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ment, is too obvious to require specific mention; especially as this edition is intended merely for the use of those who are commencing the study of Aristotle. But as the interpretation of a passage sometimes depends on such a division, it becomes necessary to advertise the reader, that in this respect, I have been guided by a merely arbitrary rule, and by what appeared to be the sense of the author.
It now only remains for me to state the authorities which I have principally followed in compiling the notes and illustrations to the text. However imperfectly the design has been realized, my chief object has been to illustrate Aristotle by himself; a mode of interpretation more necessary for the Ethics than for many of his other writings, inasmuch as the diffusive yet inaccurate Scholia of Eustratius, or the more meagre labors of Michaelis Ephesius or Aspasius, furnish but a poor substitute for the learned commentaries of an Alexander, a Simplicius, or a Johannes Philoponus.
The earliest commentaries upon the Ethics appeared in the shape of a Paraphrase; and to some attempt of this kind in all probability we owe the Magna Moralia and the Eudemean Ethics". Of these, the most valuable is that
* This accounts for the reason why such copious extracts and even entire books of the Ethics occur verbally in these
which is generally attributed to Andronicus Rhodius, which was first published by Daniel Heinsius at Leyden in 1607, reprinted at Cambridge in 1679, and finally at Oxford in 1809.
Next to these are the Greek Scholia published by Aldus at Venice in 1536, foliob, of which a Latin version by Gio. Bern. Feliciano c was printed at Paris in 1543, folio,
treatises. For where the subject was not very intricate, or very difficult, such extracts would coincide with the design of the author. These works, however, have often been attributed to Aristotle; but a strong internal evidence may be urged against this supposition; not so much from the style, as on account of their remarkable discrepancy from the Nicomachean Ethics, and his other writings.
* Of this collection, the commentaries on the first, second, third, and fourth books are attributed to Eustratius, Bishop of Nice; on the fifth to Michaelis Ephesius, the sixth to Eustratius, the seventh and eighth to Aspasius, the ninth and tenth to Eustratius. But it is not probable that Eustratius is the author of the commentary on the tenth book, because the author of that book calls Heracleitus of Ephesus his fellow-citizen, and because, from the commentary on the third chapter of the first book, it is clear that Eustratius was a warm supporter of Plato against the objections of Aristotle; while on the other hand, from the commentary upon the second and third chapters of the tenth book, we should infer quite the contrary. This collection I have generally quoted by the term " Scholia."
c For the use of this book I am indebted to the kindness of my friend, the present Librarian of New College. The publisher of Felician pretends, that another MS. of the Greek original was collated for this book; but in all the difficult and corrupt passages I have observed, that the Translator does not give a faithful version as on other occasions, but merely a paraphrase.
and dedicated to Cardinal Alexander Farnese.
The merit of the writers in this collection is very unequal; for while the commentaries of Alexander of Aphrodisium, Simplicius, and others, upon the physical and metaphysical writings of Aristotle, have preserved to us not only some valuable notices of the state and history of philosophy, but also several fragments of the lost writings of Aristotle, they exhibit a much deeper acquaintance with the Peripatetic system than either Eustratius or Aspasius, who possess none of the other advantages. Besides, the Platonic partialities of Eustratius, his evident anxiety to vindicate his master, and to reconcile at any rate his tenets with those of Aristotle, render him an unsafe guide wherever his prejudices are brought into action. And this liability is more frequent than at first sight would appear when it is considered, that indirect references to Plato occur throughout this treatise; that in most instances no specific mention is made of Plato's name, nor the particular passages or treatises verbally or definitely quoted, against which the whole force of an objection is directed. To this may be added, that several of the most important writings of Plato have been lost, and that consequently, did we but possess them all, instances would be found of this commentator's misrepresentations more numerous than can easily now be determined. These difficulties, in conjunction with the practice of Aristotle, who seldom quotes his authorities, or the names of the writers whom he is refuting, frequently occasion great obscurity, and must furnish my apology if I have often brought forward in the notes parallel passages from Plato and other writers which appear to bear but little on the text.
Of the almost innumerable Latin Commentators, the most valuable are Albertus Magnus'1 and Thomas Aquinas'. But their labors are far more adapted to those who are already conversant with the philosophy of Aristotle, than to those who are only commencing the study.
From the date of these Schoolmen till the commencement of the fifteenth century, nothing was done towards explaining the text of the Ethics or the moral philosophy of Aristotle. Men were content to follow the steps of the scholastic commentators, rather than to consult the original; to comment and compose annotations on the commentaries already existing
d See Alberti Magni Ethica, vol. iv. of his Works, published at Lyons (Lugduni), 1651.
'I do not mean his professed commentary upon the Ethics, which is little else than a paraphrase, but his Summa Totius Theologiae; particularly the second and third parts, known by the names of Secunda Summa and Tertia Summa.
without attempting to seek for fresh information from authentic and original sources.
But the revival of learning under the auspices of Pope Nicholas V. breathed fresh vigor and animation into the lifeless and attenuated form of Greek literature, and especially of Greek philosophy. By the indefatigable research of this most illustrious Pontiff, Greek books and manuscripts were procured from all parts of the globe; and the most celebrated scholars of every nation were invited to his court to transcribe and translate them. Poggio, George of Trebizond, Leonardo Bruni of Arezzo, Giannozzo Manetti, Fr. Filelfo, Laur. Valla, Theod. Gaza, and Guarini, formed part of this illustrious circle, who were encouraged by his bounty, and preferred to places of honor and emolument. By their exertions, a flood of light burst forth upon the astonished world, and penetrated through the dusky regions of monastic seclusion. Where the Master of the Sentences, Aquinas and Scotus, had ruled with an undisputed and undivided sway, a new race of literary champions were springing up, prepared to dispute their claims, and to question the supremacy even of Aristotle and of Plato.
Men of the greatest literary eminence were now earnestly engaged in the no very philosophical contest of placing the one or the other of these philosophers on the highest pinnacle of literary renown, to the utter degradation of