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A mischievous writer in a recent number of the Revue Critique 
says that the ever-increasing tendency to publish editions with 
translations will bring with it greater confidence in the editors 
whose commentaries often lead one to suspect that they do not 
understand their texts. In Diels's Herakleiios von Ephesos 
(Griechisch und DeulscK), (Berlin, Weidmann) the German version 
was not needed to show the editor's thorough adequacy, and the 
German press has congratulated the translator on the artistic skill 
with which he has caught the oracular tone of Nietzsche's 'Also 
Sprach Zarathustra '. But what interests me personally even 
more than the admirable rendering is the preface in which Diels 
gives expression to a view which I have long entertained but 
have never had the courage to advocate. ' The philosophy of 
Herakleitos the Obscure is by no means so obscure ',says Diels, 
'as is the unanimous plaint of ancient and modern times', and, 
himself an editor of Parmenides, he adds that Herakleitos is 
obscure in the form only, Parmenides is opaque in content also. 
As to the sense, as to the reach of his ideas, Herakleitos is 
perfectly clear, whereas Parmenides never succeeded in work- 
ing himself out into perfect clearness even to his own mind. 
Herakleitos surrounds his ripe fruit with a protective envelope, 
so that it m ay not fall into the hands of unworthy nibblers. The 
wisdom of the Eleatic abides still in the bud and awaits the 
bright sunshine for its full unfolding. The system of Parmenides 
has evoked a development ; Herakleitos, whose system was com- 
plete, has found imitators of every degree of slavishness but no 
real successor. 

The far-famed Herakleitean obscurity, continues Diels, lies 
only in the style, and the question whether this obscurity is 
designed or no is not so easy to answer. He himself refers to 
the prophecy of Apollo and the voices of the Sibyl as the 
patterns of his oracular style. This looks like design. But how 
little does an artist know of his own style and his own design. 
There is no domain in which the freedom of the will is more over- 
rated than in the domain of art, especially in the art of the writer. 
Herakleitos fancies that his style is his own, and he is undoubtedly 
the most subjective, and, in a certain sense, the most modern 
prose writer of antiquity; and yet this highly personal style 
bears the stamp of a period that was ringing with the prophetic 
cry, Overturn, Overturn, Overturn, of a period to be compared with 


that of the Reformation, of the French Revolution. Orphicism 
was rampant in Attica, Ionia was under the sway of Rationalism, 
the brother of Mysticism ; and scientific investigation and rapt 
vision were often united in the same person, as in Anaximenes, 
Pythagoras and even Xenophanes. Pindar, Aischylos, Herakleitos, 
all show the same impress and all speak the same hieratic language. 
And yet this hieratic stiffness of Herakleitos is relieved by a 
strong immixture of subjectivity. The prophet is, as one might 
say, at the same time a professor ; and there never was a livelier' 
wielder of the tawse than was the atrabilarious Basil eus of Ephesos. 

But I will yield no longer to the temptation of summarizing 
the essay, which is already as compact as it well can be ; and as 
Diels has abandoned the obscurity of Herakleitos' style to the 
uncovenanted mercies of the critics, I will only say that whenever 
the course of my studies brings me back to Herakleitos, I have 
always treated him exactly as I should do Pindar and Aischylos. 
He is as inevitable as they and not harder nor more obscure. 
' Obscure ' is really not the word for him. The Latin ' tenebri- 
cosus' is much better. The 'malae tenebrae Orci' are full of 
visions, and everyone who has had to do with poets, whose dark- 
ness is not a manufactured darkness, — not the darkness with which 
the squid envelops itself, but the midnight of the pole, — every such 
student knows how the eye becomes familiar with Erebos and 
how figure after figure comes out to reward the intense gaze, 
vvKTiXttfiTreX Kvavem re 8v6(f>q radeU. And after this commonplace 
world what a season of refreshing is the intercourse with this 
dervish in his midden, not on it merely. True, as one looks over 
the list of 137 fragments and thinks what marvels have been 
evoked from these oracles, all of which go into some fifteen 
loosely printed pages, a mere student of philosophy as literature 
is ashamed to let his idle fancies twist themselves round these 
broken pillars of the bridge which Herakleitos threw over the 
universe and clamber over the parapets of the yifyvpai nokepoio 
from which he looked down on the Eternal Flux. And yet 
Herakleitos is poetry and must be poetically interpreted. What 
if he did say that the sun has the breadth of a human foot? 
(fr. 3 Diels). The magnitude of the sun was a problem in those 
days, and the Peloponnesos, which was an exaggerated standard 
to most of them, seems but scant measure to us. May we not have 
here merely a scornful reference to the Skiapods, figures of fairy 
tale, mentioned by Aristophanes in his M'archenkomodie? To 
be sure, the ordinary human foot suffices to shut out the sun 
as does the dollar in modern times ; and as the philosopher lay 
in his dungbath he may easily have tried the experiment, tov 

Xo'yov 8e iavTOS £i/i>ov (movtriv ot jtoXXoi a>r Itlav e^ower <f>povri(rii> (fr. 92 

Byw.). What is that but a protest against the individualism that 
expresses itself in Pindar's ?Sios iv kow& oraXeis (0. 13, 49) ? Every 


commentator has noticed the coincidence between ndv ipirtr&v 
< 6tov > 7rXijyj vepeTai (fr. 55 Byw.), a thought which survives in 
our ' instinct ', and the Aios nXayav tx°v<nv eiW»> of the Agamemnon; 
and I never read the oracle in which Herakleitos says that the 
prayers of the masses to the statues of the gods are like talking 
to a dead wall without thinking of oppdrav 8' iv dxt)vlais | eppei irao-' 
'A(f>po&ira. ' Without vision the people perish '. apas at ndura 
<pcpov<ri (fr. 34 By W.) is Sappho's fevrrepe ndvra (pepeis ; and finally 
rd 8* ndvTa oi'acifa nepawos (fr. 28 Byw.) recalls Shelley's ' Cloud ' 
with its ' Lightning my pilot sits '. In fact, Shelley's ' pilot' may 
be due to Herakleitos's steersman, for it is hard to exaggerate 
Shelley's love of Greek or debt to Greek. See A. J. P. XII 
94, and Churton Collins's review of Rossetti's edition of Shelley's 
Adonais in his Ephemera Critica. 

However, I will reserve for one of those later days that may 
never come, my essay on the Poetry of Herakleitos; and I will 
only say that he that hath an ear can hear in these oracles 
everywhere the stately march of the dactylo-epitrite if one dare 
speak of dactylo-epitrites in the existing chaos of metre. But 
before leaving the fascinating subject of Herakleitos, I can not 
forbear to add an odd illustration of the danger of hasty criticism, 
the danger that the emitter of Brief Mentions himself runs every 
quarter. Some dozen years ago or more there appeared an 
American rendering of Herakleitos with an elaborate introduction. 
The book was promptly reviewed by an eminent Scottish Hellenist, 
who proceeded to point out sundry mistakes, which he considered 
elementary. Some of them were elementary, some incompre- 
hensible; and as the translator was not a professed Grecian, he 
had to take his gruel, if I may use a bit of brutal British slang. 
But the gruel was Scottish gruel and in comparing the passages 
criticised with the new version, it seems to me that I can discern 
the influence of locality on the critic. So, for instance, my 
compatriot rendered the famous fragment (46 Byw.): to avri^ow 
o-vpfa'pov 'The unlike is joined together' the general sense of which 
is not so very far from Diels's version: 'Das auseinander 
Strebende vereinigt sich ', whereas the critic's translation ' Counter- 
irritation is helpful' is singularly out of keeping with the context 
and suggests nothing so much as the milieu of the Scotch fiddle 
and the scratching post. 

It is not a little remarkable that, despite the activity developed 
by American classical scholars during the last quarter of a century, 
American contributions to conjectural criticism have been so few. 
This appeal from MSS that we have to a MS that has been lost 
does not seem to exercise the same fascination on the American 
as on the European mind. Of course, our German friends, our 


German masters, would have a ready explanation. The American 
is a practical creature and as he knows that the margin of success 
is very small, that the public on which he wishes to unload his 
conjectural stock is very cool, and that editors very often fail to 
list the offerings that are made, it is not surprising that your 
practical American — we are all practical Americans — turns his 
attention to other fields of speculation. But this is only one 
aspect of the case. It can hardly be the sole explanation; and 
there are those who regard the scantiness of our conjectural work 
as a sign of philological nonage. For conjectural criticism 
demands the highest faculties. One must not only be master 
of all the possibilities and all the probabilities, every shade of 
vocabulary, every propriety of syntax, the period of the language, 
the sphere of the author, his thought, his habits. There must be 
added to all this the gift of insight that no apparatus however 
elaborate can replace. Otherwise conjectures are random guesses, 
which are so many impertinences to the busy mortals who are 
trying to understand their texts. Of course, a fair knowledge 
of the language and a certain palaeographic vision will suffice for 
a modest line of emendation; and every hour of the twenty-four 
some obscure proof-reader in some back room of a newspaper 
office is making corrections which would be classed among the 
palmares emendationes, if they were published in the critical 
apparatus of a Greek or Latin text. Not to be too personal, 
the peculiar character of my own handwriting forces on me 
problems of this sort every few days especially ' on a forgotten 
matter.' So in A. J. P. XXIII 20, 1. 17 fr. top, the printed page 
shows 'in case of verbs.' On reading the passage over carefully, 
after it was too late, I emended ' verbs' into 'doubt' and my con- 
jecture was confirmed by a careful examination of the ductus 
lilterarum of the original. The only inference to be drawn from 
this is that we have not the same native familiarity with Latin and 
Greek that we have with English. Or else so much ado would 
not be made about very simple matters. On Persius 3, 29 
Heinrich suggested in 1844 for ve tuum the reading vetulum. It 
seems too easy to be true. Nor is the sense perfectly satisfactory : 
'old cock of a censor.' Still it is a way out of a grammatical 
difficultv. In the Classical Review for March 1888, p. 85, Mr. 
Stanwell makes the same suggestion, on which I did not fail to 
comment, A. J. P. IX 126. And yet in the Classical Review for 
June of this year (p. 283) the editor, who is also the editor of a 
Corpus Poetarum Latinorum and an eminent scholar, divides the 
prize for 'the correction' between Messrs. A. C. Clark, A. B. Cook 
and A. B. Keith, carefully arranged in alphabetical order. And 
now comes in the July number Mr. J. U. Powell and claims the 
correction as original with Mr. Stanwell. 

Now it is to me a thing incomprehensible that scholars should 
be so enthusiastic about the credit of such minuscule affairs, 


still more incomprehensible that they should rush into print 
without a decent examination of the critical apparatus. But the 
higher work of the conjectural critic is another matter and I only 
regret that much of it is not done in this country. Unfortunately 
when articles in this line are offered to me, I am often forced by 
pressure of matter to postpone publication with the almost in- 
variable result that after a few weeks the enthusiastic author is as 
eager to withdraw his conjecture as he was to advance it. But 
one elaborate reconstruction of a famous passage has been in my 
editorial drawer for a considerable time, and while I cannot 
reproduce the whole, I must no longer withhold the 'evident 
correction.' The thing is done secundum artem. The text, as it 
stands, is torn to pieces and there is a long and learned disquisition 
on the mosquito in antiquity and the cryptic use of the culex 
anopheles in Greek poetry, all which I must suppress. The 
passage is found in Aischylos, Ag. 965 and runs in Wecklein's 
ed. thus: 

nVre fioi rob i fiiredtas 

BeTfia 7T pO<TT<lTT}plOV 

Kapdias repatrKoirov Trorarat, 
fiavrnroKtl b aKeXfvaros apioSos doidd \ 

The chorus is commenting on the language of Klytaimestra, in 
the half-echoing way that choruses have. Klytaimestra had 
said v. 882: 

iv 8 ovmpaaiv 
Aejrraiy vitai Ktavairos c£r)ycip6fir)P 
pmaitri 6ai<T(TOVTos. 

and with these words in mind the chorus utters the distressful 

Tiirrf p.01 rofi c'fiirldav 

bijyp.a 7T pOtTtTTlKTIJplOV 

Kapblas repacKonov Trorarat* 

The changes are very simple, the sense penetratingly appropriate. 
There is no contradiction such as we have between ifmibas, irpo- 
ararripiov and iroraTai; the fact that npoao-riKTrjpiov is not in the 
lexica ought to count in its favor and no one who has heard the 
buzz of the New Jersey culex can fail to appreciate the propriety 

of (tavTiiroKei (PVKTiirokft?) 8' aKeKevaros a/xwdos doiSd in this new 


The first part of Carl Wunderer's Polybios-Forschungen 
(Leipzig, Dietrichsche Buchhandlung') had to do with Proverbs 
and Proverbial Turns in Poly bios. It is an interesting contribution 
to the study of the great historian, great despite his limitations; 
and the second part, Citata und geflilgelte Worte bet Polybios, is not 
less interesting and is even more important, more important for the 

1 Anticipated by Stephanus. — B. L. G. 


appreciation of Polybios and more important for our own comfort. 
With all the wealth of Greek literature at his command, Polybios 
was less penetrated by its spirit than we poor moderns. Hesiod, 
Epicharmos, Simonides, Pindar were known to him, according 
to WuNDERER, only by their «rea itT€p6(vra. Alkaios, Sappho, 
Anakreon, he either did not know or ignored; and Wunderer 
thinks that Polybios showed all that he knew. Of the dramatists 
the old masters Aischylos and Sophokles exercised no influence 
on his aesthetic views of the character of the tragedy. The 
thoughts of Euripides, who dominated the Hellenistic age, are 
readily recognized in the historian but the wise sayings of the 
tragic poet were the common property of the Greek people, and 
quotations and allusions no more prove the study of the drama 
as drama, than the use of Biblical texts proves actual familiarity 
with the passages in situ. Homer is still the poet k<xt i^oxqv and 
Polybios finds it necessary to bring up the Homeric Question. 
But the quotations are all trite, and while the Stoic ideal of Odysseus 
may have comforted, encouraged and instructed the historian in 
practical life and while he may have found guidance in the oracle 
of Homeric wisdom, Polybios had only the current knowledge 
of the Homeric poems and they exercised no deeper influence on 
the aesthetic and moral training of the historian. 

This unliterary or non-literary character of Polybios' history 
is to be explained, says Wunderer, by the personality of the 
writer and the trend of his time. Here and there a vivid de- 
scription is to be found in Polybios but his light is for the most 
part a siccum lumen. He despised the rhetoricians; and the 
rhetoricians of a later day — witness Dionysios — returned the 
compliment in the name of the guild. In fact, he learned to value 
the treasures of his own literature only when he saw how the 
Romans valued them. His training had been a practical one and 
his affinities were with the Stoics, who prized poetry for its ethical 
contents solely. The religious basis of morality was gone and the 
poet had taken the place of the prophet and the priest. But this 
' verh'angnisvolle Wirkung' of the Stoics, of which Wunderer 
speaks, is quite in line with the original Greek conception of the 
office of poetry. The didactic function of the poet, it is not too 
much to say, was always present to the Greek mind. We repeat 
after Horace 'miscuit utile dulci' but we must remember that in 
the beginning the Greek poured wine into the water and not the 
other way. But the subject is a large one and cannot be developed 
here. Suffice it to say that Wunderer's new study helps to 
reconcile the Greek scholar to the oncoming of Rome. It was 
time for the Roman to take up the lamp that the Greek splinter 
(Ar., V. 249) had failed to quicken into light and life. One of 
the greatest debts we owe the Roman is the victory of the earlier 
and healthier Greek literature over the later growth. (A. J. P. 
XIX 115O