the author of a poem upon the chase, of whom only one undoubted notice is to be found in ancient writers.
This is contained in the Epistles from Pontus (4.16, 33), where Ovid speaks of him as a contemporary in the same couplet with Virgil:--
Tityrus antiquas et erat qui pasceret herbas,
Aptaque venanti Gratius arma daret.
23.) Some lines in Manilius have been supposed to allude to Gratius, but the terms in which they are expressed (Astron.
2.43) are too vague to warrant such a conclusion. Wernsdorf, arguing from the name, has endeavoured, not without some shadow of reason, to prove that he must have been a slave or a freedman, but the rest of his conjectures are mere fantasies.
The cognomen, or epithet, Faliscus,
was first introduced by Barth, on the authority of a MS. which no one else ever saw, and probably originated in a forced and false interpretation of one (of the lies in the poem, "At contra nostris imbellia lina Faliscis " (5.40), where, upon referring to the context, it will at once be seen that nostris
here denotes merely italian,
in contradistinction to the various foreign tribes spoken of in the preceding verses.
The work itself, which consists of 540 hexameters, is entitled Cynegeticon Liber
, and professes to set forth the apparatus (arma
) necessary for the sportsman, and the manner in which the various requisites for the pursuit of game are to be procured, prepared, and preserved (artes armorumn.
) Among the arma
of the hunter are included not only nets, gins, snares (retia, pedicae, laquei),
darts and spears (jacula, venabula
), but also horses and dogs, and a large portion of the undertaking (vv. 150-430) is devoted to a systematic account of the different kinds of hounds and horses.
The language of the Cynegetica
is pure, and not unworthy of the age to which it belongs; but there is frequently a harshness in the structure of the periods, a strange and unauthorised use of particular words, and a general want of distinctness, which, in addition to a very corrupt text, render it a task of great difficulty to determine the exact meaning of many passages. Although considerable skill is manifested in the combination of the parts, the author did not possess sufficient power to overcome the obstacles which were triumphantly combated by Virgil.
The matter and arrangement of the treatise are derived in a great measure from Xenophon, although information was drawn from other ancient sources, such as Dercylus the Arcadian, and Hagnon of Bocotia.
It is remarkable, that both the Greek Oppianus, who flourished probably under Caracalla, and the Roman Nemesianus, the contemporary of Numerianus, arrogate to themselves the honour of having entered upon a path altogether untrodden. Whether we believe them to be sincere and ignorant, or suspect them of deliberate dishonesty, their bold assertion is sufficient to prove that the poem of Faliscus had in their day become almost totally unknown.
has been transmitted to modern times through the medium of a single MS., which was brought from Gaul to Italy by Actius Sannazarius about the beginning of the sixteenth century, and contained also the Cynegetics of Nemesianus, and the Halieutics ascribed to Ovid.
A second copy of the first 159 lines was found by Janus Ulitius appended to another MS. of the Halieutics.
The Editio Princeps was printed at Venice, 8vo. February, 1534, by Aldus Manutius, in a volume, containing also the Halieutica of Ovid, the Cynegetica and Carmen Bucolicum of Nemesianus, the Buolica of Calpurnius Siculus, together with the Venatio of Hadrianus; and reprinted at Augsburg in the July of the same year
The best editions are those contained in the Poetae Latini Minores of Burmann (vol. i. Lug. Bat. 1731)
, and of Wernsdorf, vol. i. p. 6, 293, ii. p. 34, iv. pt. ii. p. 790, 806, v. pt. iii. p. 1445)
, whose prolegomnena embrace all the requisite preliminary information.
A translation into English verse with notes, and the Latin text, by Christopher Wase, was published at London in 1654
, and a translation into German, also metrical, by S. E. G. Perlet, at Leipzig, in 1826