Bentley’s Force of Mind

“It seems easy for Bentley to say, ‘Astypalaea of Crete does not once occur in ancient authors.’ But a lifetime is behind this negation.”

-Mark Pattison, Isaac Casaubon (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1892) p.34

Today, the intellectually democratizing Thesaurus Linguae Graecae has made this appear even more easy to say. However, if one considers Bentley’s output in textual criticism and classical learning in general compared with what we produce today with the aid of so many lexica, reference books, and digital resources, his sheer intellectual power seems all the more impressive.

5 thoughts on “Bentley’s Force of Mind

    1. This quote is about how limited a scholar’s resources were in the 17th century. So, what seems to us now as a simple scholarly achievement, actually took a lifetime of work for someone like Richard Bentley.

      1. Actually, I was trying to ask about Bentley’s (to me) cryptic ‘Astypalaea of Crete does not once occur in ancient authors,’ not the Mark Pattison quote of the quote.

      2. In his Dissertations on the Epistles of Phalaris, Bentley reminds the reader that he had on a previous occasion corrected Joshua Barnes’ edition of Euripides, which had originally claimed that Astypalaea was an island in the Cyclades, by asserting that Astypalaea was one of the Sporades. Charles Boyle, who published an edition of the Epistles of Phalaris, attacked Bentley for this correction in an attempt to prove the authenticity of the Epistles; consequently, in Bentley’s Dissertation, there is a rather substantial discussion of this topic, which is but one of the many arguments developed to prove that the Epistles were not genuine. Bentley writes, “But I have answered him already, that Astypalaea of Crete does NOT ONCE occur in ancient authors.”

        Interestingly, despite Pattison’s claim that a lifetime of study lay behind the quote, Bentley was a relatively young man when he published his Dissertation.

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