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Charles Thomas Cruttwell

The Augustan Age in its strictest sense does not begin until after the battle of Actium, when Augustus, having overthrown his competitor, found himself in undisputed possession of the Roman world (31 B.C.).

On the Similes of Virgil, Lucan, and Statius.

There are nations among whom the imagination is so predominant that they seem incapable of regarding things as they are. The literature of such nations will always be cast in a poetical mould, even when it takes the outward form of prose. Of this class India is a conspicuous example. In the opposite category stand those nations which, lacking imaginative power, supply its place by the rich colouring of rhetoric, but whose poetry, judged by the highest standard, does not rise above the sphere of prose. Modern France is perhaps the best example of this.

PUBLIUS VIRGILIUS, or more correctly, VERGILIUS [1] MARO, was born in the village or district [2] of Andes, near Mantua, sixteen years after the birth of Catullus, of whom he was a compatriot as well as an admirer. [3] As the citizenship was not conferred on Gallia Transpadana, of which Mantua was a chief town, until 49 B.C., when Virgil was nearly twenty-one years old, he had no claim by birth to the name of Roman. And yet so intense is the patriotism which animates his poems, that no other Roman writer, patrician or plebeian, surpasses or even equals it in depth of feeling.

The death of Domitian was the end of tyranny in Rome. Under Nerva a new regime was inaugurated. Liberty of speech and action was allowed, and authors were not slow to profit by it. The forced repression of so many years had matured, not quenched, the talent of the greatest writers. Virtuous men had pondered in gloomy silence over the wickedness of the time, and they now gave to the world the condensed result of their bitter reflections. Amid the numerous talents of the period three have sent down to us a large portion of their works.

On the Annales Pontificum. (Chiefly from Les Annales des Pontifes, Le Clerc.)

Note I.—Imitations of Virgil in Propertius, Ovid, and Manilius.

We now enter on a new and in some respects a very interesting era. From the influence exerted on the last period by the family of Seneca, we might call it the epoch of Spanish Latinity; from the similar influence now exerted by the African school, we might call the present the epoch of African Latinity. Its chief characteristic is ill-digested erudition. Various circumstances combined to make a certain amount of knowledge general, and the growing cosmopolitan sentiment excited a strong interest in every kind of exotic learning. With increased diffusion depth was necessarily sacrificed.

As the spiritual life of a people is reflected in their poetry, so their living voice is heard in their oratory. Oratory is the child of freedom. Under the despotisms of the East it could have no existence; under every despotism it withers. The more truly free a nation is, the greater will its oratory be. In no country was there a grander field for the growth of oratorical genius than in Rome. The two countries that approach nearest to it in this respect are beyond doubt Athens and England.

If Virgil is the most representative, Horace is the most original poet of Rome. This great and varied genius, whose exquisite taste and deep knowledge of the world have made him the chosen companion of many a great soldier and statesman, suggesting as he does reflections neither too ideal nor too exclusively literary for men of affairs, was born at or near Venusia, on the borders of Lucania and Apulia, December 8, 65 B.C. [1] His father was a freedman of the Horatia gens, [2] but set free before the poet's birth.

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