See also:Egyptian by
See also:birth, probably an Alexandrian, but it may be conjectured from his name and his mastery of Latin that he was of
See also:Roman extraction . His own authority has been assumed for the assertion that his first poetical dompositions were in Greek, and that he had written nothing in Latin before A.D . 395; but this seems improbable, and the passage (Caren .
See also:Min. xli . 13) which is taken to prove it does not necessarily bear this meaning . In that
See also:year he appears to have come to Rome, and made his debut as a Latin poet by a
See also:panegyric on the consulship of Oly brius and Probinus, the first
See also:brothers not belonging to the imperial
See also:family who had ever simultaneously filled the
See also:office of
See also:consul . This piece proved the precursor of the series of panegyrical poems which compose the bulk of his writings . In Birt's edition a
See also:list of Claudian's poems is given, and also in J . B . Bury's edition of Gibbon (iii. app. i. p . 485), where the
See also:dates given differ slightly from those in the
See also:present article .
In 396 appeared the encomium on the third consulship of theemperor Honorius, and the epic on the downfall of
See also:Rufinus, the unworthy
See also:minister of Arcadius at Constantinople . This revolution was principally effected by the contrivance of
See also:Stilicho, the
See also:great general and minister of Honorius . Claudian's poem appears to have obtained his patronage, or rather perhaps that of his wife
See also:Serena, by whose interposition the poet was within a year or two enabled to contract a wealthy
See also:marriage in Africa (Epist . 2) . Previously to this event he had produced (398) his panegyric on the
See also:fourth consulship of Honorius, his epithalamium on the marriage of Honorius to Stilicho's daughter, Maria, and his poem on the Gildonic war, celebrating the repression of a revolt in Africa . To these succeeded his piece on the consulship of
See also:Theodorus (399), the unfinished or mutilated invective against the
See also:prime minister
See also:Eutropius in the same year, the epics on Stilicho's first consulship and on his repulse of Alaric (400 and 403), and the panegyric on the
See also:sixth consulship of Honorius (404): From this
See also:time all trace of Claudian is lost, and he is generally supposed to have perished with his
See also:patron Stilicho in 408 . It may be conjectured that he must have died in 404, as he could hardly otherwise have omitted to celebrate the greatest of Stilicho's achievements, the destruction of the
See also:host led by Radagaisus in the following year . On the other
See also:hand, he may have survived Stilicho, as in the dedication to the second
See also:book of his epic on the Rape of Proser
See also:pine (which Birt, however, assigns to 395--397), he speaks of his disuse of
See also:poetry in terms hardly reconcilable with the fertility which he displayed during his patron's lifetime . From the manner in which Augustine alludes to him in his De civitate Dei, it may be inferred that he was no longer living at the date of the composition of that
See also:work, between 415 and 428 . Besides Claudian's chief poems, his lively Fescennines on the emperor's marriage, his panegyric on Serena, and the Gigantomachia, a fragment of an unfinished Greek epic, may also be mentioned . Several poems expressing Christian sentiments are undoubtedly
See also:spurious . Claudian's paganism, however, neither prevented his celebrating Christian rulers and magistrates nor his enjoying the distinction of a
See also:court laureate .
It is probable that he was nominally a Christian, like his patron Stilicho andAusonius, although at heart attached to the old religion . The very decided statements of
See also:Orosius and Augustine as to his heathenism may be explained by the
See also:style of Claudian's
See also:political poems . We have his own authority for his having been honoured by a
See also:bronze statue in the forum, and
See also:Pomponius Laetus discovered in the 15th century an inscription (C.I.L. vi . 1710) on the pedestal, which, formerly considered spurious, is now generally regarded as genuine . The position of Claudian—the last of the Roman poets—is unique in literature . It is sufficiently remarkable that, after nearly three centuries of torpor, the Latin muse should have experienced any revival in the age of Honorius, nothing less than amazing that this revival should have been the work of a foreigner, most surprising of all that a just and enduring celebrity should have been gained by official panegyrics on the generally uninteresting transactions of an inglorious epoch . The first of these particulars bespeaks Claudian's taste, rising
See also:superior to the prevailing barbarism, the second his command of language, the third his rhetorical skill . As remarked by Gibbon, " he was endowed with the rare and precious
See also:talent of raising the meanest, of adorning the most barren, and of diversifying the most similar topics." This
See also:gift is especially displayed in his poem on the downfall of Rufinus, where the punishment of a public male-factor is exalted to the dignity of an epical subject by the magnificence of diction and the ostentation of supernatural machinery . The
See also:noble exordium, in which the
See also:fate of Rufinus is propounded as the vindication of divine
See also:justice, places the subject at once on a dignified level; and the council of the infernal
See also:powers has afforded a hint to
See also:Tasso, and through him to Milton . The inevitable monotony of the panegyrics on Honorius is relieved by just and brilliant expatiation on the duties of a
See also:sovereign . In his celebration of Stilicho's victories Claudian found a subject more worthy of his powers, and some passages, such as the description of the
See also:flight of Alaric, and of Stilicho's arrival at Rome, and the felicitous parallel between his triumphsand those of
See also:rank among the brightest ornaments of Latin poetry . Claudian's panegyric, however lavish and regardless of veracity, is in general far less offensive than usual in his age, a circumstance attributable partly to his more refined taste and partly to the genuine merit of his patron Stilicho .
He is a valuable authority for the
See also:history of his times, and is rarely to be convicted of serious inaccuracy in his facts, whatever may be thought of the colouring he chooses to impart to them . He was animated by true patriotic feeling, in the shape of a reverence for Rome as the source and
See also:symbol of
See also:order and
See also:civilization . Outside the sphere of actual
See also:life he is less successful; his Rape of
See also:Proserpine, though the beauties of detail are as great as usual, betrays his deficiency in the creative power requisite for dealing with a purely ideal subject . This denotes the rhetorician rather than the poet, and in general it may be said that his especial gifts of vivid natural description, and of copious
See also:illustration, derived from extensive but not cumbrous erudition, are fully as appropriate to eloquence as to poetry . In the general
See also:cast of his mind and character of his writings, and especially, in his
See also:faculty for bestowing enduring
See also:interest upon occasional themes, we may fitly compare him with
See also:Dryden, remembering that while Dryden exulted in the energy of a vigorous and fast-developing language, Claudian was cramped by an artificial diction, confined to the
See also:literary class . The editio princeps of Claudian was printed at
See also:Vicenza in 1482; the
See also:editions of J . M . Gesner (1754) and P .
See also:Burmann (1760) are still valuable for their notes . The first critical edition was that of L . Jeep (1876-1879), now superseded by the exhaustive work of T . Birt, with bibliography, in Monumenta Germaniae Historica (x., 1892; smaller ed. founded on this by J .
Koch, Teubner series, 1893) . There is a
See also:separate edition with commentary and
See also:translation of Il
See also:Rath) di Prosperpina, by L . Garces de Diez (1889); the satire In Eutropium is discussed by T . Birt in Zwei politische Satiren
See also:des a&ten Rom (1888) . There is a complete
See also:English verse translation of little merit by A .
See also:Hawkins (181:7) . See the articles by
See also:Ramsay in
See also:Smith's Classical
See also:Dictionary and Vollmer in Pauly-Wissowa's Realencyclopadie der clasrischen Altertumswissenschaft, iii . 2 (1899); also J . H . E . Crees, Claudian as an Historian (1908), the " Cambridge
See also:Essay" for 1906 (No . 17) ; T .
See also:Hodgkin, Claudian, the last of the Roman Poets (1875) .
ANTOINE FRANCOIS JEAN CLAUDET (1797-1867)
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