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as from the occurrence of Italian and Sicilian fables in the Metamorphoses, we may safely infer that he did not adhere closely to his Greek models, but gave free play to his imagination, inserted materials of his own, and gave the general colouring to the whole. Another point to be borne in mind with regard to the Metamorphoses is, that it is an unfinished production. On the sudden turn of his fortune, Ovid burnt his own copy of the poem, and it is only from transcripts, which were already in the hands of others, that it has come down to us. Although abounding in beauties, we must not forget that it not only has not received the last touch of the master's hand, but that in many passages we have merely the first rude outline. Ovid says of himself: Quidquid tentabam scribere, versus erat;' and thus we see that even the first rough sketches which he threw off assumed a metrical form (as one example out of many, see Metam. vii. 350397). We find the same fable occurring also in different representations, which our poet would certainly not have allowed, had he given the work a final revision. In fine, while we recognise the beauties of the Metamorphoses, we must, in consideration of the circumstances just mentioned, be sparing in our censure of its defects.

The same is the case with the Fasti. This work also was interrupted—it is true afterwards taken up again, not, however, for the purpose of completing it, but for the purpose of improving what was already written, and of making insertions in particular parts; hence it happens that we have only before us the first six months of the calendar. Notwithstanding this, the work is invaluable to us, on account of the rich store of information which it contains with regard to the ancient Italian fables and religious usages, which would otherwise have remained quite unknown to us. Ovid had evidently, with a view to this work, undertaken a peculiar and very comprehensive course of study, in which he enjoyed the assistance and encouragement of his friend Hyginus. With regard to the execution of the Fasti, the same must be said as of the Metamorphoses : the whole is devoid of unity of plan, the particular parts are wanting in exactness of finish, but the work abounds in admirable passages, each forming a subject of itself. It consists of six books, each of which embraces one month of the calendar.

The catastrophe which forms the turning-point in the life of Ovid happened about the year 8 A.D., when he had already passed his fiftieth year. By a special degree of Augustus, he was banished to Tomi, a city of Thrace, on the Black Sea. The reasons of this decree are involved in obscurity : Ovid assigns two: first, the Ars Amandi; and secondly, what he calls an error, about which v can at best only speculate. The Ars Amandi had indeed {

peared in all probability ten years before; but even after the lapse of so long a period, Augustus still kept it in mind, and this may serve as an indication of the attention which this poem had excited at Rome. The efforts of Augustus, as is well known, were directed towards the improvement of the moral condition of the Romans, particularly in respect of marriage. The forms of society were in a state of decay, owing in a great measure to the multitudes of slaves and freedmen with which the city was in. undated, and which threatened to supplant the original stock of Romans. Augustus strove to effect a reform, partly by penal enactments (lex Julia de adulteriis, lex Papia Poppaea), partly by civic rewards and official promotions. But such a change can never be made on.a sudden; the transition from licentiousness to order must always be one of gradual progress, and Augustus had the mortification to witness the fruitlessness of his regulative measures. Old age at the same time made him irritable and passionate, and his anger could not but break out against the man who had in effect done so much to counteract his efforts. To this was now added the second ground of resentment, probably some crime in the family of the emperor, in which perhaps Agrippa Postumus, grandson of Augustus, was concerned. How far Ovid was involved in the matter it is impossible to determine: he himself tells us that he had seen what he ought not to have seen. It is enough that he fell under the displeasure of Augustus, the old grudge on account of the Ars Amandi was revived, and he was banished from Rome. Ovid ended his days in Tomi, not without hopes, to the last moment, of a reversal of his sentence, or of a mitigation of it so far as to be allowed to exchange Tomi for an abode in some civilised country. He was sustained in his exile by this hope, and by the spiritual activity of the poet, who sought by his works to maintain a connection with the city, which he was forbidden to approach in person. The chief of these works are • Tristium libri v.' and · Epistolarum ex Ponto libri iv.,' both in elegiac verse.* He no longer attempted to carry out any great conception, but returned to lyric poetry. In both works he presents us with a series of touching pictures of his abandonment. The Epistolae are distinguished from the Tristia only by the fact, that in the former he no longer conceals the names of those to whom they are addressed-which he had done in the Tristia, lest it might prove disadvantageous to them to be found maintaining a connection with a man who was subjected to

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* Besides the Tristia' and 'Epistolae,' we have a satirical poem by Ovid (Ibis ') written against some one who had offended him. It was composed at Tomi after a similar work by Callimachus, which bore the same name. This poem is full of difficulties for us, as it is almost entirely composed of allusions partly to the events of the day, and partly to fables which are no longer known.

the displeasure of the emperor. In the later work he is freed from this apprehension; the anger of Augustus had lost its first violence, and there seemed some prospects of the possibility of a reconciliation. The poems were censured even in antiquity, on account of their monotonous character, as they all revolve within so small a circle, and Ovid even felt himself called upon to vindicate them against this charge. But we must not forget that, though we read them in a few hours, they were not written at short intervals; but their composition was continued through a space of eight years, and they were addressed to the most various parties. We must rather inquire whether each separate poem does not answer the end which the poet had in view; whether the different elegies, though confined to the same subject-matter, do not display variety of description and richness of invention ; and if we must answer these questions in the affirmative, we shall feel ourselves forced to admire the genius which could accomplish so much under such unfavourable circumstances. For Ovid complains bitterly of his position, which so greatly obstructed him in the exercise of his art: he found even his life in danger, from the constant wars which the hostile tribes waged against each other : he was quite cut off from the society of men who could understand him; he could not even converse with those about him, for he was ignorant of their language, and they of bis; he wanted a tranquil, lonely spot, where he could labour in peace. In the course of time he felt himself estranged from home; he acquired the language of the Getae, and even attempted to write in it. He now lost the easy command which he had formerly possessed over his mother tongue, and he tells us how he had often to seek about for the right word to express his thought, and did not always find it. In many of his later poems we can perceive traces of this condition. But he was then nearly sixty years old-an age at which poetic power, almost without exception, begins to fail. Augustus died A.D. 14, and there was little to hope from the hard-hearted Tiberius. At length death put an end to the poet's misfortunes A.D. 16, the same year in which Rome lost another of its most illustrious authors the historian Livy. With them closes the most splendid period of Roman literature, which we are accustomed to term its Golden Age.

On the whole, Ovid may be considered as standing in the bighest rank among Roman poets; he surpasses most of them in richness and versatility of poetic talent-he, if any, was born a poet. Everything formed itself into verse under his hands, and he knew how to invest the most unlikely materials with grace and beauty. Who else ever thought of attempting a poetic treatment of a calendar? And yet how successfully did he accomplish this work! His chief fault is intimately connected with his excellence—it is a certain diffuseness, a striving after ingenious antitheses and unexpected turns: he is often unable to stop in describing an object, and weakens the impres. sion by his excessive minuteness. But the recognition which he obtained from his contemporaries and successors is incredible : the works of scarcely any other poet have been so widely diffused, none was so much imitated, and of none do we possess such a number of manuscripts. His language is pure and noble, yet he, with Livy, forms the transition from the Augustan to the later age : the forms and modes of expression which the latter transferred from the poetic style to the common prose-a special characteristic of the later Latinity — occur chiefly in Ovid, and we are justified in asserting that his influence on this period was decisive.

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LIB. V.

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CERES AND PROSERPINE

CYANE

STELLIO

CERES

ASCALAPHUS

THE SIRENES...............

CERES AND PROSERPINE ..............

80

84

85

86

89

90

90

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