Tibullus, Albius

, a Latin poet, is supposed to have been born at Rome, in the year of Rome 690, six years after the birth of Virgil, and one after that of Horace. His father was of the equestrian order; and he himself set out into the world with all the advantages of fortune, and the greatest accomplishments of mind and person. Among the great men of his age, he singled out Messala Corvinus for his patron; who was a brave and accomplished Roman, admired by Cicero, mentioned with great respect by Horace, and ranked by Quintilian among the masters of oratory. He was to Tibullus, what Maecenas was to Horace. This poet had a country seat at Pedum, a town in Latium not far from Rome. He was a great sufferer in the civil wars, yet does not seem to have been concerned in any party. He was, like Ovid, a man devoted to ease and pleasure; and his time was divided between the Muses and his mistresses. He seems indeed to have abandoned himself entirely to the passion of love, as some think, even to the neglect of his affairs. His regard for Messala, however, made him forget his love of ease and pleasure, and followthat nobleman into Gaul, who was there victorious,' and had a triumph decreed him upon his return to Rome. He was attending Messala on a second expedition to Syria, when he fell sick by the way, and was forced to stay in the | island of Phaeacia or Corcyra. On this occasion he composed the third elegy of the fourth book, and desired that if he should die of his illness, he might have this epitaph engraven on his monument:

"Hie jacet immiti consumptus morte Tibullus,

Messalam terra dum sequiturque mari."

Though he recovered from this attack, death did not spare him much longer, but carried him off in the forty-fourth year of his age.

As to his character, Horace, with whom he was intimately acquainted, as well as with the other wits of the Augustan age, gives him that of a fine writer and good critic:

"Albi, nostrorum sermonum candide judex,

Quid nunc te dicam facere in regione Pedana

Scribere quod Cassi Parmensis opuscula vincat."

Epist. iv. lib. iii.

Nor is Ovid sparing of his praises of Tibullus the ninth elegy of the third book is written to bewail his death. There Ovid finely describes the sweetness and elegance of this poet’s elegies, by introducing Cupid and Venus to mourn over him; after which he places him in the Elysian fields, in company with Calvus, Catullus, and Gallus. The best critics have preferred Tibullus even to Ovid himself, for elegance and correctness of style; and Quintilian sets him at the head of all the writers in elegy. “In elegy,” says he, “we challenge also the Greeks, in which way of writing, Tibullus, according to my judgment, is by far the most neat and elegant. Some indeed give Propertius the preference; Ovid is more indecent than either of them, as Gallus is more harsh and unpolished. 1 * There is certainly in his poems an admirable mixture of passion and purity, of simplicity and elegance, and he is thought to surpass all others not only in tenderness and sentiment, but in graceful ease and harmony of members. He has left four books of” Elegies.“His panegyric upon Messala is censured by Scaliger, and suspected not to be his; and the small pieces at the end of the fourth book, which Scaliger calls” hard, languid, and rough," either do not belong to Tibullus, or never received his last corrections.

This author has usually been printed in the same volume with Catullus and Propertius; and one of the best editions of him in conjunction with them is that by Graevius, “cum notia variorum,Leyden, 1589, in 2 vols. 8vo. But he | was afterwards, in 1*708, published separately at Amsterdam, in 1 vol. 4to, by Janus Brouckhusius, a very polite and elegant critic, who corrected many places from the best manuscripts, and added his own to the notes variorum. This edition is very neat, and adorned with copper-plates. An excellent edition in quarto was published by Vulpius, a professor at Padua (who also published Catullus and Propertius), in 1749. This was long esteemed the best, and is so still if we take splendour into the account; but two editions in 8vo, have since been published by the celebrated professor Heyne, of which the second of 1777 is, for use, one of the best editions of a classic author that has ever appeared. Tibullus has been translated into English with most success by Grainger, but some have thought it easy to suppose a better transfusion of his spirit into our language. 1


Life by Grainger.