Monday, August 29, 2016

Even Although

In The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker, one of the correspondents, Jeremy Melford, attends a dinner of Grub Street writers, where among others he meets
The sage, who laboured under the agrophobia, or horror of green fields, had just finished a treatise on practical agriculture, though, in fact, he had never seen corn growing in his life, and was so ignorant of grain, that our entertainer, in the face of the whole company, made him own, that a plate of hominy was the best rice pudding he had ever eat.
(Letter of June 10)

In the introduction to a Macmillan edition of Virgil's Bucolics and Georgics, the editor, T.E. Page, wrote that
... when true Grecian art had perished with Grecian liberty, no form of amusement became more fashionable among the literary dilettanti of Alexandria than the turning into verse of prose treatises on scientific subjects. Thus Aratus, "a man ignorant of astronomy" as Cicero tells us (de Orat I. 16), turned into verse a treatise of Eudoxus; Nicander too of Colophon wrote poems on bees (Μελισσουργικά), beasts (θηριακά), farming, and matters connected with the country, although Cicero again describes him as "a man who had never seen a field (homo ab agro remotissimus), while the fashion was so prevalent that even a student such as Eratosthenes did not disdain this form of art, even although he knew what he was writing about.

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