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tions of Hannibal, who exhausted the whole science of marching and countermarching. The Román general perceived that a bold stroke only could ward off the dangers which threatened his country. With a chosen body of a thousand horse, and six thousand foot, he marched from his camp, deceived the vigilance of the Carthaginians, effected a junction with his colleague in Umbria, saved the republic at the battle of Metaurus, and returned with the same celerity, announcing to Hannibal the death of his brother, and finding that general himself still astonished and inactive.* He had left Hannibal in the neighbourhood of Canusium; he found the consul Livius in that of Sena Gallica. His route through the territories of the Larinates, Frentavi, Marrucini, Prætutii, and Picenum, into Umbria, was about 270 Roman miles.f I know not how many days he employed in marching thither; but I know that only six were spent in his return. I Expedition became daily more necessary; and it is not a small stain on the glory of Hannibal that he remained ignorant for twelve days of the departure of the Roman general. I think this would not have escaped the vigilance of Asdrubal; and that he would have destroyed an army weakened by the absence of its general, and by a powerful detachment.§ 270 Roman miles in
* Tit. Liv. xxvii. 43–51.
+ Itineraria Auton. p. 312, 313, 314, 315. I have measured on the chart of Delisle the distance from Canusium to Larinum.
Tit. Liv. xxvii. 50. xxviii. 9.
six days give 45 Roman, or 401 English miles for each daily march. The fact is scarcely credible. Nero's forces, indeed, were selected from the whole army; he marched night and day; and the zeal of the allies co-operated with the attentions of the general in procuring for them in abundance every comfort and assistance proper for softening their fatigues and reviving their strength. With all these advantages, it would be impossible for modern troops to make such a march. To accomplish it required Romans, and Romans of the age of Scipio. As soldiers, their bodies were patient of fatigue and toil; as citizens, they had a country for which to fight. Their exertions were quite different from those of a herd of mercenaries, whose only hope is that of pay, and whose only fear is that of punishment. .
This is a sketch of the chapter which I said was wanting ;-but still, how imperfect have I left it!
ON THE FASTI OF OVID.
Lausanne, 1701. Much philosophical and much theological know·ledge may be derived from Ovid's Fasti. The religion of the Romans, the points in which it agrees with or differs from that of the Greeks, is a subject as curious as it is new. I reckon for nothing the researches of a Coyer.
The poetry of the Fasti appears to me more liable to blame than worthy of praise. I acknowledge with pleasure all the merit of Ovid; his astonishing fancy, a perpetual elegance, and the most agreeable turn of mind. I principally admire his variety, suppleness, and (if I may say so) his flexibility of genius, which rapidly embraces the most opposite subjects, assumes the true style of each, and presents them all under the most pleasing forms of which they are susceptible. The thought almost always suits the subject; and the expression rarely fails in being suitable to the thought. In the Fasti, the same ideas are perpetually recurring; but the images under which they are represented are continually different. The passages of the Fasti which have given me most pleasure are, 1. The origin of sacrifices: 2. The adventure of Lucretia: 3. The festival of Anna Perenna: 4. The origin of the name of Jay: 5. The dispute of the goddesses for that of June.
The following are some of the faults in the character either of the poet or of his subject; which it is painful to perceive. Ovid appears to me defective in point of strength and elevation; and his genius loses in depth what it gains in surface. In painting nature, his strokes are vague, and without character. His expression of the passions is rarely just; he is sometimes weak, sometimes extravagant, always too diffuse; and though he continually seeks the road to the heart, is seldom fortunate enough to find it. His light and tender character, softened by pleasure, and rendered more interesting
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by misfortune, made him acquainted with the tones of sadness and joy. He knows how to lament the misery of a forsaken mistress, or to celebrate the triumphis of a successful lover. But the great passions are above his reach; fury, vengeance, the fortitude or ferocity of the soul, which either subdues its most impetuous movements, or precipitates their unbridled career. His heroes think more of the reader than of themselves; and the poet, who ought to remain concealed, is always ready to come forward, and to praise, blame, or pity them. Ovid wrote a tragedy; but, notwithstanding the judgment of Quintilian, I cannot much regret its loss. 2. He was ignorant of the rules of proportion, rules so necessary to a writer who would give to each sentiment its due extent, and arrange it in its proper place, agreeably to its own nature, and the end for which he employs it. In Ovid, you may perceive thoughts the most interesting, and narratives closely connected with the very essence of his subject, pass away lightly without leaving a trace behind; while he dwells with complacence on parts merely ornamental, frivolous, or superfluous. Can it be believed that the rape of Proserpine should be described in two verses, when the enumeration of the flowers which she gathered in the garden of Eden had just filled sixteen:* I acknowledge that the subject of the l'asti exposed him to faults in proportioning the parts of his work. That subject is connected with
the whole of the Greek mythology; it contains, also, much of the Roman history. It was sometimes necessary to relate the whole fable; at other times, to hint at or even to suppose it, was sufficient. It was requisite for him to decide how far each story was likely to be known by an ordinary reader, and how much the knowledge of it contri buted to that of his subject: but the principles of such decisions are extremely delicate. S. Some writers have praised Ovid for the artfulness of his transitions in a work so various as that of the Metamorphoses. Yet this subject, without possessing the unity of epic poetry, supplied him with very natural principles of connection. But the Fasti is a subject totally disjointed. Each ceremony, and each festival, is altogether distinct from that which follows it, and which follows it only by an imaginary chronology. The poet always traces the æra of their institution, which falls, if you will, on the month of January; but they are Januaries of different years, or rather of different centuries. Ovid was so sensible of this defect in his subject, that he endeavours to associate festivals on the earth with the phenomena of the heavens, in order to give a connection more real, but extremely uninteresting, to his calendar. 4. Ovid heard from the mouth of the gods the laws of their worship, the origin and principle of each fable,
f each ceremony. Such is the nature of the human mind; even in fiction we require the appearance of truth. We cannot bear to see the poet's invention at work. But Ovid shews to us too
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