ePub 版

nize over the fairest things of earth.”* Fourteen books of his Lives of the Emperors were extant in the time of Photius; but all had perished except the few sentences cited as examples in the Lexicon of Suidas. The titles De Legationibus and De Virtutibus et Vitiis contained some extracts; and as Cardinal Mai has very properly inserted them among those of the Vatican title, his volume thus presents us with no less than seventy pages of an author almost entirely unknown. Eunapius commenced his history of the emperors at the reign of the second Claudius, surnamed Gothicus;t and brought it to a close, according to Photius, at the beginning of the fifth century. The extracts in the palimpsest, however, as in the case of Dion, descend lower, containing several events of the reign of Theodosius the Younger, and his sister Pulcheria. The tone of this work is much less violent, as far as we can judge from the extracts, than that of the lives of the sophists. But there is enough of bitterness to establish the authenticity; and though he generally appears to deal in insinuation rather than in broad attack, there is a passage at page 278, in ridicule of the monks of his time, almost identical, both in spirit and in language, with that cited by Gibbon in his history. I

The work of Eunapius, although it precedes in order, is a continuation of the history of Dexippus, which occupies the next place in the volume. The latter being much more difficult of deciphering, was held over; and, indeed, appears not to have been immediately recognized; and the printing of Eunapius having proceeded in the meanwhile, there was no remedy for the misplacement. The extracts, including what Hoeschel had already published, occupy twenty-six pages. The work originally contained a compendium of history, from the fabulous times down to the death of Gallienus. From the broken and imperfect specimens which we possess, it is not easy to form an opinion of the merits of Dexippus. But the fact of his works having been deemed worthy of a continuation, is in itself a considerable testimony; and undoubtedly, if the estimate of his accuracy, discrimination, and taste, which is made by his continuator Eunapius, in the preface of his own history (pp. 248-9), be not a grievous exaggeration, we cannot help believing that we have lost much in the destruction of his writings.

* Μυθωδες τι και αειδες τυραννησει τα της γης καλλιστα. .
† A.D. 268.

I ii. 212; ed. 1829.


There still remain of this vast and miscellaneous storehouse of lost literature, fourteen pages of the works of Menander. He was a native of Byzantium, and wrote, in eight books, the annals of the empire from 560 till 1582. These voluminous memoirs, however, had long perished, and they were only known by a fragment published in the Excerpta de Legationibus. Unhappily, the palimpsest adds very little ; but some of the facts are interesting, especially the account of the martyrdom of Isaozita, one of the most remarkable and edifying in all antiquity.* This is further curious, as having been the subject of what we may regard as among the earliest specimens of the Christian drama-a tragedy by Menander himself. But we know nothing of the merits of the work; it has perished among the other productions of its author; and indeed, if it may be judged from an epigram of his on the same subject, which is preserved, it is probable that its piety was its best claim to commendation.

Here ends the historical palimpsest, and it does not come within our scope to notice the remaining contents of the volume. They are chiefly short treatises or orations on political science, by different hands. An essay of Nicephoras Blemmydas, a monk of the eighth century, entitled órrotov den łuval tov Baoilea, Qualem oportet esse Regem," and an exhortation of the Emperor Basil to his son Leo, are the most interesting of them all; although we fear, they will find few readers while they remain in the too attractive neighbourhood of the great fathers of Roman History.

This volume, however, is not to be taken as a specimen of the entire work. We have already said that its contents are of a most miscellaneous character; and we cannot close without calling the attention of our theological readers to the vast accession which ecclesiastical literature has received in its publication. Although there is scarcely one of the volumes which does not contain a great deal that is most interesting to a student of ecclesiastical antiquity, it is to the seventh, eighth, and ninth, we would specially refer as peculiarly rich in remains of the fathers. The seventh volume contains a long and valuable collection, entitled Doctrina Patrum de Verii Incarnatione. It is the work of a priest named Anastasius, of whose history little is known; and from the form of the letters of the MS. (apparently of Egyptian origin) it is of great antiquity. It consists, as the title indicates, of extracts from

* P. 359.

the Greek fathers, on the doctrine of the Incarnation. It is unnecessary to say that much of the contents of this MS. was already known in the extant works of the fathers; but the editor has omitted all that was before published, so that his Doctrina Patrum de Verbi Incarnatione contains a mass of entirely new evidence of the early faith of the Church in this fundamental doctrine. The same laborious plan has been pursued in the publication of the Sacrarum Rerum Liber, of Leontius, a more miscellaneous collection, but on a similar principle; and in the original of this work, which is a palimpsest, the difficulty must have been infinitely greater. But the success well repays the toil; there is no price too high for the fragments of Irenæus, Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Cyril of Alexandria, and other fathers which are thus preserved. In the same volume are contained

two short treatises of St. Ambrose, and one of St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, besides several lost passages of other fathers, which are cited by Leontius, in his book against the Monophysites—a work of very considerable intrinsic interest. The contents of the eighth volume are less fragmentary. It comprises several inedited works of St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Cyril of Alexandria, from a MS. discovered more than a century since, by Zaccagni, librarian of the Vatican. We have two sermons of St. Gregory; the first against Arius and Sabellius, the second against the Macedonians. Of St. Cyril we have;—1, twenty-eight chapters on the Trinity ; 2, thirty-five on the Incarnation ; 3, a homily hitherto known only in the Latin translation; 4, a treatise on the OEOTOKOÇ ; 5, a dialogue with Nestorius; 6, a short catechetical exposition of the first principles of faith; 7, four letters; 8, fragments of a commentary on the Gospel of St. Matthew, and on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews. The ninth volume contains a Catena Patrum on the Gospel of St. Luke, compiled by Nicetas, a deacon of Constantinople, and afterwards Bishop of Serræ. The editor has published only the more celebrated authors, and of these has omitted all that was already known; so that we have, in this most important volume, ninety-eight pages, in a small and crowded type, of lost works of the most eminent ancient ecclesiastical writers. Besides these, there are scattered through the volumes, in works of the later centuries, many most interesting citations from writings of the fathers, now lost, which it would well repay the labour of the controversialist to examine and collect. What, for example, could be more striking than the following passage of St. Athanasius? (tom. Ix. 625). It is from a sermon

[ocr errors]

of Eutychius, a patriarch of Constantinople, about the year 625, in which he adverts to the usage of adoring the Eucharistic symbols at their first oblation, before the words of consecration have been pronounced by the priest.

“ Although" says he, “ the great Athanasius, in his Discourse to the Baptized, says • Thou wilt see the Levites carrying bread and the chalice of wine and preparing the table ; and, as long as the prayers and supplications are not yet put forth, it is mere bread and a mere cup:

But as soon as the sublime and wonderful prayers are completed, then the bread becoines the Body, and the cup the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.' And again, 'Let us come to the celebration of the Mysteries. As long as the prayers and supplications have not yet been made, this bread and this cup are plain [bread and wine); but when the sublime prayers and the holy supplications are sent up, then the word cometh down unto the bread and the chalice, and they become His Body.””

It is time to bring this perhaps too discursive article to a close. But our readers may remember the wonderful excitement and extravagant hopes created by the publication of the first palimpsests; and while we were anxious to do justice to the most important one which has yet been discovered, we have been led unconsciously into more general discussion of the subject. It is now a quarter of a century since the attention of the learned was called by the success of Cardinal Mai, to what then seemed a most promising investigation. As too generally happens, the most exaggerated anticipations were entertained as to the result; the great literary Millennium appeared to have arrived; Montfaucon's opinion as to the number of such manuscripts (which we believe to be much over-rated), was rapturously recalled : visions of new Greek tragedies and long-lost histories were painted, not in the dim and clouded distance, but in the palpable forms of near and certain reality : the most comprehenșive schemes were suggested, the most unlimited inquiry proposed. “Who could say that we might not find a play of Sophocles under some obscure act of parliament, or a book of Euclid in some antiquated deed of title ?” Nay, the propriety of an authorised commission, with power to search all suspected circles, was strongly urged in influential qnarters. Alas, it has all passed fruitlessly away. The palimpsest-fever has subsided: the manuscripts still sleep undisturbed on their shelves; Sophocles and Livy are as far as ever from our reach ; and we see Cardinal Mai still toiling on unassisted: 42 still uncheered by the companionship of the learned in his irksome researches,—a solitary labourer in that land of promise, to which he himself had led the way. This is indeed mortifying; and the more so, that in England we cannot refuse to bear our portion of the blame. There is no country which enjoys so large a share of the learned leisure necessary for the task; certainly none where literature possesses so unlimited a command of the "appliances and means” indispensable to its prosecution ; and, although we are far from sharing the exaggerated hopes to which we have alluded, yet we cannot doubt that, in our vast collections of manuscript treasures, there are numberless rich fragments (and palimpsests never can produce more), to reward the perseverance of the first zealous investigator. But, to say truth, there is upon all these matters, a degree of indifference among us, even in quarters where it is least excusable, for which it is not easy to account; nor can we suppress a feeling of humiliation, when we contrast the Vatican Collection, the fruit of the unaided labours and resources of a single individual,-- with what may, in some sense, be called a national work of our own in a similar department—the Herculanensia Volumina, published at the Clarendon press, by the University of Oxford.* It is as bald and meagre as it could possibly be made by an express resolution to expend upon its preparation the smallest practicable proportion of intellectual labour ;--without illustration, without commentary, without translation ;-without even a transcript into small Greek letters of the capitals in which the papyrus was written." It is, in fact, a mere mechanical production,--a simple fac-simile, which owns no higher origin than the graving-tool,--the handiwork of an artisan, rather than the composition of a scholar. Nor can we forbear to notice a similar instance of indifference, or perhaps we should say negligence, on the pait of our editors, to avail themselves of what has been done ready to their hand. We know not whether there be any copyright difficulties in the way; we should think not; but, even were it so, we consider it highly discreditable to our national literary character, that in such a work as the Valpy Classics, the editors should have failed to insert, at any sacrifice, if not the fragments of the orations, at least the invaluable De Republica of Cicero. †

* 1824-5. 17 M. Firmin Didot's Polybius contains Curdinal Mai’s fragments, and it is intended in the other volumes of Bibliotheca Græcorum Scriptorum, to incorporate in their respective places, all the recovered portions of the great historianis. JI

di +1

113 -ر 1 آتم


« 上一頁繼續 »