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ART. X.-1. Marius the Epicurean; his Sensations and Ideas. By WALTER PATER, M.A. London: 1885.

2. Neæra; a Tale of Ancient Rome. By JOHN W. GRAHAM. London: 1886.


HE task of bringing before readers of the present day pictures of life belonging to ages and forms of society long passed away is one of extreme difficulty. The picture, to have any value, must be both vivid and true. It is easy enough to draw sketches which, like the Charicles and Gallus of Bekker, may be accurate enough, but pretend to be nothing more than a convenient means for imparting useful information, or to compose more elaborate narratives into which the author introduces freely the thoughts and feelings of his own time, or takes strange liberties with some of his personages. The German barbarians whom Mr. Kingsley landed in Alexandria in the days of Hypatia are in large measure the creatures of his own imagination; and the authority for his portrait of the Bishop Synesius is perilously scanty. But whatever may be the difficulties inherent in such subjects, or the faults into which they who handle them are likely or sure to fall, these stories of men and women, who have lived in a world strangely unlike our own, are seldom without attraction. The workmanship must be poor indeed before it can be summarily condemned. So long as there is any honest effort to lay bare the motives which animated men under the Egyptian Pharaohs, the Greek cities, the Roman republic, or the Roman empire, the reader will pardon much which otherwise he would submit to a more severe criticism. He will not refuse, probably, to make his way patiently through chapters of narrative or of philosophical discussion because they lack the lightness and grace which delight him from first to last in Lord Lytton's Last Days of Pompeii,' and make him retain a pleasant recollection even of the Epicurean' of Thomas Moore.

The first of the two works named at the head of this article gives the story, if so it may be called, of the mental and spiritual life of another Epicurean, whose search after truth is carried on not in Egypt but in Italy. Practically, it is little more than a record of his feelings and thoughts, with the slenderest skein of incidents to connect them. The second is a tale burdened with a plethora of events which the writer seems to have found unmanageable, but which at

least serves to carry the reader on in the anticipation of issues some of which do not come about at all. This story belongs to the age of Tiberius, and to that time of his life during which, for whatever purpose, he buried himself among the rocks of Capreæ. The experiences of the epicurean Marius were gained chiefly in the time of Marcus Aurelius, whose philosophy, or system, produced strange fruit in the brutalities of his successor, and, if so he was, his son. We purpose to say a few words about the latter story first. The author has probably not looked for many readers; and for the small company of thinkers who may be content to follow with him the workings of his hero's mind a mere summary of their history would have little attraction and no value. The narrative of the mental and moral growth of Marius is one long argument, by no means always clear, sometimes indistinct, and not seldom, as nearly as may be, unintelligible. The author seems to have convinced himself that his purpose of describing the spiritual changes of a truth-loving but dreamy mind would best be answered by the adoption of a uniformly monotonous style, with sentences of a form or build which Englishmen are apt to associate with the cumbrous intricacies of German prose. In whatever light it may be put, we may have an uneasy consciousness either that we have not grasped the more subtle distinctions of the Cyrenaic and Epicurean systems, or that there is, after all, not much in them of which we can lay hold. Whatever they may be, Marius is made to travel through them with a somewhat ponderous gait. Cyrenaicism, we are told, is the special philosophy, or prophecy, of the 'young.' If the theory in the end fail to satisfy, this is owing chiefly to its exclusiveness,' by which the author probably means that it is a system adapted only for fairweather sailing, and little able to help a man in and through the winter of his discontent. It calls, in short, for the 'complementary influence of some greater system,' by which the sequel seems to show that the author here means Christianity. But for the moment we are rather perplexed than enlightened when we find ourselves fairly plunged into such a sentence as the following:

"That Sturm und Drang of the spirit, as it has been called, that ardent and special apprehension of half-truths, in the enthusiastic and as it were prophetic advocacy of which a devotion to truth, in the case of the young-apprehending but one point at a time in the great circumference-most naturally embodies itself, is levelled down, surely and safely enough, afterwards, as in history so in the individual, by the

weakness and mere weariness, as well as by the maturer wisdom of our nature happily! if the enthusiasm which answered to but one phase of intellectual growth really blends, as it loses its decisiveness, in a larger and commoner morality with wider, though perhaps vaguer, hopes.' (Vol. ii. p. 24.)

This is a sentence which would have made Macaulay shiver; but, although it is not possible for every one to write with Macaulay's clearness, it is obvious that the meaning of these words, whatever it may be, would be better brought out if they were distributed into three or four sentences, instead of being huddled into one. We are far from saying that they have no meaning; but from an Englishman who writes rather to instruct than to amuse we look for language which will convey to us his thought at the first perusal, or, at worst, leave us in no great uncertainty about it on the second. But even on a second or a third reading we are left in some doubt of Mr. Pater's meaning when, speaking of the dislike of Marius for snakes, he says:

'It was something like a fear of the supernatural, or perhaps rather a moral feeling, for the face of a great serpent, with no grace of fur or feathers, unlike the faces of birds or quadrupeds, has a kind of humanity of aspect in its spotted and clouded nakedness. There was a humanity, dusty and sordid, and as if far gone in corruption, in the sluggish coil, as it awoke suddenly into one metallic spring of enmity against him.' (Vol. i. p. 30.)

It would, indeed, be unfair to Mr. Pater were we to deny that, in spite of the obscurity in which he constantly wraps himself, the account which he gives of his hero is the account of a healthy growth. For those who will take the trouble to read on through the clouds of words which they will from time to time encounter in his pages, the book will be often very suggestive and not unfrequently interesting. There is, unquestionably, force in the following remarks on one of the phases of Roman thought or feeling in the age of the Antonines :

'The religion of Esculapius, though borrowed from Greece, had been naturalised in Rome in the old republican times; but it was under the Antonines that it reached the height of its popularity throughout the Roman world. It was an age of valetudinarians, in many instances of imaginary ones; but below its various crazes concerning health and disease... lay a valuable, because partly practicable, belief that all the maladies of the soul might be reached through the subtle gateways of the body. Salus-salvation-for the Romans had come to mean bodily sanity; and the religion of the god of bodily health-Salvator,

as they called him, absolutely-had a chance just then of becoming the one religion, that mild and philanthropic son of Apollo surviving, or absorbing, all other pagan godhead. The apparatus of the medical art, the salutary mineral or herb, diet or abstinence-and all the varieties of the bath, came to have a kind of sacramental character; so deep was the feeling, in more serious minds, of a moral and spiritual profit in physical health, beyond the obvious bodily advantages one had of it, the body becoming truly, in that case, the quiet handmaid of the soul.' (Vol. i. p. 34.)

There is but slight warrant for the belief that at the time of which he is speaking the word salus had acquired this limited connotation; but the lesson that in its highest sense, as an expression of Christian conviction, the word denotes simply the recovery of, or growth in, health, soundness, and life, is the one which it is of the utmost importance for Christendom to learn, and which it seems to be strangely slow in learning. It is the unfolding of this healthy growth which imparts to Mr. Pater's pages whatever of interest they possess; and for the Epicurean Marius, as for all others, this growth was needed in a thousand directions. There was everywhere a work of transformation to be accomplished, which should place a ban on a multitude of things prized by the Latin races as the dearest concerns of life, and justify others which would then have been regarded as simply signs of madness-which, in short, should bind and loose in a sense hitherto unknown to the world at large. All this crowd of things to be bound and loosed might be summed up under the two terms of oppression on the one hand, and of cruel amusement on the other. The amusement involved the oppression, and the oppression involved that deadness to cruelty as such, which nothing but a complete overturning could bring to an end. Marius had seen what the Stoic philosophy affected to aim at; he had seen this philosophy embodied in the person of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. If in this exalted preacher of the system the issue failed to satisfy, where else was he to look for fruits worthy of the tree whose stem and leaves seemed so fair? Aurelius was surrounded by men who revelled in the luxury of murder, for by no other name can the games and spectacles of the circus be fitly characterised; and what had he done, what was he doing, to get rid of one of the foulest blots on the society of the empire? To Lucius Verus these exhibitions were as the very breath of life: to Commodus they brought, if possible, an excitement and transport still more intense. The former had become a patron, or protégé, of the great goddess of

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Ephesus,' and the spectacles by which he sought to honour her would have an element of old Greek revival in it, ' welcome to the taste of a learned and Hellenising society.' The statement is true only so far as it relates to the notions of these Hellenising subjects of the empire. The true Hellenic genius had never given its sanction to these gross and disgusting cruelties; and at least from this horrible guilt the Greek world was free. But the point was not what the tastes of the Roman populace might be, but how the emperor and others who might exert an influence powerful whether for good or for harm would attempt to deal with them. In parting from him Aurelius had warned Marius, Imitation is the most acceptable part of worship, and the gods had much rather mankind should resemble than flatter them. Make sure that those to whom you come nearest be the happier, at least, by your presence.' (Vol. i. p. 226.) What had he done to make sure of this for the most ignorant, the most degraded, the most wretched of his subjects? For the torturing of criminals he had done nothing for mitigating the brutalities of the arena very little.



The philosophic emperor, having no great taste for sport, and asserting here a personal scruple, had . . . provided that nets should be spread under the dancers on the tight rope, and buttons for the swords of the gladiators. But the gladiators were still there. Their bloody contests had, under the form of a popular amusement, the efficacy of a human sacrifice. . . . Just at this point certainly the judgement of Lucretius on pagan religion is without reproach,

'Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum.' (Vol. i. p. 236.)

But this Aurelius could not see, or affected not to see. It was this man who at a later time was to send to his officers in Gaul orders which have disgraced his name. How could he, being what he was, be brought to do this? This was the question which forced itself, we are told, on the mind of the young seeker for the best law of life and the highest rule of action.

Marius, weary and indignant, feeling isolated in the great slaughterhouse, could not but take notice that Aurelius . . . had sat impassively through all the hours Marius himself had remained there; for the most part, indeed, actually averting his eyes from the show, reading, or writing on matters of public business; yet, after all, indifferent. He was revolving, perhaps, that old Stoic paradox of the imperceptibility of pain, which might serve as an excuse, should those savage popular humours ever again turn against men and women. Marius remembered well his very attitude and expression on this day,

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