Horace: A Break From Serious Labor

R.C. Jebb, Richard Bentley (Chp. VIII):

As early as 1702 Bentley had been meditating an edition of Horace. I translate from his Latin preface his own account of the motive.

‘When, a few years ago [i. e. in 1700] I was promoted to a station in which official duties and harassing cares, daily surging about me, had distracted me from all deeper studies, I resolved — in order that I might not wholly forget the Muses and my old loves — to set about editing some writer of the pleasanter sort, comparatively light in style and matter, such as would make in me, rather than claim from me, a calm and untroubled mind ; a work that could be done bit by bit at odd hours, and would brook a thousand interruptions without serious loss. My choice was Horace; not because I deemed that I could restore and correct more things in him than in almost any other Latin or Greek author; but because he, above all the ancients — thanks to his merit, or to a peculiar genius and gift for pleasing — was familiar to men’s hands and hearts. The form and scope of my work I defined and limited thus; — that I should touch only those things which concern the soundness and purity of the text; but should wholly pass by the mass of those things which relate to history and ancient manners, — that vast domain and laboratory of comment.’

Bentley began printing his Horace, with his own emendations embodied in the text and the common readings given at the foot of the page, before he had written the critical notes which were to justify these changes. In August, 1706, he says: — ‘I have printed three new sheets in it this last fortnight, and I hope shall go on to finish by next spring.’ Sinister auguries were already heard in certain quarters. ‘I do not wonder,’ he writes to a friend, ‘that some… do talk so wildly about my Horace… I am assured none of them will write against my notes. They have had enough of me, and will here- after let me alone.’ The rumour of Bentley’s new labours inspired his old enemy, Dr King, with a satire called ‘Horace in Trinity College.’ Horace is supposed to have fulfilled his dream of visiting our remote island (visam Britannos), but to have lost the airy form in which he proposed to make that excursion, — under the influence of solid cheer supplied to him from the butteries of Trinity College.

Image result for richard bentley horace

F**k Your Faulty Footnotes, Fool!

Henry Edwards Davis,

An Examination of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Chapters of Mr. Gibbon’s History:

“The remarkable mode of quotation, which Mr. Gibbon adopts, must immediately strike ever one who turns to his notes. He sometimes only mentions the author, perhaps the book, and often leaves the reader the toil of finding out, or rather guessing at the passage.

The policy, however, is not without its design and use. By endeavouring to deprive us of the means of comparing him with the authorities he cites, he flattered himself, no doubt, that he might safely have recourse to misrepresentation; that his inaccuracies might escape the piercing eye of criticism; and that he might indulge his wit and spleen, in fathering the absurdest opinions of the most venerable writers of antiquity. For, often, on examining his references, when they are to be traced, we shall find him supporting his cause by manifest falsification, and perpetually assuming to himself the strange privilege of inserting in his text what the writers referred to give him no right to advance on their authority.

This breach of the common faith reposed in authors, is particularly indefensible, as it deceives all those who have not the leisure, the means, nor the abilities, of searching out the passages in the originals.”

Image result for edward gibbon footnotes

“F**k Gibbon!”

Lytton Strachey, Eminent Victorians:

The Commentary on the New Testament was never finished, and the great work on Church and State itself remained a fragment. Dr. Arnold’s active mind was diverted from political and theological speculations to the study of philology, and to historical composition. His Roman History, which he regarded as ‘the chief monument of his historical fame’, was based partly upon the researches of Niebuhr, and partly upon an aversion to Gibbon.

‘My highest ambition,’ he wrote, ‘is to make my history the very reverse of Gibbon in this respect, that whereas the whole spirit of his work, from its low morality, is hostile to religion, without speaking directly against it, so my greatest desire would be, in my History, by its high morals and its general tone, to be of use to the cause without actually bringing it forward.’

These efforts were rewarded, in 1841, by the Professorship of Modern History at Oxford. Meanwhile, he was engaged in the study of the Sanskrit and Slavonic languages, bringing out an elaborate edition of Thucydides, and carrying on a voluminous correspondence upon a multitude of topics with a large circle of men of learning. At his death, his published works, composed during such intervals as he could spare from the management of a great public school, filled, besides a large number of pamphlets and articles, no less than seventeen volumes. It was no wonder that Carlyle, after a visit to Rugby, should have characterised Dr. Arnold as a man of ‘unhasting, unresting diligence’.

Image result for dr thomas arnold rugby school

Thinking Outside the Böck(s)

Gottfried Hermann, Praelectiones in Pindarum:

“One cannot deny that Böckh was the first of editors to set out upon the right path. For he understood correctly that there are different families of codices, of which one might be more and the other less interpolated; further, he understood that the Critic ought not to assign equal value to these, and he confirmed this idea by comparing the new codices which he had in great abundance. Nevertheless, he differs much more from his predecessors in the field of metrical study.”

Image result for bockh classical scholar

Non potest negari, Bockhium primum ex editoribus veram viam esse ingressum. Recte enim intellexit diversas esse codicum familias, quarum alia magis, alia minus interpolata sit, neque his aequum pretium concedendum esse a Crtitico, id quod novos, quorum erat ei copia, codices conferens confirmavit. Multo magis tamen a prioribus metri ratione differt.

Ain’t Much Pindar In Thar

Gottfried Hermann, Praelectiones in Pindarum:

In antiquity, Aristarchus and other grammarians of the Alexandrian school dealt with the writings of Pindar in such a way that they sometimes explained them, and sometimes corrected them according to grammatical and ethical principles which they had invented for themselves. We do not know how they did this, since many of their commentaries have been lost. But from this, the recension of these poems which we now have in our hands should not be considered to resemble what was written by Pindar, but rather, as it was interpolated by the corrections of the grammarians. Therefore, we must dig up the genuine parts, and toss out these inventions of the grammarians.

Image result for pindar

Pindari scripta in antiquitate et Aristarchus et alii scholae Alexandrinae grammatici tractarunt, ita ut tum ea explicarent, tum ad grammatices et ethices, quam sibi finxerant, praecepta corrigerent. Quod quomodo fecerint, non cognitum habemus, cum pleraque ex eorum commentariis interierint. Hinc quam nunc in manu habemus horum carminum recensionem, ea non putanda est ita esse a Pindaro instituta, sed Grammaticorum correctionibus interpolata. Genuina ergo eruenda sunt, eiicienda haec Grammaticorum figmenta.

Phalaris, a Phucking Phine Phriend

Sir William Temple, Of Ancient and Modern Learning:

It may perhaps be further affirmed, in favour of the ancients, that the oldest books we have are still in their kind the best. The two most ancient that I know of in prose, among those we call profane authors, are Aesop’s Fables and Phalaris’s Epistles, both living near the same time, which was that of Cyrus and Pythagoras. As the first has been agreed by all ages since for the greatest master in his kind, and all others of that sort have been but imitations of his original; so I think the Epistles of Phalaris to have more grace, more spirit, more force of wit and genius, than any others I have ever seen, either ancient or modern. I know several learned men (or that usually pass for such, under the name of critics) have not esteemed them genuine; and Politian, with some others, have attributed them to Lucian: but I think he must have little skill in painting, that cannot find out this to be an original; such diversity of passions, upon such variety of actions and passages of life and government, such freedom of thought, such boldness of expression, such bounty to his friends, such scorn of his enemies, such honour of learned men, such esteem of good, such knowledge of life, such contempt of death, with such fierceness of nature and cruelty of revenge, could never be presented but by him that possessed them; and I esteem Lucian to have been no more capable of writing, than of acting what Phalaris did. In all one writ, you find the scholar or the sophist; and in all the other, the tyrant and the commander.

Image result for phalaris bronze bull

Ancients vs. Moderns

R.C. Jebb, Richard Bentley (Chp. IV):

Sir William Temple, in his ‘Essay on Ancient and Modem Learning’ — published in 1692, and dedicated to his own University, Almae Matri Cantabrigiensi — was not less uncompromising in the opposite direction. His general view is that the Ancients surpassed the Moderns, not merely in art and literature, but also in every branch of science, though the records of their science have perished. ‘The Moderns,’ Temple adds, gather all their learning out of Books in the Universities.’ The Ancients, on the contrary, travelled with a view to original re- search, and advanced the limits of knowledge in their subjects by persistent interviews with reserved specialists in foreign parts. Thales and Pythagoras are Sir William’s models in this way.  Thales acquired his knowledge in Egypt, Phoenicia, Delphos, and Crete; Pythagoras spent twenty-two years in Egypt, and twelve years more in Chaldea; and then returned laden with all their stores.’ Temple’s performance was translated into French, and made quite a sensation in the Academy, — receiving, among other tributes, the disinterested homage of the Modern Horace.