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" chaplet of Esop and juvenald," Euripides " in his tyme
But for perpetuating the atchievements of the knights of the round table, he supposes that a clerk was appointed, and that he compiled a register from the poursuivants and heralds who attended their tournaments, and that thence the histories of those invincible Champions were framed, which, whether read or sung, have afforded so much delight ". For the stories of Constantine and Arthur he brings as- his vouchers, the chronicle. or romance called BRUT or BRUTUS, and Geoffrey of Monmouth o. He concludes the legend of Constantine by telling us, that an equestrian statue in brass is still to be seen at Constantinople of that emperor; in which he appears armed with a prodigious sword, menacing the Turks P.. In describing the Pantheon at Rome, he gives us some circumstances highly romantic. He relates that this magnificent fane was full of gigantic idols, placed on lofty' stages: these images were the gods of all the nations conquered by the Romans, and each turned. his countenance to that province over which he presided. Every image held in his hand a bell framed by magic; and when any kingdom belonging to the Roman jurisdiction was meditating rebellion against the imperial city, the idol of that country gave, .by some- secret principle, a solemn warning of the distant treason by striking his bell, which never sounded on any other occasion-9. Our author, following Boccacio who wrote the THESElD, supposes that Theseus founded the order of knighthood at Athens '. He introduces, much in the manner of Boethius, a disputation between Fortune and Poverty 3 supposed to have been written by ANDALUS the blake, a doctorof astronomy at Naples, who was one of Bochas's preceptors.
Lydgate appears to have been far advanced in years when he finished this poem : for at the beginning of the eighth book he complains of his trembling joints, and declares that age, having benumbed his faculties, has deprived him " of all " the subtylte of curious makyng in Englysshe to endyte'." Our author, in the structure and modulation of his style, seems to have been ambitious of rivalling Chaucer': whose capital compositions he enumerates, and on whose poetry he bestows repeated encomiums.
I cannot quit this work without adding an observation relating to Boccacio, its original author, which perhaps may deserve attention. It is highly probable that Boccacio learned many anecdotes of Grecian history and Grecian fable, not to be found in any Greek writer now extant, from his preceptors Barlaam, Leontius, and others, who had lived at Constantinople while the Greek literature was yet flourishing. Some of these are perhaps scattered up and down in the composition before us, which contains a considerable part of the Grecian story; and especially in his treatise of the genealogies of the gods '. Boccacio himself calls his master Leontius an inexhaustible archive of Grecian tales and fables, although not equally conversant with those of
the Latins 7. He confesses that he took many things in his book Of the genealogies Of the gods from avast work entitled COLLECTIVUM, now lost, written by his cotemporary PaulusPerusinus, the materials of which had in great measure been furnished by Barlaam 2. We are informed also, that Perusinus made use of some Of these fugitive Greek scholars, especially Barlaam, for collecting rare books in that language, Perusings was librarian, about the year 1340, to Robert' king Of jerusalem and Sicily: and was the most curious and inquisitive man of his age for searching after unknown or uncommon manuscripts, especially histories, and poetical compositions, and particularly such as were written in Greek. I will beg leave to cite the words of Boccacio, whorecords this anecdote. " Et, si usquam CURIOSISSIMUS fuit ** homo in perquirendis, jussu etiam principis, PEREGRINIS. " undecunque libris, Hrsronns et POETICIS operibus, istev fuit. Et ob id, fingulari amicitiae Barlaae conjunctus, quae a Latinis habere non poterat EO MEDIO INNUMERA exhausit " a GRIECIS'." By these Hrsronue and POETICA OPERA, brought from Constantinople by Barlaam, undoubtedly works of entertainment, and perhaps chiefly of the romantic and fictitious species, I do not understand the clasiics. It is natural to suppose that Boccacio, both from- his connections and his curiosity, was no stranger to these treasures: and that many of these pieces, thus imported into Italy by thedispersion of the Constantinopolitan exiles, are only known at present through' the medium Of his writings. It is certain that many oriental sictions- found their way. into Europe. by means of this communication.
Lydgate's STOssRIE or THEBES was first printed by WilliamThinne, at the end of his edition of Chaucer's works, in,