Page images
PDF
EPUB

particularly perhaps to the unrivalled power, learning, and eloquence with which our greatest English scholar recommended the method and its results in his edition of the poet. There was something however in the nature of the critical evidence on which Horace's text rests which made conjectural emendation, if not specially necessary, at least specially tempting. Necessary of course it was not in the sense in which it is necessary in the text of Aeschylus or of Lucretius, to restore sense or metre in a chaos; but in a way the multiplicity of MSS. tempts us to do for one author what the poverty of MSS. almost compels us to do for another. A variety of readings, all consistent with metre and intelligible, and all resting on fairly equal MS. testimony, must imply the hand of one or more emenders of the text at an early period. It is a natural interpretation to assume in such a case that all alike are attempts, more or less skilful, to fill up a gap in the original authority; and this once believed, a scholar of the 16th or 17th century may not unreasonably think himself as competent to guess the riddle as a scholar of the 4th or 5th. It is manifest that no impassable barrier separates cases where the MSS. are divided from those where they are consentient. Division is only a sign of the disease. We have already seen that it is confessedly possible for the same blunder to infest every MS. A modern editor will probably set aside, as a rule, purely conjectural emendations; at any rate, he will hesitate to give them the reality which is implied by printing them in the text ; not because he denies the possibility of corruptions, or does not feel the plausibility of many conjectures, but only because experience has taught us that there is no necessary limit even to the cleverest and most plausible guessing, and because it cannot be proved that in such a text as that of Horace guessing on a large scale is necessary. One more remark may be allowed. An editor with the feelings which I have described will yet feel bound to recall, and to some extent to discuss, the more famous conjectures which have become part of the literary history of his author, and in doing so he will run the risk, at times, of seeming to treat great names ungraciously. It must

be remembered therefore that to have learnt to distrust a method is not to deny the genius of those who used it, and who, by showing us its results at its best, have taught us the limits of its capability. The solid value of Bentley's edition is diminished very little, if at all, by the fact that very many of his conclusions are such as we cannot now accept with any confidence or even accept at all. There is hardly a question in Horatian exegesis that is not raised by him, and raised, if at times in a form rather more logical than befits the criticism of a poet, yet always with a precision and strength, as well as with a fulness of knowledge, which at least (and it is an editor's chief function) makes us understand and measure the difficulty.

2. To the constructive criticism of previous centuries has been added in the present one the destructive criticism of which the chief examples are to be found in the edition of H. Peerlkamp (Harlem, 1854 ; Amsterdam, 1862) and in the work of Gruppe, Minos : über die Interpolationen in den römischen Dichtern, Leipzig, 1859. This, like the former, proposes to carry us back beyond the age of MSS. or Scholia : unlike the former, it cannot even appeal to indications of disturbance in the MSS. which would explain, if they did not require, its theories. The antecedent probability of defects in the archetype wrongly filled up cannot be denied in the face of evidence that such defects must actually have existed: it becomes a question of less or more. But the antecedent probability of the suppositions which are necessary to any theory of the interpolation of spurious Odes or parts of Odes cannot be so easily granted. Every known fact in the history of Horace's poems can be explained without such a theory, unless indeed it be assumed that no poem or stanza which falls below his highest poetical level can be genuine. On the other hand, as Mr. Munro points out", in his vigorous summary of the arguments against the interpolation theory, the form of Horace's poems is specially his own. We are asked to imagine that

1 Preface to Messrs. Munro and King's edition.

unknown poets, in the literary age of Rome, reproduced it with a skill and completeness of which the known poets who have tried to imitate it proved themselves incapable. The editors who have done the most for the interpretation of Horace in this generation (Orelli, Dillenburger, Ritter) are the least disposed to allow of any spurious poems or passages in his text. But though Peerlkamp's method of criticism must be pronounced baseless, we may trace from it, as from its predecessor, indirect results of value in the attention which it calls to the sequence of thought, the lights and shades of style, and the varying merit of the poetry

II. The Scholiasts. The collections of Scholia on Horace which pass under the names of Helenius Acron, and Pomponius Porphyrion, can neither of them be certainly dated, and some doubt therefore hangs over their relation to one another ; neither of them is in a perfect state nor free from suspicion of interpolations. Notwithstanding these drawbacks, they must be considered of very high value. On questions of text the authority of the commentary is at the least several centuries older than any MS. of the poet, either extant or known to us by testimony. Of course the 'lemmata,' or quoted words, to which the comment is affixed, are of inferior importance, and they differ not unfrequently from the text interpreted in the commentary, and can only by themselves carry us back to the date of the oldest MS. of the Scholia, viz. at the earliest to centuries 9-10. On questions of interpretation, and especially of allusions to customs, sites, and persons, the Scholia have value, independently of any doubt as to their writer's precise date or personal acquaintance with Roman life, from the fact that they bear evidence of having been composed by men who had in their hands early authorities which are otherwise lost to us. These are sometimes referred to by name, as Terentius Scaurus (a grammarian of Hadrian's time who wrote a commentary on the Ars Poetica) on Sat. 2. 5. 92 ; Claranus (Martial. 10. 21. 2, Seneca, Ep. 66) on Sat. 2. 3. 83; more often generally as 'nonnulli," alii,' * plerique,''commentator' (Acr. on A. P. 120), qui de personis Horatianis scripserunt' (Porph. on Sat. 1. 3. 21 and 91, 2. 5. 92).

0. Keller, who has collected and used with much ingenuity all the available evidence on the subject, gives the palm of antiquity to the Scholia of Porphyrion. The only limit set to their date by external testimony is to be found in the mention of Porphyrion's name by Charisius, a grammatical writer, usually placed about A.D. 400 ; but Keller thinks they are as early as 200-250 A.D. The evidence on which he relies consists wholly of indications in the Scholia themselves, such as (a) the writer's personal knowledge of Rome coupled with the fact that he never alludes to the walls of Aurelian (A.D. 271), while he recognizes the older gates, as e.g. the Porta Esquilina on Epod. 5. 100, Sat. 1. 8. 1; (6) his use of Parthi, Parthicus, etc. as designations of the great eastern monarchy, in several places where the Pseudo-Acron uses Persae, Persicus, a natural variation if the fall of Parthia and the rise of the Persian dynasty of the Sassanidae (A.D. 226) had taken place between the two dates ; (c) his way of speaking of the religious ceremonies of heathen Rome as though they were still observed in his own time. Contrast, e.g. his note on Od. 3. 11. 6 'fidicines hodieque Romae sacrificiis adhiberi videmus' with Acron's 'et in sacrificiis fidicines adhiberi consueverant,' or that on Od. 2. 16. 14 • salinum, patella in qua primitiae dis cum sale dantur' with Acron's 'patella in qua dis primitiae offerebantur,' or lastly, that on 3. 5. II 'Aeternam Vestam, propter aeternos ignes qui in ara eius coluntur' with Acron's 'aeterni ignis qui in ara eius indefesse colebatur.'

The genuine Acron wrote earlier than Porphyrion, if the latter's quotation of him on Sat. 1. 8. 25 is not an interpolation, 'memini me legere apud Helenium Acronem Saganam fuisse libertum Pomponii senatoris qui a triumviris est proscriptus.' It is to be remarked, however, that the statement thus quoted does not occur in the Scholia which go under Acron's name.

1

Symbola philologorum Bonnensium, Lipz., Teubn. 1867.

On the other hand, we find in them the change of tense already noticed with respect to sacrifices, etc., which would point to their being later than the prohibition of heathen ceremonies by Theodosius in A.D. 391 ; we find (unless these be interpolations) the names of the Goths (on Od. 4. 15. 22) and, according to one MS., of the Huns (on Od. 2. 11. 1), and a hint perhaps of the desolation of Italy by the barbarians (on Od. 3. 4. 16); and we find, subject to the same proviso, references to Priscian (5th century) on Epp. 2. I. 228, and to Priscian's teacher Theoctistus on Sat. 1. 5. 97. It is mainly on those grounds that Keller distinguishes the Acron who was one of the commentators used by Porphyrion from the composer or composers of the Scholia which now bear the name, and which were composed by some one who had Porphyrion's commentary in his hands and used it largely. These Pseudo-Acronian Scholia he relegates to the 5th century. Upon grounds on which it is less easy to feel secure in following him, he divides them into two parts; the first (up to the beginning of the Fourth Book of the Odes with part of those in the Fourth Book and most of the Epodes) belonging to the earlier half of the century; the remainder he places in the second half, and identifies as their author Fabius

Planciades Fulgentius, a grammarian of that date, one of whose - works, three books of mythology, is found with no mark of a new author on the same MS. with the Schol. Acron.

The so-called ‘Commentator Cruquianus’ is not an independent authority, the name being given to a medley of notes, in the main a transcript or paraphrase of Acron and Porphyrion, printed by Cruquius from marginal or interlinear annotations on his Blandinian MSS.

III. It may be convenient for purposes of reference to add a chronological list of the chief editions of Horace earlier than the present century (chiefly from Mitscherlich).

Fifteenth century. The 'editio princeps' is not certainly known: the title is

« PreviousContinue »