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The Greek Grammar of Roger Bacon, and a Fragment of Ms Hebrew 
Grammar. Edited from the MSS. with introduction and notes by the 
Rev. Edmond Nolan, B.A., and Dr. S. A. Hiesch. pp. lxxv, 212 
(Cambridge, University Press, 1902). 

The importance of Roger Bacon in the history of learning, and 
especially of Jewish learning, has already been clearly pointed out 
by Dr. Hirsch in this Review (October, 1899). The publication of the 
present handsome volume is the fulfilment of the promise then made, 
and will everywhere be gladly received as a welcome and precious 
contribution to knowledge. 

Bacon was a vox clamantis in eremo, a marvellously broad and 
luminous intellect moving in the dark and cramped world of scholas- 
ticism. As Dr. Hirsch has shown, he possessed the true philological 
instinct ; and he had few or none to follow in his footsteps. To his 
singularly interesting personality full justice is done by the editors 
of this book, of which the introduction is a model of clear and scholarly 

The Greek Grammar consists of two works hitherto unedited — the 
Oxford Grammar (Corpus Christi Coll., MS. 148) and a Cambridge 
fragment (University Library, Ff. 6. 13). Of the former Bacon's 
authorship has never been contested, though the work itself bears 
no name; and the latter, which is equally anonymous, Mr. Nolan 
proves to be a draft of the first part of the same or of a similar work. 

The Oxford Grammar consists of three parts. Part i, in 2 Distinctiones, 
contains the alphabet and the most elementary rules for reading, 
writing, and construing Greek, with exercises. The 8 Distinctiones of 
Part ii are occupied with a more detailed exposition of phonology 
and prosody. Part iii, originally in 6 Distinctiones, now lacks Distinct. 
1, 2, and the first four chapters of 3; the remainder contains an 
Accidence, breaking off before the athematic conjugations are reached. 
This gives us the greater part of an elementary grammar; the 


advanced treatise to which Bacon refers (iii. 6 § 3) was perhaps 
"never written by him ; it certainly has never been found. 

Dr. Hirsch on the whole inclines to believe that the main source of 
this grammar comes through Priscian from Theodosius, though he 
does not fail to point out that Bacon also used other sources, includ- 
ing Erotemata ultimately derived from the school of Dionysius Thrax. 
Strong arguments have been adduced by Heiberg (Byzantinische 
Zeitschrift, vol. 9, pp. 472 ff.) for deriving Bacon's grammar from some 
Byzantine manual. Against these Dr. Hirsch argues with much 
ability, and, we believe, with success (pp. lix-lxiii). 

Bacon's knowledge of Greek was as much as any man could attain 
in the thirteenth century. It was necessarily the learning of the gram- 
marian, not of the Hellenist, and imperfect at that 1 . It could not 
be otherwise in an age when manuscripts of classical authors were 
almost unknown to western Europe. But withal it bears the dis- 
tinctive mark of the Vrkraft of his intellect. He bitterly comments 
on the miserable blunders of the medieval Latini. He rejects the 
modern Greeks' elaborately artificial system of nominal accidence; 
debemus enim reducere ad principalia, ut artifieiales regule stent penes 
principalia, magis quam penes accidentalia (p. 147). He even criticises 
the great Priscian, in a passage showing a philological insight that 
in a more literary age might have made him not unworthy to rank 
with Bentley (pp. 131 f. ; cf. xxiii f.). 

The editors have made it their first object to give an exact 
transcription of the MSS., and hence all the scribes' blunders appear 
in the text with footnotes in most cases to correct them when there 
is any danger of the reader being misled. A captious critic might 
urge the desirability of correcting the scribes' errors in the text 
and registering them in the footnotes. But on the whole we think 
the editors have done wisely ; our only regret is that these corrective 
notes are not quite numerous enough, and that Mr. Nolan has left 
a few textual sores unhealed 2 . These, however, are mere trifles 
compared with the merits of a work which claims the gratitude of 
every Hellenist. 

1 Thus p. 63 cynos est canis ; p. 69 archos nihil est quia archon est princeps ; 
p. 115 corripitur heremus (scil. ipij/ios), usu licet producatur; and he declines 
jScDf /SowtTos, irtp8t£ irfpSixros ! 

2 Thus p. 145 is alx cUgos Bacon's own mistake for the grammarians' 
paradigm &k£ ahici, or a scribe's blunder for off 0170? ? On the same page 
it may be noted that the paradigm niicKoity fivuXamos given in the text, for 
which Mr. Nolan suggests pukKanf*, should probably be corrected to KvitXaiip, 
which is also a paradigm in the early grammars ; as every palaeographer 
knows, k and p. are always liable to be confused with each other. 

VOL. XV. A a 


The fragmentary Hebrew Grammar (Cambridge University Library, 
Ff. 6. 13) is sadly exiguous. But in its small compass it has much of 
interest, and is edited by Dr. Hirsch with his customary acumen and 
scholarship. It begins with an alphabet in which six letters are 
reckoned as vowels, viz. N ft 1 n ' JJ, an error shared by no other 
medieval Christian Hebraist, as the editor points out. The letters 
3 D J S ¥ are distinguished in their medial and final forms as primum 
and secundum ; and this difference is confused with that produced by 
dagesh. Only one value of n is given ; 3 and D are said to have 
double values in modern pronunciation, but their primitive sounds are 
declared to be only ch and ph. 

As might be expected, the Hebrew is laid on the Procrustean bed of 
medieval grammar. It is interesting to find the half-truth enunciated 
that quandocunque . . . invenitur etha (i.e. ~U IK) semper sequitur 
accmativus casus. A curious point is well brought out in a note by 
Dr. Hirsch. The theory of the six vowels suggested the propriety of 
inserting one of these to mark the distinct utterance of a vowel ; hence 
Bacon gives us the strange form =!"•!? 1 . 

The well-known cypher of 'KODN, described in the Opus Minus, is 
also expounded here. The next paragraph is of interest for the history 
of Hebrew sounds. It mentions the custom of writing a line over 
a letter to mark the absence of dagesh, and ascribes a spirant sound 
to 1 when so written : sonat quasi zz, ut adamas. Nam d sic sonamus 
sicut zz, non in forti sono, vero in proprio. Caph tamen secundum 
(i. e. "J) sonat fortiter (as a guttural stopped consonant ?) si linea sit 
supra, et debiliter (as spirant?) si habeat punctum intra. Sin vero 
punctatur aliquando in dextera parte supra vel intra, sic $, tunc sonat 
fortiter. Set quando punctatur a sinistra parte supra vel intra, tunc sonat 
debiliter 6?. Then follows an exposition of the particles and accents 
with special reference to the Greek. 

In fine, we may say that this Editio Prima is in every respect a 
worthy monument to Roger Bacon. 

L. D. Barnett. 

1 Seemingly the « was suggested by other forms of the same paradigm. 
Bacon has just before given '», and immediately afterwards gives 131 ; he 
evidently thought a ' vowel ' necessary after the root in all such forms.