Spicilegium Syriacum (1855) Title page, dedication, note
CONTAINING REMAINS OF
NOW FIRST EDITED, WITH AN ENGLISH TRANSLATION AND NOTES,
REV. WILLIAM CURETON, M.A. F.R.S.
CHAPLAIN IN ORDINARY TO THE QUEEN, RECTOR OF ST. MARGARET'S, AND CANON OF WESTMINSTER.
RIVINGTONS, WATERLOO PLACE.
TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE
TRUSTEE OF THE BRITISH MUSEUM,
&c. &c. &c.
THE publication for the first time of remains of writers who have been among the most celebrated in the earliest ages of the Christian Church cannot fail of securing; for this Volume an interest with the scholar, and a place in the libraries of our colleges and public institutions, in spite of any deficiencies on the part of the Editor.
I feel highly gratified, therefore, that the permission to dedicate it to your Lordship has afforded me such an occasion of recording my admiration and respect for your Lordship's talents and virtues; and my gratitude, in common with that of very many others, for your long continued efforts, through evil report and good report, to promote the civil and religious liberty of all classes of society----the best human means of securing both their temporal and eternal happiness;----as well as of expressing my deep sense and acknowledgment of favours and kindnesses, for which I had no claim of personal connection or private influence with your Lordship to afford me the slightest pretension.
I have the honour to be,
Your Lordship's very faithful Servant,
CLOISTERS, WESTMINSTER ABBEY,
July 20, 1855.
THE prudent advice which Horace has given to authors, "Nonumque prematur in annum," 1 has been literally followed by me with respect to this book, although I cannot take the credit of having adopted it intentionally. It is now nine years since the Text of this volume was printed. Other more pressing occupations have hindered me from publishing it before the present time. In the Preface to "The Antient Syriac Version of the Epistles of St. Ignatius," which appeared in 1845, I made known my intention of editing the celebrated Dialogue of Bardesan on Fate which I had found; and as early as the year 1846 I communicated an English translation of the "Oration of Meliton" to the late venerable Dr. Routh, President of Magdalene College, Oxford. At that time he had just completed the first volume of "Reliquiae Sacrae," in which he had collected all that was then known to remain of the genuine writings of the antient Bishop of Sardis. In the same year, when my "Vindiciae Ignatianae" appeared, I announced that the present volume was in the press, and early in 1847 the whole of the Syriac part was printed.
In 1852 M. Ernest Renan, a young orientalist, from whose zeal and diligence we may hope for much hereafter, in a Letter addressed to M. Reinaud, inserted in the "Journal Asiatique" an account of some Syriac Manuscripts which he had seen in the British Museum the year before, and amongst the rest, a notice of that in which are found the treatises comprised in this volume. Not having seen the announcement of my intended publication, he believed that he had been the first to discover the existence of these precious remains of antiquity. In writing to thank M. Renan for the copy of this Letter, which he had been good enough to send to me, I pointed out to him the fact, that they had been already printed four years before. His reply, which is now in my hands, reflects far greater honour upon M. Renan, than the reputation of any such discovery could have done. He is most anxious to |ii repair an injury, which, although in ignorance and unintentionally, he thought that he had done to me by assuming to himself a discovery which I had already made, and to restore to me the full credit----if indeed there be any in so small a matter----by taking the earliest opportunity of stating in the "Journal Asiatique" how the case really stood. Nor did this satisfy him. In a brief notice prefixed to a Latin Translation of this tract of Meliton, which came into my hands in time for me to refer to it in the notes of this volume, he again alludes to the same matter.2
Besides the Syriac text which I had communicated to M. Renan, for the purpose of being inserted in the "Spicilegium Solesmense," edited by my very learned friend, M. Pitra, I also placed in the hands of the Chevalier Bunsen the English translation in manuscript, as well as the printed text, with full permission to make any use of it that he might deem proper, for the second edition of his work, "Hippolytus and his Age."
In the course of the present year, a writer who seems to have been altogether unaware of these facts has inserted, in the "Journal of Sacred Literature,"3 a translation of the pieces attributed to Meliton, published in this volume. It appears to be the attempt of some young man who at present has but a very imperfect acquaintance with the language, as well as with what has been done in Syriac literature of late, or he could hardly have been ignorant that my volume was in the press. It has been my duty, in the course of the Notes, to point out some of the errors into which he has fallen, although I could not undertake to notice them all.4 Whoever he be, let him not take this amiss. He deserves encouragement for having applied himself at all to such studies; but he will certainly render a greater benefit to literature, and better consult his own reputation, if henceforth he will advisedly follow the caution of the Roman poet whose words I have quoted above.
1. 1 De Arte Poetica, v. 388.
2. 1 Haec ego, mense Septembri 1851, dum Musei Britannici codices assidue verso, non sine gaudio reperi, deque his, in Journal asiatique, april. 1852, breviter egi, simul et operis Melitoniani initium publici juris feci. Mox vero per litteras certior factus sum quae primum nec reperisse credideram, eadem v. cl. GULIELMO CURETONIO bene jam cognita fuisse, imo virum doctissimum et honoratissimum apud se habere eadem fragmenta jam typis excusa, atque in Spicilegio illo syriaco quod oranes Europae viri eruditi tanta expectatione praestolantur, proditura. Curetonii ergo laus sit Melitonem syram primum detexisse. Vide autem quae sit viri illius humanitas : nostris precibus motus, plagulas quibus textus Melitonianus continebatur nobiscum communicavit, easque per nos latinas fieri permisit.
3. 2 In the numbers for January and April 1855.
4. 1 The reader will find these mentioned in the notes. I give one or two here as a specimen of this author's version. He signs himself B.H.C.
|I say that rejection is denounced against those.||I affirm that also the Sibyl has said respecting them.|
|Now the understanding is free and a knower of the truth: whether it is in these things consider with thyself. And if they dress up for thee the figure of a woman.||But thou, a free intelligence and cognizant of the truth, enter into thyself, and if they clothe thee in the fashion of a woman.|
|Against this generation.||Touching this matter.|
|But perhaps thou wilt say, How is my work not the God whom thou worshippest, and not an image ?||But perchance thou mayest say, Why did not God create me, so that I should then have served Him, and not idols?|
|And art thou not ashamed that blood should be required of the maker of it?||And art thou not ashamed, perchance it should be deficient to demand of him who made it?|
|Wherein thou wallowest on the earth, and yet art favoured. For things which are destitute of consciousness are afraid of him who maketh the earth tremble.||Why rollest thou thyself upon the earth, and offerest supplication to things which are without perception ? Fear him who shaketh the earth.|
|Was seized by the shearer.||Was taken from the flock.|
|Thou didst lie down against rectitude of mind.||Thou wast reclining on a soft bed.|
This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, 2003. All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
Greek text is rendered using the Scholars Press SPIonic font, free from here.
|Early Church Fathers - Additional Texts|