Masterpieces of Latin Literature: Terence: Lucretius: Catullus: Virgil: Horace: Tibullus: Propertius: Ovid: Petronius: Martial: Juvenal: Cicero: Caesar: Livy: Tacitus: Pliny the Younger: Apuleius; with Biographical Sketches and Notes

By Gordon Jennings Laing | Go to book overview

may be, it is his own relation to it that interests him most, and to himself he almost invariably returns. If his sufferings were great, the contemplation of them afforded him a pleasure that was, in part at least, a recompense. His happiness would seem to have reached its highest point in brooding over his own death and burial.

Unlike that of his contemporary Tibullus his work shows strong Alexandrian influence. His models were Callimachus and Philetas, and it is to his imitation of them that the undue preponderance of mythological lore and the tendency to recondite and abstruse allusion are largely due. To the same source must be ascribed the excessive elaboration of detail and superabundance of ornament that characterize some of his elegies. Yet in spite of these faults we find everywhere traces of a genius of rare brilliancy: imagination of great range and vividness, deftness in word and phrase, and a fine ear for rhythmical effects.


BEAUTY UNADORNED
(I., 2.)
DEAR girl,1 what boots it thus to dress thy hair,
Or flaunt in silken garment rich and rare,
To reek of perfume from a foreign mart,
And pass thyself for other than thou art--
Thus Nature's gift of beauty to deface5
And rob thy own fair form of half its grace?
Trust me, no skill can greater charms impart;
Love is a naked boy and scorns all art.
Bears not the sod unbidden blossoms rare?
The untrained ivy, is it not most fair?10
Greenest the shrub on rocks untended grows,
Brightest the rill in unhewn channel flows.
1 Cynthia.

-313-

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Masterpieces of Latin Literature: Terence: Lucretius: Catullus: Virgil: Horace: Tibullus: Propertius: Ovid: Petronius: Martial: Juvenal: Cicero: Caesar: Livy: Tacitus: Pliny the Younger: Apuleius; with Biographical Sketches and Notes
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