Page:1888 Cicero's Tusculan Disputations.djvu/15

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9
ON THE CONTEMPT OF DEATH.

in discipline? As to those things which are attained not by study, but nature, neither Greece, nor any nation, is comparable to us; for what people has displayed such gravity, such steadiness, such greatness of soul, probity, faith — such distinguished virtue of every kind, as to be equal to our ancestors. In learning, indeed, and all kinds of literature, Greece did excel us, and it was easy to do so where there was no competition; for while among the Greeks the poets were the most ancient species of learned men — since Homer and Hesiod lived before the foundation of Rome, and Archilochus[1] was a contemporary of Romulus — we received poetry much later. For it was about five hundred and ten years after the building of Rome before Livius[2] published a play in the consulship of C. Claudius, the son of Cæcus, and M. Tuditanus, a year before the birth of Ennius, who was older than Plautus and Nævius.

II. It was, therefore, late before poets were either known or received among us; though we find in Cato de Originibus that the guests used, at their entertainments, to sing the praises of famous men to the sound of the flute; but a speech of Cato's shows this kind of poetry to have been in no great esteem, as he censures Marcus Nobilior for carrying poets with him into his province; for that consul, as we know, carried Ennius with him into Ætolia. Therefore the less esteem poets were in, the less were

  1. Archilochus was a native of Paros, and flourished about 714-676 b.c. His poems were chiefly Iambics of bitter satire. Horace speaks of him as the inventor of Iambics, and calls himself his pupil.

    Parios ego primus Iambos
    Ostendi Latio, numeros animosque secutus
    Archilochi, non res et agentia verba Lycamben.

    Epist. I. xix. 25.

    And in another place he says,

    Archilochum proprio rabies armavit Iambo.—A. P. 74.

  2. This was Livius Andronicus: he is supposed to have been a native of Tarentum, and he was made prisoner by the Romans, during their wars in Southern Italy; owing to which he became the slave of M. Livius Salinator. He wrote both comedies and tragedies, of which Cicero (Brutus 18) speaks very contemptuously, as "Livianæ fabulæ non satis dignæ quæ iterum legantur" —not worth reading a second time. He also wrote a Latin Odyssey, and some hymns, and died probably about 221 b.c.