« ZurückWeiter »
before Ovid or after him is still unsettled. So is the problem as to whether his name is a real one or a pseudonym referring to the first name of Tibullus, cunningly devised to lend countenance to the place of these elegies in the Tibullus collection. But a most reasonable explanation of the existing Tibullus collection would appear to be that all of the poems in it were written by members of the Messalla circle, and were sooner or later published together on that account. One theory is that Lygdamus may have been the editor. Certain indications of language and style argue that he was not a native Roman, and may have been a learned freedman.3
26. The fourth book opens with a panegyric on Messalla, which is so crude that it is generally agreed that, whatever adherent of that munificent patron was guilty of its composition, we must not lay it to the charge of Tibullus. (Némethy thinks it a youthful effusion of Propertius !) The next five poems are short elegies dealing with the love of Sulpicia and one Cerinthus. In spite of all arguments to the contrary 5 no adequate considerations seem to have been advanced to remove them from the list of Tibullus's own composition, and the parallels with his other writings (cf. Némethy, pp. 334-335) and general tone of these little elegies make strongly for their genuineness. They are sometimes spoken of as the “ Garland of Sulpicia." The following six little elegies (4, 7 to 4, 12, inclusive"), sometimes called Elegidia like the preceding group, are evidently the work of Sulpicia herself, and are very interesting and unique in Roman literature as the work of a woman. They betray a warmth of
1 Marx in P. W., 1, 1327, dates the origin of the Tibullus collection between Tiberius and Domitian.
2 Cf, Xúq dos and albus.
5 E.g. Bürger in Hermes, Vol. 40 (1905), p. 333; Postgate in Class. Rev., Vol. 9 (1895), p. 77
6 But cf. Magnus in Bursian's JB., Vol. 51 (1887), pp. 262-263, for the view that No. 7 belongs to the preceding "Garland."
feeling and a certain disregard of conventionalities that are noteworthy, and probably significant of the social tendencies of the day. The last two poems of the collection (4, 13 and 14) are of indeterminate authorship, but may be ascribed to Tibullus. A couple of Priapea ascribed to Tibullus are of doubtful authenticity.
27. Tibullus, the country gentleman, was a gentle man. Even in his bitterest disappointment as a lover he could sing:3_
• Thy sorrows let me not unseal !
A single bitter tear-drop should defile.' (Williams.)
'This whole year have I lain
And even for the sister of his cruel mistress - that sister who had come so sadly to an early grave he wept affection's tears :
'and, as my sorrow flows,
Not that he habitually sits beneath the cypress! His sympathetic nature leads him to join enthusiastically in the joy of his friends, whether at some special occasion like the triumph of Messalla (1, 7) or the installation of Messalinus into the college of the Quindecimviri (2, 5), or at one of the regularly recurring festivals like the Ambarvalia (2, 1). He shares in the simple pleasures of the home-born slaves (2, 1, 23), encourages the merry games of the rustics (2, 5, 83 sqq.), and has a word of indulgence for the swain who goes home “right mellow," not for
1 Postgate (Sel., pp. 191-199) makes an elaborate argument against the genuineness of the former.
2 Cf. Hiller in Hermes, Vol. 18 (1885), pp. 343 sqq.; Teuffel 5, 254, 5. 3 2, 6, 41.
4 2, 5, 109.
52, 6, 33.
getting to plead for gentleness towards the fair ones who might suffer rudeness from such a lover (1, 10, 51 sqq.). And while the course of his own love fails to run smoothly, he can express a generous wish for better luck to his more fortunate friends (2, 2).
More than this, Tibullus prefers the quiet and gentle life and loves the peaceful world of nature best. “No other poet, with the exception of Vergil, is so possessed by the spirit of Italy, the love of the country and of the labor of the fields, and the piety associated with that sentiment." It is natural, therefore, for him to express these primitive sentiments of love of home and friends and native land, of reverence for his gods and devotion to the scenes where these rustic divinities especially held sway, with a simplicity and directness that are worthy of his themes. That he was master of his art, to be sure, has come to be generally recognized; and this was the same art that had produced the Alexandrian elegy. But no poet has succeeded better in exemplifying the dictum that the highest art consists in the concealment of art. He never obtrudes his learning upon the reader, as Propertius did, and in spite of many attempts to show a highly artificial structure in his elegies, the most patent fact about them is their utterly natural flow of a perfectly simple thought, oft-repeated, after the manner of one absorbed in the genuineness of his feeling. The deliberate estimate of the master Quintilian (10, 1, 93), mihi tersus atque elegans maxime videtur auctor Tibullus, is confirmed by the sober judgment of the present day. The relative merit of good poets is like that of oysters, a matter of taste. If one is bent on a fat capon, nothing else suits him. Within his field it is rash to assert that Tibullus is a second-rate poet, who just missed great
His wonderfully pure Latinity, in the Augustan age, his perfection in handling the elegiac distich, and his success in
1 Sellar, p. 239. For Tibullus as a poet of nature cf. K. P. H. in PAPA., Vol. 31 (1900), pp. xxxiv-xxxix; Geikie, pp. 85-86, et passim.
2 Cf. PAPA., Vol. 26 (1895). pp. v-viii. 3 Cf. Kirby F. Smith in Johns Hopkins Univ. Circular No. 6 (1910), pp. 26-31.
touching the human heart with a gentle sympathy place him among the masters of his art.
28. The means by which Tibullus achieved this result seem to have been relatively simple and direct; but no poet has been more successful in clearing away the rubbish of his workshop, so that we cannot be sure that we are entirely acquainted with his methods. That he had studied the earlier Greek, as well as the Alexandrian, models we cannot doubt. While we are not warranted in pressing too far our zeal to discover traces of elaborate symmetry in the composition of the elegies, traces of such symmetry appear. Though it is impossible to discover all of the intimate connections with the Greek comedy, the earlier elegy, the pastoral of Theocritus, the leading Alexandrian elegists, and the lost elegies of Gallus, the debt of Tibullus to these predecessors was certainly a heavy one. Neither is it possible to estimate accurately the mutual indebtedness of the practically contemporary poets, Tibullus, Propertius, and Ovid.2 But whatever the sources of Tibullus may have been, he used them so as to manifest a simple diction, a syntax essentially without individuality, a modest use of figurative language, and in the choice of expressions a taste that almost uniformly attains the elegant. His tendency to repeat words and expressions, to postpone an epithet and to postpone -que, his scrupulous preference for the forms at, seu, neu, net, for sic rather than ita, nam rather than enim, his care in the forms of declension, his avoidance of forms belonging properly to the sermo cottidianus, his slight use of diminutives, and his skill in placing words are among the palpable qualities of his style. Such poems as 2, 5 illustrate the
1 Cf. Bell., p. 293; P. W., Vol. 5, pp. 2291 sqq.; Bubendey, Die Symmetrie der römischen Elegie.
2 Cf. Hiller in Rh. Mus., Vol. 60 (1905), pp. 38-105; Skutsch, Aus Vergils Frühzeit, passim ; Cartault, Chap. IV; Jacoby in BPW., Vol. 29 (1909), Sp. 1464; Richard Bürger in Bursian's JB., Vol. 153 (1911), pp. 135-144.
3 Index verborum in Hiller.
4 Cf. Postgate, Sel., pp. 27 sqq.; Hansen, De tropis et figuris apud Tibullum ; Sellar, pp. 245 sqq.; Richard Bürger, Beiträge zur Elegantia Tibulls, in Xápites
“national and historical tendency” of literature in the Augustan age. Especially noticeable is the great advance in the technical refinement of the handling of the elegiac verse seen in Tibullus ; for some details cf. § 42.
29. The best Tibullus Mss. known to us are the Ambrosianus (A), written in 1374, discovered by Baehrens in the Ambrosian library at Milan in 1876, comparatively free from interpolations ; and the Vaticanus (V), discovered in the Vatican library by Gustav Loewe at the suggestion of Baehrens, a Ms. agreeing remarkably with A, and thus having less independent value, written probably at the end of the fourteenth, or the beginning of the fifteenth century. These two Mss. coming from a common archetype, their consensus furnishes the most reliable authority. A third Ms., the Guelferbytanus (G), found by Baehrens in the ducal library at Wolfenbüttel, was probably overestimated by him when he believed it to be derived from a different archetype. It is apparently somewhat interpolated. Its date, according to Baehrens, is about 1425 A.D. Lachmann had also, in the preparation of his edition of 1829, knowledge of the Parisinus (B), written in 1423, somewhat interpolated, and of little independent value ; Eboracensis (Y), now lost, and used only in part and at second hand ; and the consensus of three younger and inferior Mss. (C), viz., the Wittianus (c), the Datanus (d), and the Askewianus (e). All the Mss. thus far mentioned are believed to come from a common archetype. Besides these complete Mss. the Fragmentum Cuiacianum (F) was an important, older Ms., which began with 3, 4, 65, known by Scaliger, and collated by him on the margin of a Plantinian edition of 1569. This collation, which was known to Lachmann only at second hand, was long lost, but is now in the University library at Leyden ; F itself has been lost for centuries. There are also two series of excerpts which contain Tibullus passages. The Excerpta
dargebracht, pp. 371-394; Linke, Tibullus quantum in poesi elegiaca profecerit comparato Catullo, 1877.
1 Cf. Burn, RL and RA., p. 79.
F. Leo ...