Page:Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) - Volume 1.djvu/14

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

panied by sufficient references to ancient writers to enable the reader to obtain further information if he wishes. It has not been thought advisable to omit the lives of such persons altogether, as has usually been done in classical dictionaries; partly because there is no other period short of the one chosen at which a stop can conveniently be made; and still more because the civil history of the Byzantine empire is more or less connected with the history of literature and science, and, down to the capture of Constantinople by the Turks, there was an interrupted series of Greek writers, the omission of whose lives and of an account of their works would be a serious deficiency in any work which aspired to give a complete view of Greek literature.

The relative length of the articles containing the lives of historical persons cannot be fixed, in a work like the present, simply by the importance of a man's life. It would be impossible to give within any reasonable compass a full and elaborate account of the lives of the great actors in Greek and Roman history; nor is it necessary: for the lives of such persons are conspicuous parts of history and, as such, are given at length in historical works. On the contrary, a Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography is peculiarly useful for the lives of those persons who do not occupy so prominent a position in history, since a knowledge of their actions and character is oftentimes of great importance to a proper understanding of the ancient writers, and information respecting such persons cannot be obtained in any other quarter. Accordingly, such articles have had a space assigned to them in the work which might have been deemed disproportionate if it were not for this consideration. Woodcuts of ancient coins are given, wherever they could be referred to any individual or family. The drawings have been made from originals in the British Museum, except in a few cases, where the authority for the drawing is stated in the article.

More space, relatively, has been given to the Greek and Roman Writers than to any other articles, partly because we have no complete history of Greek and Roman Literature in the English language, and partly because the writings of modern German scholars contain on this subject more than on any other a store of valuable matter which has not yet found its way into English books, and has, hitherto, only partially and in a few instances, exercised any influence on our course of classical instruction. In these articles a full account of the Works, as well as of the Lives, of the Writers is given, and, likewise, a list of the best editions of the works, together with references to the principal modern works upon each subject.

The lives of all Christian Writers, though usually omitted in similar publications, have likewise been inserted in the present Work, since they constitute an important part of the history of Greek and Roman literature, and an account of their biography and writings can be attained at present only by consulting a considerable number of voluminous works. These articles are written rather from a literary than a theological point of view; and accordingly the discussion of strictly