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A bath to the Greeks, as we might expect - at least, in their later development --- was a great enjoyment, if not a necessity of life. The epigrammatists supply us with many pleasant and playful inscriptions for baths or bathing places, illustrating their virtues and attractions. The purity and freshness of the water are natural themes of eulogium, and the patronage of divine beings is readily supposed. Here is a selection, all of them apparently anonymous :
This bath may boast the Graces' own to be, -
Here bathed the Graces, and at leaving gave
Or thus, which we may suppose written of the draped Graces :
Here bathed the Graces, and, by way of payment,
Here Venus bathed, ere she to Paris' eyes
Or thus :
Straight from this bath went Venus, wet and dripping;
Either these waves gave Venus birth, or she,
ON A SMALL-SIZED BATA.
Blame not things little: Grace may on them wait.
We are warned, however, that excess in the use of the warm bath, as in other indulgences, may be injurious :
Wine and the bath, and lawless love for ladies,
Some vices are particularly obnoxious to the satirical epigrammatist, especially avarice and envy :
STINGINESS IN HOSPITALITY.
(By Pallas: translation altered from Wellesley.)
With our friend Salaminus,
He did not truly dine us.
BOARD OR LODGING.
(By Lucilius : translation altered from Cowper.)
Asclépiades, the Miser, in his house
There are several vigorous denunciations of the vice of envy. This is anonymous : –
Envy is vile, but plays a useful part,
Torturing in envious men both eyes and heart. This is in that exaggerated style which the epigrams sometimes exhibit. It is by Lucilius — the translation from Wellesley :
Poor Diophon of envy died,
His brother thief to see
Upon a higher tree.
But the best epigram on this subject is to be found in one which seems to describe a picture of Momus the faultfinder, the impersonation of Envy, perhaps also, some will say, of Criticism, – the Power who could produce nothing excellent himself, and who never saw unmixed excellence in the works of others. The picture is supposed to have been by Apelles. The epigram is anonymous; the translation partly from Hay:
Who here has formed, with faultless hand and skill,
As if in life, to lie and sigh and groan.
Swift made a well-known epitaph upon Vanbrugh as an architect :
Lie heavy on him, earth, for he
Laid many a heavy load on thee. This is nearly the counterpart of the following Greek epigram :
Hail, Mother Earth ! lie light on him
Whose tombstone here we see:
And light his weight on thee.
Light lie the earth, Nearchus, on thy clay,
That so the dogs may easier find their prey. This anonymous epigram is upon a matricide, who does not deserve burial :
Bury him not! no burial is for him:
Will ne'er allow a matricide to rest. The satirical epigrammatists indulge often in national invective, and indeed the Greeks were too fond of abusing some of their neighbors. Here are specimens :
A viper bit a Cappadocian's hide;
But 'twas the viper, not the man, that died. The natives of many other countries besides Cappadocia were called bad : among the rest the Lerians ; thus :
Lerians are bad: not some bad, and some not,
Our readers will here recognize the original of a well-known epigram by Porson, which exists both in a Greek and English shape, and where the satirist, after denouncing the Germans as all ignorant of Greek meters, concludes :
All, save only Hermann;
It was unfortunate for poor Hermann that his name and his nationality rhymed so well together.
An epigram may here be given in conclusion on this head, as tending, perhaps, to illustrate the transition by which the satirical Greek epigram came to resemble the favorite style of Martial, which has been so much adopted in modern times.
The epigram we refer to is by Lucilius :
ON A DECLAMATORY PLEADER.
A little pig, an ox, a goat (my only one), I lost,
This satire upon a certain class of lawyers agrees completely with an epigram of Martial's; and as Lucilius and he lived nearly about the same time, it would be interesting to know if the one was borrowed from the other, and which. The preponderance of evidence rather is that Lucilius, as Lessing thinks, was a century, or at least half a century, later than Martial, and is probably, therefore, the imitator in this matter, though his imitation is not slavish. Martial's epigram has been translated into French by La Monnoye.
This chapter may be concluded with a mild satire upon the condition of the times, with reference to the two ancient worthies, Heraclitus and Democritus, the weeping and the laughing philosopher. The translation is mainly from Prior :
Sad Heraclitus, with thy tears return;
THE ISLES OF GREECE.
BY LORD BYRON.
[LORD GEORGE NOEL GORDON BYRON: A famous English poet; born in London, January 22, 1788. At the age of ten he succeeded to the estate and title of his granduncle William, fifth Lord Byron. He was educated at Harrow and Cambridge, and in 1807 published his first volume of poems, “Hours of Idleness." After a tour through eastern Europe he brought out two cantos of “Childe Harold," which met with instantaneous success, and soon after he married the heiress Miss Millbanke. The union proving unfortunate, Byron left England, and passed several years in Italy. In 1823 he joined the Greek insurgents in Cephalonia, and later at Missolonghi, where he died of a fever April 19, 1824. His chief poetical works are : “Childe Harold," “Don Juan," • Manfred," “Cain," " Marino Faliero,' Sardanapalus, " " The Giaour,” “ Bride of Abydos," "The Corsair," “ Lara,” and “Mazeppa."']
THE isles of Greece! The isles of Greece!
Where burning Sappho loved and sung, -
Where Delos rose and Phoebus sprung!
The Scian and the Teian muse,
The hero's harp, the lover's lute,
Their place of birth alone is mute
sires' “ Islands of the Blest."
The mountains look on Marathon,
And Marathon looks on the sea;
I dreamed that Greece might still be free;