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WAKEFIED'S CRITICAL NOTIONS.
and, at the beginning,
Ζεὺς ὤλεσέ με, instead of ὤλεσεν,
asserting that it is manifest, both from manuscripts, and from the earliest editors, that such a use of this letter was unknown to the ancient Greeks, and had its origin from modern transcribers. On this point he entered also in his correspondence with Fox, and, as Fox desired full information concerning it, Wakefield enlarged it in the following argumentation:
"It is not for us, at this time of day, to lay down the laws of Greek composition and versification, but to inquire into the actual practice of the ancients. Now it is most certain that the old editions and old scholiasts so generally omit the
where modern editors interpolate the letter, as to induce a most probable conviction that it was universally omitted by the ancients; and the few present exceptions are the officious insertions of transcribers and publishers, who would be wise above what was written,' and modelled the manuscripts by their own preconceptions of propriety. Whereas, from the current persuasion among modern scholars of the necessity of support to these short syllables by the application of consonants, it is perfectly inconceivable that they should have left the syllables in question unsustained, had they found the v in their copies. Nay, it cannot be doubted but modern editors, like Porson, would invariably supply the vin all those places where early editors were contented to omit it in obedience to their authorities; and, if the early editions were lost, all traces of the old practice, as it should seem to be, would presently be obliterated beyond recovery."
"It is universally allowed that the early editors adhered
* Wakefield's Correspondence with Fox, p. 98.
more closely to their manuscripts. In their editions the final is commonly omitted. In such works as scholia, of which few copies were circulated, that v is always omitted. Good reasons may be assigned for the occasional insertion, but none possibly for the omission. Owners of manuscripts have perpetually corrected them, as we see at this day, according to their own fancy; and if Porson, for example, had them all, he would put in the v throughout; and these manuscripts might go down as vouchers for the practice of antiquity. Very little learning would suffice to induce men to insert v, from an appearance of vicious quantity; so that a very old manuscript now might abound in that insertion, though its prototype were without it; and so on. But the acknowledged omission in innumerable instances even now, and that obvious reason for its insertion in the rest, when no possible solution can be given for the regular omission, induce, to my apprehension, a probability of the highest kind, that the ancients never used it at all. More might be said, but this is the substance of the argument."*
Fox, who was not qualified by profundity of research to judge for himself on the matter, listened to Wakefield's representations, and believed that Porson, who adhered to his own practice, with regard to the ", in the plays which he published subsequently, persisted in it only from obstinate opposition to Wakefield. Porson, in a note on the sixty-fourth verse of the Orestes,
Παρθένον, ἐμῇ τε μητρὶ παρέδωκεν τρέφειν,
disposed of the subject, and of Wakefield, but without naming him, thus :
"When a word ends in a short vowel, and the next word begins with two such consonants as would allow it to remain
* Wakefield's Correspondence with Fox, p. 114.
short, I scarcely think that any indisputable examples can be found of the final vowel being lengthened. Whoever should appeal to the authority of manuscripts in such cases would be extremely foolish, for the authority of manuscripts on the point is valueless; and I have only to entreat that nobody may abuse their testimony to overthrow my rule; for manuscripts neither agree with one another as to the practice, nor is the same manuscript always consistent with itself throughout."
In a note, too, on the Grenville Homer, for which he afterwards collated the Harleian manuscript of the Odyssey, he observes that "that manuscript observes no certain rule either as to adding or as to inserting the final. It often adds it at the end of a verse, when the next verse begins with a consonant; it often inserts it at a cæsura, when a liquid or two consonants follow; and it often omits it when the metre seems to demand its insertion.*
Wakefield then attacks Porson about the word dïotós, which Porson made a dissyllable, but observed that it had always before been given as a trisyllable. This assertion, says Wakefield, is in falsissimis habendum, one of the greatest of falsehoods, for I myself edited it as a dissyllable in Herc. Fur. 194, so that I am almost tempted to address the present editor in the following words of Homer, nor should I, I think, incur the reader's censure by doing so:
̓Ατρείδη, μὴ ψεύδε, ἐπιστάμενος σάφα εἰπεῖν.
This savage language Porson noticed, when he edited the Medea, as follows, in his note on ver. 634. "Barnes
*Note on Odyss. i. 54.
observed, in his annotation on this verse, that dïoros must be scanned as a dissyllable, and makes a similar remark on Androm. 1134; but in Herc. Fur. 196, having then grown bolder, he actually prints oirròs instead of dorós. When, therefore, I said in the preface to the Hecuba that the word 'had always before been edited orós,' I made a mistake, or, if you had rather, gentle reader, I TOLD A LIE, having been deceived by Musgrave's edition." Many young students, who knew nothing of Wakefield's "Diatribe," must have wondered why Porson thus expressed himself.
On verse 154, where Hecuba speaks of Polyxena being stained with a stream of blood ἐκ χρυσοφόρου dans, "from her gold-bearing neck," and where Porson observes, “it was customary among the ancients for virgins to wear a great deal of gold," Wakefield cries "Nuga! how could Polyxena, a captive, have a great deal of gold?" and exults greatly in an emendation which he proposes, ἐκ χρυσοφόδου δειξῆς, intending it to signify, "from her golden-haired neck." To this alteration Dr. Burney, in his critique on Wakefield and Porson in the "Monthly Review," justly made the following strong objections: 1. The compound xpuropó6os is not found in what is left to us of the Greek language. 2. If it were found, it would signify qui aurum timet, as opoóbos signifies qui aquam timet. 3. Or, if it had authority, and could signify golden-haired, it would not be applied to a mortal, for golden hair was attributed only to the deities, while the epithet avos was applied to that of mortals. 4. But if it could justly be applied to a mortal, would Euripides have thought it a proper epithet for the neck of Polyxena? 5. That the cap
tives had no valuable ornaments is refuted by a subsequent passage of the play, where Hecuba proposes to collect from the captives such valuables as they had concealed from their captors, to deck Polyxena's dead body. So numerous, in many cases, are the objections which he who would alter the text of an author has to anticipate.
We must notice another of Wakefield's flights. On the passage,
Καρύξασ' οἴκων μ ̓, ὥστ ̓ ὄρνιν
he offers these strictures:
"Awake, ye learned men, who have polished Euripides for us, and tell us, I pray, what sort of phrase is this, ἐκπτήσσειν οἴκων τινα; They are silent, having nothing to say. But perhaps, O most sagacious and accomplished editor, that friend of yours, who recently, with such deceit and want of firmness, attacked me from under cover in the review of the Glasgow Eschylus,'
Τυφλοῖς ὁρῶντας οὐτάσας τοξεύμασι,
(me, a humble individual, who have the greatest difficulty in these hard times, to scrape together a maintenance for myself and my family,) will vouchsafe us information on the subject, and throw light upon these and other astonishing matters! Meanwhile I would say, and affirm with the utmost boldness, that this phrase is to be regarded as the merest and lowest barbarism, in support of which opinion the reader may consult my notes on Herc. Fur. 976, 987, and Ion. 1299. The word, indeed, must either be taken for éπTaσas, from Tτáw, πτῆμι, volo, or we must write, ἐξεπτόασας, from πτοιέω, Choose which you please.'