IN the following pages it has been the wish of the Author to give this most accurate and satisfactory account of all the proper names which occur in reading the Classics, and, by a judicious collection of anecdotes and historical facts, to draw a picture of ancient times, not less instructive than entertaining. Such a work, it is hoped, will not be deemed an useless acquisition in the hands of the public, and while the student is initiated in the knowledge of history and mythology, and familiarized with the ancient situation and extent of kingdoms and cities that no longer exist, the man of letters may, perhaps, find it not a contemptible companion, from which he may receive information, and be made, a second time, acquainted
with many important particulars, which time, or more laborious occupations, may have erased from his memory. In the prosecution of his plan, the author has been obliged to tread in the steps of many learned men, whose studies have been directed, and not without success, to facilitate the attainment of classical knowledge, and the ancient languages. Their compositions have been to him a source of information, and he trusts that their labours have now found new elucidation in his own and that, by a due consideration of every subject, he has been enabled to imitate their excellencies without copying their faults. Many compositions of the same nature have issued from the press, but they are partial and unsatisfactory.
The attempts to be concise, have rendered the labours of one barren and instructive, while long and unconnected quotations of passages, from Creek and Latin writers, disfigure the page of the other, and render the whole insipid and disgusting. It cannot, therefore, be a discouraging employment now, to endeavour to finish what others have left imperfect, and, with the conciseness of Stephens, to add the diffuse researches of Lloyd, Hoffman, Collier, &c. After paying due attention to the ancient poets and historians, from whom the most authentic information can be received, the labours of more modern authors have been consulted, and every composition, distinguished for the clearness and perspicuity of historical narration, or geographical descriptions, has been carefully examined. Truly sensible of what he owes to modern Latin and English writers and commentators, the author must not forget to make a public acknowledgment of the assistance he has likewise received from the labours of the French. In the Select Papers of l 'Abbe Sabatier de Castres, he has found all the information which judicious criticism, and a perfect knowledge of heathen mythology, could procure. The compositions of l 'Abbe Banier, have also been useful, and in the Dictionnaire Htstorlque of a literary society, printed at Caen, a treasure of original anecdotes, and a candid selection and arrangement of historical facts, have been discovered.
It was the original design of the author of this Dictionary, to give a minute explanation of all the names of which Pliny, and other ancient geographers, make mention ; but, upon a second consideration of the subject, lie was convinced, that it would have increased his volume in bulk, and not in value. The learned reader will be sensible of the propriety of this remark, when he recollects, that the names of many places mentioned by Pliny and Pausanias, occur no where else in ancient authors, and that to find the true situation of an insignificant village, mentioned by Strabo, no other writer but Strabo is to be consulted.
This Dictionary being undertaken more particularly for the use of schools, it has been thought proper to mark the quantity of the penultimate of every word, and to assist the student who can receive no fixed and positive rules for pronunciation. In this the authority of Smethius has been followed, as also Leedes 's edition of Labbe 's Catholici Indices.
As every publication should be calculated to facilitate literature, and to be serviceable to the advancement of the sciences, the author of this Dictionary did not presume to intrude himself upon the public, before he was sensible that his humble labours would be of some service to the lovers of the ancient languages. The undertaking was for the use of schools, therefore he thought none so capable of judging of its merit, and of ascertaining its utility, as those who preside over the education of youth. With this view, he took the liberty to communicate his intentions to several gentlemen in that line, not less distinguished for purity of criticism than for their classical abilities, and from them he received all the encouragement which the desire of contributing to the advancement of learning can expect. To them, therefore, for their approbation and friendly communications, he publicly returns his thanks, and hopes, that, now his labours are completed, his Dictionary may claim from them that patronage, and that support, to which, in their opinion, the specimen of the work seemed to be entitled. He has paid due attention to their remarks, he has received with gratitude their judicious observations, and cannot pass over in silence their obliging recommendations, and particularly the friendly advice he has received from the Rev. R. Valpy, master of Reading school.
For the account of the Roman laws, and for the festivals celebrated by the ancient inhabitants of Greece and Italy, he is particularly indebted to the useful collections of Archbishop Potter, of Godwin, and Kennet. In the Tables of ancient coins, weights, and measures, which he has indexed to the body of the Dictionary, he has followed the learned calculations of Dr. Arbuthnott. The quoted authorities have been carefully examined and frequently revised, and, it is hoped, the opinions of mythologists will appear without confusion, and be found divested of all obscurity.
Therefore, with all the confidence which an earnest desire of being useful can command, the author offers the following pages to the public, conscious that they may contain inaccuracies and imperfections. A Dictionary, the candid reader is well aware, cannot be made perfect all at once it must still have its faults and omissions, however cautious and vigilant the author may have been, and in every page there may be found, in the opinion of some, room for improvement, and for addition. Before the candid, therefore, and the impartial, he lays his publication, and for whatever observations the friendly critic may make, he will shew himself grateful, and take advantage of the remarks of every judicious reader, should the favours and the indulgence of the public demand a second edition.
PEMBROKE COLLEGE, OXFORD,
THE very favourable reception which the first edition of the Classical Dictionary has met from the public, fully evinces the utility of the performance. From the consciousness of this, the author has spared no pains to render this second edition more deserving of the same liberal patronage. The hints of friends, and the animadversions of critics, have been carefully adopted, and almost every article has been corrected and improved. New names have not only been introduced, but the date of events has been more exactly ascertained, and, therefore, to such as compare the two editions, the improvements will appear numerous and important in every page.
In answer to those Gentlemen who have objected against the smallness of the print, and have recommended a larger type, the author begs leave to observe, that it has been found impracticable to remove the inconvenience, so much matter could not well have been compressed in one octavo, and it must be remembered, that the book is intended as a volume of occasional reference, and, therefore that it cannot long fatigue the eye.
It will be found not an unnecessary addition, to have an account of the best editions of each classic at the end of the respective character of the authors. Dr. Harwood 's plan has in general been attended to, but the price has not been inserted from its great fluctuation, which often depends more upon the caprice of opinion than upon real value.
The Chronological Table prefixed to the Dictionary will, it is hoped, be acknowledged universally useful. It has been compiled with great accuracy, and chiefly extracted from " The Chronology and History of the World," by Dr. J. Blair, folio edition, 1754; and from Archbishop Usher 's " Annales Veteris et Novi Testament!," printed at Geneva, folio, 1722.
London, July, 1792.
THE EDITOR presumes that this edition will claim the patronag of the learned world, having been revised and corrected with great care. The student will find more information in it than in any former edition ever published: it contains at the least a thousand articles more than any similar work the Editor has ever seen, English or French.
Gordon House, Kentish Town, Middlesex,
1th March, 1826.
Below are links to a PDF and a text version of the Classical Dictionary. The text version was produced by OCR and has some garbled text.