Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

PREFACE.

THE
JHE text of Livy, though handed down by the

manuscripts in an imperfect and unsatisfactory state, has been in a great degree rescued and restored by the critical labors of many illustrious philologists. Foremost are the great names of John FREDERICK GRONOV and John NICHOLAS MADVIG ; but around them clusters a brilliant array of scholars hardly inferior to these great chiefs, among whom Crevier, Drakenborch, Kreyssig, Bekker, Alschefski, Haupt, Hertz, and above all Weissenborn, cannot pass unmentioned. The work of an editor is made both easier and more difficult by so many and such guides : easy indeed when stars of the first magnitude shine in conjunction, but hard sometimes when they are opposed. There is, it is true, one in this list, whom a man might follow even with his eyes shut, and feel assured that he would never be led far astray. The unrivalled sagacity with which the great Danish philologist scents out the true reading in a tangled maze of hopeless obscurity is one of the marvels of our later day. It is hard to resist the fascination of such genius; yet, with due diffidence, I may say that in some cases I have been less certain that the words MADVIG gives are those which Livy actually wrote, than that they are the best possible expression in Latin of the thought Livy wished to convey. No man for the last thousand years has been a more

Y

finished master of Latin syntax and of Latin style than Madvig; no one is more competent to tell how the great Roman authors ought to have written. It is possible, however, that they did not always write as well as they ought. They had a share of the same freedom of composition, and the same liability to careless oversight, as our own writers, though in less degree; and we must allow them, perhaps, an occasional solecism. Furthermore-pace tanti viri dixerim

there are cases sometimes where a higher law than formal grammatical regularity rightly asserts itself, and offence itself is glorious. But this by no means in extenuation of the merits of the greatest of living critics, and still less to cast upon him the slightest imputation of narrow pedantry; it is only my excuse for daring sometimes to differ from one who has done more for the emendation of the text of Livy than all other scholars put together. Next to Madvig, I am indebted for my text particularly to the editions of Weissenborn, Hertz, and Alschefski. The grounds of my preference among different readings have, in some of the most important cases, been stated in the notes, so far as the special purposes of this edition seemed to permit.

As regards the forms of words, I have not hesitated, in spite of the objections of sciolists, to adopt for the most part that “new orthography” which is the old. With Hertz, too, as well as after the great example of Munro in his Lucretius, I have followed the manuscripts to some extent in giving different forms for the same word in different places. Munro contends that such was the practice of the old writers themselves. This course has some advantages in an edition designed for students habituated to the conventional orthography of the grammarians, and is perhaps safest while some questions remain unsolved. It is my conviction, however, that the final result of scholarly investigation in this field will be the adoption of a uniform orthography for each age or each author, with the exception of occasional variation in a few forms, which, like hath and has in English, can be proved to have stood side by side.

The convenience of students has been consulted in indicating i consonans and u consonans by the characters so long appropriated to that purpose.

In the Notes it has been my aim, as it was in my editions of Horace and Virgil, to give such aid as is most necessary and most useful for students in our colleges and schools. Credit is given to various scholars whose labors have been helpful. Two of these deserve special acknowledgment,-Weissenborn, for his commentary on all the books, and Seeley for his notes on the First. Professor Seeley's “Historical Examination of Book First” deserves the careful study of every scholar. I have appended to this edition the page and a half in which he sums up the result of his examination, trusting that many who read it will be induced to follow its able author in the exhaustive investigation by which he arrives at these conclusions.

THOMAS CHASE.

NOTE.-Conjectural readings, adopted in the text, are indicated by italics.

LIVY AND HIS HISTORY OF ROME.

TITUS LIVIUS was a few years younger than Virgil and Horace,

but older than Propertius and Ovid, with whom he shines in the brilliant constellation of genius which adorns the Augustan age. He was born probably in the year 59 or 57 B. C., at Patavium, now Padua, which in his day was a populous and wealthy city, while famed at the same time for strictness of morals. Livy was xrobably of an equestrian family ; bred and living in that middle rank which is so favorable for the development of character and talent. There is some reason to believe that he was a teacher of rhetoric. He wrote books on philosophy, and also dialogues, partly historical and partly philosophical. He enjoyed the friendship of Augustus, and it was his counsel which induced the emperor's grandson, Claudius, — who was afterwards emperor, to apply his attention to the writing of historical works. An instance of Livy's celebrity is mentioned by Pliny (Epist. ii. 3), who tells us that a Spaniard travelled from Gades to Rome solely for the purpose of seeing the author of the great Roman history, and returned as soon as he had satisfied his curiosity. The historian died in his native city, A. D. 17.

The first decad (or ten books) of Livy's “colossal history” appears to have been written between the years 27 and 20 B. C. The whole work consisted, it has been supposed, of one hundred and forty-two books, covering the whole period from the foundation of the city till the year 9 B. C.; but Niebuhr suggests that the author probably intended to complete fifteen decads, but died before he could accomplish his object. “ His purpose in undertaking it was to draw, with all the charms which his artistic skill and delicate taste could give, a complete picture of the history of the Roman people, and of the laudable or blameworthy peculiarities of its prominent personages, that he might inflame the patriotic feelings of his countrymen, and contribute to the instruction and entertainment of the world at larg Livy generally looks at an historical event or character from a moral point of view: he wishes to excite our admiration of the great, love of the good, and

« IndietroContinua »