« IndietroContinua »
In issuing the translation of a work which was, directly on its appearance, acknowledged as the standard work on the history of Roman Literature and recommended as such at almost all German Universities — in consequence of which the first edition of the German work was exhausted almost two or three months after its completion --, the translator begs to draw attention to the fact that the first part of the English edition down to p. 338 of the first volume, had already been printed off, when he received the news of the appearance of a second edition of the German original. On applying to Professor Teuffel, the translator was informed that for various reasons it had been impossible to the author to acquaint him with this fact before, so that perhaps the new edition might have been consulted before printing the translation. This is, indeed, an inconvenience, but the table given in our 'Addenda' containing a comparative list of the numbers of the second edition and the most important additions made in it, is calculated to remedy this defect as far as it appears possible at present. From giving more and from, in fact, noting down every discrepancy in detail the translator has been prevented by numerous engagements and the duties of his position, not to speak of the anxieties of the winter now passivg away, in which his family and himself had to struggle through much malady and ill-health.
The German work is not a great achievement in point of style; it is a store-house of learning and exact scholarship rather than a brilliant composition. The translator is aware that the general taste of his own countrymen and that of English readers differ in this respect, and there is not the slightest doubt but that many English readers will pronounce the present work "dry and heavy" but this very feature may recommend it to the real scholar who knows that a meretricious and brilliant style with striking and ingenious displays of wit and of clever aperçus often hides superficiality and shallowness.
I have not endeavoured to improve upon the style of the work, though my personal preference might perhaps have led me to adopt an easier style in many parts. I have more than once found it difficult adequately to render the author's meaning in English, and am aware that my translation is sometimes awkward, because I endeavoured to be rather faithful than elegant.
In conclusion, the readers are referred to an article (by Professor M. Hertz) on the latest works on Roman Literature, in the Academy, of August 1, 1871, vol. 2 p. 380—383.
CONTAINING A GENERAL VIEW
OF THE SUBJECT.
1. The Romans lacked the versatility, manysidedness and imaginative power of the Greeks; their eminent qualities are sober and acute thought, and firmness and perseverance of will. Their intellect was directed to the practical, and sometimes degenerated into egotism and cunning, just as their perseverance often turned into obstinacy and pedantry. In the domain of state and law these qualities accomplished great and enduring results, while they were decidedly unfavourable to art and literature.
1. Cic. Tusc. I 1, 2: quae tanta gravitas, quae tanta constantia, magnitudo animi, probitas, fides, quae tam excellens in omni genere virtus in ullis fuit, ut sit cum maioribus nostris comparanda ? (3) Doctrina Graecia nos et omni litterarum genere superabat etc. De imp. Pomp. 20, 60: maiores nostros semper in pace consuetudini, in bello utilitati paruisse. Tac. dial. 5: si ad utilitatem vitae omnia consilia factaque nostra dirigenda sunt. Plin. N. H. XXV 2: nostri, omnium utilitatum et virtutum rapacissimi. Quintil. XII 2, 7: ego illum quem instituo romanum quendam velim esse sapientem, qui non secretis disceptationibus, sed rerum experimentis atque operibus vere civilem virum exhibeat. - Liv. XXIII 14,1: insita (Romanorum) animis industria. Liv. XLII 62: romana constantia, cf. ib. XXX 7: romana in adversis rebus constantia, and Polyb. III 75 extr. XXVII 8: ideov toūto návon παρα Ρωμαίοις έθος και πατριόν έστι, το κατά μεν τας ελαττώσεις αυθαθεστάτους και βαρυτάτους φαίνεσθαι, κατά δε τας επιτυχίας ως μετριωτάτους. ib. Ι 39: όντες εν παντί φιλότιμοι διαφερόντως. Scipio Africanus minor ap. Macr. Sat. III 14, 7: eunt in ludum histrionum, discunt cantare quae maiores nostri ingenuis probro ducier voluerunt. Ib. 10: Cato, cui ... etiam cantare non serii hominis videtur. Sen. Controv. p. 49, 1 Bu.: cantandi saltandique obscena studia. Tac. dial. 10: in Graecia, ubi ludicras quoque artes exercere honestum est. All occupations without immediate practical tendency are artes leviores (Cic. Brut. 1, 3) and mediocres (Cic. de or. I 2, 6), studia leviora (Cic. de or. I 49, 212. Cat. 14, 50) and minora (Cic. Brut. 18, 70).