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ancient pictorial illustrations of Homer's Iliad, together with inedited scholia on the Odyssey.

Success so distinguished, induced Pius VII, with those enlightened and liberal views which marked his entire policy, to desire that the singular endowments of such a man should be employed in a more extended sphere. Accordingly, he called the modest librarian of Milan to the far more important charge of the unexplored treasures of the Vatican. The event justified his views. He had the satisfaction to see before his death that his hopes were not exaggerated, nor his confidence misplaced. The de Republica of Cicero, which Mgr. Mai dedicated to his immortal patron, was the first instalment of his successes in the Vatican. The brief of the pontiff, addressed to him on this occasion, while it evinces his love of classic literature, and zeal for its diffusion, shows, at the same time, the high hopes then entertained of the illustrious editor's career, and which the Vatican Collection has not only realised, but illimitably surpassed.

It is now almost too late to turn to the second volume of this extraordinary work, which we had intended to make the chief subject of our intended observations; and we shall consult at once for the narrowness of our limits, and we are sure for the gratication of the reader, by introducing it without preface, in the words of the venerable editor himself.

“ The reader, I suppose, will require me to speak a little more particularly of the palimpsest MS. which has furnished us these historic treasures. It is a volume of almost the largest size, dating about the tenth century, written runningly in rather small, but yet elegant letters, with marginal lemmas in rubric, and asterisks which denote a verse, an oracle, or any other remarkable passage which may occur. Once, indeed, it was a gorgeous and princely volume, and most worthy the royal court of Byzantium. But later, about the fourteenth century, it was embarrassed and obscured by another Greek MS. of a very celebrated work which was written over it ; the pages being all disordered and some of them rejected altogether. I have given an engraved fac-simile of the Constantinian writing (if I may so call it) part of which is covered, part freed from, the veil of the modern characters. In truth, when I first approached it, and saw by the first glance that it was rewritten, I hardly hoped (though no tyro in this species of labour) for the complete success which I afterwards obtained. For the minute original characters were, as I said, buried and sunken under the modern writing, which was also small ; unlike other palimpsests, in which the larger and more beautiful letters of the original shine out conspicuously from beneath the smaller modern manuscript. I read some pages, notwithstanding, with a wandering and careless eye, till I discovered certainly that in this MS. were contained extracts, for the most part inedited, from the great historians Polybius, Diodorus Siculus, Dion Cassius, Eunapius, and some others.”

This was a stimulus to enquiry. But it would be a great mistake to imagine that the labour of examination was now at an end; or even to fancy that, the authors being thus ascertained, there remained but the comparatively simple and straightforward task of deciphering their contents. Never was MS. found in a more perplexing, and, in truth, tantalizing condition. The extracts of the authors here enumerated did not form one continuous work; but were all isolated fragments, succeeding each other with most mortifying irregularity. What was still worse, the authors were not kept separate; portions of different works being placed side by side, without any fixed system, or at least without one the principle of which was immediately apparent.

Difficulties like these, however, only served to stimulate the ardour of our indefatigable editor, and to render the triumph of his genius more signal and complete.

“But lo! a new difficulty and not the least perplexing! The extracts of the several authors were parted here and there in the palimpsests ; the name of the writer, or the title of the book, seldom appeared ; there were no marks of the sheets—innumerable gaps occurred in the text, partly from the compiler's plan, partly from the difficulty of deciphering the buried writing. But amidst the darkness of the re-written and disordered MS. a great light burst upon me, when I discovered that it was a part of those selections, which I knew to have been made by order of Constantine Porphyrogenitus; and found, in addition to this general fact, that the entire MS. was occupied by the title De Sententüs. In fact, this title appeared more than once written in characters somewhat larger than the rest. I found the word yuwun (sententia) frequently traced, one time in red, another in black letters, upon the margin. But, indeed, I was at last satisfied, by a double and unquestionable evidence, that it was Constantine's title De Sententiis I had in my hands. For in Valesius' title De Virtutibus et Vitiis (Wesseling's edition, p. 560), the compiler apprises us that the rest of the conference of Lysimachus the Macedonian, with Dromichetas the Thracian, must be sought in the title De Sententiis. Now, in the Vatican MS. which, as I said, was entirely occupied with the title De Sententiis, both the beginning of the conference which is in Valesius, and the continuation of it, for which the compiler of his title refers to that De Sententiis, presented themselves to me, by a striking coincidence. His pro

(P. 266, of my edition 44). Again, in the selections published by Valesius (Wesseling p. 547) the Pythoness is said to have addressed Lycurgus in poetic numbers ; but the reader is referred to the title De Sententiis. Now, the Vatican MS. (p. 255, of my edition p. 1) presented to me perfectly the verses addressed by the Pythoness to Lycurgus, which the compiler of the Valesian title had mentioned, but omitted. There was no longer, therefore, any room for doubt ; besides that the plan of the Vatican selection, the style

; of the authors, and the other notes of the critical art, placed it beyond all question."

This, as it were, instinctive sagacity, is among the most extraordinary qualities of this remarkable man. digious erudition places the entire world of literature at his command. He can call up evidence from its remotest extremities. He seems to see by a sort of intuition--grasping at a single glance all the possible relations of a critical enquiry. The most minute and obscure shadow of probability becomes luminous under the influence of his learning, and he arrives with certainty at a conclusion, while a less gifted mind would still hesitate and linger over the first preliminaries of the enquiry.

There remained the task of deciphering the palimpsest with all its thousand difficulties ;-of separating the text into sentences and words, of restoring conjecturally what the sponge or the scraping-knife had been too successful in destroying, of identifying each portion, assigning it to its proper author, determining its due place in the order of time as well as of precedence, ascertaining whether it had been already published, and finally, of translating into Latin the unconnected and disordered fragments: all this, too, without a guide, unassisted by the labours of any former adventurer, contending alone with all the difficulties of a text always imperfect in its context, frequently doubtful, and even corrupt, and all the incongruities of a broken and disjointed narrative! The difficulties of this task are, as will at once be perceived, peculiar to itself; and the skill with which they are surmounted here and in a hundred similar instances, constitute his eminence's peculiar merit. It is not the profound erudition alone, extraordinary and universal as it must be acknowledged. This is a praise which he must be content to share with many. But the acute, and as we have said, instinctive, power of criticism, the exquisite discrimination, the delicate taste, of which all his researches furnish lavish examples—these are exclusively his own ;-hujus gloriæ socium


habet neminem ;-because it is in an order entirely new, of which he is himself the founder, and of which the previous history of literature furnishes not a single example.

The process is in itself so singular, and is described with so much simplicity and grace, that we are tempted to continue the extract. We cannot help regretting the conventional usage which prevents us from presenting it in the chaste and elegant Latinity of the original.

“ These foundations of my labour being laid, I began sedulously to apply to the deciphering and reading the MS. And in the first place it was necessary, by continued and powerful chemical applications, to bring out the buried and hidden writing, to make the characters, long since effaced and dead, assume a colour once more, and appear out from beneath the veil of the modern manuscript. Do not imagine, however, that it was an easy and amusing task to read the MS. thus prepared. It is, like the stone of Sisyphus, to be moved only by many and protracted efforts. And in this palimpsest,—which, as I said is written in small characters, and contains no less than three hundred and fifty-four broad pages of thirty-two lines each,—the labour was greater than in any other, and, indeed excessive. The MS. being at length deciphered and copied, chiefly at noon, and in the brightest hours of the day, it remained to separate the several authors which were jumbled together in extraordinary confusion and disorder; to arrange them one with another, as well as the parts of each by itself, to dispose the leaves in their proper places, and finally, to put together once more the sheets which the modern copyist had formed into new combinations. And fortunate would it have been if the sheets had ever had the numeral marks. But these having been originally omitted, by some accident or some neglect of the transcriber, there was no means for re-arranging them but by the order of the subject and the exercise of one's own judgment ; guided by this, alone, as with the thread of Ariadne, I disentangled myself from the doubtful and tortuous mazes of the labyrinth. The trouble and danger, too, were increased in consequence of the same subject—as for example the Punic war-being related sometimes by three authors. There was need therefore of great caution, lest all should be attributed to one; or, what might more easily occur, lest there should be an interchange of authors or subjects, and as it were, a substitution of their offspring, each being deprived of his own, and compelled to receive that of another—an error which would be at once a source of ridicule to the editor, of inconvenience to the reader, and of injury to the character and fame of the authors themselves. The plan which I adopted for restoring the ancient sheets, proved an admirable means of securing me from confounding the passages of different authors, especially those of Diodorus (as the war of Pyrrhus, for instance) with the similar history of Dion. My Scholia will explain the system and the marks by which I was guided in referring to the different books (which were seldom distinguished in the MS.) the passages of each author when deciphered, for I have done nothing gratuitonsly, or without the permission of the reader.—(Script. Vet. Tom. II. p.p. xxxi.-iii.)

The reader is acquainted, we doubt not, with the history of the vast collection of which the palimpsest was thus discovered to be a part. It was made in the early part of the tenth century, under the auspices of Constantine Porphyrogenitus. In the correspondence of Fronto with the emperor, published by Cardinal Mai, there is mention of a common-place book, containing extracts from different authors, arranged under different heads; and we have many examples among the ancients, if not of collections on precisely the same principle, at least of epitomes and compilations on a similar plan. But the emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus undertook it

upon a more gigantic scale than had ever before been devised. The task was committed to the most learned men of his court: he himself assisted in the compilation; and it was completed in fifty-three titles or heads, each of which comprised a selection of opinions and examples on its own particular subject from the most eminent writers of antiquity. But this prodigious work scarcely outlived the reign of its projector. Out of the fifty-three titles, on whose collection so much learning was lavished, only two were known before the time of Cardinal Mai's discovery. Of the remaining fifty-one, there was no trace whatever beyond the names of twenty-two, to which there are occasional references in the two which have been recovered. By similar references in the Vatican palimpsest, we have learned the names of three others,—De Rerum Successione; De Arte Imperatoria ; and De Rerum Inventoribus,—besides its own, De Sententiis ; or, as it is elsewhere called, De Sententiosis Efatis. But all the rest appear hopelessly lost; nor is the history even of so much satisfactorily ascertained. We know that the emperor himself had some share in the work, and that the title, De Legationibus, was compiled by a certain John, a native of Constantinople: but all the rest has been forgotten along with the work itself.

Whatever may have been its merits, considered with reference to the end which it was intended to serve, the contents of the titles which have been recovered are such as to

us deplore the loss of the rest. The Vatican MS. was found to contain copious extracts from the histories of Poly

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