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BRIEF HISTORY OF THE MOST CELEBRATED ANCIENT POETS.

Hesiod, the first of the poets, was of 1, beauty. Her style was amorous and pasa very illustrious lineage, being descended | sionate, but inimitable: she invented the from Orpheus, and a near kinsman of thé use of the bow belonging to the harp, celebrated Homer. It is reported that the which has been of great advantage to its fanıily of Hesiod was very rich, but his fa tone. She fell a victim to her unrequited ther, having been rather prodigal, so en love for Phaon. She has been universally tangled his affairs, that not being able to styled the tenth muse. live at the expence he was accustomed to, Thespis was a composer of 'tragedies, he left Cuma, where lie formerly dwelt, and was much famed for works of that and went into Baotia, Hesiod had a bro kind. ther named Perses, who differed very

much The Odes of Pindar were so sweet, that from him. Hesiod was a great writer, and it was fabled of him, that while he was an Perses a most wretched poet. Dius, the infant in his cradle, the bees made honey on father of Hesiod, had contracted a particular his mouth. He was a poet of the first friendship with an eminent priest of the order, and obtained immortal glory and Muses at Mount Helicon, which being pe- honour, even from every other poet who culiarly consecrated to them and Apollo, came after him. The sublimity of his style all the considerable people in Greece used was very difficult to imitate : lofty, pure, to go thither once in their lives. The fabu- and chaste, he generally employed it in lous part of Hesiod s history says, that on the entertainment of Kings and Princes; bis visit to Mount Helicon, he had an ex and he chiefly sang the praises of those who traordinary vision, wherein the muse had been victors in the Olympic Games. Calliope appeared to him, and foretold to He was justly styled the wonder of his age. him his future greatness.

He died without a pang, as he was reclinHistory mentions little of Hesiod, excepting on a friend at a public spectacle. his great fame as a poet, of which his works || When Alexander conquered Thebes he are a proof. We are told that he travelled | requested to be shewn the house where through many different countries, that he | Pindar dwelt, to secure it from being pilobtained the golden tripod, and an advan- | laged, and preserved the goods of another tage over Homer in the Judgment of Paris. Pindar, in honour of his name.

The Orchomenians having consulted an Anacreon was the poet of joy and feasts: oracle, were promised much felicity if they || his poems were witty, delicate, and natucould get the body of Hesiod into their | ral ; and his odes are likely to last as long as power; but the place of his sepulchre was the empire of letters shall endure. He inso carefully concealed from strangers, that vented those verses which bear bis name, it could never be discovered.

styled Anacreontics.

He made also some Homer was so poor that he subsisted a very fine elegies. His favourite mistress long time by begging. Some seamen once was named Euripile, whom he highly cele. refusing to take him in a vessel as far as brates. He invented a kind of lyre with Chios, a violent storm arose, which they | one-and-twenty strings. He died at a feast, thought was a chastisement from heaven by swallowing a grape stone, at the age of for their unkindness; they returned to take four-score and five years. him in, and had a pleasant and successful Eschylus, the Athenian, was the first voyage. Homer, after this event, married, who published his tragedies, and he added and had two daughters. He first com much to the ornaments of the theatres : he posed his famous Odyssey, and afterwards was the first to establish that maxim, that his Iliad; in the Odysscy he highly cele- too many deaths and murders in a tragedy, brates his father-in-law, Phineus, and also destroy its effect. He composed four-score his friend Mentor.

and ten tragedies. Though he lived to a The famous Sappho of Mitylene, has great age, he was outdone by Sophocles in been celebrated through all ages; she was the very spring of his youth; which so a brown woman, and had no pretensions to l grieved him that he retired into Sicily.

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Eschylus was sublime, dignified, and graveled as he was swimming in the port of
in his expressions, and sometimes rather | Piraeus,
rude and unpolished; while the style of Aristophanes acquired great popularity
Sophocles was so flowery as to obtain for || by his sharp, subtle, and elegant style : he
him the name of the Bee; others called was of low birth, but was the favourite of
him the Syren, as the mind was insensibly the multitude, as he never scrupled to lash
allured and charmed by his writings. In || the vices of the great, and was bold in his
his extreme old age, when he began en censures on all classes. He once wrote so
tirely to neglect his domestic affairs, Sopho- | sharply against a tribune, that he could
cles was accused by one of his children of not find a player who would dare to under-
dotage; but when this unnatural son was take the part, on which he acted it himself,
about to deprive him of the management and was condemned to pay a weighty fine.
of his estate, Sophocles shewed his judges He injured bis reputation by writing a co-
a work he was then composing, which was, medy against Socrates.
so exquisite, that the accuser was dismiss Callimachus was a writer of elegies
ed with a reprimand. Become decrepid and epigrams: his poer on the Hair of
with extreme age, he preserved his wit to || Berenice, was sufficient to give him the re-
the very last. A friend telling him that he putation of an excellent poet.
was unhappy in no longer owning the do Theocritus, was born in Syracuse, and
minion of love, Sophocles replied, “ I esteem was also a writer of elegies : happening to
myself happy in being delivered from his speak ill of Hiero, the tyrant of his country,
tyranny; I always found him an insolent he pardoned him the first time, but on a
and imperious master."

second imprudence of the kind, the unhapEuripides had every disadvantage at

py poet was put to death. tending low birth; but his merit bore him

Amongst the Roman poets, the first of out: he was first only a successful prize- || greatest note is Plautus, of low parentage, fighter; but he composed a great number a famous writer of comedies, which, when of tragedies, twelve of which were satirical. wrote, he used to sell; he then turned He was of a very serious disposition, and merchant, but failed, and poverty pressing was never known to laugh : his conduct

very heavily upon him, he was obliged to and behaviour were of the most uniform work at very low trades, during which kind; several persons having requested time he composed some of his best works. him to alter one verse in a tragedy, he told His comedies were witty, but not very delithem he wrote to teach the people, not to cate ; but, nevertheless, they abounded in be taught by them. He wrote, though beautiful thoughts, and the satire they conwell, with slowness and difficulty. He had tained was very neatly couched. the misfortune to discover his wife's infi.

Terence, so famous by his comedies, was delity towards him, with a low comedian,

an African, and brought up as a slave at on which he retired into Macedonia, where, Rome, by a senator, who had him educated though he became the favourite of King with much care, and gave him his freedom, Archelaus, he died miserably, being torn | when he arrived at manhood. He was parin pieces by the dogs of that monarch as he || ticularly esteemed by men of great emiwas hunting

nence in Rome, and formed a friendship Menander has obtained immortal fame, with the illustrious Scipio. The writings by his refinement of comedies, and divest-of Terence were pure, noble, and delicate; ing them of that insolent and immodest sa and his comedies were said to be better at tire, with which they were before replete: | the hundredth time of reading than at the his works were remarkable for the delicacy | first : only six of them liave been transand purity of their style, while he preserv- | mitted to posterity; and it is said that Te. ed a domestic description of the manners rence died with sorrow, as he went from of the age, taking care never to confound | Greece to Rome, having been shipwrecked, the tragic style with the comic. He com and losing thereby an hundred and posed an hundred and nine comedies: when, eight of his comedies, and some incomparabut in the flower of his age, he was drown- || ble satires.

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BRIEF HISTORY OF THE MOST CELEBRATED ANCIENT POETS.

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Hesiod, the first of the poets, was of beauty. Her style was amorous and pas a very illustrious lineage, being descended sionate, but inimitable: she invented the from Orpheus, and a near kinsman of the use of the bow belonging to the harp, celebrated Homer. It is reported that the which has been of great advantage to its fanıily of Hesiod was very rich, but his fa tone. She fell a victim to her unrequited ther, having been rather prodigal, so en love for Phaon. She has been universally tangled his affairs, that not being able to styled the teuth muse. live at the expence he was accustomed to,

Thespis was a composer of 'tragedies, he left Cuma, where lie formerly dwelt, and was much famed for works of that and went into Bæotia, Hesiod had a bro kind. ther named Perses, who differed very much The Odes of Pindar were so sweet, that from him. Hesiod was a great writer, and it was fabled of him, that while he was au Perses a most wretched poet. Dius, the || infant in his cradle, the bees made honey on father of Hesiod, had contracted a particular his mouth. He was a poet of the first friendship with an eminent priest of the order, and obtained immortal glory and Muses at Mount Helicon, which being pe honour, even from every other poet who culiarly consecrated to them and Apollo, came after him. The sublimity of his style all the considerable people in Greece used was very difficult to imitate : lofty, pure, to go thither once in their lives. The fabu and chaste, he generally employed it in lous part of Hesiod s history says, that on the entertainment of Kings and Princes; bis visit to Mount Helicon, he had an ex and he chiefly sang the praises of those who traordinary vision, wherein the

had been victors in the Olympic Games. Calliope appeared to him, and foretold to

He was justly styled the wonder of his age. him his future greatness.

He died without a pang, as he was reclinHistory mentions little of Hesiod, except ing on a friend at a public spectacle. his great fame as a poet, of which his works When Alexander conquered Thebes he are a proof. We are told that he travelled requested to be shewn the house where through many different countries, that he Pindar dwelt, to secure it from being pilobtained the goldeu tripod, and an advan laged, and preserved the goods of another tage over Homer in the Judgment of Paris. Pindar, in honour of his name.

The Orchomenians having consulted an Anacreon was the poet of joy and feasts: oracle, were promised much felicity if they his poems were witty, delicate, and natucould get the body of Hesiod into their || ral ; and his odes are likely to last as long as power; but the place of his sepulchre was the empire of letters shall endure. He inso carefully concealed from strangers, that vented those verses which bear bis name, it could never be discovered.

styled Anacreontics. He made also some Homer was so poor that he subsisted a very fine elegies. His favourite mistress long time by begging. Some seamen once was named Euripile, whom he highly cele. refusing to take him in a vessel as far as brates. He invented a kind of lyre with Chios, a violent storm arose, which they | one-and-twenty strings. He died at a feast, thought was a chastisement from heaven by swallowing a grape stone, at the age of for their unkindness; they returned to take four-score and five years. him in, and had a pleasant and successful Eschylus, the Athenian, was the first voyage. Homer, after this event, married, who published his tragedies, and he added and had two daughters. He first com much to the ornaments of the theatres: he posed his famous Odyssey, and afterwards was the first to establish that maxim, that his Iliad; in the Odyssey he highly cele- || too many deaths and murders in a tragedy, brates his father-in-law, Phineus, and also destroy its effect. He composed four-score his friend Mentor.

and ten tragedies. Though he lived to a The famous Sappho of Mitylene, has great age, he was outdone by Sophocles in been celebrated through all ages; she was the very spring of his youth; which so a brown woman, and had no pretensions to grieved him that he retired into Sicily.

Eschylus was sublime, dignified, and grave || ed as he was swimming in the port of iu his expressions, and sometimes rather | Piraeus, rude and unpolished; while the style of Aristophanes acquired great popularity Sophocles was so flowery as to obtain for | by his sharp, subtle, and elegant style : he him the name of the Bee; others called was of low birth, but was the favourite of him the Syren, as the mind was insensibly the multitude, as he never scrupled to lash allured and charmed by his writings. In the vices of the great, and was bold in his his extreme old age, when he began en censures on all classes. He once wrote so tirely to neglect his domestic affairs, Sopho- | sharply against a tribune, that he could cles was accused by one of his children of not find a player who would dare to underdotage; but when this unnatural son was take the part, on which he acted it himself, about to deprive him of the management and was condemned to pay a weighty fine. of his estate, Sophocles shewed his judges || He injured his reputation by writing a coa work he was then composing, which was | medy against Socrates. so exquisite, that the accuser was dismiss Callimachus was a writer of elegies ed with a reprimand. Become decrepid | and epigrams: his poem on the Hair of with extreme age, he preserved his wit to Berenice, was sufficient to give him the rethe very last. A friend telling him that he putation of an excellent poet. was unhappy in no longer owning the do Theocritus, was born in Syracuse, and minion of love, Sophocles replied, “ I esteem was also a writer of elegies: happening to myself happy in being delivered from his speak ill of Hiero, the tyrant of his country, tyranny; I always found him an insolent he pardoned him the first time, but on a and imperious master.”

second imprudence of the kind, the unhapEuripides had every disadvantage at py poet was put to death. tending low birth; but his merit bore him

Amongst the Roman poets, the first of out: he was first only a successful prize

greatest note is Plautus, of low parentage, fighter; but he composed a great number a famous writer of comedies, which, when of tragedies, twelve of which were satirical.

wrote, he used to sell; he then turned He was of a very serious disposition, and merchant, but failed, and poverty pressing was never known to laugh : his conduct

very heavily upon him, he was obliged to and behaviour were of the most uniform

work at very low trades, during which kind; several persons having requested

time he composed some of his best works. him to alter one verse in a tragedy, he told His comedies were witty, but not very delithem he wrote to teach the people, not to

cate; but, nevertheless, they abounded in be taught by them. He wrote, though beautiful thoughts, and the satire they con. well, with slowness and difficulty. He had

tained was very neatly couched. the misfortune to discover his wife's infi

Terence, so famous by his comedies, was delity towards him, with a low comedian,

an African, and brought up as a slave at on which he retired into Macedonia, where, || Rome, by a senator, who had him educated though he became the favourite of King || with much care, and gave him his freedom, Archelaus, he died miserably, being torn when he arrived at manhood. He was parin pieces by the dogs of that monarch as he

ticularly esteemed by men of great emiwas hunting

nence in Rome, and formed a friendship Menander has obtained immortal fame, with the illustrious Scipio. The writings by his refinement of comedies, and divest-of Terence were pure, noble, and delicate; ing them of that insolent and immodest sa and his comedies were said to be better at tire, with which they were before replete : the hundredth time of reading than at the his works were remarkable for the delicacy || first : only six of them have been transand purity of their style, while he preserv- | mitted to posterity; and it is said that Teed a domestic description of the manners rence died with sorrow, as he went from of the age, taking care never to confound | Greece to Rome, having been shipwrecked, the tragic style with the comic. He com and losing thereby an hundred and posed an hundred and nine comedies: when, eight of his comedies, and some incomparabut in the flower of his age, he was drown- | ble satires.

Lucretius was a man of admirable genius, divine odes and poignant satires, and a but his works are tinctured with rudeness | excellent discourse on the Art of Poetry, and impoliteness; yet the greatest poet in || In his works are tu be found a happy the world will never be able to equal him. | boldness, gallant conceits, and noble and He died mad, in consequence of a love po- | natural expressions; while his satires teen tion administered to him by his mistress, || with the most exquisite morality, accomwho fancied he did not love her with an panied with sterling wit and raillery. He equal affection to her own.

died at the age of fifty-seven, after acquir. Quintus Catullus was ranked among the ing a glory which time cannot destroy. first poets, only for writing two exquisite Tibullus was a Roman knight, handsome, epigrams.

well made, but soon ran through a large Another poet by the name of Catullus, fortune: he was in love with almost every was born in Verona, and his epigrams have female he saw. He died in a voyage at sea

, constantly borne the epithet of divine : after having obtained the fame of being the their sweetness, gallantry, and gracefuluess first anthor of Latin elegy. His verses are have never yet been equalled.

amorous, soft, easy, clear, and of extreme Virgil was the son of a potter, near

sweetness and elegance. Mantua. When his mother was pregnant

Ovid was also a Roman knight. He wa with him, she dreamed she was brought to born at Salmo, and was designed by his bed of a laurel, which spread to an amazing father for the law; but having an invincidistance; it was the custom among the ble inclination to poetry, he renounced that Italians, at that time, to set a strip of poplar profession to give himself up to it : he was in the ground, when a child was born: the three times married, and divoreed from his slip planted at Virgil's birth grew to an im- two first wives. He was banished by Aumeuse tree, was venerated by the people, gustus, for having made love to the Prinand obtained the name of Virgil's tree. Vir cess Julia, his daughter. The place of his gil addicted himself to the study of natural exile was Pontus, a province in Asia. He philosophy, mathematics, and physic: he composed many works, the niost famous of gained, by his great worth, the favour of which was his Metamorphosis, and also Augustus, and that of his favourite Mecenas, gained a great reputation by his Art of the great encourager of learned men. Ami- || Love, and his Remedy of Love; he had able, virtuous, free from vanity, Virgil was

much wit, facility, and copiousness in his as honest in his principles, as he was ad- | writings, with all the ornaments of nature, mirable for his wit. The Eclogues he com•

devoid of art. posed are charming, and his Georgics are a Seneca' was born at Corduba, in Spain : masterpiece of poetry. But his greatest he displayed much wit, but it savoured raglory is his Eneid, which some think sur ther of the gravity of his nation. · He was passes the Iliad of Homer. Virgil died in bled to death by the orders of Nero. the midst of his renown, at Brundusium, Lucan was born in the same city, and when he went to meet Augustus on his re had many admirers : he was accused by turn from the East. Thinking lis Eneid | Nero of conspiring against the state, and imperfect, he requested, at his death, that

was put to death. it might be burnt; but on his friends assur Juvenal's satires are full of wit and spirit, ing him that Augustus would never permit but less delicate than those of Horace; and it, he consented to its being preserved. tle satiric spirit of Juvenal is often ill-na

Horace was the son of a freed man, in tured and angry. He lived in the reigu of the village of Apuleia, and was educated Domitian, and was the son of a freed man. with great care. He was choleric, very At the age of sixty, he was sent by the voluptuous, and was one of the disciples of government on a commission to the farthest Epicurus, though he disclaimed the liber- part of Egypt, and died in a kind of exile. tinism of those principles before he died; Martial was a famous author of epihe loved liberty above all things, and, de- grams, and the first in that line: his railtermining to live absolutely independent, lery was quick, piquant, subtle, and not he resided almost entirely in the country. devoid of elegance. He was born in Spain and He composed two different kind of works, ll lived under the reign of Domitian, in Rome

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