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Seu catus auditur senior, seu prodigus haeres,
Seu procus, aut posita casside miles adest,
Sive decennali foecundus lite patronus
Saepe vafer gnato succurrit servus amanti,
Quid sit amor nescit, dum quoque nescit, amat. Sive cruentatum furiosa Tragoedia sceptrum
Quassat, et effusis crinibus ora rotat;
Interdum et lacrymis dulcis amaror inest:
Seu puer infelix indelibata reliquit
31. Sive decennali foccundus lite patronus Detonat inculto barbara verba foro;1 He probably means the play of Ignoramus. In the expression decennali facundus lite, there is both elegance and humour. Most of the rest of Milton's comic characters are Terentian. He is giving a general view of comedy: but it is the view of a scholar, and he does not recollect that he sets out with describing a London theatre. 31. Mr. Dunster supposes “that his theatre, in this place, “ was his own closet; where, “when fatigued with other “studies, he relaxed with his “favourite dramatic poets.” And he conceives the “sinuosi pompa “ theatri” &c. to be merely the creations of the poet's fancy with the work of some favourite dramatic author before him. E. 37. Sive cruentatum, &c.]
Seu ferus e tenebris iterat Styga criminis ultor, Conscia funereo pectora torre movens;
Aut luit incestos aula Creontis avos. Sed neque sub tecto semper nec in urbe latemus, Irrita nec nobis tempora veris eunt. Nos quoque lucus habet vicina consitus ulmo,
Atque suburbani nobilis umbra loci.
the first instance, Romeo was not torn from joys untasted: although puer and abrupto amore are much in point. The allusions are loose, or resulting from memory, or not intended to tally minutely. 44. Conscia funereo pectora torre movens;] Mr. Steevens suggests, that the allusion is to Ate in the old play of Locrine, where she enters with a torch in her hand, and where the motto to the Scene is, In paena sectatur et umbra. 48. Irrita nec nobis tempora veris eunt.] Ovid, Fast. ii. 150.
—Primi tempora veris eunt.
49. Nos quoque lucus habet vicina consitus ulmo, The gods had their favourite trees. So have the poets. Milton's is the elm. In L'Allegro, v. 57.
Some time walking not unseen
In Arcades, v. 89.
Or 'gainst the rugged bark of some broad elm Leans her unpillow’d head.
In the Epitaphium Damonis, v. 15.
—simul assueta sedilaue subulio.
The country about Colnebrook impressed Milton with a predilection for this tree. See the Inext note.
50. Atque suburbani nobilis umbra loci..] Some country house of Milton's father very near London is here intended, of which we have now no notices. A letter to Alexander Gill is dated “ E nostro Suburbano “ Decem. 4, 1634.” Prose Works, vol. ii. 567. In the Apology for Smectymnuus, published 1642, he says to his opponent, “that “suburb wherein I dwell shall “be in my account a more “honourable place than his “ University.” Prose Works, i. 109. His father had purchased the estate at Colnebrook before 1632. In a letter to Deodate, from London, dated 1637, he says, “Dicam jam nunc serio “quid cogitem, in Hospitium “Juridicorum aliquod immi“grare, sicubiamoena et umbrosa “ambulatio est, &c. Ubi nunc “ sum, ut nosti, obscure et anguste “ sum.” Prose Works, vol. ii. 569. In an academic Prolusion, written perhaps not far from the time of writing this Elegy, is the following passage, “Testor ipse “lucos, et flumina, et dilectas “ villarum ulmos, sub quibus “aestate proxime praeterita, si “ deorum arcana eloqui liceat, “summam cum Musis gratiam “habuisse me, jucunda memoria “ recolo, &c.” Prose Works, vol. ii. 602. 55. Ah quoties vidi, &c.) Ovid, Epist. Heroid. ix. 79. Ah quoties digitis, &c. Buchanan, El. vi. p. 43. edit, ut supr. —Superantia lumine flammas. 58. Quaeque fluit puro nectare tincta via;] Here is a peculiar antique formula, as in the following instances. Virgil, AEn. i. 573. Urbem quam statuo vestra est.
Saepius hic, blandas spirantia sidera flammas,
Ah quoties dignae stupui miracula formae,
Ah quoties widi superantia lumina gemmas,
Atque faces, quoto.uot volvit utergue polus; Collaque bis vivi Pelopis quae brachia vincant,
Quaeque fluit puro nectare tincta via ; Et decus eximium frontis, tremulosque capillos,
Aurea quae fallax retia tendit Amor ;
Pellacesque genas, ad quas hyacinthina sordet
Cedite laudatae toties Heroides olim,
Cedite Achaemeniae turrita fronte puellae,
55 60 65 Propertius, Indue qua primum cepisti veste Properti Lumina,
Terence, Eunuch. iv. iii. 11.
Eunuchum quem dedisti mihi quas turbas dedit.
See also Phormio, v. vii. 54. Many more might be given. Compare the very learned Bishop Newcome's Preface to the Minor Prophets, p. xxxiv. Lond. 1785. 4to. . . 63. Cedite laudatae toties Heroides olim, &c.] Ovid, Art. Amator. i. 713. Jupiter ad veteres supplex Heroidas ibat, Corripuit magnum nulla puella Jovem. 65. Cedite Achaemeniae turrita fronte puellae, Achaemenia is a part of Persia, so called from Achaemenes the son of Ægeus.
Et quot Susa colunt, Memnoniamque Ninon; Vos etiam Danaae fasces submittite Nymphae,
Et vos Iliacae, Romulea-que nurus: Nec Pompeianas Tarpeia Musa columnas
Gloria Virginibus debetur prima Britannis,
The women of this country wear a high head-dress. See Sandys's Travels. And the next note. 66. Et quot Susa colunt, Memnoniangue Ninon;] Susa [Susarum], anciently a capital city of Susiana in Persia, conquered by Cyrus. Xerxes marched from this city, to enslave Greece, “From Susa, his Memnonian “palace high.” Par. L. x. 308. It is now called Souster. Propert. ii. xiii. i. Non tot Achaemeniis armantur Susa sagittis. Ninos is a city of Assyria, built by Ninus; Memnon, a hero of the Iliad, had a palace there, and was the builder of Susa. Milton is alluding to oriental beauty. In the next couplet, he challenges the ladies of ancient Greece, Troy, and Rome. 69. Nec Pompeianas Tarpeia Musa, &c.] The poet has a retrospect to a long passage in Ovid, who is here called Tarpeia Musa, either because he had a house adjoining to the Capitol, or by way of distinction, that he was the Tarpeian, the genuine Roman muse. It is in Ovid's Art of Love, where he directs his votary Venus to frequent the portico of Pompey, or the Theatre, places at Rome, among
others, where the most beautiful women were assembled. B. i. 67. Tu modo Pompeii lentus spatiare sub umbra, &c. And v. 89. Sed tu praecipue curvis venare theatris, &c. See also, b. iii. 387. Propertius says that Cynthia had deserted this famous portico, or colonnade, of Pompey, ii. xxxii. 11. Scilicet umbrosis sordet Pompeia columnis Porticus, aulaeis nobilis Attalicis, &c. Where says the old scholiast, “Romae erat Porticus Pompeia, “soli arcendo accommodata, sub “qua aestivo potissimum tem“ pore matronae spatiabantur.” See also iv. viii. 75. Other proofs occur in Catullus, Martial, and Statius. Pompey's theatre and portico were contiguous. The words Ausoniis stolisimply literally the theatre filled “with “ the ladies of Rome.” But Stola properly points out a matron. See Note on Il Pens. v. 35. And
Scripsimus haec istis, quarum mec vitta pudicos Contingit crines, nec stola longa pedes. And compare Heinsius on Ovid, Fast. vi. 645.
Quicquid formosi pendulus orbis habet.
Endymioneae turba ministra deae,
Creditur huc geminis venisse invecta columbis
Huic Cnidon, et riguas Simoentis flumine valles,
Moenia quam subito linquere fausta paro;
Atria, divini Molyos usus ope,
Interea fidi parvum cape munus amici,
rushy marshes of Cam.
See v. 13, 14. And notes on Lycid. v. 105.
92. The Rowana of Alabaster has been mentioned by Dr. Johnson as a Latin composition, equal to the Latin poetry of Milton: whoever but slightly examines it, will find it written in the style and manner of the turgid and unnatural Seneca. It was printed by the author himself at London, 1632. Yet it was written forty years before, 1592, and there had been a surreptitious edition. It is remarkable, that Mors, Death, is one of the persons of the Drama. Dr. J. Warton.