Following the statues of the Eponymoi there are images of the gods, Amphiaraus and Eirene carrying the child Ploutos. Here is a bronze statue of Lycurgus son of Lycophron, and Kallias, who made peace (so most of the Athenians say) between the Greeks and Atarxerxes, the son of Xerxes. There is also a statue of Demosthenes, whom the Athenians forced into exile at Kalaureia, an island near Troizen, and whom they welcomed back but banished again following the embarassment in Lamia. In his second exile, Demosthenes went again to Kalaureia, where he drank a poison and died. He is the only Greek exile whom Archias did not lead back to Antipater and the Macedonians. This Archias, who came from Thuria, had set his heart on an unholy work: he rounded up all of the Greeks who had opposed the Macedonians before the Greek defeat in Thessaly and gave them to Antipater to be punished. So the goodwill which Demosthenes felt toward the Athenians came to this. It seems to me to be well said that whenever a man becomes devoted to his polis and relies upon the confidence of the people, he never suffers a good end.
“Sir Adam introduced the ancient Greeks and Romans. JOHNSON. ‘Sir, the mass of both of them were barbarians. The mass of every people must be barbarous where there is no printing, and consequently knowledge is not generally diffused. Knowledge is diffused among our people by the news-papers.’ Sir Adam mentioned the orators, poets, and artists of Greece. JOHNSON. ‘Sir, I am talking of the mass of the people. We see even what the boasted Athenians were. The little effect which Demosthenes’s orations had upon them, shews that they were barbarians.’”
Beyond these people of each type, whom we consider to go wrong and slip into excess either in praise or in contentious wrangling, there are those who are called verbose, and the fault itself is called verbosity. As these people are eager to please and be gratifying, they are indeed not pleasing at all, and offer no pleasure. Indeed, they offer instead annoyance and give birth to a tedium full of exhaustion and satiety, so deceived by their judgment of things and their mountains of words that you don’t even know, from the fact that they either offend or satisfy your ears, whether they should be placed among the contentious or the stupid. But the contentious conduct themselves in such a way as to spare no one, and they don’t care at all whether they offend others. But the verbose have set their aim and intention upon delighting the audience, but while they maintain no measure and offer no delight, they cross over into the camp of the enemy and appear similar to traitors. And so, the verbose are able to please at the beginning and in the middle of the speech occasionally, but they are not held in hatred, and their speeches are refused rather than fled. But the contentious offend everywhere, and all good people direct their hatred at them as they shrink from listening to them, and even hound them with curses.
That Annaeus Seneca, when judging Ennius and Cicero, was possessed of light and silly judgment.
Some think of Seneca as a worthless writer, whose books it is not even worth the effort to touch, because his speech seems vulgar and played-out, while his matter and thoughts are characterized either by a bungling and empty force or a light and rather juridical affectation. His learning, however, is common and plebeian, and has neither the grace nor the dignity of the ancient writers. Though others may not deny that he has too little of elegance in his words, they affirm that he is not lacking a knowledge and understanding of the things which he discusses, in addition to a not unpleasing severity in censuring moral lapses. It is not necessary for me to make a judgment or criticism of his talent or writing as a whole; but I would like to consider the nature of the judgment which he made on Cicero, Ennius, and Vergil. In the twenty-second book of his moral epistles, which he wrote to Lucullus, he says that Ennius wrote these ridiculous verses about that ancient man Cethegus:
He was called by the people once,
who lived about that time,
the special flower of the people, and the marrow of Persuasion.
Then he writes about these same verses, ‘I wonder at the fact that the most eloquent and devoted fans of Ennius have praised this claptrap as fine poetry. Cicero, to be sure, mentions these among Ennius’ best lines.’ He then adds about Cicero himself, ‘I am not surprised that there was a man who could write verses like this since there was also a man who would praise them; but perhaps Cicero, that famous orator, was pleading his own case by praising these, in order to make his own awful verses appear good.’ After this, Seneca adds most foolishly, ‘Even in Cicero’s prose you can find some things, from which it is clear that he did not waste his time when he read Ennius.’ Then he includes an example of the sort of thing which he reprehends in Cicero as being ‘Ennian,’ which he wrote in his book de re publica: ‘Menelaus the Laconian was graced with a sweet-talking charm,’ and in another passage, ‘he cultivates brevity of speech in his oratory.’ Then that clown Seneca has the audacity to make apology for Cicero’s errors by writing, ‘It was not the fault of Cicero himself, but of his times; it was inevitable that one would speak thus, when that sort of thing was commonly read.’ Then he suggests that Cicero included these bits to avoid the charge that his speech was too ornate and polished.
In the same place, he says this of Vergil: ‘Even our own Vergil has, for the same reason, placed certain ugly and unwonted verses which go somewhat beyond the limit, so that his Ennian audience could recognize a little bit of antiquity in his new poem.’
But now I’m sick of Seneca’s words. Nevertheless, I won’t omit to mention these little jokes of that stupid and witless man: ‘There are some verses of Ennius of such great sense that they could, though written among those that smell like goats, could nevertheless please a perfumed audience.’ When he is criticizing the verses about Cethegus which I quoted above, he says, ‘Whoever loves this kind of verse would probably also like the couches of Sotericus.’
Seneca certainly seems worthy for the perusal of adulescents when he compares the dignity and taste of the best ancient poetry to the couches of Sotericus as though they had no grace and were long ago forgotten and condemned. But listen as I remember a few things which Seneca actually said well, such as that which he said about a miser who wanted more money: ‘What does it matter how much money you have? There is always much more which you do not have!’ Was this well-said? Certainly. But good sayings don’t benefit the young as much as bad sayings harm them, and this is especially true when the inferior ones are so much greater in number, and if they are not about some small and simple affair, but a doubtful one which requires serious judgment.
II Quod Annaeus Seneca iudicans de Q. Ennio deque M. Tullio leui futtilique iudicio fuit.
 De Annaeo Seneca partim existimant ut de scriptore minime utili, cuius libros adtingere nullum pretium operae sit, quod oratio eius uulgaria uideatur et protrita, res atque sententiae aut inepto inanique impetu sint aut leui et causidicali argutia, eruditio autem uernacula et plebeia nihilque ex ueterum scriptis habens neque gratiae neque dignitatis. Alii uero elegantiae quidem in uerbis parum esse non infitias eunt, sed et rerum, quas dicat, scientiam doctrinamque ei non deesse dicunt et in uitiis morum obiurgandis seueritatem grauitatemque non inuenustam.  Mihi de omni eius ingenio deque omni scripto iudicium censuramque facere non necessum est; sed quod de M. Cicerone et Q. Ennio et P. Vergilio iudicauit, ea res cuimodi sit, ad considerandum ponemus.  In libro enim uicesimo secundo epistularum moralium, quas ad Lucilium conposuit, deridiculos uersus Q. Ennium de Cetego antiquo uiro fecisse hos dicit:
is dictust ollis popularibus olim, qui tum uiuebant homines atque aeuum agitabant, flos delibatus populi Suada medulla.
 Ac deinde scribit de isdem uersibus uerba haec: ‘Admiror eloquentissimos uiros et deditos Ennio pro optimis ridicula laudasse. Cicero certe inter bonos eius uersus et hos refert.’  Atque id etiam de Cicerone dicit: ‘Non miror’ inquit ‘fuisse, qui hos uersus scriberet, cum fuerit, qui laudaret; nisi forte Cicero summus orator agebat causam suam et uolebat suos uersus uideri bonos.’  Postea hoc etiam addidit insulsissime: ‘Aput ipsum quoque’ inquit ‘Ciceronem inuenies etiam in prosa oratione quaedam, ex quibus intellegas illum non perdidisse operam, quod Ennium legit.’  Ponit deinde, quae apud Ciceronem reprehendat quasi Enniana, quod ita scripserit in libris de republica: ‘ut Menelao Laconi quaedam fuit suauiloquens iucunditas’, et quod alio in loco dixerit: ‘breuiloquentiam in dicendo colat.’  Atque ibi homo nugator Ciceronis errores deprecatur et ‘non fuit’ inquit ‘Ciceronis hoc uitium, sed temporis; necesse erat haec dici, cum illa legerentur.’  Deinde adscribit Ciceronem haec ipsa interposuisse ad effugiendam infamiam nimis lasciuae orationis et nitidae.  De Vergilio quoque eodem in loco uerba haec ponit: ‘Vergilius quoque noster non ex alia causa duros quosdam uersus et enormes et aliquid supra mensuram trahentis interposuit, quam ut Ennianus populus adgnosceret in nouo carmine aliquid antiquitatis.’  Sed iam uerborum Senecae piget; haec tamen inepti et insubidi hominis ioca non praeteribo: ‘Quidam sunt’ inquit ‘tam magni sensus Q. Ennii, ut, licet scripti sint inter hircosos, possint tamen inter unguentatos placere’; et, cum reprehendisset uersus, quos supra de Cetego posuimus: ‘qui huiuscemodi’ inquit ‘uersus amant, liqueat tibi eosdem admirari et Soterici lectos.’  Dignus sane Seneca uideatur lectione ac studio adulescentium, qui honorem coloremque ueteris orationis Soterici lectis compararit quasi minimae scilicet gratiae et relictis iam contemptisque.  Audias tamen commemorari ac referri pauca quaedam, quae idem ipse Seneca bene dixerit, quale est illud, quod in hominem auarum et auidum et pecuniae sitientem dixit: ‘Quid enim refert, quantum habeas? multo illud plus est, quod non habes.’  Benene hoc? sane bene; sed adulescentium indolem non tam iuuant, quae bene dicta sunt, quam inficiunt, quae pessime, multoque tanto magis, si et plura sunt, quae deteriora sunt, et quaedam in his non pro ἐνθυμήματι aliquo rei paruae ac simplicis, sed in re ancipiti pro consilio dicuntur.
Zoilos of Amphipolis, who wrote against Homer, Plato, and others, was once a disciple of Polycrates. This Polycrates is the one who wrote a pamphlet against Socrates. Zoilos was called the Rhetorical Hound. This is what he looked like. His beard fell down from his face, but the hair on his head was cropped close to his skin, and he had a cloak that lay above his knees. He loved to deliver malicious speeches, and he enjoyed being hated by many. His evil spirit was pretty keen on censuring other people. Some other well-educated fellow once asked him why it was that he talked so much trash about everyone, and he responded, ‘As much as I mean to work them ill, I can’t actually harm them.’
They say that Simonides of Ceos and Pausanias the Spartan were once at a dinner party together, and when Pausanias urged Simonides to say something wise, that man of Ceos laughed and said, ‘Remember that you are just human.’ Pausanias thought little of this thought right then, and set it down as essentially worthless, perhaps because he was already blinded by his eagerness for Medizing, or perhaps it is just as likely that he was a bit carried away by the wine. But when it happened that he was in the Bronze House of Athena, struggling with hunger and about to die in the most wretched way possible, he remembered what old Simonides had said and cried out three times, ‘O stranger from Ceos, your advice was a great thing to have, but in my folly I thought that it was nothing.’
“To investigate what everyone, including the most worthless people, ever wrote is an example either of excessive misery or empty ostentation, which both detains and destroys minds which would better be left free for other things. Someone who has shaken off all of the dusty fragments unworthy of reading could just as easily spend their labor upon the tales of old women. The commentaries of grammarians are full of these kinds of pitfalls, and even their authors barely know what is in them. It is said of Didymus, than whom no one ever wrote more, that when he was arguing against some tale as though it were wholly fictitious, his very own book was brought against him, since it contained that very tale. This happens especially in fantastic tales, all the way to the point of absurdity and shame, whence comes the excessive license granted to every knave of inventing things such that they safely lie about entire books and authors as they find it convenient, because those things which never existed cannot naturally be discovered. For, in more generally known matters, the forgers are discovered by curious inquisitors. And so, it seems to me that among the grammarian’s virtues will be numbered not to know some things.”
Persequi quidem quid quis umquam vel contemptissimorum hominum dixerit aut nimiae miseriae aut inanis iactantiae est, et detinet atque obruit ingenia melius aliis vacatura. Nam qui omnis etiam indignas lectione scidas excutit, anilibus quoque fabulis accommodare operam potest: atqui pleni sunt eius modi impedimentis grammaticorum commentarii, vix ipsis qui composuerunt satis noti. Nam Didymo, quo nemo plura scripsit, accidisse compertum est ut, cum historiae cuidam tamquam vanae repugnaret, ipsius proferretur liber qui eam continebat. Quod evenit praecipue in fabulosis usque ad deridicula quaedam, quaedam etiam pudenda, unde improbissimo cuique pleraque fingendi licentia est, adeo ut de libris totis et auctoribus, ut succurrit, mentiantur tuto, quia inveniri qui numquam fuere non possunt: nam in notioribus frequentissime deprenduntur a curiosis. Ex quo mihi inter virtutes grammatici habebitur aliqua nescire.
“Caracalla came to Ilium, and as he visited all of the ruins of the city, he came to the tomb of Achilles. Decorating it lavishly with garlands and flowers, he imitated Achilles again. Seeking a Patroclus, he did something like this. He had a particularly beloved freedman named Festus who was the chief imperial secretary. This man Festus died while Caracalla was in Ilium, and some say that he was taken off by poison so that he could have a funeral like Patroclus, but others say that he simply died of an illness.”
“I, who once perfected poems while my zeal was at its height, am now, in tears, compelled to embrace a sadder metre. Behold! The mangled Muses dictate what I should write, and these elegies drench my face with real tears. These, at least, no terror could deter from following my path as my lone companions. Once the glory of my happy, vibrant youth, they now console me for my fate as a sad old man. Unexpected old age has come, hastened by misfortunes, and pain adds yet another age to that. My hair, grey before its time, falls from my head, and my loose skin trembles on my weakened body. It is a happy death, which does not intrude upon our happy years, but comes when called in our sadder days. Alas! Death turns a deaf ear to the wretched, and in her savagery, refuses to close my crying eyes! While Fortune, hardly faithful, favored me with trifling gifts, one sad hour nearly buried me. Now that she, cloud-like, has changed her deceitful countenance, my accursed life draws on these unpleasing delays. Why, my friends, did you boast so often that I was happy? He who has fallen never had a stable step.”
carmina qui quondam studio florente peregi,
flebilis heu maestos cogor inire modos.
ecce mihi lacerae dictant scribenda Camenae
et ueris elegi fletibus ora rigant.
has saltem nullus potuit peruincere terror,
ne nostrum comites prosequerentur iter.
gloria felicis olim uiridisque iuuentae,
solantur maesti nunc mea fata senis.
uenit enim properata malis inopina senectus
et dolor aetatem iussit inesse suam.
intempestiui funduntur uertice cani
et tremit effeto corpore laxa cutis.
mors hominum felix, quae se nec dulcibus annis
inserit et maestis saepe uocata uenit.
eheu, quam surda miseros auertitur aure
et flentes oculos claudere saeua negat!
dum leuibus male fida bonis fortuna faueret
paene caput tristis merserat hora meum;
nunc quia fallacem mutauit nubila uultum
protrahit ingratas impia uita moras.
quid me felicem totiens iactastis, amici?
qui cecidit, stabili non erat ille gradu.
“His outfit was something between a Phoenician priest’s and the luxury of the Medes. He hated both Roman and Greek dress because they were made of wool, which he said was cheap. He only allowed himself to be adorned with silk, and only went out accompanied by flutes and cymbals as if celebrating the rites of his favorite god.
Julia Maesa was vexed when she saw all this, and with some considerable effort tried to persuade him to put on Roman garb as he was on his way to the city and the senate house, lest he seem to everyone outfitted in something foreign or barbaric and immediately irritate all those who saw him, especially since they were unaccustomed to see things like that, considering that such beautiful finery was more fitting for women than for men. Elagabalus thought little of the advice of the old woman, and was not persuaded by anyone else, because he never allowed anyone to approach him except for those who shared his habits or encouraged his vices.
Hoping, however, to make the Roman people and senate more accustomed to the sight of his dress despite the fact that he was not yet in the city and to see how they would react to the appearance of his outfit, he had a large portrait of himself painted in which he appeared alone strutting forth and performing sacred rites, and set beside it a picture of the god of his land, to whom he was depicted sacrificing. He sent this to Rome, and ordered it to be placed squarely in the middle of the senate house above the statue of Victory, to which visitors in the senate house go to burn incense and pour libations.”
Next, (for hear me out now, readers,) that I may tell ye whither my younger feet wandered; I betook me among those lofty fables and romances, which recount in solemn cantoes the deeds of knighthood founded by our victorious kings, and from hence had in renown over all Christendom. There I read it in the oath of every knight, that he should defend to the expense of his best blood, or of his life, if it so befel him, the honour and chastity of virgin or matron; from whence even then I learned what a noble virtue chastity sure must be, to the defence of which so many worthies, by such a dear adventure of themselves had sworn; and if I found in the story afterward, any of them, by word or deed, breaking that oath, I judged it the same fault of the poet, as that which is attributed to Homer, to have written indecent things of the gods: only this my mind gave me, that every free and gentle spirit, without that oath, ought to be born a knight, nor needed to expect the gilt spur, or the laying of a sword upon his shoulder to stir him up both by his counsel and his arms, to secure and protect the weakness of any attempted chastity. So that even these books, which to many others have been the fuel of wantonness and loose living, I cannot think how, unless by divine indulgence, proved to me so many incitements, as you have heard, to the love and steadfast observation of that virtue which abhors the society of bordelloes.
Thus from the laureat fraternity of poets, riper years and the ceaseless round of study and reading led me to the shady spaces of philosophy; but chiefly to the divine volumes of Plato, and his equal Xenophon: where, if I should tell ye what I learnt of chastity and love, I mean that which is truly so, whose charming cup is only virtue, which she bears in her hand to those who are worthy; (the rest are cheated with a thick intoxicating potion, which a certain sorceress, the abuser of love’s name, carries about;) and how the first and chiefest office of love begins and ends in the soul, producing those happy twins of her divine generation, knowledge and virtue: with such abstracted sublimities as these, it might be worth your listening, readers, as I may one day hope to have ye in a still time, when there shall be no chiding; not in these noises, the adversary, as ye know, barking at the door, or searching for me at the bordelloes, where it may be he has lost himself, and raps up without pity the sage and rheumatic old prelatess, with all her young Corinthian laity, to inquire for such a one. Last of all, not in time, but as perfection is last, that care was ever had of me, with my earliest capacity, not to be negligently trained in the precepts of Christian religion: this that I have hitherto related, hath been to show, that though Christianity had been but slightly taught me, yet a certain reservedness of natural disposition, and moral discipline, learnt out of the noblest philosophy, was enough to keep me in disdain of far less incontinences than this of the bordello.