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Daughters of Doris, tenants of the deep,
Unfurl the white sail with propitious hand ;

If e'er sly Love did 'neath your waters creep,
Oh ! grant a fellow-slave a kindly strand."

—(I. xvii.) D.

Perhaps upon the principle of omne ignotum pro
magnifico, the theme of shipwreck was a favourite one
with Propertius, who elsewhere vouchsafes to Cynthia
an elegy depicting his dream of such a fate betiding
her in the Ionian sea : —

" Thj' vessel's shivered timbers roiind thee strewn.
Thy weary hands for succour upward thrown.
Confessing all the falsehoods thou hads^told,
"Uliile o'er thy matted hair the waters rolled."



CYNTHIA'S POET. 159

It will be seen in the third line that he was not
above administering a covert reproof in the midst
of poetic compliments ; but the latter certainly pre-
dominate, as he declares that in her extremity, as it
seemed, he often feared lest

" In the Cyntliian sea,
Sailors should tell thy tale, and weep for thee ; "

and lest, if Glaucus had beheld her bright eyes as she
sued for help —

" The Ionian sea had hailed another queen,
And jealous Nereids would be chiding thee,
Nissea fair, and green Cymothoe."

The dream, says the poet, became so painful, that he
awoke amidst the imaginary operation of taking a
header. But in his waking thoughts, and in con-
templation of a real voyage, he volunteers to bear her
company, with protestations that

" If only from mine eyes she never turn,
Jove with his blazing holt our ship may burn :
Naked, we'll toss upon the self-same shore —
The wave may waft me, if tliou'rt covered o'er."

—(III. xviii.) C.

In another elegy of the same book we learn that her
poet clearly believed that his mistress's destiny after
such a catastrophe would be that of a goddess or a
heroine. When an autumn and Avinter at Rome had
endangered her life with malaria, he contemplates her
apotheosis with the satisfaction of thinking of the com-
pany she will hereafter keep : —



160 PROPERTIU&.

" Tliou'lt tiilk to Somele of lieauty's banc,

Who by experience taught will trust thy tale ;
Queen-crowned 'mid Homer's heroines tliou'lt rei^n,
Nor one thy proud prerogative assail."

-(III. XX.)

On the whole, the round of topics of which Proper-
tius avails himself for the poetic service of his lady-
love is extensive enough to furnish the most assiduous
lover's vade - mecum. He has songs for her going
out and coming in. He has serenades for her door at
Rome, which remind us of the famous Irish lover ; he
has soliloquies on her cruelty, addressed to the winds,
and woods, and forest-birds ; he has appeals from a
sick-bed, and the near prospect of death, out of which
he anon recovers, and proposes, after the manner of
lovers in all time —

" Then let us pluck life's roses while we may,
Love's longest term flits all too fast away."

—(I. xi.x. 2').)

And there is one elegy in which he descends to threats
of suicide, and another where he gives directions
for his funeral, and prescribes the style and wording
of his epitaph : —

" On my cold lips be thy last kisses prest.

While fragrant Syrian nard — one box — thou'lt burn ;
And when the blazing pile has done the rest,
Consign my relics to one little urn.

Plant o'er the hallowed spot the dark-green bay.
To shade ray tomb, and these two lines engrave :

Here, loathsome ashes, lies the bard to-day,
Who of one love was aye the faithful .slave." — (III. iv.)



CYNTHIA'S POET. 161

More amusing, perhaps, than most of his expressions
of poetic solicitude for this volatile flame of his, is the
elegy he indites to her, when she has taken it into her
head to run down to the fashionable watering-place of
Baife, where his jealousy no doubt saw rocks ahead,
though he is careful to disown any suspicions as to
her conduct, and only urges in general terms that the
place is dangerous. Here is his delicate caution in the
eleventh elegy of the first book : —

" When thou to lounge 'mid Baise's haunts art fain,
Near road first tracked by toiling Hercules,
Admiring now Thesprotus' old domain,

Now famed Misenum, hanging o'er the seas;

Say, dost thou care for me, who watch alone I
In thy love's corner hast thou room to spare ?

Or have my lays from thy remembrance flown,
Some treacherous stranger finding harbour there ?

Rather I'd deem that, trusting tiny oar,

Thou guidest slender skis' in Lucrine wave ;

Or in a sheltered creek, by Teuthras' shore,
Dost cleave thy bath, as in lone oct-an cave.

Than for seductive whispers leisure find,

RecUning softly on the silent sand,
And mutual gods clean banish from thy mind,

As flirt is wont, no chaperon near at hand.

I know, of course, thy blameless character,

Yet in thy fond behalf all court I fear.
Ah ! pardon if my verse thy choler stir,
Blame but my jealous care for one so dear.
A.C.S.S., vol. iii. L



162 PROPERTIUS.

Mother and life beneath thy love I prize,

Cynthia to me is home, relations, bliss ;
Come I to friends with bright or downcast eyes —

'Tis Cynthia's mood is the sole cause of this.

Ah ! let her, then, loose Baia^'s snares eschew —
Oft from its gay parades do quarrels spring,

And shores that oft have made true love untrue :
A curse on them, for lovers' hearts they wring." — D.

In contrast to his disquietude at her sojourn by the
seaside should be read his 'calmer contemplation of
her proposal to rusticate in the country — a poem which
evinces an exceptional appreciation of the beauties of
nature, to say nothing of a rare vein of tenderness.
Here she is out of the way of tempters and beguilers
by day and by night, afar from fashionable resorts, and
the fanes and rites which cloak so many intrigues : —

" Sweet incense in rude cell thou'lt burn, and see

A kid before the rustic altar fall ;
With naked ankle trip it on the lea.

Safe from the strange and prying eyes of all.

I'll seek the chase : my eager soul delights

To enter on Diana's service now.
Awhile I must abandon Venus' rites,

And pay to Artemis the bounden vow.

I'll track the deer : aloft on pine-tree boughs
The antlers hang, and urge the daring hound ;

Yet no huge lion in his lair I'll rouse.

Nor 'gainst the boar with rapid onset bound.

My prowess be to trap the timid hare.
And with the winged arrow pierce the bird.

Where sweet Clitumnus hides its waters fair,
'Neath mantling shades, and laves the snow-white herd."



CYNTHIA'S POET. 163

Yet even into this quiet picture creeps the alloy of
jealousy. The poet concludes his brief idyll with a
note of misgiving : —

" My life, remember thou in all thy schemes,
I'll come to thee ere many days be o'er ;
But neither shall the lonely woods and streams,
That down the mossy crags meandering poui',

Have power to charm away the jealous pain
That makes my restless tongue for ever run

'Tween thy sweet name and this love-bitter stram :
' None but would wish to harm the absent one.' "

—(III. X.) C.

"Without professing to note the stages of Propertius's
cooling process — a process bound to begin sooner or
later with such flames as that which Cynthia inspired
— we cannot but foresee it in his blushing to be
the slave of a coquette, in his twitting her Avith her
age and wrinkles, nay, even in the bitterness with
which he reminds her that one of her lovers, Panthus,
has broken loose from her toils, and commenced a
lasting bond with a lawful Avife. According to Mr
Cranstoun's calculation, the attachment between Pro-
pertius and Cynthia began in the summer of B.C. 30,
and lasted, with one or more serious interruptions, for
five years. The first book which he dignified with
her name, was published in the middle of b.c. 28.
The others, and among them the fourth, which records
the decline of the poet's affections, were left unfinished
at his death. In the last two elegies of the fourth
book, it is simply painful to read the bitter palinodes



164 PROPERTIUS.

addressed to lier whom he had so belauded. He is
not ashamed to own that —

" Though thine was ne'er, Love knows, a pretty face,
In thee I lauded every various grace " —

and to declare his emancipation in the language of
metaphor : —

" Tired of the raging sea, I'm getting sane,
And my old scars are quite skin-whole again."

—(IV. xxiv.)

And one sees rupture imminent when he indites such
taunting words as follow : —

" At board and banquet have I been a jest,
And whoso chose might point a gibe at me ;
Full five years didst thou my staunch ser\dce test,
Now shalt thou bite thy nails to find me free.

I mind not tears — unmoved by trick so stale ;

Cynthia, thy tears from artful motives flow ;
I weep to part, but wrongs o'er sobs prevail ;

'Tis thou hast dealt love's yoke its crushing blow.

Threshold, adieu, that pitied my distress.

And door that took no hurt from angered hand ;

But thee, false woman, may the inroads press

Of years, whose wrack in vain wilt thou withstand.

Ay, seek to pluck the hoar hairs from their root ; —
Lo, how the mirror chides thy wrinkled face !

Now is thy turn to reap pride's bitter fruit.
And find thyself in the despised one's place :

Thrust out, in turn, to realise disdain,

And, what thou didst in bloom, when sere lament :
Such doom to thee foretells my fateful strain ;

Hear, then, and fear, thy beauty's punishment."

—(IV. 25.) D.



CYXTHIA'S POET. IGo

After this, one should have said there was scant open-
ing for reconciliation ; yet Mr Cranstoun, with some
probability, adduces the seventh elegy of the last book
in proof that Cynthia, if separated at all, must have
been reunited to her poet before her death. In it
Propertius represents himself as visited in the night-
season by Cynthia's ghost, so lately laid to rest beside
the murmuring Anio, and at the extremity of the
Tiburtine Way, as the manner of the Romans was to
bury. AYhether he was in a penitent frame there
might be some doubt, if the ghost's means of informa-
tion were correct ; but certainly his testimony with
regard to her —

" That same fair hair had she, when first she died ;
Those eyes — though scorched the tuuic on her side " —

points to his presence at her death and obsequies, and,
presumably, to his reconciliation, prior to that event.
Xot, indeed, that the ghost's upbraidings testify to
much care or tenderness, on her lover's part, before or
after. She hints that she was poisoned by her slave
Lygdamus, and that Propertius neither stayed her
parting breath, nor wept over her bier : —

" You might have bid the rest less haste to show.
If tlirough the city gates you feared to go."

But the truth was, anotlier and a more vulgar mistress
had stepped into her place : —

" One for small hire who plied her nightly trade,
Now sweeps the ground, in spangled shawl arrayed,
And each poor girl who dares my face to praise,
With double task of wool-work she repays.



166 PROPERTIUS.

My poor old Petale, who used to bring

Wreaths to my tomb, is tied with clog and ring.

Should Lalage to ask a favour dare,

In Cynthia's name, she's flogged with whips of hair :

My gold-set portrait — well the theft you knew, —

An Ul-starred dowry from my pyre she drew."

To cruelty towards her predecessor's servants the
new mistress has added, it seems, the appropriation of
her gold brooch. As Mr Cranstoun acutely notes,
Cynthia must have died under Propertius's roof, or
care, for him to have liad the disposal of her personal
ornaments ; and the inference is that death alone, as
the poet had often vowed in the days of his early devo-
tion, finally and effectually severed a union so famous
in song. Even the ghost, whose apparition and whose
claims on her surviving lover we have given from Mr
Paley's version of the fifth book, seems to rely upon
an influence over him not quite extinct, where she
enjoins him —

" Clear from my tomb the ivy, which in chains
Of straggling stems my gentle bones retains.
Where orchards drip with Anio's misty dew,
And sulphur springs preserve the ivory's hue,
Write a brief verse, that travellers may read.
As past my tombstone on their way they speed,
' In Tibur's earth here golden Cynthia lies ;
Thy banks, Anio, all the more we prize.' "

—(V. vii.) P.

And she vanishes with a fond assurance that, who-
ever may fill her place now, in a short time both will
be together, and "his bones shall chafe beside her



CYNTHIA'S POET. 167

bones." We have slight data as to the fulfilment of
this prophecy — none, in fact, except the tradition of
his early death. It is pleasant to assume that his
latter years were free from the distractions, heart-aches,
and recklessness of his youth, and that, as time sped,
he Avrapt himself more and more in the cultivation
of loftier themes of song, inspired by stirring history
and divine philosophy. And yet, the world of song
woidd have lost no little had Cynthia's charms not
bidden him attune his lyre to erotic subjects, and taught
him how powerful " for the delineation of the master-
passion in its various phases of tenderness, ecstasy,
grief, jealousy, and despair, was the elegiac instrument,
which he wielded with a force, earnestness, pathos,
and originality most entirely his own."



CHAPTER III.

PROPERTIUS AS A SINGER OF NATIONAL ANNALS
AND BIOGRAPHY,

In the ninth elegy of the fourth book, Propertius had
promised, under the guidance and example of Maecenas,
to dedicate his Muse to grander and more national
themes. He had encouraged the hope that he would
some day —

" Sing lofty Palatine Avhere browsed the steer —

Rome's battlements made strong through Remus slain —

The royal Twins the she-wolf came to rear —

And loftier themes than these, shouldst thou ordain :

I'll sing our triumphs won in East and West,

The Parthian shafts back-showered in foul retreat,

Pelusium's forts by Roman steel opprest,
And Antony's self-murder in defeat:" — C.

and that hope he appears to have satisfied in the latter
years of his life by re-editing some of his earlier Roman
poems, and enlarging the list of them by added elegies.
In the first half of the first elegy of his last book
appears a sort of proem to a volume of Roman * Fasti,'
to which were to belonq such elegies as " Vertumnus,"



2sATI0NAL ANNALS AND BIOGRAPHY. 169

"Tarpeia," the "Ara Maxima" of Hercules, and the
"Legend of Jupiter Feretrius," and the " Spolia Opima,"
as well as such stirring later ballads of the empire in
embryo as the " Battle of Actium." It would seem
that the poet was either disinclined for his task or
dissatisfied with his success ; for it is probable that
most of those we have enumerated are but revised
and retouched copies of earlier work, whilst the gems
of the book, " Arethuse to Lycotas " and " Cornelia,"
are in another vein, of another stamp, and, as it seems
to us, of a more mellow and perfect finish. That
Propertius never approached the task of historic elegy
with his whole heart, or even with the liveliness
and versatility with which Ovid afterwards handled
kindred topics in his ' Fasti,' peeps out from the ab-
rupt cutting short of the " Early History of Rome " in
the first elegy, and the supplement to it in a wholly
different vein, where Ave are introduced to a Babylonian
seer, and made acquainted with several data of the
poet's personal history. The earlier portion has been
ascribed to the period before his connection with
Cynthia : the latter, which is not now to our purpose,
belongs to his later revision-period. Perhaps it was
the grandness of the programme that eventually con-
vinced him of its intractability; yet none can regret
that the poet did not burn the half-dozen proofs of
what he might have achieved as a poetic annalist or
legend-weaver. To take for example the first elegy —
from the version of Mr Paley, who in these Roman
elegies is always accurate and often not unpoetical —
there is fancy and picturesqueness in tlie description



170 PROPERTIUS.

of the olden abode of the founders of Rome on the
Palatine, which was twice burnt in the reign of Augus-
tus, but the commemoration of Avhich was dear to the
powers that were in Propertius's day : —

" Where on steps above the valley Remus' cottage rises

high.
Brothers twain one hearthstone made a mighty principality.
By that pile, where now the senate sits in box'dered robes

arrayed,
Once a band of skin -clad fathers, clownish minds, their

council made.
Warned by notes of shepherd's bugle there the old Quirites

met ;
Many a time that chosen hundred congress held in meadows

wet.
O'er the theatre's wide bosom then no flapping awning

swung ;
O'er the stage no saffron essence cool and grateful fragrance

flung.
None cared then for rites external, none did foreign gods

import,
Native sacrifice the simple folk in fear and trembling sought.
No Parilia then the people kept with heaps of lighted hay.
Now with horse's blood we render lustral rites of yesterday."

—(V. i. 10-20.)

The Parilia, or Palilia, were the rural festival already
described in the third chapter of the sketch of Tibullus
(p. 126), and a contrast is intended here between the
rude bonfire of early days and the later lustration, for
which the blood of the October horse was de regie.
The poet proceeds to surround early Pome with all
the proud vaunts of its legendary history — its Dardan
origin, its accretions from the Sabine warriors and



NATIONAL AXNALS AND BIOGRAPHY. 171

Tuscan settlers, its glory in the legend of the she-
wolf: —

" Nought beyond the name to Koman niu'sling from his

kin remains :
Save that from the wolf that reared him wolfish blood he

still retains'" —

a sentiment which Lord Macaulay embodies in his
" Prophecy of Capys:" —

" But thy nurse will bear no master,

Thy nurse will bear no load.

And woe to them that shear her.

And woe to them that goad !

When all the pack, loud baying,

Her bloody lair surrounds.
She dies in silence, biting hard,

Amid the dying hounds."

The historic part of the elegy closes with a fine rhap-
sody, in which its author aspires to the glories of a
nobler Ennius, and repeats his less ambitious claim to
rank as the Roman Callimachus. In the second elegy
of this book, Vertumnus, the god of the changing year,
is introduced to correct wrong notions as to his name,
functions, and mythology, with an evident penchant
for that infant etymology -which is so marked a feature
in the ' Fasti ' of Ovid. In the fourth — a most beauti-
ful and finished elegy — the love-story of Tarpeia, if an
early poem, has been so retouched as to make ns regret
that Propertius had not resolution to go on with his
rivalry of " father" Ennius. It opens with a descrip-
tion of the wooded dell of the Capitoline hill, beneath



172 PROPERTIUS.

the Tarpeian rook where, to the native fancy, La
heJle Tarpeia still is to be seen at intervals, bedecked
with gold and jewels, and dreaming of the Sabine
leader for whose love she was content to prove trai-
tress. To a stream or fountain which it enclosed she
had been wont to repair to draw water for Vesta's
service, and thence chanced to espy Titus Tatius, the
Sabine leader, engaged in martial exercises. With
no sordid thirst of gold, as the Tarpeia of Livy, but
smitten by the kingly form, the maiden lets Vesta's
fire go out in her preoccupied dreams : —

" Oft now the guiltless moon dire omens gave,
Oft to the spring she stole her locks to lave :
Oft silver lilies to the nymphs she bare,
That Roman spear that handsome face might spare : "

and so often did she brood and soliloquise over her
comely knight, that at last her scheme of treachery
took form and substance, and the rural festival, which
was Eome's founder's holiday, aflTorded meet oppor-
tunity for her betrayal of the city by the secret postern,
from which she found daily egress : —

" To slack the watch the chief his guards had told.
The trump to cease, the camp repose to hold.
Their time is hers : Tarpeia seeks the foe,
The contract bmds, herself the road to show.
The ascent was hard, the feasters feared no fraud.
The barking dogs are silenced by the sword :
Fatigue and wine brought slumber : Jove alone
"Wakes that the traitress may her crime atone.
The gate is opened, passed ; the fort betrayed ;
The day of marriage chosen by the maid.



NATIONAL ANNALS AND BIOGRAPHY. 173

But Rome's proud foeman is by honour led :
' Marry,' he cried, ' climb thus my royal bed ! '
He spoke : his comrades' shields upon her thrown,
She sank o'erwhelmed — meet treachery for her own.
From him, the sire, the rock received its name :
He lost a daughter, but he gained a fame."

— (Y. iv. ad fin.) P.

Treachery akin to Tarpeia's is familiar to the reader.s
of the legends of many lands ; and there is in the
Norman-French legend of " Fulk Fitzwarin " in our
own chronicles an account of the capture of Ludlow
Castle, or Dynan, through the treachery of one
jMarion de la Bruere, who was led to it by a secret
passion for a captive knight, Sir Ernald de Lisle.*

We must barely glance at the two poems in which
Propertius, with the same eye to early topography and
to explanatory etymology, recounts the legends of
Hercules and Cacus, and the origin of the title of
Jupiter Feretrius. The former poem has a fine par-
allel in the eighth book of the ' ^Eneid ; ' the latter
strikes the reader as an early effort of the poet, w^hich
would scarcely have been missed if it had not sur-
vived. With the foundation by Hercules of the Ara
ISIaxima after his punishment of Cacus for stealing the
oxen of Geryon, he connects the low part of the city
called the Velabrum (where he and his oxen rested,
and near which Cacus plied his nefarious trade),
through the sails [vela) which the first inhabitants
used to navigate the swamp. The so-called Forum

* See Chronicle of Ralph de Coggeshall, p. 275 ct seq. — Master
of the Rolls' Series.



174 PROPERTIVS.

Boarium of local topography is referred to the lowing
herds in the verses : —

" My oxen, go, my club's last toil,
Twice sought for, twice the victor's spoil.
Give tongue, my beeves, the sounds prolong :
Hence men shall celebrate in song.
For memory of my matchless might,
The Forum from ox-pastures hight."

—(V. ix. 15-20.) P.

And the refusal of the maidens of the cell and spring
of the Bona Dea to admit Hercules to approach, when
athirst, the precincts which no male might enter under
pain of blindness, is made the immediate cause of his
dedicating a mighty altar, turning the tables on the
other sex, and serving by its consecration to com-
memorate the hero's Sabine title of " Sancus."

It may be a fair question whether these learned ety-
mologies are as attractive an element in Propertius's
poetry as the phases of his love, or the praises of
Maecenas and Augustus, to say nothing of the laments
over Pi3etus and young Marcellus. Of the same fibre
as these last-named elegies is the " Battle of Actium,"
in the fifth book, — a sort of Epinician poem of a date
near the end of our poet's life, on the occasion of the
quinquennial Actian games established by Augustus.
As if in act to sacrifice, the poet assumes the functions
of a priest, and prefaces his song of triumph with all
the concomitant ceremonies which Callimachus intro-
duces into his hymns. Our quotation shall be taken
from Mr Paley's translation — when it is fairly launched,
a sample of descriptive poetry of high merit : —



NATIONAL ANNALS AND BIOGRAPHY. 175

" A gulf called Phoebus' Bay retires on Athamanian

shores
Where jient within the Ionian wave no longer chafes and

roars.
Here memories meet of Julian fleet, of deeds at Actiuni

done,
Of safe and easy entrance oft bj' sailors' offerings won.
'Twas here the world's vast armies met ; the pine-built

galleys tall
Seemed rooted in the sea, but not one fortune favoured all.
The one Quirinus, Troy-born god, had with his curse

pursued,
Nor brooked tlie thought of Roman fleets by woman's

lance subdued.
On that side Csesar's fleet, the sails well filled with breezes

free,
And standards that in many a fight had flown victoriously.
Moved now the fleets, in crescents twain, by Nereus' self

arrayed :
The sheen of arms upon the waves in dimpling flashes

played.
Then Phoebus from his Delos came, and bade it wait

awhile
Nor dare to move : for angry winds once bore that floating

isle.
On Caesar's ship astern he stood, and ever and anon
A wondrous sight, a wavy light as from a torch there

shone.
No flowing locks adown his neck the vengeful god had

brought,
Nor on the shell to wake the spell of peaceful music

sought,
But as with looks of death he glared on that Pelopid


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