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Strange, two strong passions in one breast should meet,
2255 Where each seem'd form'd the other to defeat; For fear's tame pinion seldom soars a flight To the proud region of an empire's height: Life's humble vale, where safety dwells, she loves, And flits from palaces to sheltring groves.
2260 Agrippa’s valour won his arms renown,' And soft Mæcenas deck'd his civick crown.*
materially promoted. With his great understanding, inconsistent as it may appear,) he was superstitious; a believer in dreams, signs, and omens. How often are the weaknesses of the silliest of mankind countenanced by similar folly in the wisest! A servant who carried a torch before him, having been struck dead by lightning, he ever after hid himself under ground when it thundered. Had Julius been witness to such an accident, he would have been more confirmed in his indifference to the future danger; reasoning from the improbability that lightning should strike twice so near the same person. The precautions of Octavius for his personal security at home, though they might have been suggested to him by his friends, certainly denote a timorous disposition ; and some of his detestable cruelties can be fairly imputed to no better motive than natural cowardice, which he concealed or subdued in the field, and at the head of an army. -τοσαυτην χε επι παντα και εκεινω [τω Αγριππα] και τω Μαικήνα εξουσιαν
Where'er the poet flattering incense burn'd,
εδωκεν, ωςε σφας και τας επιςολας, ας τε τη βουλη και τους αλλους εγραφε, προαναγινωσκειν, κακ τουτου και μελαγραφειν οσα εζoυλoντo, και δια τουτο και δακυλιον ελαβον παρ' αυτου, να επισφραγιζεθαι αυλας εχωσι. DION. CAss. 1. ii. C. 3.
Julius Cæsar, except in one instance, was always successful, when he commanded in person; Augustus conquered by his lieutenants.
To the great ministers, Agrippa and Mæcenas, was Octavius chiefly obliged, not only for the security of his reign, but for the change of his disposition; for the art of governing mildly, for the adoration of his name and memory, and for his just title to the cognomen of AugusTus, conferred upon him with the approbation of the Roman people. Agrippa was a consummate statesman and soldier, and never known to miscarry in any military enterprise. The empire might almost be called his gift to Octavius. · Cæsaris et famæ vestigia juncta tenebis :
Mæcenatis erunt vera trophæa fides. PROPERT. 1. iii. el. 9. Arts and mankind, not arms, were the study of Mæcenas. Humane and discerning, though apparently voluptuous and effeminate, he understood perfectly every weakness and vice of his master's heart and temper, and the whole extent of his capacity. Availing himself of this knowledge, he turned one of the young Cæsar's most obvious defects, his natural timidity, into the means of his preservation, and finally of his glory. He convinced him that while he ruled only by severity, no vigilance could secure him from danger, but that by setting the example in his own person of encouraging arts, sciences, and literature in all its branches, he might by degrees soften the ferocity of the descendents of Romulus, and excite among them a competition new and harmless,
For well the imperial dastard's soul was known,
which would leave to him the unmolested and unenvied possession of his supreme domination. Here he appears like the good genius of his master, employing the ministration of learned and ingenious men, poets in particular, to humanize a heart, which, left to itself, would have become daily inore indurated and sanguinary. To shelter himself from any jealousy which his own great delegated power and popularity might raise in the suspicious bosom of the emperor, Mæcenas gave kind of delicate pleasure and luxurious indulgence, even beyond the bent of his natural inclination. Thus he preserved his credit, and the power he delighted in, of encouraging and rewarding men of talents and merit.
Much praise is due to Auguftus for choosing such able and excellent ministers, who while they consulted his true interest, endeared him to his people, and were not deterred from the freedom of expostulation by the fear of incurring his momentary displeasure. When Seneca attempts to disparage the memory of Mæcenas, by calling him “ mollem, non mitem,” he sacrifices truth to the prettiness of alliteration. He was the liberal patron of genius; enriched particularly Virgil and Horace, and lived loving and beloved by them on terms of equal and manly friendship. How amiable is the picture of their society, as presented by Horace in the few following words of his ninth satire !
- Non isto vivimus illic
Yet with Mæcenas this renown he shar'd',
3 Quod Flacco, Varioque fuit, summoque Maroni,
Mæcenas, atavis regibus ortus eques,
Martial. l. xii. epigr. f. minimum vati munus Alexis erat. Idem. I. v. epigr. 16.
* Ingenia seculi sui omnibus modis fovit. Recitantes et benigne et patienter audivit; nec tantum carmina et historias, sed et orationes, et dialogos. Suet. in Aug. 89.
· Plane poematum quoque non imperitus, delectabatur etiam comedia veteri, et sæpe eam exhibuit publicis spectaculis. Suet. in Aug. 89.
quum esset in urbe, et propter suas infinitas occupationes minus sæpe, quam vellet, Attico frueretur, nullus dies tamen temerè intercessit, quo non ad eum scriberet, quo non aliquid de antiquitate ab eo requireret; modo aliquam ei questionem poeticam proponeret. CORN. Nep. in Attic.
- ille tua felix Æneidos auctor, --. Ovid. ad Aug. Trist. I. ii. 533. In amicos fidus exstitit; quorum præcipui erant ob taciturnitatem Mæcenas, ob patientiam laboris, modestiamque, Agrippa Diligebat præterea Virgilium. Aur. Victor. epicom.
Nor unprovok’d, nor willingly, he sent
Twice to be weary of his power he feign'd,'
His ? An vereris ne apud posteros infame tibi sit, quod videaris familiaris nobis esse? Aug. Epist. ad Hor. apud Suet. * Esse quidem memini mitissima sedibus illis
Numina. Ovid. Trist. 1. i. el. j. 9 Gallo ad necem compulso, vicem suam conquestas est, quod sibi soli non liceret amicis quatenus vellet irasci. Suet. in Aug. 66.
Cornelius Gallus was by Augustus appointed Prefect of Egypt, a peculiar kind of government, the power and insignia of which were almost kingly. He forgot his obligations to his master, and took so many indiscreet liberties with his name and character, that he lost his government, and was forbid the Court. An infamous informer afterwards accused him of being engaged in a sort of conspiracy against the emperor, of which the prone and servile senators taking cognizance, they sentenced him to banishment and confiscation. He put an end to his own life. Augustus either was or affected to be much grieved at his catastrophe, and displeased at the senate's rigour. Gallus, to whom Virgil has inscribed his tenth pastoral, was a distinguished patron of learning, and the restorer of the Alexandrian Library, which, to the great regret of Julius Cæsar, had been consumed by fire while he was in Egypt. Dion. Cass. 1. lii. 17. 1. liii. 23. Suet. in Aug 66.
'De reddenda republicâ bis cogitavit. Suet. in Aug. 28. See also Dion Cass. 1. lii. pr.