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less from peculiarities in the style of the Author and froin the present state of the text, than from the wide difference of opinion which prevails as to what constitutes a good or “adequate” edition. For whereas one school, that of Mr. Blaydes, and to some extent that of G. Dindorf and E. Wunder,' assumes an extensive and deep-seated corruption in all the existing MSS., and regards conjectural emendation as the only chance we now have of restoring the text; the other school, of which Professor Campbell and myself are followers, consider it wiser and safer as a general rule to adhere to the written texts, where it is metrically, logically, and grammatically possible to do so. Of course, each of these terms may and does provoke a controversy as to what really is this or that; but I think it may be stated generally, that the moderately and reasonably conservative critic is one who is by no means convinced that anomalies and irregularities in any such points always indicate corruptions. He makes great allowances (of course, within certain limits) for the flexibilities of a very versatile language, the idiosyncrasies exhibited in style and thought, and even for the possible aberrations of genius and the caprices of overstrained art. Hence he regards all emendation which is merely ingenious, and not self-evidently either right or necessary (a category which includes the main portion of universally accepted emendation), as at best guess-work, though possessing, of course, various degrees of probability. Such corrections are for the most part temporary and transient, since superior luck or cleverness in guessing may at any time, and not unfrequently does, throw doubt and discredit on conjectural readings which have obtained, even for some
2 Dr. Badham and Prof. G. Cobet have also done much in tentative criticism, and indeed, hare exhibited the greatest acuteness in the objections they have aised to our vulgate readings.
3 I believe (though I have not his permission to do so) I may add Professor Jebb’s name as an Editor of Sophocles on these principles. Mr. Linwood's edition is avowedly founded on the strictly conservative method of criticism. This last, as Mr. Blaydes rightly says, has the appearance of a somewhat hurriedly prepared work, based chiefly on Hermann, and passing over without notice many passages of much difficulty.
considerable time, a partial acceptance. It is clear therefore that the texts of ancient authors reconstructed on such unsafe foundations as a flimsy tissue of guess-work are not likely to prove lasting fabrics. And what notions, we may ask, can young students form of the value of Greek Literature, if they are taught to think that our present texts are little better than fields for the exercise of guessing? Or how comes it that, if so many passages are really unsound, the correction of them by conjecture is so rarely successful, and so many remedies are applied in vain to the healing of them ?
“No ancient authors,” says Mr. Blaydes,' assuming the very point in dispute, “ have come down to us in a more corrupt state than our Tragedian, owing in great measure, I conceive, to the obscure and peculiar style of his language.- So that, after all, our chief hope of restoring the text to something of its pristine purity lies in conjectural emendation.”
He adds, “ And it seems to me that this is a far more rational and profitable mode of editing a confessedly difficult Greek author like Sophocles, than that of following servilely, if safely, in the well-worn track of others.” If only ten, or even one, per cent. of these guesses are accepted, he says, “ in time we may hope to elaborate a text infinitely purer even than what it is now,” i. e. after so many successful corrections have been made. Acting on this principle as an Editor of Sophocles, Mr.
, Blaydes has altered the text in some hundreds of places, while his conjectures, proposed in the notes only, amount, I think, to some thousands, as he often makes ten or twelve or even more suggestions on a single passage. Every one of these I have read impartially and considered ; but I am sure I have not admitted into my recension of the text half a dozen out of the whole. It seems to me that Mr. Blaydes treats Sophocles too
+ As an instance, in Agam. 1262, Porson, altering A into 4, read Aidou múas 8è τάσδ' εγώ προσεννέπω, the MSS. giving τάς λέγω. But there are very good reasons for thinking the poet really wrote τάσδ' έχω προσεννέπειν, as εγώ is hardly ever added without a marked emphasis, and several examples occur of éxw and new being confused or interchanged by transcribers.
- Preface to Philocte tes, ed. 1870, p. iv.
little as a poet and an early master of the Attic language, and too much as a field for the exercise of ingenious guessing what he тау
have written. He deals with Sophocles as an accomplished master would treat the iambic exercise of an advanced pupil. He would smooth down or eliminate anomalies of syntax which may often be accounted for on more than one plausible theory. Sophocles may have adopted a purposely involved and somewhat sophistical style. He may have been really destitute of that grammatical finish and precision which came in with the increased practice in a written literature. The obscurities of his style may be due, not to the mistakes of transcribers, but to the pregnant or somewhat curtailed mode of expression, which leaves words or clauses to be mentally supplied; to a habit of " making his words imply something which people in general would not expect in them ;"6 or lastly, what is called the “irony” or
disguised phraseology” and habitual double entendre of the author may have complicated his meaning, and we may not, at this distance of time, have enough of the Greek genius in us fully to unravel it.
It seems to me, that critics who do not take into account any or all of the foregoing probabilities mistake a mere knack of ingenious guessing, or of trying how many changes can be made in certain given syllables, for that true and high art, that almost intuitive faculty,—so difficult to attain and given to so few,—which knows by an almost infallible tact what might have been said, could have been said, and ought to have been said.
There is, and there can be, no real test of what is sound and what is corrupt in the text of a Greek poet, beyond the matured judgment and the well-formed conclusions and consensus of reasonable and well-trained scholars. These, and these only, early educated and long practised in the art of verse-writing, are the orovdaîou whose verdict ordinary students inust be content to accept. Even grammatical laws, which are but a collection and classification of observed phenomena, can never
6 K. O. Müller, Hist. Gr. Lit. (cited by Mr. Blaydes, Pref. Bibl. Cl. p. xvii)
form such absolute canons in the earlier stage of a language, that no deviation from them is ever to be tolerated.?
Of course, conservative critics are taunted with “defending absurdities.”
Plerique” (writes G. Dindorf 4), “ut hodie quoque non raro fieri videmus, unam tantum in arte critica fugiebant audaciae et temeritatis speciem, quae in mutandis codicum scripturis cernitur ; non fugiebant alteram, quae in e fendendis et explicandis ivtiosis cernitur."
But the reasonable and judicious critic does not tamely submit to such a charge, that of trying to make sense out of nonsense. He retorts, with at least equal plausibility, that the restless emendators by no means unfrequently alter because they fail to understand. Their minds, devoted to devising plausible changes, are drawn away from contemplating that versatility of Greek tragedy which is apt, as it is able, to express in recondite terms sentiments and propositions which emendators think to improve by simplifying them. Of course, there is a limit to be drawn somewhere, and it must be admitted that there are very many passages in tragedy which, without being certainly corrupt, seem as it were to hover on the confines of sense and nonsense. These must be dealt with according to circumstances; an asterisk or an obelus in the text, with a corresponding suggestion in the note, is generally better than an uncertain alteration of the MSS. reading
The canon then of the conservative critic is this : Let well alone, and alter nothing without some well-established necessity, or, at least, some very strong reason for altering. This is the line which Mr. Linwood' has laid down for himself, and also Mr. Palmer,' the editor of the Oed. Col. and the Ajax.
7 Mr. Blaydes says (p. xxxi) that “we should not hesitate to suspect, and, if possible, to correct, whatever appears palpably ungrammatical or inexplicable.” That we may be deceived by appearances is a truth which a critic should bear in mind.
8 Preface to the Teubner Sophocles (1866), p. lxviii. Mr. Blaydes also complains that “orthodox scholars are often paying homage to error at the expense of truth” (Pref. p. xxvii).
p 9 Monitun to his fourth edition, 1877 : “ Indies illud magis persuasum habeo, gravissime eos in veteres scriptores peccare, qui omuia quae apud illos corrupta leguntur pro arbitrio emendanda suscipiuut.”
i Pref. to Oed. Col. p. x.“ Much better it is to leave what is thought to be a
Assuredly no editor has a right to assert that a passage or idiom is wrong (even if it is in itself doubtful) merely because no exact parallel to it has been produced. The Greek plays we possess are only a small portion of the whole number composed; and we cannot construct a complete grammar of the tragic language from the comparatively small remnant that has survived.? The judicious critic, while he trusts more to explanation than to conjectural emendation, will not refuse to admit certain changes which common sense approves and common consent has ratified. For nothing is further from his wish (even from a true regard for the credit of his author) than to extort sense from what is really nonsense. Primarily, a a Greek drama was a spectacle; the action of the speaker was seen, and his manner, looks, gesture, and emphasis were so many practical comments on his meaning. With us, a Greek play is simply a literary work, which we interpret by the test of our Lexicons and Grammars. And we are so accustomed to study the facts of language that we are apt to become unreasonably suspicious. I agree with Mr. Palmer,' that “ patience in investigating, the looking at a sentence in all its points of view, and especially in connexion with its context, and the realizing to ourselves the fact, that it was intended to be spoken with all the animation and force which characterize the language of persons deeply interested in the most critical and stirring events of real life, will frequently help to bring the true meaning to light.”
ning to light."" There are, of course, passages where there is no dispute at all about the reading, but much doubt as to the author's meaning, like those which lately gave faulty passage faulty still, than to exercise a misplaced ingenuity by putting on it a false patch.”
2 Cobet (Var. Lect. p. xiii) lays it down as a canon “nihil proferre in medium nisi cuius idoneum exemplum ex probato auctore suppetat,” and it is wise as a general rule to have some precedent to support every conjecture, although a conjecture may be right even as άπαξ λεγόμενον.
3 Preface to Oed. Col. (1860).
4 If we heard the bitter emphasis on mikpdv Elyelov, “that odious Sigeum,' Phil. 355, we should feel that Mr. Blaydes is quite wrong in praising G. Burges for kåya 'π' άκρον, and in admitting κάγώ 's άκρον into his own text. Neither of these could have been used by a tragic poet.