Review Of Riley’s Translation Of The Comedies Of Plautus -- By: George M. Lane

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 010:38 (Apr 1853)
Article: Review Of Riley’s Translation Of The Comedies Of Plautus
Author: George M. Lane


Review Of Riley’s Translation Of The Comedies Of
Plautus1

George M. Lane

These volumes belong to a collection of translations known by the name of Bonn’s Classical Library. It would seem that, like many other of Mr. Bonn’s publications, this collection was intended for a very wide circulation; otherwise, the mystery of such faultless paper, such precise and truly English type, so substantial a binding, all for a very moderate price, would be inexplicable. In point of mechanical execution, nothing better could be desired for Homer, for Horace, or for Shakspeare. The literary labor has been performed chiefly by graduates of the two great English universities; and these translations are interesting as showing some phases of English study, — as straws show which way the wind blows. Under the auspices of such a publisher, and favored by the extensive circulation to which the collection is destined, and which, indeed, it has already, the translators might have done much for the furtherance of that classical taste which has always been one of their countrymen’s highest boasts. The service would be at best but an humble one, for the translator stands, in the dignity of his calling, below the editor and commentator; yet he is regarded as an associate, and his labors are no despicable contribution to philological science. It would, furthermore, be a great injustice if we expected from these volumes the learning and penetration of a great past generation: Bentley, snuffing out the errors of transcribers with the sagacity of a Spartan hound; Porson, stubborn and wayward, but lord of the field he trod; Elmsley, with his fine acumen and ἀκρίβεια; of such names a nation may well be proud. Yet, if they have passed away, and with them the hegemony of England has vanished, it need not deprive their epigonoi of the honor of doing great deeds, as vassals of some great kingdom take a pride in doing feats of valor, albeit under a foreign banner. A careful use of the labors of scholars we

expect in an undertaking of this sort, though these scholars be foreigners.

This use Mr. Riley, in common with the other translators, professes to have made. His book is founded mainly on the text of Ritschl, or, as he calls him throughout, Ritschel. We can hardly conceive how our translator never wondered, in the course of the long preparatory studies necessary for his undertaking, why the e was found in the Latin name Ritschelius, while the Rhenish Museum, in which many of his choicest labors are gathered up, stared at him with Ritschl on the title-page. Did it never occur to him that, if the Latin termination were dropt, it woul...

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