Page images
PDF
EPUB

And in the Testament of Creseide. . 78.

" O faire Crefeide the floure and A PER SE « Of Troie and Greece."

Douglass in his preface calls Virgil, The A PER SE. i. e. as the glossary explains it, an extraordinary or incomparable person, like the letter A by itself, which has the first place in the alphabets of almost all languages. I would therefore thus read in Shakespeare,

They say he is a very A PER SE 66 And stands alone.”

In the Comedy of Errors. Ac I.
Ægeon. “ Five summers have I spent in farthest

Greece,
Roaming clean thro' the bounds of

[ocr errors]

“ And coafting homeward, came to

“ Ephesus : “ Hopeless to find, yet loth to leave

“ unsought, " Or that, or any place that harbours

men.”

I wonder Mr. Theobald did not see the nonsense of this place. How could he spend five summers

in Greece, roaming thro' the bounds of Asia? What a voyage too is here mentioned-roaming thro' the bounds of Asia! 'Tis trifling to dwell on refuting such absurdities. The passage is translated from the Menæchmi of Plautus, Hic annus fextus, poftquam rei buic operam damus. Iftros, Hispanos, Masylienfes, Illurios, " Mare superum omne, Græciamque exoticam,

Orasque ITALICAS omnes, què egreditur mare, Sumus circumveeti." Who does not see therefore that Asia is the transcriber's or press-corrector's word instead of ITALY ?

“ Roaming clean thro' the bounds of Italy." Thus all is easy and natural, and agreeable to the original. 'Tis well known Italy was called Græcia Magna : So Ovid,

Itala nam tellus Gracia magna fuit : Which I mention as a comment on this place of Plautus and our poet.

In King Lear, Act III.

« Edg. Fraterretto calls me and tells me that “ Nero is an angler in the lake of darkness.”

Nero

Nero was a fidler in hell, as Rabelais tells us, B.2. c. 30. And Trajan was an angler. Shakespeare was a reader of Rabelais, as may be proved from many

imitations of him ; and here plainly he has that facetious Frenchman in his view. Trajan might have this office given him in hell, not only because he was a persecutor of the Christians, but as he was a great drinker, and that he might have liquor enough in the next world, he was made a fisherman : Rabelais has as trifling reasons as this, for many of his witticisms : but whatever was Rabelais' reason is another question : this however was not Nero's office. But the players and editors, not willing that so good a prince as Trajan should have such a vile employment, substituted Nero in his room, without any fenfe or allusion at all. From Rabelais therefore the passage should be thus corrected, Trajan is an angler in the lake of darkness. For one cannot fay, I should think, with any propriety,

Nero is a fidler in the lake of darkness. I cannot pass over a most true correction, printed in the Oxford edition, of a faulty passage in Antony and Cleopatra, Act III. which was originally corrupted by this change of the first editors,

“ Cleop. « Cleop. What shall we do, Enobarbus ? 66 Eno. Think, and die."

Drink and die ; This emendation is undoubtedly true. 'Tis spoken by 'Enobarbus, in allusion to the fociety of the ΣΥΝΑΠΟΘΑΝΟΥΜΕΝΟΙ, , mention'd in Plutarch, p. 949. D. The hint was taken from a comedy of Diphilus, mention'd by Terence in his prologue to the Adelphi, « ΣΥΝΑΠΟΘΝΗΣΚΟΝΤΕΣ Diphili comoedia eft: “ Eam commorientes Plautus fecit fabulam."

The same kind of blunders we have frequent in ancient books: I will mention one in those verses of Tyrtaeus, which Stobaeus has preserved.

Ξυνον δ' εσθλον τοτο σόληϊ τε πανί τε δήμω,

"Οσις ΑΝΗΡ διαβας εν τρομάχοισι μένη. . The old reading, instead of ANHP, was AN EY, which the transcriber changed into ANHP.

Οσις αν εύ διαβας εν τρομάχοισι μένη.

2 So in A& I. Where the foothfaver is telling their fortunes, and they are made to speak something foreboding their destinies ; Ænobarbus says,

“ Mine, and most of our fortunes to night shall be to go drunk to bed.”

This was an expression that Tyrtaeus was fond of, and he repeats it again, 'Αλλά τις εύ διαβάς μενέτω, σοσιν αμφοτέροισι

Σηριχθείς επί γης, χείλος οδισι δακών. El diaba's, standing firm, one leg advanced before the other : the legs being severed and set afunder, each from the other. But he took the expression from Homer, 11. sé: 458. Σή δε μάλ' εΓγύς έων, και έρεισάμενω βάλε μέσσας, El diabás.

Which the translator renders, firmiter divaricatis cruribus ftans : and the scholiast interprets by irxupws sás, which interpretation Milton follows: “ 3 Stand firm, for in his look defiance lours." Notwithstanding Tyrtaeus borrowed this from Homer, yet by laying so much stress on this posture of fighting, and by his often repeating it,

Par. L. IV, 873. Milton, in this whole episode, keeps close to his master Homer, who sends out Ulysses and Diomede into the Trojan camp as spies. Il. x'. 533. ' pirov,

3

κ. τ. λ.

"Ιππων μ' ώκυπόδων αμφί κύπος Βαλα βάλλει. .
O friends! I hear the tread of nimble feet, $. 866.
Ούπω σαν είρήλο έπος, ότ' άρ' ήλυθον αυτοί. 1. κ. 540.
He scarce bad ended when these two approach'd. *.874.

R

Plato

« PreviousContinue »