Article 14 notes

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*Instit. lib.viii. Cap.1.[383]

 

 

*Vid. lib.x. cap.1.

 

*Vid. Quintil. lib.xi. Cap.1.

 

*Vid. Quintil. lib.ii., cap.18, and lib.iv. Cap.2.

 

*Vid. Quintil. lib. xi. cap. 3.

 

*'Quorum ego virtutes plerasque arbitror similes; consilium; ordinem; dividendi, præparandi, probandi rationem; omnia denique quæ sunt inventionis.'—Instit. lib.x., cap.1.

 

*

 

* —Demosth. contr. Arist.

—Ibid.

 

*''—Ibid.

 

*Since, in referring to the Hecyra of Terence, Doctor Parr has resorted to indirect evidence on the subject of ancient infanticide (for, in the Hecyra, no child is actually exposed), we are surprised that he did not complete this head of evidence, which, indeed, as to the general existence of the crime, is just as good evidence as could be obtained. We subjoin three or four passages of this class from the Latin comic poets; most of them relating to Athens, one to Thebes. It may be observed, by the way, that, for very obvious reasons, the comic poets are more competent witnesses as to the customs or manners of the Athenians, than as to those of most other nations.

'Nam inceptio est amentium, haud amantium;
Quicquid peperisset, decreverunt tollere.'—Andr. Act i. Sc.3.

And, again, in a dialogue between Pamphilus and Davus,

Pa. 'Nam pollicitus sum suscepturum.
Dav.
O facinus audax!
Pa.
Hanc fidem. Sibi, me obsecravit, qui se sciret non deserturum, ut darem.'—Act ii. Sc.3.

From what admirable motives did these parents save the life of their new-born infant! The following lines are from the Truculentus of Plautus. Phronesium speaks.

'Nunc huc remisit nuper ad me epislolam,
Sese experturum quanti sese penderem,
Si, quod peperissem, id educarem et tollerem,
Bona sua me habiturum omnia.'—Act ii. Sc.4.

From the prologue and other parts of the Trucutentus, it appears that the scene of its action was in Athens; which is also notoriously the case with the Andria. Both, therefore, furnish us with evidence as to the prevalence of infanticide in that city; though both indirectly, as in both a reason is given why an infant should not be exposed.

In the Amphitryon, Jupiter is introduced thus addressing Alcmena.

                                    '—menses jam tibi actos vides:
Mihi necesse est ire hinc; ver?m quod erit natum, tollito.'—Act i. Sc.3.

But the scene of this play not being laid in Athens, and its action being supposed to take place in the fabulous ages, nothing can be safely concluded from it, excepting as to the general feelings of the ancients on the practice to which Jupiter is introduced as indirectly alluding. In fact, when Plautus wrote, infanticide was prohibited at Thebes by law.

To the other sort of infanticide mentioned by Doctor Parr, a strong allusion occurs in the Truculentus; Artaphium is speaking of Phronesium.

'Celabat, metuebatque te illa, ne sibi persuaderes
Ut abortioni operam daret, puerumque ut enecaret'—Act i. Sc.2.

* Rose's Observations on Fox's History.

 

 

Published @ RC

September 2006

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