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KNIGHTS, WASPS, AND BIRDS
TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH PROSE.
GRADUATE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD.
“ Comoedia est imitatio vitæ, speculum consuetudinis, imago veritatis.”
Cic. apud Donat. in fragm. de Tragæd, et Com.
HENRY SLATTER, HIGH STREET:
LONGMAN, REES, ORME, BROWN, AND GREEN; AND WHITTAKER,
TREACHER, AND ARNOT, LONDON.
The Translator of the Plays now presented to the public is unwilling they should meet the world's eye without a few remarks.
It was his object to have edited the text, but, after he had made some progress in the work, Priestley's press gave birth to the gigantic Aristophanes of Bekker, a book which has superseded the immediate necessity of again revising the Comedies here translated. It is still, however, the Translator's intention to give a text, with brief explanations and critical notes, to the Acharnians, Knights, Wasps, and Birds ; but, as he is at present engaged in several other ways, he cannot specify any determinate time when it may be looked for. Suffice it to say it will occupy his leisure moments, and every endeavour will be given to make it a useful and valuable work.
But why publish a Translation ? A reason will hardly be required, and if required, the Translator is not aware that any obligation rests with him to answer it-" stat pro ratione voluntas.” He may, however, remark that the Translation was begun with the view to making
himself perfectly familiar with his Author, that no difficulties might thereby escape his notice. It may too, he hopes, tend to draw the reader's attention to a critical study of the language, which will be found developed either by explanation or reference, upon every occasion, in the subjoined notes. Not that this work is intended, like the “ Pursuits of Literature,” to be a mere vehicle for the notes ; it may be looked upon in the light of a persuasive
“ ut pueris olim dant crustula blandi Doctores, elementa velint ut dicere prima.” In short, the notes have all more particularly a reference to scholarship, and all the references given, it is to be hoped, neither too many nor too few, will be found worthy the student's perusal.
Again, it is the Translator's desire to facilitate the study of one of the most interesting branches of Greek Literature ; the Comedies of Aristophanes being a picture of Athenian manners executed in the finest style—full of fire, copious, and true to life. With the many, ridicule often cuts finer than open accusation, and it is by thus playfully, yet poignantly, dragging into day their foibles, that our Poet wishes to improve his countrymen. With Sallust (B. J.) we may say of the Athenians—“ Majores eorum omnia, quæ licebat, illis reliquêre ; divitias, imagines, memoriam sui præclaram. Virtutem non reliquêre,
neque poterant. Ea solo neque datur dono, neque accipitur.” To recall their past glories, to improve their present state, to set before them their petty litigious spirit, and to strengthen their fickle and wavering dispositions, required a master's hand, and such a one, if any, presented itself in the person of Aristophanes.
With respect to the Translation itself, it has been made with great accuracy. The Greek has been kept to as closely as possible (at times even making the English approach to a solecism, but only when some object was in view), with a particular reference to the use of the particles, a branch of scholarship which is nowhere more required to be attended to than in Aristophanes. It is the colloquial language of general life, and, as such, must be strictly kept up, though usually neglected to a lamentable degree. But now, it would seem, our Spartan constitution is to be moulded more like to the Athenian of old. A fairer light has dawned upon us, and provided the “ ground-work” of Mr. Short's valuable pamphlet' (a man whose loss the University will deeply feel, and to whom unknown I rejoice to pay the silent tribute of praise) meets with its deserved notice, we may yet hope to rise more and more in the scale of accuracy, precision, and the acquisition and dissemination of accurate know
1 Something to this effect is now before the Heads of Convocation, and a syllabus has been privately circulated.