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In this Edition of HORACE I have endeavoured to give the Text according to the best MSS., and to illustrate it by a commentary, explanatory as well as critical.
I say, according to the best MSS., for often many MSS. are derived from one faulty original: in their case mere number is no criterion. No readings are here admitted upon conjecture alone, and without collateral authority. No matter how ingenious or how apparently true a conjectural reading may appear; no matter how incongruous or seemingly inexplicable the acknowledged reading of MSS. may be, I consider it imperative on an Editor to reject the former, . and to retain the latter. Quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus is applicable to all poets, as well as critics. If a happy conjecture, isolated as it is, clear away a difficulty either in sense or pure Latinity, it doth not follow that thus the poet wrote or thought. The progress of knowledge, the zealous pursuit of classical learning, long buried monuments of an
tiquity restored to light, the application of steady genius, acquaintance with the features of a writer's country, his habits, feelings, and circumstances all these tend to enlighten us with respect to the intention and meaning of passages once thought inexplicable. Even now, after all that has been written on Horace by men of every country, if a startling difficulty do remain, I think it better fai to confess our ignorance, than with rash hand to alter what is sanctioned by the authority of ages. Yet still I think it no less the duty of an Editor to record on such passages the emendations of cautious critics. They often show the progress of mind and science—at least they show the modes of thought and scholarship of our forefathers (would that, in many points, we could rival them!); and often, too, has an emendation been confirmed by some newlydiscovered Manuscript, and what has been propounded in a casual thought, becomes admitted on unquestionable authority.
I have endeavoured to give the emendations of Bentley, with his reasons for each change, in as brief a manner as I could. Many of his alterations appear to be rash and unnecessary; yet such was the prodigious extent of his knowledge, so powerful was
his genius, so diversified are the stores of learning brought forward to aid his views, that we learn more from him, even when supporting at best a very doubtful case, than we gain from all other critics in support of the probable truth.
The edition of Mitscherlich is chiefly remarkable for the number of parallel passages with which he has illustrated his Author. I have taken from him. those only which I thought to be closest to the Text,
From Doering I have also taken some parallel passages and a few of his explanatory observations, which appear to have been overlooked or misunderstood by Anthon.
I can with difficulty acknowledge how much I am indebted to Orellius. He has brought considerable scholastic knowledge, combined with plain common sense and great experience, to explain and illustrate his author; unlike the great majority of German critics, he has briefly, yet clearly, expressed his meaning. I consider his edition of Horace to be the most generally useful of any hitherto given to the world.
The present annotation, so far as the Odes are concerned, is based upon that of Anthon. But, wherever I considered his views to be very incor
rect, I have given his note in full, and immediately succeeding, is placed the objection to it, and what appeared to be a preferable mode of explanation. In other cases, his note has been either altered or simply adopted; but in numberless instances, where neither process would answer, the note has been wholly re-written.
The well-known and excellent edition of M'Caul has been the basis of the notes on the Satires and Epistles. My additions to his commentary are marked with an asterisk (*). The additions on the Odes were so extensive as to render this notation wholly impracticable.
I have also selected what I thought useful from Mr. Tate's Horatius Restitutus ; and to Mr. Howell I owe many of the parallels from the English poets which appear in this Edition.
23, Trinity College,
G. B. WHEELER.