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JULY, 1911

No. 3


The Origin of the Realistic Romance among the Romans

Suspected Flaws in Homeric Similes

The Manuscripts of Propertius

The Prenuptial Rite in the New Callimachus

The Latin Confixes -ēdon-, -edno-, 'eating'

Concerning the Oratory of Brutus

The Provenance of Jerome's Catalogue of Varro's Works
Notes and Discussions

JOHN A. SCOTT: Nestor's Son Peisistratus in Homer.

HENRY W. PRESCOTT: Marginalia on Apuleius's Metamorphoses.
W. A. MERRILL: Notes on Lucretius.

PAUL SHOREY: Emendations of Porphyry de Abstinentia.
CLARA LOUISE THOMPSON: Notes on Two Compounds of figo.
Book Reviews

By Frank Frost Abbott 257
By A. Shewan 271

By B. L. Ullman 282
By Duane Reed Stuart 302
By Edwin W. Fay 315
By Edward J. Filbey 325
By G. L. Hendrickson 334

ROSTOWZEW, Studien zur Geschichte des römischen Kolonates (Ferguson).—GILDERSLEEVE and MILLER, Syntax of Classical Greek from Homer to Demosthenes (Humphreys).-TAYLOR, Varia Socratica (Shorey). - DUHAIN, Jacques de Tourreil, Traducteur de Démosthène (Shorey).-SEIDENADEL, The First Grammar of the Language Spoken by the Bontoc Igorot (Conant).-BENNETT, Syntax of Early Latin (Hale).-WETMORE, Index Verborum Vergilianus (Rand).-Papers of the British School at Rome (S. B. P.).-SUMMERS, Select Letters of Seneca (Gummere).-APATATEHE, Tò ОeμσтÓкλelov (Miller).-LEUTNER, The Article in Theocritus




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One of the most fascinating and tantalizing problems of literary history concerns the origin of prose fiction among the Romans. We can trace the growth of the epic from its infancy in the third century before Christ as it develops in strength in the poems of Naevius, Ennius, and Cicero until it reaches its full stature in the Aeneid, and then we can see the decline of its vigor in the Pharsalia, the Punica, the Thebais, and Achilleis, until it practically dies a natural death in the mythological and historical poems of Claudian. The way also in which tragedy, comedy, lyric poetry, history, biography, and the other types of literature in prose and verse came into existence and developed among the Romans can be followed with reasonable success. But the origin and early history of the novel is involved in obscurity. The great realistic romance of Petronius of the first century of our era is without a legally recognized ancestor, and has no direct descendant. The situation is the more surprising when we recall its probable size in its original form. Of course only a part of it has come down to us, some one hundred and ten pages in all. Its great size probably proved fatal to its preservation in its complete form, or at least contributed to that end, for it has been estimated that it ran from six hundred to nine hundred pages, being longer therefore than the average novel of Dickens and Scott. Consequently we are not dealing with a bit of ephemeral literature, but with an elaborate [CLASSICAL PHILOLOGY VI, July, 1911]


composition of a high degree of excellence, behind which we should expect to find a long line of development. We are puzzled not so much by the utter absence of anything in the way of prose fiction before the time of Petronius as by the difficulty of establishing any satisfactory logical connection between earlier forms of literature and the romance of Petronius. We are bewildered, in fact, by the various possibilities which the situation presents. The work shows points of similarity with several antecedent forms of composition, but the gaps which lie in any assumed line of descent are so great as to make us question its correctness.

If we call to mind the present condition of this romance and those characteristic features of it which are pertinent to the question at issue, the nature of the problem and its difficulty also will be apparent at once. Out of the original work, in a rather fragmentary form, only four or five main episodes are extant, one of which is the brilliant story of the Dinner of Trimalchio. The action takes place for the most part in southern Italy, and the principal characters are freedmen who have made their fortunes and degenerate freemen who are picking up a precarious living by their wits. The freemen, who are the central figures in the novel, are involved in a great variety of experiences, most of them of a disgraceful sort, and the story is a story of low life. Women play an important rôle in the narrative, more important perhaps than they do in any other kind of ancient literature—at least their individuality is more marked. The efficient motif is erotic. I say the efficient, because the conventional motif which seems to account for all the misadventures of the anti-hero Encolpius is the wrath of an offended deity. A great part of the book has an atmosphere of satire about it which piques our curiosity and baffles us at the same time, because it is hard to say how much of this element is inherent in the subject itself and how much of it lies in the intention of the author. It is the characteristic of parvenu society to imitate smart society to the best of its ability, and its social functions are a parody of the like events in the upper set. The story of a dinner party, for instance, given by such a nouveau riche as Trimalchio would constantly remind us by its likeness and its unlikeness, by its sins of omission and commission, of a similar event in correct society. In other words it would be a parody

on a proper dinner, even if the man who described the event knew nothing about the usages of good society, and with no ulterior motive in mind set down accurately the doings of his upstart characters. For instance, when Trimalchio's chef has three white pigs driven into the dining-room for the ostensible purpose of allowing the guests to pick one out for the next course, with the memory of our own monkey breakfasts and horseback dinners in mind, we may feel that this is a not improbable attempt on the part of a Roman parvenu to imitate his betters in giving a dinner somewhat out of the ordinary. Members of the smart set at Rome try to impress their guests by the value and weight of their silver plate. Why shouldn't the host of our story adopt the more direct and effective way of accomplishing the same object by having the weight of silver engraved on each article? He does so. It is a very natural thing for him to do. In good society they talk of literature and art. Why isn't it natural for Trimalchio to turn the conversation into the same channels, even if he does make Hannibal take Troy and does confuse the epic heroes and some late champions of the gladiatorial ring? In other words, much of that which is satirical in the Satirae of Petronius is so only because we are setting up in our minds a comparison between the doings of these rich freedmen and the requirements of good taste and moderation. But it seems possible to detect a satirical or a cynical purpose on the part of the author carried farther than is involved in the choice of his subject and the realistic presentation of his characters. Petronius seems to delight in putting his most admirable sentiments in the mouths of contemptible characters. Some of the best literary criticism we have of the period he presents through the medium of the parasite rhetorician Agamemnon. That happy phrase characterizing Horace's style, "curiosa felicitas," which has perhaps never been equaled in its brevity and appositeness, is coined by the incorrigible poetaster Eumolpus. It is he too who composes and recites the two rather brilliant epic poems incorporated into the Satirae, one of which is received with a shower of stones by the bystanders. The impassioned eulogy of the careers of Democritus, Chrysippus, Lysippus, and Myron, who had endured hunger, pain, and weariness of body and mind for the sake of science, art, and the good of their fellow-men, and the diatribe against the pursuit of material comforts

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