Obrazy na stronie
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]


[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]


[ocr errors][merged small]

IN laying the result of his labours before the public, the author wishes it to be distinctly understood, that the present volume is not, as some might perhaps imagine, merely an improved edition of the Classical Dictionary of Lempriere, but a work entirely new, and resembling its predecessor in nothing but the name. The author owes it, in fact, to himself to be thus explicit in his statement, since he would feel but poorly compensated for the heavy toil expended on the present work, were he regarded as having merely remodelled, or given a new arrangement to, the labours of another. So far from this having been done, there are, in truth, but few articles, and those not very important ones, wherein any resemblance can be traced between Lempriere's work and the present. In every other respect, the Classical Dictionary mow offered to the public will be found to be as different from Lempriere's as the nature of the case can possibly admit. It cannot be denied that Lempriere's Classical Dictionary was a very popular work in its day. The numerous editions through which it ran would show this very conclusively, without the necessity of any farther proof. Still, however, it may be asserted with equal safety, that this same popularity was mainly owing to the circumstance of there being no competitor in the field. Considered in itself, indeed, the work put forth but very feeble claims to patronage, for its scholarship was superficial and inaccurate, and its language was frequently marked by a grossness of allusion, which rendered the book a very unfit one to be put into the hands of the young. And yet so strong a hold had it taken of public favour both at home and in our own country, that not only were no additions or corrections made in the work, but the very idea itself of making such was deemed altogether visionary. The author of the present volume remembers very well what surprise was excited, when, on having been employed to prepare a new edition of Lempriere in 1825, he hinted the propriety of making some alterations in the text. The answer received from a certain quarter was, that one might as well think of making alterations in the Scriptures as in the pages of Dr. Lempriere ! and that all an editor had to do was merely to revise the references contained in the English work. When, however, several palpable errors, on the part of Lempriere, had been pointed out by him, and the editor was allowed to correct these and others of a similar kind, he still felt the impossibility of presenting the work to the American public in that state in which alone it ought to have appeared, partly from the undue estimation in which the labours of Dr. Lempriere were as yet generally held, and partly from a consciousness of his own inability, through the want of a more extended course of reading, to do justice to such a task. With all its imperfections, however, the edition referred to was well received; and when a second one was soon after called for, the publisher felt himself imboldened to allow the editor the privilege of introducing more extensive mprovements, and of making the work, in every point of view, more deserving of patronage. The republication of this latter edition in England, and the implied confession, connected with such a step, that the original work of Lempriere stood in need of improvement, now broke the charm which had fettered the judgments of so many of our own countrymen, and it then began to be conceded on all sides that the Classical Dictionary of Dr. Lempriere was by no means entitled to the claim of infallibility; nay, indeed, that it was defective throughout. When the ownership of the work, therefore, passed into the hands of the Messrs. Carvill, and a new edition was again wanted, those intelligent and enterprising publishers gave the editor permission to make whatever alterations and improvements he might see fit; and the Classical Dictionary now appeared in two octavo volumes, enriched with new materials derived from various sources, and presenting a much fairer claim than before to the attention of the student. This last-mentioned edition became, in its turn, soon exhausted, and a new one was demanded; when the copyright of the work passed from the Messrs. Carvill to the Brothers Harper. To individuals of less liberal spirit, and more alive to the prospect of immediate advantage, it would have appeared sufficient to republish merely the edition in two volumes, without any farther improvement. The Messrs. Harper, however, thought differently on . the subject. They wished a Classical Dictionary in as complete and useful a form as it could possibly be made; and, with this view, notwithstanding the large amount which had been expended on the purchase of the work, the stereotype plates were destroyed, though still perfectly serviceable, and the editor was employed to prepare a work, which, while it should embrace all that was valuable in the additions that had from time to time been made by him, was to retain but a very small portion of the old matter of Lempriere, and to supply its place with newly-prepared articles. This has now, accordingly, been done. A new work is the result; not an improved edition of the old one, but a work on which the patient labour of more than two entire years has been faithfully expended, and which, though comprised in a single volume, will be found to contain much more than even the edition of Lempriere in two volumes, as published by the Messrs. Carvill. Whatever was worth preserving among the additions previously made by the editor, he has here retained; but, in general, even these are so altered and improved as, in many instances, to be difficult of recognition; while, on the other hand, all the old articles of Lempriere, excepting a few, have been superseded by new ones. - Such is a brief history of the present work. It remains now to give a general idea of the manner in which it has been executed. The principal heads embraced in the volume are, as the title indicates, the Geography, History, Biography, Mythology, and Fine Arts of the Greeks and Romans. The subject of Archaeology is only incidentally noticed, as it is the intention of the author to edit, with all convenient speed, a Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, which will contain an abstract of all the valuable matter connected with these subjects that is to be found in the writings of the most eminent German philologists. Only a few, therefore, of the more important topics that have a bearing on Archaeology, are introduced into the present volume, such as the Greek Theatre, and theatrical exhibitions in fo. the national games of Greece, the dictatorship and agrarian laws of the Romans, and some other points of a similar kind. If the author were asked on what particular subject, among the many that are discussed in the present volume, the greatest amount of care had been expended, he would feel strongly inclined to say, that of Ancient Geography. Not that the others have been by any means slighted, and the principal degree of labour concentrated under this head. Far from it. But the fact is, that in a work like the present, the articles which relate to Ancient Geography are by far the most numerous, and, in some respects, the most important, and require a large portion of assiduous care. In what relates, therefore, to the Geography of former days, the author thinks he can say, without the least imputation of vanity, that in no work in the English language will there be found a larger body of valuable information on this most interesting subject, than in that which is here offered to the American student. In connexion with the geography of past ages, various theories, moreover, are given respecting the origin and migration of different communities, and some of the more striking legends of antiquity are referred to concerning the changes which the earth's surface has from time to time undergone. Some idea of the nature of these topics may be formed by consulting the following articles: AEgyptus, Atlantis, Gallia, Gracia, Lectonia, Mediterraneum Mare, Meroë, Ogyges, Pelasgi, and Phoenicia. Nor is this all. Books of Travels have been made to contribute their stores of information, and the student is thus transported in fancy to the scenes of ancient story, and wanders, as it were, amid the most striking memorials of the past. †. Historical department has also been a subject of careful attention. Here, again, the origin of nations forms a very attractive field of inquiry, and the student is put in possession of the ablest and most recent speculations of both German and English scholarship. The Argonautic expedition, for example, the legend of the Trojan war, events dimly shadowed forth in the distant horizon of “gray antiquity;” the origin of Rome, the early movements of the Doric and Ionic races among the Greeks; or, what may prove still more interesting to some, the origin of civilization in India and the remote East; all these topics will be found discussed under their respective heads, and will, it is hoped, teach the young student that history is something more than a mere record of dates, or a chronicle of wars and crimes. Particular attention has also been paid to the department of Biography. This subject will be found divided into several heads: biographical sketches, namely, of public men, of individuals eminent in literature, of scientific characters, of physicians, of philosophers, and

also of persons distinguished in the early history of the Christian Church. The literary biographies, in particular, will, it is conceived, be found both attractive and useful to the student, since we have no work at present in the English language in which a full view is given of Grecian and Roman literature. The sketches of ancient mathematicians, and of other individuals eminent for their attainments in science, will not be found without interest even in our own day. Nor will the medical man depart altogether unrewarded from a perusal of those biográphies which treat of persons distinguished of old in the healing art. In the accounts, moreover, that are given of the philosophers and philosophic systems of antiquity, although half-learned sciolists have passed upon these topics so sweeping a sentence of condemnation, much curious information may nevertheless be obtained, and much food for speculation, too, on what the mind can effect by its own unaided powers in relation to subjects that are of the utmost importance to us all. The ecclesiastical biographies will also be found numerous, and, it is hoped, not uninteresting. None of them fall properly, it is true, within the sphere of a Classical Dictionary, yet they could not well have been omitted, since many of the matters discussed in them have reference more immediately to classical times. The subject of Mythology has supplied, next to that of Ancient Geography, the largest number of articles to the present work. In the treatment of these, it has been the chief aim of the author to lay before the student the most important speculations of the two great schools (the Mystic and anti-Mystic) which now divide the learned of Europe. At the head of the former stands Creuzer, whose elaborate work (Symbolik und JMythologie der alten Volker) has reappeared under so attractive a form through the taste and learning of Guigniaut. The champion of the anti-Mystic school appears to be Lobeck, although many eminent names are also marshalled on the same side. It has been the aim of the author to give a fair and impartial view of both systems, although he cannot doubt but that the former will appear to the student by far the more attractive one of the two. In the discussion of mythological topics, very valuable materials have been obtained from the excellent work of Keightley, who deserves the praise of having first laid open to the English reader the stores of German erudition in the department of Mythology. The author will, he trusts, be pardoned for having intruded some theories of his own on several topics of a mythological character, more particularly under the articles Amazones, Asi, Io, Odinus, and Orpheus. It is a difficult matter, in so attractive a field of inquiry as this, to resist the temptation of inflicting one's own crude speculations upon the patience of the reader. In preparing the mythological articles, the greatest care has been also taken to exclude from them everything offensive, either in language or detail, and to present such a view of the several topics conected with this department of inquiry as may satisfy the most scrupulous, and make the present work a safe guide, in a moral point of view, to the young of either sex. The department of the Fine Arts forms an entirely new feature in the present work. The biographies of Artists have been prepared with great care, and criticisms spon their known productions have been given from the most approved authorities, both ancient and modern. The information contained under this head will, it is conceived, powe not unacceptable either to the modern artist or the general reader. In a work like the present, the materials for which have been drawn from so many sources, it would be a difficult task to specify, within the limits of an ordinary preface, the different quarters to which obligations are due. The author has so." therefore, appending to the volume a formal catalogue of authorities, at the risk of being thought vain in so doing. A few works, however, to which he has been particolarly indebted, deserve to be also mentioned here. These are the volumes of Crameron Ancient Geography; the historical researches of Thirlwall; and the work of Keighoy already referred to. From the Encyclopædia also, published by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful, Knowledge, numerous excellent articles have been obtained, which contribute in no small degree to the value of the present publication. In every instance care has been taken to give at the end of each article the main authority from which the materials have been drawn, a plan generally pursued in works of a similar nature, and which was followed by the author in all the editions of Lempriere prepared by him for the press. A fairer mode of proceeding cannot well be imagined. And yet complaint has been made in a certain quarter, that the articles taken from the Encyclopædia just mensioned are not duly credited to that work, and that the title of the work itself has been sadiously changed. Of the fallacy of the first charge, any one can satisfy himself by referring to the pages of the present volume where those articles appear; while, with regard to the second, the author has merely to remark, that in

« PoprzedniaDalej »