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This book owes its existence to a popular demand. Soon after the publication of the Preparatory Latin Prose Book, the editor of that work began to be solicited by teachers in various parts of the country to prepare a book of Latin Poetry on the same plan. It was not, however, until these solicitations had become general and urgent, that the idea of undertaking the preparation of such a work was seriously entertained.
In the arrangement of the text, the editors have followed what they conceive to be the order of difficulty, so far as it relates to the authors themselves, and therefore the order in which they should be severally studied ; but in respect to the portions selected from each author, the arrangement found in most school editions has been followed. The advantages, in a classical and educational point of view, of reading an author comparatively easy, like Ovid, before taking poetry so difficult as that of Virgil and Horace, will not be overlooked by those who are desirous of finding and pursuing the best methods.
In the selection of materials, the aim has been to combine variety, interest, and utility. Accordingly, something —and that the portion deemed most interesting and profitable — has been drawn from every field in which our authors had distinguished themselves. In all cases, however, except the Metamorphoses of Ovid, entire poems or books have been taken. This course was preferred, not only as giving a completer view of the poem considered as a work of art, and as contributing to the interest of the student, but for the greater convenience of those who may wish to finish reading the author. The selections from Ovid are nearly, though not exactly, the same as in other school editions published in this country; all of which are based on the edition of the Rev. C. Bradley, published long ago in England. From Virgil, the ist, 3d, 4th, 5th, 7th, and 9th Eclogues, the ist and 2d books of the Georgics, and the first six books of the Aeneid have been taken. The quantity embraced in these selections is fully equal to that required for admission to most of the colleges of the country; and students intending to enter colleges requiring more can easily find an equivalent in other parts of the book.
In the Ovid text we have followed Loers, with an occasional reading from other editors. The Virgil text is that of Conington (London, 1863). The text of no ancient profane writer has had more of critical labor and talent expended upon it than that of Virgil ; and we hazard nothing in saying that in our judgment Conington's text is by far the most perfect that has yet appeared. In the selections from Horace we have followed the reading and the pointing of Macleane's larger edition (London, 1853), except in a very few passages.
The Lives of Ovid and Virgil have been compiled from the best authorities, partially indicated by foot-notes. The Life of Horace is mainly abridged from Theo. Martin's, in the Encyclopædia Britannica (8th edition), reprinted with little change in his “Odes of Horace."
For the general character of the Notes, the reader is referred to the principles laid down in the Preface to the Preparatory Latin Prose Book, so far at least as those principles are applicable to a book of poetry. Those on Ovid are mostly original, Burmann, Loers, and Haupt being the authorities chiefly consulted. They are purposely elementary, largely grammatical, and contain few references to disputed questions, which young pupils would not understand. They are intended, in short, for elementary drill.
The Notes on Virgil, as also the Introductions to the several poems and books, have been drawn for the most part from Conington, whose sound judgment and critical acumen justly entitle his authority to special consideration ; but Henry, Gossrau, Wagner, Forbiger, Heyne, Bryce, and Keightley have been constantly consulted. The Arguments prefixed to the several books of the Georgics and Aeneid have been taken chiefly from Bryce's “Notes on Virgil." The Virgil notes are less elementary than those on Ovid, though continuing the same sort of drill by more frequent grammatical references than are to be found in any school edition of Virgil yet published. Disputed points, critical questions, and various authorities on doubtful passages have been somewhat frequently introduced, giving the pupil an occasional glimpse of the broad field of classical learning and research which is opening before him.
In the Notes on Horace, the reading of the Ovid and Virgil, or at least considerable portions of them, has been presupposed. Less of mere grammatical drill would in that case be needed, except on the more unusual constructions, and those peculiar to Horace, especially his numerous Grecisms. The notes, therefore, are of a more miscellaneous character, relating rather to the collateral and incidental suggestions of the text. In short, the aim has been to awaken an interest in the whole range of classical Roman literature, and history, and life; though the limits of the book allowed little more than the giving of suggestions for the student to follow out himself, — mere guide-posts to the many roads diverging from the main track.
The authorities on Horace have been Macleane (from whom many of the introductions to the Odes and many of the notes have been taken with little alteration except compression), Orelli, Dillenburger (ed. 1860), and Ritter, with occasional use of the older German and English editions. Of American editions none have been used except the excellent one of Professor J. L. Lincoln, to which reference has been made in all cases where matter has been drawn directly from it. His Life of Horace and his Prolegomena are worthy of special commendation; and students wishing to read more of Horace can hardly find a better edition in compact form than that of Professor Lincoln.
In all cases, matter drawn from whatever source has been carefully studied, condensed, and recast, when necessary, to adapt it to our purposes. This has often exacted more labor than wholly original matter would have done.
Both editors are responsible for all parts of the work, all the matter having passed through the hands of both, and the work of each having been revised, corrected, and modified by the other. The publication of the book has been delayed in part by this determination of the editors to go individually over all that they had written, and, as far as possible, to give unity and symmetry to the whole.
With this brief general statement of the origin, plan, character, and sources of our work, we send it forth in the hope that it may meet the expectations of those who have desired its publication, and may aid in awakening and promoting a livelier interest in classical studies.
J. H. HANSON, November 1, 1865.
W. J. ROLFE.
Teachers and friends who may discover typographical or other errors, will confer a favor by calling our attention to them.