The Ancient Library
 

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Flaccus

160

, FLACCUS.

plan and 'arrangement of Apollonius Rhodius, whose ^performance he in some passages literally translates, while in others he contracts or expands his original, introduces new characters, and on the whole devotes a larger portion of the action to the adventures of the voyage before the arrival of the heroes at the dominions of Aetes. The eighth book terminates abruptly, at the point where Medeia is urging Jason to make her the companion of his homeward journey. The death of Absyrtus, and the return of the Greeks, must have occupied at least three or four books more, but whether these have been lost, or whether the author died before the completion of his task, we cannot tell.

The Argonautica is one of those productions which are much praised and little read. A kind but vague expression of regret upon the part of Quintilian (x. 1), " Multum in Valerio Flacco nuper amisimus," has induced many of the older critics to ascribe to Flaccus almost every conceiv­able merit; and, even in modern times, Wagner has not hesitated to rank him next to Virgil among the epic bards of Rome. But it is difficult to dis­cover any thing in his lays beyond decent medio­crity. We may accord to him the praise of mo­derate talents, improved by industry and learning, but we shall seek in vain for originality, or the higher attributes of genius. He never startles us by any gross offence against taste, but he never warms us by a brilliant thought, or charms us by a lofty flight of fancy. His diction is for the most part pure, although strange words occasionally in­trude themselves, and common words are some­times employed in an uncommon sense ; his general style is free from affectation, although there is a constant tendency to harsh conciseness, which fre­quently renders the meaning obscure ; his versifi­cation is polished and harmonious, but the rhythm is not judiciously varied ; his descriptions are lively and vigorous, but his similes too often far­fetched and unnatural. He has attained to some­what of the outward form, but to nothing of the inward spirit, of his great model, the Aeneid.

Valerius Flaccus seems to have been altogether unknown in the middle ages, and to have been first brought to light by Poggio Brocciolini, who, while attending the council of Constance in 1416, discovered in the monastery of St. Gall [see As-conius] a MS. containing the first three books, and a portion of the fourth. The Editio Princeps was printed very incorrectly, from a good MS., at Bologna, by Ugo Rugeriusand Doninus Bertochus, fol. 1472 ; the second edition, which is much more rare than the first, at Florence, by Sanctus Jacobus de Ripoli, 4to, without date, but about 1431. The text was gradually improved by the collation of various MSS. in the editions of Jo. Bapt. Pius, Bonon. fol. 1519; of Lud. Carrio, Antv. 8vo. 1565 •—1566 ; of Nicolaus HeinsiussAmst. 12mo. 1680; and above all in that of Petrus Burmannus, Leid. 4to., 1724, which must be regarded as the most complete which has yet appeared ; although those of Harles, Altenb. 8vo. 1781; of Wagner, Gotting. 8vo. 1805 ; and of Lemaire, Paris, 8vo. 1824, are more convenient for ordinary purposes. The eighth book was published separately, with critical notes and dissertations on some verses supposed to be spurious, by A. Weichert, Misn. 8vo. 1818.

We have metrical translations,—into English fcy Nicholas Whyte, 1565, under the title " The story of Jason, how he gotte the golden flece, and

FLACCUS.

how hd did begyle Media ; out of Laten into En- glische ;"—into French by A. Dureau de Lamalle, Paris, 1811 ;—into Italian by M. A. Pindemonte, Verona, 1776 ;—and into German by C. F. Wun- derlich, Erfurt, 1805. [W. R.]

FLACCUS, VER'RIUS, a freedman by birth, and a distinguished grammarian, in the latter part of the first century b. c. His reputation as a teacher of grammar, or rather philology, procured ' him the favour of Augustus, who took him into his household, and entrusted him with the education of his grandsons, Caius and Lucius Caesar. Flaccus lodged in a part of the palace which contained the Atrium Catilinae. This was his lecture-room, where he was allowed to continue his instructions to his former scholars, but not to admit any new pupils, after he became preceptor of the young Caesars. If we receive Ernesti's correction of Suetonius (Octav. 86), it was the pure and per­spicuous Latinity of Verrius, not Veranius, Flaccus, which Augustus contrasted with the harsh and obsolete diction of Annius Cimber. Flaccus re­ceived a yearly salary of more than 800£. He died at an advanced age, in the reign of Tiberius.

At the lower end of the market-place at Prae-neste was a statue of Verrius Flaccus, fronting the Hemicyclium, on the inner curve of which, so as to be visible to all persons in the forum (Vitruv. v. 1), were set up marble tablets, inscribed with the Fasti Verriani. These should be distinguished from the Fasti Praenestini. The latter, like the similar Fasti of Aricium, Tibur, Tusculum, &c. were the town-records. But the Fasti of Flaccus were a calendar of the days and vacations of public business—dies fasti, nefasti, and intercisi—of religious festivals, triumphs, &c., especially including such as were peculiar to the family of the Caesars. In 1770 the foundations of the Hemicyclium of Praeneste were discovered, and among the ruins were found por­tions of an ancient calendar, which proved to be fragments of the Fasti Verriani. Further portions were recovered in subsequent excavations, and Foggini, an Italian antiquary, reconstructed from them the entire months of January, March, April, and December, and a small portion of February was afterwards annexed. (Franc. Foggini, Fasto-rumAnn. Roman. Reliquiae^ &c. Rom, 1770, fol. ; and Diet, of Antiq. s. v. Fasti.) They are also given at the end of Wolf's edition of Suetonius, 8vo. Lips. 1802, and in Orelli's Inscriptions La-tinae^ vol. ii. p. 379.

Flaccus was an antiquary, an historian, a phi-lologer, and perhaps a poet; at least Priscian (viii. p. 792) ascribes to him an hexameter line, "Blan-ditusque labor molli curabitur arte." It is seldom possible to assign to their proper heads the frag­ments of his numerous writings. But the follow­ing works may be attributed to him:—An historical collection or compendium, entitled Rerum Memoria Dignarum, of which A. Gellius (iv. 5) cites the first book for the story of the Etruscan arus-pices, who gave perfidious counsel to Rome (Nie-buhr^ Hist. Rome, vol. i. p. 543) ; a History of the Etruscans—Rerum Etruscarum—(Intpp. ad Aen. x. 183, 198, ed. Mai; compare also Serv. ad Aen. vii. 53, viii. 203, xi. 143) ; a treatise, De Ortliographia (Suet. /#. Gramm. 17). This work drew upon Flaccus the anger of a rival teacher of philology, Scribonius Aphrodisius, who wrote a reply, and mixed up with the controversy reflections on the learning and character of Flac-

Pages
About | First

159

160

161
letter/word  
volume
page #  
Search this site
Google


ancientlibrary.com
WWW
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of Isidore-of-Seville.com.