Pagina:Zibaldone di pensieri VII.djvu/397

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388 pensieri (4455-4456)

pass from older pieces in general circulation into new compositions; and, even where the poet is not equal to a great subject, give them a poetical colouring and keeping. So Cicero read on the tomb of Calatinus: hunc plurimae consentiunt gentes populi primarium fuisse virum: (not. 635. Cicero, de Senectute 17). we read on that of L. Scipio the son of Barbatus: hunc unum plurimi consentiunt Romani bonorum optumum fuisse virum.

The poems out of which what we call the history of the Roman Kings was resolved into a prose narrative, were different from the nenia in form, and of great extent; consisting partly of lays united into a uniform whole, partly of such as were detached and without any necessary connexion. The history of Romulus is an epopee by itself: on Numa there can only have been short lays. Tullus, the story of the Horatii, and of the destruction of Alba, form an epic whole, like the poem on Romulus: indeed here Livy has preserved a fragment of the poem entire, in the lyrical numbers of the old Roman verse (not. 636. The verses of the horrendum carmen I. 26.

          Duúmviri pérduelliónem júdicent.
          Si a duúmviris provocárit,
          Provocátióne certáto:
          Si víncent, caput óbnúbito:


          Infélici árbore réste suspéndito:
          Vérberato íntra vel éxtra pomoérium.

The description of the nature of the old Roman versification, and of the great variety of its lyrical metres, which continued in use down to the middle of the seventh century of the city, and were carried to a high degree of perfection, I reserve, until I shall publish a chapter of an ancient grammarian on the Saturnian Verse, which decides the question). On the