With a Little Greek, All Will Be Well

J.E. Sandys, A History of Classical Scholarship, Vol. III:

“As inspector of the school at Ilfeld, he used his influence in 1770 in favour of the revival of a liberal education. The school had fallen into decay, but all, he felt sure, would be well, if a little Greek were introduced; he would then feel no anxiety about Latin and all the other subjects known as humaniora, while, wherever Greek was neglected, everything else would remain ‘ mere patch-work and perpetual botching’. His report of 1780 also proves him to have been an enlightened promoter of the New Humanism.”

Humanism vs. Erudition

J.E. Sandys, A History of Classical Scholarship, Vol. III:

“Gesner was one of the foremost leaders of the movement known as the New Humanism. The Old Humanism had aimed at the verbal imitation of the style of the Latin Classics, and at the artificial prolongation of the modern life of the ancient Latin literature. This aim was gradually found to be impracticable, and, about 1650, it was abandoned. Latin was still taught in schools ; it also survived as the medium of university instruction and as the language of the learned world. But the ancient literature came to be considered as a superfluity; neglected at school, it was regarded simply as a waste and barren field, where the learned might burrow in quest of the facts required for building up the fabric of an encyclopaedic erudition. Such was practically the view of the School of Halle.”

The Necessary Imitation of Greek Models

J.E. Sandys, A History of Classical Scholarship, Vol. III:

“In connexion with Gesner we may here notice some of the other lexicographers of the same century. Christian Tobias Damm (1699 1778), the head of the oldest gymnasium of Berlin, besides producing a work on the elements of Greek and an annotated edition of the Battle of the Frogs and Mice (1732-5), made his mark, thirty years later, with his great lexicon to Homer and Pindar 4 . In the same year he translated into German the text of the Gospel according to St John, and, in the following year, was required, on theological grounds, to resign his head-mastership. But he remained true to his two favourite Greek authors. His prose translation of both was completed in 1771. In his translation of Homer he unhappily endeavoured to represent the simplicity of a primitive age by constantly resorting to the language of the lower classes, but his renderings served to make both poets better known among the German people. In his work in general he was prompted by a conviction that the Greek language and literature were superior to the Latin. He held that the imitation of Greek models was necessary to raise the level of German culture, and, in the increasing interest in Greek literature, he saw the sign of a new Renaissance.”

“No Latin Without Greek”

J.E. Sandys, A History of Classical Scholarship, Vol. III:

“As a school-master at Leipzig, Gesner abolished the use of the old Latin compendium, and introduced the Latin Classics in its place, carrying his pupils in a few months through the whole of Terence, and insisting on the literary and educational value of the continuous study of a single author. For a quarter of a century, in his Seminar at Gottingen, he was constantly training a chosen band of the future preceptors of Germany, his aim being to produce intelligent teachers rather than erudite scholars. He set a high value on the study of Greek literature : Latin itself (he held) could not be thoroughly understood without Greek. Boys at school (he added) should not be allowed to give up Greek. After learning the elements of the Grammar, they should go on to easy reading, such as Aesop, Lucian and the Greek Testament, and afterwards take up Homer. When he lectured on Homer (in and after 1739) he always had a good class.”

Linguistic Laws: Look to the Learned

Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, de Liberorum Educatione:

“There is the greatest number of those who pamper and arrange their hair, who drink at the baths, who dine out with unseemly zeal, who serve unlawful profit and pleasure. There are few who abstain from these things. Let it not be that we imitate the former; let us avoid them. How many there are, who degrade the Latin language! In place of the word ‘love’ (amare) and ‘to chase after ladies with carnal desire,’ the people of this land say hovizare. They call ‘the expenses incurred on a journey’ cerealia. When they want to say that someone will come, they do not say, ‘he will come,’ but ‘the coming will be soon.’ What then? Shall we follow these people (because they are the majority) and adopt our mode of speaking from the mob? Let this error go away. For indeed, though something faulty has settled in the minds of ever so many people, it should not be accepted as a rule of speech, because good morals – not vice – make for linguistic correctness. Just as it is proper, in life, to call upon and imitate the custom of the good, so too in the field of speech, we must call upon and imitate the established usage of the learned.”


Maximus est eorum numerus, qui comas nutriunt et in gradus frangunt, qui perpotant in balneis, qui summo studio cenas sectantur, qui lucris illicitis, qui libidini serviunt; pauci, qui ab his abstinent. Absit, ut illos imitemur; istos fugiamus. Quam multi sunt, qui verba Latina depravant! Pro eo, quod est ‘amare’ atque ‘insequi Veneris cupiditate feminas,’ ‘hovizare’ huius terrae populus dicit; ‘sumptus qui fiunt ab itinerantibus,’ ‘ceralia’ vocat; quando venturum quemquam significare vult, ipse inquit non ‘veniet,’ sed ‘erit cito venire.’ Quid igitur? Sequemurne istos, quia plurimi sunt, et loquendi consuetudinem ex multitudine recipiemus? Facessat hic error. Non enim, quod vitiose quamvis multis insiderit, pro regula sermonis accipiendum erit, quia non vitia sed mores boni consuetudinem faciunt. Sicut ergo vivendi consensum bonorum, sic et loquendi consonantiam eruditorum appellare et imitari consuetudinem oportebit.

Greek Studies vs. Intemperate Drink

J.E. Sandys, A History of Classical Scholarship Vol. III

“Fabricius counted among his correspondents the leading scholars of his age. He was assisted in the compilation of the Bibliotheca Latina by the Danish scholar, Christian Falster; and, in that of the Bibliotheca Graeca, by Kiister. He was also largely aided in the latter by Stephan Bergler (c. 1680 c. 1746), who, by his knowledge of Greek, might have attained a place among the foremost scholars of his time, but was reduced to the level of a literary hack by an insatiable craving for drink. Early in the century he was a corrector of proofs at Leipzig; in 1705 he left for Amsterdam, where he produced indices to the edition of Pollux begun by Lederlin and continued by Hemsterhuys, and himself completed Lederlin’s edition of Homer (1707). We next find him helping Fabricius at Hamburg and elsewhere. During his second stay at Leipzig, he produced an excellent edition of Alciphron (1715); his edition of Aristophanes was published after his death by the younger Burman (1760) ; his work on Herodotus is represented only by some critical notes in the edition of Jacob Gronovius (1715); while his Latin translation of Herodian was not published until 1789. His rendering of a modern Greek work on moral obligations led to, his being invited to undertake the tuition of the author’s sons at Bucharest, a position for which his intemperate habits made him peculiarly unfit. However, he was thus enabled to send Fabricius a few notes on the Greek MSS in his patron’s library. After this he disappears from view. On his patron’s death in 1730, he is said to have left for Constantinople, and to have adopted the religion of Islam. If so, he probably ended his days in perfect sobriety.”

The Art of Poetry and the Muses (AP Vergil Week)

Servius, Commentary on the Aeneid
“Poets divide their songs into three parts: they propose, they invoke, and they narrate. Quite often, though, they just do two things, and mix the proposition with the invocation, as Homer did in both of his works. Indeed, this is better. But Lucan inverted this order by first proposing, then narrating, and afterward invoking, as in ‘nor if I the poet accept you in my heart.’ It is to be noted that a divine will is not invoked in all poems, except when we are looking for something beyond human power. So, Horace, in his de Arte Poetica ‘let the gods not play a part unless a problem requiring a champion presents itself.’ Vergil is right to employ the invocation of the Muse, because he was not able to know about Juno’s anger by himself. Similarly, in the ninth book, who would have believed that Turnus had escaped from the camp if Vergil had not added, ‘Juno supplied him spirit and strength.’ Here there is no addition of ‘sing of wrath, goddess,’ but instead ‘Muse, relate to me the causes,’ meaning ‘Be present so that you can recall them to me.’ Many people said that there were nine Muses, and many claim that there were seven. Numa Pompilius had made a small brazen house for them, which, after it was struck by lightning and placed in the temple of Honor and Virtue, Fulvius Nobilior moved to the temple of Hercules, for which reason it was called the ‘Temple of Hercules and the Muses.’ Some people say that the Muses were virgins; they say that pigs were sacrificed to them, because they bear so many offspring. Some, however, assign children to them, as for example Orpheus, Linus, and the Sirens. Some say that they were eight in number, as it seemed to Athens, others say that there are four of them, some claim that they are Boeotian, others Athenian, and still others Sicilian. Epicharmus Siculus does not call them Muses, but ‘the ones living in harmony.’ (homonoousas).”

sane in tres partes dividunt poetae carmen suum: proponunt invocant narrant. plerumque tamen duas res faciunt et ipsam propositionem miscent invocationi, quod in utroque opere Homerus fecit; namque hoc melius est. Lucanus tamen ipsum ordinem invertit; primo enim proposuit, inde narravit, postea invocavit, ut est “nec si te pectore vates accipio” (1.63). sane observandum est, ut non in omnibus carminibus numen aliquod invocetur, nisi cum aliquid ultra humanam possibilitatem requirimus. hinc in arte poetica Horatius “nec deus intersit nisi dignus vindice nodus inciderit” . bene ergo invocat Vergilius, non enim poterat per se iram numinis nosse. item in nono libro nisi adderet “Iuno vires animumque ministrat” , quis crederet Turnum evasisse de castris? †et hic musa non addidit μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ. sed ‘musa mihi causas memora’ pro adesto, ut memores. sane musas multi novem, multi septem dixerunt. his Numa aediculam aeneam brevem fecerat, quam postea de caelo tactam et in aede Honoris et Virtutis conlocatam Fulvius Nobilior in aedem Herculis transtulit, unde aedes Herculis et Musarum appellatur. has alii virgines perhibent; nam ideo et porcam eis sacrificari aiunt, quod multum pariat. alii eis etiam filios dant, Orpheum Linum sirenas. alii has octo, ut Athenis visuntur, alii quattuor dicunt, alias Boeotias, alias Atthidas, alias Siculas. has musas Siculus Epicharmus non musas, sed ὁμονοούσας dicit.