A GLORIOUS POET SINGS A MIGHTY RULER'S FAME

THE glories of the new age were proclaimed by the greatest 1. Latin poet. Virgil (70-19 B.C.) wrote the Aeneid, the epic of Rome, to show the peace of Augustus as the destined goal of Roman history. The praise of Augustus may appear fulsome to our taste, but Virgil had lived in a world where it seemed as though " earth's foundations fled." We can excuse him for eulogising the man who had " saved the sum of things." Himself a poet of exquisite taste and metrical subtlety, he yet cheerfully acknowledged the supremacy of the Greeks in the sciences and the arts. He rightly saw that the mission of Rome in that age was to make the good life possible, " To impose the way of peace by warring down the proud and sparing the conquered." Another poet, Horace (65-8 B.C.), also enjoyed the patronage of Augustus. He was a cool man of the world who, in his Satires, commented shrewdly though kindly on human follies. His Odes are lyrics whose trite sentiment is concealed by perfect choice and arrangement of words. They cannot compare for spontaneity and charm with those of Catullus (87-54 B.C.). Virgil was himself inferior in vigour to Lucretius (about 95-54 B.C.), whose poem On the Nature of the World sought to free the mind from fears of death, and rebuked men for wasting their lives in empty ambition instead of learning Nature's laws and living the tranquil life of the philosopher. Court patronage, however, stifled the old Republican freedom of speech, especially in oratory. Cicero (106-43 B.C.) whose debating powers had raised him to the consulship, had no successor. Though lacking the fighting spirit of Demosthenes, his rounded periods and exuberant expression had suited the taste of the times. He had even, when roused, been capable of incisive brevity, and his second Philippic against Mark Antony has a stab in every line. His letters reveal him as a delightful friend and a man of taste and feeling. His essays on ethics, though unoriginal in idea, set forth attractively the common code of the liberal-minded Roman gentleman. In history, however, the Augustan age produced a master of prose in Livy (59 B.C.-A.D. 17) who wrote his History of Rome " to point a moral and adorn a tale " rather than to find out the exact truth about what had really happened.