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incumbebat laboribus antiquorum, notabatur, et non modo asella tardior, sed obtusior plumbo omnibus erat invisus.' We cannot wonder then if many manuscript copies of the classical authors were by degrees applied to binding the works of the scholasticdivines, or even to the making of rackets; and that the few which were spared, lay rotting in some neglected corner of the libraries described by Poggio: Erant in Bibliotheca libri illi, non ut eorum dignitas postulabat, sed in teterrimo quodam et obscuro carcere, fundo scilicet unius turris, quo ne vita quidem damnati detruderentur.' In this dungeon of a turret Poggio discovered Quintilian, the Argonautics of Valerius Flaccus, and the Commen tary of Asconius Pædianus upon Cicero's orations.
If we may believe some accounts, the barbarous ignorance of their monastic possessors had not finished the work of destruction amongst the more ancient MSS. at a period considerably more recent than that of Poggio and Aretino. It is related by Chapelain, a poet who enjoyed a high reputation till he published, that the tutor of a Marquis de Rouville assured him, that some years before, having sent to Saumur for some rackets, he was struck by the appearance of the parchment; and upon examining it most narrowly, he fancied that he saw the titles of the 8th, 10th and 11th Decads of Livy. Upon applying to the racket-maker, he was told that the apothecary of the Abbey of Fontevraud, having found in the corner of a chamber in that abbey a pile of parchment volumes, and having read in several of them that they were parts of the history of Tite Live, begged them of the abbess, assuring her that the book was of no use, because it had been printed.' Having obtained them, the apothecary disposed of them to himself-that he had made of them'une multitude très grande de battoirs, of which he had still remaining more than twelve dozen !' So says M. Chapelain, who probably believed the story; but it is pretty clear that the tutor mystified him.
The titles of three decads upon a pair or two of rackets are rather too much. The story, however, may seem to derive some degree of credibility from the well known fact, that Sir Robert Cotton redeemed the original of Magna Charta from the hands of a tailor who was on the point of cutting it up for measures. Pietro della Valle, in his travels, relates that he had been in treaty with the Grand Seignior's librarian for an entire Livy; the price to be paid was 10,000 crowns. But upon searching the library, the MS. had disappeared. The probability is that it had never been there.
But it is not only to the accidental depredations of ignorance that we have to ascribe the loss of so many ancient writings. It is well known that some of the popes waged a fierce and destructive war against the manuscripts of the classical authors, as if to avenge the cause of Christianity for the persecutions of the heathen
emperors. Pope Gregory I. is said to have burned all the copies of Livy upon which he could lay his hands, on account of the superstitious legends with which the Roman historian abounded; a curious reason to be assigned by the author of the life of St. Benedict and of the Dialogues with Peter the deacon,' of which the worthy and candid Dupin confesses, that in it there are miracles so frequent, so extraordinary, and oftentimes for matters of such little consequence, that it is very difficult to believe them all. Gregory's motive may possibly have been a well-founded apprehension, that a comparison of the palpably fabulous legends of the Roman History with the anecdotes related in his own works, would not serve to enhance his character for veracity. It seems certain that this pope committed great ravages amongst the ancient poets. Cardan tells us that he caused the plays of Afranius, Nævius and Ennius to be burnt. But it is difficult to conceive that he could have effected the destruction of all the copies, unless we suppose, which may perhaps have been the case, that the desolation occasioned by the irruptions of the northern hordes had been so great, that most of them were lost before the age of Gregory. Some degree of uncertainty is cast over the whole account by the fact, that Machiavelli and Cardan relate a similar story of Pope Gregory VII. who is said by them to have burned a great number of the most valuable ancient writings and considering the violent and tyrannical temper of that pontiff, and the great influence which he possessed over the chief states of Europe, we think that he was more likely to effect an extensive destruction of literary monuments than his predecessor. He is reported to have burned the works of Varro, lest Augustin, who had copied from that author a great part of his treatise de Civitate Dei, should be detected as a plagiary. This is sufficienly ridiculous, since nothing is more open than the manner in which Augustin quotes Varro; and the quotations themselves are chiefly made for the express purpose of refuting them. But the story is deservedly rejected by Naudé, as fabulous. The fact, no doubt, is, that the writings of Varro had long been obsolete, and perished through neglect rather than misusage. Scaliger, however, who was not remarkable for credulity, says, that in the time of this pope an infinite number of good books were burned at Rome, so that he entertained no hopes of finding any addition to the authors then known. Gregory I. is also said to have burned the Palatine library at Rome, to which story there is only this objection, that in the time of that pope there was no Palatine library to burn.
The truth after all, is, that of the Latin writers not many have perished whose loss we need greatly regret. The Roman poets who wrote before the Augustan age would scarcely be intelligible, if they existed. The few remaining shreds of the satyric mantle
which invested Ennius and Lucilius are not such as to make us bewail the ravages of time or of the popes. Dr. Drake in his 'Literary Hours' has drawn up some tables which exhibit, in three columns, the names of the principal authors of antiquity, the titles of their surviving compositions, and also of those which have perished; and from these it appears that with the exception of the hundred and five books of Livy, and the Orations and Epistles of Cicero, we have not so much to lament the loss of as is commonly supposed. To be sure we have only six out of the many comedies of Terence, but they are probably the best.
But in Grecian literature the work of destruction has been much more extensive than Dr. Drake seems to imagine; the scanty catalogue which he has given, after Quintilian, of Greek authors, affords but a very imperfect idea of the loss which we have sustained.
The prevalence of the Greek language in the western parts of Europe, to an age comparatively recent, and the vast number of monasteries scattered over the Byzantine empire and the whole of Asia Minor, might, one would think, have ensured to posterity the works of many poets and philosophers, of whom nothing now remains but a few insignificant fragments.
The fact, however, is, that these very circumstances will serve in some measure to account for the loss in question. The Greek language, it is true, was prevalent in the eastern empire till the middle ages; but it was in a very corrupt form, debased by the alloy of Latin, French and Asiatic words and inflexions. A natural consequence was, that classical Greek was but little studied. This will generally be the case when a language is much altered from its original form. Men are satisfied with using it as they find it, and pay less attention to the ancient dialect of their own country than to the study of foreign languages. It must be confessed that this was not the case in Italy, where the Latin language was never lost sight of, notwithstanding the gradual change of the vernacular tongue. But this may be easily accounted for by the continued use of Latin in the theological schools and writings, and by the custom, which had long obtained, of making that language the vehicle of all learned discussion, and what is more, of the canon and civil law. The number of monastic institutions was also unfavourable to the preservation of ancient authors. The libraries of these establishments had probably by degrees engrossed almost all the copies extant; the classical authors, in the later ages of the Greek empire, were studied only in schools, and the schools were in convents; the teachers being universally monks, who took the trouble of transcribing only such portions of the poets and prose writers of antiquity, as were used in the course of their lectures, whilst the others were suffered to decay from age, or were cut up
to form the envelopes of their school books. That this was the case is rendered very probable by the following circumstance. Of the three easiest plays of Aeschylus, a great many copies are extant, while of the more difficult tragedies there are not more than one or two MSS.; and the reason is, because they were seldomer used in schools. Thus too we may suppose, that the Epinicia of Pindar, being the most popular and easy of that poet's compositions, were read in the schools, while his Threni, Hyporchemata, &c. were neglected, and the copies of them at length lost.
The writings of Menander, Philemon and the later poets, were deemed unfit for the ears of Christian youth; and Aristophanes might have shared their fate, had it not been for the authority and example of Chrysostom, whose partiality for that witty buffoon is well known. That all the writings of Plato, and many of Aristotle should have been preserved, while the lucubrations of the Porch and of the later Academics have been suffered to perish, will excite no surprize in those who are versed in ecclesiastical history. The zealous endeavours of the Alexandrian school to engraft Platonism upon Christianity, and subsequently the prevalence of dialectic theology, are sufficient to account for the different fates which have attended the philosophers of antiquity, even independently of their own intrinsic merits.
It is impossible to fix, with any great degree of probability, the precise time, when so many valuable remains of antiquity disappeared; yet there are some data, which may assist us in forming a conjecture. Procopius the historian, who lived in the sixth cen tury, quotes from a play of Aeschylus which is now lost; and Simplicius, who wrote about the middle of the same century, quotes largely from the poems of Empedocles.* Photius, who was patriarch of Constantinople in the ninth century, gives extracts in his Myriobiblon, from many authors who no longer exist, and from others who survive in a mutilated state. It seems to be very doubtful whether he had consulted all, or many of the authorities, to which he refers in his Lexicon, which was most probably compiled by him from Diogenianus, Pausanias, and other more ancient lexicographers. Michael Psellus lived in the eleventh century, and is said to have written a commentary upon twenty-four comedies of Menauder but the story rests upon no good foundation; although it is quoted, as authentic, by Harris in his 'Philological Inquiries.'
A curious circumstance relative to these quotations from Empedocles deserves to be mentioned here. They are chiefly contained in his Commentary on Aristotle de Cvelo et Mundo, of which the only edition was that printed by Aldus in 1526. In this edition, the fragments of Empedocles bore so little resemblance to verse, that Sturzius, who collected and published them, was reduced to the necessity of remaking them. Mr. Buttmann, not content with Mr. Sturzius's attempt, remodelled the Empedoclea; when lo! Professor Peyron discovered in the library at Turin, the original Greek of Simplicius, with the real verses of Empedocles, the printed edition being only a re-translation into Greek of a Latin version of Simplicius.
John Tzetzes, in his Chiliads, and Isaac Tzetzes in his commentary upon Lycophron, quote many writings which we know only by reputation; but they had probably no knowledge of them, except through the medium of more ancient grammarians, whose labours they appropriated to themselves, and afterwards perhaps destroyed the copies of them, as Photius is said to have done to the authors of whom he has given abridgments; and as Petrus Alcyonius is reported, upon better grounds, to have treated Cicero's treatise on Glory. Eustathius, Archbishop of Thessalonica in the twelfth century, had certainly no Greek authors who are not extant at the present day, if we except the grammarians from whom he compiled his Παρεκβολαί, or Excerpta; and the same is true of the Empress Eudocia Macrembolitissa, who composed her Violet-Bed towards the end of the eleventh century. We may therefore conclude, with some degree of probability, that those works of antiquity, of which we deplore the loss, had successively disappeared before the tenth century; perhaps before the eighth. We have already touched upon some of the causes of this disappearance; and the following observations will throw additional light upon the question. Petrus Álcyonius, in his treatise de Exilio,' tells us, that the Cardinal John di Medici (afterwards Pope Leo X.) used to say, that the Greek priests had obtained such an ascendancy over the Byzantine emperors, that at their instigation orders were given to burn many of the ancient poets, particularly the lyric and comic writers; 'tum pro his,' he concludes, substituta Nazianzeni nostri poëmata, quæ, etsi excitant animos nostrorum hominum ad flagrantiorem religionis cultum, non tamen verborum Atticorum proprietatem et Græcæ linguæ elegantiam edocent. Turpiter quidem-sacerdotes isti in veteres Græcos malevoli fuerunt; sed integritatis, probitatis, et religionis maximum dedêre testimonium.'
This remarkable passage was misunderstood by Cardan, and afterwards by Colomies, who impute this atrocious act of arson to Gregory Nazianzen himself; whereas that worthy bishop had no hand in the affair, any further than that he wrote bad verses, which the Byzantine priests preferred to those of Menander and Alcæus. This account, as far as it relates to the influence of the church, is confirmed by a letter of Stephen Gerlachius to Martin Crusius, written from Constantinople, in the year 1574.* Libros philosophicos et poeticos Græci non curant; et quos scribis, plerosque ignorant. Et audio, ante aliquot secula, lectionem eorum, Calogeris (the Caloyers) quâdam superstitione interdictam fuisse. quo tempore, studia humanitatis, artes et scientia, pleraque neglecta videntur ut doctiores jam solâ fere lectione Patrum contenti sint.' From some of the classical poets the monks were contented to expunge those passages which grossly offended against
* M. Crusi Turcogræcia, p. 487.