Page:An Essay on the Age and Antiquity of the Book of Nabathaean Agriculture.djvu/101

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85
BABYLONIAN LITERATURE.

recognisable. Their translations themselves are nothing more than free reproductions, accommodated to their habits of writing, and we are told expressly that all the translations of Ibn Wahshíya were dictated by him to one of his disciples, who subsequently adapted them to the taste of his times.[1]

I would ask permission to hazard, if only under the form of a mere conjecture, a supposition which, however, it is very difficult not to entertain—I mean the possibility of a literary fraud, or some degree of bad faith, on the part of the author. Most undoubtedly the book is of an epoch which always gives rise to suspicions, and not without cause. The instance of the Desatir occurs to me, as a case in point, whether we like it or not, to confuse the mind of a critic. The hypothesis of the Desatir being apocryphal is surrounded by as many difficulties as that which declares the history fabricated upon which “The Book of Naba-

  1. Pp. 15-16.