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in cups, and in prayers to Delia to have recourse to
Venus for courage to elude her keepers. The goddess
of good fortune is Venus, and "Venus helps the brave."
Under her auspices, and in her service, the poet makes
light of his dangerous and unseasonable vigils : —

" A fig for troubles ; so my Delia's door

Ope, and her fingers snapt my entrance bid.
'Twere well, though, that each sex to pry forbore ;
For Venus wills her laches to be hid." — D.


But lest such encouragements should not suffice to
influence his coy inamorata, or her fears of offending
the so-called " husband," wlio withholds her from him,
should become confirmed, Tibullus adduces the assur-
ances of a witch whom he has lately consulted to show
that a way may be smoothed for their interviews as
heretofore. Of this witch Tibullus gives a highly
poetic description : —

"■ Her have I known the stars of heaven to charm,

The rapid river's course by spells to turn,
Cleave graves, bid bones descend from pyres stiU warm,

Or coax the Manes forth from silent urn.
Hell's rabble now she calls with magic scream.

Now bids them milk-sprent to their homes below :
At will lights cloudy skies with sunshine's gleam,

At will 'neath summer orbs collects the snow.
Alone she holds Medea's magic lore :

None else, 'tis said, hath power Hell's dogs to tame :
She taught me chaimts, that wondrous glamour pour.

If, spitting thrice, we thrice rehearse the same."

—(El. ii. 43-55) D.

The services of this functionary Tibullus professes
to have secured to throAV dust in his rival's eyes,
though for the matter of that he lets fall a hint that,
had he preferred it, she could have given him a spell
that would enable him to forget her. But that was
not his wish, the earnest desire rather of a lasting and
mutual love. It would seem to be with a covert
reference to his rival, a soldier probably, enriched with
spoils and loot, and divided as occasion suited betwixt
the fields of Venus and of Mars, that Tibullus drew
the counterpart pictures of peace and war that follow,


and wondered why, as his desires were so simple,
some adverse god denied him their fruition. He can-
not tax his memory with sacrilege or slight to Venus,
and protests that if he can have done any wrong
unwittingly, he is ready to make full atonement.
Possessed, however, of a conviction at whose door
the estrangement of Delia is to he laid, he ends his
elegy with a warning to the successful lover that his
turn is to foUow. This warning illustrates the fate
of the trifler with affection and mocker of love, who
in his old age succumbs to its chains himself, and
whom his neighbours see —

" With quivering voice his tender flatteries frame,
And trim with trembling hands his hoary hair ;
Lounge at the dear one's threshold, blind to shame,
And stop her handmaids in the thoroughfare.

T\liile boys and youths thronged round -s^-ith faces grave,
Each spitting on his own soft breast in turn —

But spare me, Venus, spare thy bounden slave !
Why dost thou rutldessly thy hai-A^ests burn ? "

This spitting into the bosom, a coarse and superstitious
deprecation of evil or distasteful objects and conse-
quences, common to the ancients, and still common
among the Greeks, means in this case contempt for
the old lover caught in his own toils, and may pos-
sibly be meant to convey a sly hint to Delia that

" Perchance her love to every one
May make her to be loved by none."

By the next year apparently, the date of the fifth
elegy, matters are worse between Tibullus and Delia ;


but the poet has ahandoned his professed unconcern,
and, in his distraction at lengthened separation, de-
scribes himself in a bad way : —

" Driven like a top which boys, with ready art,
Keep spinning round upon a level floor."

—(El. v.^ 3, 4.)

He descends from his vantage-ground of complaint,
and makes a plenary recantation, enumerating at the
same time arguments of services rendered, such as
nursing her through a long and serious illness, and
consulting enchantresses and approaching altars with
a view to her recovery. Fondly, he adds, he had
dreamed that the first-fruits of this would be the
return of her attachment, a reconciliation which would
enable him to carry out a scheme of rural happiness
"for the rest of their lives on his estate at Pedum, in
which each should perform their appropriate household
duties, and Delia's province should be undisputed rule
over all the slaves born in the house, himself included
as the merest cipher. She was to discharge votive
offerings to the rural god, to pay tithe and first-fruit
for the folds and crops, and, when the conquering
hero Messala deigned to visit their retreat, to pluck
him the sweetest apples from the choicest trees, and
herself to wait upon him with a befitting banquet.
The pretty domestic picture includes a vision of teem-
ing baskets of grapes, and the same vats of pressed
must which we read of in the ballad of Horatius as
foaming "round the white feet of laughing girls."
But, sighs TibuUus, this fancy sketch has come to


nought. East and south winds even now are bearing
the fond dream away. Another is blest, and reaps the
fruit of his own vows and solicitude. In a companion
elegy, which recent editors have seen fit to distinguish
from that on which we have just touched, the failure
of his endeavours to console himself with some other
fair one, or droAvn care in the wine-cup, is vividly de-
scribed ; and Delia's infatuation with her wealthier
admirer attributed to the hired services of a witch,
against whom Tibullus pours out a highly poetical
voUey of imprecations. Such a character, described
as heralded by the screech-owl's hoot, and hungrily
gnawing the bones which the wolves have discarded
in the cemeteries, reminds one of the ' Pharmaceutria '
in the Idylls of Theocritus, and Eclogues of Virgil,
— or, more familiarly, of the Ghoules in the Arabian
Nights. Still, however, there are harder words for all
others than Delia, whose accessibility to the " golden
key" is lightly noticed, while upon the successful
rival is lavished a highly-drawn picture of the pros-
pect awaiting him in the wheel of chance : —

" E'en now before her threshold not in vain

An anxious lover stops and prowls ; nay, more,
Looks round, pretends to pass, returns again,
And stands and coughs before her very door.

I cannot tell what Love may have in store —
He works by stealth : but now enjoy thy dream,

While Fate permits to worship and adore ;
Thy boat is gliding on a glassy stream."

—(V.» 71-76.) C.

Still less satisfactory are the relations of Delia and
A.C.S.S., vol. iii. H


Tibullus when next we meet them in the sixth elegy;
for now a year more has flown, and the poet is chang-
ing liis tactics, and twitting the present possessor of
Delia's affections with her inconsistency, of which no
one has had more experience. She is now apparently
married to her rich admirer ; but Tibullus has no idea
of letting him have an easy pillow — if, indeed, the elegy
is meant for his perusal, and not rather as banter for the
fickle mistress who has given the poet up. The tone,
in either case, is not such as to present the poet in a
pleasant or natural light, when he mockingly, and in a
style reminding us of Ovid in his ' Art of Love,' enu-
merates his own past devices to gain access to Delia,
and to foil her guards and duennas, and quotes his
experience as worth buying, on the principle of setting
a thief to catch a thief. As, however, in such loves,
it would be quite out of course to know one's own
mind, it is not a surprise to find the poet, in another
poem of the same year, evidently clinging to the hope
of a reconciliation, even after what should have seemed
an unpardonable affront and insult ; and striving to
ingratiate himself with Delia by favourable mention
of her mother — " a golden old woman," because she
has always looked kindly on his addresses — who, he
hopes, may live many years, and with whom he would
be quite content to go halves in the residue of years
yet in store for him — though not, we conclude, in the
sense of spending them with her. At any rate, he
goes the length of saying that he shall always love her,
and her daughter for her sake, though he would be
glad if she could teach that daughter to behave herself


The mention of the ribbon (vitta), which confined the
hair of freeborn ladies before and after marriage to
distinguish them from frailer sisters, and of the stole,
which Avas a distinctive part of the Eoman matron's
dress, as forming no part of Delia's attire, seems to
cast a doubt upon her having even up to this time
formed any legal or permanent connection ; and though
he hopes the contrary, it is plain that Tibullus fore-
casts for his Delia the fate of a ficlde flirt, whose latter
end is sketched at the close of the sixth elegy : —

" For the false girl, in want when youth has fled.
Draws out with trembling hand the twisted thread,
And- forms of warp and woof her weary piece,
Biting the tufts from off the snowy fleece,
While bands of youth behold her, overjoyed,
And swear she's marvellously well employed ;
Venus on high disdains her every tear,
And warns the faithless she can be severe," — C.

So far as Tibullus was concerned, it would seem that
his patience finally failed not very long after tliis was
written, and biographers fill Delia's place, after the last
rupture, with one who is unnamed in his poetrj'', and
unnoticed by Ovid in his references to Tibullus's loves.
The heartless Glycera's connection with him rests, in
fact, on a well-known ode of Horace ; nor does the
allusion to her in it (Ode i. 33) amount to much more
than a philosophic counsel not to take on so, because
the perjured fair one has made a younger choice. Our
poet seems to have met with his usual luck, perhaps
because too sentimental and in earnest for the merce-
nary charmers with whom he came in contact. It has


been supposed that the thirteenth elegy of the fourth
book may be a sample of the " miserable or dolorous
elegies " which he wrote to her, and to which Horace
alludes ; but if so, it " protests too much," exhibits
too little independence, and rests too seriously upon
Glycera for his happiness, to be likely to hold her
affections. Women of her class are not really of one
mind with the love-sick wooer who wishes " the desert
were his dwelling-place, with one sweet spirit for his
minister ; " or, as Tibullus's mode of expressing the
same sentiment is Englished —

" Then the untrodden way were life's delight —
Life's loved asylum the setj^uestered wood :
Thou art the rest of cares : in murky night
A radiant star, a croiocl in solitude." — C.

Glycera must have preferred a crowd of a more normal
character, for ere long (it would seem within four or
five years after the rupture with Delia) he is found
in the toils of the mercenary and avaricious Nemesis,
to whom he addressed the love elegies of the second
book. If his amour with Glycera may be dated B.C.
24 or 23, the connection with Nemesis, who saw the
last of him, began about the year B.C. 21. It does
not seem to have had the excuse of such attractions
as were possessed by Delia, for the poet is silent as to
her personal beauty, although she exercised that in-
fluence over him, and made those exacting demands
on his finances, which bespeak a fascination quite as
overmastering. "When we first hear of her, she has
left him for the country (El. iii. bk. 2), and as he
puts in the most exquisite of vignettes —


" Lo ! Venus' self has sought the happy plains,
And Love is taking lessons at the plough " — C.

of course he needs must follow her, content to perform
the most menial of peasant's duties, if only he may
bask in her sunshine. A precedent for such a course
is adduced in the mythic servitude of Apollo in the
halls of Admetus —

" The fair Apollo fed Admetus' steers,

Nor aught availed his lyre and locks unshorn ;
No herbs could soothe his soul or dry his tears,
The powers of medicine were all outworn.

He drove the cattle forth at morn and eve,

Curdled the milk, and when his task was done,

Of pliant osiers wove the wicker sieve,

Leaving chance holes through which the whey
might run.

How oft pale Dian blushed, and felt a pang,
To see him bear a calf across the plain !

And oft as in the deepening dell he sang,

The lowing oxen broke the hallowed strain." — C.

" Happy days of old," sighs the poet, " Avhen the gods
were not ashamed of undisguised bondage to Love ; "
though, as he adds —

" Love's now a jest ; yet I, who bow to love,

Woidd rather be a jest than loveless god."

A tirade which follows in this poem against war and
lust of gain leads to the suspicion that now, as probably
Avith Delia, some richer mercantile or military rival is
in the poet's thoughts. The picture drawn of the spoils
of land and sea, the foreign stone imported to Italy and


dragged along Eoman tliorouglifares, and the moles,
wliich stem hitherto resistless seas, and protect the
fish against the sway of winter, is set over against the
simplicity of Tibullus's menage and primitive establish-
ment ; but, as if he knew beforehand that her taste
would repudiate such simplicity, he affirms that, if
luxury and expense be the j^^nchant of ]S"emesis, he
wiU turn his thoughts to pillage and rapine, to procure
her the means of it. His own tastes recoil from fashion
and finery, and go back to the pastoral way of their
ancestors, but he is prepared to sink his tastes —

" That through the town his Nemesis may saU,
Eyed of all eyes, for those rich gifts of mine —
The Coan maidens' gauze-spun robes and veil.

Inwrought and streaked with many a golden line."

— D.

Such promises and professions were no doubt the con-
dition of his retaining even a share in her favour, but
a misgiving arises that he competes at unequal odds
with a richer upstart, of whom he bitterly hints —

" The truth be told, he's now her bosom's lord,

Whom oft of old the slave-mart's rule compelled
To lift to view, imported from abroad.

The foot-soles which a tell-tale chalk-mark held."

— D.

Professions, however, in Nemesis's school, are nothing
without practice. The more she exacts, the faster
becomes his bondage ; and he is not long in finding
that it was a delusion to dream that songs and love-
ditties would countervail ihore substantial presents —

" With hollowed palm she ever craves for gold."


It is of no use for poets to rail against luxury and the
fashionable temptations to female extravagance in
Coan robes and Eed Sea pearls ; no use to set " the
girl who gives to song what gold coidd never buy " over
against her whose principle is to sell herself to the
highest bidder, l^emesis is not the sort of mistress to
be wrought upon by the " less or more " of posthumous
regrets, and so Tibullus resigns himself to sacrifices
Avhich his instinct tells him she wiU appreciate. If
her cry of " Give, give " demands it, he protests —

" My dear ancestral home I'll set to sale —
My household gods, my all for her resign."

After this protestation, addressed to such as Kemesis,
it was simply a poetical surplusage to profess to be
ready to drink any number of love-potions ; and it is
satisfactory to be able to think that even the sacrifice
of his patrimony came to no more than the figure of
speech that it was, Nemesis is incidentally mentionetl
in the complimentary *' Elegy to M. Valerius INIessali-
nus," of which mention has been made already, and
of which the date was about B.C. 20, in terms that be-
speak her influence over the poet's mind and muse,
and imply that if he is to live to celebrate in verse the
family of Messala, it will be through happy relations
with her, his latest love. A year after — the year
before that of his death — another elegy (vi. B. ii.) re-
presents him bent on following his friend and brother
poet, Placer, to the wars, by way of escaping Nemesis's
caprices. Till now he has allowed hope of better
treatment to sustain him, and even now he lays tlie


blame on a false and odious go-between, who pleads
her mistress's illness or absence from borne, when her
voice gives the lie to the excuse. It is characteristic
of Tibullus that he finds it almost impossible to think
any evO. of his unscrupulous enslavers, and always
creates a deputy, in the person of whom they receive
his reproaches and curses. In the year B.C. 18, it
would appear, Tibullus succumbed to repeated in-
roads on a health always delicate, and died, as we
learn from Ovid, with his hand clasped in that of
iXemesis. The picture of his obsequies drawn by the
author of the ' Amores ' may be in part a fancy
sketch, where, for example, it represents Delia and
Xemesis embracing at the funeral pyre, and the newer
love waving the earlier ofi" with assurances that —

" Dj'ing, he clasped his failing hand in mine ; "

whilst Delia faltered out that, in her reign, death and
failing health were not so much as thought of; but it
is consistent enough that the avaricious Nemesis may
have closed his eyes, and taken the slight needful
pains to keep her ascendancy to the end. Whilst the
chapter of Tibullus's " generally unprosperous loves "
cannot be regarded as in all respects edifying, it is
essentially part and parcel of his life and poetry, and,
all things considered, redounds far more — in what has
been seen — to his credit and goodness of heart than to
that of his successive paramours.



Though on a cursory glance it might appear that
Tibullus was wholly absorbed in his loves, and when
suffering depression through their ill success took a
gloomy view of the world's moral government, no
careful student of his poetry can fail to notice how
stanch an observer he was of the old rites and customs
of his fathers, and how much the punctual fulfilment
of the ancient ritual of his country's religion, to say
nothing of its later and foreign accretions, was a law
to him. In keeping with this characteristic religious-
ness, he duly reverenced with offerings of first-fruits
the lone stump or old garland-wreathed stone which
represented the god of the country in the fields or
crossways, he duly kept the holidays of the Eoman
Calendar, he offered to the Genius customary and
propitiatory sacrifices on his own or his patrons' bu'th-
days. Hence, as well as for the collateral lore which
pious performance of such ceremonies would accumu-
late, one special phase of interest in his poetry is, so
to speak, antiquarian ; and modern readers may look
to him not in vain for light upon at least the rustic


festivals of Italy, some of whicli find a curious parallel
in old English customs growing daily more nearly obso-
lete. One very remarkable example is the Festival of
the Ambarvalia, to which Tibullus devotes the first elegy
of his second book, in a description which is, along
with a well-known passage of the First Georgic of Vir-
gil, a chief locus dassicus touching this rural celebra-
tion. That which the poet describes must be regarded
as the private festival held towards the end of April
by the head of every family, and not the public and
national feast performed by the Fratres Arvales in
May. This festival, held in honour not of Ceres only,
as it might seem from Virgil, but of Mars also, as we
gather from Cato's treatise on Rustic matters, and, as we
learn from Catullus, of Bacchus and the gods of the
family, and even Cupid, took its name from the chief
feature — of the victim offered on the occasion being
thrice solemnly led round the fields before the first
sheaf of corn was reaped, or the first bunch of grapes
cut. In its train followed the reapers, vine-pruners,
farm-servants, dancing and singing praise to Ceres or
Bacchus, and making libations of honey, wine, and
milk. The object was the purification and hallowing
of themselves, their herds, their fields and fruits, by
the rural population of Latium ; and it was supposed
to keep plague and pestilence from the border which
the procession perambulated. As to the victim, an
earlier admission of Tibullus in the course of his
poems lets us into the fact that with him, owing to
his circumstances, it was only a lamb, whereas richer
Avorshippers offered either a calf, or sometimes a lamb,


calf, and sow (suovetaurilia) together ; but in all cases
the festival wound up with a carousal and jollification
for aU concerned, and furnished to the rural j^opula-
tion a picturesque and looked-for anniversary. Those
who are curious in finding parallels and origins for
their own country's old customs will trace to the
Ambarvalia the " Gang- days " or walkings of the
parish bounds in religious procession, which still
linger in old English parishes and boroughs, and
which at the Eeformation were substituted for a
festival celebrated in the Latin Church during three
days at Whitsuntide. In this, one main object seems
to have been to solicit God's blessing on the land and
its crops ; and intimately connected with the cere-
monial which led to Eogation Days being called
Gang-days, was a customary procession. Feasting,
also, and revelry, were not forgotten ; though in the
present day the sole surviving feature is, here and
there, perambulation of the boundaries — a relic, doubt-
less, of the very lustration of which Tibullus gives
the prettiest picture extant. According to him, the
whole face of nature was to keep holiday, whether
animate or inanimate, in honour of Bacchus, Ceres,
and their associate deities. Even women were to lay
by their spindles, and with ablutions, purifications, and
white raiment, place themselves in accord with so pure
a festival : —

" This festal day let soil and tiller rest !

Hang up the share, and give all ploughing o'er ;
Unstrap the yokes. Each ox, with chaplets drest.
Should feed at lar^e a well-filled stall before.


See the doomed lamb to blazing altars led,

White crowds behind with olive fiUets bound ;

That evU from our borders may be sped,
Thus, gods of home, we lustrate hind and ground.

That ye may fend from all mischance the swain.
And from our acres banish blight and bale,

Lest hollow ears should mock our hope of grain,
Or 'gainst weak lambs the fleeter wolf prevail.

Bold in his thriving tilth the farmer then
Logs on a blazing hearth shall cheerly pile ;

And slaves, by whom their master's ease we ken,
Frolic, and wattle bowers of twigs the while."
—(0. ii. 1. 5-24.) D.

From the immediate context we gather that, if the
auspices were favourable on the showing of this rural
sacrifice, it was a signal for general relaxation and
merry-making. Tibullus would call for Falernian of
a prime old brand, and broach a cask of Chian to
boot. The revelry which in his view of things would
appropriately follow, reminds one of the orgies in
which, according to the song, " no man rose to go till
he was sure he could not stand." Constant toasting
of absent friends and patrons induced a moistness and
a reeling gait, which on this occasion was not a re-
proach or shame, but quite the contrary. It was, says
Tibullus, a usage of primeval precedent in the golden
age of man's innocency, when first the rural gods bore
a hand in instructing him to harvest his fruits, and
Bacchus assisted in organising the choral song and
dance which celebrated such harvests. Even Cupid,
who was country-born and country-bred, should be


bidden, lie adds, to tliis rural ceremonial, for it makes
all the difference whether the flock and its master
experience the smile or frown of the much -praised

" Great Cupid, too, 'tis said, was born and nurst

'Mongst sheep and cattle and unbroken mares ;
There with unskilful bow he practised first, —

Xow what a skilful hand the weapon bears.
Not cattle now, as heretofore, his prey,

But blooming maids and men of stalwart frame ;
He robs the youth and makes the greybeard say,

At scornful maiden's threshold, words of shame."

But, if he comes, he is to leave aside his bow, and
hide his torches. The date of this elegy is probably
the year B.C. 23.

In the fifth elegy of the second book, to which
allusion has been already made as that in which

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