« PreviousContinue »
On the whole, we think this a very respectable publication; and, as we have freely censured the objectionable parts, we have as freely commended the many others which are valuable.
Platonis Euthydemus et Gorgias. Recensuit, vertit, notasque fuas
adjecit, Martinus Josephus Routh, A. M. Collegii D. Marie Magd. Oxon. Socius. Oxonii e Typographeo Clarendoniano. 8vo.
55. in Sheets, small Paper ; 75. 6d. Large Paper. Elmsly. THE learned world is already indebted to the Clarendon
press for an excellent edition of five of the dialogues of Plato, by Forster, published in the year 1745; and of three others by Etwall, published in the year 1771, whose edition, though inferior to that of Foriter, is by no means destitute of merit. The Euthydemus and Gorgias are now presented to the public, by Mr. Routh, printed at the same press, with the usual elegance of type, and excellence of paper.
The former of these Dialogues, the Euthydemus, has, we believe, never before been printed separately. A Latin ver- , fion of the Gorgias was published, together with some of the ocher dialogues of Plato, by Leonardus Aretinus, in the bem ginning of the fifteenth century: and, about the iniddle of the following century, the Greek text was printed at Strasburg, but without either version or notes.
In discussing the merits of the present edition, before we enter into particulars, it will be necelary to lay before our readers, a short account of the principal sources from which the editor has drawn his materials.
The works of Plato were first made public in Europe through the medium of a translation. Iarhlius Ficinus, of Florence, the celebrated modern Platonist, first published his Latin verfion at Florence, more than twenty years before the publication of Plato in the original language. This version was soon afterwards reprinted at Venice, in the year 1491.
The first edition of Plato's works was printed at Venice, by Aldus, in the year 1513, under the care of Marcus Mufurus, a Cretan, who was afterwards raised to the dignity of archbishop by pope Leo the Tenth. This learned and respectable editor has celebrated both his author and his patron, in an ele
poem which is prefixed to his edition, and which has since been reprinted, with a version and notes, by Mr. Forster, at the end of his Essay on Accent and Quantity*,
• A copy of this edition, printed on vellum, and bound in Turkey lezther, is said to have been purchased at Dr. Askew's sale, by the late Dr. Hunter, at the enormous price of fisty-five pounds thirteen íhillings.
This edition of Aldus having been printed with great accuracy, from the oldett Greek copies, still retains its credit,'. and has, indeed, been made the great basis of succeeding editions.
In the year 1534, an edition of Plato's works was printed at Bafil, under the inspection of Oporinus: but this edition is undoubtedly of inferior authority, fince Oporinus had recourse to no manuscripts.
A fecond edition was printed at Bafil, in the year 1556, under the care of Marcus Hopperus, but rendered more valuable than the former by the various readings with which it was enriched. These readings were taken from a copy of the former Bafil edition, which had been collated throughout with several manuscripts, by Arnoldus Arlenius.
The next edition which appears is that of Henry Stephens, printed at Paris in the year 1578, from the text of Aldus. This is the model which Mr. Routh has chosen to imitate ; but he has at the same time corrected it, where it wanted correction, by the assistance of preceding editions.
Stephens professed to have had recourse to some ancient copies of Plato, but of what particular description cannot now with certainty be known; the expression which he uses is
vague and indeterminate, quum autem varia ex veteribus libris auxilia conquifiviffet,' &c. The readings which he derived from these sources were partly admitted into the text, and partly inserted in the margin ; but his own conjectural emendations were printed entirely either in the margin, or the
From the credit of this edition, however, Mr. Routh has in fome measure endeavoured to detract, by infinuating, in Itrong terms, that Stephens made use of no MSS, but drew his various readings principally, if not solely, from Ficinus's version, from the second Basil edition, and from the notes of Cornarius. To this hypothefis, he says, one objection only can be made ; viz. that Stephens has passed over in silence some of the best and most valuable readings of the Bafil edirion; which it is utterly inconceivable that a man of his judgment and penetration should have done, if he had coniulted that edition at all, or at least if he had made it in any degree the basis of his own. But of this objection, strong as it may at firit fight appear to the unprejudiced reader, our editor obviates the force in a moment, by saying, “Vereor autem, ne fimulatio viri in causâ hujusce rei fuerit; ut ne videretur exemplo illo unquam fuiffe usus.
Imo vero Fischerus, (in præfat. in Platon, Euthyph. p. 16.) eundem arguit depravationis
et mutilationis lectionum Bafilensium, ut fraus eo certius la. teret.'
That there is something mysterious in the conduct of Stephens, cannot perhaps totally be denied; but, furely, charges of this kind, which involve so confiderable a degree of moral obliquity, ought not haftily or rafhly to be imputed to any character: much less are we justified in admitting them, without the strongest evidence, when applied to a man whose extraordinary merits are universally acknowleged by the learned world, and whose name will ever be recorded with honour amongst the venerable restorers of Grecian literature.
The succeeding editions of 1588, 1590, and 1602, being little more than copies of that of Stephens, do not at present claim any particular notice.
In addition to the assistance which has been derived from these several editions, Mr. Routh has given the collation of a manuscript of the Gorgias, reposited in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. This MS. he says, is apparently of no very early age, but contains many valuable readings in common with other MSS. of Plato, and some which are peculiar to itself. Unfortunately, however, it has shared the fate of many other precious remains of antiquity, near a fifth part of the whole dialogue having perished by the ravages of time, or the carelessness of its former poffessors. After the editor had completed the text, and almost half of the notes, he was favoured with a collation of both the Dialogues, with a valuable MS. of the thirteenth century, containing a considerable part of Plato's works, and now preserved in the Royal Library at Paris. The readings of this MS. as far as the 135th page of Mr. Routh's edition, arriving too late to be printed in their proper place, are fubjoined under the title of Addenda: the remainder are partly arranged under the same title, and partly inserted in the notes.
Belides these several sources of information, the editor has consulted a variety of authors, who have quoted and preserved different passages of Plato in their respective writings. The principal of these are Aristides, Jamblichus, Stobæus, Płutarch, Eusebius, and Theodoret.
And here it may not be, improper to observe, that Mr. Routh profeffes to have made use of MSS. of all these authors, except Jamblichuś and Plu-. tarch; a circumstance which reflects considerable honour on his diligence and attention.
In his very sensible and unaffected preface, and also in his notes, Mr. Routh acknowledges with great candour the advantages which he has derived, as well from the observations
of Stephens, Serranus, Cornarius, and Casaubon, as from the communication of fome private and particular friends.
With respect to the text, our present editor has, as we have before observed, with some few exceptions, followed the edi. tion of H. Stephens. And, where he differs from it, he has not ventured to admit any reading which was not countenanced by some former edition ; but whatever has been suggested either by his own conjecture, by the Bodleian MS. by the verfion of Ficinus, or by the different authors who have quoted Plato, which may tend to correct the text where it is corrupt; or to elucidate it where it is obscure, is submitted to the judg. ment of the reader, either at the bottom of the page, or in the notes. ' In hâc tamen cautione, says he, admittendi nihil, quod non fuerat prius in editione aliquâ Platonis, laudandum me neutiquam affero, præsertim ubi librorum auctoritate fruebar. Verum nimis cauto facilius ignofcendum, quam temere mutanti.' If we cannot, without some limitations, ada -mit the principle, we must at least admire the candid and unassuming spirit of this apology.
Such is the plan on which the text is printed; and it is printed, as far as we have observed, with great accuracy; being, we believe, except the few errata which have been noted by the editor, in general free from typographical errors.
Of the Latin version which Mr. Routh has given, it is but justice to say, that it appears to have united perfpicuity with conciseness; that it is generally exact, and often elegant. The notes are, in proportion to the text, extremely nume
The text and version together occupy only three hundred pages. To these are allotted, in a type considerably smaller, two hundred and fifty-eight pages of notes, various readings, and addenda. The notes on the Euthydemus fill fifty fix pages, those on the Gorgias an hundred and seventyfour, and the addenda amount to twenty-eight:
To these notes it may perhaps justly be objected, that they are not sufficiently philological; and that they oftener draw off the attention of the reader to tedious and uninteresting difcussions, than assist him in fettling the reading of doubtful and disputed passages, or in fixing the precise meaning of particular words or expressions. It must, however, be confessed, that they bear itrong marks of unwearied attention and indefatigable industry; that they are replete with hiftorical information, as well as general knowledge; and that they often contain much of profound, as well as extensive erudition. But Mr. Routh will not, we conceive, totally escape an imputation which has been often invidiously, and often with justice,
thrown out against the critic and commentator ; we mean the imputation of having sometimes laboured rather to display the depth of his own learning, and the fplendor of his own attainments, than to explain the difficulties, or elucidate the obscurities of his author. Our sentiments on this subject exactly coincide with the judicious remark of the excellent Pearce,
Is mihi in veteribus fcriptis edendis videtur rei literariæ optime consulere, qui quam pauciflimis verbis clare doceat, quid suus autor et fenferit, et scripserit.' Præfat. in Cicet. de Ora
We fincerely wish that the editor had exerted the same laudable diligence in correcting the other parts of his work, which he has manifefted with respect to the text. were rather surprised at observing more than two whole pages of errata; and we venture to affert, from our own observation, that the catalogue might have been considerably enJarged. We will content ourselves with pointing out two instances only. In page 318, line third, wayugatiasai, is printed waypatiasaí; and in page 452, line ult. we have BNÉ OTEV, which we conceive thould have been printed βλέπομεν. .
At the end of the work Mr. Routh has added the preface which was prefixed by Olympiodorus to his Scholia on the Gorgias. · History has recorded several writers of the name of Olympiadorus, but the commentator upon Plato is supposed to have lived in the sixth century of the Christian æra. His preface is curious, and, though short, contains many sensible remarks on the nature, design, conduct, and characters of the dialogue.
We have already commended the attention with which Mr. Routh appears in general to have conducted this edition. We lament, however, that he has not given another instance of it, by the addition of indexes, on the plan of those subjoined to the dialogues edited by Forster and Etwall.
It seems that Mr. Routh was fearful of swelling his volume to a disproportionate bulk; but, as a commentator, we think he might, in this instance at least, have sacrificed symmetry to use. Let not the superficial reader ridicule this cbjection as frivolous or pedantic. The advantages arising from copious vocabularies, when applied to the cultivation of claffical and philological criticism, are universally acknowleged by men of solid learning. Scholars of this description will agree with us, that the index of Seber has eventually contributed more towards the illustration of Homer’s language than almost any one of his numerous commentators. Works of this naa ture, though despised, as it should seem, only becaufe they are laborious, are the sources from which verbal criticism will Vol. LX. July, 1785.