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might take the first impression of the Latin tongue in the city where it was fpoke in the greatest purity. I wonder then to find fome critics detract from his language, as if it took a tincture from the place of his birth; nor can I be brought to think otherwise, than that the language he writes in, is as pure Roman as any that was writ in Nero's time. As he grew up, his parents educated him with a care that became a promifing genius, and the rank of his family. His masters were Rhemmius Polæmon, the grammarian; then Flavius Virginius, the rhetorician; and lastly, Cornutus, the ftoic philofopher; to which fect he ever after addicted himself.

It was in the courfe of these ftudies he contracted ansintimate friendship with Aulus Perfius, the fatirift. It is no wonder that two men, whofe geniufes were fo much alike, should unite and become agreeable to one another; for if we confider Lucan critically, we shall find in him a strong bent towards Satire. His manner, it is true, is more declamatory and diffuse than Perfius but Satire is ftill in his view, and the whole Pharfalia appears to me a continued invective against ambition and unbounded power.


The progrefs he made in all parts of learning muft, needs have been very great, confidering the pregnancy of his genius, and the nice care that was taken in cultivating it by a suitable education: nor is it to be queftioned, but befides the masters I have named, he had likewise the example and instructions of his uncle Seneca, the most confpicuous man then of Rome for learning,

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learning, wit, and morals. Thus he fet out in the world with the greateft advantages poffible, a noble birth, an opulent fortune, great relations, and withal, the friendship and protection of an uncle, who, befides his other preferments in the empire, was favourite, as well as tutor, to the emperor. But Rhetoric seems to have been the art he excelled moft in, and valued himself most upon; for all writers agree, he declaimed in public when but fourteen years old, both in Greek and Latin, with universal applaufe. To this purpose it is obfervable, that he has interspersed a great many orations in the Pharfalia, and these are acknowledged by all to be very fhining parts of the Poem. Whence it is that Quintilian, the best judge in these matters, reckons him among the rhetoricians, rather than the poets, though he was certainly maker of both thefe arts in a high degree.

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His uncle Seneca being then in great favour with Nero, and having the care of that prince's education committed to him, it is probable he introduced his nephew to the court and acquaintance of the emperor: and it appears from an old fragment of his life, that he fent for him from Athens, where he was at his ftudies, to Rome for that purpose. Every one knows, that Nero, for the five firft years of his reign, either really was, or pretended to be, endowed with all the amiable qualities that became an emperor and a philofopher. It must have been in this ftage of Nero's life, that Lucan has offered up to him that poetical incense we find in the First Book of the Pharfalia: for


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it is not to be imagined, that a man of Lucan's temper would flatter Nero in fo grofs a manner, if he had then thrown off the mask of virtue, and appeared in fuch bloody colours as he afterwards did. No! Lucan's foul feems to have been caft in another mold and he that durft, throughout the whole Pharfalia, efpoufe the party of Pompey, and the cause of Rome against Cæfar, could never have stooped fo vilely low, as to celebrate a tyrant and a monfter in fuch an open manner. I know fome Commentators have judged that compliment to Nero to be meant ironically; but it feems to me plain to be in the greatest earnest: and it is more than probable, that if Nero had been as wicked at that time as he became afterwards, Lucanis life had paid for his irony. Now it is agreed on by all writers, that he continued for fome time in the higheft favour and friendship with Nero; and it was to that faveur, as well as his merit, that he owed his being made Quæftor, and admitted into the College of Augurs, before he attained the age required for thefe offices in the first of which posts he exhibited to the people of Rome a show of gladiators at a vast expence. It was in this fun-fhine of life Lucan married Polla Argentaria, the daughter of Pollius Argentarius, a Roman Senator; a lady of noble birth, great fortune, and famed beauty; who, to add to her other exceldencies, was accomplished in all parts of learning; infomuch, that the three First Books of the Pharfalia are faid to have been revised and corrected by her in his life-time.



How he came to decline in Nero's favour, we have no account that I know of in hiftory; and it is agreed by all that he loft it gradually, till he became his utter averfion. No doubt, Lucan's virtue, and his principles of liberty, muft make him hated by a man of Nero's temper. But there appears to have been a great deal of envy in the cafe, blended with his other prejudices against him, upon 'the account of his poetry.

Though the spirit and height of the Roman poetry was fomewhat declined from what it had been in the time of Auguftus, yet it was still an art beloved and cultivated. Nero himself was not only fond of it to the highest degree, but, as moft bad poets are, was vain and conceited of his performances in that kind. He valued himself more upon his skill in that art, and in mufic, than on the purple he wore; and bore it better to be thought a bad emperor, than a bad poet or musician. Now Lucan, though ther in favour, was too honeft and too open to applaud the bombast stuff that Nero was every day repeating in public. Lucan appears to have been much of the temper of Philoxenus, the philofopher; who, for not approving the verfes of Dionyfius the tyrant of Syracufe, was by his order condemned to the mines. Upon the promise of amendment, the philofopher was fet at liberty; but Dionyfius repeating to him fome of his wretched performances in full expectation of having them approved, "Enough," cries out Philoxenus, " carry me back to the mines." But Lucan carried this point further, and had the imprudence to dispute


the prize of eloquence with Nero in a folemn public affembly. The judges in that trial were so just and bold as to adjudge the reward to Lucan, which was Fame and a Wreath of Laurel; but in return he lost for ever the favour of his competitor. He foon felt the effects of the emperor's resentment, for the next day he had an order fent him, never more to plead at the bar, nor repeat any of his performances in public, as all the eminent orators and poets were used to do. It is no wonder that a young man, an admirable poet, and one conscious enough of a fuperior genius, fhould be ftung to the quick by this barbarous treatment. In revenge, he omitted no occafion to treat Nero's verfes with the utmoft contempt, and expofe them and their author to ridicule.

In this behaviour towards Nero, he was feconded by his friend Perfius; and no doubt, they diverted themselves often alone at the emperor's expence. Perfius went fo far, that he dared to attack openly. fome of Nero's verfes in his firft Satire, where he brings-in his friend and himself repeating them. I believe a fample of them may not be unacceptable to the reader, as tranflated thus by Mr. Dryden :

FRIEND. But to raw numbers and unfinish'd verse, Sweet found is added now, to make it terfe. 'Tis tagg'd with rhyme like Berecynthian Atys, The mid part chimes with art that never flat is. "The Dolphin brave,

That cut the liquid wave,


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