The Ancient Library

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temporary bards (ex Pont. iv. 16), nor by Quin-tilian, who might with propriety have classed him along with Lucretius and Macer ; nor by Gellius, nor by Macrobius, both of whom frequently discuss kindred subjects ; nor by any of the compilers of mythological systems, who might have derived much information from his pages ; nor by one out of the host of grammarians, to whom he would have afforded copious illustrations. We find no trace of him until he was discovered by Poggio, about the beginning of the fifteenth century, unless, indeed, he be the " M. Manilius de Astrologia," of whose work Gerbertus of Rheims, afterwards pope Sylvester II. (a. d. 1000), commissions a friend (Ep. 130) to procure a copy. It is true that the resemblance between the production of Manilius and the Mathesis of Julius Firmicus Maternus [firmicus], who flourished under Con-stantine, is in many places so marked, that we can scarcely doubt that they borrowed from a common original, perhaps the Apotelesmata of Dorotheus of Sidon, or that one of them was indebted to the other. But even if we adopt the latter alternative it is obvious that we must determine the age of both, before we can decide the question of plagiarism. Such being the real state of the case, we are thrown entirely upon internal evidence, and this appears, at first sight, to be to a certain extent conclusive. The piece opens with an invocation of Caesar, the son and successor of a deified father, the heir of his temporal, as well as of his immortal honours ; far­ther on (i. 79M), the Julian line is said to have filled the heavenly mansion, Augustus is repre­sented as sharing the dominion of the sky with the Thunderer himself, and the fourth book closes with similar expressions. Meteors and comets we are told portend wars and sudden commotions, and treacherous rebellions, such as took place lately (modo) among foreign nations, when savage tribes destroyed Varus and dyed the plains with the blood of three legions (i. 897) ; celestial warnings were not wanting before the solemn league con­cluded between bloody leaders covered the fields of Philippi with embattled hosts ; when, subsequently, the thunderbolts of Jove strove with the sistrum of Isis ; and when the son of Pompey filled the sea with the pirates swept away by his sire. Now, although the whole of these passages would seem to proceed from a writer of the Augustan age, it may be argued, that wherever Augustus is ad­dressed in terms of flattery the words employed would apply to many of the later emperors as well as to him who first bore that title ; that the modo used in connection with the disastrous defeat in Germany, and which, if translated lately, would be decisive, may with equal or greater fitness be here rendered sometimes; that there is a coldness in all the allusions to the civil wars, which would have been avoided by one seeking to extol the achieve­ments and victories of a reigning prince, and that in particular the words " ducibus jurata cruentis Anna," which apply much more naturally to the triumvirs than to Brutus and Cassius, could not fail to prove highly offensive. On the other hand, when we observe that there is no reference to any historical event later than to the defeat of a. d. 9, that the lines which end the first book distinctly express the feelings of one who was living during a period of tranquillity, which had immediately followed the scenes of disorder and bloodshed de­picted in the preceding paragraphs, and above all,


When we mark the tone of adulation breathed in the verses (iv. 763)—

Virgine sub casta felix terraque marique Est Rhodos, hospitium recturi principis orbem ; Tumque domus vere solis, cui tota sacrata est, Cum caperet lumen magni sub Caesare mundi—

we shall be led to the conclusion that they were penned during the sway of Tiberius. Assuming that Manilius belongs to the epoch now indicated, we infer from iv. 41,-—

" Speratum Hannibalem nostris cecidisse catenis," that he was a Roman citizen, and from iv. 775,—*

" Qua genitus cum fratre Remus lianc condidit urbem,"

that he was an inhabitant of the metropolis. The notion of Bentley that he was an Asiatic, and that of Huet that he was a Carthaginian, rest upon no stable basis. Farther we cannot proceed, and the great difficulty still remains untouched, how it should have come to pass that a piece possessing a character so singular and striking, discussing a science long studied with the most eager devotion, should have remained entirely unknown or neg­lected. One solution only can be proposed. We can at once perceive that the work is unfinished, and the portion which we possess wears occasionally a rough aspect, as if it had never received a final polish. Hence it may never have been published, although a few copies may have passed into private circulation ; some of these having been preserved by one of those strange chances of which we find not a few examples in literary history, may have served as the archetypes from which the different families of MSS. now extant originally sprung.

The first book serves as an introduction to those which follow ; discoursing of the rise and progress of astronomy, of the origin of the material universe, of the position, form, and magnitude of the earth, of the names and figures of the signs of the zodiac and of the northern and southern constella­tions, of the circles of the sphere, of the milky way, of the planets, of comets and meteors, and the indications which these afford of impending evil, pestilence, famine, and civil strife. In the second book Manilius passes under review the subjects chosen by Homer, Hesiod, Theocritus, and other renowned bards, asserts the superior majesty of his own theme, and claims the merit of having quitted the beaten track and of having been the first to enter upon a new path. He then expounds the stoical doctrine of an Almighty Soul pervading, animating, controlling, and regulating every portion of the universe, so that all the different parts are connected by one common bond, stirred by one common impulse, and act together in unison and harmony. Hence things below depend upon things above, and if we can determine and read aright the relations and movements of the celestial bodies, we shall be able to calculate from them the corres­ponding change which will take place in other mem­bers of the system. The dignity and reasonableness of the science being thus vindicated, we are plunged at once into a maze of technicalities, embracing the classification of the signs, according to various fanciful resemblances or differences, their confi­gurations, aspects, and influences, with all the jargon of trines, quadrates, sextiles, celestial houses, dodecatemoria, cardines, and athla. The treatise terminates abruptly, for the agency of the fixed

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