The Orations Of Thucydides -- By: William Roscher
BSac 5:19 (Aug 1848) p. 481
The Orations Of Thucydides
[The subjoined paragraphs are the results of the labors of a German scholar upon one of the most difficult subjects in Greek literature. The orations of the master historian are not only famous for their intricate and perplexing constructions—they also suggest serious questions as to the veracity and faithfulness of Thucydides; whether, too, he was guided by any settled, profound purpose in his management of this part of the history, or whether the Thucydidean Oration is the product of a whimsical and profitless eccentricity. These latter questions employed the energies of Dr. Roscher in that chapter of his work which, we now lay before the American scholar; and we cannot but hope it will prove acceptable to such as have encountered the difficulty it discusses and seeks to remove.
We do not vouch for the correctness of all our author’s conclusions —it might be presumptuous for us to sit in judgment upon them. Indeed, it is not our whole purpose to publish received elucidations of the obscurities of an ancient model; we wish to put down upon an American page for the inspection of American students, an example of the refinement and closeness of observation, the thoroughness and accuracy of investigation, the sagacity of deduction and more than all perhaps, the free play—the ample range of vision—up and down the subject of study until it is apprehended in its unity, which we and they seek to attain through the medium of classical studies. And yet from the very prominence of these qualities throughout our extract, we feel safe in affirming, that the views of the author are worthy of serious consideration. We are busying ourselves with no cunningly-devised fables, with no plausible but groundless speculations. The man who had never opened Thucydides, would feel secure in yielding to some of his conclusions: they are so palpably just; and the man who has studied the philosopher-historian can at least discern, that only after an investigation equally thorough and extensive with that
BSac 5:19 (Aug 1848) p. 482
of Dr. Roscher, could most of his conclusions be effectively assailed; so deep are their foundations.
As to the translation—we have seldom deviated from what we should call literalness, except when compelled to it by the usual differences of idiom and structure. The unnecessary faithlessness of translations generally, has long been a matter of our observation and regret, and while we have sought to present our author’s ideas in a true English garb, we have been no less anxious to preserve their exact figure and proportion as they appear in the original dress.—Tr.]
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