NOTE I.—The Testamentum Porcelli.
Connected with the Milesian fables were the Testamentum Porcelli, short jeux d'esprit, generally in the form of comic anecdotes, as a rule licentious, but sometimes harmless, and intended for children. A specimen of the unobjectionable sort is here given. St Jerome, who quotes it, says (contra Rufinum, i. 17, p. 473) “Quasi non cirratorum turba Milesiarum in scholis figmenta decantet et testamentum suis Bessorum cachinno membra concutiat, atque inter scurrarum epulas nugae istiusmodi frequententur.“
“Incipit testamentum porcelli.
“M. Grunnius Corocotta porcellus testamentum fecit; quoniam manu mea scribere non potui, scribendum dictavi. Magirus cocus dixit 'veni huc, eversor domi, solivertiator, fugitive porcelle, et hodie tibi dirimo vitam.' Corocotta porcellus dixit 'si qua feci, si qua peccavi, si qua vascella pedibus meis confregi, rogo, domine coce, vitam peto, concede roganti.' Magirus cocus dixit 'transi, puer affer mihi de cocina cultrum, ut hunc porcellum faciam cruentum.' Porcellus comprehenditur a famulis, ductas sub die xvi. kal. luceminas, ubi abundant cymae, Clibanato et Piperato consulibus, et ut vidit se moriturum esse, horae spatium petiit et cocum rogavit ut testamentum facere posset, clamavit ad se suos parentes, ut de cibariis suis aliquid dimitteret eis. Quid ait:
“'Patri meo Verrino Lardino do lego dari glandis modios xxx. et matri meae Veturinae Scrofae do lego dari Laeonicae siliginis modios xl. et sorori meae Quirinae, in euius votum interesse non potui, do lego dari hordei modios xxx. et de meis visceribus dabo donabo sutoribus saetas, rixoribus capitinas, surdis auriculas, causidicis et verbosis linguam, bubulariis intestina, isiciariis femora, mulieribus lumbulos, pueris vesicam, puellis caudam, cinaedis musculos, cursoribus et venatoribus talos, latronibus ungulas, et nec nominando coco legato dimitto popiam et pistillum, quae mecum attuleram: de Tebeste usque ad Tergeste liget sibi collo de reste, et volo mihi fieri monumentum aureis litteris scriptum:' M. Grunnius Corocotta porcellus vixit annis DCCCC.XC.VIIII.S. quod si semissem vixisset, mille annos implesset, 'optimi amatores mei vel consules vitae, rogo vos ut cam corpore meo bene faciatis, bene condiatis de bonis condimentis nuclei, piperis et mellis, ut nomen meum in sempiternum nominetur, mei domini vel consobrini mei, qui in medio testamento interfuistis, iubete signari.'
“Lardio signavit, Ofellicus signavit, Cyminatus signavit, Tergillus signavit, Celsinus signavit, Nuptialisus signavit.
“Explicit testamentum porcelli sub die xvi. kal. lucerninas Clibanato et Piperato consulibus feliciter.”
Such ridiculous compositions were extremely popular in court circles during the corrupter periods of the Empire. Suetonius (Tib. 42) tells us that Tiberius gave one Asellius Sabinus L1400 for a dialogue in which the mushroom, the beccaficoe, the oyster, and the thrush advanced their respective claims to be considered the prince of delicacies. To this age also belong the collection of epigrams on Priapus calledPriapea, and including many poems attributed to Virgil, Tibullus, and Ovid. They are mostly of an obscene character, but some few, especially those by Tibullus and Catullus which close the series, are simple and pretty. It is almost inconceivable to us how so disgusting a cultus could have been joined with innocence of life; but as Priapus long maintained his place as a rustic deity we must suppose that the hideous literalism of his surroundings must have been got over by ingenious allegorising, or forgotten by rustic veneration.
NOTE 2.—On the MS. of Petronius.
From Thomson's Essay on the Post-Augustan Latin Poets, from the Encyclopaedia Metropolitana (Roman Literature).
Fragments of Petronius had been printed by Bernardinus de Vitalibus at Venice in 1499, and by Jacobus Thanner at Leipsig in 1508; but in the year 1632, Petrus Petitus, or as he styled himself, Marinus Statilius, a literary Dalmatian, discovered at Traw a MS. containing a much more considerable fragment, which was afterwards published at Padua and Amsterdam, and ultimately purchased at Rome for the library of the King of France in the year 1703. The eminent Mr. J. B. Gail, one of the curators of this library, politely allowed M. Guerard, a young gentleman of considerable learning employed in the MS. department, to afford us the following circumstantial information respecting this valuable codex, classed in the library as 7989:—“It is a small folio two fingers thick, written on very substantial paper, and in a very legible hand. The titles are in vermillion; the beginnings of the chapters, &c. are also in vermillion or blue. It contains the poems of Tibullus, Propertius and Catullus, as we have them in the ordinary printed editions; then appears the date of the 20th Nov. 1423. After these comes the letter of Sappho, and then the work of Petronius. The extracts are entitled 'Petronii Arbitri satyri fragmenta et libro quinto decimo et sexto decimo,' and begin thus: 'cum (not 'num,' as in the printed copies) in alio genere furiarum declamatores inquietantur,' &c. After these fragments, which occupy twenty-one pages of the MS. we have a piece without title or mention of its author, which is The Supper of Trimalcio. It begins thus: 'Venerat iam tertius dies,' and ends with the words. 'tam plane quam ex incendio fugimus.' This piece is complete by itself, and does not recur in the other extracts. Then follows the Moretum, attributed to Virgil, and afterwards the Phoenix of Claudian. The latter piece is in the character of the seventeenth century, while the rest of the MS. is in that of the fifteenth.” The publication of this fragment excited a great sensation among the learned, to great numbers of whom the original was submitted, and by far the majority of the judges decided in favour of its antiquity. Strong as was this external evidence, the internal is yet more valuable; since it is scarcely possible to conceive a forgery of this length, which would not in some point or other betray itself. The difficulty of forging a work like the Satyricon will better appear, when it is considered that such attempts have been actually made. A Frenchman, named Nodot, pretended that the entire work of Petronius had been found at Belgrade in the siege of that town in 1688. The forged MS. was published; but the contempt it excited was no less universal than the consideration which was shown to the MS. of Statilius. Another Frenchman, Lallemand, printed a pretended fragment, with notes and a translation, in 1800, but no one was deceived by it.