previous next

Penta'dius

the name prefixed in MSS. to ten short elegies or epigrams, extending in all to ninety-eight lines, which are severally entitled :--1. De Fortuna, 18 couplets. 2. De Advent Venis, 11 couplets. 3, 4, 5, 6. De Narcisso, respectively 5, 1, 2, 1, couplets. 7. Tuimulus Acidis, 4 couplets. 8. Tumulus Hectoris, 5 couplets. 9. De Chrysocome, 1 couplet. 10. In Viryilium, I couplet.

The first three, which it will he observed are much longer than the rest, are all constructed in such a manner that the words which form the first penthemimer of the Hexameter recur as the second penthemimer of the pentameter, thus :--

Res eadem assidue momento volvitur horae
Atque redit dispar res eadeo, assidue :

and

Vindice facta mann Progne pia dicta sorori
Impia sed nato vindice facta manu :

On this species of trifling critics have bestowed the name of Ophites or Carmen Serpentinum, because. like the ancient symbol of the snake with its tail in its mouth, the beginning and the end meet after a circular revolution (Scalig. Poet. 2.30). Poets of a higher stamp have occasionally had recourse to a similar artifice, but merely for the sake of making a passing impression, as when we read in Ovid (Amor. 1.9),

Militat omntis amans et habet sua castra Cupido,
Attice, crede Mihi, militat omnis amans.

(Compare Fast. 4.365; Martial. 9.98.) But we have no example among the purer writers of a serious composition in which such a conceit is prolonged through a series of couplets.

We know nothing with regard to the personal history of the author of these pieces nor of the period when he may have flourished, although from the tone in which they are conceived we may safely assign him to the later empire, and one expression (1.33) might lead us to believe that he was a Christian. He is generally supposed to be the person to whom Lactantius dedicates the Epitome of his Divine Institutions, and whom he styles "brother," but beyond the identity of name we are not aware that any evidence can be adduced in support of this position.

Certain short poems included in the Catalecta Petroniana are in some MSS. given to Pentadius, particularly two elegiac couplets on the faithlessness of woman (Burmann, Anthol. Lat. 3.88, or No. 245, ed. Meyer), and fourteen hendecasyllabics, De Vita Beata, which certainly bear the impress of a better age than the verses discussed above (Burmann, Anthol. Lat. 3.93, or No. 250, ed. Meyer ; Wernsdorf, Poet. Lat. Min. vol. iii. p. 405). There is also an Epitaphium Achilli (Burm. Anthol. 1.98, Meyer, append. 1614), which has a strong resemblance to the Tumulus Hectoris generally given to an Eusebius or an Eusthenius, but by Scaliger and Wernsdorf to Pentadius. Wernsdorf, in one portion of his work, endeavoured to prove that the Epitome Iliados Homeri, which bears the name of Pindars, ought in reality to be assigned to Pentadius, but this idea he afterwards abandoned. (Wernsdorf, Poet. Lat. Min. vol. iii. p. 256, iv. p. 546; Burmann, Anthol. Lat. 3.105, Meyer, vol. i. p. xxvii. and Epp. No. 241-252, and append. Ep. No. 1614; see also Burmann, 1.98, 102, 139, 140, 141, 142, 148, 165, 2.203, 3.88, 93, 105, 5.69.)

[W.R]

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: