dissabte, 2 de juliol de 2016

NIGIDIUS FIGULUS was a man much resembling Varro, and next to him was accounted the most learned of the Romans98. He was the contemporary of Cicero, and one of his chief advisers and associates in suppressing the conspiracy of Catiline99. Shortly afterwards he arrived at the dignity of Prætor, but having espoused the part of Pompey in the civil wars, he was driven into banishment on the accession of Cæsar to the supreme power, and died in 709, before Cicero could obtain his recall from exile100. He was much addicted to judicial astrology; and ancient writers relate a vast number of his predictions, particularly that of the empire of the world to Augustus, which he presaged immediately after the birth of that prince101. Nigidius vied with Varro in multifarious erudition, and the number of his works—grammar, criticism, natural history, and the origin of man, having successively employed his pen. His writings are praised by Cicero, Pliny, Aulus Gellius, and Macrobius; but they were rendered almost entirely unfit for popular use by their subtlety, mysteriousness, and obscurity102—defects to which his cultivation of judicial astrology, and adoption of the Pythagorean philosophy, may have materially contributed. Aulus Gellius gives many examples of the obscurity, or rather unintelligibility, of his grammatical writings103. His chief work was his Grammatical Commentaries, in thirty books, in which he attempted to show, that names and words were fixed not by accidental application, but by a certain power and order of nature. One of his examples, of terms being rather natural than arbitrary, was taken from the word Vos, in pronouncing which, he observed, that we use a certain motion of the mouth, agreeing with what the word itself expresses: We protrude, by degrees, the tips of our lips, and thrust forward our breath and mind towards those with whom we are engaged in conversation. On the other hand, when we say nos, we do not pronounce it with a broad and expan[pg 55]ded blast of the voice, nor with projecting lips, but we restrain our breath and lips, as it were, within ourselves. The like natural signs accompany the utterance of the words tu and ego—tibi and mihi104. Nigidius also wrote works, entitled De Animalibus, De Ventis, De Extis, and a great many treatises on the nature of the gods. All these have long since perished, except a very few fragments, which have been collected and explained by Janus Rutgersius, in the third book of his Variæ Lectiones, published at Leyden in 1618; 4to. In this collection he has also inserted a Greek translation of another lost work of Nigidius, on the presages to be drawn from thunder. The original Latin is said to have been taken from books which bore the name of the Etruscan Tages, the supposed founder of the science of divination. The Greek version was executed by Laurentius, a philosopher of the age of Justinian, and his translation was discovered by Meursius, about the beginning of the seventeenth century, in the Palatine library. It is a sort of Almanack, containing presages of thunder for each particular day of the year, and beginning with June. If it thunder on the 13th of June, the life or fortunes of some great person are menaced—if on the 19th of July, war is announced—if on the 5th of August, it is indicated that those women, with whom we have any concern, will become somewhat more reasonable than they have hitherto proved105. With Varro and Nigidius Figulus, may be classed Tiro, the celebrated freedman of Cicero, and constant assistant in all his literary pursuits. He wrote many books on the use and formation of the Latin language, and others on miscellaneous subjects, which he denominated Pandectas106, as comprehending every sort of literary topic. Quintus Cornificius, the elder, was also a very general scholar. He composed a curious treatise on the etymology of the names of things in heaven and earth, in which he discovered great knowledge, both of Roman antiquities, and the most recondite Grecian literature. It was here he introduced an explication of Homer’s dark fable, where Jupiter and all the gods proceed to feast for twelve days in Ethiopia. The work was written in 709, during the time of Cæsar’s last expedition to Spain, and was probably intended as a supplement to Varro’s treatise on a similar topic. HISTORY OF ROMAN LITERATURE, FROM ITS EARLIEST PERIOD TO THE AUGUSTAN AGE. IN TWO VOLUMES. BY JOHN DUNLOP, AUTHOR OF THE HISTORY OF FICTION. FROM THE LAST LONDON EDITION. VOL. II. PUBLISHED BY E. LITTELL, CHESTNUT STREET, PHILADELPHIA. G. & C. CARVILL, BROADWAY, NEW YORK. 1827

Has olim virtus crevit Romana per artes:
Namque foro in medio stabant spirantia signa
Magnanimûm heroum; hîc Decios, magnosque Camillos
Cernere erat: vivax heroum in imagine virtus,
Invidiamque ipsis factura nepotibus, acri
Urgebat stimulo Romanum in prælia robur

History, therefore, among the Romans, was not composed merely to gratify curiosity, or satiate the historic passion, but also to inflame, by the force of example, and urge on to emulation, in warlike prowess. An insatiable thirst of military fame—an unlimited ambition of extending their empire—an unbounded confidence in their own force and courage—an impetuous overbearing spirit, with which all their enterprises were pursued, composed, in the early days of the Republic, the characteristics of Romans. To foment, and give fresh 
vigour to these, was a chief object of history.—“I have recorded these things,” says an old Latin annalist, after giving an account of Regulus, “that they who read my commentaries may be rendered, by his example, greater and better.”

Accordingly, the Romans had journalists or annalists, from the earliest periods of the state. The Annals of the Pontiffs were of the same date, if we may believe Cicero, as the foundation of the city; but others have placed their commencement in the reign of Numa109, and Niebuhr not till after the battle of Regillus, which terminated the hopes of Tarquin110. In order to preserve the memory of public transactions, the Pontifex Maximus, who was the official historian of the Republic, annually committed to writing, on wooden tablets, the leading events of each year, and then set them up at his own house for the instruction of the people111. These Annals were continued down to the Pontificate of Mucius, in the year 629, and were called Annales Maximi, as being periodically compiled and kept by the Pontifex Maximus, orPublici, as recording public transactions. Having been inscribed on wooden tablets, they would necessarily be short, and destitute of all circumstantial detail; and being annually formed by successive Pontiffs, could have no appearance of a continued history. They would contain, as Lord Bolingbroke remarks, little more than short minutes or memoranda, hung up in the Pontiff’s house, like the rules of the game in a billiard room: their contents would resemble the epitome prefixed to the books of Livy, or the Register of Remarkable Occurrences in modern Almanacks

1 comentari:

  1. Maistre Gilles nommé Cybile,
    Il s’est montré très-fort habile:
    Car il a tout traduit Therence
    Ou il y a mainte sentenc