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Art. IV. Æschyli Perre. Ad fidem Manuscriptorum emen
davit, Notas et Glossarinm adjecit Carolus Jacobus Blomfield, A.Nl. Collegii SS. apud Cantabrigienses nuper
Socius. pp. 248. Cambridge. Smith. 75. 1814. Few of our learned readers, we apprehend, are unacquainted with the merits of Mr. Blomfield's edition of Eschylus. It was begun above four years ago, by the publication of Prometheus;, a second edition of which was speedily called for, and appeared in 1812, greatly enlarged and improved, and the plan was then completed which Mr. Blomfield has continued to follow in the two next tragedies, the Septem contra Thebus and the Perse: Of these the latter is but lately published, and has on several accounts particular claims to the notice of every admirer of ancient Greek literature.
We must preface our account of this play with some general remarks on the present plan of editing the father of tragedy, which will not, however, detain the reader long : the public ap. probation of Mr. Blomfield's edition has been evinced by the great circulation of the two first plays in the series, and by the high reputation which they have procured to their editor.
For above two hundred years, the reader of Æschylus was obliged to be contented with the text of Canter's edition, which was published in 1560, and copied by Stanley. Though this is somewhat more correct than that of Stephens, yet every page abounds with faults and corruptions, which frequently obscure the sense of the author, and materially impair the pleasure arising from his splendid and magnificent poetry. For that long period, Æschylus derived very little advantage from the labours of scholars, except Stanley; who, although he left the text nearly as bad as he found it, gave in his learned commentaries a great collection of critical and explanatory matter, which, though too diffuse, can seldom be consulted without advantage: ideed we have little hesitation in saying, that the readers of Æschylus are more indebted to Stanley than to any other scholar, except Mr. Blomfield. Still the text remained in the same corrupt state till the three first plays were published by Brunck in 1779, in a small volume, with two other Greek tragedies: in this, as in all other publications, the author's text is frequently improved, and is frequently made worse than he found it. Brunck, though possessed of equal acuteness, was intinitely inferior to the critics of the Hemsterhusian school in learning, research, and discretion : he was besides not at all nice in appropriating to himself the remarks of others without ackuowledgment. This defect of candour, joined to his pre
sumption and precipitancy, have brought upon his works a more than ordinary quantity of censure from succeeding scholars. Next appeared an edition of the plays by Schülz, a heavy, plodding, and tasteless German, palpably unfitted by nature for an editor of Æschylus. His commentaries are tedious and verbose; and it would be ditficult to name a more usatisfactory book; since the reader, when he turns to the notes for a solu. tion of the difficulties which every page of Schütz's text presenis, finds that the editor, unable to comprehend the passage, has only proposed some absurd and revolting alterations, and employs whole pages in explaining the words of his own substitution. It is however impossible to deny, that out of the mass of lumber, much may be selected which a judicious editor may employ in illustrating the author; and this indeed hus been done by Dr. Butler. Till the appearance of Mr. Bloin. field's edition, that of Schütz continued the source of students; and it was not to be expected that Æschylus could be a popular author when dressed by so clumsy a hand.
It is now well known, that the Glasgow edition, which goes by the name of Porson's, was printed from a copy of Pauw's re-impression of Stauley's edition, which had been corrected by the Professor. Without entering into the question of the supposed piracy of this text, we must observe, that it is by no means to be considered as having the entire sanction of Porson: since it received only those corrections about which he felt secure at at the moinent; and all the passages which required consideration, or adınitted of doubt, were left untouched. He never considered himself to be accountable for any of the old readings which he suffered to remain ; and he seems to have gone through the whole task of correction in a very short time, probably in a single day, at the instance of his friends. We need not remark, that this edition, not having a word of notes, could not supply the wants of the readers. Neither the student nor the advanced scholar can read Æschylus, without wishing for the assistance of the apnotator.
It is cominonly understood, that Porson offered to the Syndics of the Cambridge press to undertake an edition of Æschylus, which they declined to patronize, unless he would adopt the corrupt text of Stauley : which condition he, as might have been expected, would not accept. If this statement be true, the Syndics of that time deserve all the opprobrium which we have seen lavished upon them in different journals, for their barbarous hostility to improvement, and their inore than Gothic bigotry. But we are strongly inclined to believe, that there is a material misapprehension in the case, and that the fact was, that the Syndics, wishing the Curæ Secunda of Stanley, which were in
manuscript in the possession of the University, to be published, and judging that they would most probably appear in a reprint of Stanley's Eschylus, offered the editorship to Porson ; and that he, contemplating an improved text, declined the proposed task, which was undertaken by Dr. Butler. If this account be correct, as we believe it to be, no blame can attach to any party. The two plans were incompatible; and it was undoubtedly right to preserve Stanley's text in a work, the sole object of which was to give to the world Stanley's enlarged commentary; nor do we believe that the Professor ever complained or felt aggrieved on the subject.
At all events, the University of Cambridge must be considered as having redeemed its credit for taste in Greek texts, by patronizing the present edition which, while it gives the words of the noble tragedian corrected by every legitimate means, contains explanations and illustrations of his language incomparably more learned, correct, and satisfactory than the public were before in possession of. Mr. Blomfield unites with his talents and bis erudition, unwearied industry, and an obvious fondness for the task in which he is engaged.
His notes at the bottom of the page contain collations of the early editions of Æschylus, and of the nianuscripts, together with his critical reasons for maintaining or altering the text. The votes which he has added under the title of Glossarium, are philological, and contain explanations of the rare and obso; lete words taken from the different Greek Grammarians and Lexicographers, with the whole tribe of whom Mr. Blomfield has formed a most intimate acquaintance, and whose authorities he compares, sifts, and weighs with uncommon, judgement. The meaning of the author he detects and illustrates by comparing passages from himself, from Sophocles, and Euripides, from Homer, Pindar, and the other writers of antiquity. His industry never fags for a moment, and he seems constantly to keep in view his object of giving pertinent information to the student. In one respect this industry is peculiarly fortunate : we much doubt whether one reader out of one thousand could be found, who, however well provided his shelves may be with the Lexicons of Hesychius, Photius, Scidas, Etymologus, M. Phavorinus, &c. and with the volumes of Eustathius, and the Schol. Venetus Homeri, would take the trouble of hunting for the explanations of a word with the requisite perseverance and caution. Certain it is, that no compiler of a Lexicon has done it, nor any editor of Æschylus before Mr. Blomtield; yet all these pains are requisite for explaining an author, 'whose language was far removed from the ordinary stile of his contempo. raries, and who atfected the grandeur of obsolete and high
sounding words, and dazzled his audience with splendid and · daring imagery:
The play of the Persæ has claims upon the attention of posterity, of a different nature from the other remains of Eschylus, and his brethren of the tragic art. The rest of these beautiful compositions consist of stories drawn from the Grecian mythology, or from the early traditional accounts of the heroic age, which are interspersed with mythological fables. The plot of the Persæ, if it can be called a plot, relates to the glorious and successful struggle made by the small states of Greece against the innumerable forces of the Persian monarchy; a part of history which, in our childhood, used to produce delight and exultation, and the importance of which in the affairs of mankind we become more and more sensible of, as we reflect upon the consequences of events. This tragedy contains what appears to be the most faithful narrative that has reached our times of the great and decisive battle of Salamis, written within a short time after the event, by an eye-witness and a principal actor in that triumphant achievement. It represents the feelings at Athens respecting the mighty events of that time, and the opinions entertained by the Greeks of the characters of their enemies. The professed object of Æschylus, in writing this play, was to encourage the martial spirit of his countrymen by a dramatic display of their most glorious exploits. In the Frogs of Aristophanes, he is made to say:
Είτα διδάξας Πέρσας, μετά ταύτ' επιθυμεϊν εξεδίδαξα
Νικάν αεί τους αντιπάλες, κοσμήσας έργον άρισον. The time and circumstances of the performance are ingenia ously made out in Mr. Blomfield's preface.
The battle of Salantis was fought in the first year of the 75th Olympiad (480 years B.C.). Two years after, when Themistocles was Choregns, a play upon the subject was introduced, probably in compliment to the hero of the
day, by Phrynichus, à tragedian, almost twenty years senior to Æschylus. This performance, so flattering to the feelings of the victors, received the prize, and appears, from the frequent mention of it, to have excited much interest: the ambition of Æschylus, who was already the rival of Phrynichus, and had introduced most im. portant improvements in the art, was roused to emulate or surpass this production. Accordingly a few years after (Olynip. 76, 4.), he represented the Persæ, the idea of which was borrowed from the production of his rival. The play of Phry“ nichus took its name from the Chorus, whom Mr. Blomfield conjectures to have been the wives of the Phænicians, who were
beheaded VOL. IV. JULY, 1815.
beheaded by the order of Xerxes after the battle of Salamis,
lord, as to be unable to answer bis questions. He, Guding that