1902 Encyclopedia > Anthology > Latin Anthology

(Part 3)



LATIN ANTHOLOGY is the appellation bestowed upon a collection of fugitive Latin verse, from the age of Ennius to about 1000 A.D., formed by Peter Burmann the Younger. Nothing corresponding to the Greek anthology is known to have existed among the Romans, though professional epigrammatists like Martial published their volumes on the their own account, and detached sayings were excerpted from such sententious authors as Publius Syrus, while the Priapeia, were probably but one among many collections on special subjects. The first general collection of scattered pieces made by a modern scholar was Scalifer's, in 1573, succeeded by the more ample one of Pithoeus, in 1594. Numerous additions, principally from inscriptions, continued to be made, and in 1759 Burnmann digested the whole into his Anthologia veterum Latinorum Epigrammatum et Poematum. This, occasionally reprinted, has been the standard edition until recently; but in 1869 Alexander Riese commenced a new and more critical recension, from which many pieces improperly inserted by Burnmann are rejected, and his classified arrangement is discarded for one according to the sources whence the poems have been derived. The first volume contains those found in MSS., in the order of the importance of these documents; those furnished by inscriptions are to follow. Being formed by scholars actuated by no aesthetic principles of selection, but solely intent on preserving everything they could find, the Latin anthology is much more heterogeneous than the Greek, and unspeakably inferior. The really beautiful poems of Petronius and Apuleius are more properly inserted in the collected editions of their writings, and more that half the remainder consists of the frigid conceits or pedantic professional exercises of grammarians of a very late period of the empire, relieved by an occasional gem, such as the apostrophe of the dying Hadrian to his spirit, or the epithalamium of Gallienus. The collection is also, for the most part, too recent in date, and too exclusively literary in character, to add much to our knowledge of classical antiquity. The epitaphs are interesting, but the genuineness of many of them is very questionable. (R.G.)

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This article was written by Richard Garnett, LL.D., C.B., Assistant in the British Museum, 1851; Superintendant of Reading Room, 1875; Keeper of Printed Books, 1890-1899; edited the British Museum Catalogue from 1881 to 1890; author of Idylls and Epigrams from Greek Anthology; Relics of Shelley; Twilight of the Gods; Life of Milton; Age of Dryden; William Blake; A History of Italian Literature; and Life of Edward Gibbon Wakefield.

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