Imágenes de páginas

as they would not come within the range of Livy's own thought or observation.

2. It is still more noteworthy that in one place (XXII. 24. 4) we find surprise expressed at a course of action on the part of Hannibal which is sufficiently explained in the corresponding passage of Polybius.

3. At other times we find that Livy gives details without apparent misgivings or defence, although Polybius had already protested or complained of them as silly absurdities and exaggerated tales. Examples of this kind may be found in xxi. 22 and 36.

4. It would seem natural to urge that Livy might have had several authorities before him, and have seen reasons for preferring first one and then another, as he worked up their materials into the course of his own narrative. But before accepting this conclusion, it may be well to turn to the fourth and fifth decades of his work, where by general consent it is admitted that he followed Polybius most closely in all matters which related to Greece or to the East. We may study with advantage his method of procedure in such cases. Careful observation seems to show that in all these he uses Polybius without acknowledgment, translating and abridging lengthy passages, without collating other sources at the time, or changing to any great extent the order and method of the narrative, though he often makes mistakes and alterations from ignorance,-or haste, or patriotic pride. The classical historians of later date, we know, followed the same course, and still more certainly, the chroniclers of the middle ages. For the most part it would seem that they were quite content in each part of their work with following one authority alone, and that they transcribed freely from it for a time, with little effort to balance or correct from other sources, till at length another was taken in its place, to be used for a while with equal freedom. But in the third decade of Livy the elements of the mosaic are much smaller than in the fourth or fifth ; the passages are shorter where the agreement with Polybius is most marked, and yet in them the variations are often too minute and numerous to be consistent with such a method of procedure as that which has been stated. If Livy had had the pages of Polybius before him, he would probably have followed him more closely, as the differences are often not improvements.

5. The reasons given, as well as others which arise from a detailed comparison between the two, point to a common use of the same sources, rather than to a direct borrowing of the one historian from the other. But they must have dealt with these in different fashion, Livy keeping close to the early narrative in its fuller form, while the edition which Polybius gives is a summary and corrected one. It remains then to ascertain, if possible, the nature of these common sources.

[ocr errors]

6. The passages of the two writers in which the features of resemblance are most marked, are those in which Hannibal is throughout the moving spirit of the scenes, and the fortunes of his soldiers are described in most detail.

They deal with the march of the invading army, with the fields of battle, and the vicissitudes of the campaigns. The touches here are often very delicate and minute, and the narrative is that of an eye witness, or of one whose information could be drawn from Carthaginian sources.

One such especially is known to us by name, the Greek Silenus, who is said to have served from first to last in Hannibal's campaigns (Corn. Nepos, Hann. 13) and to have written with great care the history of his wars (Cic. de Divin. I. 24), and as such is quoted as an authority by Livy (xxvi. 49. 3). Contemporary evidence of so high an order, which is referred to by writers of two centuries later, could hardly fail to be consulted by a painstaking author like Polybius, and his silence on the subject goes for little, as it was not the practice of those times to mention earlier authorities except when the data were specially conflicting. Silenus was certainly consulted by the Roman writers on the Punic wars, and there is good reason for believing that part of Livy's narrative takes from this source much of its colour and contents. But it does not therefore follow that Silenus was directly used by Livy, as the

materials collected by him may have been worked up by other hands into something like the form in which we have them in their Latin dress. In dealing with this question we may do best to consider first the other parts of Livy's story, where Rome itself is the centre of the scene, and the information must have come from Roman sources. What were the authorities which could be consulted here, and in what way do they seem to have been used ? It is needful perhaps here to enter into more details.

7. In early ages it had been the practice to put out an official register of the names of the magistrates elected, with some sort of scanty calendar of general news. The priests were in Rome, as often elsewhere, the earliest chroniclers, and the meagre notices which the chief Pontiff (Pontifex summus) posted on a whitened board, grew lengthier as time went on, and the practice of registration became more complete. The materials thus collected year by year were the groundwork of a national chronicle, which was kept in the Archives of the Pontiffs, and formed at the period of the last revision a series of some eighty books.

In form it was a sort of diary on which were noted the results of the elections, and the chief events of national importance. In the interests of the priesthood it was natural to find room for all the matters which especially concerned them; the august ceremonials of the state religion : the eclipses of the sun and moon : the fasts and feasts

and days of evil omen to be noted on the calendar: the prodigies and freaks of nature which in stirring times excited the fancy of a superstitious peoplethese were set down with an exceeding fulness of detail -as facts which deserved careful study in the present, and were likely to be of interest to after generations.

8. The early writers in their history of the past freely used the outlines which were thus ready to their hand, and adopted a like order in the narrative of their own times. Here and there indeed complaints were made of such meagre chronicles of petty and disjointed facts, and it was urged that there could be no national order or historical perspective in a continuous diary where no attempt was made to trace the connection between causes and effects, but the memory was overloaded with ill-digested food. A narrative so written, said Sempronius Asellio, can hardly rise above the dignity of nursery tales (Aul. Gell. v. 18). But still from first to last the prevailing practice with the historians of Rome was to set down year by year the order of events, mentioning first the results of the elections, the division of the Provinces and Legions, the prodigies which stirred the public mind, the starting of the Generals for the scenes of war, and the doings of the armies on the field of battle. In these respects the difference between the earlier and later writers consisted chiefly in the qualities of style and

« AnteriorContinuar »