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PUBLICATION OF THE ORESTES.-ALLUSIONS TO WAKEFIELD IN THE NOTES;
TO INVERNIZIUS, AMMON, AND REISKE.
IN the following year, 1798, appeared the Orestes. Wakefield, at the end of his Diatribe, had recommended Porson, if he continued to edit Euripides, not to make his notes so dry and formal, but to render them more entertaining by the interspersion of amoenitates and lepores, and disquisitions on any matters that might occur to him in the course of his reading; to produce, in fact, such annotations as Wakefield himself attached to his Lucretius, where everything suitable or unsuitable is seized upon for discussion, and the tail of a comment has no more relation to the head of it than the tail of a fish to the head of a woman. Porson gave a hint or two, in his notes on the Orestes, that he remembered this advice, but was little induced to follow it. Having occasion, in his remarks on the fifth verse, to speak of the discrepancies of the poets as to the punishment of Tantalus, he concludes with saying, "I know not, gentle reader, whether you have found your patience exhausted in reading this note; I have entirely exhausted mine in writing it. But if you are not yet satisfied with these criticas delicia, these delicacies of criticism, read
what Guellius and Cerdanus have collected," &c. In remarking, ver. 631, on σy 2óyou xpeίoowv, that one manuscript has xpsíorov, which perhaps some commentator, paulo calidior, may add to his store of such expressions, defending its elegance by the recondite Dulce satis humor, he makes an evident allusion to Wakefield, who was calidus enough, and who was fond of loading his pages with such illustrations. And when he published the Medea, he observed that he "had intimated, in his note on the fifth verse of the Orestes, that he could have written long, nay very long, notes, having no connexion with his subjects; but that he had hitherto so endeavoured to use his power as not to abuse it."
There are other allusions to Wakefield in the notes on the Orestes. Speaking of neuter verbs which assume an active signification, he mentions ixπTýσσ and peĩv, in Hec. 181, 532, as examples of this assumption, and says that it would be the act of a madman to disturb the reading in those passages; but Wakefield had sought to disturb it in both passages. Another allusion to him is made, in reference to the same subject, on verse 1428, where it is said that spa móda, in Hec. 53, is a much better reading than eρ Todí, which Wakefield had wished to introduce. In ver. 435 of the Hecuba, Wakefield had taken under his patronage, in his Diatribe, a conjecture of Jacobs, ὄμμα for ὄνομα, on which Porson, at ver. 1081 of the Orestes, comments thus:
"As either of these two words is easily changed for the other by transcribers, it is sometimes difficult to determine, when manuscripts differ, which is the proper word; but, when manuscripts agree, I would make no alteration. I, therefore, in my note on Hec. 435, προσειπεῖν γὰρ σὸν ὄνομ ̓
EoTi poi, omitted to notice the conjecture of Frederic Jacobs, oupa for ovopa, as a useless alteration; but, as another opportunity of adverting to it now offers, I will give it a brief consideration. First, I would ask, what is wrong in the common reading? Is it wrong to say πpoσεπεîv oνoμa? If so, why? Because,' it may be answered, it occurs nowhere else.' Whether it occurs anywhere else or not, I do not know; but why do you not produce passages where your προσειπεῖν ὄμμα occurs? If you answer that this expression is nowhere to be found, I ask you again how it is reasonable to eject an expression of which there is one example in order to substitute another of which there is no example? However, to say the truth, πрoσavdâv õμμa seems to present itself in Eschylus, Choeph. ver. 236; though there indeed Valckenaer reads ὄνομα: while concerning ὄμμαTOS, in the 415th verse of the Phonissæ, which is his own conjecture, he does not speak decidedly. To me it appears that in all these passages the received reading should be retained. Jacobs is a man not deficient either in ability or learning, but he often abuses both these qualifications to disturb sound readings. Why, when the ignorance and audacity of transcribers have introduced so many solecisms and barbarisms, which nobody need hesitate to attack,
'Bella geri placuit nullos habitura triumphos?'
why should he engage in enterprises that can bring him no honour?"
Jacobs and Wakefield are not the only commentators that are attacked in the notes on the Orestes. Out of the various readings in verse 245, " structed," says Porson, "this line:
may be con
Καὶ μὴ μόνον φρόνει, ἀλλὰ καὶ πρᾶσσε τάδε,
a most elegant line, which Le Clerc, Reiske, and Triller would adopt, I am sure, if they were alive; and which
I have no doubt will be adopted by Invernizius and Ammonius, Graice gentis decora, those living ornaments of Greek learning." Ammonius or Ammon had published an edition of the Hecuba in 1789. On ver. 1235, he again takes occasion, in noticing a verse of Aristophanes, to censure Invernizius, who, he says, has there introduced a bad reading from the excellent Ravenna manuscript, from which a man of but moderate sense and learning could not have failed to extract the right reading. "For the information of tiros," he adds, "I will show how the present corruption was caused. A transcriber, after writing the line, found that he had accidentally omitted two letters, which letters he put in the margin, with a mark that they were to be inserted. A succeeding transcriber, observing the letters and the mark, was desirous to obey the admonition of his predecessor, but, being made of the same clay as Invernizius, could not see the right place for them, and put them in one which they ought not to have occupied." On ver. 273, he makes another hit at Reiske, who, attempting to amend the verse, (the end of which, by some failure in the utterance of the actor, had been pronounced yaλñv ópш instead of yaan' ipã, I see a weasel instead of I see a calm, and had consequently afforded a fertile subject for jest to the comic writers,) observes that Euripides might have escaped ridicule by writing ἐκ κυμάτων γὰρ ὁρῶ γαλήνην αὖθις αὖ. "Yes," says Porson, alluding to the words of Juvenal about Cicero, "he certainly might have despised all the stings of Aristophanes, Sannyrio, and Strattis, if he had constructed all his lines on such a model."
Wakefield, on reviewing this play in the "British
Critic,' was at first completely deceived by Porson's irony, and took it for sober remark :
“ Εκ κυμάτων γὰρ ὁρῶ γαλήνην αὖθις αὖ·
Behold," says he, " in opposition to his own statutes, an anapast, sanctioned by our metrical lawgiver, in the third foot:
'Quæ nemora, aut qui vos saltus habuere, puellæ
that ye should abandon the Professor to this dereliction of his own rules, and such failure of recollection? Besides, the inadvertency of the tragedian should be called, in strictness of speech, an ambiguity, and is denominated a solecism, we apprehend, with inaccuracy not pardonable in an instructor of such eminence." But after he had written this he began to feel misgivings that Porson might be playing the deceiver, and, to save himself from utter vilification, added, " After all, however, this may be no more than a piece of affected jocularity in the Professor to entrap the uninitiated in the mysteries of his witticisms."
On ver. 412 Porson remarks that Reiske, quod cum risu mirere, was the first that gave it metrical harmony; an effect which the reader is to understand that Reiske produced by chance.
In his note on the ellipsis in the 664th verse, Taúrns ἱκνοῦμαί σε, he turns aside to make a comment on the 283rd verse of the first book of the Iliad, aíoσou' Ἀχιλῆϊ μεθέμεν χόλον: a comment which we will translate.
* Nov. 1800.