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Of Old Age, Wine, Music, and Rhetoric.
I will dismiss the subject of angling, by referring to some pleasing lines upon a worn out sportsman, who hung up his fishing rods and lines, and implements of the chace, to Hermes : by the concluding line of the epigram *,
'Εκ γήρως δ' αδρανίη δέδεται,
I am reminded, that in the Greek religious allegories, old age implies a state of bondage and inertion. To figures of this class wine is frequently presented, as the invigorating principle. This appears in the Antichità d'Ercolano, Pitture, vol. v. plate xlv. wherein are depicted Silenus seated beneath a leafless tree, and a female pouring wine to him from a uter. Upon an ancient terracotta in the Townley collection, may be seen two Dioscuri, hooded, as agents in inferis, who resting on one knee, their backs turned to each other, and one hand uplifted, pour wine into a tazza, and present it severally to a couchant griffin. In that well known bas relief, of which we have a spirited etching, the last in the work of Bartoli upon ancient sepulchres, Ganymede offers wine (for such seems really to have been that liquor which poets ennobled by the name of nectar) to an eagle overshadowed by a tree. The avidity of the bird, and his longing after immortality, are well expressed by his depressing the cup with his talon, as if to procure a readier draught of the liquor. With this he waits to be refreshed, before he wings his flight to the upper hemisphere. That such allegories are conformable to the religious notions of the Greeks may be collected from a passage of Pausanias, which Passeri has cited, informing us that the Dorians named Bacchus Psilas, a word implying, in their language, wings; and with great propriety, he adds, in his opinion, for wine elevates and lightens the spirits of man, in the same way as wings uplift a bird : Θεών δε σέξουσιν οι ταύτη τόν τε 'Αμυκλαίον και Διόνυσον, ορθότατα. έμοι δοκεϊν Ψίλαν επονομάζοντες. Ψίλα γαρ καλούσιν οι Δωριείς τα στερά. ανθρώπους δέ οίνος επαίρει τε και ανακουφίζει γνώμην, ουδέν τι ήσσον η όρνιθας w tega.- Pausan. Lacon. lib. iii. p. 258.* The Bacchus of the . poets, young and sprightly, is never represented by them indulging in wine to intoxication. Passeri has adduced some beautiful lines from Nonnus, which might furnish subject either for the chisel or the pencil, in which he is appropriately described sipping the genial liquor :
* It is given by Toup on Suidas, vol. i. p. 19.
Και γλυκερόν πότον εύρε, και οινοχύτου Διονύσου
Lib. xii. v. 201.
Aristophanes, who was a scoffer, has made allusion to this in his drama of the Acharnenses; where the Chorus, observing the feathers of poultry that had been picked for dressing, says: "He hath cast these feathers” (in the original, wings) “ the symbols of life, before his door :" Toü Biou docebans deiyua táồe tà atepe Apò TWY Supüv (Acharn. v. 977.): while the humorous and more immediate sense of Tou Blou Seiyua is “ the sign, or proof, of good living.”
“ Bacchus the vine's sweet bev'rage foremost found,
The reason for wine being sacred to Bacchus, as corn and tillage were favoured by Ceres, partly arose from the emblematical reference of it to resuscitation.
Music and musical instruments are frequently applied on ancient monuments from a similar allusion. The trumpet used in this sense, in a plate in D’Hancarville's collection, would be worth the reader's notice; but he will turn from it with disgust, when he finds it accompanied by an indecent emblem that is further illustrative of the meaning I assign to it. The lyre and tibiæ are more agreeably introduced on vases, and likewise on gems; and in the work of Caylus, especially, may be noticed the three Cabirs on the deck of a boat, which may be supposed to float on the great abyss, while Camillus excites them to dance by blowing the tibia.
In subjects more intellectually conceived, rhetoric has furnished many elegant groups. Upon an ancient fresco
Upon an ancient fresco among the Antichità d'Ercolano, may be seen an elder seated, with a cista of volumes at his feet, and a female addressing him, with the hand extended in a persuasive attitude. I venture to deem the former philosophy, in the latter I recognize eloquence; for it may ed, that philosophy when inert is little more than meditation, but animated by eloquence it assumes a different nature, it benefits and enlightens; and it is from this union of soul with body, that we derive the noblest productions of literary composition.
In this class, therefore, I will place a vase already noticed, where a youth in the act of pleading is entitled neion, and
• This version is from the elegant pen of W. Sotheby, Esq.
a seated female EYKAEA*, as a personification of eloquence rousing the historic muse. It is to be regretted that an imperfection in the vase prevents our ascertaining the character of a third figure, that would have rendered the group complete ; but the allegory is sufficiently intelligible.
* Or perhaps EYKAEIA: the I may be supposed to be concealed by the skirt of the robe of the sitting figure.