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in the character of Socrates, it admits of an explanation, consistent with his spotless purity. It may be thought but a faint championship to talk of explanation. But it is not often that human virtue admits of more, and it has been the fortune of Socrates, partly no doubt in consequence of the bad notoriety cast upon him by the play of the Clouds, to be more involved than could be wished in the suspicion of not having been wiser and better than his age in points, where he ought to have been, and we believe was, both.
We have been content to leave the correctness of the foregoing statements to the decision of our readers, without anxiously mustering the names of those, who patronize or refuting the objections of those, who call them in question. But inasmuch as the idea has been held up that the representation of the character of Socrates timidly hinted at by Mr Mitchell, and more boldly threatened by one of his reviewers, has received the unqualified support of the Messrs Schlegel in the same degree, in which the literary merit of the great
comedian has been enforced by them, we think it necessary to add, that this too must be taken with qualification. We have already quoted some remarks of Mr F. Schlegel, which go only to maintain the poetical and patriotic character of Aristophanes, without justifying him in his warfare against Socrates. One of Mr A. W. Schlegel's lectures on dramatic art and literature is devoted to the subject of the ancient comedy; and in this, he represents the genius and character of Aristophanes, in the most favorable light. He does not, however, deny that his moral sentiment was corrupt, and he attributes his persecution of Socrates to personal enmity. In all that he says, it is plain that he treats the subject exclusively in its connexion with taste and criticism ; and while we bow to his judgment in these departments, we are unwilling to admit, that a moral acquittal, were the Messrs Schlegel, as they are not, disposed to pronounce one, would come with any other force from these gentlemen, than what it would carry with it, in the reasons on which it is built. Whatever apology may be made for the impurity of Aristophanes, on the score of the low standard of morals in the age in which he lived, we apprehend that this apology can hardly be extended to the good natured toleration, with which his worst pieces are characterized in the lecture of Mr A. W. Schlegel alluded to: and we may be equally allowed to doubt, whether the author of the Lucinda is to be
admitted as a judge without appeal, on the morality of the author of the Lysistrata.
We have left ourselves scarce any room to speak of the work named at the head of our article, the first volume of Mr Mitchell's Aristophanes. This we have the less reason to regret, as our classical readers are already well possessed of its contents and character. The elaborate and ingenious preliminary discourse, consisting of one hundred and sixty pages, is, with a few slight alterations, the first article in the Quarterly Review for September 1819, there given as a review of Mr F. Schlegel's lectures. The reviews of Mr Mitchell's volume, in the Quarterly and Edinburgh, particularly the former, are so ample and satisfactory, and so generally in our readers' hands, that we think it superfluous to prolong our article. We cannot but enter our protest, however, against the mode of translating, which Mr Mitchell has adopted, in giving up, as it should seem, in despair, many passages equally susceptible, in his hands, with many that he has translated, of a pleasing English transfusion, and supplying their place by a cold analysis of their substance in prose. We trust Mr Mitchell has amended this matter in the continuation of his work, which we see announced in London, and which we beg leave to assure him is expected with impatience on this side of the Atlantic. When we are favored with it, we shall renew the consideration of the subject, and endeavor to render a more distinct testimony of our own to Mr Mitchell's felicity as a translator.
ART. XV.-Herculanensium Voluminum quæ supersunt. To
mus II. Neapoli, 1809. Fol. .
This volume, the last which has been published by the Academicians of Portici, contains fragments of two books of Epicurus de Natura, being a portion of the treatise of thirtyseven books on this subject, ascribed by Diogenes Laertius to Epicurus. There are probably few of our readers, to whom the earlier history of the discovery, made of manuscripts, in the ruins of Herculaneum, is unknown. No event in modern times had excited greater interest in the literary world; and rarely has so lively an interest been succeeded, by such indifference. The causes of this indifference are obvious ;--such as the time,
that elapsed from the first opening of the ruins, and the discovery there of a large library of manuscripts, before it was found possible to decypher and transcribe the latter :- the little intrinsic value of the few specimens, that have been transcribed and published, and the tediousness of the process by which this was effected, which seemed to forbid the expectation of any thing much more important being done for the future. These circumstances combined have damped the hopes hitherto entertained of great light being thrown upon ancient literature, and large additions made to our treasure of Greek and Roman authors, by this discovery. Yet there remains the certain fact, that more than a thousand MSS are in existence from an age far older than the oldest, which have otherwise come down to us, and which, however difficult to decypher, are still proved by experience to be legible. Who does not feel a secret hope, that some happy chance may yet show, that it has not been to no purpose, that they were preserved beneath the burning streams of a volcano, and have been recovered from the earth, after having been buried there seventeen centuries? Since the first attempts, which in fact are the only very successful ones, and with which many of our readers doubtless are acquainted, several new efforts have been made to improve the process of unrolling and decyphering these manuscripts. Of these we propose to offer our readers some account; and for the sake of rendering it more intelligible, and more interesting, to such of them as may not happen to be informed of the details of the discovery of the ruins of Herculaneum, we have ventured to take up the subject from the beginning
Herculaneum was a city on the Italian coast in Campania, between Pompeii and Naples, and is often mentioned in the classical writers. The name is written sometimes Herculanum, by which it is now commonly known on the European continent, and sometimes Herculaneum, as it is called in England and America. It suffered considerably by an earthquake, under the reign of the Emperor Nero; and under the reign of the Emperor Titus, and in the time of Pliny the elder, was buried beneath the streams of lava from mount Vesuvius. The celebrated writer just mentioned lost his life in his unguarded attempt to gratify his curiosity upon this great phenoNew Series. No. 10.
menon of nature.* The city of Pompeii and some smaller places were buried at the same time. Herculaneum was not, as Winckelman says, covered in the first instance by the lava, but by showers of glowing cinders and hot ashes, cemented, shortly after they had fallen, by torrents of rain. Upon this first covering, the burning streams of lava poured and filled the city with a mass, which as it cooled passed into
That the inhabitants had time to save themselves, and their most valuable possessions, appears from the circumstance that few skeletons, jewels, or precious articles of any kind, have been found. At Stabiæ, three female figures were discovered, of which one was apparently a servant, and was carrying a wooden casket : the two other figures had golden bracelets and earrings, which are now preserved in the museum at Naples; and at Pompeii, according to Eustace, sixty skeletons have been found. That attempts had, at some former period, been made to explore these ruins is rendered probable, by the subterraneous passages into them, evidently the work of much labor, which were discovered at the commencement of the modern excavations. An inscription also was found, which is supposed to allude to the same attempt. The modern discovery was made by occasion of the digging of a well on the spot, in the grounds of the prince of Elbeuf, near his residence. This was a house built upon the sea-shore, on rocks of Lava, near a Franciscan cloister. In sinking the well, the laborers struck against a flight of stone stairs, but, piercing through them, continued their work till they came to a firm soil, consisting of the ashes of Vesuvius. Three female statues were here found, which of all the discoveries of Herculaneum are, as yet, the most celebrated, perhaps the most valuable, and which are in the gallery of antiques at Dresden, under the name of the Vestals.
After the discovery of the figures, the prince of Elbeuf was forbidden to continue the excavations. Nothing more was done for thirty years, when the estate was purchased by the prince-royal, afterwards king of Spain, and chosen as the place
Pliny the younger, however, in his admirable account of the eruption, of Vesuvius, and death of his uncle, Epist VI. 16. ascribes the final determin ation of the latter to sail toward the foot of the mountain to a more noble motive, than the gratification of curiosity : :-- Vertit ille consilium, et quod studioso animo inchoaverat, obit maximo. Deducit quadriremes, adscendit ipse non Retinæ modo sed multis (erat enim frequens amenitas oræ) laturus auxilium.'
of his summer residence. The well, which was still open, was further excavated, and farther traces of a building, which proved afterwards to be a theatre, were found. An inscription containing the name of the city was also discovered, and this gave animation to the further steps taken, in investigating the famous ruins. Till this time it does not appear to have been known that the ruins belonged to Herculaneum.
The superintendence of the work was intrusted to a Spanish surveyor, of the name of Alcubiere, through whose ignorance much damage was done to the relics of antiquity. Among others quoted, is the following instance.—An inscription in large brass letters, which were two palms high, was discovered, and without being copied, was torn down, bent up, and brought in a basket to the king, reduced to a literal resemblance to those useful kitchen utensils with which bad writing is often compared, to the great embarrassment of the antiquaries, who have attempted to explain it. But as this first overseer was advanced in rank, the care of the excavations fortunately fell to a Swiss officer, Major Charles Weber, to whom, says Winckelman, we are indebted for all the proper measures that have been taken. Our limits oblige us to omit, from this sketch, the account of the statues, pictures, and other works of art, the inscriptions, articles of furniture and luxury, which were found, and of which the description occupies near a hundred pages, in the last edition of Winckelman's works. Such of our readers, as have not access to the original, can consult the French or the Italian translation, the latter of which is enriched by the valuable commentary of the Abbé Fea, of Rome.
It was the discovery of a library of MSS among other relics of antiquity found in these ruins, which was heard with most interest by the literary world. They were found in a chamber so small, that two men, with outstretched arms, could reach across it, in a villa that had been partly excavated.Around the sides of the room were cases, such as those usually placed in public offices, and in the middle a case, with shelves on each side, admitting a passage all round, -all being about six feet high. The wood, of which these cases were made, was in a state of coal, and dropped to pieces when it was touched. The cases were filled with black rolls, which at first were thought to be bits of wood, of no value, and many of them were thrown away or trodden under foot, as such. The regun