« PreviousContinue »
The Text which I have adopted in this edition is that of Immanuel Bekker (Bonn, 1858). The student will understand, that I have in all cases omitted the digamma, where Bekker has printed it in his later edition, and left the hiatus (e. g. as in oi dè ăvaktos), which in the ordinary texts has been too often filled up,—doubtless from a period of some antiquity,—with a v DEN KUOTIKÒV, a ye, a te, or an åpa, or some such worse than useless metrical make-shift. In a very few cases, mostly of mere orthography, I have preferred to adhere to Bekker's former edition'. After the labours of Spitzner in settling the Homeric text, and the two recensions of Bekker subsequent to and founded upon his, it appeared quite useless, not to say presumptuous, to reopen critical questions, and to discuss various readings when so much was to be done for the use and convenience of younger students in explaining the text and in investigating the meanings or etymology of Homeric words. Besides, I may say with perfect truth, that whenever I have had to consider such critical questions, I have always been able to acquiesce with entire satisfaction in Bekker's sober and mature judgment. His text is a great improvement on Heyne's, which has been generally used, at least in the school editions of Homer in this country.
The verses omitted by Bekker (mostly on the express authority of the Venetian Scholia), and placed at the foot of his pages in
i Berlin, 1813.
a smaller type, have been now incorporated in the text, but enclosed within brackets. Many other verses appear to me,--and I have endeavoured to view our present text fairly and on principles of common sense, quite unbiassed by any one of the many “ Homeric theories,”—to have been interpolated in ancient times, or superfluously repeated; but I have in all cases been content with merely expressing an opinion or a suggestion on that point. It is a most difficult question; for, if once the principle be allowed, that the Homeric poems have been tampered with at all (no matter at what period), it becomes really very hard to check the suspicions of spuriousness that arise in almost every page.
The editions which I have consulted throughout are, Spitzner's, Doederlein's, Mr. Trollope's, and the small one adapted for the use of schools by the late Mr. Arnold'. The readings of Heyne and Wolf are fully given by Spitzner, and the notes and views of the former to some extent by Mr. Trollope. I have very carefully perused, and rather largely quoted from in the notes, the ancient Scholia (as published by Bekker in two vols. 4to.), the importance of which, but especially of the Venetian, it is difficult to overrate'. Of the many metrical English translations of the Iliad I have used but three, and those the most recent, viz. Professor Newman's, Mr. Wright's, and Lord Derby's. The last of these indeed appeared when my notes had been written and were nearly ready for press; but I was unwilling to lose the advantage of that popular and spirited translation, and accordingly I have made pretty frequent quotations from it throughout.
In judging fairly of the merits and usefulness of any edition of Homer, it should be remembered, that the Homeric poems are a literature in themselves, and a very extensive one.
? “ Translated, with a few additions, and alterations, from Dr. Dübner, the learned editor of the Paris edition of Stephens's Thesaurus.” (Second edition, London, 1859. 12mo.)
3 Wolf (Prolegomena, $ iv.) calls these latter "Scholiorum congeries, quae antiquarum et ad horum Carminum fata et textus conditionem perspiciendam utilium rerum copiam multo majorem, quam ceteri in unum collati libri omnes, suppeditat, atque omnino criticis et grammaticis divitiis non modo Eustathio, sed omnibus omnium poetarum scholiastis longe antecellit.”
student who gives them but a casual reading can judge of the nature or the extent of the difficulties which beset such a task, or of the immense and persevering labour necessary to produce any thing deserving of the name of a good edition. The illustrious scholar and statesman, who has contributed so much to the pleasure and profit to be derived from the study of Homer", says with but too much truth, that “the poems of Homer, to be rightly and thoroughly sounded, demand undoubtedly a disengaged mind, perhaps would repay even the study of a life.”
It is necessary here distinctly to state, that my primary object has been to explain the Greek of Homer. This is, I am well aware, only one small department that an intellectual student requires; but I venture to say that it is an important one, and I am sure that it is that one of all others in which slovenliness and inaccuracy have most prevailed. Questions of ethnology, mythology, geography, pedigree, and a hundred others, meet the reader every where, and demand his attention; but how can footnotes treat of all these, without involving such a cumbersome mass of matter as would deter the student rather than assist him ? So long, in fact, as Homer is used as a school-book, and one out of which the language rather than the genius of the author is proposed to be studied, it is of the first importance that accurate rendering of the words should be encouraged by every means in the teacher's power. How far Homer is the best fitted for that purpose, is another question. We cannot hope to alter the custom of nearly two thousand years.
« Mihi Atilius noster expresse dixisse videtur sic in foro pueros a centumviralibus causis auspicari ut ab Homero in scholis. Nam hic quoque ut illic primum coepit esse quod maximum est.” So wrote the Younger Pliny', evidently with a doubt as to the wisdom of the practice. But to satisfy the conditions of a good school-book is by no means an easy task. An editor's thoughts are, without doubt, too apt to dwell on
or two particular topics, e.g. the study of the
4 Studies on Homer, vol. i. p. 91.
$ Epist. ii. 14.
characters, or the uniformity of the plot, or the critical readings, or the interpretation and etymology of words, or the grammar, the dialect, the digamma, the Homeric inflexions; or the collection of parallel passages, or the detection of spurious verses. Some one of these, or of the other matters that fall fairly within an editor's province, is pretty sure to suit his peculiar taste, or to have engaged a special share of his attention, and so to become, if I be allowed the familiar phrase, “ his hobby ;” and if so, he will certainly appear to others, not so interested, to have “ridden it to death.” For myself, I am conscious that the digamma question has for some years interested me to a degree which some will think far exceeds its merits in respect of practical usefulness o.
On this point also I cannot do better than quote the words of Mr. Gladstone': “It is, indeed, somewhat difficult, as a general rule, beneficially and effectively to use the same book at the same
6 The few editors of Homer who have concerned themselves with the digamma, like Mr. Payne Knight and Mr. Brandreth, have carried their theories to such a length, that they have never become popular, nor perhaps attracted very serious attention. On the probable ground that the use of the digamma in certain words, such as έργον, οίκος, έκαστος, άναξ, &c., was regular, of course the observation of remarkable deviations from the ordinary use will furnish collateral evidence in judging of spurious verses. Wolf, who had a great veneration for Bentley's sagacity, expresses a wish that we knew more of that critic's views about the digamma, and that some scholar would publish his inedited remarks on that subject. This has been done, as far as practically bore on amending the Homeric text, by Dr. Donaldson in the New Cratylus ; but of all the corrections proposed, there is hardly one that would not now occur to any one who had looked into the digamma question at all. The words of Wolf are these (Proleg. $ xxvii., note 84):—“Ipse Bentleius, qui senectuti suae criticam recensionem Homeri seposuerat, in illa, id quod ex quibusdain indiciis colligo, huic rei ex industria lucein daturus erat. Qua propter valde miror, nihil, quod ad hanc quaestionem spectet, reperiri in criticis libris Anglorum, qui de illius editionis consilio mentionem faciunt. Digamma Aeolicum eum reducturum fuisse, Dawesius et alii operose docent. Haec autem narratio de digammate mihi saepe dubitationem injecit haud levem, quid Bentleium conjiciam de antiquitate scripturae Graecorum sensisse, et quibus causis, si Homerum scripsisse putarit, hanc Carminum ejus epicam formam tanto posteriorem ponere potuerit. Velim de his certiores nos faciant ii, qui aditum habent ad ejus adversaria et notas Homericas.” That the digamma was a relic of the Pelasgic language is highly probable. It remained in partial use, at least, in the time and dialect of Pindar, but had totally vanished from the Attic in the time of the tragic writers. 1 “Studies,” vol. i.