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Claudian > Appraisals of Claudian
"Claudian has for the most part fallen into the hands of doctoral candidates - a suitably obscure and easy author, it was evidently thought, for tiros to cut their teeth on. In fact nothing could be further from the truth." - A. Cameron, CQ 1968, p. 387.
"Claudian's strength... is his superb exploitation of all the tricks of rhetoric, his masterly use of the traditional language of Latin epic, with all its possibilities of allusion, and his unfailingly inventive imagination... He was no original political or historical thinker, nor was he expected by his patrons to be one. Yet he knew how to select from the traditional amalgam just those commonplaces and the exempla which would put his patron's case in the best light, and how to vary his choice among traditional arguments to suit his audience, whether Senate of Rome or court in Milan. He was not just a technician of versification. Though much of his writing may seem bombastic to modern readers, it is bombast of a very high order..." – R. Browning, The Cambridge History of Classical Literature, Vol. II: 708.
"To Claudian's own interest with must be added the undeniable success that this native-Greek speaking, Egyptian emigre had in the highest circles of the Latin West. While it may be possible to glibly dismiss Claudian's success as an extension of Gibbon's notorious quip that, 'the poetical fame of Ausonius condemns the taste of his age,' to do so ignores Claudian's professed artistic intentions."
"Today Claudian... is almost forgotten. But he is worth discovering." - Klinger, Romische Geisteswelt, 1941.
"If we fairly balance his merits and his defects, we shall acknowledge that Claudian
does not either satisfy or silence our reason. It would not
be easy to produce a passage that deserves the epithet of sublime
or pathetic; to select a verse that melts the heart or enlarges
the imagination... [but] he was endowed with the rate and precious
talent of raising the meanest, of adorning the most barren,
of diversifying the most similar topics; his colouring, more
especially in descriptive poetry, is soft and splendid; and
he seldom fails to display, even to abuse, the advantages of
and understanding, a copious fancy, an easy and sometimes forcible
expression, and a perpetual flow of harmonious versification."
– Gibbon, Decline & Fall
"Primis secundum nempe vix poetarum
"Summus et excellens... poeta." - Franciscus Asulanus: Dedicatio der editio Aldina, Venedig 1523.
"Mira in eo ingenii facilitas et naturalis in artem promptitudo... Est enim suavis, luculentus et inoffensi stili, sententiis acutus, in narrando vero subtilis et enucleatus..., denique Maronianae illi maturitati, immo maiestati perpulchre approximans, licet intervallo.... Hunc, quia castissimus est, ... omnibus aliis a teneris post Maronem et Ovidium legi mallem, nam tum rerum, tum verborum in eo exoptabilis copia est." - Joachim von Watt (Vadianus) 1518.
"Poeta insignis... ingenio excellenti fuit" - Petrus Crinitus (Pietro Crinito), De poetis latinis libri, Florenz 1505, lb. V.
Claudianus... nitidus et ferox in sententiis...; sic quoque talis, ut si in recentiorum numero ponas, sit haud dubie primus ut verterum ultimus - Marcus Antonius Coccius Sabellicus (Marcanton Coccio), Rapsodie historicarum enneadum ab orbe condito, In Parrhisiorum acadamia, 1504, lb. IX, ennea. VII, fol. CXXXVI.
"Addit de ingenio, quantum deest materiae - Martin Anton Delrio, In Claudiani poemata notae 1572.
"maximus poeta... solo argumento ignobiliore oppressus" - Scaliger, Poetices, 1561.
"De auctore huius operis diverse sunt opiniones. dicunt enim quidam quod non fuit poeta" - beginning of Glose Claudiani in MS Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek 190
"Claudius . . . has run his description into the most wretched fustian."