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At the Palace in Worcester, Feb. 22, 169.
That the Epistles, which are ascribed to Euripides are supposititious, I ever believed since I first read them, and 'tis likely shall continue to do so still; but as for arguments, to prove them spurious, perhaps there are none that will convince any person, that doth not discover it by himself; 'tis always so, when there are no external proofs and testimonies to be had; but the verdict must be given from the intrinsic evidence, then every man passeth his own judgment according to his genius and proficiency: and there can be no final determination of such matters without an infallible judge. A A late ingenious author admires the Epistles of Phalaris above any other prose in that language, and makes it an argument for the decay of human wit; because Homer and that work are the ancientest and the best also in their kinds. Now I would ask him, what dialect they wrote and spoke in Sicily? and if Stesichorus (the supposed great acquaintance of Phalaris) did not use the Doric? I believe if this had come into his mind, it might have convinced him, that they could not be genuine. But what if we had wanted this argument? there had been nothing else to be done, but to let him enjoy his own opinion sine rivali. If a man cannot perceive by himself that they are the work of some Sophist, he may acquiesce perhaps in another man's judgment, but he cannot be convinced and understand that they are so. The sham Letters of Theano and Heraclitus may be detected the same way; for the first wrote in Doric and the latter in Ionic. Well, you say, Euripides's are 'purely Attic,' and therefore must not be rejected on that account. To wave any controversy about so nice a matter, suppose that they be so; so are Socrates's as much;
Sir William Temple.
those also ascribed to Themistocles, and Diogenes: yet who can believe them to be really theirs? Neither will the Ionic dialect of those that are fathered on Hippocrates, and Democritus, persuade me that they are genuine.
All these are the forgeries and impostures of the Sophists: they searched into the history of the persons that they designed to personate, and so adapted their letters to their circumstances. This was in great credit among them to follow the character of the person well, and suit the affairs of their times : a man got reputation by it, and it was owned at first by the true authors: but in time they were forgot, and the personated writers kept their titles. They made it an exercise to counterfeit thus; as much as Ovid did, when he wrote Epistles in the names of heroes and heroines. So Mithridates tells you in the prologue to Brutus's Epistles that he made feigned answers from the persons and cities that Brutus had wrote to: though any man that hath vous and sagacity will perceive that there is a double and triple sham in that story: and, Sir, as when I read a tragedy of Euripides, I could tell (without any knowledge of the writer) that they are but representations, and not the true actions and discourses of the persons in the Drama; because I could know that men in those circumstances could not talk at that rate; so methinks by the very Letters themselves I presently discern that 'tis not Euripides himself that here discourseth, but a puny Sophist that acts him.
And it may be that those very passages from whence you take 'arguments to overthrow Meursius' do give me grounds of suspicion that they are illegitimate; as that they are all written to Archelaus, Sophocles, and Cephisophon; which any pedant might know were were persons concerned in Euripides's story, I take to be magnum signum. And for the argument and subject of them, in those to Archelaus we have the refusing
a great present of money,' and instead of money begging the lives and freedom of some that were condemned to die.' Were not these and such like the common themes of such scholastics and άperaλóyo? And 'tis pretty, that those prisoners and their father, though the evyevéσTato of their country, had no names at all, or else concealed them from their benefactor Euripides, so that he petitioned indefinitely for some young men of Pella.'
This Sophist has been a great dunce; some service must be done to the Pelleans by all means, because he had read that Euripides lay buried at Pella; but why could not he invent some name for them, as easy as invent the whole story? But the Letter to Sophocles is most admirable. Sophocles his contemporary and ouóTexvos must certainly be a correspondent: but because they had no penny post at Athens, therefore a letter must be written to him while he was absent from thence: now he knew that Sophocles was one of the Athenian Generals in the war with the Samians, and that he touched at Chios (in Athenæus, p. 60.) therefore thither a letter is directed; and let us hear about what? condoling that he had lost some plays in Shipwreck. Alas! alas! so Terence lost an 108 plays in the sea, and himself too. But our sham author had forgot Sophocles's errand; that he was now the General and not the Poet, and if he had had some plays before hand, he would not have carried them to the war; for I presume he did not use them, as our soldiers do quires of paper, for a defence against bullets. But why must Euripides of all folks be concerned for their s, his antagonist and emulator? καὶ πτωχὸς πτωχῷ φθονέει, καὶ ἀοιδὸς ἀοιδῷ. You may see a lampoon of one against the other in Athenæus. If these plays had been preserved they would have been acted against those of Euripides, as many before had been when sometimes one got the victory, and sometimes the other; and it was scarce thought a less prize to be crowned Poet Victor at the Dionysian feasts, than Conqueror at the Olympian Games. And the pleasantest of all is that τὰ οἴκοι ἴσθι κατὰ νοῦν καὶ ἐπέστειλας ἐπιτελῆ ὄντα. It seems they are such very great cronies that one commits the care of his domestic affairs to the other: mihi quidem non hercle fit verisimile, as Davus says. But have we any better luck in the letter to Cephisophon out of Macedonia ? This Cephisophon was thought once to help Euripides in writing plays; but at last he was taken in bed with his wife for which poor Euripides was so jeered upon the stage by the comedians, that it is thought for this very reason he left Athens and went to Archelaus. And yet this Cephisophon must be the man, that he corresponds with from thence; and the worthy occasion of writing is, to justify his leaving Athens' against the calumnies
of his enemies. And what have we here, but more refusing of money, some thousands of pounds; some stuff against covetousness &c. ἐκ ληκύθου τῶν σοφιστῶν: the prating of Aristophanes against him (I, to be sure do not omit that) that surely he cannot desire riches now, when his own dear mother was dead. (I, there's an argument indeed; it would have been all for the sake of gammer Clito the old herbwoman). And, good man, it forebodes him that he shall 'lay his bones' év yn ßapßápw; and never see Athens again: well done, Sophist, thou knewest, that he was worried there by a pack of hounds, and so wouldst give us that hint.
But, Sir, you now see what I said at first, that I believe indeed that they are spurious Letters; but arguments to convince another man I have none. Therefore when you confute Meursius, I desire that you would not name me*; for I do not pretend to assert, but only to believe, they are shams. I am glad to hear all the fragments are prepared: they will make a little folio themselves, and will much commend your edition. Sir, I am your's to command,
Sir, I am very glad, if any thing that I have published can be serviceable to your design: and shall count it an honour to be mentioned in so great a work. Papers, ready, I have none, and I cannot here make any review, being absent from my books of that kind, and engaged in other affairs: and 'tis likely yourself may have prevented me in most things: so I can only wish you good success.
*See Barnes, Vita Euripidis, §. 28, and his preliminary Remarks on the Epistles.
Viro Illustri et Eruditissimo RICH. BENTLEIO, S. P. D. LUDOLPHUS KUSTERUS.
CUM juvenis eximius et doctus, Ankersenius, natione Danus, Cantabrigiam profecturus esset, nolui ei petenti nihil ad te literarum dare, quibus aditum ipsi aperirem ad amicitiam tuam, qua eum omnino dignum putabam. Cognosces enim eum hominem, non solum veræ eruditionis amantissimum, sed etiam in melioribus literis apprime versatum, et qui viros tui similes, id est, Musarum Coryphæos, quam maximi faciat. Per plures menses Cantabrigiæ commorari decrevit, Orientalium præcipue literarum gratia, in quibus Sikio nostro utetur doctore. Aristophanes meus prælum strenue nunc exercet; Textum dico cum veteribus Scholiis. Nam notæ meæ, et aliorum, ut jam ante scripsi, ad calcem totius operis rejicientur. In iis elaborandis nunc præcipue occupatus sum, et quidem meliore, quam speraveram, successu. Nam non solum plurima Comici hujus loca corrupta pristinæ integritati, ut spero, restituam, sed etiam non pauca nova, et aliis, ni fallor, indicta, de Atticismo præcipue veterum Lectorem in iis docebo. Quinquaginta circiter vel sexaginta ex notis meis in priorem partem Pluti cum Clarissimo Clerico, id ipsum a me petente, communicavi, qui eas Tomo illi Bibliothecæ suæ selectæ, qui propediem in lucem prodibit, speciminis loco inseruit; tu igitur si forte ad manus tuas pervenerit, perspicere inde poteris, si tanti tibi videbitur, quid de lucubrationibus meis in Aristophanem sperandum sit. Ne tamen nullum tibi dem Notarum mearum póyevμa, unam saltem hic subjiciam observatiunculam, adhuc valde recentem, et ut ita dicam, étɩ | yλvÞávolο πρоσóČovσav, in locum quendam Thesmophoriaz. v. 853. p. 812. Ed. Genev. ubi Mnesilochus Euripidem jam pridem expectans, et moræ tandem impatiens inquit: Ιλλος γεγένημαι πроσdокŵν. (Dein subjungit adnotationem prout exstat in editione Aristophanis, p. 22.) Hæc observatio si tibi placuerit, est quod mihi gratuler. Nam nullius judicio in literis hisce plus tribuo quam tuo. Sed de hisce satis, vel etiam plus satis. De notis tuis in Aristophanem quid constitutum tibi sit, scire cupio. Puto optimum fore, si mecum demum communicentur, post3 G
VOL. II. NO. 7.