II[2arg] About an intimate talk of the poets Pacuvius and Accius in the town of Tarentum.
THOSE who have had leisure and inclination to inquire into the life and times of learned men and hand them down to memory, have related the following anecdote of the tragic poets Marcus Pacuvius and Lucius Accius: “Pacuvius,” they say, “when already enfeebled by advanced age and constant bodily illness, had withdrawn from Rome to Tarentum. Then Accius, who was a much younger man, coming to Tarentum on his way to Asia, visited Pacuvius, and being hospitably received and detained by him for several days, at his request read him his tragedy entitled Atreus.” Then they say that Pacuvius remarked that what he had written seemed sonorous and full of dignity, but that nevertheless it appeared to him somewhat harsh and rugged. “What you say is true,” replied Accius, “and I do not greatly regret it; for it gives me hope that what I write hereafter will be better. For they say it is with the mind as it is with fruits; those which are at first harsh and bitter, later become mild and sweet; but those which at once grow mellow and soft, and are juicy in the beginning, presently become, not ripe, but decayed. Accordingly, it has seemed to me that something should be left in the products of the intellect for time and age to mellow.” [p. 421]