Imagens das páginas


1. Aristotle on the Constitution of Athens. Edited by F. G. KENYON, M.A., Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, Assistant in the Department of Manuscripts, British Museum. Printed by order of the Trustees of the British Museum, 1891.

2. Aristotle on the Constitution of Athens. Facsimile of Papyrus CXXXI. in the British Museum. Printed by order of the Trustees of the British Museum, 1891.

IT is more than seventy years since the Institutes of Gaius were discovered in a palimpsest at Verona, and nearly seventy years since Mai deciphered fragments of the De Republica of Cicero from beneath a.copy of St. Augustine on the Psalms in the Vatican. Since that time the libraries of Europe and Asia have yielded up no fresh records of classical antiquity. In theology it is different; scarcely a year passes in which the monasteries of the East do not give some fresh document to historians, and unrecognized fragments are still to be found, even in Western libraries. But the scholars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries did their work well, and the most sanguine student can scarcely hope to recover, among the parchments that have survived, any of the countless lost works of ancient Greece or Rome. Were we still confined to old methods, our knowledge of antiquity would have reached its bound; men would turn away in despair from the constant comparison of wellknown texts and the reiterated discussions of insoluble problems.

That this is not so is the merit of the archæologists. Just when research has almost exhausted the material before it, a new and almost boundless field is disclosed. What the fall of Constantinople did in the fifteenth, the break-up of the Turkish Empire is doing in the nineteenth century. Politics and science have become the servants of history and art. The East is opened up; and scholars to whom the nooks and corners of old libraries offer no more treasures, can disinter and decipher on their native site the very fragments of the civilization they have so long been looking at from afar. The increase of knowledge which some hoped and others feared would stifle the interest that men felt in the

life of the past has given a new vigour and vividness to pursuits which seemed to be decaying. We live in a new renaissance. On the soil of Greece, Asia, and Egypt our archæologists are opening up to us a store of buried records which even in wealth of material promise not to come far short of the discoveries of earlier times. Now, as then, international co-operation and national rivalry make of every change in the political world a gain to learning. The French and the German empires have, each in its turn, tried to recommend themselves by the patronage of art; and if our more diffident Government is less munificent and less imperious, English influence and the private generosity of Englishmen have produced results no less valuable. The power of Stratford Canning secured to us the spoils of Halicarnassus, and opened up to Layard the site of Nineveh; our rule in Egypt may be forgiven by the sternest political opponents if it makes possible a wise examination of Egyptian monuments, and their careful preservation.

For it is to Egypt, and to Egypt alone, that we now look for the discovery of new literary works. Writings of priceless value we have already received, and still continue to receive, from the soil of Greece. No historical record could exceed in interest the decrees disinterred at Athens, or the earliest extant European code of law discovered in Crete. But books there are none. We cannot hope for another happy find like that of the library at Herculaneum. For the ordinary writing material of antiquity was papyrus; the manufacture of this was one of the oldest Egyptian arts; copies of papyrus rolls have been found on monuments of the thirteenth century B.C. It was only with the decay of civilization that the manufacture of it died out. With its use the reed itself has disappeared from Egypt; it is now found only in the marshes near Syracuse, and perhaps in the waters of the Upper Jordan. It was when the art of the papyrus maker was disappearing that the use of parchment became common. The use of prepared leather for writing purposes is as old in Asia as that of the papyrus in Egypt; it is, however, to the kings of Pergamum, especially to Eumenes II., that the proper preparation is due. Pliny tells us that when he wanted to found a great library the jealousy of the Egyptian King prevented the export of papyrus to Asia; the books were therefore written on prepared leather, which received its name of Pergamentum from the city where it was used. Papyrus, however, from its greater cheapness, maintained its place to the end of the second century; in the library of

Herculaneum, which was destroyed in the year 79, not a single parchment book is found. Its use did not indeed die out entirely till the tenth or eleventh century; from the fourth century, however, parchment has almost completely replaced it.

The great advantage of parchment is its greater durability. Papyrus is as perishable as paper. It was used over the whole civilized world, but except at Herculaneum and at Ravenna no written manuscripts have been preserved. It is only in the rainless climate of Egypt that the rolls survive the ruins of the libraries for which they were written. In consequence, the earliest classical manuscripts in our libraries date from the lower empire. Egyptian papyri have long been among the commonest of the possessions of our museums; but the first discovered were chiefly in hieroglyphics, and dealt with Egyptian religious matters; what belonged to later times or were in Greek character were private memoranda, the records of a contract or a sale, and contained little of value to archæologists or historians.

It was then a complete surprise to scholars when in 1847 it became known that several fragments, including one roll nearly complete, had been discovered, which comprised some of the speeches of the orator Hyperides, a writer of whose works none had survived. These, with the first edition of which the name of Churchill Babington will always be associated, were eventually acquired for the British Museum, with the other Harris MSS. Since then from time to time other similar discoveries have been made, and especially in the last twenty years the museums of Europe have acquired a large number of Greek papyrus fragments from Egypt. One collection at Vienna is said to contain 15,000 separate pieces. Most of these are unfortunately of very small extent; scattered fragments of a few lines or words, the chance purchase of some lucky traveller from the Arabs, who have picked them up among the tombs. For it is from the tombs that they come. Either the book which he valued had been buried with some dead scholar, or perhaps the papyrus had been used as waste matter in making the mummy case. The chief interest attaching to them is their great antiquity; the fragments of Hyperides were attributed by Sauppe-and he is supported by the late Bishop of Durham-to the second century B.C.; some of the lately discovered fragments of Euripides were probably written less than a century after the death of the author.

In 1878 the Berlin Museum acquired a few fragments of

some Greek historian; they were at first supposed to be parts of Theopompus, but Bergk eventually was able to show that they belonged to the Constitution of Athens, attributed to Aristotle. There have been preserved to us three catalogues of works of Aristotle; in each of them is mentioned a collection of 157 Constitutions. This work was well known and much used, more so perhaps than any of the other Aristotelian writings. Quotations from it are very frequent, especially in the authors of the early empire, and of it no part is so often referred to as that dealing with the Constitution of Athens. In collections of the fragments of Aristotle nearly 100 are attributed to it alone. It was well known that it was the original source of most of the information concerning the history and government of Athens preserved in late writers; there was no book the loss of which was more to be regretted by historians. It is a nearly complete copy of this which some time ago was found in Egypt; the first edition of it, and the facsimile of the manuscript published by the British Museum, are now before us.

The authorities have wisely given no information as to the place or manner of its discovery. The manuscript itself consists of three or four rolls, of which two are nearly complete, the last being only fragmentary. The papyrus had originally contained the accounts of the steward of a private estate; these are dated for the year 78–9 A.D. The reverse side had afterwards been used for copying out this work of Aristotle, which we are therefore able to date to the end of the first or beginning of the second century after Christ. It is interesting to note that this is not the only work written on the back; part of the papyrus has been already occupied with the argument of the speech of Demosthenes in Midiam. It will be convenient to quote Mr. Kenyon's description of the writing :

'The text is written in four hands. The first is a small semicursive hand, employing a large number of abbreviations of common syllables, such as την, της, περι, και The writing is not that of a professional scribe, but is on the whole very correct and easy to read wherever the papyrus has not been badly rubbed. The second hand is uncial of fair size, written in a plain but not very graceful style, and with habitual mis-spellings and mistakes which show that the writer was not a scholar nor a well-educated person. Many of the mistakes are corrected in the first hand, which suggests that the writer of that hand was a scholar who desired a copy of Aristotle's work for his own library, while the writer of the second was a slave or professional scribe employed by him to complete the transcript. The third hand is semi-cursive, but much larger and more straggling than the first hand. The fourth hand closely resembles the first, and employs

many of the same abbreviations, but the strokes are somewhat finer and more upright, and some of the letters are different.'

The first part of the work is in good preservation, but at the beginning some portion is wanting—apparently it had never been copied out, as a space is left clear for it; the first few columns have also been a good deal rubbed. The last part is very much destroyed, and the end is quite fragmentary. The deciphering, owing partly to the age of the writing and partly to the rubbing, was a task requiring great skill and patience. We must congratulate Mr. Kenyon on the success with which he has done this part of the work; having tested it by the facsimile which has been published by the British Museum, we can bear testimony to its accuracy; and after all the criticisms to which it has been subjected and all the emendations which have been proposed, the passages are very few in which his reading of the actual letters of the manuscript has been disputed.

Apart from the intrinsic value of the work (of which we shall speak presently), it is clear that the discovery of these rolls is an event of the greatest importance. Taken in connection with the number of the smaller fragments of which we have before spoken, it opens out to us a prospect of a great increase to our store of classical literature. It is clear that in the Græco-Roman period there were throughout the whole of Egypt a large number of men who had in their possession copies of Greek works; and there is every reason to hope that this will not be the only one which is preserved. We may expect to recover at least fragments of many of the books which were in popular use at the time. It is indeed not probable that there will be among them any works of great length. These papyri obviously belonged to private individuals; they do not come from the great libraries. We must look for the discovery of such short popular and, we may add, easy books as would be most in demand among moderately well-educated people; single books of Homer, plays by the more popular dramatists, short poems or collections of poems, and short histories such as this, or extracts and compendiums of larger books, are what we may expect. There is little or no hope that we shall find the greater works of historians such as Theopompus, the complete works of more voluminous poets, or the more difficult works of the philosophers.

For it is a mistake to suppose that manuscripts of older date are likely to contain works of greater value than more modern copies. The reverse is the case. It was not the most

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