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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IX. From Steele and Addison to Pope and Swift.

XIII. Scholars and Antiquaries

§ 11. Editions of Terence and Manilius

Of Bentley’s edition of Terence, published in 1726, the most remarkable feature is his explanation of a problem which previous editors had declared insoluble. Bentley gave a clear statement of the principles which differentiate the metre of Plautus and Terence from that of Horace and Vergil; and, with this instrument, he was able to correct many corruptions in the text of Terence. All later discussion of this subject starts from the point where Bentley left it.

Manilius was the last Latin poet of whom a revised text was published by Bentley. Early in his career, he had prepared an edition of this poet, but “dearness of paper and the want of good types and some other occasions” prevented its appearance till 1739, when Bentley was seventy-seven years old. The astronomical poem of Manilius is difficult and the text very corrupt. To contemporary critics, the changes which Bentley made in the text seemed to pass all permissible limits. But deeply-seated corruptions cannot be cured by trifling alterations; and more than one competent judge has pronounced that Manilius, rather than Horace or Phalaris, is the chief monument of Bentley’s genius.