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HIS Volume is designed to be a com
panion to a similar selection from the RSS Latin Poets. In attempting a representative Greek Anthology, greater difficulty has naturally been experienced in proportion to the longer period which the subject embraces, the richer and more varied stores which it presents, and the far greater vitality and superior originality which characterize the Poetry of Greece. In that of Rome, no really great names before the Augustan age can be mentioned but Lu. cretius and Catullus; while of the writers of the Silver Age, all, except Juvenal, are more or less imitative. The case was very different with the many-sided genius of Hellas. When her Epic, Lyric, and Dramatic poetry had passed away, the hand of Theocritus awoke from her lyre a music which had not yet been heard, and even among the later epigrammatists there is a sweetness of expression, combined with a depth of feeling, not unworthy of earlier days.
In selecting from so wide a field, it is obvious that much must be omitted from a volume intended as a handbook for frequent and familiar reference. Such a manual may, it is hoped, be of use to students in the Highest Forms of Schools, and at the Universities, as a treasury of lofty thought and choice expression, while possessing at the same time sufficient variety to stimulate the exercise of individual taste and judgment. Even to the ma. ture scholar, the Collection may perhaps not be wholly unacceptable, as presenting a view of the progressive development of one branch of Greek Literature.
In the arrangement of the subject, the three broad divisions of the Pre-Athenian, Athenian, and Post-Alexandrian epochs have been borne in mind; each of these however embraces distinct styles, according to which the passages are grouped, generally in chronological order. On the relative amount of space assigned to each poet, there may be a difference of opinion. An undue proportion may by some be thought to have been devoted to “ the Ionian father of the rest.” But, whether the ballad-theory of their origin be maintained or not, the Iliad and Odyssey, from the greater unity of their separate parts, appear to be specially adapted to collections of the present kind. In the extracts from the Dramatists, no more has been attempted than to bring together some of the numerous gems, rhetorical, lyrical, and descriptive, with which they abound. Many plays, where the plot and structure may be open to censure, yet contain very beautiful passages. An obvious example of this is afforded by Euripides.
Some omissions it may be as well here to notice. It did not seem necessary to include the homely Didactic of Hesiod, or the Theogony, as being of more interest in connection with the religion than with the poetry of the Greeks. For the same reason no specimens of the Orphic Hymns are given. Lycophron, from his general obscurity, was unsuited for the object of the present volume. The later Byzantine period has been very lightly handled ;-and few will probably regret that no
of the school of Nonnus, to galvanise into an unnatural existence the Myth and the Epos, from which the living spirit had long since departed.
The few notes which have been added are chiefly illustrative, rather than explanatory. - In the case of a writer so difficult as Theocritus, the size of the volume permitted little more than a general reference to Mr. Paley's edition of the Idylls. annotations have been added, as the voluminous work of Meineke may be less generally accessible. At the end of the book is given the text of each author which has been followed, with rare exceptions mentioned in the notes. Very corrupt or obscure passages have, as a general rule, been avoided.