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THE need of a college textbook containing a judicious selection from the whole field of Roman elegy with suitable introductory matter and English comments has long been evidenced by the announcements of various publishers that such books were in preparation. The present edition was undertaken many years ago by my father, the plan as then conceived being somewhat less comprehensive than that which has now been worked out. At the time of his death he had already written some notes on Propertius for the contemplated book, the last words appearing in his manuscript, penned amid increasing feebleness, being, by a touching coincidence, one of his happy English versions, reading, 'Ah me! that the strain should be so feeble in my mouth ! ' (4, 1, 58). Such of those first-draft notes as were available have been included in this edition under the signature "(C. S.)."
The magnitude of the task has grown with the years, as the vast amount of material published in connection with the four authors from which these selections are taken has increased. Moreover, the classes in which a book of this kind will be used require in many cases a relatively advanced grade of comment; yet the linguistic basis for higher scholarship is too often in America sadly wanting, and, incongruous as it may appear, the somewhat elementary note seems to be required, side by side with one that stimulates to original research. It is with a full appreciation of the impossibility of meeting equally well all the possible varieties of demands made by the different users of the book that the editor ventures at length to give it to the public.
The arrangement of both the commentary and a carefully selected conspectus of variant textual readings on the same page with the text will, in practice, commend itself as the most practical one for the kind of classes for which the book is intended. Special effort has been made by running analysis to make the outline of the elegy clear to the student.
The text of the elegiac poets has been severely handled by editors, new and old, suffering with the ancient Athenian lust for some new thing." To reconstruct a text to-day which should take seriously all the transpositions, divisions, combinations, and smart conjectures of the German, English, and American "Athenians" of this, and the preceding, generation, would be a task from which even a modern Hercules might well shrink. Propertius, in particular, is a battle ground for the critics, and it is too much to hope that any text accepted and any views adopted about Propertius will receive unanimous approval. In advance of the complete publication of the Codex Romanus of Catullus, Professor Hale has kindly given me several important readings from his collation, and desires me in publishing them to call attention to their importance in establishing the character of R, and the age in general of such variants in G and R as were written by the first corrector of each. It has also been my privilege to make a personal examination of R and of several other important Mss. of the various authors represented in this volume. The text as now presented will show that, while conservative, it has been given the benefit of the results of recent critical research.
By confining the selections strictly to poems written in the elegiac measure, by the choice of elegies, and by many crossreferences to the four authors included, I have hoped to assist the student to obtain a general acquaintance with the development of this type of poetry at Rome. In citations from elegies printed in some part of this book, it has been thought best to refer to the passage without quoting in full.
I desire to make grateful acknowledgments to the various friends that have so kindly assisted my labors, especially to my colleague, Professor Joseph W. Hewitt, for his invaluable aid and suggestions in reading a large part of the manuscript before publication.
KARL POMEROY HARRINGTON.