The Ancient Library
 

Scanned text contains errors.

1226

VARRO.

though they had eluded his eager researches at a later period of life when he was more fully aware of their value. But the words of the poet, although to a certain extent ambiguous, certainly do not warrant the interpretation generally assigned to them, nor does there seem to be any good found­ation for the story that these and other works of Varro were destroyed by the orders of Pope Gre­gory the Great, in order to conceal the plagiarism of St. Augustine. There is no sure evidence that they survived the sixth century, and it is by no means improbable that they may have fallen a sacrifice to the fanatic zeal of ignorant churchmen, who could behold in them nothing save a reposi­tory of idle and blasphemous superstition. (See L. H. Krahner, Commentatio de M. Terentii Var~ ronis Antiquitatum Rerum Humanarum atque Dim-narum Libris, 8vo. Hal. Sax. 1834 ; Franeken, Dissertatio exliibens fragmenta Terentii Varronis (juae inveniuntur in libris S. Augustini de C. D., 8vo. Lug. Bat. 1836.)

V. Saturae. We gather from Quintilian (x. 1. § 95) that the Satires of Varro differed in form from those of earlier writers, such as Ennius, in­asmuch as they were composed not only in a variety of metres, but contained an admixture of prose also. From the words placed by Cicero in the mouth of Varro (Cic. Acad. i. 2), compared with the statements of later critics (Gell. ii. 18; Macrob. Sat. i. 11), we learn that in these pieces he copied to a certain extent the productions of Menippus the Gadarene [menippus], Hence he designated them as Saturae Menippeae s. Cynicae, and is himself styled Varro Menippeus by Arno-bius (adv. Gentes, vi. 23), and Cynicus Romanus by Tertullian (Apolog. 14). They appear to have been a series of disquisitions on a vast variety of subjects, frequently if not uniformly couched in the shape of dialogue, the object proposed being the inculcation of moral lessons and serious truths in a familiar, playful, and even jocular style (. . . quadam hilaritate conspersimus multa admista ex intima philosopliia, multa dialectice dicta). The names of eighteen Satires, mentioned as such, are to be found in ancient writers, but the titles of ninety-six pieces by Varro have been collected from the grammarians and other sources, of which the whole or the greater number ought to be ranked under this head. Among those, concerning which no doubt exists, we find one inscribed Als TrcuSes of yepovres — another Nescis quid serus vesper vehat—a third rb evri rp (pdfcy pvpov— all of them apparently illustrations of popular proverbs — the Ilepl eSeo1-jUaTw*/ would dwell upon the luxurious indulgences of the table, while the TpiKap^vos (Appian, B. C. ii. 9), which, however, we are not specially told was a satire, may have been an exposure of the schemes of the first triumvirate.

The Libri Logistorici, although written entirely in prose, bore some affinity to the Saturae, being intended to expose and correct the vices and follies of the day, by contrasting them with the pure and simple manners and sentiments of the most dis­tinguished sages of the olden time. Four essays are quoted under this name. 1. Catus, de Liberis edmandis. 2. Marius, de Fortuna. 3. Messala, de Valetudine. 4. Tubero, de Origine liumana ; but at least twelve more may be added to the list.

Of the Saturae and Libri Logistorici nothing now remains but a few short mutilated fragments, but they appear to have existed entire until the

VARRO.

commencement of the fifth century at all events, since they are freely quoted not only by Gellius and Nonius Marcellus, to the latter of whom we are indebted for a large proportion of the relics preserved, but are spoken of and cited by Macro-bius, Charisius, Diomedes, Priscian, Atilius Fortu-natianus, and the older scholiasts upon Horace and Virgil, in such terms that we can scarcely doubt that the collection was in their hands.

By far the most complete and satisfactory edi­tion of the fragments of the Menippean Satires and Libri Logistorici is contained in the volume recently published by Franc. Oehler, M. Terentii Varronis Saturarum Menippearum Reliquiae, 8vo. Qued-lingb. 1844, to which is prefixed a series of excel­lent dissertations on the Satires of Varro, and the relation in which they stood to the productions of Menippus. Consult Casaubon, De Satura Ro~ manorum, lib. ii. cap. ii. See also F. Ley, Com­mentatio de Vita Scriptisque Menippi Cynici et de Satura M. Terentii Varronis, 8vo. Colon. A grip-pin. 1843.

As to the remaining prose works of Varro we can present little except a mere catalogue of titles.

In verse, however, we possess eighteen short effusions, some of them mere fragments, which were probably included in his Saturae, or attached to his Imagines, but they can scarcely belong to the piece or pieces to which Cicero alludes when he says (A£ad. i. 3), " plurimumque poetis nostris omninoque Latinis et literis luminis attulisti et ver-bis, atque ipse varium et elegans omni fere numero poema fecisti." Quintilian (i. 4. § 4) mentions " Varronem ac Lucretium in Latinis qui praecepta sapientiae versibus tradiderunt," words by no means explicit, and which moreover leave us in ignorance whether Terentius Varro or Varro Ata~ cinus is the individual indicated. See Eichstaedt, De T. Lucretii Cari Vita et Carmine, prefixed to the first volume of his edition of Lucretius, p. Ixxxvi. not. 50. 8vo. Lips. 1801. The eighteen " epi­grams," as they are generally denominated, will be found in Burmann's Anthologia Latina^ i. 50, 54, 59, 78, ii. 18, 207, 211, iii. 9, 71, 72, 83, 100, 107, 147, 148, v. 50, or No. 34—51, ed. Meyer.

On Historico-Antiquarian topics we hear of De Cultu Deorum Liber — De Vita Populi Romani, otherwise, De Vita Patrum, dedicated to Atticus, of which the eleventh book is quoted — De Gente Populi Romani Libri I V.-r-De Initiis Urbis Romae Liber — De Republica, of which the twentieth book is quoted — De Familiis Trojanis — Annales, of which the third book is quoted — Bellum Puni-cum secundum, of which the second book is quoted — but although we find the whole of the above titles in the grammarians, it seems probable that several of them belong to particular sections of the Antiquitates.

In biography, De Vita sua Liber, and a produc­tion of a very singular character, Hebdomades vel De Imaginibus, which, according to the most natural explanation of the obscure description in Pliny compared with the allusions found elsewhere, must have been a sort of album containing (engraved ?) portraits of seven hundred remarkable personages from Homer and Hesiod downwards, with a bio­graphical notice and an epigram attached to each. How these representations were executed and mul­tiplied is a problem very hard to solve, and one which has excited much discussion. (See Plin. //. N. xxxv. 2 ; Gell, iii. 10, 11 ; Auson. Mosell,

Pages
About | First

1224

1225

1226
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.