Home  »  Volume XII: English THE ROMANTIC REVIVAL The Nineteenth Century, I  »  § 3. Classical Archæologists

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XII. The Romantic Revival.

XV. Scholars, Antiquaries and Bibliographers

§ 3. Classical Archæologists

An interest in classical archaeology was fostered by the foundation of the society of Dilettanti at the close of 1733. The society produced a splendid series of archaeological publications, including Richard Chandler’s Antiquities of Ionia (1769 and 1797). Learned travel was also represented by Edward Dodwell’s Classical and Topographical Tour through Greece (1819), and by his work on Cyclopian remains in Italy and Greece (1834); also by Sir William Gell’s works on Troy and Ithaca, his itineraries of Greece and the Morea, and his Pompeiana (1817–32).

One of the foremost of the Greek topographers of the nineteenth century was William Martin Leake, who, on retiring from active military service in 1815, devoted all his energies to the cause of classical learning. In his Researches in Greece (1814) he gives an elementary grammar of modern Greek, with a list of neo-Hellenic authors. This was followed by an important work entitled The Topography of Athens, and by Travels in Asia Minor, in the Morea, and in Northern Greece. In his Numismata Hellenica he described his great collection of Greek coins, which was afterwards acquired by the university of Cambridge.

The geographical and historical elucidation of Thucydides was largely promoted by Thomas Arnold’s edition of 1830–5, whose History of Rome is noticed in another chapter, where reference is also made to the chronological researches of Henry Fynes Clinton, of Christ Church, Oxford, the learned author of Fasti Hellenici and Fasti Romani. His younger contemporary William Mure travelled in Greece in 1838, and, in his Critical History of the Literature of Ancient Greece, showed a special interest in Xenophon. An Enquiry into the Credibility of Early Roman History was published in 1855 by Sir George Cornewall Lewis, who also translated Boeckh’s Public Economy of Athens, edited Babrius and wrote on The Astronomy of the Ancients.

Lycia was traversed in 1838 and 1840 by Charles Fellows, the discoverer of the Xanthian marbles, and, in 1842, by Thomas Abel Brimage Spratt and Edward Forbes. Nineveh was excavated in 1845 by (Sir) Austen Henry Layard. Crete was explored in 1851–3 by Spratt, and, more than half a century later, by (Sir) Arthur Evans, whose investigations, in and after 1893, resulted in the discovery of the pre-Phoenician script, and, finally (in 1900–8), in the excavation of the prehistoric palace of Cnossos. The necropolis of Cameiros in Rhodes was excavated by Salzmann and Biliotti in 1858 and 1865; Cyrene was explored in 1860–1 by (Sir) Robert Murdoch Smith and E. A. Porcher; the antiquities of Egypt were investigated by the aid of the Egypt Exploration Fund, and also by that of the Research Account founded by William Matthew Flinders Petrie in 1894, and enlarged as the British School of Archaeology in Egypt in 1905.

Charles Thomas Newton, of Shrewsbury and of Christ Church, began in 1840 the long series of services to the British Museum which ended in 1885, when he completed the twenty-four years of his tenure of the office of keeper of Greek and Roman antiquities. That appointment marked the dawn of a true interest in classical archaeology in England. Newton’s name had already been associated with the recovery of the remains of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus in 1856. In 1880 he published a collected edition of his Essays in Art and Archaeology, including an excellent paper on Greek inscriptions. He was among the first to welcome the opening of the museums of classical archaeology at Cambridge and Oxford. At the inaugural ceremony at Cambridge in 1884 the cast of the figure of Proserpine, which he had himself discovered at Cnidos, prompted him to describe the occasion as “the of archaeology, so long buried in England.”

In the study of Greek architecture an eminent position was attained by Newton’s contemporary, Francis Cranmer Penrose, who, as “travelling bachelor of the university of Cambridge,” studied architecture in Rome and in Athens, where he was led by the theories of Pennethorne to determine the hyperbolic curve of the entasis of the columns of the Parthenon. The results were published in his Principles of Athenian Architecture in 1851. The study of classical archaeology has been fostered in England by the foundation of the societies for the Promotion of Hellenic and Roman Studies in 1879 and 1911, and by the institution of the British Schools of Archaeology at Athens (of which Penrose was the first director) in 1886 and at Rome in 1901.

Fragments of Epicurus and Philodemus, discovered at Herculaneum in 1752, were published at Oxford in 1824 and 1891. Many remnants of Greek literature have been recovered from the sands of Egypt. Three of the speeches of the Attic orator, Hyperides, were discovered in 1847, and his Funeral Oration in 1856. Part of another oration was found in the series acquired by the British Museum in 1890, which also included Aristotle’s Constitution of Athens, and the Mimes of Herodas, followed in 1896–7 by the Odes of Bacchylides. Among the literary papyri since published by the Graeco-Roman branch of the Egypt Exploration Fund have been the Paeans and Partheneia of Pindar, a large part of a satyric drama of Sophocles and numerous fragments of the Greek Bible.

Among English editors of the Greek Testament, Christopher Wordsworth, afterwards bishop of Lincoln, published in 1856–9 a commentary on the Greek Testament which teems with citations from patristic literature. The German commentators are more fully noticed in the edition produced by Henry Alford, dean of Canterbury. Several of the Pauline epistles were elaborately edited by Charles John Ellicott, afterwards bishop of Gloucester and Bristol, and, with a higher degree of success, by Joseph Barber Lightfoot, bishop of Durham, who was also the editor of Clement of Rome, and of Ignatius and Polycarp. Critical texts of the Greek Testament were produced by Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, by Frederick Henry Scrivener, and, in 1881, by Brooke Foss Westcott, afterwards bishop of Durham, and Fenton John Anthony Hort. Of these last, the former published commentaries on the Gospel and the epistles of St. John, and on the epistle to the Hebrews. English and American scholars joined in the revision of the Authorised Version of the New Testament from June, 1870, to November, 1880.