The Plague of Athens Which Happened in the Second Year of the Peloponnesian Warre, First Described in Greek by Thucydes

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Descripción editorial

I Know not what pleasure you could take in bestowing your commands so unprofitably, unless it be that for which Nature sometimes cherishes and allows Monsters, The love of Variety. This onely delight you will receive by turning over this rude and unpolisht Copy, and comparing it with my excellent Patterns, the Greek and Latin. By this you will see how much a noble Subject is chang’d and disfigured by an ill hand, and what reason Alexander had to forbid his Picture to be drawn but by some celebrated Pencil. In Greek Thucydides so well and so lively expresses it, that I know not which is more a Poem, his description, or that of Lucretius. Though it must be said, that the Historian had a vast advantage over the Poet; He having been present on the place, and assaulted by the disease himself, had the horror familiar to his Eyes, and all the shapes of the misery still remaining on his mind, which must needs make a great impression on his Pen and Fancie. Whereas the Poet was forced to allow his foot-steps, and onely work on that matter he allow’d him. This I speak, because it may in some measure too excuse my own defects: For being so far remov’d from the place whereon the disease acted its Tragedy; and time having denied us many of the circumstances, customes of the Countrey, and other small things which would be of great use to any one who did intend to be perfect on the subject; besides onely writing by an Idea of that which I never yet saw, nor care to feel, (being not of the humor of the Painter in Sir Philip Sidney, who thrust himself into the midst of a Fight, that he might the better delineate it) having, I say, all these disadvantages, and many more, for which I must onely blame my self, it cannot be expected, that I should come near equalling him in whom none of the contrary advantages were wanting. Thus then, Sir, by emboldning me to this rash attempt, you have given opportunitie to the Greek and Latin to Triumph over our Mother tongue. Yet I would not have the honour of the Countries or Languages engaged in the comparison, but that the inequality should reach no farther than the Authors. But I have much reason to fear the just indignation of that excellent Person, (the present Ornament and Honour of our Nation) whose way of writing I imitate: for he may think himself as much injured by my following him, as were the Heavens by that bold mans counterfeiting the sacred and unimitable noise of Thunder by the sound of Brass and Horses hoofs. I shall onely say for my self, that I took Cicero’s advice, who bids us in imitation propose the Noblest pattern to our thoughts; for so we may be sure to be raised above the common Level, though we come infinitely short of what we aim at. Yet I hope that renowned Poet will have none of my crimes any way reflect on himself; for it was not any fault in the excellent Musician, that the weak Bird, indeavouring by straining its throat, to follow his Notes, destroyed her self in the Attempt.

12 de agosto
Library of Alexandria
The Library of Alexandria