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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1842, by
FRANCIS BOWEN, in the Clerk's office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
STEREOTYPED AND PRINTED BY
METCALF, KEITH, AND NICHOLS,
PRINTERS TO THE UNIVERSITY.
VIRGIL is more generally read and less appreciated than any other classic. His poems are now used almost universally as a text-book, and at such an early period in the course of classical studies, that they appear to the pupil quite as difficult and uninteresting as the grammar and the dictionary. Months, and even years, are bestowed upon the study of them, and the length of the task only adds to its wearisomeness. The associations formed at such an early period in one's education are retained with great tenacity through life, and the consequence is, that these elegant and delightful poems call up, in the minds of most persons, no other or more pleasant images than those of the spelling-book, the recitation room, and, perhaps, the rod. Horace is usually ead at a later period in the course of study, when the pupil has mastered the greatest difficulties of the language, and his taste and judgment are somewhat matured. The productions of the lyric poet, therefore, are remembered and quoted, and a recurrence to the study of them often opens a new source of pleasure for the scholar's riper years ; while the poems of Virgil, more pleasing as respects the choice of a subject, and the general characteristics of their execution, are quite generally neglected.
It is more easy to perceive an evil of the kind above mentioned, than to suggest a remedy. It is quite important, that a book put into the pupil's hands at such an early period in his studies should be an unexceptionable model of style, and should offer such attractive qualities, as may most effectually encourage his efforts in a long and arduous undertaking. "The poems of Virgil answer these requisites so well, that no one is surprised at the general adoption of them, as a text-book of instruction in the Latin language. But allowance must still be made for the small attainments of the youthful pupil, and, we must add, for the imperfect scholarship of a few instructers. The style of the Ænei
easy, it is said ; so it is, for the advanced scholar, but not for the boy or girl, who has just finished the
study of the Latin grammar and one or two elementary books. Cannot something be done to secure the advantages, and to obviate the ill effects, of continuing to use Virgil as a class-book in the schools? The object of the edition now offered to the public is, so far as the Editor is able, to answer this question.
The Notes are designedly made very copious. They are intended to afford so much aid, that a pupil of ordinary capacity and diligence, who has studied the usual elementary books in Latin, will be enabled to read and understand Virgil, even without the aid of an instructer. I am aware of the danger of leaving little to be accomplished by the pupil's own efforts, and thereby of encouraging the formation of careless and indolent habits ; and I have endeavored to obviate it, by confining the translations to the more difficult passages, removing these helps to a separate part of the volume, and presenting them in such a form that, although of little service to the student till he has made good use of grammar and dictionary, they will leave no difficulty in his way, when he has once fairly consulted these manuals. The copious materials afforded by the commentaries of the old grammarians, and by the rich annotations of Martyn, Ruæus, Heyne, and some later German editors, have been carefully revised, and whatever matter they contain, suited for the comprehension of young persons, I have endeavored to present in English, in the most condensed form. With the aid here presented, it is hoped, that the young student may be able to read Virgil as a poet, and find pleasure in the task, instead of poring over the work as a crabbed and difficult exercise in Latin. He will not be disheartened by a continued struggle with difficulties, nor will he find his interest in the poem cooled by the perpetual recurrence of passages, to which he can attach little or no meaning. He will not be driven to the secret and indiscriminate use of an entire translation.
The Notes are also designed to point out, in part, the beauties and defects of Virgil's compositions, and to form the taste and judgment of the pupil, by encouraging him to apply the general principles of criticism with as little hesitation, as if he were reading a modern English poet. Wishing to cultivate the learner's power of discrimination, and aware that unmingled praise only inspires doubt, I have ventured to criticize with freedom, though with a proper distrust of my own judgment, and fully expecting that the taste of others will be found sometimes to differ from my
Quotations from modern poets have been sparingly introduced, where a passage seemed to invite comparison, in the hope of stimulating the student's curiosity, and of heightening his relish for poetry.
In our common classical schools, too few pupils possess a Classical Dictionary, and those who have one, can hardly be induced to make such use of it as shall enable them to understand all the allusions in the text. The book is a cumbrous one, and they will not consult it often enough as a separate work, though they would gladly use the assistance which it affords, if it were given, in a concise form, in the volume which is constantly before them. The Notes to this edition contain a brief summary of all the information which is needed, in order fully to understand the history, mythology, and geography of the work. The merited reputation of the Latin Grammar by Messrs. Andrews and Stoddard is a sufficient reason for adopting it, as the manual of reference in all the notes relating to etymology and syntax.
In editing classical works for the use of schools, to decide what matter should be excluded from the notes is a point of no less difficulty, than the due preparation of what is admitted into them. The length and tediousness of annotations, other things being equal, is a serious objection to them. Boys will not read diffuse remarks on subjects that are beyond their comprehension, and will even be deterred by their presence from consulting the useful and practical notes, with which they may be interspersed. Elaborate discussions of various readings, or of different modes of explaining an obscure passage, undoubtedly have their use ; but they also have their place, which is certainly not in editions for the use of schools. The show of learning, that appears in such notes, can be easily made by one who has access to the rich stores of German erudition. But a different opportunity should be sought for its display. If the meaning of any passage be disputed, it is better for the editor to exercise his learning and judgment in forming one interpretation, and presenting it in a clear shape and moderate compass, than to perplex the young pupil by an array of different explanations, and the arguments in favor of each. If the teacher who uses the volume should prefer a different translation to the one given, it is all well. If the pupil has ingenuity enough to give another and yet intelligible construction to the passage, it is better still
. The practice of loading the notes with references to the whole range of Latin and Greek authors, and that too for the use of pupils, who probably do not possess one of the works cited, and could not read the volume if they owned it, is wholly indefensible.
In translating a sentence, a doubt often occurs respecting the choice of language. A literal translation will appear bald ; a paraphrase, expressed in correct and idiomatic
English, will often mislead the pupil in respect to the meaning and grammatical connexion of the Latin words. The choice between these difficulties seems to be naturally decided by the consideration, that the notes are designed to assist the student in understanding the Latin text, and not in his exercises in English rhetoric. It is comparatively easy to change a literal translation into good English phrases ; the pupil's own ear, and the taste of his instructer, will be safe guides. But it is not so easy, out of a loose paraphrase, to gain a clear idea of the precise meaning of each Latin word, and of its grammatical construction. The Notes to this edition are designed to obviate the latter difficulty, and whenever the literal interpretation is departed from, the change is indicated in the type.
Great pains have been bestowed upon the correction of the text, in the hope of furnishing one that should be nearly immaculate. In this, as in other respects, it is quite possible that the execution of the work has fallen short of the design. But such as it is, the edition is offered to the public, in the hope that it may lighten in some respects the labor both of pupils and instructers, and be found of some service to the cause of classical learning in this country.
Boston, April 8th, 1842.