36. In c. 46.6 the poet speaks of a plan of visiting “claras Asiae urbes” on his return voyage. He seems also to feel some joy at the prospect; but this is the only passage in his writings that shows any susceptibility to the charm of historic associations connected with the ancient Greek cities. The course of the homeward voyage is but vaguely sketched in c. 4, and the only city actually mentioned there as visited on the journey is Rhodes (c. 4.8), though we may infer from c. 46 that other famous sites between the Hellespont and Rhodes were not neglected by him. He may even have visited Athens, for his little ship probably was drawn across the Corinthian isthmus by the famous ship-railway instead of braving the dangers of the longer and rougher passage around the Malean cape. Yet no such mention of Athens exists in his writings as would suggest that he had ever visited, or cared to visit, that city. A similar doubt besets the question of his point of debarkation in Italy. If the expressions of c. 4 were to be taken literally, we must understand that the “phasellus” carried its master actually up the Po and the little Mincius into the Garda-lake, even to the shores of Sirmio itself. But this is well-nigh impossible; and even if possible, is it likely that the poet, so eager to reach home, would have submitted to the tedium of a tow-boat's voyage (for surely the “phasellus” could not sail up the Mincius), when a few hours by post from the mouth of the Po would have brought him to his desired haven? Apparently both the begin-fling and the end of the voyage of the “phasellus” as recounted in c. 4 are not to be interpreted with strict literalness. But the rapturous joy with which Sirmio is saluted in c. 31 forbids us to suppose that the poet first visited Rome, and later made his way northward. Even the gaiety with which the dedicatory inscription of the model of the “phasellus” (c. 4) is struck off; -a poem after an entirely new style, - shows that at the time of its composition the first enthusiasm of delight had not yet evaporated.
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Friends and foes.
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