Article 12

ART. XII. ‘Ηροδοτου ‘Αλιχαρνησσηος ‘Ιστοριων ΛογοιΘ′. Herodoti Halicarnassei Historiarum Libri IX. Textus Wesselingianus passim refictus opera Frid. Volg. Reizii. Accedit Index Rerum necnon Editionis Wesselingianæ cum Edit. Reizii et Schäferi Collatio. Oxonii, Sumptibus J. Cooke et J. Parker, et J. Payne et J. Mackinlay, Londini. 1808. 8vo. pp. 867.

Ηροδοτου Αλιχαρνησσηος Ιστοριων ΛογοιΘ. Επιγραφομενοι Μουσαι. Textus Wesselingianus passim refictus Argumentorumque ac Temporum Notatio. Opera Friderici Volg. Reizii. Oxonii, Typis N. Bliss; impensis M. Bliss et R. Bliss, 1809. 8vo. pp. 637.

[pp. 354-365] [original article in PDF format]

  1. IT seems to have been the peculiar privilege of Greece, that the most remarkable periods of her history should be recorded by writers of great ability, who were contemporary with the events which they relate, and in which some of them bore a distinguished part. The celebrated expedition of Xerxes, the long and eventful war of the Peloponnese, and the subsequent contentions of rival states to the battle of Mantinæa, have been transmitted to us by a chain of history so luminous and connected, that we feel more familiar with those periods of remote antiquity than with many of the occurrences of modern times.

  2. But although the authenticity of these ancient records has never been questioned, there have not been wanting those, from the Augustan age to the present, who have attempted to depreciate the authority and to impeach the veracity of the Helladian writers.

  3. We have been told by a learned and acute critic, that it was owing not so much to a want of memorials, that the early period of Grecian history has come down to us so doubtful and confused, but to an inordinate vanity inherent in the Grecian character, which led them to ascribe to their own nation whatever was splendid in others, and to consider even freedom of investigation as criminal, where it did not conduce to the honour of their country. Now, although we are ready to allow, that in speaking of the origin of their mythology, or of the foundation of states, where they had no other light to guide them but the glimmering of obscure tradition, they may frequently have betrayed a prepossession in favour of their own nation; yet we cannot agree with Mr. Bryant, that their [354] credibility is therefore to be suspected and arraigned, when they profess to write of facts which came under their own knowledge, or which they received on the credible information of others. We may admit them to have been bad antiquaries, whilst we support their veracity as historians.

  4. But of all the Helladian writers, there is none who has been the object of more invidious and unmerited obloquy than the venerable patriarch of profane history. Herodotus is celebrated by Cicero as the first who embellished the dry details of the annalist with the graces and ornaments of language; and as he has blended the information which he collected as a traveller, with the events which came before him as an historian, his enemies have not failed to charge him with sacrificing in some instances the dignity of historic truth to a natural fondness for fable, or a desire to increase his popularity by gratifying the ears of his auditors. The most violent and determined attack upon the character as well as the authority of Herodotus is contained in the celebrated treatise of Plutarch , in which he endeavours to convict that historian of gross and wanton malignity in his statement of facts, and with impiety in several of his observations. But, though he has exhibited much learning and ingenuity in support of his charge, yet he has so far overshot his mark, and so palpably betrayed the selfish and ungenerous motives by which he was actuated, that the imputation of malignity recoils most powerfully on himself.

  5. In his remarks on the geography and the manners of the several countries through which he travelled, Herodotus has exhibited a minuteness and diligence of research which make his reader familiar with the scenes which are described, and seem to prove beyond a doubt that the writer had drawn his descriptions on the spot. A learned Frenchman, however, Des Vignoles, has not scrupled to assert, in the face of most conclusive evidence to the contrary, that Herodotus never visited Babylon; though he professes to give his very minute description of that city from his own actual observation. To remove every doubt on this point, which is chiefly material as it affects the veracity of the historian, it is only necessary to refer to those passages where he relates the conversation which he held with the Chaldees who lived in the vicinity of Babylon; and his account of the temples and statues which were there in his time, of which he enumerates one—; and of the statue of solid gold which Xerxes had taken away, he observes, .

  6. The opinion which Lord Bolingbroke has given on the merits of Herodotus, is delivered with such sarcastic levity, and accompanied with sentiments of such general disbelief and contempt for all [355] ancient histories whatever, whether sacred or profane, that one would almost imagine he intended rather to expose the extravagant lengths to which modern scepticism might be indulged, than to bring any serious charge against the greatest writers of antiquity: so that the admirers of Herodotus may rest sufficiently satisfied with that portion of praise which his Lordship has allowed him, that 'something like a thread of history of the Medes, and then of the Persians, to the flight of Xerxes, which happened in his own time, is carried on;' and that 'the events of his own time are related with an air of history.'

  7. These and similar attempts to depreciate the fair fame of the Father of Grecian History seem to afford some grounds for the suspicion of Gronovius, who, in his honest but extravagant zeal for the cause of his author, asserts that a conspiracy had for many ages existed among the admirers of Ctesias to raise the credit of their favourite historian on the ruin of his rival and contemporary Herodotus; and he even goes so far as to imagine, that this spirit of jealous rivalship was transmitted down to the origin of printing, and obtained to such a degree, that most of the errors and corruptions which are found in the MSS. of Herodotus, are to be attributed rather to the wilful misrepresentation, than the ignorance or carelessness, of transcribers.

  8. However this may be, we cannot but remark a certain fastidious scepticism in many of our modern writers whenever they cite the authority of the Helladian historians, which it is difficult to reconcile with that implicit confidence with which they seem to rely on the accounts of men who lived many ages subsequent to the events which they relate. From the freedom, indeed, with which Strabo and Diodorus censure the works of all preceding historians, and the assurance with which they profess to draw from purer materials and with stricter adherence to truth, we might certainly be induced to listen to their superior pretensions, if they could fully convince us that what has hitherto been considered as the best era of talent and of virtue amongst the Greeks, was either so illiterate or so corrupt, that its historians were unable to record the transactions which passed before their eyes, or unwilling to record them faithfully. But in spite of all the cavils and the calumnies with which they have been assailed, the works of Herodotus have descended to the present time entire and unmutilated; the fame which they acquired at the festivals of Elis and of Athens, above two thousand years ago, is now associated with feelings of veneration; and it is only justice to the memory of this great historian to allow, that the more we have become acquainted by the means of modern travellers with the history and the customs of the eastern nations, the less are we inclined to doubt whatever might at first excite our surprise or [356] stagger our belief. If Herodotus has been censured as a fabulist, we should not forget that Bruce has been stigmatised as an impostor.

  9. Though the translation of Herodotus into Latin by Laurentius Valla was printed at Venice so early as the year 1474, it was not until 1502 that Aldus Manutius first gave him to the world in his original language. The editions of Aldus were so deservedly esteemed, on account of the learning and accuracy of the editor, that they were made the basis of every future edition, and are even now referred to as almost equivalent to MS. authority. This edition was reprinted at Basle, under the direction of Camerarius, 1541, 1577; but few emendations were made in the text until the editions of Henry Stephens in 1570 and 1592, who collected the various readings of several MSS. and introduced some conjectural alterations of his own. Jungermann reprinted the second edition of Stephens, at Frankfort, 1608, and divided the history into chapters and sections. To the industry of this scholar we are also indebted for the Latin Index which now accompanies the text of Herodotus. But one of the most respectable and useful editions of this historian, which appeared in the 17th century, was that of our own countryman, Gale, which was printed at London, 1697. It received many valuable corrections from the collation of two MSS. to which the editor had access; and does not yield the palm even to the subsequent edition of Gronovius.

  10. When Gronovius published his edition of Herodotus in 1715, the expectations of the learned had been considerably raised by the discovery of a MS. in the Medicëan Library at Florence; which had been represented as of standard authority, and free from those corruptions which had crept into all the other MSS. The intrinsic value, however, of this boasted MS. appears by no means to justify the encomiums which Gronovius has so profusely lavished upon it; or the solemn manner in which he assures the public that he never failed, in his private devotions, to remember with gratitude, that auspicious day which first brought this treasure to his view. His edition, however, must be allowed to possess considerable merit, on account of the learned annotations of the industrious editor.

  11. At length appeared the edition of Wesseling, the most splendid and valuable work which perhaps ever issued from the press. It is enriched with the observations and corrections of almost every scholar of that period, who seem all to have felt ambitious of contributing their aid in erecting this magnificent pile. But amongst the many celebrated names to which the editor acknowledges his obligations, that of Valckenäer is peculiarly distinguished, from whose ample and judicious remarks the edition derives no inconsiderable share of its value. The text of this edition was printed [357] from a copy of Gronovius which Wesseling had himself corrected; but such was the amiable diffidence of this learned critic, that he chose rather to point out what he conceived to be erroneous, and suggest what appeared to him to be the true reading, than to alter the text on his own conjecture. In this point he candidly allows that he has been 'justo cautior. Sed illud malui, satis habens si ad medicinam via monstraretur.' However we may regret that Wesseling should have declined a task for which he was so eminently qualified, yet we cannot but admire the dignified composure with which this venerable scholar resigns to future editors the merit of reaping that harvest which his own labours had brought to maturity; he leaves to others the pageantry of the triumph, satisfied with the consciousness that he has already achieved the victory.

  12. The task of completing the work which Wesseling had so ably begun, and of applying this rich mine of criticism to restore and elucidate the text of Herodotus, was undertaken not long after by Reizius, a scholar of considerable talents, who, whilst he uses the knife with a less sparing hand, appears to have exercised it with judgment. Reizius informs us, that it was his first intention merely to reprint the text of Wesseling without any other alterations, than the correction of typographical errors, some necessary change of the punctuation, and an accurate attention to the position of the accents, a point which he appears to have well understood, and on which he had already published a treatise. He was induced, however, to abandon this plan, on considering the number of erroneous readings which Wesseling had admitted into his text, to the exclusion of emendations which he at the same time acknowledged and approved. Reizius has, indeed, been censured for the severity of his remarks on this timidity of Wesseling; but surely without good reason: for though he laments his great reluctance to improve the text, he justly and candidly observes, that there was less occasion for such alterations in Wesseling's edition, since the various readings and notes were there subjoined to every page. As it was the intention of Reizius, however, to make his edition as useful, and at the same time as compendious, as possible, these subsidia could not be admitted; and it was therefore requisite that he should adopt the best readings into his text, and thus supersede the necessity of a mass of notes. With this view he applied himself to the correction of the text, partly on the authority of esteemed MSS. and partly on the conjectures of Wesseling and Valckenäer, or sometimes on his own. This was a labour of considerable magnitude: for though such ample materials were already concentrated in the notes of Wesseling, it still required no ordinary degree of judgment to select what was most eligible, and much firmness of decision in [358] determining a point on which the opinions of the learned were doubtful or discordant.

  13. The instances, in which Reizius has restored and improved the text of his author, occur in almost every page, and their value cannot fail to be highly appreciated by every admirer of Herodotus. Of the emendations which he has introduced on his own conjecture, we shall select a few from the specimens which he has noticed in his preface.

  14. Lib. i. 38, 9. , . Reizius discards the words , as the gloss of some reader who had mistaken the true meaning of , which occurs 34. 7.; and which is used by the ancients solely in the signification of mutus, though later writers have given it the sense of surdus. That the omission of is absolutely necessary to the sense and consistency of the passage, is evident from the context. We are told, i. 34. that Croesus had two sons—. Again, 85: .

    Lib. ii. 127. 11. . Henry Stephens first supplied the verb, which was before wanting in the sentence, by reading for . But the greatest difficulty still remained; and so various and unsatisfactory were the emendations proposed, that Wesseling leaves the point undecided. By a most acute and felicitous correction, Reizius has made this obscure passage clear and perspicuous. 'Omnes vident hæc esse corrupta, si non et lacunosa: varii variè tentârunt; a me locus ita exhibitus est: . Struxit autem ex Æthiopico lapide versicolore primam compagem altam quadraginta pedes, basin alterius eadem magnitudine, pyramidemque hanc magnæ contiguam ædificavit.'

    Lib. iv. 53. 16. speaking of the Borysthenes: . The old reading was , though it is evident, from the account which Herodotus himself has given us of the course of this river, that it could not be more than fourteen days sail from the mouth of the Borysthenes to the country of the Gerrhi. It is remarkable that this error is so ancient as to have been admitted by Pomponius Mela. ii. 1.

    Lib. IV. 158. 3. In this manner the passage had been [359] punctuated by every editor from Aldus to Wesseling, with a colon inserted between and , though it manifestly confuses the construction and perverts the sense. It could not have been the intention of the Libyans that the Greeks should settle in the beautiful country of Irasa; else, why should they have taken the precaution of leading them thither by night? And we find, moreover, in the very next chapter, these Greeks inhabiting the country of Cyrene, which was further to the west of Irasa. By a slight but most judicious change of the punctuation, the true meaning of the passage is restored.

  15. From these extracts, our readers will have formed a favourable opinion of the critical talents of Reizius. Besides the Greek text, he proposed to give an entire new Latin version, improved chronological tables, and maps illustrative of the geography of Herodotus. The third volume was to contain his notes, and a Lexicon Herodoteum, which, he assures us, should be more full and compendious than the Ionic Lexicon of Æmilius Portus.

  16. It is a subject of deep concern that this fair and ample promise was so untimely frustrated by the death of the learned editor, who only published the first four books of Herodotus. The work has indeed been ably continued by Schäfer; yet it is probable that the learned world will still have to regret the loss of much which they had been taught to expect, as there were found amongst the papers of Reizius only a review of the five first books, some observations on the history and chronology of Herodotus, and the Lexicon of Portus considerably enlarged. Schäfer, who is known not only as the continuator of Reizius, but as himself the editor of a new, though as yet imperfect, edition of Herodotus, appears to have adopted the same plan as his predecessor, and to have availed himself even more fully of the suggestions and remarks of Wesseling.

  17. Being now in possession of so valuable, and comparatively so pure, an edition of the Greek text, we have little left to wish for, except a concise selection of commentaries on the more difficult or disputed passages. We hope, however, that this beautiful work will continue free from the incumbrance of a Latin translation. The adoption of such auxiliaries might be expedient in earlier ages, when the Greek language was less cultivated, but experience has sufficiently demonstrated their injurious effects in retarding the advancement of sound and classical erudition.

  18. It is now time to congratulate the public on the appearance of two rival impressions of this edition of Reizius from the University of Oxford. And, indeed, however the dearth of original criticism in this island may seem to justify us in censuring the inactivity (for we [360] cannot doubt the talents) of our countrymen, we must candidly acknowledge the diligence which has lately been displayed by the presses at Oxford in particular, in multiplying copies of those valuable foreign editions of the classics, which are either absolutely scarce, or are become so for a time, on account of our present precarious intercourse with the continent.

  19. The two editions, which are the object of the present article, were published about the same period; the one from the press of Mr. Bliss, the other at the expense of Messrs. Cooke and Parker; which, having been printed, as we understand, at the Clarendon Press, we shall distinguish by the title of the Clarendon edition, though that term belongs peculiarly to such works as are edited at the expense, and under the sanction, of the delegates of the Clarendon Press.

  20. As these rival impressions offer no higher pretensions than to be considered as a republication of Reizius, our task, though tedious, will necessarily be limited (after what we have previously remarked of the original edition) to a careful examination of the accuracy with which they have exhibited the text, and attended to the instructions which Reizius has given in his preface. Yet simple and easy as this task at first appeared, it assumed a more complex and mysterious form as we proceeded. For though few variations, except typographical errors, might naturally be supposed to exist between two editions, which professed to copy from the same original, yet we soon discovered in that of Bliss an impatience of servile imitation which aspired to something like discretionary criticism; though it unfortunately happens that the editor has only deviated from the original to commit an error, or to restore a repudiated reading. On this occasion, we may apply the observation of Wesseling on the republication of Jungermann's edition of Herodotus by Paul Stephens at Geneva: 'Illam autem viri optimi operam Genevæ ita repetiverunt, ut utrâvis recte cognitâ, ambas te nosse putes; at res secus habet.' The case is, indeed, so far otherwise that we are at a loss how to account for it. That these remarks are not without good foundation, our readers will be enabled to judge from the instances which we shall lay before them.

  21. Lib. I. c. 41. line 9. The emendation of Reizius, is rejected, though supported by this conclusive testimony of Valckenaer; ' nuspiam alibi reperietur apud Herodotum; nonnunquam legitur, quinquagies minimum

        c. 45. l. 14. instead of the Ionic form .

        c. 53. l. 9. for [361]

        c. 54.l. 1. , an error copied from Wesseling, though corrected by Reizius.

        c. 54.l. 7. for an emendation suggested by Wesseling and Valckenäer.

        c. 57. l. 7. for .

        c. 57. l. 16. for .

        c. 122. l. 14. an error of Wesseling restored (though noticed by him in his errata), to the exclusion of the true reading

        c. 141. l. 2. for the true Ionic form .

        c. 146. l. 7. for the old reading restored, to the exclusion of an emendation which Reizius had adopted from Palmerius, and which is supported by Wesseling on the authority of Pausanias.

    Lib. II. c. 30. l. 27. for the error of Wesseling's text restored, by which the word is made the nominative plural, instead of the dative singular.

    Lib. III. c. 135. l. 17. . Again copying the old reading of Wesseling, Bliss has substituted the adverb benè, for the genitive of a pronoun; which neat and easy emendation Reizius had adopted on the suggestion of Reiske.

    Lib. IV. c. 179. l. 12. instead of the Ionic form, .

    Lib. V. c. 86. l. 4. for .

    Lib. VII. c. 23. l. 14. the old reading restored, though the alteration was adopted from MS. authority.

        c. 154. l. 13. for an emendation on MS. authority, approved by Wesseling.

        c. 167. l. 2. for a simple and elegant emendation suggested by Gale and Reiske. 'Utriusque ignarus legendum vidit et Koenius,' which would perhaps be the better reading.

    Lib. VIII. c. 98. l. 7. &c. for The old reading restored, to the enfeebling of the passage, and to the production of a deviation from the general structure of the Greek language.

        c. 142. l. 9. Schäfer reads which is countenanced by the opinion of Wesseling; 'Arbitror reliquisse Scriptorem de vestra regione primum decertatum fuit, tum sequetur opportune

  22. Such and so many are the instances where the edition of Bliss has rejected the emendations of Reizius and his continuator, and, with a perverseness altogether unaccountable, foisted in the repudiated readings of Wesseling. But whilst it omits so large a [362] portion of the improvements of the original, it has been but too faithful a copyist of its blemishes. It may indeed be excusable in some branches of the imitative art to preserve even faults with superstitious accuracy, but this licence, we apprehend, will scarcely be conceded in the walks of philology.

    '----Scriptor si peccat idem librarius usque,
    Quamvis est monitus, veniâ caret.'

    Lib. I. c. 38. l. 9. The words which Reizius proves to be an interpolation, and that they ought to be omitted, though he had carelessly neglected to do so, are retained in the edition of Bliss, as well as in that from the Clarendon.

    Lib. I. c. 65. l. 23. Bliss has a comma after , against the example and injunction of Reizius.

    Lib. I. c. 194. l. 12. The passage is thus reprinted in Bliss, notwithstanding the caution which Reizius had given in his preface. 'Ne ipsi quidem Wesselingio dubium est, quin legendum sit, , relatione ad factâ, non ad . Ilium religio, me casus impediit, quo minus ita scriberemus.'

    Lib. I. c. 107. In margine, Reizius and Bliss have 'Astyages, A. 685, factus rex,' which is evidently wrong: for if Cyaxares began his reign, A. 625, and reigned forty years, Astyages must have succeeded to the throne, A. 585, as in the Clarendon edition.

    Lib. II. c. 102. l. 7. The comma retained in Bliss after , though Reizius declares it ought to be omitted, and apologizes for having inserted it in his text.

    Lib. V. c. 3. l. 9. The word , which had crept into the text of Schäfer, is faithfully copied in this, though very properly omitted in the Clarendon edition.

    The following typographical errors are all implicitly repeated from the original edition.

    Lib. V. c. 101. 1. 9. pro lege .

    Lib. VI.—1,—6.— lege

                —66.—11. lege

                —86.—7.— lege

    Lib. VII.—10.—10.— lege

                 —37.—14.— lege

                 —40.—2.— lege

                 —46.—16.— lege

                 —49.—11.— lege .

                 —51.—15.— lege

                 —96.—4.— lege

                 —119.—22.— lege

                 —120. Margine, pro Magacreontis lege Megacreontis'. [363]

    Lib. VII. c. 156. l. 15. pro , lege

    Lib. VIII.—132.—4.— lege

    Lib. IX., sec. 103. The strange confusion of the text which has taken place in the first sentence of this section, as exhibited in Schäfer, from a gross and most palpable blunder of the printer, is transferred into this edition without the slightest intimation being made in the collation of various readings from Wesseling.

  23. Having been thus minute in examining the merits of one of these republications of the Leipsic edition, it will be expected that we should proceed to do equal justice to the other. Our remarks however on the Clarendon edition will be comparatively so few, and in a strain so much more gratifying to our feelings, that we should almost be afraid lest our impartiality might be called in question, if we were not entirely conscious of the truth of what we advance.

  24. If the edition of Reizius has been so essentially deteriorated in passing through the press of Bliss, it has acquired a purer degree of refinement from the diligence of the Clarendon editors. In every instance which we have adduced of the corruptness of Bliss's text, the emendations of Reizius and Schäfer have been most scrupulously attended to in the Clarendon edition. The readings, which Reizius had marked in his preface as erroneous, are corrected according to his suggestion, with one exception only, viz. Lib. 1. c. 38, where the words '' are still retained in the text. And, lastly, the typographical errata of the original edition are here carefully corrected.

  25. If we proceed, from the consideration of the intrinsic merit of these rival impressions, to a comparison of their exterior pretensions, we must still assign the palm of superiority to the Clarendon edition. In this the sections are more distinctly marked than either in that of Reizius or Bliss: and the text is printed in a character much more beautiful and clear; though this is a point which belongs perhaps more to the bibliographer than the critic.

  26. To both these editions is subjoined a collation of Wesseling's edition with that of Reizius and Schäfer. Our curiosity naturally led us to examine whether the emendations of Reizius, which Bliss had discarded from his text, were at all noticed in his collation; but he has displayed, as much cunning in fabricating the one, as audacity in corrupting the other. Wherever his text had deviated from the original, the various reading of Reizius and Schäfer is most artfully and cautiously suppressed; it is so far, therefore, from being what it professes, a collation of the Leipsic edition with that of Wesseling, that it is merely a collation of his own mangled republication with the edition of Wesseling—if indeed the wide difference between the two, in the four first lines of Book [364] IX., c. 103, would allow us to suppose that he had consulted Wesseling at all in search of various readings.

  27. At the end of his second volume, Bliss has given 'a Tabula Chronologica,' and a '' As these are wholly gratuitous, and more than we had any claim to expect in a mere republication of the Leipsic edition, it may seem ungracious perhaps to make any remark upon them; we wish, however, that, instead of the Lexicon of Goldastus, he had given us that of St. Germain's, which Wesseling has inserted in his edition, and pronounces to be the most complete and the best.

  28. We cannot take leave of Herodotus and his Oxford editors without intreating those who superintended the edition of Bliss, to tamper less with the text in future, and to be more studious of accuracy, lest they injure the well-earned reputation of a press which has sent forth so many respectable editions of classical literature. To the publishers of the Clarendon edition, we must express our acknowledgements for the diligence with which they have reprinted Reizius. We trust they will be encouraged to give us the remaining historians of Greece in the same useful, correct, and compendious form in which they have now exhibited the Muses of Herodotus.