Monday, October 07, 2013


Shameless Compilers

David Ruhnken, letter to John Daniel Ritter (July 29, 1747), tr. in Barnas Sears et al., Classical Studies: Essays on Ancient Literature and Art. With the Biography and Correspondence of Eminent Philologists (Boston: Gould, Kendall and Lincoln, 1843), pp. 101-103 (at 102-103):
No class of men are held in greater detestation here, than those shameless compilers, who, though they say some useful things, are led, for the sake of making a book, to fill out their pages with commonplaces which the veriest blockhead knows. How often are these German luminaries, as they are called in their own country, the subject of merriment with Wesseling, Alberti, Wetstein, myself, and others. I wish you could be present to enjoy the fun.
The Latin, from Dav. Ruhnkenii Orationes, Dissertationes et Epistolae, Vol. II (Brunswick: L. Lucius, 1828), pp. 551-556 (at 553):
Nullum hominum genus magis detestantur, quam impudentes istos compilatores, vel etiam eos, qui, etsi aliqua tradunt haud contemnenda, tamen, ut liber fiat, ipsis dupondiis nota inculcant. Dii boni! quoties illa Germaniae lumina (sic enim a suis celebrantur) et ego, et homines amicissimi, Wesselingius, Alberti, Wetstenius, alii, ridemus. Cui risui utinam et Tibi interesse liceret.
Update from Joseph Yarbrough:
I was curious about "ipsis dupondiis nota inculcant". Unless I overlooked something elsewhere, only Forcellini gave the sense of it:
Figurate dupondius dicebatur ridiculi causa auditor seu discipulus jurisprudentiae anni primi, quemadmodum etiam nunc apud nostrates vulgo matricolino appellatur. Imp. Justinian. in Epist. 2. praemissa libris Digestor. . 2. Cujus (anni primi) auditores non volumus vetere tam frivolo, quam ridiculo cognomine dupondios appellari, sed Justinianeos novos nuncupari.

Fritz Wagner, Tobacco and Oysters

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