Tuesday, April 22, 2014



Gilbert Norwood (1880-1954), Pindar (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1945; rpt. 1974), pp. 6-7 (footnotes omitted):
Classical scholarship, then, so far as concerns the great ancient poets, has finished its task of removing the textual difficulties that prevented us from envisaging them as we envisage the modern. At any rate, we can do no more: we are dissatisfied with our text of Aeschylus, true; but progress has stopped. It is now far more fruitful to study Propertius in the light of Donne or Keats than in the light of Callimachus. In this field a vast amount of attractive study awaits us—attractive, but genuine and strenuous, for this is no affair of dilettantism, of superficial phrase-mongering. A.C. Bradley has said: "Research, though toilsome, is easy; imaginative vision, though delightful, is difficult; and we may be tempted to prefer the first." Tempted, because the old highway of research is so richly provided with maps, filling-stations and a highly trained constabulary. The investigator need fear nothing if he never allows his left hand to quit a Jahrbuch before his right clutches the comforting bulk of an Archiv. Such activity was needed so long as corruptions swarmed in our texts. It is still justified in archaeology, and in other departments of classical learning partly or quite scientific. But in the study of Greek and Latin poetry it is utterly out of date and would not be crawling over those now radiant blooms and gleaming marbles but for the belief that even this study must become a squalid imitation of the applied sciences. We now need classical scholars who are at least as well versed in great modern literature as in Beiträge, who will no longer believe that a first-rate edition of Catullus can be produced by a man whose acquaintance with Burns is limited to the chorus of Auld Lang Syne, if only he scans galliambics undismayed and remembers who proposed num for tum in 1862. We should hope, moreover, for a seemly elegance in our editions and resent it as an outrage if we open a copy of Theocritus only to find a horrible apparatus criticus lurking at the bottom of the page like some open sewer at the end of a gracious promenade, with repellent outcast conjectures wallowing in hideous decay under the sunlight. Let an editor make the best text he can, and then present his Sophocles in tranquil stateliness. If his conscience demands an apparatus, let him banish it to the end of the book: our enjoyment of Greek and Roman poets should no longer be marred by such intruders, wailing from below like Old Hamlet's ghost in the cellarage. Textual criticism exists in order to give us a text; when that has been made, the bye-products should be destroyed or hidden. No one would be more surprised than the old-fashioned scholar if at a college feast he found the high table festooned with kitchen-refuse.
Cf. Eduard Fraenkel (1888-1970), introduction to Friedrich Leo, Ausgewählte kleine Schriften, translated by M.L. West in Textual Criticism and Editorial Technique applicable to Greek and Latin Texts (Stuttgart: B.G. Teubner, 1973), p. 7:
I had by then read the greater part of Aristophanes, and I began to rave about it to Leo, and to wax eloquent on the magic of this poetry, the beauty of the choral odes, and so on and so forth. Leo let me have my say, perhaps ten minutes in all, without showing any sign of disapproval or impatience. When I was finished, he asked, "In which edition do you read Aristophanes?" I thought: has he not been listening? What has his question got to do with what I have been telling him? After a moment's ruffled hesitation I answered: "The Teubner". Leo: "Oh, you read Aristophanes without a critical apparatus." He said it quite calmly, without any sharpness, without a whiff of sarcasm, just sincerely taken aback that it was possible for a tolerably intelligent young man to do such a thing. I looked at the lawn nearby and had a single, overwhelming sensation: νῦν μοι χάνοι εὐρεῖα χθών. Later it seemed to me that in that moment I had understood the meaning of real scholarship.

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