He Knew Nothing of Real Textual Criticism

Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff,

History of Classical Scholarship (trans. Alan Harris):

“His [Nicholas Heinsius’] labours were confined almost entirely to Latin poetry, from Catullus to Prudentius. Apart from his numerous editions he left a great deal of material on which later scholars relied for their own publications. It is hard to believe that anybody ever had such an intuitive understanding of what these poets, especially Ovid, were trying to say and how they expressed themselves, or to doubt that, so far from rejecting what he put into their mouths as unworthy of them, they would sometimes have admitted that he had even improved on them; for, diligent as he was in consulting manuscripts and though his flair for the true reading served him well, he knew nothing of real textual criticism. He emended, as was customary, codicum et ingenii ope, thereby setting an example that was only too widely followed by people who possessed neither his feeling for style nor his ingenium. But our abhorrence of inept conjecture must not lessen our admiration for the genius of Heinsius.”

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