Tuesday, December 17, 2019


Book Recommendations

Ben Jonson's Conversations with William Drummond of Hawthornden, ed. R.F. Patterson (London: Blackie and Son Limited, 1923), p. 13 (number 9):
That Petronius, Plinius Secundus, Tacitus, spoke best Latine; that Quintilianes 6. 7. 8. bookes were not only to be read, but altogither digested. Juvenal, Perse, Horace, Martiall, for delight and so was Pindar. For health Hippocrates.
Patterson's notes:
Petronius, &c. This is a most interesting criticism, showing Jonson's preference for writers of the Silver Age. Petronius, when not writing in the sermo plebeius, is unsurpassed as a stylist, and Tacitus is one of the greatest of all prose writers. The Folio reading Plautus is almost certainly wrong.

Quintiliane. The 6th, 7th, and 8th books of Quintilian are extremely technical, dealing with such subjects as the peroration, arrangement, syllogism, perspicuity, ornament, and tropes.

Hippocrates. This, according to Coleridge, is a joke (Notes on Ben Jonson, 1818). Coleridge unkindly and unfairly adds, after saying that this remark was interpreted in earnest, "But this is characteristic of a Scotchman; he has no notion of a jest, unless you tell him 'This is a joke!', and still less of that finer shade of feeling, the half-and-half, in which Englishmen naturally delight".

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