8. Philaletheia, the disinterested love of scholarly truth, can lead one into some strange places. The connection of the two marginalia is the urge to recover the sense of an ancient text in full and accurately; to probe past the obscurity of poet and translator alike, to what Lycophron’s persona thought was to happen in those beds.
9. Now as the expositor of all this I begin to feel the onset of fixation myself…
11. Or to put that another way, emendation was more than a hunt for the words of an ancient author, done by rummaging through dictionaries. It was a hunt for the things observed or imagined by that ancient author, and lying behind those words: the life of antiquity, actual or imaginative. Not only is this philology in the broad, continental sense (Altertumswissenschaft) rather than the narrower, lexical English one. It launches him on a search into strange folkways of the Greek mind, that unreason which gave rise to their more admired life of reason…
—John K. Hale
The boundary between academic diction and obscure fiction is at times precariously thin.1
- By which I do not mean to say Hale invented the subject of his article – only that there are places where it rather sounds as if he had. [↩]