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648. Mæonian star = Homer, who is supposed by some to have been born in Mæonia, a district in Asia Minor. Aristotle derived many of his elements of criticism from Homer.
652. Who conquered nature= Aristotle, the greatest naturalist of his day. He wrote a Natural History, Physics, and Astronomy, in addition to his metaphysical treatises.
665. Dionysius was a learned critic and rhetorician, as well as historian. He was born at Halicarnassus, about 50 B.C., but came to Rome in early manhood, where he spent the remainder of his life. Among his critical works the principal are Censura Veterum Scriptorum, Ars Rhetorica, and De Compositione Verborum, which are said to possess high literary
667. Petronius: = a Roman voluptuary at the court of Nero, whose profligacy is said to have been of the most elegant description. He had charge of the royal entertainments. He is the author, it is believed, of a work entitled Petronii Arbitri Satyricon, which gives a horrible picture of the depravity of the times.
669. Quintilian = a celebrated teacher of rhetoric and oratory at Rome. He was born in Spain in 40 A.D. His chief work, entitled De Institutione Oratoria, is a complete system of rhetoric. He stood high in the favor of the Emperor Domitian.
675. Longinus a Platonic philosopher and famous rhetorician, who was born, according to some, in Syria, and, according to others, in Athens, about 213 A.D. His knowledge was so extensive that he was called a "living library" and a "walking museum;" hence Pope speaks of him as inspired of all the nine Muses. He was probably the best critic of antiquity. The only work that has come down to us is a treatise "On the Sublime."
692. Goths = a powerful Germanic nation that had no small part in the destruction of the Roman Empire.
693. Erasmus = a distinguished scholar of the period of the Reformation. He was born at Rotterdam in 1467. He became a monk, but afterwards was absolved from his monastic vows by the pope. He did much to promote the revival of learning. His best-known work is his Colloquia, which contains a vigorous denunciation of monastic life, festivals, and pilgrimages. The best scholar, perhaps, of his day.
696. Vandals monks. The Vandals were a famous race of European barbarians, probably of Germanic origin. They successively overran Gaul, Spain, and Italy. In 455 A.D. they plundered Rome; and the manner in which they mutilated and destroyed the works of art in the city has originated the term vandalism.
697. Leo Leo X., who reigned as pope from 1513 to 1521. He was a patron of learning and art, and his court was the meeting-point of all the
scholars of Italy and the world. During his pontificate the Reformation began, which he at first described as "a squabble among the friars."
704. Raphael was born in 1483, and died in 1520. He is ranked almost by universal opinion as the greatest of painters. He was employed by Leo X., who kept his great powers constantly in exercise. The great frescoes of the Vatican are his work. Vida was a learned Latinist and profound scholar, as well as poet. He was born at Cremona, near Mantua, the birthplace of Virgil, in 1485. Among his best-known works is De Arte Poetica, to which the poet here refers. 714. Boileau
= an illustrious French poet, born near Paris in 1636. As a sage critic, he exerted an immense influence upon French literature. Voltaire pronounced him "the legislator of Parnassus." In 1674 he published L'Art Poétique, which Pope has imitated in the present poem.
723. Such was the muse, etc. A reference to the Duke of Buckingham's "Essay on Poetry."
the Earl of Roscommon, born in Ireland in 1634. He wrote an "Essay on Translated Verse," and rendered Horace's Ars Poetica into English blank verse.
William Walsh, a poet, man of fashion, and member of Parliament. He was a friend of both Dryden and Pope. He published, in 1691, a Dialogue concerning Women," in prose. See the sketch of Pope for an account of their relationship.