Category Archives: Greek/Roman Translations

Item of the Day: Polybius, translated by Edward Spelman (1743)

Full Title: A Fragment Out of the Sixth Book of Polybius, Containing a Dissertation upon Government in general, particularly applied to That of the Romans, together with a Description of the several Powers of Consuls, Senate, and People of Rome. Translated from the Greek with Notes. To which is prefixed a Preface, wherein the System of Polybius is applied to the Government of England: And, to the above-mentioned Fragment concerning the Powers of the Senate, is annexed a Dissertation upon the Constitution of it. By a Gentleman. London: Printed by J. Tettenham, and sold by W. Meyer . . . , M.DCC.XLIII. [1743].

 

Of the several FORMS of GOVERNMENT: Of the Origin, and natural Transition of those Governments to one another: That the best Constitution is That, which is compounded of all of them; and that the Constitution of the Romans is such a one.

Concerning those Greek Commonwealths, which have often encreased in Power, and often, to their Ruine, experienced a contrary Turn of Fortune, it is an easy Matter both to relate past Transactions, and foretel those to come; there being no great Difficulty, either in recounting what one knows, or in publishing Conjectures of future Events, from those that are past. But concerning the Roman commonwealth, it is not at all easy, either to give an account of the present State of their Affairs, by Reason of the Variety of their Institutions; or to foretel what may happen to them, through the Ignorance of the peculiar Frame of their government, both publick and private, upon which such Conjectures must be founded. For which Reason, an uncommon Attention and Enquiry seem requisite, to form a clear Idea of the Points, in which the Roman Commonwealth differs from Those of Greece.

It is, I find, customary with those, who professedly treat this Subject, to establish three Sorts of Government; kindly Government, Aristocracy, and Democracy: Upon which, one may, I think, very properly ask them, whether they lay these down as the only Forms of Government, or, as the best: For, in both Cases, they seem to be in an Error; since it is manifest that the best Form of Government is That which is compounded of all three. This we not only find to be founded in Reason, but also in Experience; Lycurgus having set the Example of this Form of Goverment in the Institution of the Lacedaemonian Commonwealth. Besides, these three are not to be received as the only Forms; since we may have observed some monarchical and tyrannical Governments, which, though widely different from kingly Government, seem still to bear some Resemblance to it. For which Reason, all Monarchs agree in using their utmost Endeavours, however falsely, or abusively, to be styled Kings. We may have also observed still more Oligarchies, which seemed, in some Degree, to resemble Artistocracies, though the Difference between them has been extremely great. The same Thing may be said also of Democracy.

What I have advanced, will become evident from the following Considerations; for, every Monarchy is not presently to be called a kingly Government, but only That, which is the Gift of a willing People, and is founded on their Consent, rather than on Fear and Violence. Neither, is every Oligarchy to be looked upon as Aristocracy, but only That, which is administered by a select Number of those, who are most eminent for their Justice and Prudence. In the same Manner, that Government ought not to be looked upon as a Democracy, where the Multitude have a Power of doing whatever they desire and propose; but That only, in which it is an established Law and Custom to worship the Gods, to honour their Parents, to respect their Elders, and obey the Laws; when, in Assemblies so formed, every Thing is decided by the Majority, such a Government deserves the Name of a Democracy.

So that, six Kinds of Government must be allowed; three, which are generally established, and have been already mentioned; and three, that are allied to them, namely, Monarchy, Oligarchy and the Government of the Multitude. The first of these is instituted by Nature, without the Assistance of Art: The next is kingly Government, which is derived from the other by Art, and Improvement; when this degenerates into the Evil, that is allied to it, I mean, Tyranny, the Destruction of the Tyrant gives Birth to Aristocracy; which, degenerating also, according to the Nature of Things, into Oligarchy, the People, inflamed with Anger, revenge the Injustice of their Magistrates, and form a Democracy; from the Insolence of which, and their Contempt of the Laws, arises, in Time, the Government of the Multitude.

Whoever examines, with Attention, the natural Principles, the Birth, and Revolution of each of these Forms of Government, will be convinced of the Truth of what I have advanced: For he alone, who knows in what Manner each of them is produced, can form a Judgment of the Encrease, the Perfection, the Revolution, and the End of each; and when, by what Means, and to which of the former States they will return. I thought this Detail, in a particular Manner, applicable to the Roman Government, because the Establishment and Encrease of That was, from the Beginning, founded on Nature. . . .

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Filed under 1740's, Constitution, Eighteenth century, Government, Greek/Roman Translations, Political Philosophy, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Roman Empire

Item of the Day: The Works of Sallust (1744)

Full Title: The Works of Sallust, Translated into English. With Political Discourse upon that Author. To which is added, a Translation of Cicero’s Four Orations Against Catiline. London: Printed for T. Woodward, and J. Peele; and sold by J. Osborn, at the Golden Ball in Pater-noster Row, MDCCXLIV. [1744]

 

DISCOURSE I.

Of Faction and Parties.

________________________

SECT. I.

How easily the People are led into Faction, and kept in it, by their own Heat and Prejudices, and the Arts of their Leaders; how hard they are to be cured; and with what Partiality and Injustice each Side treats the other.

SALLUST observes, “That whoever raised Civil Dissentions in the Commonwealth, used plausible Pretences; some seeming to vindicate the Rights of the People; others to exalt the Authority of the Senate; Both Sorts to pursue the public Good; yet all only striving severally to procure Weight and Power to themselves. Neither, in these their Civil Contests, did any of them observe Moderation or Bounds: Whatever Party conquered, still used their Victory with Violence and Inhumanity.” This, I doubt, is true of all Parties in their Pursuits and Success: I have, therefore, thought it pertinent to discourse here at large upon Faction and Parties.

The People are so apt to be drawn into Faction, and blindly to pursue the Steps of their Leaders, generally to their own special Prejudice, Loss, and Disquiet, if not to their utter Ruin, that he who would sincerely serve them, cannot do it more effectually, than by warning them against such ready and implicit Attachment to Names and Notions, however popular and plausible. From this evil Root have sprung many of the sore Calamities that, almost every-where, afflict Mankind. Without it the world had been happily ignorant of Tyranny and Slavery, the Two mighty Plagues that now haunt and devour the most and best Parts of it; together the subordinate and introductory Miseries, of national Discord, Devastation, and Civil War.

People, as well as Princes,  have been often undone by their Favourites. A great Man amongst them, perhaps, happened to be cried up for his fine Actions, or fine Qualities, both often overrated; and became presently their Idol, and they trusted him without Reserve: For their Love, like their Hate, is generally immoderate; not from a Man who has done them, or can do them, much Good, have they any Apprehension of Evil; till some Rival for their Affection appear superior to their first Favourite in Art of Fortune; one who persuades them, that the other has abused them, and seeks their Ruin. Then, it is like, they make a sudden Turn, set up the latter against the former; and, having conceived an immoderate Opinion of HIm, too, put immoderate Confidence in him; not that they are sure that the other had wronged them, or abused his Trust, but take it for granted, and punish him upon Presumption; trusting to the Arts and Accusations of their new Leader, who probably had deceived and inflamed them. . . .

They may possibly commit themselves to the Guidance of a Man, who certainly means them well, and seeks no base Advantage to himself: But such Instances are so rare, that the Experiment is never to be tried. Men, especially Men of Ambition, who are the forwardest to grasp at such an Office, do, chiefly, and in the first Place, consider Themselves; and, whilst guided by Partiality for themselves, cannot judge indifferently. Such a Man, measuring Reason and Justice by his Interest, may think, that it is right, that the People should always be deceived, should always be kept low, and under a severe Yoke, to hinder them from judging for Themselves, and throwing off Him, and to prevent their growing wanton and ungovernable. In short, the Fact is, (almost eternally) That their Leader only finds his Account in leading them, and They never, in being led. They make him considerable; that is, throw him into the Way of Power and Profit: This is his Point and End; and, in Consideration of all this, what does do he he for them? At best, he generally leaves them where he found them. Yet this is tolerable, nay, kind, in comparison of what oftener happens: Probably he has raised Feuds and Animosties amongst them, not to end in an Hundred Years; Fuel for intestine Wars; a Spirit of Licentiousness and Rebellion, or of Folly and Slavery.

In the midst of the Heats, and Zeal, and Divisions, into which they are drawn, for This Man against That, are they ever thoroughly apprised of the Merits and Source of the Dispute? Are they Masters of the real Fact, sufficent for accusing one, or for applauding another? Scarce ever. What Information they have, they have generally no Information at all; but only a few Cant Words, such as will always serve to animate a Mob; “I am for John: He is our Friend, and very honest. I am against Thomas: He is our worst Enemy, and very wicked, and deserves to be punished.” And so say They who have taken a Fancy to Thomas, and are prejudiced against John. When it is likely, that neither John or Thomas have done them much Harm, or much Good; or, perhaps, both John and Thomas study to delude and enthral them. But, when Passion prevails, Reason is not heard . . .

 

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Filed under 1740's, Eighteenth century, Government, Greek/Roman Translations, History, Political Commentary, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: Aristotle’s Ethics and Politics (1797)

Full Title: Aristotle’s Ethics and Politics, Comprising his Practical Philosophy, Translated from the Greek. Illustrated by Introductions and Notes; The Critical History of his Life; and a New Analysis of his Speculative Works. By John Gillies. Vol. I. London: Printed for A. Strahan; and T. Cadell Jun. and W. Davies, in the Strand, 1797.

 

PREFACE.

Aristotle is the most voluminous, and generally deemed the most obscure, of all the Greek writers of classic antiquity. His imperfect yet copious remains, which are now rather admired than read, and which were formerly much read and little understood, still naturally arrange themselves in the minds of those capable of digesting them, under their original form of an encyclopedy of science; in many parts of which, the author’s labours are, doubtless, excelled by those of modern philosophers; while in other parts, those of the most important nature, his intellectual exertions remain hitherto unrivalled. It seemed high time, therefore, to draw the line between those writings of the Stagirite which still merit the most serious attention of the modern reader, and those of which the perusal is superseded by more accurate and more complete information. This line I have preseumed to draw in the present work, by endeavouring to the best of my abilities to translate the former perspicuously and impressively, while I contented myself with giving a distinct and comrpehensive analysis of the latter.

The “Ethics to Nicomachus and the Politics” ought never to have been disjoined, since they are considered by Aristotle himself as forming essential parts of one and the same work; which, as it was the last and principal object of his studies, is of all his performances the longest, the best connected, and incomparably the most interesting. The two treatises combined, constitute what he calls his practical philosophy; an epithet to which, in comparison with other works of the same kind, they will be found peculiarly entitled. In the Ethics, the reader will see a full and satisfactory delineation of the moral nature of man, and of the discipline and exercise best adapted to its improvement. The Philosopher speaks with commanding authority to the heart and affections, through the irresistible conviction of the understanding. His morality is neither on the one hand too indulgent, nor on the other impracticable. His lessons are not cramped by the narrow, nor perverted by the wild, spirit of system; they are clear inductions, flowing naturally and spontaneously from a copious and pure source of well-digested experience.

According to the Stagirite, men are and always have been not only moral and social, but also political animals; in a great measure dependent for their happiness and perfection on the public institutions of their respective countries. The grand inquiry, therefore, is, what are the different arrangements that have been found under given circumstances, practically most conducive to these main and ultimate purposes? This question the Author endeavoured to answer in his “Politics,” by a careful examination of two hundred systems of legislation, many of which are not any where else described; and by proving how uniformly, even in political matters, the results of observation and experiment conspire with and confirm the deductions of an accurate and full theory. In this incomparable work, the reader will perceive “the genuine spirit of laws” deduced from the specific and unalterable distinctions of governments; and with a small effort of attention, may discern not only those discoveries in science, unjustly claimed by the vanity of modern writers, but many of those improvements in practice, erroneously ascribed to the fortunate events of time and chance in these latter and more enlightened ages. The same invaluable treatise disclose the pure and perennial spring of all legitimate authority; for in Aristotle’s “politics,” and HIS only, government is placed on such a natural and solid foundation, as leaves neither its origin incomprehensible, nor its stability precarious: and his conclusions, had they been well weighted, must have surmounted or suppressed those erroneous and absurd doctrines which long upheld despotism on the one hand, and those equally erroneous and still wilder suppositions of conventions and compacts, which have more recently armed popular fury on the other.

But our Author’s principles and doctrines will speak convincingly for themselves. The intention of this Preface is merely to explain the plan and object of the present performance; which, besides giving a translation of Aristotle’s practical philosophy, contains a new analysis of his speculative works. This addition appeared the more necessary, because the Stagirite’s intellectual system is so compactly built, and so solidly united, that its separate parts cannot be completely understood, unless the whole be clearly comprehended. The writing indeed here translated, stand more detached and more independent than almost any other; yet, without the aid of the prefixed “Analysis,” even the Ethics and Plitics would require frequent, almost perpetual elucidation. The reader, I feared, would be soon tired with the unconnected prolixity of notes; he will, I hope, be entertained by the Analyses even of those treatieses to which, independently of any substantial utility, his attention may be still allured by a liberal and commendable curiosity. . . .

 

 

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Filed under 1790's, Ancient Greece, Greek/Roman Translations, Philosophy, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: Pye’s Poetics of Aristotle (1792)

Full Title:

A Commentary Illustrating the Poetic of Aristotle, By Examples Taken Chiefly from the Modern Poets.  To Which is Prefixed, A new and corrected edition of the Translation of the Poetic.  By Henry James Pye, Esq.  London: Printed for John Stockdale, Piccadilly.  M.DCC.XCII.

COMMENTARY.  Chap. I. Note I.

The Epopee and Tragedy, as also comedy and dithyrambics, and the greater part of those compositions which are set to the flute and the lyre, all agree in the general character of being imitations. 

By imitation, Aristotle does not mean merely description, but a lively representation of human actions, passions, and manners.  It would be superfluous to say much on a subject which has been so amply and clearly treated by Mr. Twining, in his ‘Dissertation on Poetry considered as an imitative art,’ and to which I refer such of my readers as desire full and satisfactory information on this subject.  Aristotle, undoubtedly, places that species of imitation in the first class, which is performed by persons acting, as in the drama, and, for the most part, in the epopees of Homer.  This appears from what he says of the epopee, in the twenty-fourth chapter.  ‘The poet (he observes) should appear himself as little as possible, for whenever he speaks in his own person he ceases to be an imitator;’ seeming even to contradict what he had before allowed in the third chapter, ‘that the poet might imitate, either like Homer, sometimes by simple narration, and sometimes by assuming a different character; or entirely by narration, without assuming any character.’  It may perhaps be impossible strictly to reconcile this difference of opinion, but it obviously shews the great preference he gave personal imitation to any other, from which arose his strong predilection for tragedy; and I think we may fairly deduce from it, that even the poet whose imitation is solely narrative, must paint in strong colours the effects of action, passions and manners, and not merely relate a fable though fictitious, like an historian, for the purpose of drawing moral reflections from it.

Those passages, nevertheless, of an epic poem, where the poet speaks in his own person, have great beauty from their contrast with the impassioned parts, and the relief they give the mind, provided they are neither too frequent nor too long, and the rule laid down by Aristotle, in his twenty-fourth chapter, concerning the elegance of the versification be carefully observed.  Mr. Twining quotes a beautiful example from the first Aeneid.

‘Urbs antique fuit, (Tyrii tenuêre coloni,)

Carthago, Italiam contra Tiberinaque longe

Ostia—.’

Innumerable instances may be produced from Milton; as the description of evening and of paradise, in the fourth book of Paradise Lost; in this he is superior to any poet ancient or modern, though there are many striking passages of the same kind in the Odyssey.

The modern invention of reciting a tale, by means of an epistolary correspondence between the persons concerned, is a very happy mode of imitation, uniting in some measure the different advantages of epopee and the drama.  Perhaps a work of this nature, where the character and style of all the persons corresponding, is nicely discriminated and rigidly observed, is yet a desideratum in imitative composition.    

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Filed under 1790's, Ancient Greece, Criticism, Drama, Eighteenth century, Greek/Roman Translations, Literature, Posted by Matthew Williams

Item of the Day: Epistles of Phalaris, 1749 (cont’d)

Full Title: The Epistles of Phalaris. Translated from the Greek. To which are added, Some Select Epistles of the most eminent Greek Writers. By Thomas Francklin. London: Printed for R. Francklin, in Russel-Street, Covent-Garden, MDCCXLIX.

(See previous post of August 22, 2007 for the earlier section of the “Preface” to The Epistles of Phalaris).

[…] As Greece was in those ages an utter stranger to tyranny and arbitrary power, (for according to Pliny he was the first tyrant that ever reign’d) it is no wonder that the Agrigentines, even tho’ Phalaris had been a much milder master, should endeavor to shake off the yoke; or that they should, as Plutarch informs us, immediately after his death send forth strict orders forbidding any man to wear a blue garment; which it seems was the colour worn by Phalaris‘s guards; that so not the least trace or footstep might remain of a form of government, which they held in the greatest detestation.

It will naturally be expected that I should say here something of the celebrated dispute between the late lord Orrery and doctor Bentley concerning these Epistles.  It will, I think, be sufficient to inform the unlearned reader (which all besides are already acquainted with) that in the year 1695, the late lord Orrery, by the desire of doctor Aldrich, then dean of Christ-Church, put out a new and correct edition of the Epistles with a Latin translation.  A reflection on doctor Bentley in the preface occasion’d a small quarrel between them, which produced a book, publish’d about two years and a half after by the doctor, call’d, A dissertation on the Epistles of Phalaris.  The dissertation was answer’d by mr. Boyle, and replied to by doctor Bentley.  The controversy was on both sides carried on with great learning and spirit, and convinced the world that no subject was so inconsiderable, but, if in the hands of able men, might produce something worthy of their attention. 

I never heard my lord Orrery‘s abilities as a scholar call’d into question, and doctor Bentley was always look’d on as a man of wits and parts, and yet I have been assured that, whilst the dispute was in its height, the partizans of each side behaved with a partiality, usual in such cases.  The friends of Phalaris and mr. Boyle would not allow their adversary any wit, whilst the doctor’s advocates on the other hand made it their business to represent mr. Boyle as void of learning; and attributed all the merit of his book to the assistance of some men of distinguish’d merit in the college and university, of which he was member, and so far did this malicious assertion prevail, that doctor Swift alludes to it as a fact in his battle of the books, where he says, that Boyle had a suit of armour given him by all the gods.  Many indeed, who gave into this foolish opinion, did at the same time allow, in justice to the late lord Orrery, that if the weapons were put into his hand he had at least to manage them to the best advantage. 

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Item of the Day: A Dissertation on Antient Tragedy (1766)

In: The Tragedies of Sophocles, translated from the Greek; (With A Dissertation on Antient Tragedy.) By the Rev. Thomas Francklin . . . A New Edition, carefully revised and corrected. Vol. I. London: Printed for T. Davies, in Russell-Street, Covent-Garden, 1766.

A DISSERTATION

ON

ANTIENT TRAGEDY.

WHILST the taste, genius, and knowledge of the ancients, have been universally felt and acknowledged in every other part of polite literature, it is matter of admiration to consider, that the Greek Theatre should so long have remain’d in neglect and obscurity. In philosophy, morals, oratory, and heroic poetry, in every art and science, we look back to Greece, as the standard and model of perfection: the ruins of Athens afford, even to this day, fresh pleasure and delight; and, nothing but her stage seems to be forgotten by us. Homer, Xenophon, Demosthenes, and many other eminent Greek writers, have of late years put on an English habit, and gain’d admission even into what is call’d polite company; whilst Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, still lurk in schools and colleges; and very seldom make their appearance, at least with dirty leaves, in the libraries of the great. To what shall we attribute a judgment so capricious and so unaccountable? partly, perhaps, to the hasty severity of ignorant foes, and partly to the outrageous zeal of* mistaken friendship. The fate of Antient Tragedy hath, indeed, been singularly unfortunate: some painters have drawn too flattering a likeness of her; whilst others, have presented us with nothing but a caricature; some exalt the Greek drama, as the most perfect of all human compositions, without the least spot or blemish; whilst others affect to call it the infant state of the stage, weak, infirm and imperfect; and as such, treat it with the highest degree of negligence and contempt: exaggerated thus on the one hand by the extravagant encomiums of injudicious learning, and debased on the other by the rash censures of modern petulance, it’s real and intrinsic merit hath never been thoroughly known, or candidly enquired into: the best method however in this, as in every other disputed point, is to set aside all prejudice and authority, and determine the cause by our own reason and judgment, from a fair, full, and impartial view of it.

That the spectator may be able to form a proper and complete idea of any object presented to him, it is necessary to place him in such a situation, as that his eye may at once comprehend the whole, and every part of it; for this purpose, I have collected and ranged in order a few materials, which, in the hands of some abler writer, may possibly lay the foundation for a complete history of the Antient Drama; in the mean time, the following sheets confine themselves to, and pretend to no more than, a brief account of the origin and progress of the Greek Tragedy; it’s end and purport, the several parts, properties, and conduct of it; the construction, scenery, and decorations of the theatre; to which is added, a transient, but necessary view of the genius, character and situation, religion, morals and politics of the people, before whom it was represented; together with a short sketch of the lives and characters of the three great tragedians. . . .

 

*The remarks which are handed own to us on Antient Tragedy, have hitherto, for the most part, consisted of mere verbal criticisms, various readings, or general and trite exclamations of undistinguishing applause, made dull and phlegmatic commentators, totally void of taste and judgment; add to this, that the old tragedians have been shamefully disguised and misrepresented to the unlearned by the false medium of bad translations.

 

 

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Filed under 1760's, Ancient Greece, Drama, Greek/Roman Translations, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: The Epistles of Phalaris (1749)

Full Title: The Epistles of Phalaris. Translated from the Greek. To which are added, Some Select Epistles of the most eminent Greek Writers. By Thomas Francklin. London: Printed for R. Francklin, in Russel-Street, Covent-Garden, MDCCXLIX.

THE

PREFACE.

THERE is no kind of writing, which can boast of more admirers than the epistolary. The letters of the Greeks and Romans, which have been preserved, are look’d upon by the learned world as the most precious remains of antiquity. This may easily be accounted for, when we consider that the real characters of great men are perhaps better known by such private anecdotes as are usually interspersed in these friendly correspondencies, than in the pompous accounts of their public transactions, which we hear from the historian. We take pleasure in seeing the prince, the lawgiver, the orator, or the poet, in the humbler sphere of domestic life, and writing without art or reserve as father, a brother, or a friend. We are proud of being, as it were, admitted to a secret intimacy with such men; a kind of pride, which may not improbably be attended with a malicious satisfaction in discovering their weaknesses and imperfections, and finding them sometimes on a level with ourselves.

Some indeed, and particularly of late years, have appear’d, which were certainly wrote with the view of making them public, and were as is apparent from their stile and matter designe’d more for the reader than the friend; which must doubtless deprive us of great part of that pleasure we should otherwise take in them.

The following Epistles, ascribed to Phalaris, were received as his for above a thousand years, and look’d upon by the antients as the most perfect things of their kind. Suidas, Stobaeus, Photius, Aretine, and many other eminent writers give them the highest character, and even those few, who deny or doubt the genuineness of them, have not refused them the commendations, which they deserve.

But before I enter into the merits of the Epistles, it may not be improper to make the reader acquainted (as far as the dark history of those times will give us leave) with the celebrated tyrant, whose name they bear.

Phalaris was born at Astypalaea, a city of Crete; where, though deprived of his parents when young, he had the good fortune to meet with friends, who bestow’d on him a liberal educaiton; by the assistance of which, together with the advantage of uncommon parts and application, he acquired great knowledge in the art of government. But, being from his infancy bold and aspiring, he engaged in an unsuccessful attempt to seize the supreme power, and was banish’d out of Crete; from whence he retired, leaving his wife and son behind him, to Agrigentum in Sicily; where the people, whom he had artfully persuaded into an opinion of his wisdom and courage, being at that time engaged in building their temple, appointed him chief surveyor of the works. He laid hold of the opportunity, and having gain’d the whole body of labourers to his party, with no other arms but their tools, he so conducted his hazardous enterprize as to terrify and subdue the inhabitants, and make himself master of the city, in the fifty-second Olympiad, and reign’d there, according to Eusebius, twenty-eight, or, according to others, sixteen years. A power so acquired could not be maintain’d without some bloodshed, and before he had fix’d himself in the government, many conspiracies must of course have been form’d against him; all which he was so fortunate as to discover and suppress. Necessity obliged him to take ample revenge on such as were concern’d in them; and to this unavoidable cruelty, which in his Epistles he so frequently endeavours to palliate and excuse, we must ascribe the many odious names, with which he is branded in history.

It has frequently been objected, that historians represent him as the most cruel and detestable tyrant, and allow him none of those amiable qualities, which these Epistles so liberally bestow on him. But this is methinks a difficulty very easily got over; for besides that a perfectly bad man, without one virtue to recommend him, is perhpas as rarely to be met with, as the perfect wife, or good, it is scarce probable that Phalaris would so long have held the power he had usurp’d without some distinguishable good qualities to extenuate his faults, and conciliate the affections of his people.

I shall pass over the story of Perilaus, as it is generally known, and because the principal circumstances of it are mention’d both in the Phalaris of Lucian, and in several of these Epistles.

Phalaris, by his courage and conduct, subdued several nations, and according to Suidas made himself master of all Sicily. That he was a great friend and patron of leaning and learned men sufficiently appears from his behaviour to Stesichorus, a celebrated poet of Himera in Sicily, and a man of the first rank for wisdom and authority amongst this fellow-citizens. The Himereans, contrary to his advice, chose Phalaris for their guardian and protector; but quickly repenting of their misconduct, Stesichorus was extremely active in promoting the design of a revolt. Being intercepted in his passage to Corinth, he was brought before Phalaris, where he behaved with a firmenss and intrepidity, which struck the tyrant with such an esteem and admiration of him as probably laid the foundation of that memorable friendship between them so often mention’d in the Epistles.

In regard to the manner of Phalaris’s death we have no account, which can be relied on, as authors are much divided about it; though the most generally received opinion is, that having maintain’d the tryanny some years, not without perpetual factions, and the utmost disquietude, the people at last rose up, and destroyed him. . . .

 

 

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Filed under 1740's, Greek/Roman Translations, Posted by Caroline Fuchs