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The Student's Mythology A Compendium of Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Assyrian, Persian, Hindoo, Chinese, Thibetian, Scandinavian, Celtic, Aztec, and Peruvian Mythologies

Page: 57

Herodotus relates many things which seem strange, and even incredible; but these are either traditions of remote times, or accounts received from other travellers. The general opinion is that where Herodotus speaks from his own observation, or relates events of which the memory was still recent, he may be relied upon as an accurate and truthful historian.

JUSTIN (Saint).

A Christian writer of the second century. He is principally celebrated for his “Apology for the Christians,” addressed to the Emperor Antoninus. It is written in a style at once eloquent and persuasive, and it is believed that it had the desired effect, and was the immediate cause of the edict issued by Antoninus in favor of the Christians.

St. Justin addressed a second Apology to Marcus Aurelius, but with far different success. This Emperor was too much under the influence of [297] the heathen philosophers whom he had assembled at his court, to judge impartially in the matter. One of these, Crescentius, a bitter enemy of the Christians, procured the death of their intrepid defender. The martyrdom of St. Justin took place at Rome, about the year 161 A. D.

JUVENAL.

A Roman poet of the first century. He was born in the reign of Caligula, but the exact date is not known. Juvenal is celebrated for his satires, in which he attacked the vices and follies of his day, not sparing the emperors themselves where their conduct was deserving of reproach. Hadrian believed that one of the satires of Juvenal was directed against himself; he had not the magnanimity to overlook the offence, and Juvenal was exiled to Lybia, where he died soon after.

MÆCENAS.

Minister and favorite of the Emperor Augustus. He was distinguished for the wisdom of his counsels, and his rare abilities as a statesman. Although himself an indifferent poet, he was still a patron of literature and literary men; Virgil, Horace, Ovid and other celebrated writers of the Augustan age, were among his most intimate friends. Such was the care with which Mæcenas sought out and rewarded every species of merit, [298] that his name is proverbially used to denote a generous patron.

Admirable in his public capacity, he was in private life as indolent and luxurious as the most effeminate oriental. His villas were laid out with unexampled magnificence, and his banquets surpassed, in taste and display, those given by Augustus himself.

The later years of Mæcenas offer a sad commentary on the value of human greatness. His constitution, which had never been strong, was weakened by excess. He was tormented by constant wakefulness, and this great man, with the resources of the world at his command, would probably have sacrificed both wealth and power for the common boon of sleep enjoyed by the meanest of his slaves. In vain the physicians exercised their skill; narcotics, monotonous sounds, distant music, all failed to produce the desired effect. A stream was, at length, conducted through a garden adjoining the chamber where he lay, and the soft murmur of the falling waters procured a temporary alleviation. We are told, however, that for three years preceding his death, Mæcenas never slept.


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