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LUCILIUS. Among the early Roman poets, of whose writings only fragments have been preserved, Lucilius was second in importance to Ennius. If he did not, like the epic poet of the republic, touch the imagination of his countrymen, and give expression to their highest ideal of national life, he exactly hit their ordinary mood, and expressed the energetic, critical, and combative temper which they carried into political and social life. He was thus regarded as the most genuine literary representative of the pure Roman spirit. The reputation which he enjoyed in the best ages of Roman literature is proved by the terms in which Cicero and Horace speak of him. Persius, Juvenal, and Quintilian vouch for the admiration with which he was regarded in the first century of the empire. The popularity which he enjoyed in his own time is attested by the fact that at his death in 102 B.C., although he had filled none of the offices of state, he received the honour of a public funeral.
His chief claim to distinction is his literary originality. He alone among Roman writers established a new form of composition. He may be called the inventor of poetical satire, as he was the first to impress upon the rude inartistic medley, known to the Romans by the name of satura, that character of aggressive and censorious criticism of persons, morals, manners, polities, literature, &c., which the word satire has ever since denoted. In point of form the satire of Lucilins owed nothing to the Greeks. It was a legitimate development of an indigenous dramatic entertainment, popular among the Romans before the first introduction of the forms of Greek art among them ; and it seems largely also to have employed the form of the familiar epistle which circumstances had developed among them about the time when Lucilius flourished. But the style, substance, and spirit of his writings were apparently as criginal as the form. Ile seems to have commenced hi:, poetical career by ridiculing and parodying the conventional language of epic and tragic poetry, and to have used in his own writings the language commonly employed in the social intercourse of educated men. Even his frequent use of Greek words, phrases, and quotations, reprehended by Horace, was probably taken from the actual practice of men, powerfully stimulated by the new learning, who found their own speech as yet inadequate to give free expression to the new ideas and impressions which they derived from their first contact with Greek philosophy, rhetoric, and poetry. Further, he not only created a style of his own, but, instead of taking the substance of his writings from Greek poetry, or from a remote past, he treated of the familiar matters of daily life, of the personal interests and peculiarities of himself or his contemporaries, of the politics, the wars, the government of the provinces, the administration of justice, the fashions and tastes, the eating and drinking, the money-making and money-spending, the scandals and vices, the airs and affectations, which made up the public and private life of Rome in the•last quarter of the second century before our era. This he did in a singularly frank, independent, and courageous spirit, with no private ambition to serve, or party cause to advance, but with an honest desire to expose the iniquity or incompetence of the governing body, the sordid aims of the middle class, and the corruption and venality of the city mob. There was nothing of stoical austerity or of rhetorical indignation in the tone in which he treated the vices and follies of his time. His character and tastes were much more akin to those of Horace than of either Persius or Juven ii. But he was what Horace was not, a thoroughly good hater ; and he lived at a time when the utmost freedom of speech and the most unrestrained indulgence of public and private animosity were the characteristics of men who took a prominent part in affairs. Although Lucilius took no active part in the public life of his time, he regarded it in the spirit, not of a recluse or a mere student of books, but of a man of the world and of society, as well as a man of letters. His ideal of public virtue and private worth had been formed by intimate association with the greatest and best of the soldiers and statesmen of an older generation.
The dates assigned by Jerome for his birth and death are 148 and 103 or 102 B.C. But it is impossible to reconcile the first of these dates with other facts recorded of him. We learn from Velleius that he served under Scipio at the siege of Numantia in the year 134 B. C. We learn from Horace that he lived on the most intimate terms of friendship with Scipio and Wins, and that he celebrated the exploits and virtues of the former in his satires. Fragments of those books of his satires which seem to have been first given to the world (books xxvi.–xxix.) clearly indicate that they were written in the lifetime of Scipio. Some of these bring the poet before us as either corresponding with, or engaged in controversial conversation with, his great friend. One lineexperience. It may further be said that the well-known words of Horace, in which he characterizes the vivid portraiture of his life, character, and thoughts, which Lucilias bequeathed to the world, " quo fit ut omnis Votiva patcat veluti descripta tobella Vita senis,"i lose much of their force unless seals is to be taken in its ordinary sense, - which it cannot be if Lucilius died at the age of forty-six. Two explanations have been given of the error. One is that, from a similarity in the names of the consuls for the years 180 and 148 sac., Jerome had confused the one year with the other, and thus that the date of the birth of Lucilius must be thrown back thirty-two years. He would tints have been nearly fifty when he served at Numantia, and when he first began to write satire. But the terms which Horace applies to the intimacy verve and tone of his satires are those of a man not so far advanced in years as he would have been if born in the year 180 B.C. A simpler explanation of the error is supported by Mr Munro, in the Journal of Philology, No.- xvi. He supposes that Jerome must have written the words " arm° " for "anno lxiv " or "lxvi"; which would make the birth of Lu-cilius eighteen or twenty years earlier than that usually assigned. Lucilius would thus have been about thirty-three or thirty-five years of age when lie served at Numantia, and two or three years older when lie gave his first satires to the world. As he lived for about thirty years longer, and as he seems to have continued the composition of his satires during most of what remained of his life, and as it was his practice to commit to them all his private thoughts, the words of Horace would naturally and truthfully describe the record of his observation and experience between the age of thirty-five and his death. His birthplace was Snessa Aurunca in Campania, from which circumstance Juvenal describes him as " magnus Auruncm alumnus." He belonged to the equestrian order, a fact indicated by Horace's notice of himself as "infra Lucili censum." He was granduncle to Pompey, on the mother's side. Though not himself belonging to any of the great senatorian families, he was in a position to associate with them on equal terms, and to criticize them with independence. And this circumstance contributed to the boldness, originality, and thoroughly national character of his literary work, Had he been a " semi-Grmcns," like Ennius and Paeuvms, or of humble origin, like Plautus, Terence, or Accius, he would scarcely have ventured, at a time when the senatorian power was strongly in the ascendant., to revive the role which had proved disastrous to Nevins ; nor would he have had the intimate knowledge of the political and social life of his day which fitted him to be its painter. Another circumstance determining the bent of his mind to satire was the character of the time in "which he began the work of his life. The origin of Roman political and social satire is to be traced to the same disturbing and disorganizing forces which led to the revolutionary projects and legislation of the Gracchi.
The remains of Lueilius extend to about eleven hundred lines. But much the largest number of his fragments are unconnected lines, preserved by late grammarians, as illustrative of peculiar verbal usages. He was, for his time, a voluminous as well as a very discursive writer. He left behind him thirty books of satires, and there is reason to believe that each book, like the books of Horace and Juvenal, was composed of different pieces. The order in which they were known to the grammarians was not that in which they were written. The earliest in order of composition were probably those numbered from xxvi. to xxix., which were written in the trochaic end iambic metres that had been employed by Ennius and Pacuvius in their &dune. In these he made those criticisms on the older tragic and epic poets of which, Horace and other ancient writers speak. In them too he speaks of the Numantiue War as recently finished, and of Scipio as still living. Book i., on the other hand, in which the philosopher Carneades, who died in 128 B.C.' is spoken of as dead, most have been written after the death of Scipio. With the exception of books xxvi. - xxix., and one satire in which he seems to have made an experiment in the unfamiliar elegiac metre, all the satires of Lucilins were written in hexameters. So far as an opinion can be formed from a number of unconnected fragments, lie seems to have written the trochaic tetrameter with a smoothness, clearness, and simplicity which lie never attained in handling the hexameter. The longer fragments produce the impression of great discursiveness and carelessness, but at the same time of considerable force. The words of Horace, "fluere Intulentum," seem exactly to express the character of his style. He appears, in the composition of hisvarious pieces, to have followed no settled plan, but to have treated everything that occurred to him in the most desultory fashion, sometimes adopting the form of dialogue, sometimes that of an epistle or an imaginary discourse, and often to have spoken in his own name, giving an account of his travels and adventures, or of amusing scenes that lie had witnessed, or expressing the results of his private meditations and experiences. Like Horace lie largely illustrated his own observations by personal anecdotes and fables. The fragments clearly show how often Horace has imitated him, not only in expression, but in the form of his satires (see for instance i. 5 and ii. 2), in the topics which he treats of, and the class of social vices and the types of character which he satirizes. For students of Latin literature, the chief interest of studying the fragments of Lizeilius consists in the light which they throw on the aims and methods of Horace in the composition of his satires, and, though not to the same extent, of his epistles. But they are important also as materials for linguistic study ; and they have a considerable historical value as throwing light on the feeling, temper, circumstances, and character of a most interesting time, of which there is scarcely any other contemporary record.
The best edition of the Fragments is that of L. Miiller (1872). A collection of them by Lachniann has appeared since his death. The emendation of these fragments still employs the ingenuity of both German and English scholars. Important contributions to the subject have been made by Mr Munro in the Journal of Philology. (W. Y. S.)