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I have heard this question discussed ever since I was a child, but have never yet written anything about it except in mySmall Talk at Wreyland. In the First Series, page 75, I was talking about travelling on the Continent, and I said:
“Plenty of people went to Switzerland at the time when I first went—1869—far more than when my father went there thirty years before, but nothing like the crowds that go there now. They kept more to peaks and passes then; and they were always talking of Hannibal’s passage of the Alps. Junius was talked out: Tichborne and Dreyfus were yet to come; and Hannibal filled the gap. I used to hear them at home as well as there; and they all had their pet routes for Hannibal—Col d’Argentière, Mont Genèvre, Mont Cenis, Little Mont Cenis, Little St Bernard and Great St Bernard, and even Simplon and St Gothard. In 1871 I went looking for traces of the vinegar on the Great St Bernard. My father upheld the Cenis routes as the only passes from which you can look down upon the plains of Italy. I doubt if Hannibal did look down. I think he may have shown his men their line of march upon a map, just as Aristagoras used a map to show the Spartans their line of march 282 years earlier.”
I wrote Anaxagoras by mistake for Aristagoras, and passed it in the proofs; and it was printed in the first impression of the First Series, though corrected in the second impression. I mentioned my mistake in the Second Series, page 102, and this and other instances led me on to say:
“I fancy that the Greek and Latin authors wrote the wrong word now and then, and never noticed it. That is not the view of textual critics and editors: they ascribe all errors to the men who copied out the manuscripts. But this limits them to errors that might arise in copying, and thus restricts the choice of emendations far too much. Take such an emendation asIsara for Arar in Livy, xxi. 31. This makes Livy say that the river was the Isère, not the Saône; but the context requires him to say it was the Durance, otherwise he would be saying ‘right’ instead of ‘left’ a few lines further on. A copyist might easily write arar for isara, so this emendation is accepted, although it does not suit.
“Such emendations are deceitful things. In this case they make Livy say the Isère, and make Polybios say it also, iii. 49, though he says something else; and then Members of the Alpine Club go saying that the river must have been the Isère, since Livy and Polybios agree in saying that it was. Other folk may say it does not matter what the river was; but that is a reason for leaving the whole thing alone, not for getting it wrong. If you take it up at all, you should not risk the sort of snubbing that Westbury gave the herald after cross-examination—‘Go away, you silly man: you don’t even understand your own silly science.’”