to turn with disgust from their own writers, 
The political convulsions, of which Spain has been the victim — 
since the time of Ferdinand VIL. , have greatly retarded the pro- 
gress of national literature, and the 19th century has thus far 4 
produced little which is worthy of mention. | 
The literary history of Spain may be divided into three © 
periods: : 
The first, extending from the close of the 12th century to the 
beginning of the 16th, will contain the literature of the country 
from the first appearance of the present written language 
to the early part of the reign of Charles V., and will include the © 
genuinely national literature, and that portion which, by imitat-— 
ing the refinement of Provence or of Italy, was, during the same 
interval, more or less separated from the popular ‘spirit and genius, 
The second, the period of literary success and national glory, © 
extending from the beginning of the 16th century to the close of — 
the 17th, will embrace the literature from the accession of 
the Austrian family to its extinction. J 
The third, the period of decline, extends from the beginning of 
the 18th to the middle of the 19th century, or from the acces: 
sion of the Bourbon family to the present time, 3 


2. Tue Lanecvace.—The Spanish Christians who, after the 4 
Moorish conquest, had retreated to the mountains of Asturias, — 
earried with them the Latin language as they had received it 
corrupted from the Romans, and still more by the elements in- 
troduced into i+ by the invasion of the northern tribes. In their 
retreat they found themselves amidst the descendants of the Ibe- 
rians, the earliest race which had inhabited Spain, who appeared 
to have shaken off little of the barbarism that had resisted alike 
the invasion of the Romans and of the Goths, and who retaine 1 
the original Iberian or Basque tongue. Coming i in contact with 
this, the language of those Christians underwent new modifica 





SPANISH LITERATURE. 809 


tions; later, when they advanced in their conquest toward the 
south and the east, and found themselves surrounded by those 
portions of their race that had remained among the Arabs, 
known as Mucarabes, they felt that they were in the presence 
of a civilization and refinement altogether superior to their own. 
As the Goths, between the 5th and 8th centuries, had receivea 
a vast number of words from the Latin, because it was the lan- 
guage of a people with whom they were intimately mingled, and 
who were much more intellectual and advanced than themselves, 
so, for the same reason, the whole nation, between the 8th and 
13th centuries, received another increase of their vocabulary from 
the Arabic, and accommodated themselves in a remarkable de- 
gree to the advanced culture of their southern countrymen, and 
of their new Moorish subjects. 

It appears that about the middle of the 12th century this new 
language had risen to the dignity of being a written language; 
and it spread gradually through the country. It differed from 
the pure or the corrupted Latin, and still more from the Arabic; 
yet it was obviously formed by a union of both, modified by the 
analogies and spirit of the Gothic constructions and dialects, and 
containing some remains of the vocabularies of the Iberians, 
the Celts, the Phcenicians, and of the German tribes, who at 
different periods had occupied the peninsula. This, like the other 
languages of Southern Europe, was called originally the Romance 
from the prevalence of the Roman and Latin elements. 

The territories of the Christian Spaniards were divided into 
three longitudinal sections, having each a separate dialect, aris- 
ing from the mixture of different primitive elements. The 
Catalan was spoken in the east, the Castilian in the centre, while 
the Galician, which originated the Portuguese, prevailed in the 
west. 

The Catalan or Limousin, the earliest dialect cultivated in the 
peninsula, bore a strong resemblance to the Provencal, and 
when the bards were driven from Provence they found a home 
in the east of Spain, and numerous celebrated troubadours arose in 
Aragon and Catalonia. But many elements concurred to produce 
a decay of the Catalan, and from the beginning of the 16th cen- 
tury it rapidly declined. It is still spoken in the Balearic Islands 
and among the lower classes of some of the eastern parts of Spain, 
but since the 16th century che Castilian alone has been the 
vehicle of literature. 

The Castilian dialect followed the fortune of the Castiliav 
arms, until it finally became the established language, even of 
the most southern provinces, where it had been longest withstood 




























310 SPANISH LITERATURE. 


by the Avabic. Its clear, sonorous vowels and the beautiful ar — 
ticulation of its syllables, give it a greater resemblance to the 
Italian than any other idiom of the peninsula. But ami lst thig 
euphony the ear is struck with the sound of the German and~ 
Arabic guttural, which is unknown in the other languages in 
which Latin roots predominate. 


PERIOD FIRST. 


Krom THE First APPEARANCE OF THE WRITTEN LANGUAGE TO — 
THE EARLY PART OF THE Reten or Cuarues V. (1200-1500. ) 


1. Harty Nationat Lirerature.—There are two traits of the 
earliest Spanish literature which so peculiariy distinguish it, that 
they deserve to be noticed from the outset—treligious faith and — 
knightly loyalty. The Spanish national character, as it has ex- 
isted from the earliest times to the present day, was formed in 
that solemn contest which began when the Moors landed be- © 
neath the rock of Gibraltar, and which did not end until eight — 
centuries after, when the last remnants of the race were driven — 
from the shores of Spain. During this contest, especially that 
part of it when the earliest Spanish poetry appeared, nothing 
but an invincible faith and a not less invincible loyalty to their 
own princes could have sustained the Christian Spaniards in 
their struggles against their infidel oppressors. It was, therefonal 
a stern necessity “which made these two high qualities elements 
of the Spanish national character, and it is not surprising that 
we find submission to the church and loyalty to the king con- 
stantly breathing through every portion of Spanish literature. 

The first monument of the Spanish, or, as it was oftener called, 
the Castilian tongue, the most ancient epic in any of the Romance 
languages, is “The Poem of the Cid.” It consists of more than 
3,000 lines, and was probably not composed later than the year 
1200. ‘This poem celebrates the achievements of the great here 
of the chivalrous age of Spain, Rodrigo Diaz (1020-1099), who 
obvained from five Moorish kings whom he had vanquished in 
battle, tne title of 7 Sed, or my lord. He was also called by 
the Spaniards El Campeador or El Cid Campeador, the Champ ion 


for he passed almost the whole of his life in the field against th 18 
oppressors of his country, and led the conquering arms of the 
Christians over nearly a quarter of Spain. No hero: has beey 


so universally celebrated by his countrymen, and poetry and tra 
dition have delighted to attach to his name a long series of fabu- 
lous achievements, which remind us as often of Amadis and 
Arthur, as they do of the sober heroes of history. His memory 
is so sacredly dear to the Spanish nation, that to say “ by the 
faith of Rodrigo,” is still considered the strongest vow of loy- 
alty. 

The poem of the Cid is valuable mainly for the living picture 
it presents of manners and character in the 11th century. It is 
a contemperary and spirited exhibition of the chivalrous times 
of Spain, given occasionally with an admirable and Homeric 
simplicity. It is the history of the most romantic hero of Span- 
ish tradition, continually mingled with domestic and personal 
details, that bring the character of the Cid and his age very 
near to our own sympathies and interests. The language is the 
same which he himself spoke—still only imperfectly developed— 
it expresses the bold and original spirit of the time, and the 
metre and rhyme are rude and unsettled ; but the poem through- 
out is striking and original, and breathes everywhere the true 
Castilian spirit. During the thousand years which elapsed from 
the time of the decay of Greek and Roman culture down to the 
appearance of the Divine Comedy, no poetry was produced so 
original in its tone, or so full of natural feeling, picturesqueness 
and energy. 

There are a few other poems, anonymous, like that of 
the Cid, whose language and style carry them back to the 
13th century. The next poetry we meet is by a known 
author, Gonzalo (1220-1260), a priest commonly called Ber- 
ceo, from the place of his birth. His works, all on religious 
subjects, amount to more than 13,000 lines. His language 
shows some advance from that in which the Cid was written, 
but the power and movement of that remarkable legend are 
entirely wanting in these poems. There is a simple-hearted piety 
in them, however, that is very attractive, and in some of them 
a story-telling spirit that is occasionally vivid and graphic. 

Alfonso, surnamed the Wise (1221-1284), united the crowns 
of Leon and Castile, and attracted to his court many of the 
philosophers and learned men of the Hast. He was a poet 
closely connected with the Provengal troubadours of his time, 
and so skilled in astronomy and the occult sciences, that. his 
fame spread throughout Europe. He had more political, philo- 
sophical and elegant learning than any man of his age, and 
made further advances in some of the exact sciences. At one 
period nis consideration was so great, that he was elected Em 


SPANISH LITERATURE. $1} 





























812 ' SPANISH LITERATURE. 


peror of Germany ; but his claims were set aside by the subse 
quent election of Rudolph of Hapsburg. The last great work ~ 
undertaken by Alfonso was a kind of code known as “ Las Siete 
Partidas,” or The Seven Parts, from the divisions of the work 
itself. This is the most important legislative monument of 
the age, and forms a sort of Spanish common law, which, with — 
the decisions under it, has been the basis of Spanish jurispru 
dence ever since. Becoming a part of the Constitution of the 
State in all Spanish colonies, ft has, from the time Louisiana 
and Florida were added to the United States, become in some — 
cases the law in our own country. 
The life of Alfonso was full of painful vicissitudes. He was 
driven from his throne by factious nobles and a rebellious son, and 
died in exile, leaving behind him the reputation of being the 
wisest fool in Christendom. Mariana says of him: ‘“ He was 
more fit for letters than for the government of his subjects; he — 
studied the heavens and watched the stars, but forgot the earth 
and lost his kingdom.” Yet Alfonso is among the chief found 
ers of his country’s intellectual fame, and he is to be remem: 
bered alike for the great advancement Castilian prose compo- — 
sition made in his hands, for his poetry, for his astronomical 
tables—which all the progress of modern science has not deprived — 
of their value—and for his great work on legislation, which is — 
at this moment an authority in both hemispheres. 4 
Juan Lorenzo Segura (1176-1250) was the author of a poem — 
containing more than 10,000 lines, on the history of Alexander — 
the Great. In this poem the manners and customs of Spain in — 
the 13th century are substituted for those of ancient Greece, — 
and the Macedonian hero is invested with all the virtues and — 
even equipments of Huropean chivalry. | 
Don Juan Manuel (1282-1347), a nephew of Alfonso the 
Wise, was one of the most turbulent and dangerous Spanish 
barons of his time. His life was full of intrigue and violence, — 
and for thirty years he disturbed his country by his military — 
and rebellious enterprises. But in all these circumstances, so— 
adverse to intellectual pursuits, he showed himself worthy of the | | 
family in which for more than a century letters had been honored — 
and cultivated. Don Juan is known to have written twelve 
works, but it is uncertain how many of these are still in exist- 
ence ; only one, ‘‘ Count Lucanor,” has been placed beyond the 
reach of accident by being printed. The Count Lucanor is the — 
most valuable monument of Spanish literature in the 14th cen — 
tury, and one of the earliest prose works in the Castilian tongue, — 
ag the Decameron, which appeared about the same time, wa 








SPANISH LITERATURE. ain 


the first in the Italian. Both are collections of tales ; but the 
object of the Decameron is to amuse, while the Count Lucanor 
is the production of a statesman, instructing a grave and serious 
nation in lessons of policy and morality in the form of apologues. 
These stories have suggested many subjects for the Spanish 
stage, and one of them contains the groundwork of Shakspeare’s 
Taming of the Shrew. 

Juan Ruiz, arch-priest of Hita (1292-1351), was a contem- 
porary of Don Manuel His works consist of nearly seven thou- 
sand verses, forming a series of stories which appear to be 
sketches from his own history, mingled with fictions and alle 
gories ‘The most curious is ‘‘ The Battle of Don Carnival with 
Madame Lent,” in which Don Bacon, Madame Hungbeef, anda 
_ train of other savory personages, are marshalled in. mortal com- 
bat. The cause of Madame Lent triumphs, and Don Carnival 
is condemned to solitary imprisonment and one spare meal each 
day. At the end of forty days the allegorical prisoner escapes, 
raises new followers, Don Breakfast and others, and re-appears 
in alliance with Don Amor. The poetry of the arch-priest is 
very various intone. In general, it is satirical and pervaded 
by a quiet humor. His happiest success is in the tales and 
apologues which illustrate the adventures that constitute a 
framework for his poetry, which is natural and spirited ; and 
in this, as in other points, he strikingly resembles Chaucer. 
Both often sought their materials in Northern French poetry, 
and both have that mixture of devotion and of licentiousness 
belonging to their age, as well as to the personal character of 
each. 

Rabbi Santob, a Jew of Carrion (fl. 1350), was the author 
of many poems, the most important of which is “ The Dance of 
Death,” a favorite subject of the painters and poets of the middle 
ages, representing a kind of spiritual masquerade, in which per- 
sons of every rank and age appear dancing with the skeleton 
form of Death. In this Spanish version it is perhaps more 
striking and picturesque than in any other—the ghastly nature 
of the subject being brought into very lively contrast with the 
festive tone of the verses. This grim fiction had for several 
centuries great success throughout Europe. 

Pedro Lopez Ayala (1332-1407), grand-chancellor of Castile 
under four successive sovereigns, was both a poet and a historian. 
His poem, “ Court Rhymes,” is the most remarkable of his pro- 
ductions. His style is grave, gentle and didactic, with occa- 
sional expressions of poetic feeling, which seem, however, to 
belong as much to their age as to their author. 


814 SPANISH LITERATURE. 
































2 Ov Batiaps.—From the 13th to the 15th century, the 
period we have just gone over, the courts of the different sove- 
reigns of Hurope were the principal centres of refinement and 
civilization, and this was peculiarly the case i Spain during this — 
period, when literature was produced or encouraged by the 
sovereigns and other distinguished men, But this was not the 
only literature of Spain. The spirit of poetry diffused through- 
out the peninsula, excited by the romantic events of Spanish 
history, now began to assume the form of a popular literature, 
and to assert for itself a place which in some particulars it has — 
maintained ever since. This popular literature may be dis- 
tributed into four different classes. The first contains the Bal- 
lads, or the narrative and lyrical poetry of the common people — 
from the earliest times ; the second, the Chronicles, or the half — 
genuine, half-fabulous histories of the great events and heroes of © 
the national annals ; the third class comprises the Romances of 
Chiwalry, intimately connected with both the others, and, after 
a time, as passionately admired by the whole nation ; and the — 
fourth includes the Drama, which in its origin has always been — 
a popular and religious amusement, and was hardly less so in 
Spain than it was in Greece or in France. ‘These four classes 
compose what was generally most valued in Spanish literature 
during the iatter part of the 14th century, the whole of the 
15th, and much of the 16th. They rested on the deep founda- 
tions of the national character, and therefore by their very nature 
were opposed to the Provencal, the Italian, and the conta 
schools, which flourished during the same period. 

The metrical structure of the old Spanish ballad was extremely 
simple, consisting of eight-syllable lines, which are composed 
with great facility in other languages as well as the Castilian. 
Sometimes they were broken into stanzas of four lines each, 
thence called redondillas, or roundelays, but their prominent 
peculiarity is that of the asonante, an imperfect rhyme that. 
echoes the same vowel, but not the same final consonant in the 
terminating syllables. This metrical form was at a later period 
adopted by the dramatists, and is now used in every department i 
of Spanish poetry. 

The old Spanish ballads comprise more than a thousand poems, 
first collected in the 16th century, whose authors and dates are 
alike unknown. Indeed, until after the middle of that cen ee 
it is difficult to find ballads written by known authors, These 
collections, arranged without regard to chronological. or ae 
relate to the fictions of chivalry, especially to Charlemagne a 
his peers, to the traditions and history of Spaiu, to Moor 


SPANISH LITERATURE. 31h 


adven‘ures, and tc the private life and manners of the Spaniards 
themselves ; they belong to the unchronicled popular life and 
character of the age which gave them birth. The ballads of 
chivalry, with the exception of those relating to Charlemagne, 
occupy a less important place than those founded on national 
subjects. The historical ballads are by far the most numerous 
and the most interesting ; and of those the first in the order of 
time are those relating to Bernardo del Carpio, concerning whom 
there are about forty. Bernardo (fl. 800) was the offspring of 
a secret marriage between the Count de Saldafia and a sister of 
' Alfonso the Chaste, at which the king was so much offended 
that he sent the Infanta to a convent, and kept the Count in per- 
petual imprisonment, educating Bernardo as his own son, and 
keeping him in ignorance of his birth. The achievements of 
Bernardo ending with the victory of Roncesvalles, his efforts to 
procure the release of his father, the falsehood of the king, and 
the despair and rebellion of Bernardo after the death of the 
Count in prison, constitute the romantic incidents of these ballads. 

The next series is that on Fernan Gonzalez, a chieftain whe 
in the middle of the 10th century recovered Castile from the 
Moors and became its first sovereign count. The most romantic 
are those which describe his being twice rescued from prison by 
his heroic wife, and his contest with King Sancho, in which he 
displayed all the turbulence and cunning of a robber baron of 
the middle ages. 

The Seven Lords of Lara form the next group; some of them 
are beautiful, and the story they contain is one of the most 
romantic in Spanish history. The Seven Lords of Lara are 
betrayed by their uncle into the hands of the Moors, and put to 
death, while their father, by the basest treason, is confined in a 
Moorish prison. An eighth son, the famous Mudarra, whose 
mother is a noble Moorish lady, at last avenges all the wrongs 
of his race. i 

But from the earliest period, the Cid has been the occasion 
of more ballads than any other of the great heroes of Spanish 
history or fable. They were first collected in 1612, and have 
been continually republished to the present day. There are at 
least a hundred and sixty of them, forming a more complete 
series than any other, all strongly marked with the spirit of 
their age and country. 

The Moorish ballads form a large and brilliant class by them- 
selves. The neriod when this style of poetry came into favor, was 
the century after the fall of Granada, when the south with its 

___ -tefinemeut and effeminacy, its magnificent and fantastic ar chi 

































316 SPANISH LITERATURE. 


tecture, the foreign yet not strange manners of its people, and 
the stories of their warlike achievements, all took strong hold 
of the Spanish imagination, and made of Granada a fairy land 

Of the ballads relating to private life, most of them are 
effusions of love, others are satirical, pastoral and burlesque, and 
many descriptive of the manners and amusements of the people 
at large ; but all of them are true representations of Spanish 
life. They are marked by an attractive simplicity of thought 
and expressior., united to a sort of mischievous shrewdness. 
No such popular poetry exists.in any other language, and no 
other exhibits in so great a degree that nationality which is the — 
truest element of such poetry everywhere. ‘The English and 
Scotch ballads, with which they may most naturally be compared, 
belong to a ruder state of society, which gave to the poetry less 
dignity and elevation than belong to a people who, like the 
Spanish, were for centuries engaged in a contest ennobled by a 
sense of religion and loyalty, and which could not fail to raise 
the minds of those engaged in it far above the atmosphere that 
settled around the bloody feuds of rival barons, or the gross — 
maraudings of border warfare. 'The great Castilian heroes, the 
Cid, Bernardo del Carpio and Pelayo are even now an essential — 
portion of the faith and poetry of the common people of Spain, — 
and are still honored as they were centuries ago, The stories 
of Guarinos and of the defeat at Roncesvalles are still sung by — 
the wayfaring muleteers, as they were when Don Quixote heard — 
them on his journey to Toboso, and the showmen still rehearse — 
the same adventures in the streets of Seville, that they did — 
at the solitary inn of Montesinos when he encountered them ~ 
there. | 


3. Tue Curonictes.—As the great Moorish contest was 
transferred to the south of Spain, the north became compara- — 
tively quiet. Wealth and leisure followed ; the castles became — 
the abodes of a crude but free hospitality, and the distinctions — 
of society grew more apparent. The ballads from this time , 
began to subside into the lower portions of society; the educated * 
sought forms of literature more in accordance with their 
increased knowledge and leisure, and their more settled system 
of social life. The oldest of these forms was that of the Spanish — 
prose chronicles, of which there are general and royal chronicles, 
chronicles of particular events, chronicles of particular per- 
sons, chronicles of travels, and romantic chronicles, a 

The first of these chronicles in the order of time as well a aa 
that of merit, comes from the royal hand of Alfonso the Wise 


and is entitled ‘‘ The Chronicle of Spain.” It begins with the 
creation of the world, and concludes with the death of St. Ifer- 
dinand, the father of Alfonso. The last part, relating to the 
history of Spain, is by far the most attractive, and sets forth in 
a truly national spirit all the rich old traditions of the country. 
This is not only the most interesting of the Spanish chronicles, 
but the most interesting of all that in any country mark the 
transition from its poetical and romantic traditions to the grave 
exactness of historical truth. The chronicle of the Cid was pro 
bably taken from this work. 

Alfonso XI. ordered the annals of the kingdom to be con- 
‘inued down to his own reign, or through the period from 1252 
to 1312. During many succeeding reigns the royal chronicles 
were continued—that of Ferdinand and Isabella, by Pulgar, is 
the last instance of the old style; but though the annals were still 
kept up, the free and picturesque spirit that gave them life was 
no longer there. 

The chronicles of particular events and persons are most of 
them of little value. 

Among the chronicles of travels, the oldest one of any value 
is an account of a Spanish embassy to Tamerlane, the great 
Tartar potentate. 

Of the romantic chronicles, the principal specimen is that 
of Don Roderic, a fabulous account of the reign of King 
Roderic, the conquest of the country by the Moors, and the 
first attempts to recover it in the beginning of the 8th century. 
The style is heavy and verbose, although upon it Southey has 
founded much of his beautiful poem of ‘‘ Roderic, the last of the 
Goths.” This chronicle of Don Roderic, which was little more 
than a romance of chivalry, marks the transition to those 
romantic fictions that had already begun to inundate Spain. 
But the series which it concludes extends over a period of two 
hundred and fifty years, from the time of Alfonso the Wise to 
the accession of Charles V. (1221-1516), and is unrivalled 
in the richness and variety of its poetic elements. In truth, 
these old Spanish chronicles cannot be compared with those of 
any other nation, and whether they have their foundation in 
truth or in fable, they strike further down than those of any 
other people into the deep soil of popular feeling and character. 
The old Spanish loyalty, the old Spanish religious faith, as both 
were formed and nourished in long periods of national trial and 
suffering, everywhere appear ; and they contain such a body of 
antiquities, traditions and fables as has been offered to no other 
people ; furnishipg not only materials from which a wultitude 


SPANISH LITERATURE. ol? 



























318 SPANISH LITERATURE. 


of old Spanish plays, ballads and romances have been drawn, 
but a mine which has unceasingly been wrought by the rest of © 
Europe for similar purposes, and which still remains unex- — 
hausted. 


4, Romances or Cutvatry.—The ballads originally belonged 
to the whole nation, but especially to its less cultivated portions, — 
The chronicles, oa the contrary, belonged to the knightly classes, — 
who sought in these picturesque records of their fathers a 
stimulus to their own virtue. But as the nation advanced in 
refinement, books of less grave character were demanded, and — 
the spirit of poetical invention soon turned to the national tra 
ditions, and produced from thence new and attractive forms of 
fiction. Before the middle of the 14th century, the romances 
of chivalry connected with the stories of Arthur and the knights 
of the Round Table, and Charlemagne and his peers, which had — 
appeared in France two centuries “before, were scarcely known 
in Spain; but after that time they were imitated, and a new — 
series of fictions was invented, which soon spread through the 
world and became more famous than either of its predecessors. 

This extraordinary family of romances is that of which ‘“ Ama- 
dis ” is the poetical head and type, and this was probably produced 
before the year 1400, by Vasco de Lobeira, a Portuguese 
The structure and tone of this fiction are original, and much 
more free than those of the French romanees that had preceded 
it. The stories of Arthur and Charlemagne are both somewhat 
limited in invention by the adventures ascribed to them in the 
traditions and chronicles, while that of Amadis belongs purely to 
the imagination, and its sole purpose is to set forth the charac- — 
ter of a perfect knight. Amadis is admitted by general consent 
to be the best of all the old romances of chivalry. The series 
which followed, founded upon the Amadis, reached the number 
of twenty-four. They were successively translated into French 
and at once became famous. Considering the passionate admi- 
ration which this work so long excited, and the influence that, 
with little merit of its own, it has ever since exercised on the 
poetry and romance of modern Europe, it is a phenome 
without parallel in literary history. hi 

Many other series of romances followed, numbering more than 
seventy volumes, most of them in folio, and their influence overt 
the Spanish character extended through two hundred years. 
Their extraordinary popularity may be accounted for, if we 
remember that, when they first appeared in Spain, it had long 
been peculiarly the land of knighthood. Extravagant anc 


— 
| SPANISH LITERATURE. 319 
impossibie as are many of the adventures recorded in these 
books of chivalry, they so little exceeded the absurdities of living 
men, that many persons took the romances themselves to be 
true histories, and believed them. The happiest work of the 
greatest genius Spain has produced, bears witness on every page 
tu the prevalence of an absolute fanaticism for these books of 
chivalry, and becomes at once the seal of their vast popularity 
and the monument of their fate. 


5. Toe Drama.—The ancient theatre of the Greeks and 
Romans was continued in some of its grosser forms in Constan- 
tinople and in other parts of the fallen empire far into the middle 
ages. But it was essentially mythological or heathenish, and as 
such, it was opposed by the Christian church, which, however, 
provided a substitute for what they thus opposed, by adding a 
dramatic element to its festivals. Thus the manger at Bethle- 
hem, with the worship of the shepherds and magi, was at a very 
early period solemnly exhibited every year before the altars of 
the churches at Christmas, as were the tragical events of the 
last days of the Saviour’s life during Lent and at the approach 
of Haster. ‘To these spectacles, dialogue was afterwards added, 
and they were called, as we have seen, Mysteries; they were 
used successfully not only as a means of amusement, but for the 
religious edification of an ignorant multitude, and in some 
countries they have been continued quite down to our own times. 
The period when these representations were first made in Spain 
eannot now be determined, though it was certainly before the 
middle of the 13th century, and no distinct account of them now 
remains, 

A singular combination of pastoral and satirical poetry indi- 
eates the first origin of the Spanish secular drama. ‘Towards 
the close of the 15th century, these pastoral dialogues were 
eonverted into real dramas by Euzina, and were publicly repre- 
sented. But the most important of these early productions is 
the “Tragi-comedy of Calisto and Melibcea,” or “ Celestina.” 
Though it can never have been represented, it has left unmis- 
takable traces of its influence on the national drama ever since. 
It was translated into various languages, and few works ever 
had a more brilliant success. The great fault of the Celestina is 
its shameless libertinism of thought and language; and its chief 
merits are its life-like exhibition of the most unworthy forms of 
human character, and its singularly pure, rich and idiomatic 
Oastilian style. 

The dramatic writers of this period seem to have had no idea 





























820 SPANISH LITERATURE, 


of founding a popular national drama, of which there is nc 
trace as late as the close of the reign of Ferdinand and Isa 
bella. | 


§. Provengat Literature In Sratn.—When the crown of — 
Provence was transferred, by the marriage of its heir, in 1113, — 
to Berenger, Count of Barcelona, numbers of the Provencal 
pocts followed their liege lady from Arles to Barcelona, and — 
established themselves in her new capital. At the very com- — 
mencement, therefore, of the 12th century, Provengal refinement — 
was introduced into the northeastern corner of Spain. Politica] — 
causes soon carried it further towards the centre of the country. — 
The Counts of Barcelona obtained, by marriage, the kingdom — 
of Aragon, and soon spread through their new territories many — 
of the refinements of Provence. The literature thus introduced — 
retained its Provencal character till it came in contact with that — 
more vigorous spirit which had been advancing from the north- — 
west, and which afterwards gave its tone to the consolidated 
monarchy. 

The poetry of the troubadours in Catalonia, as well as in its — 
native home, belonged much to the court, and the highest in — 
rank and power were earliest and foremost on its lists. From — 
1209 to 1229, the war against the Albigenses was carried on — 
with extraordinary cruelty and fury. To this sect nearly all the — 
contemporary troubadours belonged, and when they were com- 
pelled to escape from the burnt and bloody ruins of their 
homes, many of them hastened to the friendly court of Aragon, 
sure of being protected and honored by princes who were at the — 
same time poets. 4 

From the close of the 13th century, the songs of the trouba- — 
dours were rarely heard in the land that gave them birth three — 
hundred years before ; and the plant that was not permitted to 
expand in its native soil, soon perished in that to which it had — 
been transplanted. After the opening of the 14th century, no- 
genuinely Provencal poetry appears in Castile, and from the 
middle of that century it begins to recede from Catalonia and 
Aragon ; orrather, to be corrupted by the hardier dialect spo- 
ken there by the mass of the people. The retreat of the tron: 
badours over the Pyrenees, from Aix to Barcelona, from Bar 
celona to Saragossa and Valencia, is everywhere marked by the 
wrecks and fragments of their peculiar poetry and cultivation 
At length, oppressed by the more powerful Castilian, what re— 
mained of the language, that gave the first impulse to poetie eel 
ing in modern times, sank into a neglected dialect. 


p= . 
aie = “ 
° 
' 


SPANISH LITERATURE, 3821 


%. Taz Inriuvence or Iranian Literature in Spain.— The 
influence of the Italian literature over the Spanish, though less 
_ apparent at first, was more deep and lasting than that of the 
Provencal. The long wars that the Christians of Spain waged 
against the Moors, brought them into closer spiritual connection 
- with the church of Rome than any other people of modern times. 
Spanish students repaired to the famous universities of Italy, 
and returned to Spain, bringing with them the influence of Ita- 
lian culture ; and commercial and political relations still further 
promoted a free communication of the manners and literature of 
Italy to Spain. The language, also, from its affinity with the 
Spanish, constituted a still more important and effectual medium 
of intercourse. In the reign of John II. (1407-1454), the 
attempt to form an Italian school in Spain became apparent 
This sovereign gathered about him a sort of poetical court, and 
gave an impulse to refinement that was perceptible for several 
generations. 

Among those who interested themselves most directly in the 
progress of poetry in Spain, the first in rank, after the king himself, 
was the Marquis of Villena (1384-1434), whose fame rests chiefly 
on the “ Labors of Hercules,” a short prose treatise or allegory. - 

First of all the courtiers and poets of this reign, in point of 
merit, stands the Marquis of Santillana (1398-1458), whose 
works belong more or less to the Provencal, Italian and Spanish 
schools. He was the founder of an Italian and courtly school 
in Spanish poetry—one adverse to the national school and finally 
overcome by it, but one that long exercised a considerable sway. 
Another poet ofthe court of John II., is Juan de Mena, historio- 
grapher of Castile. His principal works are, ‘The Coronation,” 
and “The Labyrinth,” both imitations of Dante. They are of 
consequence as marking the progress of the language. The prin- 
cipal poem of Manrique the younger, one of an illustrious family of 
that name, who were poets, statesmen and soldiers, on the death 
of his father, is remarkable for depth and truth of feeling. Its 
greatest charm is its beautiful simplicity, and its merit entitles 
it to the place it has taken among the most admired portions of 
the elder Spanish literature. 


8. Tae Cancioneros and Prose Waitines.—The most dis- 
tinct idea of the poetical culture of Spain, during the 15th cen- 
tury, may be obtained frem the “ Cancioneros,” or collections 
of poetry, Sometimes all by one author, sometimes by many. 
The oldest of these dates from about 1450, and was the work 
af Baena. Many similar collections followed, and they werg 

14* 


822 SPANISH LITERATURE. 


























among the fashionable wants of the age. In 1511, Castille 
printed at Valencia the ‘“‘ Cancionero General,” which contained 
poems attributed to about a hundred different poets, from the 
time of Santillana to the period in which it was made. Ten edi 
tions of this remarkable book followed, and in it we find the 
poetry most in favor at the court and with the refined society of — 
Spain. It contains no trace of the earliest poetry of the coun- 
try, but the spirit of the troubadours is everywhere present ; 
the occasional imitations from the Italian are more apparent 
than successful, and in general it is wearisome and monotonous, 
overstrained, formal and cold. But it was impossible that such 
a state of poetical culture should become permanent in a coun-— 
try so full of stirring events as Spain was in the age that followed 
the fall of Granada and the discovery of America ; everything 
announced a decided movement in the literature of the nation, — 
and almost everything seemed to favor and facilitate it. iF 
The prose writers of the 15th century deserve mention chiefly” 
because they were so much valued in their own age. ‘Their 
writings are encumbered with the bad taste and pedantry of the 
time. ~ Among them are Lucena, Alfonso de la Torre, Pulgar, 
and a few others. 


9. Tur Inqutstrion.—The first period of the history of Spanish 
literature, now concluded, extends through nearly four centuries, 
from tae first breathings of the poetical enthusiasm of the mass 
of the people, down to the decay of the courtly literature in the 
latter part of the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella. The elements 
of a national literature which it contains—the old ballads, the old 
chronicles, the old theatre—are of a vigor and promise not to be 
mistaken. They constitute a mine of more various wealth than 
had been offered under similar circumstances, at so early a period, 
to any other people ; and they give indications of a subsequent 
literature that shall vindicate for itself a place among the perms 
nent monuments of modern civilization. 

The condition of things in Spain, at the close of the reign of 
Ferdinand and Isabella, seemed to promise a long period of 
national prosperity. But one institution, destined to che ck 
and discourage all intellectual freedom, was already begin- 
ning to give token of its great and blighting power. ‘The 
Christian ‘Spaniards had from an early period been essentially 
intolerant. ‘The Moors and the Jews were regarded by 
with an intense and bitter hatred ; the first as their conquer 
and the last for the oppressive claims which their wealth gave 
them on numbers of the Christian inhabitants ; and as en omies 


SPANISH LITERATURE. 323 


of the: Cross, it was considered as a merit to punish them, The 
estab.ishment of the Inquisition, therefore, in 1481, which had 
been so effectually used to exterminate the heresy of the Albi- 
genses, met with tittle opposition. The Jews and the Moors 
were its first victims, and with them it was permitted to deal 
unchecked by the power of the state. But the movements of 
this power were in darkness and secrecy. From the moment 
when the Inquisition laid its grasp on the object of its suspicions 
to that of his execution, no voice was heard to issue from its 
eclls. The very witnesses it summoned were punished with death 
if they revealed the secrets of its dread tribunals ; and often of 
the victim nothing was known but that he had disappeared from 
his accustomed haunts never again to be seen. ‘The effect was 
appalling. The imaginations of men were filled with horror at 
the idea of a power so vast, so noiseless, constantly and invisibly 
around them, whose blow was death, but whose step could 
neither be heard nor followed amidst the gloom into which it 
retreated. From this time, Spanish intolerance took that air of 
sombre fanaticism which it never afterwards lost. The Inquisi- 
tion gradually enlarged its jurisdiction, until none was too hum- 
ble to escape its notice, or too high to be reached by its power, 
From an inquiry into the private opinions of individuals to an 
interference with books and the press was but a step, and this 
was soon taken, hastened by the appearance and progress of the 
Reformation of Luther 


PERIOD SECOND. 


From tHe Accession oF THE AvustrIAN Famity To Its Ex- 
TINcTION (1500-1700) 


1. Tae Errecr or Intorerance on Lerrers.—The central 
point in Spanish history is the capture of Granada. During 
nearly eight centuries before that event, the Christians of Spain 
were occupied with conflicts that developed extraordinary ener- 
zies, til the whole land was filled to overflowing with a power 
which had hardly yet been felt in Europe. But no sooner had 
the last Moorish fortress yielded up, than this accumulated 
flood broke loose and threatened to overspread the best portions 
of the civilized world. Charles the Fifth, grandson of Ferdinand 
and Isabella, inherited not only Spain, but Naples, Sicily and 
the Low Countries. The untold wealth of the Indies was 
already beginning to pour into his treasury. He was elected 


7 
~ 






























824 SPANISH LITERATURE. “a 


Emperor of Germany, and he soon began a career of conquest 
such as had not been imagined since the days of Charlemagne, — 
Success and glory seemed to wait for him as he advanced, and 
this brilliant aspect seemed to promise that Spain would ere long 
be at the head of an empire more extensive than the Roman, — 
But a moral power was at work, destined to divide Hurope 
anew, and the monk Luther was already become a counterpoise 
to the military master of so many kingdoms. During the Lun- — 
dred and thirty years of struggle, that terminated with the 
peace of Westphalia, though Spain was far removed from the 
fields where the most cruel battles of the religious wars were — 
fought, the interest she took in the contest may be seen from the 
presence of her armies in every part of Europe where it was 
possible to assail the great movement of the Reformation. 
In Spain, the contest with Protestantism was of short dura- — 
tion. By successive decrees it was at first ordained that all — 
persons who kept in their possession books infected with the — 
doctrines of Luther, and even all who failed to denounce such ~ 
persons, should be excommunicated, and subjected to cruel and — 
degrading punishments. The power of the Inquisition was con- 
summated in 1546, when the first “‘ Index Expurgatorius ” was 
published in Spain. This was a list of the books that all per- 
sons were forbidden to buy, sell or keep possession of, under 
penalty of confiscation and death. The tribunals were authorized 
and required to proceed against all persons supposed to be ine 
fected with the new belief, even though they were cardinals, 
dukes, kings or emperors—a power more formidable to the pro- 
gress of intellectual improvement, than had ever before been 
granted to any body of men, civil or ecclesiastical. 2 
The portentous authority thus given was freely exercised. The 
tirst public auto da fé of Protestants was held in 1559, and 
many others followed. The number of victims sei1aom exceeaed 
twenty burned at one time, and fifty or sixty subjected to the 
severest punishments; but many of those who suffered 
among the active and leading minds of the age. Men of 
learning were yarticularly obnoxious to suspicion, nor were per- 
sons of the holiest lives beyond its reach if they showed a 
tendency to inquiry. So effectually did the Inquisition ac 
complish its purpose, that, from the latter part of the reign of 
Philip IL., the voice of religious dissent was scarcely heard in 
land The great body of the Spanish people rejoiced alike in 
their loyalty and their orthodoxy, and the few who differed fro 
the mass of their fellow-subjects were either silenced by their 
fears, or sunk away from the surface of society. From that time 


— > # 
+ 7 


down to its overthrow, in 1808, this institution was chiefly a 
political engine. 
The result of such extraordinary traits in the national charac- 
_ter could not fail to be impressed upon the literature. Loyalty, 
which had once been so generous an element in the Spanish cha: 
~acter and cultivation, was now infected with the ambition of 
universal empire, and the Christian spirit which gave an air of 
duty to the wildest forms of adventure in its long contest with 
misbelief, was now fallen into a bigotry so pervading that the 
romances of the time are full of it, and the national theatre be- 
comes its grotesque monument. 
Of course the literature of Spain produced during this interval 
' —the earlier part of which was the period of the oreatest glory 
the country ever enjoyed—was injuriously affected by so dis 
eased a condition of the national mind. Some departments 
hardly appeared at all, others were strangely perverted, while 
yet others, like the drama, ballads and lyrical verse, grew exu- 
berant and lawless, from the very restraints imposed on the rest. 
But it would be a great error to suppose these peculiarities in 
Spanish literature were produced by the direct action either of 
the Inquisition or of the government. The foundations of this 
dark work were laid deep and sure in the old Castilian character. 
It was the result of the excess and misdirection of that very 
Christian zeal which fought so gloriously against the intrusion, 
of Mohammedanism into Spain, and of that loyalty which sus~ 
tained the Spanish princes so faithfully through the whole of 
that terrible contest. This state of things, however, involved 
the ultimate sacrifice of the best elements of the national 
character. Only a little more than a century elapsed, before 
the government that had threatened the world with a universal 
empire, was hardly able to repel invasion from abroad or main- 
tain its subjects at home. The vigorous poetical life which had 
been kindled through the country in its ages of trial ana 
adversity, was evidently passing out of the whole Spanish 
character. ‘The crude wealth from their American possessions, 
sustained, for a century longer, the forms of a miserable political 
existence; but the earnest faith, the loyalty, the dignity of the 
Spanish people were gone, and little remained in their place but. 
a weak subserviency to unworthy masters of state, and a low, 
timid bigotry in whatever related to religion. The old en- 
thusiasm faded away, and the poetry of the country, which 
had always depended more on the state of the popular feel- 
ing than any other poetry of modern times, faded and failed 
with it. 


SPANISH LITERATURE. 825 


§26 SPANISH LITERATURE. 


2. Inrrvence or Irary on SpantsH Lirerature.-—The politiras 
connection between Spain and Italy in the early part of the 16th 
century, and the superior civilization and refinement of the Jatter 
country, could not fail to influence Spanish literature. Juan 
Boscan (d. 1543) was ‘the first to attempt the proper Italian 
measures as they were then practised. He established in Spain 
the Italian iambic, the sonnet and canzone of Petrarch, the terza 
ryma of Dante, and the flowing octaves cf Ariosto. As an origi- 
nal poet, the talents of Boscan were not of the highest order. 

Garcilasso de la Vega (1503-1536), the contemporary and 
friend of Boscan, united with him in introducing an Italian 
school of poetry, which has been an important part of Spanish 
literature ever since. The poems of Garcilasso are remarkable 
for their gentleness and melancholy, and his versification is un- 
commonly sweet, and well adapted to the tender and sad 
character of his poetry. _ 

The example set by Boscan and Garcilasso so well suited 
the demands of the age, that it became as much a fashion at the — 
court of Charles V. to write in the Italian manner, as it did to. 
travel in Italy, or make a military campaign there. Among — 
those who did most to establish the Italian influence in Spanish 
literature was Diego de Mendoza (1503-1575), a scholar, a 
soldier, a poet, a diplomatist, a statesman, a historian, and a 
man who rose to great consideration in whatever he undertook. 
One of his earliest works, ‘‘ Lazarillo de Tormes,” the auto- 
biography of a boy, little Lazarus, was written with the object 
of satirizing all classes of society under the character of a servant, 
who sees them in undress:behind the scenes. The style of this 
work is bold, rich and idiomatic, and some of its sketches are 
among the most fresh and spirited that can be found in the 
whole class of prose works of fiction. It has been more or less a 
favorite in al] languages, down to the present day, and was the 
foundation of a class of fictions which the ‘‘ Gil Blas” of Le Sage 
has made famous throughout the world. Mendoza, after having 
filled many high offices ‘under Charles V., when Philip ascended 
the throne, was, for some slight offence, banished from the court — 
asa madman, In the poems which he occasionally wrote during 
his exile, he gave the influence of his example to the new form 
introduced by Boscan and Garcilasso. At a later period he 
occupied himself in writing some portions of the history of his — 
native city, Granada, relating to the rebellion of the Moora 
(1568-1570). Familiar with everything of which he speaks, ‘ 
there is a freshness and power in his sketches that carry us at 
vnce into the midst of the scenes and events he descrives — 





— 


SPANISH LITERATURE. 32? 


*The War of Granada” is an imitation of Sallust. Nothing in 
the style of the old chronicles is to be compared to it, and little in 
any subsequent period is equal to it for manliness, vigor and truth 


3. History.—The imperfect chronicles of the age of Charles 
V. were surpassed in importance by the histories or narra 
tives, more or less ample, of the discoverers of the western 
world, all of which were interesting from their subject and their 
materials. First in the foreground of this picturesque group 
stands Fernando Cortes (1485-1554), of whose voluminous docu 
ments the most remarkable were five long reports to the Em- 
peror on the affairs of Mexico. 

The marvellous achievements of .Cortes, however, were more 
fully recorded by Gomara (b. 1510), the oldest of the regular 
historians of the New World. His principal works are the 
“ History of the Indies,” chiefly devoted to Columbus and the 
conquest of Peru, and the ‘ Chronicle of New Spain,” which is 
merely the history and life of Cortes, under which title it has 
since been republished. ‘The style of Gomara is easy and flow- 
ing, but his work was of no permanent authority, in consequence 
of the great and frequent mistakes into which he was led by 
those who were too much a part of the story to relate it fairly. 
These mistakes Bernal Diaz, an old soldier who had been long 
in the New World, set himself at work to correct, and the book 
he thus produced, with many faults, has something of the honest 
nationality, and the fervor and faith of the old chronicles. 

Among those who have left records of their adventures in 
America, one of the most considerable is Oviedo (1478-1551), 
who for nearly forty years devoted himself to the affairs of the 
Spanish colonies in which he resided. His most important work 
is ‘The Natural and General History of the Indies,” a series 
of accounts of the natural condition, the aboriginal inhabitants, 
and the political affairs of the Spanish provinces in America, as 
they stood in the middle of the 16th century. It is of great 
value as a vast repository of facts, and not without merit as e. 
composition. 

In Las Casas (1474-1566) Oviedo had a formidable rival, 
who, pursuing the same course of inquiries in the New World, 
came to conclusions quite opposite. Convinced from his first. 
arrival in Hispaniola that the gentle nature and slight frames. 
of the natives were subjected to toil and servitude so hard that 
vhey were wasting away, he thenceforth devoted his life to their 
emancipation. He crdssed the Atlantic six times, in order to 
yersuade the government of Charles V. to ameliorate their cow 


828 SPANISH LITERATURE. 





























dition, and always with more or less success. His earliest work 
“A Short Account of the Ruin of the Indies,” was a tract in 
which the sufferings and wrongs of the Indians were doubtless _ 
much overstated by the zeal of its author, but it awakened all 
Europe to a sense of the injustice it set forth. Other short — 
treatises followed, but none ever produced so deep and solemn 
an effect on the world. 
The great work of Las Casas, however, still remains inedited— 
“A General History of the Indies from 1492 to 1525.” Like 
nis other works, it shows marks of haste and carelessness, but 
its value is great, notwithstanding his too fervent zeal for the 
Indians. It is a repository to which Herrera, and through him 
all the historians of the Indies since, have resorted for materials, 
and without which the history’ of the earliest period of the 
Spanish settlements in America cannot even now be written. 
There are numerous other works on the discovery and con- 
quest of America, but they are of less consequence than those 
already mentioned. As a class, they resemble the old chronicles, 
ae they announce the approach of the more regular form oF 
istory. G 


4. Tue Drama.—Before the middle of the 16th century, the 
Mysteries were the only dramatic exhibitions of Spain. They — 
were upheld by ecclesiastical power, and the people, as such, 
had no share in them. The first attempt to create a popular — 
drama was made by Lope de Rueda, a goldbeater of Seville, — 
who flourished between 1544 and 1567, and who became both 
a dramatic writer and an actor. His works consist of comedies, — 
pastoral colloquies, and dialogues in prose and verse. They 
were written for representation, and were acted before popular 
audiences by a strolling company led about by Lope de Rueda 
himself. Naturalness of thought, the most easy, idiomatic Cas- 
tilian terms of expression, a good humored gaiety, a strong sense — 
of the ridiculous, and a happy imitation of the tone and man- — 
aers of common life, are the prominent characteristics of these — 
ee and their author was justly reckoned by Cervantes and 

ope de Vega as the true founder of the popular national — 
theatre. The ancient simplicity and severity of the Spanish — 
people had now been superseded by the luxury and extrava-— 
gance which the treasures of America had introduced; the 
ecclesiastical fetters imposed on opinion and conscience had so 
connected all ideas of morality and religion with inquisitorial 
severity, that the mind longed for an escape, and gladly took 
refuge in amusements where these unwelcome topics had no place 


Sa 
4 10: 
y 


SPANISH LITERATURE. _ §29 


So far, the number of dramas was small, and these had beeu 
written in forms so different and so ofteu opposed to each other 
as to have little consistency or authority, and to offer no suft- 
cient indication of the channel in which the dramatic literature 
of the country was at last to flow. It was reserved for Lope 
de Vega to seize, with the instinct of genius, the crude and un 
settled elements of the existing drama, and to form from them, 
and from the abundant and rich inventions of his own overflow- 
ing fancy, a drama which, as a whole, was unlike anything that 
had preceded it, and yet was so truly national and rested so 
faithfully on tradition, that it was never afterwards disturbed, 
till the whole literature of which it was so brilliant a part was 
swept away with it. 

Lope de Vega (1562-1635) early manifested extraordinary 
powers and a marvellous poetic genius. After completing his 
education, he became secretary to the Duke of Alba. Engaging 
in an affair of honor, in which he dangerously wounded his ad- 
versary, he was obliged to fly and to remain several years in 
exile. On his return to Madrid, religious and patriotic zeal 
induced him to join the expedition of the Invincible Armada for 
the invasion of England, and he was one of the few who returned 
in safety to his native country. Domestic afflictions soon after 
determined him to renounce the world and to enter holy orders 
Notwithstanding this change, he continued to cultivate poetry 
to the close of his long life, with so wonderful a facility that a 
drama of more than 2,000 lines, intermingled with sonnets and 
enlivened with all kinds of unexpected incidents and intrigues, 
frequently cost him no more than the labor of a single day. He 
composed more rapidly than his amanuensis could transcribe, and 
the managers of the theatres left him no time to copy or to correct 
his compositions ; so that his plays were frequently represented 
within twenty-four hours after their first conception. His fer- 
tility of invention and his talent for versification are unparalleled 
in the history of literature. He produced 2,200 dramas, of 
which only about 500 were printed. His other poems were 
Based at Madrid in 1776, in twenty-one volumes quarto. 

is prodigious literary labors produced him almost as much 
money as glory ; but his liberality to th: poor and his taste for 
pomp soon dissipated his wealth, and after living in splendor, he 
died almost in poverty. 

No poet has ever in his lifetime enjoyed so much glory The 
crowd surrounded him whenever he showed himself abroad, and 
yaluted him with the appellation of Prodigy of Nature. Every 
yre was fixed on him and children followed him with cries of 




























830 SPANISH [ITERATURE, 


pleasure. He was chosen President of the Spiritual College at 
Madrid, and the Pope conferred upon him high marks of dis 
tinction, not only for his poetical talents but for his enthusiastie — 
zeal for the interests of religion. He was also appointed one of 
the familars of the Inquisition-—an office to which the highest — 
honor was at that time attached. 
The fame of Lope de Vega rests upor his dramas aloae, and 
in these there is no end to their diversity, the subjects varying — 
from the deepest tragedy to the broadest farce—from the solemn — 
mysteries of religion to the loosest frolics of common life—and — 
the style embracing every variety of tone and measure known to 
the language of the country. In these dramas, too, the sacred 
and secular, the tragic and comic, the heroic and vulgar, all 
ran into each other, until it seems that there is neither separate 
form nor distinction attributed to any of them. 
The first class of plays that Lope seems to have invented, and 
che one which still remains most popular in Spain, are dramas of — 
ihe cloak and sword, so called from the picturesque national dress 
of the fashionable class of society from which the principal cha- 
racters were selected. Their main principle is gallantry. The 
story is almost always involved and intriguing, accompanied — 
with an under-plot and parody on the principal parties, formed — 
by the servants and other inferior persons. The action is chiefly 
carried on by lovers full of romance, or by low characters, whose 
wit is mixed with buffoonery. 
To the second class belong the historical or heroic dramas, 
Their characters are usually kings, princes, and personages in 
the highest rank of life, and their prevailing tone is imposing 
and tragical. A love story, filled as usual with hair-breadth — 
escapes, jealous quarrels, and questions of honor, runs through - 
vearly every one of them; but truth, in regard ‘to facts, man- 
ners and customs, is entirely disregarded. 
The third class contains the dramas founded on the manners 
of common life; of these there are but few. Lope de Vega would. , 
doubtless have confined himself to these three forms, but hat 
the interference of the church for a time forbade the representa 
sions of the secular drama, and he therefore turned his attention 
c the composition of relivious plays. The subjects of these ¢ re 
taken from the Scriptures, or lives of the saints, and they a 
proach so near to the comedies of intrigue, that but for the 
religious passages they would seem to belong to them. is 
Sacramental Acts was another form of the religious drama whi n 
was still more grotesque than the last. They were perform 
‘n the streets during the religious ceremonies of the Corpt 


se 
. 


SPANISH LITERATURE. 331 


Jhnsti. The spiritual dramas of Tope de Vega are a hetero- 
geneous mixture of bright examples of piety, according to the 
views of the age and country, and the wildest flights of imagi- 
uation, combined into a whole by a fine poetic spirit. 

The variety and inexhaustible fertility of the genius of this 
writer constituted the corner stone of his success, and did much 
to make him the monarch of the stage while he lived, and the 
great master of the national theatre ever since. But there 
were other circumstances that aided in producing these surpris- 
ing results, the first of which is the principle, that runs through 
all his plays, of making all other interests subordinate to the in 
terest of the story. For this purpose he used dialogue rather 
to bring out the plot than the characters, and to this end also 
he sacrificed dramatic probabilities and possibilities, geography, 
history, and a decent morality. 

Another element which he established in the Spanish drama, 
was the comic under-plot, and the witty gracoso or droll, the 
parody of the heroic character of the play. Much of his power 
over the people of his time is also to be found in the charm of 
his versification, which was always fresh, flowing, and effective. 
The success of Lope de Vega was in proportion to his rare 
powers. For the forty or fifty years that he wrote, nobody else 
was willingly heard upon the stage, and his dramas were per- 
formed in France, Italy, and even in Constantinople. His 
extraordinary talent was nearly allied to improvisation, and it 
required but a little more indulgence of his feeling and fancy to 
have made him not only an improvisator, but the most remark- 
able one that ever lived. 

Nearly thirty dramatic writers followed Lope de Vega; but 
the school was not received with universal applause. In 
its gross extravagances and irregularities, severe critics found 
just cause for complaint. The opposition of the church to the 
theatre, however, which had been for a time so formidable, had 
at last given way, and from the beginning of the 17th century, 
the popular drama was too strong to be subjected either to clas- 
sical criticism or ecclesiastical rule. | 

Calderon de la Barca (1600-1681) was the great successor 
und rival of Lope de Vega. At the age of thirty-two, his 
reputation as a poet was an enviable one. Soon after, when the 
death of Lope de Vega left the theatre without a master, he was 
formally attached to the court for the purpose of. furnishing 
dramas to be represented mm the royal theatres. - In 1651, ke 
followed the example of Lope de Vega and other men of letters 
of his time, by entering a religious brotherhood. Many 


B32 SPANISH LITEKATURE, 































ecclesiastical dignities were conferred upon him, but he did not — 
however, on this account intermit his dramatic labors, but con — 
tinued, through his long life, to write for the theatres, for the 
court, and for the churches. Many dramas of Calderon were 
printed without his consent, and many were attributed to him — 
which he never wrote. His reputation as a dramatic poet rests — 
on the seventy-three sacramental autos, and one hundred and 
eight dramas, which are known to be his. The awtos, from the 
12th and 13th centuries, were among the favorite amusements 
of the people; but in the age of Calderon they were much — 
increased in number and importance; they had become attractive 
to all classes of society, and were represented with great luxury 
and at great expense in the streets of all the larger cities. A 
procession, in which the king and court appeared, preceded by 
the fantastic figures of giants, with music, banners and religious — 
shows, followed the sacrament through ‘the street, and then, 
before the houses of the great officers of state, the autos were | 
performed; the giants made sport for the multitude, and the 
entertainment concluded with music and dancing, Sometimes — 
the procession was headed by the figure of a monster called the — 
Tarasca, half serpent in form, borne by men concealed in its — 
cumbrous bulk, and surmounted by another figure representing — 
the woman of Babylon—all so managed as to fill with wonder — 
and terror the country people who crowded round it, and whose — 
hats and caps were generally snatched away by the grinning — 
beast, and became the lawful prize of his conductors. This 
exhibition was at first rude and simple, but under the influence 
of Lope de Vega it became a well-defined, popular entertainment, — 
divided into three parts, each distinct from the other. First 
eame the loa, a kind of prologue; then the entremes, a kind of 
interlude or farce; and last, the autos sacramentales, or sacred 
acts themselves, which were more grave in their tone, nena 
often whimsical and extravagant, 
The seventy-three autos written by Calderon are all allegorical, 
and by the music and show with which they abound, the 
closely approach to the opera, They are upon a great variety 
of subjects, and indicate by their structure that elaborate and 
costly machinery must have been used in their representation. 
They are crowded with such personages as Sin, Death, Judaisr hes 
Mercy and Charity, and the purpose of all is ‘to set forth t 
Real Presence in the Eucharist. The great enemy of mankin n 
of course fills a large place in them. Almost all of them co: 
tain passages of striking lyrical poetry. 
The secular plays of Calderon can scarcely be classified, fort in 


ia 
i 


a f 
er 
me 
Sa 


SPANISH LITERATURE. 338 


many of them even more than two forms of the drama are 
mingled. ‘To the principle of making a story that should sustain 
the interest throughout, Calderon sacrificed almost as much as 
Lope de Vega did. To him facts are never obstacles. Corio- 
lanus is a general under Romulus; the Danube is placed between 
Sweden and Russia; and Herodotus is made to describe America, 
But in these dramas we rarely miss the interest and charm of a 
dramatic story, which provokes the curiosity and enchains the 
attention. ~ 

In the dramas of the Cloak and Sword the plots of Calderon 
are intricate. He excelled in the accumulation cf surprises, in 
plunging his characters into one difficulty after another, maintain- 
ing the interest to the last. In style and versification Calderon 
has high merits, though they are occasionally mingled with the 
defects of his age. He added no new forms to dramatic compo- 
sition, nor did he much modify those which had been already setitled 
by Lope de Vega; but he showed greater skill in the arrange- 
ment of his incidents, and more poetry in the structure and 
tendency of his dramas. To his elevated tone we owe much of 
what distinguishes Calderon from his predecessors, and nearly 
all that is most individual in his merits and defects. In carrying 
out his theory of the national drama, he often succeeds and 
often fails; and when he succeeds, he sets before us an idealized 
drama, resting on the noblest elements of the Spanish national 
character, and one which, with all its unquestionable defects, is to 
be placed among the extraordinary phenomena of modern poetry. 

The most brilliant period of the Spanish drama falls within 
the reign of Philip II., which extended from 1620 to 1665, and 
embraced the last years of the life of Lope de Vega, and the 
thirty most fortunate years of the life of Calderon. After this 
period a change begins to be apparent; for the school of Lope 
was that of a drama in the freshness and buoyancy of youth, 
while that of Calderon belongs to the season of its maturity and 
gradual decay. The many writers who were either contempo- 
rary with Lope de Vega and Calderon, or who succeeded them, 
had little influence on the character of the theatre. This, in its 
proper ortlines, always remained as it was left by these great 
masters, who maintained an almost unquestioned control over 
tt while they lived, and at their death left a character impressed 
upon it, which it never lost till it ceased to exist altogether. 

When Lope de Vega first appeared as a dramatic writer at 
Madrid, the only theatres he founa were two unsheltered court 
yards, which depended on such companies of strolling players as 
accasionally visited the capital Before he died, there were, 


634 SPANISH LITERATURE, 























vesides the court-yards in Madrid, several theatres of great 
magnificence in the royal palaces, and many thousand actors; 
and half a century later, the passion for dramatic representations 
had spread into every part of the kingdom, and there was hardly 
a village that did not possess a theatre. 
During the whole of the successful period of the drama, the 
representations took place in the day-time. Dancing was early — 
an important part of the theatrical exhibitions in Spain, even of 
the religious, and its importance has continued down to the 
present day. From the earliest antiquity it was the favorite 
amusement of the rude inhabitants of the country, and in 
modern times dancing has been to Spain what music has been to 
{taly—a passion with the whole population. 
In all its forms and subsidiary attractions, the Spanish drama — 
was essentially a popular entertainment, governed by the popular 
will. Its purpose was to please all equally, and it was not only 
necessary that the play should be interesting, it was, above — 
all, required that it should be Spanish, and, therefore, whatever — 
the subject might be, whether actual or mythological, Greek or — 
Roman, the characters were always represented as Castilian, — 
aud Castilian of the 17th century. It was the same with their — 
costumes. Coriolanus appeared in the costume of Don Juan of — 
Austria, and Aristotle came on the stage dressed like a Spall 
Abbé, with curled periwig and buckles on his shoes. Ds 
The Spanish theatre, therefore, in many of its characteristics — 
and attributes, stands by itself, It is entir ely national, it takes 
no cognizance of ancient example, and it borrowed nothing from 
the drama of France, Italy or England. Founded on traits of 
national character, with all its faults, it maintained itself as long 
as that character existed in its original attributes, and even now 
it remains one of the most striking and interesting portions “ ¥ 
modern literature. 


5. Romances anp Tates.—Hitherto the writers of Spain had 
been little known, except in their own country; but we are now 
introduced to an author whose fame is bounded by no language 
and no country, and whose name is not alone familiar to men of 
taste and learning, but to almost every class of society. ui 

Cervantes (1547-1616), though of noble family, was born in 
poverty and obscurity, not far from Madrid. When he waa 
about twenty-one years of age, he attached himself to the 
person of Cardinal Aquaviva, with whom he visited Rome. | ve 
soon after enlisted as a common soldier in the war against the 
Turks, and, in the great battle of Lepanto, 1572, he received r | 


ee 
SPANISH LITERATURE. 335 


wound, which deprived him of the use of his left hand and arm, 
and obliged him tc quit the military profession. On his way 
home he was captured by pirates, carricd to Algiers, and sold 
for a slave. Here he passed five years full of adventure and 
suffering. At length his ransom was effected, and he returned 
home to find his father dead, his family reduced to a still more 
bitter poverty by his ransom, and himself friendless and unknown. 
He withdrew from the world to devote himself to literature, and 
to gain a subsistence by his pen. 

One of the first prodnctions of Cervantes was the pastoral 
romance of ‘ Galatea.” This was followed by several dramas, 
the principal of which is founded on the tragical fate of 
Numantia ; notwithstanding its want of dramatic skill, it 
may be cited as a proof of the author’s poetical talent, and as 
a bold effort to raise the condition of the stage. 

After many years of poverty and embarrassment, in 1605, 
when Cervantes had reached his fiftieth year, he published the 
first part of “Don Quixote.” The success of this effort was 
incredible. Many thousand copies are said to have been 
printed during the author’s lifetime. If was translated into 
various languages, and eulogized by every class of readers, yet 
it occasioned little improvement in the pecuniary circumstances 
of the author. In 1615, he published the second part of the 
same work, and, in the year following, his eventful and troubled 
life drew to its close. 

“Don Quixote,” of all the works of all modern times, bears 
most deeply the impression of the national character it represents, 
and it has in return enjoyed a degree of national favor never 
granted to any other. The object of Cervantes in writing it was, 
as he himself declares, “to render abhorred of men the false 
and absurd stories contained in books of chivalry.” The 
fanaticism for these romances was so great in Spain during the 
16th century, and they were deemed so noxious, that the burning 
of all copies extant in the country was earnestly asked for by 
the Cortes. To destroy a passion that had struck its roots so 
deeply in the character of all classes of men; to break up the 
only reading which, at that time, was fashionable and popular, 
was a bold undertaking, yet one in which Cervantes succeeded. 
No book of chivalry was written after the appearance of “ Don 
Quixote ;” and from that time to the present they have been 
constantly disappearing, until they are now among the rarest of 
literary curiosities—a solitary instance of the power of genius 
to destroy, by a well-timed blow, an entire department of 
literature. 


36 SPANISH LITERATURE, 


In accomplisning this object, Cervantes represents ‘ Don 
Quixote” as a country gentleman of La Mancha, full of Cas 
tilian honor and enthusiasm, but so completely crazed by reading 
the most famous books of chivalry, that he not only believes 
them to he true, but feels himself called upon to become the 
impossible knight errant they describe, and actually goes forth 
into the world like them, to defend the oppressed and avenge the 
injured. To complete his chivalrous equipment, which he had be- 
gun by fitting up for himself a suit of armor strange to his 
century, he took an esquire out of his neighborhood, a middle 
aged peasant, ignorant, credulous and good-natured, but shrewd 
enough occasionally to see the folly of their position. The two 
sally forth from their native village in search of adventures, of 
which the excited imagination of the knight—turning windmills 
into giants, solitary turrets into castles, and galley slaves into 
oppressed gentlemen—finds abundance wherever he goes, while 
the esquire translates them all into the plain prose of truth, with 
a simplicity strikingly contrasted with the lofty dignity and 
the magnificent illusions of the knight. After a series of ridicu- 
lous discomfitures, the two are at last brought home like madmen 
to their native village. 

Ten years later, Cervantes published the second part of Don 


Quixote, which is even better than the first. It shows more © 


vigor and freedom, the invention and the style of thought are 
richer, and the finish more exact. Both Don Quixote and San- 
cho are brought before us like such living realities, that at this 
moment the figures of the crazed, gaunt, and dignified knight, 
and of his round, selfish and most amusing esquire, dwell bodied 
forth in the imaginations of more, among all conditions of men 
throughout Christendom, than any other of the creations of 
human talent. In this work Cervantes has shown himself of 
kindred to all times and all lands—to the humblest as well as to 
the highest degrees of cultivation, and he has received in return, 
beyond all other writers, a tribute of sympathy and admiration 
from the universal spirit of humanity. 

This romance, which Cervantes threw so carelessly from him, 
and which he regarded only as a bold effort to break up the 
absurd taste for the fancies of chivalry, has been established by 
an uninterrupted and an unquestioned success ever since, as the 
oldest classical specimen of romantic fiction, and as one of the 
most remarkable monuments of modern genius. But Cervantes 
is entitled to a higher glory : it should be borne in mind that 
this delightful romance was not the result of a youthful exube- 
~urce of feeling, ard a happy external condition; with all its 





ee Re Se 


SPANISH LITERATURE. $3) 


‘anqueuchab.e and irresistible humor, its bright views and its 


cheerful trust in goodness and virtue—it was written in his old 
age, at the conclusion of a life which had been marked at 
nearly every step with struggle, disappointment and calamity 
-—it was begun in prison, and finished when he felt the hand of 
death pressing cold and heavy upon his heart. If this be 
remembered as we read, we may feel what admiration and 
reverence are due, not only to the living power of Don Quixote, 
but to the character and genius of Cervantes,—if it be forgotten 
or underrated, we shall fail in regard to both. 

The first form of romantic fiction which succeeded the 
romances of chivalry was that of prose pastorals, which was 
introduced into Spain by Montemayor, a Portuguese, who lived, 
probably, between 1520 and 1561. To divert his mind from 
the sorrow of an unrequited attachment, he composed a romance 
entitled “ Diana,” which, with numerous faults, possesses a high 
degree of merit, It was succeeded by many similar tales, 

The next form of Spanish prose fiction, and the one which 
has enjoyed a more permanent regard, is that known as tales in 
the gusto picuresco, or style of the rogues. As a class, they 
constitute a singular exhibition of character and are as separate 
and national as anything in modern literature. The first fiction 
of this class was the ‘‘ Lazarillo de Tormes ” of Mendoza, already 


_ spoken of, published in 1554—a bold unfinished sketch of the 


life of a rogue from the very lowest condition of society. orty- 
five years afterwards this was followed by the ‘‘ Guzman de 
Alfarache” of Aleman, the most ample portraiture of its class 
to be found in Spanish literature. It is chiefly curious and 
interesting because it shows us, in the costume of the times, the 
life of an ingenious Machiavellian rogue, who is never at a loss 
for an expedient, and who speaks of himself always as an honest 
man, The work was received with great favor, and translated 
into all the languages of Europe. 

Bunt the work which most plainly shows the condition of 
social life which produced this class of tales, is the “ Life of 
Hstevanillo Gonzalez,” first printed in 1646. It is the autobio- 
graphy of a buffoon who was long in the service of Piccolomini, 
the great general of the Thirty Years’ War. ~The brilliant 
success of these works at home and abroad subsequently pro- 
duced the Gil Blas of Le Sage, an imitation more brilliant than 
any of the originals that it followed. 

The serious and historical fictions produced in Spain were 
limited in number, and with few exceptions deserved little favor. 
Short stories or tales were more successful than any other form 

15 





























838 SPANISH LITERATURE. 


of prose-fiction during the latter part of the 16th, and the whole 
of the 17th century. They belonged to the spirit of their owr 
times and to the state of society in which they appeared. Taken 
together, the number of fictions in Spanish literature is enor 
mous ; but what is more remarkable than their multitude, is the 
fact that they were produced when the rest of Europe, with a 
partial exception in favor of Italy, was not yet awakened 
to corresponding efforts of the imagination. The creative 
spirit, however, soon ceased, and a spirit of French imitation — 
took its place. 


6. Histortcaz Narrative Porms.—Epic poetry, from its dig- 
nity and pretensions, is almost uniformly placed at the head of 
the different divisions of a nation’s literature. But in Spain 
little has been achieved in this department that is worthy of — 
memory. The old half-epic poem of the Cid—the first attempt — 
at narration in the languages of modern Europe that deserves — 
the name, is one of the most remarkable outbreaks of poetical — 
and national enthusiasm on record. The few similar attempts — 
that followed during the next three centuries, while they serve — 
to mark the progress of Spanish culture, show little of the power — 
manifested in the Cid. 4 

In the reign of Charles V., the poets of the time evidently 
imagined that to them was assigned the task of celebrating the 
achievements in the Old World and in the New, which had 
raised their country to the first place among the powers of © 
Europe. There were written, therefore, during this and the suc — 
ceeding reigns, an extraordinary number of epic and narrative — 
poems on subjects connected with ancient and modern Spanish — 
glory, but they all belong to patriotism rather than to poetry ; 
the best of these come with equal pretension into the province — 
of history. There is but one long poem of this class which — 
obtained much regard when it appeared and which has been 
remembered ever since, the “ Araucana.” The author of 
this work, Ercilla (1533-1595), was a page of Philip the — 
Second and accompanied him to England on the occasion of — 
his marriage with Mary. News having arrived that the Arau- — 
eans, a tribe of Indians in Chili, had revolted against the Span- — 
ish authority, Ercilla joined the adventurous expedition that — 
was sent out to subdue them. In the midst of his exploits 
he conceived the plan of writing a narrative of the war in the ~ 
form of an epic poem. After the tumult of a battle, or th 
fatigues of a march, he devoted the hours of the night to his — 
literary labors, wielding the pen and sword by turns, and — 


SPANISH LITERATURE. 839 


often obliged to write on pieces of skin or scraps of paper so 
small as to contain only a few lines. In this poem the descrip- 
tive powers of Ercilla are remarkable, and his characters, 
especially those of the American chiefs, are drawn with force 
and distinctness. The whole poem is pervaded by that deep 
sense of loyalty, always a chief ingredient in Spanish honor and 
heroism, and which, in Ercilla, seems never to have been chilled 
by the ingratitude of the master to whom he devoted his life, 
. and to whose glory he consecrated this poem. 
These narrative and heroic poems continued long in favor in 
- Spain, and they retained to the last those ambitious feelings of 
national greatness which had given them birth. Devoted to 
the glory of their country, they were produced when the national 
character was on the decline, and, as they sprang more directly 
from that character, and depended more on its spirit than did 
the similar poetry of any other people in modern times, so they 
now visibly declined with them. 


7. Lyric Porrry.—The number of authors in the various 
classes of Spanish lyric poetry, whose works have been preserved 
between the beginning of the reign of Charles V. and the end 
of that of the last of his race, is not less than a hundred and 
twenty ; but the number of those who were successful is small. 
A little of what was written by the Argensolas, more of Her- 
rera, and nearly the whole of the Bachiller de la Torre and Luis 
de Leon, with occasional efforts of Lope de Vega and Quevedo, 
and single odes of other writers, make up what gives its cha- 
racter to the graver and less