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JULY 1, 1828.



LETTER VI. In my last Letter I treated of the Alexandrian school, and of its principal ornaments down to the Augustan age. The name of that period will remind you that, before its close, the literary spirit of Rome had not only arisen, but reached its acmé, so that I shall now think it time to diverge from Greek to Roman literature.

The debts of the Roman Muses to those of Greece are universally known; but let neither that fact, nor the trite familiarity of Latin names, make us indifferent to this subject. If all the works in the Latin tongue were but translations from the Greek, they would still afford us a conception of many productions that would have been otherwise unknown; and which might, at the worst estimate of the translating language, be likened to casts of perished sculptures, that may instruct and delight us, though their clay retains not the diaphonous surface of the original marble. But the Romans, though often, were by no means always, the mere translators of the Greeks; and even in remoulding Hellenic treasures, they were far from having left them unstamped with traits of their own proud and peculiar character. The language of Livy and Tacitus--the language that has been the most general interpretess between the ancient and modern world—the language of the most powerful people that ever existed, needs no apology for its claims upon our interest. What a spell to our associations lies in the name of Rome!-

“ The city that so long Reign'd absolute, the mistress of the world, The mighty vision that the Prophets saw,

And trembled."* It is true that her history may often provoke us by the sight of merciless skill and strength usurping the honours and the very name of virtue. The Romans crushed in Italy and Greece more germs of civilization than they ever planted on the face of the earth. They were pitiless ravagers of the world ; and unhappily their downfal was so long deferred, as not to give us the comfort of seeing the nations whom they oppressed avenged in their own generation.

But, still, of all ancient histories, that of Rome affords the longest lessons in political experience. It shows us, in vast and clear views, the glory and usefulness of certain attributes, that would have been

Rogers's “ Italy." July, 1828.-VOL. XXIII. NO. Xci.


pure virtues in the Romans, if they had been exerted only in self-defence. It exhibits also a just reaction in the moral world, and inculc ites the doctrine of a general Providence, by showing that all iniqui ous earthly power tends to work its own overthrow. For Rome exhau ited herself by her conquests, and poisoned herself with the fruits of her own rapacity, till at last she lay under the vengeance of the outraged world, like a blind and gigantic malefactor, so bloated and agonized as to be indebted to her executioners.

T T land where Roman greatness walked forth from its cradle had several other ancient appellations, such as Hesperia, Saturnia, and (Enotria, besides that of Italia. Hesperia, however, was only a vague name, under which Spain also was sometimes included ; and the other names belonged only to parts of Italy, though they were extended by poetic licence to the whole. The word Italia itself, in Greek geography, originally designated only what is now the South of Calabria ; and no Greek writer before the Messinian Alcæus, in the year of Rome 557, can be found to have applied it to the whole Peninsula. Some sixty years later, Polybius uses the name of Italy in its widest extent ; and in the Augustan age it had superseded every other prose appellation of the country.

In spite of this narrow acceptation of the word Italia among the early Greeks, however, it is by no means clear that the Italians themselves had the same restricted geographical notion of the country to which they imparted their name. Conrad Mannert,* one of the ablest of modern classical geographers, contends that at every known period of history they attached the same idea as the moderns to the name of Italy. It is not contradicting this assertion to apply the qualifying recollection, that though the natives, in a general sense, considered all to be Italy from the Sicilian Straits to the Alps, yet, until the time of Augustus, they esteemed Cisalpine Gaul and Venetia less expressly Italian soil than the rest of the Peninsula. The former territory had been conquered, even in Roman times, by a people so distinct from the Southern Italians, that their long occupation of the land might seem, if one may use the expression, to have unitalianized it; whilst Venetia, on the eastern side of this northern part of Italy, was held by a race, in all probability, Sclavonic, and equally distinct in speech and breed both from the Gauls and Italians.

These circumstances account for the country south of the Apennines and the Rubicon being held to be more expressly Italy than the region north of those boundaries. It may be added that Augustus, unlike the moderns, brought Istria within the limits of Italy. Yet, with these modifications, the assertion may still be hazarded that the Italians always meant the same territory that we mean by the name of Italy. In looking, indeed, at the map of the country, one is struck by the distinct boundaries which Nature has assigned to it as a mighty whole, investing it with the sea on two sides, and disjoining it from Europe by the Alps, that sweep round its northern amphitheatre. Such a country one might expect to have had early one wide-spread appellation. And if Mannert be right, Italy had this collective and not partial name from a primitive people, the Itali, who were more generally the ancestors of its subsequent population than either the Illyrian, Iberian, Hellenic, or Gaulish

Geographie der Griechen und Römer von Conrad Mannert.

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