Page:EB1911 - Volume 02.djvu/106

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ANTHOLOGY


to be the only accessible collection, for although the Palatine MS., the sole extant copy of the anthology of Cephalas, was discovered in the Palatine library at Heidelberg, and copied by Saumaise (Salmasius) in 1606, it was not published until 1776, when it was included in Brunck’s Analecta Veterum Poetarum Graecorum. The MS. itself had frequently changed its quarters. In 1623, having been taken in the sack of Heidelberg in the Thirty Years’ War, it was sent with the rest of the Palatine Library to Rome as a present from Maximilian I. of Bavaria to Gregory XV., who had it divided into two parts, the first of which was by far the larger; thence it was taken to Paris in 1797. In 1816 it went back to Heidelberg, but in an incomplete state, the second part remaining at Paris. It is now represented at Heidelberg by a photographic facsimile. Brunck’s edition was superseded by the standard one of Friedrich Jacobs (1794–1814, 13 vols.), the text of which was reprinted in a more convenient form in 1813–1817, and occupies three pocket volumes in the Tauchnitz series of the classics. The best edition for general purposes is perhaps that of Dübner in Didot’s Bibliotheca (1864–1872), which contains the Palatine Anthology, the epigrams of the Planudean Anthology not comprised in the former, an appendix of pieces derived from other sources, copious notes selected from all quarters, a literal Latin prose translation by Boissonade, Bothe, and Lapaume and the metrical Latin versions of Hugo Grotius. A third volume, edited by E. Cougny, was published in 1890. The best edition of the Planudean Anthology is the splendid one by van Bosch and van Lennep (1795–1822). There is also a complete edition of the text by Stadlmüller in the Teubner series.

Arrangement.—The Palatine MS., the archetype of the present text, was transcribed by different persons at different times, and the actual arrangement of the collection does not correspond with that signalized in the index. It is as follows: Book 1. Christian epigrams; 2. Christodorus’s description of certain statues; 3. Inscriptions in the temple at Cyzicus; 4. The prefaces of Meleager, Philippus, and Agathias to their respective collections; 5. Amatory epigrams; 6. Votive inscriptions; 7. Epitaphs; 8. The epigrams of Gregory of Nazianzus; 9. Rhetorical and illustrative epigrams; 10. Ethical pieces; 11. Humorous and convivial; 12. Strato’s Musa Puerilis; 13. Metrical curiosities; 14. Puzzles, enigmas, oracles; 15. Miscellanies. The epigrams on works of art, as already stated, are missing from the Codex Palatinus, and must be sought in an appendix of epigrams only occurring in the Planudean Anthology. The epigrams hitherto recovered from ancient monuments and similar sources form appendices in the second and third volumes of Dübner’s edition.

Style and Value.—One of the principal claims of the Anthology to attention is derived from its continuity, its existence as a living and growing body of poetry throughout all the vicissitudes of Greek civilization. More ambitious descriptions of composition speedily ran their course, and having attained their complete development became extinct or at best lingered only in feeble or conventional imitations. The humbler strains of the epigrammatic muse, on the other hand, remained ever fresh and animated, ever in intimate union with the spirit of the generation that gave them birth. To peruse the entire collection, accordingly, is as it were to assist at the disinterment of an ancient city, where generation has succeeded generation on the same site, and each stratum of soil enshrines the vestiges of a distinct epoch, but where all epochs, nevertheless, combine to constitute an organic whole, and the transition from one to the other is hardly perceptible. Four stages may be indicated:—1. The Hellenic proper, of which Simonides of Ceos (c. 556–469 B.C.), the author of most of the sepulchral inscriptions on those who fell in the Persian wars, is the characteristic representative. This is characterized by a simple dignity of phrase, which to a modern taste almost verges upon baldness, by a crystalline transparency of diction, and by an absolute fidelity to the original conception of the epigram. Nearly all the pieces of this era are actual bona fide inscriptions or addresses to real personages, whether living or deceased; narratives, literary exercises, and sports of fancy are exceedingly rare. 2. The epigram received a great development in its second or Alexandrian era, when its range was so extended as to include anecdote, satire, and amorous longing; when epitaphs and votive inscriptions were composed on imaginary persons and things, and men of taste successfully attempted the same subjects in mutual emulation, or sat down to compose verses as displays of their ingenuity. The result was a great gain in richness of style and general interest, counterbalanced by a falling off in purity of diction and sincerity of treatment. The modification—a perfectly legitimate one, the resources of the old style being exhausted—had its real source in the transformation of political life, but may be said to commence with and to find its best representative in the playful and elegant Leonidas of Tarentum, a contemporary of Pyrrhus, and to close with Antipater of Sidon, about 140 B.C. (or later). It should be noticed, however, that Callimachus, one of the most distinguished of the Alexandrian poets, affects the sternest simplicity in his epigrams, and copies the austerity of Simonides with as much success as an imitator can expect. 3. By a slight additional modification in the same direction, the Alexandrian passes into what, for the sake of preserving the parallelism with eras of Greek prose literature, we may call the Roman style, although the peculiarities of its principal representative are decidedly Oriental. Meleager of Gadara was a Syrian; his taste was less severe, and his temperament more fervent than those of his Greek predecessors; his pieces are usually erotic, and their glowing imagery sometimes reminds us of the Song of Solomon. The luxuriance of his fancy occasionally betrays him into far-fetched conceits, and the lavishness of his epithets is only redeemed by their exquisite felicity. Yet his effusions are manifestly the offspring of genuine feeling, and his epitaph on himself indicates a great advance on the exclusiveness of antique Greek patriotism, and is perhaps the first clear enunciation of the spirit of universal humanity characteristic of the later Stoic philosophy. His gaiety and licentiousness are imitated and exaggerated by his somewhat later contemporary, the Epicurean Philodemus, perhaps the liveliest of all the epigrammatists; his fancy reappears with diminished brilliancy in Philodemus’s contemporary, Zonas, in Crinagoras, who wrote under Augustus, and in Marcus Argentarius, of uncertain date; his peculiar gorgeousness of colouring remains entirely his own. At a later period of the empire another genre, hitherto comparatively in abeyance, was developed, the satirical. Lucillius, who flourished under Nero, and Lucian, more renowned in other fields of literature, display a remarkable talent for shrewd, caustic epigram, frequently embodying moral reflexions of great cogency, often lashing vice and folly with signal effect, but not seldom indulging in mere trivialities, or deformed by scoffs at personal blemishes. This style of composition is not properly Greek, but Roman; it answers to the modern definition of epigram, and has hence attained a celebrity in excess of its deserts. It is remarkable, however, as an almost solitary example of direct Latin influence on Greek literature. The same style obtains with Palladas, an Alexandrian grammarian of the 4th century, the last of the strictly classical epigrammatists, and the first to be guilty of downright bad taste. His better pieces, however, are characterized by an austere ethical impressiveness, and his literary position is very interesting as that of an indignant but despairing opponent of Christianity. 4. The fourth or Byzantine style of epigrammatic composition was cultivated by the beaux-esprits of the court of Justinian. To a great extent this is merely imitative, but the circumstances of the period operated so as to produce a species of originality. The peculiarly ornate and recherché diction of Agathias and his compeers is not a merit in itself, but, applied for the first time, it has the effect of revivifying an old form, and many of their new locutions are actual enrichments of the language. The writers, moreover, were men of genuine poetical feeling, ingenious in invention, and capable of expressing emotion with energy and liveliness; the colouring of their pieces is sometimes highly dramatic.

It would be hard to exaggerate the substantial value of the Anthology, whether as a storehouse of facts bearing on antique manners, customs and ideas, or as one among the influences which have contributed to mould the literature of the modern world. The multitudinous votive inscriptions, serious and sportive, connote the phases of Greek religious sentiment, from pious awe to irreverent familiarity and sarcastic scepticism; the moral tone of the nation at various periods is mirrored with corresponding fidelity; the sepulchral inscriptions admit us into