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MARIUS THE EPICUREAN



MARIUS
THE EPICUREAN

HIS SENSATIONS AND IDEAS



BY



WALTER PATER



Xei/iepivbs oveipo?, ore [xii)Ki(Trai at vvktcs



VOLUME II



MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED
ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON

1920



COPYRIGHT

First Edition, February 1885

Second Edition, November 1885

'ion, 1892

v >-th Edition, 1898

Reprinted 1899, 1900, 1901

Fifth Edition, February 1902

Reprinted November 1902, 1903, 1904, 1907, 1909

Edition de Luxe, 1900

Library Edition, 1910

Reprinted ign, i 9 i 3> I9I4| , 9 , 7> ,5,8, I920



5-134

V\ i o
CONTENTS



PART THE THIRD



15. STOICISM AT COURT

16. SECOND THOUGHTS

17. BEATA URBS

18. "THE CEREMONY OF THE DART"

19. THE WILL AS VISION



PAGE
3

29

41

57



PART THE FOURTH

20. TWO CURIOUS HOUSES— 1. GUESTS .
xi. TWO CURIOUS HOUSES— 2. THE CHURCH IN
CECILIA'S HOUSE

22. "THE MINOR PEACE OF THE CHURCH "

23. DIVINE SERVICE

24. A CONVERSATION NOT IMAGINARY .

25. SUNT LACRIM^; RERUM .

26. THE MARTYRS ....

27. THE TRIUMPH OF MARCUS AURELIUS

28. ANIMA NATURALITER CHRISTIANA



75

92
109
128

141
172
186
197
208



±±0 ( ?u±



a






PART THE THIRD



P. Ill B &



CHAPTER XV



STOICISM AT COURT



The very finest flower of the same company —
Aurelius with the gilded fasces borne before him,
a crowd of exquisites, the empress Faustina her-
self, and all the elegant blue -stockings of the
day, who maintained, people said, their private
" sophists " to whisper philosophy into their ears
winsomely as they performed the duties of the
toilet — was assembled again a few months later,
in a different place and for a very different
purpose. The temple of Peace, a " modernis-
ing " foundation of Hadrian, enlarged by a
library and lecture-rooms, had grown into an
institution like something between a college and
a literary club ; and here Cornelius Fronto was to
pronounce a discourse on the Nature of Morals.
There were some, indeed, who had desired the
emperor Aurelius himself to declare his whole
mind on this matter. Rhetoric was become
almost a function of the state : philosophy was
upon the throne ; and had from time to time, by

3



MARIUS THE EPICUREAN

request, delivered an official utterance with well-
nigh divine authority. And it was as the delegate
of this authority, under the full sanction of the
philosophic emperor — emperor and pontiff, that
the aged Fronto purposed to-day to expound
some parts of the Stoic doctrine, with the view
of recommending morals to that refined hut
perhaps prejudiced company, as being, in effect,
one mode of comeliness in things — as it were
music, or a kind of artistic order, in life. And
he did this earnestly, with an outlay of all his
science of mind, and that eloquence of which he
was known to be a master. For Stoicism was no
longer a rude and unkempt thing. Received at
court, it had largely decorated itself: it was
grown persuasive and insinuating, and sought not
only to convince men's intelligence but to allure
their souls. Associated with the beautiful old
age of the great rhetorician, and his winning
voice, it was almost Epicurean. And the old
man was at his best on the occasion ; the last on
which he ever appeared in this way. To-day
was his own birthday. Early in the morning the
imperial letter of congratulation had reached
him ; and all the pleasant animation it had caused
was in his face, when assisted by his daughter
Gratia he took his place on the ivory chair, as
president of the Athenceum of Rome, wearing
with a wonderful grace the philosophic pall, — in
reality neither more nor less than the loose
woollen cloak of the common soldier, but fastened

4



STOICISM AT COURT

on his right shoulder with a magnificent clasp,
the emperor's birthday gift.

It was an age, as abundant evidence shows,
whose delight in rhetoric was but one result of a
general susceptibility — an age not merely taking
pleasure in words, but experiencing a great moral
power in them. Fronto's quaintly fashionable
audience would have wept, and also assisted with
their purses, had his present purpose been, as
sometimes happened, the recommendation of an
object of charity. As it was, arranging them-
selves at their ease among the images and flowers,
these amateurs of exquisite language, with their
tablets open for careful record of felicitous word
or phrase, were ready to give themselves wholly
to the intellectual treat prepared for them,
applauding, blowing loud kisses through the air
sometimes, at the speaker's triumphant exit from
one of his long, skilfully modulated sentences ;
while the younger of them meant to imitate
everything about him, down to the inflections of
his voice and the very folds of his mantle.
Certainly there was rhetoric enough : — a wealth
of imagery ; illustrations from painting, music,
mythology, the experiences of love ; a manage-
ment, by which subtle, unexpected meaning was
brought out of familiar terms, like flies from
morsels of amber, to use Fronto's own figure.
But with all its richness, the higher claim of his
style was rightly understood to lie in gravity
and self-command, and an especial care for the

5



MAR1US THE EPICUREAN

purities of a vocabulary which rejected every
expression unsanctioned by the authority of
approved ancient models.

And it happened with Marius, as it will
sometimes happen, that this general discourse to
a general audience had the effect of an utterance
adroitly designed for him. His conscience still
vibrating painfully under the shock of that scene
in the amphitheatre, and full of the ethical
charm of Cornelius, he was questioning himself
with much impatience as to the possibility of an
adjustment between his own elaborately thought-
out intellectual scheme and the "old morality."
In that intellectual scheme indeed the old
morality had so far been allowed no place, as
seeming to demand from him the admission of
certain first principles such as might misdirect or
retard him in his efforts towards a complete,
many-sided existence ; or distort the revelations
of the experience of life ; or curtail his natural
liberty of heart and mind. But now (his
imagination being occupied for the moment
with the noble and resolute air, the gallantry, so
to call it, which composed the outward mien and
presentment of his strange friend's inflexible
ethics) he felt already some nascent suspicion of
his philosophic programme, in regard, precisely,
to the question of good taste. There was the
taint of a graceless " antinomianism " perceptible
in it, a dissidence, a revolt against accustomed
modes, the actual impression of which on other

6



STOICISM AT COURT

men might rebound upon himself in some loss of
that personal pride to which it was part of his
theory of life to allow so much. And it was
exactly a moral situation such as this that Fronto
appeared to be contemplating. He seemed to
have before his mind the case of one — Cyrenaic
or Epicurean, as the courtier tends to be, by
habit and instinct, if not on principle — who yet
experiences, actually, a strong tendency to moral
assents, and a desire, with as little logical incon-
sistency as may be, to find a place for duty and
righteousness in his house of thought.

And the Stoic professor found the key to this
problem in the purely aesthetic beauty of the old
morality, as an element in things, fascinating to
the imagination, to good taste in its most highly
developed form, through association — a system or
order, as a matter of fact, in possession, not only
of the larger world, but of the rare minority of
elite intelligences ; from which, therefore, least
of all would the sort of Epicurean he had in view
endure to become, so to speak, an outlaw. He
supposed his hearer to be, with all sincerity, in
search after some principle of conduct (and it was
here that he seemed to Marius to be speaking
straight to him) which might give unity of
motive to an actual rectitude, a cleanness and
probity of life, determined partly by natural
affection, partly by enlightened self-interest or
the feeling of honour, due in part even to the
mere fear of penalties ; no element of which.



MAR1US THE EPICUREAN

however, was distinctively moral in the agent
himself as such, and providing him, therefore,
no common ground with a really moral being like
Cornelius, or even like the philosophic emperor.
Performing the same offices ; actually satisfying,
even as they, the external claims of others ;
rendering to all their dues — one thus circum-
stanced would be wanting, nevertheless, in the
secret of inward adjustment to the moral agents
around him. Plow tenderly — more tenderly
than many stricter souls — he might yield himself
to kindly instinct ! what fineness of charity in
passing judgment on others ! what an exquisite
conscience of other men's susceptibilities ! He
knows for how much the manner, because the
heart itself, counts, in doing a kindness. He
goes beyond most people in his care for all
weakly creatures ; judging, instinctively, that to
be but sentient is to possess rights. He con-
ceives a hundred duties, though he may not call
them by that name, of the existence of which
purely duteous souls may have no suspicion. He
has a kind of pride in doing more than they, in a
way of his own. Sometimes, he may think that
those men of line and rule do not really under-
stand their own business. How narrow, inflex-
ible, unintelligent ! what poor guardians (he may
reason) of the inward spirit of righteousness, are
some supposed careful walkers according to its
letter and form. And yet all the while he
admits, as such, no moral world at all : no

8



STOICISM AT COURT

theoretic equivalent to so large a proportion of
the facts of life.

But, over and above such practical rectitude,
thus determined by natural affection or self-love
or fear, he may notice that there is a rem-
nant of right conduct, what he does, still
more what he abstains from doing, not so much
through his own free election, as from a defer-
ence, an " assent," entire, habitual, unconscious,
to custom — to the actual habit or fashion of
others, from whom he could not endure to
break away, any more than he would care to
be out of agreement with them on questions
of mere manner, or, say, even, of dress. Yes !
there were the evils, the vices, which he avoided
as, essentially, a failure in good taste. An assent,
such as this, to the preferences of others, might
seem to be the weakest of motives, and the
rectitude it could determine the least consider-
able element in a moral life. Yet here, accord-
ing to Cornelius Fronto, was in truth the
revealing example, albeit operating upon com-
parative trifles, of the general principle required.
There was one great idea associated with which
that determination to conform to precedent was
elevated into the clearest, the fullest, the
weightiest principle of moral action ; a principle
under which one might subsume men's most
strenuous efforts after righteousness. And he
proceeded to expound the idea of Humanity — of
a universal commonwealth of mind, which

9



MARIUS THE EPICUREAN

becomes explicit, and as if incarnate, in a select
communion otjust men made perfect.

'O Koafios daaitl TroXts <e<ttiv — the world is as
it were a commonwealth, a city : and there are
observances, customs, usages, actually current
in it, things our friends and companions will
expect of us, as the condition of our living there
with them at all, as really their peers or fellow-
citizens. Those observances were, indeed, the
creation of a visible or invisible aristocracy in
it, whose actual manners, whose preferences
from of old, become now a weighty tradition
as to the way in which things should or should
not be done, are like a music, to which the
intercourse of life proceeds — such a music as
no one who had once caught its harmonies
would willingly jar. In this way, the becoming,
as in Greek. — to irpk-nov : or to, rjOrj, mores, manners,
as both Greeks and Romans said, would indeed
be a comprehensive term for duty. Righteous-
ness would be, in the words of " Caesar ,: ' himself,
of the philosophic Aurelius, but a ''following
of the reasonable will of the oldest, the most
venerable, of cities, of polities — of the royal, the
law-giving element, therein — forasmuch as we
are citizens also in that supreme city on high,
of which all other cities beside are but as single
habitations." But as the old man spoke with
animation of this supreme city, this invisible
society, whose conscience was become explicit
in its inner circle of inspired souls, of whose

10



STOICISM AT COURT

common spirit, the trusted leaders of human
conscience had been but the mouthpiece, of
whose successive personal preferences in the
conduct of life, the " old morality " was the sum,
— Marius felt that his own thoughts were pass-
ing beyond the actual intention of the speaker;
not in the direction of any clearer theoretic or
abstract definition of that ideal commonwealth,
but rather as if in search of its visible locality and
abiding-place, the walls and towers of which,
so to speak, he might really trace and tell,
according to his own old, natural habit of mind.
It would be the fabric, the outward fabric, of
a system reaching, certainly, far beyond the
great city around him, even if conceived in all
the machinery of its visible and invisible
influences at their grandest — as Augustus or
Trajan might have conceived of them — however
well the visible Rome might pass for a figure
of that new, unseen, Rome on high. At
moments, Marius even asked himself with
surprise, whether it might be some vast secret
society the speaker had in view : — that august
community, to be an outlaw from which, to
be foreign to the manners of which, was a loss so
much greater than to be excluded, into the ends
of the earth, from the sovereign Roman common-
wealth. Humanity, a universal order, the great
polity, its aristocracy of elect spirits, the mastery
of their example over their successors — these
were the ideas, stimulating enough in their way,

ii



MAR1US THE EPICUREAN

by association with which the Stoic professor had
attempted to elevate, to unite under a single
principle, men's moral efforts, himself lifted up
with so genuine an enthusiasm. But where
might Marius search for all this, as more than an
intellectual abstraction ? Where were those
elect souls in whom the claim of Humanity
became so amiable, winning, persuasive — whose
footsteps through the world were so beautiful
in the actual order he saw — whose faces averted
from him, would be more than he could bear ?
Where was that comely order, to which as a
great fact of experience he must give its due ; to
which, as to all other beautiful "phenomena"
in life, he must, for his own peace, adjust
himself?

Rome did well to be serious. The discourse
ended somewhat abruptly, as the noise of a great
crowd in motion was heard below the walls ;
whereupon, the audience, following the humour
of the younger element in it, poured into the
colonnade, from the steps of which the famous
procession, or transvectio, of the military knights
was to be seen passing over the Forum, from
their trysting-place at the temple of Mars, to
the temple of the Dioscuri. The ceremony took
place this year, not on the day accustomed —
anniversary of the victory of Lake Regillus,
with its pair of celestial assistants — and amid
the heat and roses of a Roman July, but, by

I 2



STOICISM AT COURT

anticipation, some months earlier, the almond-
trees along the way being still in leafless flower.
Through that light trellis-work, Marius watched
the riders, arrayed in all their gleaming orna-
ments, and wearing wreaths of olive around
their helmets, the faces below which, what
with battle and the plague, were almost all
youthful. It was a flowery scene enough, but
had to-day its fulness of war-like meaning ; the
return of the army to the North, where the
enemy was again upon the move, being now
imminent. Cornelius had ridden along in his
place, and, on the dismissal of the company,
passed below the steps where Marius stood, with
that new song he had heard once before floating
from his lips.



13



CHAPTER XVI



SECOND THOUGHTS



And Marius, for his part, was grave enough.
The discourse of Cornelius Fronto, with its
wide prospect over the human, the spiritual,
horizon, had set him on a review — on a review
of the isolating narrowness, in particular, of his
own theoretic scheme. Long after the very
latest roses were faded, when " the town ' had
departed to country villas, or the baths, or the
war, he remained behind in Rome ; anxious to
try the lastingness of his own Epicurean rose-
garden ; setting to work over again, and
deliberately passing from point to point of his
old argument with himself, down to its practical
conclusions. That age and our own have much
in common — many difficulties and hopes. Let
the reader pardon me if here and there I seem to
be passing from Marius to his modern representa-
tives — from Rome, to Paris or London.

What really were its claims as a theory of
practice, of the sympathies that determine

14



SECOND THOUGHTS

practice ? It had been a theory, avowedly, of
loss and gain (so to call it) of an economy. If,
therefore, it missed something in the commerce
of life, which some other theory of practice was
able to include, if it made a needless sacrifice,
then it must be, in a manner, inconsistent with
itself, and lack theoretic completeness. Did it
make such a sacrifice ? What did it lose, or
cause one to lose ?

And we may note, as Marius could hardly
have done, that Cyrenaicism is ever the char-
acteristic philosophy of youth, ardent, but narrow
in its survey — sincere, but apt to become one-
sided, or even fanatical. It is one of those sub-
jective and partial ideals, based on vivid, because
limited, apprehension of the truth of one aspect
of experience (in this case, of the beauty of the
world and the brevity of man's life there) which
it may be said to be the special vocation of the
young to express. In the school of Cyrene, in
that comparatively fresh Greek world, we see
this philosophy where it is least blase, as we say ,
in its most pleasant, its blithest and yet perhaps
its wisest form, youthfully bright in the youth of
European thought. But it grows young again
for a while in almost every youthful soul. It is
spoken of sometimes as the appropriate utterance
of jaded men ; but in them it can hardly be
sincere, or, by the nature of the case, an enthusi-
asm. " Walk in the ways of thine heart, and in
the sight of thine eyes," is, indeed, most often,

»5



MAR1US THE EPICUREAN

according to the supposition of the book from
which I quote it, the counsel of the young, who
feel that the sunshine is pleasant along their veins,
and wintry weather, though in a general sense
foreseen, a long way off. The youthful enthusi-
asm or fanaticism, the self-abandonment to one
favourite mode of thought or taste, which occurs,
quite naturally, at the outset of every really
vigorous intellectual career, finds its special
opportunity in a theory such as that so carefully
put together by Marius, just because it seems to
call on one to make the sacrifice, accompanied
by a vivid sensation of power and will, of what
others value — sacrifice of some conviction, or
doctrine, or supposed first principle — for the sake
of that clear-eyed intellectual consistency, which
is like spotless bodily cleanliness, or scrupulous
personal honour, and has itself for the mind of
the youthful student, when he first comes to
appreciate it, the fascination of an ideal.

The Cyrenaic doctrine, then, realised as a
motive of strenuousness or enthusiasm, is not so
properly the utterance of the "jaded Epicurean,"
as of the strong young man in all the freshness
of thought and feeling, fascinated by the notion
of raising his life to the level of a daring theory,
while, in the first genial heat of existence, the
beauty of the physical world strikes potently
upon his wide-open, unwearied senses. He
discovers a great new poem every spring, with a
hundred delightful things he too has felt, but

16



SECOND THOUGHTS

which have never been expressed, or at least
never so truly, before. The workshops of the
artists, who can select and set before us what is
really most distinguished in visible life, are open
to him. He thinks that the old Platonic, or
the new Baconian philosophy, has been better
explained than by the authors themselves, or
with some striking original development, this
very month. In the quiet heat of early summer,
on the dusty gold morning, the music comes,
louder at intervals, above the hum of voices
from some neighbouring church, among the
flowering trees, valued now, perhaps, only for
the poetically rapt faces among priests or wor-
shippers, or the mere skill and eloquence, it may
be, of its preachers of faith and righteousness.
In his scrupulous idealism, indeed, he too feels
himself to be something of a priest, and that
devotion of his days to the contemplation of
what is beautiful, a sort of perpetual religious
service. Afar off, how many fair cities and
delicate sea-coasts await him ! At that age,
with minds of a certain constitution, no very
choice or exceptional circumstances are needed
to provoke an enthusiasm something like this.
Life in modern London even, in the heavy glow
of summer, is stuff sufficient for the fresh
imagination of a youth to build its " palace of
art' of; and the very sense and enjoyment of
an experience in which all is new, are but en-
hanced, like that glow of summer itself, by the
p. in 17 c



MARIUS THE EPICUREAN

thought of its brevity, giving him something of
a gambler's zest, in the apprehension, by dex-
terous act or diligently appreciative thought, of
the highly coloured moments which are to pass
away so quickly. At bottom, perhaps, in his
elaborately developed self-consciousness, his
sensibilities, his almost fierce grasp upon the
things he values at all, he has, beyond all others,
an inward need of something permanent in its
character, to hold by : of which circumstance,
also, he may be partly aware, and that, as with
the brilliant Claudio in Measure for Measure, it
is, in truth, but darkness he is, " encountering,
like a bride." But the inevitable falling of the
curtain is probably distant ; and in the daylight,
at least, it is not often that he really shudders at
the thought of the grave — the weight above,
the narrow world and its company, within.
When the thought of it does occur to him, he
may say to himself: — Well ! and the rude
monk, for instance, who has renounced all this,
on the security of some dim world beyond it,
really acquiesces in that " fifth act," amid all the
consoling ministries around him, as little as I
should at this moment ; though I may hope,
that, as at the real ending of a play, however
well acted, I may already have had quite enough
of it, and find a true well-being in eternal sleep.
And precisely in this circumstance, that,
consistently with the function of youth in


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