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might take the first impression of the Latin tongue in the city where it was spoke in the greatest purity. I wonder then to find some critics detract from his language, as if it took a tincture from the place of his birth ; nor can I be brought to think otherwise, than that the language he writes in, is as pure Roman as any that was writ in Nero's time. As he grew up, his parents educated him with a care that became a promising genius, and the rank of his family. His masters were Rhemmius Polæmon, the grammarian; then Flavius Virginius, the rhetorician; and lastly, Cornutus, the stoic philosopher ; to which sect he ever after addicted himself.
It was in the course of these studies he contracted ansintimate friendship with Aulus Persius, the satirik. It is no wonder that two men, whose geniuses were fo much alike, should unite and become agreeable to one another ; for if we consider Lucan critically, we fail sind in him a strong bent towards Satire. His manner, it is true, is more declamatory and diffuse than Persius : but Satire is still in his view, and the whole Pharsalia appears to me a continued invective against ambition and unbounded power.
The progress he made in all parts of learning must, needs have been very great, considering the pregnancy of his genius, and the nice care that was taken in cultivating it by a suitable education : nor is it to be questioned, but besides the masters I have named, he had likewise the example and instructions of his uncie Seneca, the most conspicuous man then of Rome for
learning, wit, and morals. Thus he set out in the world with the greatest advantages possible, a noble birth, an opulent fortune, great relations, and withal, the friend thip and protection of an uncle, who, besides his other preferments in the einpire, was favourite, as well as tutor, to the emperor. But Rhetoric seenis to have been the art he excelled most in, and valued himself most upon; for all writers agree, he declaimed in public when but fourteen years old, both in Greek and Latin, with universal applause. To this purpose it is observable, that he has interspersed a great many orations in the Pharsalia, and these are acknowledged by all to be very shining parts of the Poem. Whence it is that Quintilian, the best judge in these matters, reckons him among the rhetoricians, rather than the poets, though he was certainly mañer of both these arts in a high degree.
His uncle Seneca being then in great favour with Nero, and having the care of that prince's education
committed to him, : it is probable he introduced his nephew to the court and acquaintance of the emperor and it
appears from an old fragment of his life, that he sent for him from Athens, where he was at his studies, to Rome for that purpose. Every one knows, that Nero, for the five first years of his reign, either *really was, or pretended to be, endowed with all the ámiable qualities that became an emperor and a philosopher. It must have been in this stage of Nero's life, that Lucan has offered up to him that poetical incense. we find in the First Book of the Pharsalia : for
it is not to be imagined, that a man of Lucan's temper would flatter Nero in so gross a manner, if he had then thrown off the mask of virtue, and appeared in such bloody colours as he afterwards did. No:! Lucan's foul seems to have been calt in another mold: and he that durst, throughout the whole Pharsalia, espouse the party of Pompey, and the cause of Rome against Cæsar, could never have stooped so vilely low, as to celebrate a tyrant and a monster in such an open
I know some Commentators have judged that compliment to Nero to be meant ironically; but it seems to me plain to be in the greatest earnest: and it is more than probable, that if Nero had been as wicked at that time as he became afterwards, Lucanis life had paid for his irony. Now it is agreed on by all writers, that he continued for some time in the highest favour and friendship with Nero; and it was to that favour, as well as his merit, that he owed his being made Quæstor, and admitted into the College of Augurs, before he attained the age required for these offices : in the first of which posts he exhibited to the
people of Rome a how of gladiators at a vast expence. It was in this fun-fhine of life Lucan married Polla Argentaria, the daughter of Pollius Argentarius, a Roman Senator; a lady of noble birth, great fortune, and famed beauty ; who, to add to her other exceljencies, was accomplished in all parts of learnings infomuch, that the three First Books of the Pharfalia are said to have been revised and corrected by her in chis life-time.
How he came to decline in Nero's favour, we have no account that I know of in history; and it is agreed by all that he lost it gradually, till he became his utter aversion. No doubt, Lucan's virtue, and his principles of liberty, must make him hated by a man of Nero's temper. But there appears to have been a great deal of envy in the case, blended with his other prejudices against him, upon the account of his poetry.
Though the spirit and height of the Roman poetry was somewhat declined from what it had been in the time of Auguftus, yet it was still an art beloved and cultivated. • Nero himself was not only fond of it to the highest degree, but, as most bad poets are, was vain and conceited of his performances in that kind. He valued himself more upon his skill in that art, and in music, than on the purple he wore ; and bore it better to be thought a bad emperor, than a bad poet or musician. Now Lucan, though there in favour, was too honest and too open to applaud the bombast stuff that Nero was every day repeating in public. * Lucan appears to have been much of the temper of Philoxenus, the philofopher; who, for not approving the verses of Dionysius the tyrant of Syracuse, was by his order condemned to the mines. Upon the promise of amendment, the philosopher was set at liberty ; but Dionysius repeating to him some of his wretched performances in full expectation of having them approved, “ Enough,” cries out Philoxenus, 4. carry me back to the mines." But Lucan carried this point further, and had the imprudence to dispute
the prize of eloquence with Nero in a solemn public aflembly. The judges in that trial were so jist and bold as to adjudge the reward to Lucan, which was Fame and a Wreath of Laurel; but in return he lost for ever the favour of his competitor. He soon felt the effects of the emperor's resentment, for the next day he had an order sent him, never more to plead at the bar, nor repeat any of his performances in public, as all the eminent orators and poets were used to do. It is no wonder that a young man, an admirable poet, and one conscious enough of a superior genius, should be ftung to the quick by this barbarous treat
In revenge, he omitted no occasion to treat Nero’s verses with the utmost contempt, and expose them and their author to ridicule.
In this behaviour towards Nero, he was seconded by his friend Persius; and no doubt, they diverted themselves often alone at the emperor's expence. Persius went so far, that he dared to attack openly some of Nero's verses in his first Satire, where he brings-in his friend and himself repeating them. I believe a sample of them may not be unacceptable to the reader, as translated thus by Mr. Dryden :
FRIEND. But to raw numbers and unfinish'd verse,
“ The Dolphin brave,