« AnteriorContinuar »
- He wrote several pieces, but there are none left, only his
Argonautica, in four books.. . · Quintilian, in his Institue. Oratoriar. Lib. 10, cap. I, says, that Appollonius' Argonautica is no contemptible work, and that in his stile he observes an exact medium, which is neither too lofty, nor too mean.
Longinus, in his treatise trepi úpôs, is much of the same opinion with Quintilian, for he tells us, that Appollonius in his Argonautica never rises too high, or falls too low, but that he poises himself very exactly : but yet, for all this good quality, he thinks he is infinitely short of Homer, take him with all his faults; inasmuch as the sublime, lofty style, though subject to unevennesses, is to be preferred before any other sort.. . .. Lilius Gyraldus, speaking of the Argonautica, says, it is a work full of variety, and a very laborious piece; but yet he owns, that in some places it is rough and unpleasant, but not where he describes the amours of Medea, for even there Virgil thinks him so transcendant, that he has copied many things from thence, inserting them into his own Amours of Dido. Gyrald. de Hist. Poet. Dialog. 3.
Tanaguy le Fevre, in his Abridgement of the Lives of the . Greek Poets, page 147, agrees with Gyraldus in what he says
relating to Virgil; but he can by no means yield to Longinus' opinion, who affirmed, that never any man could find fault with the economy of that work. He laughs also at those critics, who think that the stile is so very equal, soft, and easy, saying, that he never could be brought to be of their judgment : for that, as little as he understood Greek, he thought he could discern some difference of characters.
Claudius Verderius, in bis Censio Auctorum, page 46, says, that in the esteem of many persons, the stile of Appol. lonius was looked upon to be coarse and unpolished, and that he himself saw it ridiculed upon that very score.
Hence, therefore, Borrichius, in his Dissertati de Poetis, page 15, tells us, that Appollonius finding, that the verses which he had made in bis youth, were derided and exploded as not being polished enough, he afterwards gave them a new turn, by which means they were thought so polite, as to deserve all men's applause.
Rapin, in the second part of his Reflect. on Arislot. Treatise of Poesie, sec. 15, remarks that the poem of Appollo,
nius Rhodius, on the expedition of the Argonauts, is of a slender character, and has nothing of that nobleness of expression, which Homer has; that the fable is ill invented, and the list of the Argonatus in the first book flat.
. (To be Resumed.)
CURIOUS CUSTOMS AND CEREMONIES OF VARIOUS
...(Resumed from page 166.) · The Ethiopians had many laws which were very different
from those of other nations, especially those that related to the election of their monarchs. The priests chose the most reputable men of their body, and drew a large circle around them, which they were not permitted to pass. A priest entered the circle, running and jumping like an Ægipan, or a satyr. He who first canght hold of the priest was immediately declared the king, and all the people paid him homage, as a person entrusted with the government of a nation by Divine Providence..
The new-elected king immediately began to live in the manner prescribed by the laws.—He could not order a sub
ject to be put to death, though he had been capitally con: victed in a court of justice : but he sent an officer to him, who shewed him the signal of death. The criminal then shut himself up in his house, and was his own executioner. It was not permitted him to fly to a neighbouring country, and substitute banishment for death. I cannot forbear transcribing an anecdote relative to this subject :-An Ethiopian having seen the signal of death which was sent him by the king, and intending to take refuge in a foreign country, his mother, who suspected liis design, threw her girdle about his neck, (without his presuming to defend himself), and strangled him. “ Lest,” said she, “ my son should have brought a greater ignominy upon his family by his flight, than his crime and his sentence were."
The priests of Meröé claimed the power of life and death over the Ethiopian kings; and whenever they thought pro. per, they despatched a courier to their sovereign, with a message, signifying it to be the will of the Gods that he should die, and that it would be the most heinous of crimes to oppose an order which came from them. The monarchs
obeyed these groundless despotical sentences, though they were only constrained to such obedience by their own superstitions.
Ergamenès, who reigned in the time of Ptolemy the Second, was the first who had the courage to shake off this iniquitous and sacerdotal yoke. He led an army against Merôé, put all the priests to the sword, and instituted a new mode of worship
The Catti, a Germanic 'nation, practised a singular custom which had with them the force of a law. As soon as they were fit to carry arms, they let their beards grow, and the hair of their head, which in time hung over their faces.
This was a vow which they made to martial virtue, and from · which they could not disengage themselves till they had killed an enemy. Over his bleeding corse they cut off that hạirs which shaded their forehead, and then they boasted that they had made sufficient retribution to those who had given them life: that they had at length rendered themselves worthy of them and of their country. Cowards retained that savage appearance which they had not courage to remove. Those who piqued themselves on extraordinary valour, re. newed the same vow, but with this difference, that they wore an iron ring, as a mark of their voluntary slavery, from which they were determined not to be redeemed but by the blood of an enemy. Many of them kept all their lives this rough and horrid appearance-they grew hoary in this glorious image of captivity, which equally drew the attention of their fellow citizens, and of their enemies. In battle, they charged the first—their troop was in vain, and its appear. ance was terrible ; for even in peace, their air was fierce and alarming. Without fixed habitation, without knowledge of cultivation, strangers to the cares of life, neglecting their own fortune (if they had any), and lavish of that of others, those men were maintained wherever they went, and continued to practice their austere and rough virtue till the feebleness of age obliged them to moderate its rigour. This is a dark portrait of mankind-in an age when cirilization was yet in infancy. Yet even in the laws and man, ners of barbarians, something may be found indicative of virtue in the latter, and of the wisdom of legislation in the former. Let us, however, turn from the subject to others more amusing
:: In the early ages, when as the moon emerges from behind a cluster of dark clouds, man first began to penetrate through the thick veil in which ignorance had enveloped him, the earliest efforts of his infant genius were very probably made for his amusement-when, like a child, he was
“Pleased with a rattle, tickled with a straw." The theatrical representations of the ancients are generally believed to have originated from Grecian strollers, who travelled from place to place, singing to the honour of Bacchus. Our earliest dramas were probably devoted to pious purposes, which in time became objects of general interest, under the title of Mysteries or Moralities.
In the year 1437, when Conrad Bayer, bishop of Metz, caused the Mystery of the Passion to be represented on the plain of Veximiel, near that city, God was an old gentleman named Mr. Nicholas Neufchatel, of Touraine, who was very near expiring on the cross, had he not been timely assisted. He was so enfeebled, that it was agreed another priest should be placed on the cross the next day, to finish the representation of the person crucified, and which was done ; at the same time the said Mr. Nicholas undertook to perform the Resurrection, which being a less difficult task, he did it admirably well.-Another Priest, whose name was Mr. John De Nicey, curate of Metrange, personated Judas, and he had like to have been stifled while he hung on the tree, for his neck slipped ; this being at length luckily perceived, he was quickly cut down, and recovered.
Another of these mysteries had for its subject, the election of an apostle to supply the place of the traitor Judas. The writers of these sacred dramas certainly had no more idea of what is called stage-effect, than the performers had of what iş now designated picture in the play books. A dignity so great, so awful, was conferred in the meanest manner it is possible to conceive. There was no balloting—no solicitation for vote and interest-all was done quietly, by the simple process of drawing two straws, of which the candidate who drew the longest became the apostle. . .
Such at this time were the amusements of our Gallic neighbours. Their devotion at an earlier period was yet more ridiculous.
An annual religious festival was celebrated at Beauvais, called the Feast of the A88. The people chose a young woman, the handsomest in the town; they made her ride on
an ass richly caparisoned, and placed in her arms a pretty infant. In this state, followed by the bishop and clergy, she marched in procession from the cathedral to the church of St. Stephen ; entered into the sanctuary ; placed herself near the altar, and the mass began; whatever the choir sung, was terminated by this charming burthen; Hinham, finham! Their prose, half Latin and half French, explained the fine qualities of the animal. Every strophe finished by this delightful invitation :
Hez, sire Ane, ça chantez
Et de l'avoine à plantez. They at length exhorted him, in making a devout genu? Alection, to forget his ancient food, for the purpose of repeati ing without ceasing, Amen Amen. The priest, instead of Ite missa est, sung three times, Hinham, hinham, hinhäm.! and the people three times responded, Hinham, hinham, hinham!
The Ancient Arabians were divided into many classes. The first class consisted of those who devoted themselves to war, and were the bulwark of their countrymen. The second, of those who followed agriculture, whose business it was to furnish the nécessary provision of whieat. The third class comprehended the artists. The arts did not pass from one province to another; each man, with invariable succession, adhered to the employment of his father. The country afforded no wine but that which was pressed from dates. A father of a family had more affection for his brothers than for his sons, on account of their seniority. The king and the magistrates were always of the same class. All possessions were common among relations; obedience, however, was paid to the eldest, as to their chief. Adultery was a capital crime in this country, but the term was only applied to an amorous communication between two persons of different provinces. This exception being made, the intercourse of the sexes was unrestrained, whilst this freedom contributed to make them deem 'each other brethren.
The Nabathæn Arabians were industrious to acquire wealth, and they were strict observers of economy. They had carefully provided for the practice of it in their laws. He who diminished his fortune was sentenced to pay a puba jic fine; and he who improved it, was honoured by the state