« ZurückWeiter »
The Mss. also include a short vita, which has been unconvincingly attributed to Suetonius. The text of this vita is plainly corrupt, and some of its statements are hardly intelligible (e.g. eques regalis), and others quite unsatisfactory (e.g. militaribus donis donatus est, which is out of harmony with the character of the poet, so far as revealed in his elegies). Perhaps some of the statements were invented from the elegies. Both the epigram and the vita are believed to have been in the archetype of our Mss. A longer vita 5 is evidently the work of a comparatively late hand and has little worth. The testimony of classical writers, especially Ovid, to certain features of the life, work, and character of Tibullus, is important so far as it goes. Even more valuable than all these are the few allusions to his life found in the poet's own writings.
21. From a judicious use of this material it is safe to draw the following conclusions. The poet's name was Albius Tibullus, no praenomen being known. The end of his life came at about the same time as that of Vergil, who died, we know, September 21, 19 B.C.8 As the only definite statement that could be used to determine the date of his birth (3, 5, 17) evidently applies not to Tibullus himself, but to Lygdamus (cf. § 25), we are forced to resort to conjecture, which has commonly accepted 54 B.C. as a probable approximation to the truth. The editor's reasons for believing this too early (as given in PAPA., Vol. 32 (1901), pp. cxxxvii-cxxxviii) are that it would make Tibullus relatively too old a man while he was engaged in writing elegies; that he would have been likely to go on an expedition like the Aquitanian campaign (31 B.c.) soon after assuming the manly toga, i.e. at about seventeen years of age, according to Roman custom ; that the smallness of the amount of his poetry would be difficult to explain if he died at the age of thirty-five ; and that his being confused with Lygdamus would have been more natural if he were himself more nearly of the age of Lygdamus (b. 43 B.C.). In view of these considerations 48 B.C. seems a not unreasonable conjectural date to assign for the birth of Tibullus.
1 Baehrens, Tib. Bl., p. 6.
7 He never speaks of himself by any other name than Tibullus; cf. 1, 3, 55; 1, 9, 83 ; 4, 13, 13.
8 Cf. the epigram of Marsus, and Ovid, Trist. 4, 10, 51.
22. Whether or not the statement that he was of equestrian rank is founded on fact, it is clear from various passages in his elegies that he was of respectable family, and comfortably endowed, although he had lost part of his ancestral estates, perhaps through confiscations similar to those suffered by Vergil. Horace, in Epistle 1, 4, which, there seems no good reason to doubt, refers to this Albius, says that the gods had blessed Tibullus with wealth, beauty, and the art of enjoying life, and indicates that his home was in the district of Pedum, which was in Latium, not very far from Praeneste. The indications also are that he lost his father quite early but was survived by his mother and a sister.3 Much weight in determining the poet's character and station must be given to the long intimacy between Tibullus and Messalla, the orator, statesman, warrior, litterateur, and trusted councilor of Augustus. It is not clear just when Messalla began to realize the qualities of the poet and foster an acquaintance that made Tibullus the central figure of the literary group that gathered around this accomplished patron of polite letters. It is not improbable that the tastes of Tibullus led him while getting an education at Rome into close touch with Horace, among others, that the older poet introduced him to Messalla not long before the battle of Actium, and that the last elegy of the first book was written about this time. Vergil must at least have been known and admired by Tibullus. 4
1Cf. 1, 1, 19, 41, and 77; 2, 4, 53, etc.
2 Cf. Ullman in AJP., Vol. 33 (1912), pp. 149 sqq., and the rejoinders, pp. 450 sqq. 8 Cf. 1, 3, 5; Ovid, Am. 3, 9, 50.
4 Cf. Tib. 2, 5, 39 sqq. ROM. EL. POETS — 3
23. At any rate, when after Actium Messalla was sent to Aquitania by Augustus, the young poet went with him to get his first taste of military life. After that brief campaign he started with Messalla for the east, but, seized with a serious illness, was necessarily left behind on the island of Corcyra, his life trembling in the balance. These circumstances furnish the occasion of the earliest elegy which we can date with any certainty (1, 3), which was accordingly written in 30 B.C., perhaps in the latter part of the summer. This ended the military experiences of the poet, who returned, as soon as health permitted, to his estate in the country, there to spend, apparently, most of the rest of his life. Certainly we have no indications that he took any prominent part in public affairs, although he was doubtless ever and anon in the city on occasions of special interest. His tastes were gentle, he preferred the quiet of the fields to the excitement of the city; and for the remaining ten years of his life we can easily picture him enjoying the regio Pedana, surrounded by a small circle of close friends, and frequently visiting his patron, Messalla, in town, where he was welcomed as the most gifted member of Messalla's select coterie.4
24. Prominent members of this circle of friends were Sulpicia, probably a niece of Messalla and daughter of Servius Sulpicius Rufus, Cornutus, probably another member of the same Sulpician family, and Macer, all of whom were destined to play a part in the collection of elegies bearing the name of Tibullus. But a far more important influence in determining the character of his poetry was exerted by the several persons, probably all of a lower rank, for whom he formed successive attachments. The first of these, upon whom he lavished his fresh poetic vows of undying affection, was a lady named Plania (cf. 14), whom Tibullus called Delia, doubtless because dñlos = planus, and at the same time suggests her qualities as an inspirer of poetry, from the divine pair born at Delos. Delia's standing is somewhat obscure. She was hardly a patrician, although the suggestion has been made that she was identical with Sulpicia. Neither is it clear that she was a libertina. Probably a plebeian, she seems to have occupied a dubious position. She had a mother living. Either this mother or some other chaperon is characterized as anus 3 and again as lena.4 We hear also of a coniunx, but in exactly what sense the word is used is not easy to decide. For several years, beginning about the time when he first went away to the wars, Tibullus was her devoted, but not very successful, lover; and her figure dominates the first book of the elegies. To divert his attention from her fickleness the poet was for a short period deeply interested in a pretty boy whom he calls Marathus, and who corresponds to the Juventius whom Catullus has made famous. A second lady love was called by the significant name of Nemesis, though in exactly what sense she was to Tibullus as an avenging goddess is open to question. Certain it is that his passionate love for her met with but a poor response. Moreover, she was avaricious, and another lena appears as her guardian. This attachment did not last as long as that to Delia, and the poet probably lived to publish his second book, of which she is the central theme, before his sorrows and his frail constitution brought him to an early death. The Glycera mentioned by Horace (Car. 1, 33) as faithless to Albius may be set down as another flame of Tibullus, as she cannot be identified with either Delia or Nemesis.
1 There is still controversy over the date of the Aquitanian Expedition ; for a review of the case cf. Hiller in BPW., Vol. 8 (1888), Sp. 808; R. Schultz, Quaestiones in Tibulli Librum 1. Chronologicae, pp. 7 sqq.
2 For another view cf. Bell., pp. 181 sqq. 3 Cf. 1, 7; 2, 5.
4 For charming fancy pictures of his home life at Pedum, cf. Martinengo, pp. 144 sqq.; Champney, Chap. I. 5 Cf. 4, 2. 6 Cf. 2, 2, Intr.
7 Cf. 2, 6, 1, n.
25. Besides the Delia book and the Nemesis book, the Tibullus collection as it has been handed down to us contains, 1 Champney, Chap. I.
8 1, 3, 84.
51, 2, 41. 2 1,6, 57.
4 1, 5, 48.
6 Cf. 2, 6, 44.
in addition to a hexameter panegyric on Messalla, a number of other elegies, some of which are evidently not the work of Tibullus, while controversy as to the authorship of the rest has not ceased to rage. For convenience this group of poems has long since been divided into a third and fourth book of the Tibullus collection, an arrangement which practical considerations have led the present editor to maintain. The third book is evidently the work of an unknown poet who calls himself Lygdamus, and who sings especially of his love for a Neaera. While critics are pretty generally agreed that the work of Lygdamus is in manner, meter, and thought inferior to the genuine work of Tibullus, a wide diversity of views has been expressed with regard to the personality of the author. Plessis thinks he was the older brother of Ovid, while their somewhat trilling and cold-blooded manner suggests even the possibility that these poems might have been a youthful work of Ovid himself. The many parallels between Lygdamus and Ovid in language might be taken in confirmation of this hypothesis,' and especially the identity of statement as regards the birth of the two occurring in Tib. 3, 5, 18, and (vid, Trist. 4, 10, 6: cum cecidit fato consul uterque pari, referring to the death of both Hirtius, and Pansa in battle in 43 B.C.4 But Propertius also has many parallels with both Tibullus and Ovid, and this line of argument is inconclusive. Lygdamus may have imitated Ovid, or Ovid have copied Lygdamus, or both have used a common original. Several other interesting identifications have been suggested. The question as to whether Lygdamus lived
1 Cf. Dissen, Vol. 2, p. 324; Postgate, Sel., pp. xliii sqq. 2 For a contrary view cf. Cranstoun, p. xxi.
3 Cf. Hiller in Hermes, Vol. 18 (1883), p. 356, who believes Lygdamus to have been a contemporary of Ovid and to have added 3, 5, 15-20 at a later time to his own elegy.
4 Cf. Gruppe, pp. 127-143; Kleemann: De libri tertii carminibus quae Tibulli nomine circumferuntur.
5 Cf. Bürger in Hermes, Vol. 40 (1905), pp. 321 sqq.
6 Cf. Magnus in Bursian's JB., Vol. 51 (1887), p. 340; Lamarre, Vol. 2, pp. 482483.