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Antiquity and Enlightenment Culture: New Approaches and Perspectives
 9004412670, 9789004412675

Table of contents :
Half Title
Series Information
Title Page
Copyright Page
Notes on Contributors
Part 1 Danger and Delight: Reading Ancient Literature
Chapter 1 Pseudohistory and Metafiction in the Eighteenth Century
1 Pseudohistory
2 Metafiction
Chapter 2 The Philosophy of Ancient Poetry: Greek Poetic Pessimism in the Voyage du jeune Anacharsis en Grèce
1 The Greek Ideal and Greek Pessimism between the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
2 Anacharsis and Philocles: Greek Pessimistic Thought and the Ode to Happiness
3 A Time of Transition
Part 2 Antiquity on Display: Travellers, Grand Tourists, Collectors
Chapter 3 The “Nymphs” of the Fountain of Arethusa and the Representation of Classical Sicily in Travel Works, c.1770–1860
1 The Fountain of Arethusa
2 Changes in Travel Narratives
3 Conclusion
Chapter 4 Antiquity and the Grand Tour Portrait: Rethinking the Significance of Pompeo Batoni’s Use of Classical Sculpture, 1753–1762
1 Early Examples of Classical Insertions
2 Rethinking the Significance of Batoni’s Use of Antiquity
3 Charles John Crowle (1738–1811)
4 Conclusion
Chapter 5 Hidden Dimensions and Elusive Forms in Johan Zoffany’s Charles Townley and Friends in his Library at Park Street, Westminster, 1781–1783, 1798
1 The Painting during Townley’s Lifetime
2 Hidden Dimensions and Elusive Forms
3 The Painting after Townley’s Death
4 Conclusion
Part 3 Antiquity and National Identity: Scotland and Greece
Chapter 6 The Scottish Heresy: George Mackenzie’s Pelagian Biographies
1 Recovering Mackenzie
2 The Lives and Characters
3 (Semi-)Pelagianism in Early Modern Thought
4 Mackenzie the (Semi-)Pelagian
Chapter 7 Rome in Caledonia: Eighteenth-Century Interpretations of Scotland’s Ancient Past
Chapter 8 The Enlightenment and the Teaching of Ancient Greek Grammar in Greece
1 Eighteenth-Century Greece: National Identity, Language, and Pedagogy
2 A Forerunner of the Revolution: the Project of Rhigas Velestinlis
3 The Greek Enlightenment
4 Neophytos Vamvas (1776–1855): Teacher of the Nation
5 Teaching in Greece before and after the Enlightenment: Vamvas’s Account
6 Konstantinos Koumas (1777–1836): a History of Greek Education
7 Conclusions
Part 4 Antiquity in Moral Philosophy and Political Thought
Chapter 9 Hume, Cicero, and Eighteenth-Century Moral Philosophy
Chapter 10 Rousseau’s Rome and Political Pragmatism
1 Rousseau’s Antiquity: a Nostalgic Attack against Modernity?
2 Rousseau’s Antiquities and his Definition of Liberty
3 Rome’s Exemplary Assemblies
4 Rome: a Miracle from History
5 Rome and the Political Role of Mores
6 Conclusion: Rousseau’s Pragmatic Antiquity

Citation preview

Antiquity and Enlightenment Culture

Metaforms studies in the reception of classical antiquity

Editors-​in-​Chief Almut-​Barbara Renger (Freie Universität Berlin) Jon Solomon (University of Illinois at Urbana-​Champaign) John T. Hamilton (Harvard University) Editorial Board Anastasia Bakogianni (Massey University, New Zealand) Monica Cyrino (University of New Mexico) Kyriakos Demetriou (University of Cyprus) Constanze Güthenke (Oxford University) Yang Huang (Fudan University) Craig Kallendorf (Texas A&M University) Miriam Leonard (University College London) Mira Seo (Yale-NUS College)

volume 17

The titles published in this series are listed at​srca

Antiquity and Enlightenment Culture New Approaches and Perspectives Edited by

Felicity Loughlin and Alexandre Johnston


Cover illustration: Colour plate of an owl, from a cotyle. From Pierre-François Hugues, Baron d’Hancarville (ed.), Collection of Etruscan, Greek, and Roman Antiquities from the Cabinet of the Honble. Wm. Hamilton His Britannick Maiesty’s Envoy Extraordinary at the Court of Naples (Naples, 1766–​1767). Royal Academy of Arts, Object 17/​4727, 217 × 205 mm. Reproduced by the Digitalisierungszentrum Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Loughlin, Felicity, editor. | Johnston, Alexandre, editor. Title: Antiquity and Enlightenment culture : new approaches and perspectives / edited by Felicity Loughlin and Alexandre Johnston. Description: Leiden : Brill, [2020] | Series: Metaforms: studies in the reception of classical antiquity, 2212-9405 ; volume 17 | Includes index. | Summary: “This volume represents the first move towards a comprehensive overview of the place of antiquity in Enlightenment Europe. Eschewing a narrow focus on any one theme, it seeks to understand eighteenth-century engagements with antiquity on their own terms, focusing on the contexts, questions, and agendas that led people to turn to the ancient past. The contributors show that a profound interest in antiquity permeated all spheres of intellectual and creative endeavour, from antiquarianism to political discourse, travel writing to portraiture, theology to education. They offer new perspectives on familiar figures, such as Rousseau and Hume, as well as insights into hitherto obscure antiquarians and scholars. What emerges is a richer, more textured understanding of the substantial eighteenth-century engagement with antiquity. Contributors are: Anthony Ossa-Richardson, Maria Giulia Franzoni, Thomas Hopkinson, Maeve O’Dwyer, Miriam Al Jamil, Kelsey Jackson Williams, Alan Montgomery, Marta Dieli, Tim Stuart-Buttle, Flora Champy”– Provided by publisher. Identifiers: LCCN 2019051633 (print) | LCCN 2019051634 (ebook) | ISBN 9789004405035 (hardback) | ISBN 9789004412675 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Europe–Civilization–18th century–Congresses. | Europe–Civilization–Classical influences–Congresses. | Europe–Antiquities– Congresses. | Civilization, Classical–Influence–Congresses. | Enlightenment–Europe–Congresses. Classification: LCC CB411 .A66 2020 (print) | LCC CB411 (ebook) | DDC 940.2/53–dc23 LC record available at LC ebook record available at Typeface for the Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic scripts: “Brill”. See and download:​brill-​typeface. issn 2212-​9 405 isbn 978-​9 0-​0 4-​4 0503-​5 (hardback) isbn 978-​9 0-​0 4-​4 1267-​5 (e-​book) Copyright 2020 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands. Koninklijke Brill NV incorporates the imprints Brill, Brill Hes & De Graaf, Brill Nijhoff, Brill Rodopi, Brill Sense, Hotei Publishing, mentis Verlag, Verlag Ferdinand Schöningh and Wilhelm Fink Verlag. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher. Authorization to photocopy items for internal or personal use is granted by Koninklijke Brill NV provided that the appropriate fees are paid directly to The Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Suite 910, Danvers, MA 01923, USA. Fees are subject to change. This book is printed on acid-​free paper and produced in a sustainable manner.


Acknowledgements vii List of Figures viii Abbreviations ix Notes on Contributors x

Introduction 1 Felicity Loughlin and Alexandre Johnston

Part 1 Danger and Delight: Reading Ancient Literature 1

Pseudohistory and Metafiction in the Eighteenth Century 19 Anthony Ossa-​Richardson


The Philosophy of Ancient Poetry: Greek Poetic Pessimism in the Voyage du jeune Anacharsis en Grèce 40 Maria Giulia Franzoni

Part 2 Antiquity on Display: Travellers, Grand Tourists, Collectors 3

The “Nymphs” of the Fountain of Arethusa and the Representation of Classical Sicily in Travel Works, c.1770–​1860 61 Thomas Hopkinson


Antiquity and the Grand Tour Portrait: Rethinking the Significance of Pompeo Batoni’s Use of Classical Sculpture, 1753–​1762 83 Maeve O’Dwyer


Hidden Dimensions and Elusive Forms in Johan Zoffany’s Charles Townley and Friends in his Library at Park Street, Westminster, 1781–​1783, 1798 104 Miriam Al Jamil

vi Contents

Part 3 Antiquity and National Identity: Scotland and Greece 6

The Scottish Heresy: George Mackenzie’s Pelagian Biographies 131 Kelsey Jackson Williams


Rome in Caledonia: Eighteenth-​Century Interpretations of Scotland’s Ancient Past 152 Alan Montgomery


The Enlightenment and the Teaching of Ancient Greek Grammar in Greece 173 Marta Dieli

Part 4 Antiquity in Moral Philosophy and Political Thought 9

Hume, Cicero, and Eighteenth-​Century Moral Philosophy 195 Tim Stuart-​Buttle


Rousseau’s Rome and Political Pragmatism 219 Flora Champy

Index 241

Acknowledgements This volume proceeds from an international conference held at the University of Edinburgh on 2 April 2016 entitled “Antiquity and the History of Ideas in Eighteenth-​Century Europe.” The editors wish to thank the Classical Association, the Royal Historical Society, the University of Edinburgh, and the Leverhulme Trust for their generous support. Thanks are also due to Thomas Ahnert, Douglas Cairns, Alex Imrie, Randall Reinhard, and Gary Vos for their help with organising the event and preparing the volume. The editors also wish to express their gratitude to Gavin Kelly for fostering in them both a shared interest in the classical world and its legacy.

Figures 1.1

Jean Hardouin, Ad censuram scriptorum veterum prolegomena, British Library, Additional MS 4803, detail of 1 29 1.2 César de Missy, Epistola ad Wilhelmum Bowyerum (London, 1766), British Library, shelfmark 1089.m.17.(2.), detail of 97 34 4.1 Pompeo Batoni, Portrait of James Caulfeild, later Lord Charlemont, c. 1753–​1755, 97.8 × 73.7 cm. Yale Center for British Art, B1974.3.26. Photo: Yale Center for British Art 88 4.2 Pompeo Batoni, Charles John Crowle, 1761–​1762, 254 × 169 cm. Musée du Louvre, Paris, R.F. 1981-​37. Photo: © RMN – Grand Palais (Musée du Louvre) / Stéphane Maréchalle 94 4.3 Vatican Ariadne, seen in print by James Anderson, Ariadne, Vatican sculpture gallery, c.1845–1855, 25.4 × 33 cm. J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 84.XM.635.10. Photo: J. Paul Getty Museum 96 5.1 Johan Zoffany, Charles Townley in his Sculpture Gallery, 1781–​3, 1789. Oil on canvas, 127 × 102 cm. Towneley Hall, Burnley 105 5.2 William Hogarth, The Analysis of Beauty, plate 1, 1753; 14¼ × 19 in. (36.2 × 48.3 cm). Yale Centre for British Art, B1981.25.1444 112 5.3 Johan Zoffany, The Sharp Family, 1779–​81. Bibliothèque Nationale de France, département Musique, VM PHOT MIRI-​12 (372) 114 5.4 Francesco Vassalli and Martino Quadri, Medici Venus (plaster, dimensions unknown, c.1729–​31). The Great Hall, Towneley Hall, Burnley. Courtesy Burnley Borough Council 120 5.5 Francesco Vassalli and Martino Quadri, Richard Towneley (Plaster, dimensions unknown, c.1729–​31). The Great Hall, Towneley Hall, Burnley. Courtesy Burnley Borough Council 122

Abbreviations bl Bodl. eul nls nrs

British Library Bodleian Library, Oxford Edinburgh University Library National Library of Scotland National Records of Scotland

Notes on Contributors Miriam Al Jamil is a doctoral candidate in the School of Arts at Birkbeck, University of London. Her thesis explores how eighteenth-​century women engaged with classical sculpture despite their lack of access to traditional art academy training and offers an alternative perspective on the Grand Tour collections of the late eighteenth century. She has previously worked on Charles Townley and his collection. Her interest in him first arose from teaching Workers’ Educational Association adult classes on the subject. She chairs the Burney Society UK and is Fine Arts editor for the bsecs online review, Criticks. Flora Champy is Assistant Professor of French in the Department of French and Italian at Princeton University. She holds a dual PhD in French Literature from the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon and Rutgers University. Her dissertation, Reassessing Rousseau’s Representation of Antiquity (Exemples et modèles politiques:  fonction critique de l’Antiquité chez Jean-​Jacques Rousseau), aims to renew the understanding of Rousseau’s often misinterpreted interest for ancient political structures on the basis of an unprecedented critical analysis of his sources. She has published several articles on Rousseau’s political writings. Marta Dieli is a doctoral candidate in the Dipartimento di Studi Linguistici e Letterari at the Università degli Studi di Padova. She has carried out research at the National Hellenic Research Foundation in Athens, and her research interests lie in Modern Greek studies, the history of the Greek language, and intellectual life and language teaching in Greece during the Age of Revolution. Since 2015, she has worked as a high school teacher of Humanities. Maria Giulia Franzoni is a teacher of Classics at Kensington Park School (London) and an editor for Mondadori Education (Milan), where she edits and produces material for high school textbooks in the humanities. She was awarded a PhD in Classics from the University of St Andrews in 2017, with a thesis exploring the tradition of pessimistic thought in archaic and classical Greek literature and its interpretation in the nineteenth century.

Notes on Contributors


Thomas Hopkinson completed his PhD at Lancaster University, supported by a Lancaster Pamphlets Studentship. His doctoral thesis used Patrick Brydone’s exceptionally popular travel account, A Tour through Sicily and Malta (1773) as an exemplar through which to study the intertextual nature of British travel writing in the long eighteenth century and the influence which social and cultural attitudes had in shaping identity and forming representations of the Sicilian other. He specializes in European travel and travel writing, cultural identity, and the relationship between culture and landscape. He is currently a teacher and independent scholar. Kelsey Jackson Williams is Lecturer in Early Modern Literature at the University of Stirling. His research focuses on the intersection of intellectual and material cultures in early modern northern Europe, particularly Scotland.  His publications include The Antiquary: John Aubrey’s Historical Scholarship (Oxford University Press, 2016), and most recently The First Scottish Enlightenment: Rebels, Priests, and History (Oxford University Press, 2020) as well as shorter pieces on various aspects of antiquarianism, epigraphy, Neo-​Latin literature, and the history of literary studies. Alexandre Johnston is a Leverhulme Postdoctoral Fellow at the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa. His research there focuses on the nature of human and divine causation and responsibility in Greek tragedy and epic. He received his PhD in Classics from the University of Edinburgh in 2017 with a thesis on Sophocles and traditional Greek thought, which will form the basis of his first monograph. He is interested in the relationship between literature, theology, and ethics in archaic and classical Greece and the ancient Near East. He has recently been appointed Junior Research Fellow in Classics at University College, Oxford, where he will carry out research on poetry and theology in archaic and classical Greece. Felicity Loughlin is a Research Fellow in the Institute of Intellectual History at the University of St Andrews. Her research focuses on religion and the history of ideas. She is currently exploring unbelief in early nineteenth-​century Scotland as part of the Leverhulme collaborative project After the Enlightenment: Scottish Intellectual Life, c.1790–​1843. She obtained a PhD in History at the University of Edinburgh in 2017, with a thesis on histories of paganism in Enlightenment Scotland.



Notes on Contributors

Alan Montgomery worked for several years as an art historian in the art and auction world. He returned to academia in 2010 to complete a Master’s degree in Classical Civilisation at Birkbeck, University of London. This was soon followed by a PhD at the same institution, in which he studied early modern attitudes towards Scotland’s ancient history. He is currently working on his first book on the subject, to be published by Edinburgh University Press in 2020. Maeve O’Dwyer is based at the University of Lincoln, where she teaches on the History and History of Art degrees and across the College of Arts more widely. She also lectures part-​time at Bishop Grosseteste University. She received her PhD in History of Art at the University of Edinburgh in 2017. Her thesis explored the portraiture of British and Irish visitors to Rome from 1740 to 1830. Anthony Ossa-​Richardson is Lecturer in Early Modern Literature at UCL. He is author of The Devil’s Tabernacle:  The Pagan Oracles in Early Modern Thought (Princeton, 2013), and has published widely on the learning and elite culture of Europe since the ­Renaissance. His second monograph, A History of Ambiguity, came out in 2019 with ­Princeton University Press. Tim Stuart-​Buttle is Lecturer in Politics at the University of York. He has published essays in journals including  Political Theory  and  History of Political Thought; and his first monograph, From Moral Theology to Moral Philosophy: Cicero and Visions of Humanity from Locke to Hume, has recently been published by Oxford University Press. He is the co-​editor, with Subha Mukherji, of  Literature, Belief, and Knowledge in Early Modern England: Knowing Faith (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). His current research reconstructs the early modern debate on the moral, political, social, and theological implications of mankind’s desire for esteem and recognition.

Introduction Felicity Loughlin and Alexandre Johnston The ancient world, above all Greece and Rome, fascinated eighteenth-​century Europeans. Instruction in classical languages and literature occupied a prominent place in university curricula, printing presses competed to produce the finest editions of ancient texts,1 writers, artists, and architects drew inspiration from classical myths, motifs, and history, and antiquity loomed large in debates that were central to the intellectual culture of the age. The late Peter Gay was among the first to draw attention to the importance of antiquity in eighteenth-​century Europe. In an influential study published over fifty years ago, he defined the European Enlightenment as a “volatile mixture of classicism, impiety and science,” and cast the French philosophes as a group of “modern pagans,” who found in Greece and Rome a striking antidote to their contemporary Christian culture.2 Subsequent scholarship has revised the Franco-​centrism of Gay’s account, expanded his focus on the intellectual elite, and disputed the sharp antithesis he drew between religion and the Enlightenment.3 Yet within the last decade, Gay’s emphasis on the importance of antiquity to eighteenth-​century culture has enjoyed a renaissance. In the words of Dan Edelstein, Enlightenment studies are now experiencing a decidedly “classical turn.”4 Scholars of various stripes have contributed to restoring antiquity to the historiography of the European Enlightenment.5 The emergence of reception 1

2 3

4 5

Fine examples are the editions of the Iliad (1756) and Odyssey (1758) produced by Robert and Andrew Foulis, printers to the University of Glasgow. On which, see Brian Hillyard, “The Glasgow Homer,” in Stephen W. Brown and Warren McDougall (eds), The Edinburgh History of the Book in Scotland, Vol. 2:  Enlightenment and Expansion, 1707–​1800 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012), 69–​88. Peter Gay, The Enlightenment, An Interpretation:  The Rise of Modern Paganism (New York: Knopf, 1966), 8. For an influential critical review of Gay’s account, see Robert Darnton, “In Search of the Enlightenment: Recent Attempts to Create a Social History of Ideas,” Journal of Modern History 43 (1971): 113–​32. On recent work on religion and the Enlightenment, see Simon Grote, “Review-​Essay: Religion and Enlightenment,” Journal of the History of Ideas 75 (2014): 136–​ 60. Dan Edelstein, “The Classical Turn in Enlightenment Studies,” Modern Intellectual History 9 (2012): 61–​71. Our focus is on the period c.1700–​c.1800. On the disputed chronological boundaries of the European Enlightenment, see Jonathan Israel, Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2020 | DOI:10.1163/9789004412675_002


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studies as a distinct specialism within classics has prompted valuable work on the interpretation, representation, and reconstruction of Greek and Roman antiquity in the eighteenth century.6 Research in this field has explored how eighteenth-​century scholarship shaped modern approaches to antiquity, including ancient history, literary criticism, and archaeology.7 Classicists have also drawn attention to the importance of the ancient past in Enlightenment debates ranging from religious toleration to imperialism.8 Intellectual historians, historians of scholarship, art historians, and literary scholars have shed light on particular facets of the eighteenth-​century engagement with the legacy of the ancient world. Recent work has explored the place of antiquity in republican thought,9 and the significance of ancient Stoicism and Epicureanism in framing interpretations of human nature and sociability that informed eighteenth-​century political thought and political economy.10 Others have






the Making of Modernity 1650–​1750 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 6–​13, and John Robertson, The Case for Enlightenment: Scotland and Naples, 1680–​1760 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 6–​9. On the rise of reception studies and current debates within the discipline, see James I.  Porter, “Reception Studies:  Future Prospects,” in Lorna Hardwick and Christopher Stray (eds), A Companion to Classical Receptions (Malden and Oxford: Blackwell, 2008), 469–​81, and Charles Martindale, “Reception—​a new humanism? Receptivity, pedagogy, the transhis­torical,” Classical Receptions Journal 5 (2013): 169–​83. Recent work includes Gavin Kelly, “Edward Gibbon and Late Antique Literature,” in Scott McGill and Edward J. Watts (eds), Blackwell’s Companion to Late Antique Literature (Malden and Oxford: Blackwell, 2018), 611–​26, Joshua Billings, Genealogy of the Tragic: Greek Tragedy and German Philosophy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014), and Katherine Harloe, Winckelmann and the Invention of Antiquity: History and Aesthetics in the Age of Altertumswissenschaft (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013). For an earlier example, see Suzanne L. Marchand, Down from Olympus: Archaeology and Philhellenism in Germany, 1750–​1970 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996). On classics and the history of scholarship more generally, see Constanze Güthenke, “Shop-​Talk: Reception Studies and Recent Work in the History of Scholarship,” Classical Receptions Journal 1 (2009): 104–​115. See Miriam Leonard, “Greeks, Jews, and the Enlightenment. Moses Mendelssohn’s Socrates,” Cultural Critique 74 (2010): 183–​99, Phiroze Vasunia, The Classics and Colonial India (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), and Pierre Briant, The First European: A History of Alexander in the Age of Empire, tr. Nicholas Elliot (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017). See, for instance, the chapters by Christine Zabel, Wessel Krul, Wyger Velema, and Eran Shalev in Wyger Velema and Arthur Weststeijn (eds), Ancient Models in the Early Modern Republican Imagination (Leiden: Brill, 2017), and Ian Macgregor Morris, “The Refutation of Democracy? Socrates in the Enlightenment,” in Michael Trapp (ed.), Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment (Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2007), 209–​27. See, among others, C.  Brooke, Philosophic Pride:  Stoicism and Political Thought from Lipsius to Rousseau (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012), especially ­chapters 6–​8, and John Robertson, Case for Enlightenment.



explored how encounters with antiquity contributed significantly to heated debates over the nature of God and morality, and to theories of pleasure, virtue, and aesthetics.11 New attention has also been paid to the ways in which appeals to antiquity facilitated self-​imaging and the construction of gender and national identities.12 Ancient history, both pagan and Judaeo-​Christian, and its importance in eighteenth-​century studies of human society has also come into sharper focus,13 prompting reflections on the place of classical learning and erudition in the formation of modern social sciences such as sociology, anthropology, and comparative religion.14 Scholars have also illuminated the practices of antiquarians and collectors of classical art, and their significance in forging eighteenth-​century networks and ideas.15 11 Examples include Avi Lifschitz and Michael Squire (eds), Rethinking Lessing’s Laocoon: Antiquity, Enlightenment, and the “Limits” of Painting and Poetry (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), Thomas M. Kavanagh, Enlightened Pleasures: Eighteenth-​Century France and the New Epicureanism (New Haven:  Yale University Press, 2010), Thomas Ahnert, “Francis Hutcheson and the Heathen Moralists,” Journal of Scottish Philosophy 8 (2010): 51–​62. 12 See for instance Caroline Winterer, The Mirror of Antiquity:  American Women and the Classical Tradition, 1750–​1900 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2007) and Viccy Coltman, Fabricating the Antique: Neoclassicism in Britain, 1760–​1800 (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2006). 13 See, for instance, James Moore, Ian Macgregor Morris, and Andrew J.  Bayliss (eds), Reinventing History. The Enlightenment Origins of Ancient History (London:  Centre for Metropolitan History, 2009). 14 The pioneering work of Anthony Grafton has done much to encourage research in this field. See, for instance, Anthony Grafton, Defenders of the Text:  The Traditions of Scholarship in an Age of Science, 1450–​1800 (Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Press, 1991). Recent work on erudition and Enlightenment scholarship includes Colin Kidd, “The Scottish Enlightenment and the Matter of Troy,” Journal of the British Academy 6 (2018):  97–​130, Dan Edelstein, The Enlightenment:  A Genealogy (Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 2010), esp. 44–​51, Dan Edelstein, “Humanism, l’Esprit Philosophique, and the Encyclopédie,” Republics of Letters 1 (2009): 1–​17, and John G.A. Pocock, Barbarism and Religion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999–​2016), 6 vols. On antiquity, erudition, and the study of religion, see Renaud Gagné, Simon Goldhill, and Geoffrey E.R. Lloyd (eds), Regimes of Comparatism: Frameworks of Comparison in History, Religion and Anthropology (Leiden: Brill, 2018), Colin Kidd, The World of Mr Casaubon: Britain’s Wars of Mythography, 1700–​1870 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), Dmitri Levitin, “From Sacred History to the History of Religion: Paganism, Judaism, and Christianity in European Historiography from Reformation to ‘Enlightenment’,” The Historical Journal 55 (2012): 1117–​60, and Guy G. Stroumsa, A New Science: The Discovery of Religion in the Age of Reason (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010). 15 On Britain, see Kelsey Jackson Williams, The First Scottish Enlightenment: Rebels, Priests, and History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020), Viccy Coltman, Classical Sculpture and the Culture of Collecting in Britain since 1760 (Oxford:  Oxford University Press,


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This rich and burgeoning body of scholarship has done much to illuminate isolated aspects of the reception of antiquity in Enlightenment Europe. Yet a more holistic view of the ancient world’s importance in eighteenth-​century culture remains wanting. The most extensive attempts to survey the widespread fascination with antiquity in this period have hitherto been dominated by the infamous Querelle des anciens et des modernes. Originating in the Académie française in the late seventeenth century, the Querelle was a heated and highly publicised dispute over the relative superiority of ancient versus modern literary and cultural achievements. This debate travelled to England, where it was christened “The Battle of the Books” by Jonathan Swift, and was later carried to eighteenth-​century Naples through the writings of Giambattista Vico.16 It is now widely acknowledged that the Querelle was not merely a competition between the supporters of ancient and modern culture. On the contrary, its contesters were embroiled in debates that went to the heart of controversies over the nature and possibility of human progress and the best forms of scholarly practice. Marc Fumaroli and Larry Norman have done much to complicate earlier interpretations that too easily equated the party of the “Moderns” with liberal progressivism and that of the “Ancients” with reactionary conservatism.17 Increasing attention has also been paid to the wider implications of the Querelle for eighteenth-​century culture. Most strikingly, Dan Edelstein has gone so far as to claim that the French Querelle was the catalyst that produced the very narrative of “Enlightenment” that established the eighteenth century as an age of social and intellectual progress.18 Following the pioneering work of Joseph Levine, others have drawn attention to the consequences of the Querelle in shaping the scholarly practices of the age, as the Moderns promoted cutting-​edge philological scholarship to reach a better understanding of the ancient past.19 Most notably, Paddy Bullard and Alexis 2009) and Rosemary Sweet, Antiquaries: The Discovery of the Past in Eighteenth-​Century Britain (London: Hambledon and London, 2004). 16 Classic accounts of the Querelle in its various national manifestations include Joseph Levine, The Battle of the Books:  History and Literature in the Augustan Age (Ithaca and London:  Cornell University Press, 1991)  and Joan DeJean, Ancients Against Moderns: Culture Wars and the Making of a Fin de Siècle (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997). 17 Marc Fumaroli, “Les abeilles et les araignées,” in Anne-​Marie Lecoq (ed.), La querelle des anciens et des modernes (Paris:  Gallimard, 2001); Larry Norman, The Shock of the Ancient: Literature and History in Early Modern France (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011). 18 Edelstein, Enlightenment: A Genealogy. 19 Levine, Battle of the Books. See also Lifschitz and Squire (eds), Rethinking Lessing’s Laocoon and Kidd, “The Scottish Enlightenment and the Matter of Troy.”



Tadié have argued that the Querelle continued to function as “a leading principle for the configuration of knowledge” in Europe throughout the eighteenth century, across a host of disciplines ranging from literature and the arts to philosophy and science.20 This edited collection represents the first step towards a new, broader account of the place of antiquity in Enlightenment culture that goes beyond the dominant narrative of the Querelle and showcases alternative perspectives. While we acknowledge the ongoing salience of the Ancients and Moderns dispute in providing a framework through which eighteenth-​century Europeans perceived, investigated, and debated antiquity,21 our approach stems in part from an awareness that this was not always the sole or primary lens through which it was viewed. We seek instead to understand contemporaries’ engagements with antiquity on their own terms, eschewing a narrow focus on any one explanatory framework or theme. The contributions explore specific encounters with antiquity, spanning different national contexts and diverse spheres of intellectual and creative endeavour, from antiquarianism to political discourse, travel writing to portraiture, theology to education. They offer fresh perspectives on familiar figures, such as David Hume and Jean-​Jacques Rousseau, as well as providing insights into hitherto obscure antiquarians, collectors, scholars, and teachers. The volume adopts an interdisciplinary and transnational approach. It brings together scholars working in a wide variety of fields, including classics, intellectual history, the history of scholarship, literary history, and the history of art, with expertise in different geographical contexts, specifically England, Scotland, France, Italy, and Greece. Read independently, each chapter illuminates a particular moment in the history of the Enlightenment’s engagements with antiquity; yet taken as a whole, the volume offers a broader view from which wider themes emerge. First, the chapters reveal that approaches to antiquity were more complex and varied than the single explanatory framework of the Ancients and Moderns paradigm allows for. When we look beyond categorising individuals as “­Ancients” or “Moderns,” we discover that engagements with antiquity were often animated by more immediate scholarly, religious, political, and social concerns that were distinct from the debates that had fuelled the Querelle. While echoes of the Ancients and Moderns dispute reverberated across the eighteenth century, not all encounters with antiquity responded to these resonances. The second, related point is that individuals did not only turn to antiquity for their own 20 21

Paddy Bullard and Alexis Tadié (eds), Ancients and Moderns in Europe:  Comparative Perspectives (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2016). See for instance Chapter 1 by Anthony Ossa-​Richardson in this volume.


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purposes to solve specific problems. Rather, the ancient world was a ubiquitous presence that imposed itself as a dominant filter through which educated Europeans constructed as well as viewed reality, as they had done since the Renaissance.22 Indeed, antiquity formed an inescapable, and sometimes uncomfortable, background to the intellectual culture of the age. Third, through its interdisciplinarity, the volume expands our understanding of the ubiquity of antiquity in Enlightenment culture by bringing together a wider range of ancient texts, objects and sites, and eighteenth-​century approaches to them, than is often possible in explorations of a specific theme or dimension of classical reception. This multiplicity of sources and perspectives yields unique, broader insights into the forces shaping eighteenth-​century visions of the ancient past. Strikingly, a number of contributions demonstrate that encounters with the ancient world elicited, and were shaped by, a variety of emotional responses. For some, the ancient world was a source of fear and anxiety, whose textual or material legacy required censorship, modification, or refutation. For others, investigations of antiquity were motivated by pleasure or nostalgia. Others still found humour in drawing comparisons between antiquity and modernity. Research into the history of emotions has expanded significantly within the last two decades;23 yet while attention has been paid to emotions in the ancient and modern worlds, their importance in the reception of antiquity remains unexplored. This volume suggests that probing more deeply into the emotional responses elicited by encounters with the ancient world will contribute to forging a more nuanced understanding of the processes of classical reception. One interesting way forward in this respect has recently been offered by Katie Barclay’s exploration of the “emotional entanglements” produced by any engagement with the past, and their importance in the process of “historical knowledge-​making.”24 This volume is intended as a contribution to a more textured and nuanced understanding of the reception of antiquity in Enlightenment culture. Yet it also encourages us to reflect on the striking parallels between encounters with the ancient world in the eighteenth century and those that continue to take

22 23


Cf. Edelstein, “The ‘Classical Turn’,” 62. Recent work includes Douglas Cairns and Damien P. Nelis (eds), Emotions in the Classical World: Methods, Approaches and Directions (Stuttgart: Steiner, 2017) and Susan Broomhall (ed.), Early Modern Emotions: An Introduction (Abingdon: Routledge, 2017). For an overview of the history of emotions from antiquity to the present day, see Susan Broomhall, Jane W.  Davidson, Andrew Lynch et  al. (eds), A Cultural History of the Emotions (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2019), 6 vols. Katie Barclay, “Falling in Love with the Dead,” Rethinking History 22 (2018): 459–​73.



place in the present. Then, as now, antiquity functioned as a structuring principle through which individuals made sense of their place in human history and carved out their identity, and as a yardstick against which they measured their values. In this process, antiquity was often invoked to lend authority to particular positions and arguments. A  similar pattern can be detected in contemporary discourse. Antiquity still looms large, for instance, in ideological and political debates on identity, with some claiming ancient Greece and Rome as the privileged inheritance of a “Western,” white, European culture (not unlike many eighteenth-​century Europeans, often in their own national contexts), and others following the diametrically opposed path of seeking to re-​contextualise Greek and Roman culture within a much broader vision of the ancient world including the Middle East and Africa.25 In a related sense, the contributions of the volume indicate that classical learning in the eighteenth century was largely the preserve of the educated male elite; a fact which can encourage us to reflect on the broader social contexts and forces that condition the study of antiquity, and on the ongoing process of widening access to the ancient past. Such parallels draw our attention to the fact that antiquity has always been constructed through the lens of contemporary debates, or the concerns of certain groups, which in turn alerts us to its problematic and ambiguous status as a voice of authority. Finally, greater awareness of the forces that have shaped understandings of antiquity throughout history can incite us to question the notion that it is possible to obtain a single, objective reading of the ancient world. This has been the subject of intense debate among theorists of classical reception, who have done much to problematise such claims.26 By drawing attention to the many factors that conditioned eighteenth-​century readings of antiquity, the volume seeks to contribute to debates among contemporary historians and classicists 25


This tension in understandings and appropriations of ancient Greek and Roman culture is epitomised by the fallout resulting from the publication of Martin Bernal’s controversial Black Athena in 1987; for a brief recent discussion of this and related issues, see Johannes Haubold, Greece and Mesopotamia:  Dialogues in Literature (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2013), 3–​6. One recent, ongoing example of this phenomenon is the appropriation of ancient Greece and Rome by proponents of the American “Alt-​Right” movement to defend gender and racial discrimination; see Donna Zuckerberg, Not All Dead White Men:  Classics and Misogyny in the Digital Age (Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Press, 2018), and Sarah E. Bond, “Why We Need to Start Seeing the Classical World in Color,”, 7 June 2017, . The classic work is Charles Martindale, Redeeming the Text (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1993); on its legacy, see the special issue of Classical Receptions Journal, 5.2 (2013).


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on the ways in which the study of the past is consistently mediated by current perspectives and existing narratives.

The volume is divided into four parts. Part 1 explores the diverse responses that reading classical literature elicited from scholars in eighteenth-​century France. It demonstrates that for some, the disparity between the ideas and values they discovered in the ancient world and those of the present created anxiety and discomfort, provoking attempts to censor antiquity. For others, the ancient world offered opportunities for amusement and erudite humour. This section also shows how scholarship on the ancient world, far from being restricted to learned treatises, was presented in creative literary forms including pseudo-​ historical works and historical novels. In ­chapter 1, Anthony Ossa-​Richardson draws our attention to the eccentric Jesuit scholar, Jean Hardouin (1646–​1729), who notoriously claimed that the entire canon of classical and patristic texts, a handful of pagan works excepted, had been forged by a “wicked gang” of medieval monks who aimed to drag human souls into the dark depths of atheism. Ossa-​Richardson explores how the Huguenot divine, César de Missy (1703–​1775), offered a creative response to Hardouin’s rejection of almost the entire ancient canon. De Missy’s pseudo-​ historical Epistola ad Wilhelmum Bowyerum (1766) jokingly applied Hardouin’s principles to Plautus, one of the few ancient authors whose authenticity the Jesuit had accepted. By exploring this forgotten episode, Ossa-​Richardson challenges the sharp distinction that is often drawn between historicist and presentist approaches to antiquity, between approaches that regard the past as radically distinct from modernity, and those which stress its contiguity with the present. In the works of both Hardouin and De Missy, he argues, presentism and historicism were intermingled. In ­chapter 2, Maria Giulia Franzoni sheds light on another creative response to antiquity:  Le voyage du jeune Anacharsis en Grèce (1788) by the classical scholar and contemporary of De Missy, Jean-​Jacques Barthélemy (1716–​1795). Franzoni draws attention to the unrecognised significance of this work as a pioneering step towards the acknowledgement of a pessimistic dimension to ancient Greek thought. As she demonstrates, Barthélemy was unusual in granting significant space to ancient texts that stressed the misery of the human condition in an age when Greece was often presented as a place of heroic idealism, harmony, and perfection. He was nevertheless deeply troubled by Greek pessimism, regarding it as a threat to the piety of modern readers because it threatened Christian notions of divine benevolence and providence.



Like Hardouin, Barthélemy feared that erroneous ancient visions of the human condition endangered true religion. As Franzoni shows, however, he eschewed Hardouin’s attempt to deny the authenticity of ancient ideas that contradicted his theological beliefs. Instead, he engaged in dialogue with ancient Greek understandings of suffering through fiction. Part 2 turns away from the textual inheritance of antiquity, broadening the focus to engagements with the material remains of ancient Greece and Italy by British travellers, Grand Tourists, and collectors. The three chapters in this section reveal the remarkable depth and complexity of eighteenth-​century responses to ancient art and monuments, focusing for instance on a dialectic of presence and absence—​the relationship between physical and virtual encounters with ancient remains, and the emotions with which they were entangled. The chapters demonstrate how detailed analysis of eighteenth-​century responses to the material remains of antiquity can tell us much about the states of mind, prejudices, and aspirations of educated contemporary Europeans. In ­chapter 3, Thomas Hopkinson shows how Grand Tourists’ perceptions of the Fountain of Arethusa in Sicily were conditioned by their familiarity with ancient descriptions of its features, and stories of the nymphs and deities with whom it was associated. As Hopkinson demonstrates, visitors’ expectations of the site’s charms were often bitterly disappointed by the mundane uses to which the spring was being put by modern Sicilian women. The chapter invites us to reflect on the significance of classical literature in framing British perceptions of contemporary Sicily. As Hopkinson shows, by juxtaposing ancient and contemporary descriptions of Sicily, travellers could also display their own erudition, taste, and humour to their audience. Maeve O’Dwyer focuses on the classical sculptures inserted in Pompeo Batoni’s (1708–​1787) portraits of British Grand Tourists at Rome. Comparing the depiction of the sculptures in the paintings with the objects themselves, she invites us to reflect on their symbolic significance in the portraits. O’Dwyer pays particular attention to the decision of the English antiquarian Charles John Crowle (1738–​1811) to include statuettes of the Vatican Ariadne and the Farnese Hercules in his portrait. By exploring the creative portrayal of these works, particularly the addition of clothing to the scantily clad Ariadne, O’Dwyer recovers forgotten layers of meaning that were designed to appeal to fellow Grand Tourists who had viewed the originals. As she demonstrates, the insertion of classical sculptures enabled British gentlemen to display their learning and good taste, while simultaneously forging a sense of collective identity among Grand Tourists. Miriam Al Jamil offers a different perspective on the symbolic possibilities of ancient sculpture by exploring its use in the portraits of eighteenth-​century


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collectors. She offers a new interpretation of Johann Zoffany’s (1733–​1810) painting of Charles Townley (1747–​1805) and his friends, who were depicted amid Townley’s famous collection of classical marbles at his home on London’s Park Street. Al Jamil demonstrates that Zoffany’s creative depiction of Townley’s collection allowed him to embed multiple hidden meanings within the portrait. She argues that the sculptures within the painting not only displayed Townley’s erudition and taste, but also offered a subtle allusion to Townley’s bachelorhood. In her reading of Zoffany’s portrait, which compares the painting with the physical realities of Townley’s sculpture collection, Al Jamil emphasises the fluidity of the boundaries between antiquity and modernity in the world of eighteenth-​century collectors. By considering the afterlives of both Townley’s collection and Zoffany’s portrait in exhibitions in the twentieth and twenty-​first centuries, Al Jamil invites us to reflect on the changing ways in which these works elicit responses from new generations of viewers. Part 3 explores the significance of the ancient past in eighteenth-​century debates over national identity. The three chapters focus on two nations with very different connections to the ancient world. Modern Greece could trace its ascendancy and cultural history directly back to antiquity, while Scotland possessed only few tangible links to the classical past, allowing for a considerable degree of creative appropriation. At the same time, the two case-​studies offer examples of smaller nations appealing to antiquity to debate, and in some cases bolster, their claim to independence and importance on the European stage. In ­chapter 6, Kelsey Jackson Williams discusses how ancient religious controversies were drawn into heated debates over the religious character of modern Scotland. He draws our attention to the Scottish physician and antiquary George Mackenzie (1669–​1725), a largely forgotten figure whose Lives and Characters of the Most Eminent Writers of the Scots Nation (1708–​1722) offered a comprehensive reassessment of Scottish intellectual history. Mackenzie chose to begin his Lives with Pelagius (c.360–​418 CE), a late antique theologian whose views on free will had aroused the ire of the early Church and resulted in his condemnation as a heretic at the Council of Carthage in 418. By asking why Mackenzie wished to reclaim Pelagius as a Scot, Jackson Williams emphasises the importance of ancient religion in the intellectual culture of early eighteenth-​century Scotland. In doing so, he draws our attention to a neglected area of classical reception in Enlightenment Europe: the reading of patristic writings of the early Christian church. In the next chapter, Alan Montgomery reconstructs Scottish debates over the Roman invasion of Britain. He reveals that conflicting interpretations of this period were firmly intertwined with concerns over Scotland’s place within Britain and the wider world following the union with England in 1707. As



Montgomery shows, the narrative of Caledonia’s perceived success in resisting Roman occupation had long been a central part of the Scots’ historical imagination. In the early decades of the eighteenth century, however, the idea of Caledonian liberty began to crumble as new archaeological evidence, combined with the testimony of Roman writers including Tacitus and Cassius Dio, revealed a Roman presence north of Hadrian’s Wall. These findings provoked heated disputes over how “Roman” Scotland had in fact been. Particular attention is devoted to a small group of Romanist Scots, including the antiquarians Sir Robert Sibbald (1641–​1722), Sir John Clerk of Penicuik (1676–​1755), and George Chalmers (1741–​1825). Montgomery sheds light on their creative attempts to carve out a classical heritage for the nation and recovers their bold conjectures over the state of Roman Scotland. He guides us through the changing contours of the fight to define Scotland’s early history, and considers the declining interest in Roman Scotland at the dawn of the nineteenth century, as Scots increasingly sought patriotic histories in the primitive nobility and rugged landscapes of the Highlands. As Montgomery shows, Scottish readings of the ancient past were profoundly shaped by contemporary concerns. In ­chapter 8, we move from Scotland to Greece, as Marta Dieli discusses two pioneering Greek scholars, Neophytos Vamvas (1776–​1855) and Konstantinos Koumas (1777–​1836), who sought to reform the traditional teaching of ancient Greek grammar. Dieli notes that the attempt to recover the nation’s ancient glory was a central objective of the Greek Enlightenment. She situates the educational reforms of Vamvas and Koumas in the turbulent political context of the period, which was dominated by the Greek struggle against centuries of Ottoman domination, and explores how new methods in the teaching of ancient Greek contributed to the formation of modern Greek identity. Strikingly, Dieli notes that Vamvas and Koumas were profoundly impressed by the philological and pedagogical methods they found in Western Europe, particularly Germany, and that their reform efforts drew heavily on these models. Dieli thus demonstrates that while antiquity provided modern Greeks with a glorious history that enabled them to present themselves to European philhellenists as the heirs to the classical world, the revival of ancient Greek language in modern Greece was fundamentally shaped by modern Western European scholarship. In part 4, Tim Stuart-​Buttle and Flora Champy explore the role of antiquity in the writings of two of the most celebrated thinkers of the age: David Hume (1711–​1776) and Jean-​Jacques Rousseau (1712–​1778). They provide fresh perspectives on the place of antiquity in philosophical and political debates that were central to the European Enlightenment. In ­chapter 9, Tim Stuart-​Buttle sheds new light on David Hume’s admiration for Cicero by situating the Scottish


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philosopher’s work in the broader context of debates over the relationship between Cicero’s moral and religious philosophy. He demonstrates that Hume engaged critically with the interpretation of John Locke (1632–​1704), who had used Cicero to defend the theory that belief in a future state was essential for any account of moral obligation. Through this critique, Stuart-​Buttle shows, Hume sought to reclaim Cicero as a mitigated sceptic hostile to all claims that religion could say anything about humanity’s moral duties. As he notes, Hume’s critics in Scotland were swift to contest his reading of Cicero, which threatened Christian interpretations of the fundamental relationship between religion and ethics. In ­chapter 10, Flora Champy provides a reassessment of the place of antiquity in Rousseau’s major political works. She departs from existing interpretations that associate the ancient inspiration of Rousseau’s political thought with his failure to provide pragmatic policies for modern societies, an influential narrative that she traces back to Benjamin Constant (1767–​1830). Champy draws attention to the multiplicity of ancient models in Rousseau’s political thought, and focuses on the prominence of the Roman example in his writings. She examines how Rousseau used Roman history to reflect upon political solutions in modern contexts as diverse as Geneva, Corsica, and Poland. In so doing, Champy demonstrates that Rousseau appealed to Roman history as a source of inspiration for contemporary political concerns, while remaining sensitive of the gulf that separated ancient and modern societies and the specificities of different modern political contexts. Far from rendering his political thought anachronistic or idealistic, Champy argues that Rousseau’s profound interest in antiquity constituted the bedrock of his political pragmatism. Through these four sections, the volume offers a panoramic view of the place of antiquity in eighteenth-​century culture that goes beyond the prism of the Ancients and Moderns dispute. In doing so, it adds new perspectives to the rich history of the modern fascination with ancient Greece and Rome; revealing, among other things, that antiquity continued to play a crucial role in every sphere of European cultural and political life between the erudite culture of sixteenth-​century humanism and the great philological and archaeological advances of the nineteenth century.


Ahnert, Thomas. “Francis Hutcheson and the Heathen Moralists.” Journal of Scottish Philosophy 8 (2010): 51–​62. Barclay, Katie. “Falling in Love with the Dead.” Rethinking History 22 (2018): 459–​73.



Billings, Joshua. Genealogy of the Tragic: Greek Tragedy and German Philosophy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014. Bond, Sarah E. “Why We Need to Start Seeing the Classical World in Color.”, 7 June 2017, . Briant, Pierre. The First European:  A History of Alexander in the Age of Empire, tr. ­Nicholas Elliott. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017. Brooke, Christopher. Philosophic Pride: Stoicism and Political Thought from Lipsius to Rousseau. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012. Broomhall, Susan (ed.). Early Modern Emotions:  An Introduction. Abingdon:  Routledge, 2017. Broomhall, Susan, Jane W. Davidson, Andrew Lynch et al. (eds). A Cultural History of the Emotions. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2019 (6 vols). Bullard, Paddy and Alexis Tadié (eds). Ancients and Moderns in Europe: Comparative Perspectives. Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, Oxford University Press, 2016. Cairns, Douglas and Damien P. Nelis (eds). Emotions in the Classical World: Methods, Approaches and Directions. Stuttgart: Steiner, 2017. Coltman, Viccy. Fabricating the Antique:  Neoclassicism in Britain, 1760–​1800. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006. Coltman, Viccy. Classical Sculpture and the Culture of Collecting in Britain since 1760. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. Darnton, Robert. “In Search of the Enlightenment: Recent Attempts to Create a Social History of Ideas.” Journal of Modern History 43 (1971): 113–​32. DeJean, Joan. Ancients Against Moderns: Culture Wars and the Making of a Fin de Siècle. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997. Edelstein, Dan. “Humanism, l’Esprit Philosophique, and the Encyclopédie.” Republics of Letters 1 (2009): 1–​17. Edelstein, Dan. The Enlightenment:  A Genealogy. Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 2010. Edelstein, Dan. “The Classical Turn in Enlightenment Studies.” Modern Intellectual H ­ istory 9 (2012), 61–​71. Fumaroli, Marc. “Les abeilles et les araignées.” In La querelle des anciens et des moder­ nes, edited by Anne-Marie Lecoq. Paris: Gallimard, 2001. Gagné, Renaud, Simon Goldhill, and Geoffrey E.R. Lloyd (eds). Regimes of Comparatism:  Frameworks of Comparison in History, Religion and Anthropology. Leiden: Brill, 2018. Gay, Peter. The Enlightenment, An Interpretation:  The Rise of Modern Paganism. New York: Knopf, 1966. Grafton, Anthony. Defenders of the Text: The Traditions of Scholarship in an Age of Science, 1450–​1800. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994.


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Grote, Simon. “Review-​Essay:  Religion and Enlightenment.” Journal of the History of Ideas 75 (2014): 136–​60. Güthenke, Constanze. “Shop-​Talk: Reception Studies and Recent Work in the History of Scholarship.” Classical Receptions Journal 1 (2009): 104–​115. Hardwick, Lorna and Christopher Stray (eds). A Companion to Classical Receptions. Malden and Oxford: Blackwell, 2008. Harloe, Katherine. Winckelmann and the Invention of Antiquity: History and Aesthetics in the Age of Altertumswissenschaft. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Haubold, Johannes. Greece and Mesopotamia: Dialogues in Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. Hillyard, Brian. “The Glasgow Homer.” In The Edinburgh History of the Book in Scotland, Vol. 2:  Enlightenment and Expansion, 1707–​1800, edited by Stephen W. Brown and Warren McDougall, 69–​88. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012. Israel, Jonathan. Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650–​ 1750. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. Jackson Williams, Kelsey. The First Scottish Enlightenment: Rebels, Priests, and History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020. Kavanagh, Thomas M. Enlightened Pleasures: Eighteenth-​Century France and the New Epicureanism. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010. Kelly, Gavin. “Edward Gibbon and Late Antique Literature.” In Blackwell’s Companion to Late Antique Literature, edited by Scott McGill and Edward J. Watts, 611–​26. Malden and Oxford: Blackwell, 2018. Kidd, Colin. The World of Mr Casaubon: Britain’s Wars of Mythography, 1700–​1870. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016. Kidd, Colin. “The Scottish Enlightenment and the Matter of Troy.” Journal of the British Academy 6 (2018): 97–​130. Leonard, Miriam. “Greeks, Jews, and the Enlightenment. Moses Mendelssohn’s Socrates.” Cultural Critique 74 (2010): 183–​99. Levine, Joseph M. The Battle of the Books: History and Literature in the Augustan Age. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1991. Levitin, Dmitri. “From Sacred History to the History of Religion: Paganism, Judaism, and Christianity in European Historiography from Reformation to ‘Enlightenment.’” The Historical Journal 55 (2012): 1117–​60. Lifschitz, Avi and Michael Squire (eds). Rethinking Lessing’s Laocoon:  Antiquity, Enlightenment, and the “Limits” of Painting and Poetry. Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2017. Macgregor Morris, Ian. “The Refutation of Democracy? Socrates in the Enlightenment.” In Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment, edited by Michael Trapp, 209–​27. Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2007.



Marchand, Suzanne L. Down from Olympus: Archaeology and Philhellenism in Germany, 1750–​1970. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996. Martindale, Charles. Redeeming the Text. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993. Martindale, Charles. “Reception—​A New Humanism? Receptivity, Pedagogy, the Transhistorical.” Classical Receptions Journal 5 (2013): 169–​83. Moore, James, Ian Macgregor Morris, and Andrew J. Bayliss (eds). Reinventing History. The Enlightenment Origins of Ancient History. London: Centre for Metropolitan History, 2009. Norman, Larry F. The Shock of the Ancient:  Literature and History in Early Modern France. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011. Ossa-​Richardson, Anthony. The Devil’s Tabernacle: The Pagan Oracles in Early Modern Thought. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013. Pocock, John G.A. Barbarism and Religion. Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1999–​2016 (6 vols). Porter, James I. “Reception Studies:  Future Prospects.” In A Companion to Classical Receptions, edited by Lorna Hardwick and Christopher Stray, 469–​81. Malden and Oxford: Wiley-​Blackwell, 2011. Robertson, John. The Case for the Enlightenment: Scotland and Naples, 1680–​1760 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005). Shea, Louise. The Cynic Enlightenment, or Diogenes in the Salon. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Scott, Jonathan. The Pleasures of Antiquity, British Collectors of Greece and Rome. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003. Stroumsa, Guy G. A New Science: The Discovery of Religion in the Age of Reason. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. Sweet, Rosemary. Antiquaries: The Discovery of the Past in Eighteenth-​Century Britain. London: Hambledon and London, 2004. Vasunia, Phiroze. The Classics and Colonial India. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Velema, Wyger and Arthur Weststeijn (eds). Ancient Models in the Early Modern Republican Imagination. Leiden: Brill, 2017. Winterer, Caroline. The Mirror of Antiquity: American Women and the Classical Tradition, 1750–​1900. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2007. Zuckerberg, Donna. Not All Dead White Men: Classics and Misogyny in the Digital Age. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018.

pa rt 1 Danger and Delight: Reading Ancient Literature

­c hapter 1

Pseudohistory and Metafiction in the Eighteenth Century Anthony Ossa-​Richardson 1


In his 2011 book, The Shock of the Ancient, Larry Norman paints a nuanced picture of the French Querelle des anciens et des modernes (c.1687–​1715), demonstrating the uneasy combination, on both sides of the controversy, of historicism and presentism—​of a sense of the past as essentially foreign, resistant to modern values, and a sense of it as contiguous with, and capable of being evaluated by reference to, the present. Thus the leading ancienne Anne Dacier (1654–​1720) admired Homeric Greece for its alterity, but also found many points of comparison between Homer’s religion and her own Christianity. The same individuals could express their support for antiquity one moment, for modernity the next: there were “no pure and simple Ancients and Moderns among actual writers.”1 And the Ancients, whose intellectual richness it is Norman’s primary goal to exhibit, argued much among themselves: Jean Boivin, for instance, though he sided with Dacier against the Moderns, disagreed with her about Homer’s religion, which, he thought, was unsalvageable in doctrinal or moral terms, though all the better for its claims to poetic merit. Aesthetics and theology were separate domains.2 One figure in that debate is mentioned by Norman only in an endnote, and aligned closely with Boivin. This is the Breton Jesuit scholar Jean Hardouin (1646–​1729), whose contribution to the Homer question has been almost entirely ignored by modern critics, perhaps partly because, by the time one

1 Larry Norman, The Shock of the Ancient:  Literature and History in Early Modern France (­Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011), 49; on Dacier’s historicism, see 1–​3, and on her presentism, 144–​46. On the themes of historicism and presentism from a much broader perspective, see Anthony Grafton, “Renaissance Readers and Ancient Texts: Comments on Some Commentaries,” Renaissance Quarterly 38 (1985): 615–​49. 2 Norman, The Shock, 148–​49.

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2020 | DOI:10.1163/9789004412675_003

20 Ossa-Richardson reaches his 1716 Apologie d’Homère, one is thoroughly sick of the whole affair.3 The Apologie separates Homer’s literary skill from his theology—​evaluated on its own lights, without the anachronism of later tastes, the Iliad was a masterpiece, but its gods stood allegorically for the worship of fate and nature, tantamount to atheism, judged, of course, on the standard of modern Catholicism.4 As Norman acknowledges, this position is similar to that of Boivin, except that Hardouin is less forgiving of Homer’s theology; he concludes with a quotation from Psalms 86:8, “Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord.” Dacier replied to the Jesuit later that year, praising his morals, his learning, his reputation, and the order to which he belonged. But it was a pernicious error, she said, to equate Homer’s religion with atheism, and misguided to ignore the valuable moral lessons contained in his poetry. As for Hardouin’s interpretations of Homer, his imagination had got the better of him, and, like Pygmalion, he had fallen in love with his own fantasies.5 But Dacier was taken aback by Hardouin’s argumentative strategy: I am surprised that the reverend Father, instead of contradicting my conjecture, did not have recourse to his old principle and favourite argument, and say that these passages, whose conformity with our holy books seems so obvious, were added to the text of Homer by certain idle monks who, having read the books of Job and Isaiah, and the Epistle of St Peter, amused themselves by fabricating these impostures. Those monks, who around the thirteenth century added so much to Plautus, to Ovid, to Terence, to Vergil and to Horace, could surely have sewn these patches onto Homer after their usual manner.6 3 See, e.g., Joan DeJean, Ancients Against Moderns: Culture Wars and the Making of a Fin de Siècle (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997), 100–​101, with a slightly pretentious dismissal of the quarrel over Homer. 4 Jean Hardouin, Apologie d’Homère (Paris, 1716). Hardouin thought, 8, that Homer had been on the Trojan side, anticipating the famous view of Samuel Butler, “The Humour of Homer” (1892), in The Humour of Homer and Other Essays (London: Fifield, 1913), 64. 5 See Anne Dacier, Homere défendu contre l’Apologie du R.P. Hardouin (Paris, 1716), 4–​5 for the praise of Hardouin, 63–​64 and 84–​85 on Homer’s religion, and 2–​3 on Hardouin’s ­imagination. 6 Ibid., 17–​18: “Je suis surprise que le R.P. au lieu de contredire ma conjecture, n’ait eu recours à son ancien principe et à son argument favori, et qu’il n’ait dit que ces passages, où cette conformité avec nos Livres saints paroît si sensible, ont été ajoûtez au texte d’Homere par quelques Moines oisifs, qui ayant lû le Livre de Job, celui d’Isaïe, et l’Epître de S. Pierre, se sont amusez à fabriquer de ces impostures. Des Moines, qui vers le treiziéme siécle ont tant ajoûté à Plaute, à Ovide, à Terence, à Virgile, et à Horace, pourroient bien avoir cousu à Homere ces lambeaux de leur façon.”

Pseudohistory and Metafiction in the 18th Century


Any scholar of the Querelle who gets this far is likely to be as surprised as Dacier, for the beliefs she imputes to Hardouin are positively extraordinary. But even her summary does not give the half of it: the Jesuit was, as one epitaph declared, “the most paradoxical of men,” or as a later writer put it, the “coryphaeus of learned visionaries.”7 In a series of essays and books from 1693 onwards he had argued that the entire canon of classical and patristic texts, save for a handful of pagan gems, had been forged by medieval monks seeking to infect the church with an atheistic rationalism; the Bible, to cap it all, had been written in Latin, and later mistranslated into Greek and Hebrew. Hardouin’s contemporaries balked, and in December 1708 he was forced to publish a retraction of his views in the Jesuit Journal de Trévoux; nonetheless, as everyone suspected, he clung to his fantasy, and spent the rest of his days toiling away at it in private. The Journal even printed his essay explaining that Dante was a Wycliffite invention of the fifteenth century—​apparently a harmless subject for his fancies.8 His former disciple François de La Pillonnière revealed in 1715 that Hardouin’s moment of éclaircissement had arrived in 1690 when reading St Augustine’s De libero arbitrio and discovering that it espoused a false, abstract idea of the divinity—​“the immutable order, the universal reason of minds.” Other authors came tumbling down in turn, but Augustine remained Hardouin’s nemesis:  his Censura of the Father’s works, dated 1711–​1718, runs to twenty-​nine manuscript volumes in the Bibliothèque nationale de France.9 Since Arnaldo Momigliano in 1950, historians have portrayed Hardouin as an extreme symptom of the critical scholarship and rationalist philosophy of the seventeenth century.10 Perhaps the best known treatment in English is a 7


9 10

“Nouvelles litteraires,” Bibliothèque raisonnée des ouvrages des savans de l’Europe 11 (Jul.–​ Sept. 1733), 238, quoting from the epitaph by the Genevan theologian Jacob Vernet: “Hic jacet hominum παραδοξότατος.” J.R., “On Paradoxes,” Gentleman’s Magazine (Nov. 1838): 472–​82, at 475. The philosophe Jean-​Baptiste-​Claude Delisle de Sales, in his anonymous 1765 satire La Bardinade: ou Les nôces de la stupidité ([s.l.], 1765), 53–​56, imagined Hardouin as the incarnation of the demigod Fancy, with “ses erreurs sans fin.” For Hardouin’s views on Dante, which have not yet been studied, see his “Doutes proposez sur l’âge du Dante,” Mémoires pour l’histoire des sciences et des beaux arts (Trévoux, Aug. 1727), 1516–​34; the essay was reprinted in 1847 as a standalone volume with notes by the botanist and Dante expert Charles Lyell Sr. [François de La Pillonnière], L’athéisme découvert par le R.  Père Hardouin Jesuite ([Paris, 1715]), 13–​15. Hardouin’s manuscripts on Augustine are at Paris, bnf, mss Latin 2745–​67. Arnaldo Momigliano, “Ancient History and the Antiquarian,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 13 (1950):  285–​315; Owen Chadwick, From Bossuet to Newman:  The Idea of Doctrinal Development (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1957), 49–​ 76; Jean Sgard, “ ‘Et si les anciens étaient modernes?’ Le système du père Hardouin,” in D’un siècle à l’autre:  Anciens et Modernes, ed. Louise Godard de Donville and Roger Duchêne (Marseilles:  cmr, 1987), 209–​20; Bernard Chedozeau, “Le P.  Hardouin et le

22 Ossa-Richardson penetrating article by Anthony Grafton from 1999, which gives examples of Hardouin’s methods, situates his thought in the history of scholarship, and emphasises the hostile reaction of his peers in the Republic of Letters.11 This chapter takes a different approach by considering how Hardouin’s ideas, and those of his most interesting eighteenth-​century reader, challenge some of our assumptions about the conceptual boundary between presentism and ­historicism. Hardouin’s writings after 1693 all served to buttress his one mad idea, but they were not all the same. His early essays were dense, technical, treating this or that discipline or question from the point of view of someone who had already accepted his assumption. His last work, however, was different, not in doctrine but in presentation, a point not quite appreciated in the existing literature. Before his retraction, Hardouin wrote to a friend that, although he would not publish any more, there would be found after his death among his papers “the important reasons that pushed him to take such a strange position.” The Deventer polymath Gisbert Cuper, upon hearing this from his regular correspondent Jacques Basnage, deemed it ridiculous, the admission of error of someone trying to save face; the Jesuits, he joked, ought to make the man publish so that everyone could see the great secret.12 The important reasons were discovered after Hardouin’s death, but not immediately. In 1733 appeared a volume of his Opera varia, organised by his disciple Pierre-​Joseph Thoulier d’Olivet; it offered a representative sample of work, including a long screed against modern “atheism,” commentaries on Vergil and

11 12

refus du rationalisme en religion: une reconstruction ultramontaine de l’histoire,” Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques 79 (1995):  249–​71; Chantal Grell, “Le vertige du pyrrhonisme:  Hardouin face à l’histoire,” in The Return of Scepticism from Hobbes and Descartes to Bayle, ed. Gianni Paganini (Dordrecht:  Kluwer, 2003), 363–​74; Thierry Sarmant, La République des médailles: numismates et collections numismatiques à Paris du Grand Siècle au Siècle des Lumières (Paris: Champion, 2003), 128–​40, esp. 134–​37, Adrien Paschoud, “L’érudition au péril de la foi:  l’œuvre apologétique de Jean Hardouin,” in Apologétique, 1650–​1802: la nature et la grâce, ed. Nicolas Brucker (Bern: Peter Lang, 2010), 201–​16. Anthony Grafton, “Jean Hardouin: The Antiquary as Pariah,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 62 (1999): 241–​67. Jacques Basnage to Gisbert Cuper, 12 Mar 1708, in Jacques Basnage, Corrispondenza da Rotterdam, 1685–​1709, ed. Myriam Silvera (Amsterdam:  apa-​Holland University Press, 2000), 352: “Il a ecrit en confidence à un de ses amis qu’il ne developera point son systeme pendant sa vie, mais qu’on le trouvera entre ses papiers après sa mort avec les raisons importantes qui l’ont determiné à prendre un party si estrange.” Cuper to Basnage, 7 Apr 1708, in idem, 362–​63: “La Compagnie, qui se vante de faire autant de bien au monde, l’y devroit contraindre afin que tout le monde pourroit etre desabusé, et videre grande illud arcanum.”

Pseudohistory and Metafiction in the 18th Century


Horace, and plenty of numismatics. The real prize, however, was still to come. In 1737 Hardouin’s papers, allegedly running to 22,601 pages, were deposited in the royal library by Cardinal Fleury.13 One item was kept back, for unknown reasons; it perhaps remained in the possession of d’Olivet. After the expulsion of the Jesuits from France in 1764, the manuscript was acquired by the bookseller Paul Vaillant, a third-​generation Huguenot whose Strand shop was a major conduit for European books in London, and who had visited d’Olivet in Paris a few years before.14 Vaillant said little about its acquisition, only that it had been rescued from the “shipwreck” of the Jesuits’ fortunes.15 He promptly passed the manuscript on to his friend William Bowyer, who printed it the following year. The book was entitled Prolegomena ad censuram scriptorum veterum, that is, Preamble to a Criticism of the Ancient Writers (or Writings).16 It turned out to be the key to all Hardouin’s mythologies. The strength of the Prolegomena, and presumably the reason it was selected among his works for translation into English by another crank a century later, is its narrative cogency.17 On the very first page, Hardouin lets the reader into his secret: “all writings commonly thought to be ancient, except for certain books, are in fact suppositious documents fabricated by a wicked gang.” The list of exceptions is similar to that given in 1693, only substituting Plautus for Cicero.18 The charge of novelty is immediately headed off, and the basic processes of forgery—​the use of old parchment and special inks, the deployment of ancient gobbets—​are conveyed in quick, persuasive strokes. Hardouin’s other books get bogged down in minute and laborious analyses, but here he ranges widely and wittily, making use of observations on recorded cases of fraud, distributions of manuscripts in European libraries, and so on. Like so 13

Léopold Delisle, Le cabinet des manuscrits de la Bibliothèque impériale, 2 vols (Paris, 1868–​ 1871), I, 417. 14 On Paul Vaillant, his family and his connection with d’Olivet, see John Nichols, Literary Anecdotes, 6 vols (London, 1812), iii, 309–​10n. In a curious episode, Vaillant’s father had been accused of impiety by the perennial malcontent Michael Malard after turning him out of the shop:  see Malard’s The Proselytish Hercules against the Mystery of Iniquity (London, 1720), 22. 15 Paul Vaillant, note in Jean Hardouin, Prolegomena ad censuram scriptorum veterum, ed. William Bowyer, 1st printing (London, 1766), vii. 16 The manuscript is now British Library, Add MS 4803. 17 Jean Hardouin, Prolegomena, tr. Edwin Johnson (Sydney:  Angus and Robertson, 1909). Johnson, a professor of classical literature at the Congregationalist New College London, had previously written a number of Hardouinesque books, such as The Rise of Christendom (London: Kegan Paul, 1890). 18 Hardouin, Prolegomena (1766), 1: “scripta quae vetera existimantur omnia, libris exceptis … inter supposititia et a scelesto grege fabricata monumenta referre.” The list is at 196.

24 Ossa-Richardson many conspiracy theorists, he lambasts the academic establishment, which he knows will reject his theories: “learning, and what is commonly called scientia, have heretofore been incredibly harmful to Christianity.”19 This is because the scholars who should have detected the atheism of old texts have themselves been shaped by intellectual traditions deriving from them: It is almost necessary that a Jesuit should reveal this malice, for there is hardly any other sect that has not been tricked by some famous book bestowed upon it by a celebrated member of that sect—​which book it has henceforth decreed to defend by any force and art.20 This point is central to Hardouin’s argument, seeking to elucidate not only the truth but, just as crucially, the reasons for its concealment. It is a political manoeuvre which has the effect of denying anyone but Hardouin the capacity and authority to interpret past texts, and, again, characteristic of conspiracy theories everywhere.21 In this respect the argument only spelled out a tendency implicit in the Jesuit’s earlier published work, a tendency that had not gone unnoticed. In 1723 the Parisian professor of rhetoric Jean-​Baptiste-​Louis Crévier wrote a pair of letters to a friend about Hardouin’s edition of Pliny. He imagined the catastrophic effects if the Jesuit’s fantasy were followed: Everything historical would become an enigma, whose code-​word it would be impossible for anyone but the author to divine. It would be a cipher whose key he alone possessed, pieces unsewn and detached from a system, and shown only in portions that one could not fit together into a whole because he had carefully hidden all the connections.22 19 20

21 22

Ibid., 65:  “Nocuit hactenus incredibiliter rei Christianae eruditio, et quae vulgo appellatur scientia.” For a modern example see M.J. Harper, The History of Britain Revealed (Thriplow: Icon, 2007), 14 and passim. Ibid., 9:  “Ab aliquo certe e Societate nostra propemodum necesse est hanc malitiam detegi. Nulla enim alia fere familia est, cui non fit illusum, oblato libro aliquo insigni, qui nomen praeferret viri in ea familia exímii; quem librum proinde, qua vi, qua arte, defendere illa decreverit.” Compare, for instance, Harper, The History of Britain, 8. [Jean-​Baptiste-​Louis Crévier], “Lettre sur le Pline du P.  Hardouin” [I]‌(Paris, 1725), 18: “Tout ce qui s’y trouve d’historique deviendroit une énigme, dont il seroit impossible de deviner le mot à tout autre qu’à l’Auteur. Ce seroit un chiffre, dont lui seul auroit la clef. Ce seroient des morceaux décousus et détachez d’un systême, qui ne seroit montré que par parcelles, que l’on ne pourroit rapprocher pour en former un tout, parcequ’il auroit eû soin d’en cacher toutes les liaisons.” The original letter is dated 10 May 1723, to an unknown recipient.

Pseudohistory and Metafiction in the 18th Century


Crévier’s rhetoric, forecasting the exile of history, is one of usurped authority; it borrows the language of polite science as it had railed against enthusiasts and occultists, against secrecy, unaccountability and magistery. But remarkably, Crévier had been anticipated by Hardouin himself. In the lines following the first revelation of his thesis in 1693, the Jesuit considered the contemporary historian’s fate with a tone somewhere between melancholy and amusement: Those who now toil with the surviving documents of antiquity to portray the corpus of history as an integral whole—​having with such ingenuity reconciled passages that are mostly contradictory—​seem to want to fabricate and cunningly concoct, from a multitude of fables, a new one that coheres better with itself in every part.23 In the wake of Nietzsche and his heirs, this sentiment will seem peculiarly familiar; indeed, it might seem a fine description of the historian’s task. But for Hardouin it was the result of a corrupt enterprise, monastic fraud begetting scholarly fraud, lies built on lies. The toilers are to be both condemned for their cunning and pitied for the hopelessness of their efforts; only Hardouin was safe, seeing all with his lofty gaze. Was this thought a presentist or a historicist one? On the one hand, he judged the authenticity of ancient texts by the doctrinal standards of the present Catholic Church, which seems highly presentist, and this was certainly, as historians have argued, a reaction against the scholarly historicism of earlier humanist philology, with its crisis of faith in spurious documents, and attendant exile of the present from the ancient past. But Hardouin himself would say that he had recovered the true, original purpose of the suppositious texts as against modern misunderstandings or misapplications. In fact, he went further, for in his view it was not just that his contemporaries misread old texts, but that those texts had begotten the impious values and erroneous beliefs that now engendered the misreadings, in a vicious circle of normative reinforcement. What he offered, then, was not just revisionist history, but—​to borrow another later phrase—​something like a genealogy of morals. From this perspective, the historicist-​presentist dichotomy, focusing on the construction of the past by the present, fails to capture the degree to which the present is itself constructed by the past, and so already 23

Jean Hardouin, Chronologiae ex nummis antiquis restitutae: prolusio de nummis herodiadum (Paris, 1693), 60: “E ceteris scriptis monumentis, qui hodie valde sudant, ut conciliatis quanta licet ingenii vi sententiis, inter se plerumque dissidentibus, historiae corpus unum integrum repraesentent, eos sibi videri aiebat ex pluribus fabulis novam alteram velle fabricari ac scite concinnare, secum omni e parte aptius cohaerentem.”

26 Ossa-Richardson compromised. Hardouin’s response was revenge, not only demystifying the remains of the present, but enacting exile upon antiquity itself, banishing it from Grecian splendour to the darkness of the Middle Ages. It is not wrong to see Hardouin as the logical culmination of humanist critical philology. But this view must be nuanced, for a central aspect of his thought is totality—​his exceptions are arbitrary, a technicality, irrelevant to the main thrust of his argument. This separates him not by degree but by kind from previous sceptics, aligning him instead with recent cranks like Edwin Johnson, Anatoly Fomenko, and M.J. Harper. It is the difference between humour and parody as articulated by Jean Paul in 1804: for humour “there is no one folly, no fools, but only folly in general and a foolish world; unlike common jesters with their potshots, it singles out no individual foolishness, but diminishes the great, which unlike parody it sets beside the little.”24 The endless attacks on Hardouin, which were largely constellations of his smaller errors, thus missed the point: the system could not be undermined by details. That reception history is still to be told, although historians have begun to discuss both the invectives and those few who echoed his ideas.25 In the second half of this article I turn instead to another kind of response, one that transfigured Hardouinism into something new. 2


Given the understandable hostility to and ridicule of Hardouin’s work by his contemporaries, what was the rationale for publishing it in 1766—​and by Protestants of all people? At first glance the answer might seem straightforward: an early modern Protestant liked nothing better than lampooning the Catholic Church, and still more the Jesuits, for their extravagances, and publishing such a trophy was a good way to do it. But Bowyer’s preface to the second printing 24


Jean Paul, Vorschule der Ästhetik ([1804] Berlin:  Hoffenberg, 2013), 101 (vii.32):  “Es gibt für ihn keine einzelne Torheit, keine Toren, sondern nur Torheit und eine tolle Welt; er hebt—​ungleich dem gemeinen Spaßmacher mit seinen Seitenhieben—​keine einzelne Narrheit heraus, sondern er erniedrigt das Große, aber—​ungleich der Parodie—​um ihm das Kleine … an die Seiten zu setzen.” On Barthélemy Germon and Isaac Berruyer, see Chedozeau, “Le P. Hardouin,” 267–​74; on François de La Pillonnière see Daniel J. Watkins, “The Two Conversions of François de La Pillonnière:  A Case Study of Rationalism and Religion in the Early Enlightenment,” Eighteenth-​Century Thought 6 (2016): 33–​58. J. van Ooteghem, “Un commentateur extravagant d’Horace: le père Hardouin,” Les études classiques 13 (1945): 222–​35, discusses Petrus Hofman Peerlkamp (1786–​1865), an editor who athetised much of Horace.

Pseudohistory and Metafiction in the 18th Century


of the edition betrays little sense of such a motivation. Instead, he calls Hardouin’s paradoxes “delightful for their novelty.”26 This is, assuredly, ironic praise, but it is not blame disguised as praise; rather, it expresses pleasure in creative nonsense, much as Aldous Huxley would enjoy the novels of Amanda Ros, or Raymond Queneau his fous littéraires.27 More to the point, Bowyer picked up on an element of the original: in the effort to detect fraud, wrote Hardouin, “I laboured almost to the point of disgust, albeit with frequent moments of the greatest delight when I had detected the truth.”28 Delight was central to Hardouin’s project, and Crévier answered his own question in 1726 when he asked the Jesuit: “Why change the simplest phrases into enigmas, just to give yourself the pleasure of solving them?”29 Other Protestants were amazed at Bowyer’s judgement. At Halle, the philologist Christian Adolph Klotz, who had previously waged a war against Hardouin’s view of Horace, thundered against the very idea of publishing the Prolegomena: “Hardouin’s dreams, with which his brain was always full—​were they not better left in the darkness than brought into the light? What benefit will they afford anyone? What is ‘delightful’ about them?”30 Probably most would have agreed with Klotz. One reader, however, was even more responsive than Bowyer to the delights of nonsense. This was Bowyer’s friend César de Missy (1703–​1775), a Huguenot divine, scholar, and book collector, born in Berlin but resident in London since 1731.31 Most of De Missy’s work 26

William Bowyer, “Lectori S[alve],” in Jean Hardouin, Prolegomena, ed. Bowyer, 2nd printing (London, 1766), x: “Paradoxa enim per se cum novitate sua delectant.” 27 See, for instance, Aldous Huxley, “Euphues Redivivus,” in his On the Margin:  Notes & Essays (London: Chatto and Windus, 1928), 134–​40, and Raymond Queneau, Les enfants du limon (Paris, 1952). Bowyer’s praise is of a rather different stripe from that of Jean-​Louis de Lorme, who edited Hardouin’s Opera selecta (Amsterdam, 1709): see De Lorme’s defensive comments in the preface, sig. *3v. 28 Hardouin, Prolegomena, 16: “in labore paene ad fastidium, sed interjecta persaepe summa ex vero detecto oblectatione, desudavimus.” 29 [Jean-​Baptiste-​Louis Crévier], “Lettre sur le Pline du P.  Hardouin” [iii] (Paris, 1726), 32: “Pourquoy changer en énigmes les expressions les plus simples, pour vous donner le plaisir de les deviner?” This letter, unlike the first two, was addressed to Hardouin, who had responded to Crévier’s earlier attacks in the Trévoux Mémoires pour l’histoire des sciences et des beaux arts (Oct. 1726), 1904–​21. 30 Christian Adolph Klotz, Acta literaria, 4 (1767), 274–​86, at 274: “Harduini certe somnia, quibus hominis cerebrum semper plenum fuit, nonne multo rectius tenebris reliquenda, quam in lucem protrahenda erant? Quem enim illa fructum cuiquam adferunt? quam habent delectationem?” For Klotz’s defence of Horace, see his Vindiciae Q. Horatii Flacci (Bremen, 1764). 31 Anthony Ossa-​Richardson, “ ‘A Religious Attention to Minutiae’: César de Missy (1703–​75) Studies the New Testament,” Erudition and the Republic of Letters 1 (2016): 151–​202.

28 Ossa-Richardson was on the Greek New Testament and the histories of its manuscripts, over which he pored with an amazing attention to detail, reconstructing minute habits of scribal error and hypothesising about textual transmission, as well as noting interpretations for use in his sermons. For the latter he had used Hardouin’s scriptural notes at least once.32 He shared none of the Jesuit’s wild ideas, although he was, like Hardouin, quick to mock the timidity and conservatism of his scholarly peers. In one manuscript essay, after observing that pheasants buried their heads in the ground on the sight of danger, and that children ran similarly to their mother’s breast, he remarked: Some commentators seem to act now and then like the pheasants or children. A difficult passage alarms them. To make the difficulty disappear they shut their eyes and remain quiet, as if it were nothing, as if not seeing the difficulty were the same as annihilating it.33 Bowyer, knowing his friend’s keen eye for textual detail, passed him the Prolegomena manuscript and a copy of the edition to look over. The Huguenot had spent much of the late 1740s collating and re-​collating a number of minor New Testament manuscripts in his possession; now, in early 1766, lying sick in his Marylebone house, attended by Handel’s former physician Francis Philip Duval, he began to collate Hardouin. His primary goal was to restore all the passages cancelled in the manuscript, adding them in ink and pencil to the print copy.34 But he also wanted to play detective, determining as much as he could about the book’s provenance. On the first page (Figure 1.1), at the top-​ right corner, were four lines heavily crossed out, which De Missy deciphered as “Autographi | sive primi-​| genii exem-​| plaris paginae.” From this he concluded that the manuscript was a second autograph, copied from the first, and including a key to the original pagination along the outer margin. He next scanned the book for clues as to dating. On page five Hardouin referred to 1693 as being “thirty-​six” years ago, implying that he was now writing in 1729, the last year of his life, but triginta (“thirty”) had been written over a cancelled viginti (“twenty”)—​did this mean the first autograph had been written ten 32 33


Bodleian Library, MS Clar. Press e.33, fol. 81r, citing Hardouin, Commentarius in Novum Testamentum, 2 vols (Amsterdam, 1745), I, 131–​32, on Mark 11.13. Bodleian Library, MS Clar. Press e.33, fol. 93r: “quelques Commentateurs semblent faire quelquefois comme les faisandeaux ou comme les Enfans dont je parlois tout-​a-​l’heure. Un passage difficile les allarme. Pour en faire disparoître les difficultés ils y ferment les yeux et se tiennent coi, comme si de rien n’étoit, comme si ne plus voir les difficultés c’étoit les anéantir.” This copy is now at British Library, shelfmark 11824.i.36.

Pseudohistory and Metafiction in the 18th Century


Figure 1.1  Jean Hardouin, Ad censuram scriptorum veterum prolegomena

years before (1719), or sixteen (1713)? On page 38 the name “Louis xv” seemed to have been added in later, suggesting an original date before 1715.35 De Missy 35

Given the evidence from Jacques Basnage’s letter (above, n. 12), unknown to de Missy, that Hardouin had begun composing this work as early as 1708, we may conclude that it was rather long in gestation. Chedozeau, “Le P. Hardouin,” 266, puts the date of completion at 1710 on internal evidence.

30 Ossa-Richardson wrote up these thoughts, with a list of cancelled passages, in a long letter to Bowyer which he sent in March; as a tribute to his friend’s scholarship, Bowyer published it later that year.36 Unfortunately, there were several typos, but De Missy’s correctorial zeal had not flickered out, and he went through the printed copies one by one, emending each in pen.37 Meanwhile, Bowyer had already reissued Hardouin’s Prolegomena prefixed with a list of the cancelled passages. Most of De Missy’s published letter, then, is editorial in nature. But buried in the middle of it is something quite different. He notes on 204 a cancelled passage containing a Hebrew etymology for the name Bertcaudus found in a letter of Lupus Servatus.38 Following this, De Missy writes: Lest you think I abhor such delights, I will devise just as learned and ominous an etymology of a more famous name, one that a gullible future person might one day think a fiction just like Bertcaudus—​I say that the name Harduinus is invented from the Hebrew har-​dave-​nos, which may be translated literally as “the sick mountain put to flight” or allegorically as “the pregnant mountain gave birth.” The truth of this allegory will be shown not only from Hardouin’s great efforts, but especially from that ancient saying (or rather oracle) that Pseudo-​Horace made his own when he sang, “The mountains give birth, and a ridiculous mouse is born.”39 36




On the autograph note, see César de Missy, Epistola ad Wilhelmum Bowyerum (London, 1766), 41–​44; on dating see the notes at 48–​49 (on BL, Add MS 4803, 5), 58 (on 38), and also 52 (on the emendation in the second autograph of “Clement xi” [r. 1700–​1721] to “Benedict xiii” [r. 1724–​1730] at 23, 25, 38). I have checked four copies:  British Library, shelfmark 1089.m.17.(2.), Bodleian Library, shelfmark 8° Z 183(1) BS, Cambridge University Library, shelfmark 8.31.6, and Trinity College Cambridge Library, shelfmark I.1.32[3]‌, all of which bear the same emendations in De Missy’s hand. My thanks here to Dennis Duncan, Richard Oosterhoff, and Richard Serjeantson, who sent me images of the latter three copies at short notice. Lupus Servatus, Letter 5 to Einhard, 836 AD, in Lupus, Epistulae, ed. Peter K.  Marshall (Berlin:  Teubner, 1984), 16, mentioning Bertcaudus as a royal scribe. Hardouin etymologises the name as the Hebrew B-​charetha-​qah-​adah, which he translates as “Qui cum irascetur, dolentes removebit” (“He who, when he gets angry, will remove those who cause pain”), and refers to Christ’s words at Matt. 25:41. Leaving aside the logic of offering such an etymology in the first place, this is, as a learned Hebraist assures me, a strained effort. De Missy, Epistola, 66–​67: “Ne tamen putes me tales abominari delicias, en egomet ipse non minus eruditam tibi cudo, nec minus ominosam clarioris nominis notationem: quod et aliquando fortasse non minus quam Bertcaudi nomen, pro ficto nomine habebit philosophice credula Posteritas. Hoc interim dico: Harduinus fictum nomen est ex ‫הר־דוי־נוס‬: quod interpretere licet, vet sensu quem vocant literali, Mons languens effugit: vel allegorico, Mons

Pseudohistory and Metafiction in the 18th Century


Like his friend Bowyer, De Missy finds “delights” in Hardouin’s madness, and we can see that he has already begun to play the Jesuit’s game in his reference to “Pseudo-​Horace.” Moreover, he continues, Hardouin must have known that Pliny got his name from the Hebrew peloni, “so-​and-​so,” and Herodotus from hore-​d-​oth, “begetter of marvels,” and so on with Homer, Horace, Vergil, Ovid, and the others he foolishly sought to rescue. The worst of the bunch was Plautus, about whom the “ancient” authorities all differed, even as to the number of plays he wrote. But De Missy has the solution: a medieval origin story, written out over twenty-​one pages, with an additional fifteen anticipating objections.40 This is the shaggy-​dog story to end all shaggy-​dog stories, the most elaborate—​or laboured—​joke of the entire eighteenth century, but one with a new perspective on the creative possibilities of history. The tale begins with Philip Augustus’s 1182 expulsion of Jews and actors from France.41 A generation later, a man born in Tuscany to an exiled Jew and an exiled actor moves to Pistoia, where he has a son of his own and enjoys the local theatre. When Pope Gregory ix suppresses the Jews in 1234, they flee to Brittany, but their luck there is no better, for in 1240 John i of Brittany issues his own edict against the Jews.42 Finally they return to France—​the Jews having being readmitted in 1198—​and the father seeks out his old friend Asa Pistoriensis (Asa of Pistoia), now dejudified to Pistor, a few miles from Paris. Marvelling at the son’s talents for drawing and recitation in “Hebraico-​Britannic,” i.e.,

40 41


parturiens evasit: et allegoriae veritatem demonstrabis, non ex magnis Harduini moliminibus tantum, sed ex antiquo praesertim dicto, seu potius oraculo, quod suum fecit Pseudo-​ Horatius, ubi cecinit; Parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus.” The reference is to the Ars Poetica, 139. Ibid. 76–​112. On the Jewish expulsion, see Jim Bradbury, Philip Augustus:  King of France, 1180–​1223 (Oxford:  Routledge, 2013), 51–​53. The expulsion of the actors seems to be apocryphal, though widespread in older historiography, e.g. in Scipion Dupleix, Histoire generale de France, 3 vols (Paris, 1637–​1639), ii, 151–​52. But Philip did despise actors, on which see Rigord, Gesta Philippi Augusti, §§ 12–​17, in Œuvres, ed. H.  François Delaborde, 2 vols (Paris: Renouard, 1882), I, 71–​72, and mimes were expelled from the court in 1212, on which see Vincent of Beauvais, Speculum maius, 4 vols (Douai, 1624), iv, 1238b (= Speculum historiale xxx.5). For the context see John W. Baldwin, “The Image of the Jongleur in Northern France around 1200,” Speculum 72 (1997): 639–​40. On Gregory ix, whose Decretals specifically targeted the Talmud, see Mark Cohen, Under Crescent and Cross: The Jews in the Middle Ages (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994), 38–​39, and Rebecca Rist, Popes and Jews, 1095–​1291 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 197–​98. On John i of Brittany, see Michael Jones, The Creation of Brittany: A Late Medieval State (London: Hambledon, 1988), 140, and Claude Toczé and Annie Lambert, Les Juifs en Bretagne: Ve–​X Xe siècles (Rennes: Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2006), 19–​20.

32 Ossa-Richardson Breton taken as indistinguishable from Hebrew, Pistor pays the father off and accepts the boy into his fraternity of the Acoemetae or “Sleepless.”43 He sends the lad off to their headquarters, located some distance away, giving him as a token of admission a coin inscribed conob, short for κοινοβούλιον, “council.” He warns him to conceal his Jewishness, and to pretend that he lost his money on a merchant venture.44 Arriving dishevelled, the boy is mocked by the door-​ keeper as a pié-​plat, “flat-​foot,” but the prefect takes him in and asks his name. The young initiate feigns astonishment that the door-​keeper knew his name already, which he claims is Pierre Plat, and the prefect decides to address him henceforth in Latin as Master Plattus. Pistor appears the next day, bringing news of the death of the boy’s father. The fraternity turns out to contain the most curious of scriptoria, forging ancient literature. Plattus gradually settles in and is given various tasks:  he illuminates an epitome of Roman history ascribed to “Florus” for its flowery language, he helps translate the Gospels from Latin into Greek, and finally he begins to copy a manuscript of Greek comedies sent over from Constantinople by Geoffrey of Villehardouin (of course), the work of a forger going by the sobriquet “Aristophanes.” The comedies set Plattus’s heart racing, and he decides to compose his own in Latin, devoting every spare hour to the task. A few days later he gives Pistor his first effort, entitled Poenulus, “The Little Phoenician,” and the master, delighted with the work, explains to Plattus the fraternity’s secrets: their aim, he says, is to combat superstition, a sickness that has been growing among men for centuries, and to this end they write and disseminate manuscripts to be stowed away in obscure locations all over Europe until the people are ready for them. Pistor “scribbles” (scribillare) on parchments, to be consumed as a “tart” (scriblita) only in the eighteenth century, and then only “by those who labour with a sacred hunger for truth.” And this, he continues, is where Plattus comes in:



On the connection between Hebrew and the Celtic languages, see Paul-​Yves Pezron, Antiquité de la nation et de la langue des Celtes, autrement appellez Gaulois (Paris, 1703), 188; an Irish-​Punic connection would still be supported as late as Roger O’Connor, Chronicles of Eri (London, 1822), cxliii–​cccxlviii. Gustave Flaubert, Bouvard et Pécuchet, in his Oeuvres complètes, 16 vols (Paris: Club de l’honnête homme, 1971–​5), V, 172, would later ridicule his heroes’ belief that Hebrew was “la langue mère du celtique.” The Acoemetae (ἀκοίμητοι) were a real order of Eastern Orthodox monks; De Missy took the name from a cancelled passage in the manuscript, at 195, included in the printed Prolegomena, 2nd printing, xv. The wording is that of Aulus Gellius, Noctes atticae, iii.3.14: pecunia omni, quam in operis artificum scaenicorum pepererat, in mercatibus perdita.

Pseudohistory and Metafiction in the 18th Century


There is, you see, nothing more harmful to the truth, nor any more plentiful spring of sacred fables, than the public and highly theatrical ceremonies, readings and sermons of the sacred performers, especially if they have studied eloquence and learning. I have always thought that there would be no better antidote to this plague than if the people, eager for any spectacle, could be furnished with stage plays of a splendour suitable for nobility and, above all, praiseworthy as good comedies or tragedies. After spectacles and speeches of this kind have flourished and become famous, the rotten dirges of the aforementioned performers will gradually come to appear mean and worthless to all.45 Plattus, then, has been groomed to write plays, and the manuscript of Aristophanes was bait. Pistor wants the Poenulus performed, but the monastery lacks hypocrita—​actors. Nonsense, replies the young playwright: the place is crawling with hypocrites, and even with girls to play the female parts. Pistor is to play Hanno, Plattus himself Agorastocles, and the bullying door-​keeper the pimp Lycus. The performance is a roaring success, and Plattus goes on to fill a whole volume with his comedies. But one night, when the playwright is asleep in his cell, the door-​keeper sees his book on the scriptorium desk. Seized with envy, he furtively inscribes, over the blank space left for a title, “It was the Little Pauper who produced all these trifles.” The next morning Plattus discovers the insult, and, deeply hurt, considers adding a Latin couplet in the space below: I was impoverished when I fled the Prince’s edict into exile, As when a little dove, chased by his enemies, hastens to flee.46 But then he remembers Pistor’s advice to dissemble his Jewish past, and translates the couplet into Hebrew (or, perhaps, Hebraico-​Britannic) doggerel: 45

De Missy, Epistola, 90–​91: “Ut autem nulla pejor est Veritatis pernicies, nec uberior ulla sacrarum fabularum scaturigo, quam concionales ac plane theatrales illae sacrorum Circulatorum Caerimoniae, Praelectiones, Declamationes, maxime siquod apud eos vigeat eloquentiae doctrinaeque studium; ἀντίδοτον huic pestilentiae vix aliud valentius aliquando futurum semper putavi, quam si populo, spectaculorum quorumvis avido, subministrari possent ludi scenici tum decora nobilitati magnificentia, tum vero praesertim bonis commendabiles Comoediis Tragoediisve; quo celebrato, quo florente spectaculorum declamationumque genere, paullatim vilescerent, ac tandem sorderent omnibus, putidae quas memoravi Circulatorum naeniae.” 46 De Missy, Epistola, 95:  “Depauperatus, quando exul ego fugi edicta P[r]‌ incipis, /​ Columbulus uti fugere properat involatus hostium.”

34 Ossa-Richardson

Figure 1.2  César de Missy, Epistola ad Wilhelmum Bowyerum (London, 1766)

‫י־שׂר‬ ֽ ָ ‫ָמְך ִ ֽכּ ְפּלֹוֽ ִטי ִ ֽא ְמ ֵר‬ ‫קֹומי ְל ָ ֽצר ׃‬ ֽ ֵ ‫ַכּ ֹּֽינָ ה ִ ֽטישׂ‬ makh qipeloti imrei sar kayonah tis qomei letzar Even this, he then decides, might be decoded by one of his colleagues, so he eliminates the word-​breaks and vowel points, eliding the characters into a single cryptic line:

‫מאככיפלוטיאמרישארכינהטישקומילצר ׃‬ Some time later, Pistor passes away, and, soon afterwards, Plattus himself. Like other items from the scriptorium, the book is deposited in a library to age safely, where it lies for centuries until it is finally unearthed and examined. The editors are puzzled as to its author’s identity, until one conjectures that the Hebrew words conceal a name in Latin. The line is thus emended, divided and pointed:

‫מ״ אככי פלֹוטי ֻאמרי ַשׂרכינָ הטישׂ קֹומ ִֹיד ֵא כ ׃‬ It is finally transliterated: M. Acci Ploti Umbri Sarcinatis Comoediae xx, “20 Comedies by M. Accus Plotus from Sarsina in Umbria.” The o of Plotus quickly becomes, in the mouths of French scribes and editors, an au. But the final letters of the title, much worn with age, remain a matter of scholarly dispute—​where some read 20 (‫)כ‬, others read 21 (‫)כא‬, 25 (‫)כה‬, 30 (‫)ל‬, 40 (‫)מ‬, or 100 (‫)ק‬. De Missy had one more trick up his sleeve. He wanted to show the reader how a worn manuscript form might be mistaken for particular Hebrew letters, but he could not produce such a shape with normal Hebrew

Pseudohistory and Metafiction in the 18th Century


types, so he emended the printed copies by hand to produce the requisite “decayed” forms.47 This was, according to De Missy, the origin of the Plautine comedies and of the controversy over their number. It is a story which opens up, with all its historical dimensions, in the crevice between the Latin title of the comedies and its transliteration—​or homophonic translation—​into Hebrew.48 What are we to make of it? First, that Hardouin’s fantasy has been reconfigured as a Borgesian metafiction, woven with both real history and the Jesuit’s own inventions. The recurrent play on baking is a case in point, taking its cue from the real Plautus’s alleged stint as a baker, folding in an allusion to the Parisian philosophe Nicolas Antoine Boulanger, and quibbling on the words scriblita and scribillare.49 This particular constellation, like the anti-​monastic ribbing about hypocrites and girls kept in the cloister, has a Rabelaisian flavour, an allegiance De Missy had signalled in 1739 when he translated into French, with copious annotations, the commentary on Rabelais by his fellow Huguenot Pierre le Motteux.50 Or consider the coin marked conob given to Plattus as a token of entry: this alludes to a real mark on certain Byzantine coins, the interpretation of which had occasioned a long dispute involving Hardouin himself.51 Plattus’s coin also has an inscription in Hebrew letters, adapted from Samuel Bochart’s rendering of a Punic line in the Poenulus.52 The tall tale is thus an 47 48

These alterations appear in all the copies I have checked, on which see n. 37 above. Homophonic (or allographic) translations retain the sounds rather than the sense of the original, as in Louis and Celia Zukofsky’s Catullus, on which see Lawrence Venuti, The Translator’s Invisibility:  A History of Translation, 2nd ed. (Abingdon:  Routledge, 2008), 186–​88. De Missy’s method of composition, which clearly began with the final couplet, closely resembles that of Raymond Roussel, outlined in the title essay of his Comment j’ai écrit certains de mes livres ([1935] Paris: Gallimard, 1979), 11–​35. 49 Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae, iii.3.14. 50 Pierre le Motteux, Remarques sur Rabelais, tr. C[ésar] d[e]‌M[issy] (London, 1740). Motteux (1663–​1718), naturalised as Peter Anthony, had revised Sir Thomas Urquhart’s translation of the first three books of Gargantua and Pantagruel in 1693, and translated books four and five himself in 1694. 51 I hope to expand on this controversy in another article entitled “Numismatic Kabbalah”; for now, see Sarmant, La République des médailles, 136. 52 Plautus, Poenulus, V.1.937: yth emanethi hy chirs aelichot sithi nasot. For De Missy’s line, compare his Epistola, 82, with Samuel Bochart, Geographia sacra, 2 vols (Caen, 1646), ii: Chanaan seu De coloniis et sermone Phoenicum, foldout plate between 800–​801 (line 8 of the Hebraic transcription). On the extraordinary inclusion of Punic in Plautus’s play, see Paul Schröder, “Die punischen Texte im Pönulus des Plautus Act. V. Sc. 1–​3,” in his Die Phönizische Sprache (Halle: Waisenhauses, 1869), 285–​321, Maurice Sznycer, Les passages puniques en transcription latine dans le “Poenulus” de Plaute (Paris: Klincksieck, 1967), and, more recently, Matthew Leigh, Comedy and the Rise of Rome (Oxford: Oxford

36 Ossa-Richardson opportunity for erudite humour, written for a small group of fellow Hardouinophiles. Even in this limited respect, the letter is interesting as a luxuriant outgrowth of Bowyer’s opinion: pseudohistory was no longer anything to be feared—​it could be savoured, and even lovingly imitated. In its erudition and jesting inconsequence, the result shares much with Tristram Shandy, which was in 1766 continuing to appear, though it lacks Sterne’s human warmth and lightness of touch, and one can hardly imagine it in paperback. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of De Missy’s story, however, is its melancholy subtext, one that speaks to the Huguenot’s own ancestry and identity in a manner we might expect from a more modern work of literary fiction. Plautus has been resituated not in any old thirteenth-​century history—​as a spoof of Hardouin demanded—​but specifically in that of Jewish persecution, his exile encoded in the very verses that conjure his name to his later editors; he therefore embodies loss and separation, like the disintegrating narrators of Beckett’s Trilogy, or, on a still closer Jewish note, the ‘e’ missing from Georges Perec’s 1969 masterpiece, La disparition. The medieval subjugation and exile of the Jews, moreover, is no arbitrary image here, but a variant on the Babylonian captivity so widely deployed as an analogue to the exile of the Huguenots; De Missy had even published on this topic, thirty odd years before.53 Plattus, then, has a close relationship to his creator, but less as his alter ego than as his mirror image: in the lines quoted above, Pistor establishes his comedies as an “antidote” to the public ceremonies of sacred performers, with their “eloquence and learning”—​a description of Christian preachers, just like the author. Hardouin, too, is part of Plattus, underlined by a shared Breton childhood. When considered as one, the details of the story acquire a deeper resonance. The Epistola offers a moment at which scholarship, the nuts and bolts of editing, becomes literature, at once playful, reaching out to identify with the dispossessed Jesuit, and anguished, inscribed with the horrors of inherited experience. But where does that leave our original distinction between presentism and historicism? Hardouin, as we recall, had winnowed out the poetic beauty of Homer from his religious error; De Missy now did the same to Hardouin. It was not only antiquity that had been exiled, but the very process of historiography. Past and present intermingled irrevocably: both were now as strange and distant as the Punic fragments in Plautus, both as near as De Missy himself.


University Press, 2004), 30–​31, with further bibliography. The early modern interest in this topic has not been studied in any detail, though see Zur Shalev, Sacred Words and Worlds: Geography, Religion, and Scholarship, 1550–​1700 (Leiden: Brill, 2012), 181, 183. Ossa-​Richardson, “ ‘A Religious Attention’ ”: 152–​53.

Pseudohistory and Metafiction in the 18th Century


Acknowledgements Here I  would like to thank Peggy Brown, Theodor Dunkelgrün, Toon Van Hal, and Joanna Weinberg for kindly answering specialist queries; Mordechai Feingold and Simon Mills for offering helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper; and the editors of this volume for their original kind invitation.


[Crévier, Jean-​Baptiste-​Louis]. “Lettre sur le Pline du P. Hardouin” [i]. Paris, 1725. [Crévier, Jean-​Baptiste-​Louis]. “Lettre sur le Pline du P. Hardouin” [iii]. Paris, 1726. [De La Pillonnière, François]. L’athéisme découvert par le R.  Père Hardouin Jesuite. [­Paris, 1715]. [Delisle de Sales, Jean-​Baptiste-​Claude]. La Bardinade:  ou Les nôces de la stupidité. [s.l.], 1765. Baldwin, John W. “The Image of the Jongleur in Northern France around 1200.” Speculum 72 (1997): 635–​63. Basnage, Jacques. Corrispondenza da Rotterdam, 1685–​1709, ed. Myriam Silvera. Amsterdam: apa-​Holland University Press, 2000. Bochart, Samuel. Geographia sacra, 2 vols. Caen, 1646. Bradbury, Jim. Philip Augustus: King of France, 1180–​1223. Oxford: Routledge, 2013. Butler, Samuel. The Humour of Homer and Other Essays. London: Fifield, 1913. Chadwick, Owen. From Bossuet to Newman: The Idea of Doctrinal Development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1957. Chedozeau, Bernard. “Le P. Hardouin et le refus du rationalisme en religion: une reconstruction ultramontaine de l’histoire.” Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques 79 (1995): 249–​71. Cohen, Mark. Under Crescent and Cross:  The Jews in the Middle Ages. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994. Dacier, Anne. Homere défendu contre l’Apologie du R.P. Hardouin. Paris, 1716. De Missy, César. Epistola ad Wilhelmum Bowyerum. London, 1766. DeJean, Joan. Ancients Against Moderns: Culture Wars and the Making of a Fin de Siècle. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997. Delisle, Léopold. Le cabinet des manuscrits de la Bibliothèque impériale, 2 vols. Paris, 1868–​1871. Dupleix, Scipion. Histoire generale de France, 3 vols. Paris, 1637–​1639. Grafton, Anthony. “Jean Hardouin: The Antiquary as Pariah.” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 62 (1999): 241–​67.

38 Ossa-Richardson Grafton, Anthony. “Renaissance Readers and Ancient Texts: Comments on Some Commentaries,” Renaissance Quarterly 38 (1985): 615–​49. Grell, Chantal. “Le vertige du pyrrhonisme: Hardouin face à l’histoire.” In The Return of Scepticism from Hobbes and Descartes to Bayle, edited by Gianni Paganini, 363–​74. Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2003. Hardouin, Jean. Chronologiae ex nummis antiquis restitutae: prolusio de nummis herodiadum. Paris, 1693. Hardouin, Jean. Opera selecta, ed. Jean-​Louis De Lorme. Amsterdam, 1709. Hardouin, Jean. Apologie d’Homere. Paris, 1716. Hardouin, Jean. “Doutes proposez sur l’âge du Dante,” Mémoires pour l’histoire des sciences et des beaux arts (Trévoux, Aug. 1727): 1516–​34. Hardouin, Jean. Commentarius in Novum Testamentum, 2 vols. Amsterdam, 1745. Hardouin, Jean. Prolegomena ad censuram scriptorum veterum, ed. William Bowyer. London, 1766. Hardouin, Jean. Prolegomena, tr. Edwin Johnson. Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1909. Harper, M.J. The History of Britain Revealed. Thriplow: Icon, 2007. Huxley, Aldous. On the Margin: Notes & Essays. London: Chatto and Windus, 1928. Jean Paul. Vorschule der Ästhetik [1804]. Berlin: Hoffenberg, 2013. Johnson, Edwin. The Rise of Christendom. London: Kegan Paul, 1890. Jones, Michael. The Creation of Brittany:  A Late Medieval State. London:  Hambledon, 1988. Klotz, Christian Adolph. Vindiciae Q. Horatii Flacci. Bremen, 1764. Le Motteux, Pierre. Remarques sur Rabelais, tr. C[ésar] d[e]‌M[issy]. London, 1740. Lupus Servatus. Epistulae, ed. Peter K. Marshall. Berlin: Teubner, 1984. Malard, Michael. The Proselytish Hercules against the Mystery of Iniquity. London, 1720. Momigliano, Arnaldo. “Ancient History and the Antiquarian.” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 13 (1950): 285–​315. Nichols, John. Literary Anecdotes, 6 vols. London: Nichols, 1812. Norman, Larry F. The Shock of the Ancient:  Literature and History in Early Modern France. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011. O’Connor, Roger. Chronicles of Eri. London, 1822. Ossa-​Richardson, Anthony. “‘A Religious Attention to Minutiae’: César de Missy (1703–​ 75) Studies the New Testament.” Erudition and the Republic of Letters 1 (2016): 151–​202. Paschoud, Adrien. “L’érudition au péril de la foi: l’oeuvre apologétique de Jean Hardouin.” In Apologétique, 1650–​1802: la nature et la grâce, edited by Nicolas Brucker, 201–​16. Bern: Peter Lang, 2010. Pezron, Paul-​Yves. Antiquité de la nation et de la langue des Celtes, autrement appellez Gaulois. Paris, 1703. Queneau, Raymond. Les enfants du limon. Paris, 1952. R., J. “On Paradoxes.” Gentleman’s Magazine (Nov. 1838): 472–​82.

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Rigord. Œuvres, ed. H. François Delaborde, 2 vols. Paris: Renouard, 1882. Rist, Rebecca. Popes and Jews, 1095–​1291. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016. Roussel, Raymond. Comment j’ai écrit certains de mes livres. Paris: Gallimard, 1979. Sarmant, Thierry. La République des médailles:  numismates et collections numismatiques à Paris du Grand Siècle au Siècle des Lumières. Paris: Champion, 2003. Schröder, Paul. Die Phönizische Sprache. Halle: Waisenhauses, 1869. Sgard, Jean. “‘Et si les anciens étaient modernes?’ Le système du père Hardouin.” In D’un siècle à l’autre: Anciens et Modernes, edited by Louise Godard de Donville and Roger Duchêne, 209–​20. Marseilles: cmr, 1987. Shalev, Zur. Sacred Words and Worlds: Geography, Religion, and Scholarship, 1550–​1700. Leiden: Brill, 2012. Sznycer, Maurice. Les passages puniques en transcription latine dans le “Poenulus” de Plaute. Paris: Klincksieck, 1967. Toczé, Claude and Annie Lambert. Les Juifs en Bretagne: Ve–​X Xe siècles. Rennes: Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2006. Van Ooteghem, J. “Un commentateur extravagant d’Horace:  le père Hardouin.” Les études classiques 13 (1945): 222–​35. Venuti, Lawrence. The Translator’s Invisibility: A History of Translation, 2nd ed. Abingdon: Routledge, 2008. Vincent of Beauvais. Speculum historiale. Paris, 1624. Watkins, Daniel J. “The Two Conversions of François de La Pillonnière: A Case Study of Rationalism and Religion in the Early Enlightenment.” Eighteenth-​Century Thought 6 (2016): 33–​58.

­c hapter 2

The Philosophy of Ancient Poetry: Greek Poetic Pessimism in the Voyage du jeune Anacharsis en Grèce Maria Giulia Franzoni 1

The Greek Ideal and Greek Pessimism between the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries But then, thinking it over, I remembered that it [that painful philosophy] was as new as Solomon and Homer and the most ancient poets and philosophers we know, all of whom teem with figures, with fables, with sayings, pointing out the extreme unhappiness of man. One of them says that man is the most miserable of animals; another that it is better not to be born or, if born, to die in the cradle; still another that whoever is dear to the gods dies young; and finally others say innumerable other things of the same nature.1

This passage from the “Dialogo di Tristano e di un amico” (1832) is one of the central texts for the study of the Italian poet, scholar, and philosopher Giacomo Leopardi’s engagement with Greek pessimism. As the end and culmination of his Operette Morali, the piece conveys Tristano’s (the author’s spokesperson) admiration for the pessimistic wisdom of the distant past, embodied, in the Greek world, by Homer. This passage also provides us with a lucid description of what we may call “Greek pessimism,” in both content and form.2 The 1 In Lucio Felici and Emanuele Trevi, Giacomo Leopardi: Tutte le poesie, tutte le prose e lo Zibaldone (Rome: Newton Compton, 2013), 603. Translation from Giovanni Cecchetti, Leopardi, Operette Morali: Essays and Dialogues (Oakland: University of California Press, 1983), 489. 2 There are two necessary caveats to bear in mind concerning the use of the formula “Greek pessimism.” First, the term “pessimism” itself is modern, coined from the debates around Leibnitzian optimism; see Hans Stäglich, “Zur Geschichte des Begriffs Pessimismus,” Schopenhauer-​Jahrbuch 34 (1951–​1952): 27–​37, and the entry “Pessimismus” in Joachim Ritter and Karlfried Gründer Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie (Basel: Schwabe, 2006). The term is here employed in light of the abiding connection between the study and rediscovery of this strand of Greek thought and the modern founders of philosophical pessimism in the nineteenth century:  many nineteenth-​century proponents of philosophical pessimism—​certainly Nietzsche and Leopardi, and in some ways also Schopenhauer—​were

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2020 | DOI:10.1163/9789004412675_004

The Philosophy of Ancient Poetry


texts referenced by Leopardi—​two Homeric passages discussing the peculiar and sorrowful nature of human life, the Greek notion of μὴ φῦναι (according to which it would be best for humans not to be born), and a maxim by Menander—​all pertain to a type of thought that reflects on the human condition and on the place of humans in the cosmos by challenging ideas of human pre-​eminence and divine providence, ultimately questioning the value of human existence.3 By choosing Homer as the epitome and personification of this worldview, Leopardi also informs us of the fact that this understanding, despite constituting a philosophical view on the world, is especially recurrent and significant in works that are not strictly philosophical, with a keen presence in poetic works. The nineteenth century which saw the publication of Leopardi’s Operette is without doubt the golden age of the rediscovery of Greek pessimistic thought.4 In Italy, Leopardi studied ancient pessimism and revived it in his own work, hailing Greek poetry’s lucid and courageous acceptance of the sorrows of existence as a philosophical achievement of vital importance to modernity.5 In Germany, Arthur Schopenhauer singled out the ancient Greeks as especially deeply involved in the study of Greek and Roman thought and acutely aware of the existence of pessimistic ideas in antiquity. Second, the phrase should not be taken to suggest that we are dealing with one distinct and unified worldview, clearly defined in time and space; rather it is used to refer to the multitude of voices throughout Greek literature which articulate pessimistic interpretations of the human condition, in various ways and through various media. 3 Respectively Homer Il. 17.446–​47 and Od. 18.130–​31, the Greek notion of μὴ φῦναι (on which cf. below), and Menander Dis. Ex. 4. 4 The twentieth century was to maintain a problematic relationship with the idea of Greek pessimism, despite the works of Hermann Diels, Der antike Pessimismus (Berlin:  Mittler, 1921) and Wilhelm Nestle, “Der Pessimismus und seine Überwindung bei den Griechen,” Neue Jahrbücher für das klassische Altertum 47 (1921): 81–​97. More recently, a few works have tackled aspects of Greek pessimism (cf. Hendrik Simon Versnel, Coping with the Gods: Wayward Readings in Greek Theology (Leiden: Brill, 2011) and Umberto Curi, Meglio non essere nati (Turin: Bollati Boringhieri, 2008)), but none has done so exhaustively. There is as yet no general consensus on the existence and importance of Greek pessimism, as shown by its almost complete absence (or denial) in recent works: cf. David Benatar, Better never to have been (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), Joshua Foa Dienstag, Pessimism: Philosophy, Ethic, Spirit (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006), Stuart Sim, A Philosophy of Pessimism (London: Reaktion Books, 2015). 5 On Leopardi and Greek pessimism, cf. Sebastiano Timpanaro, Classicismo e illuminismo nell’Ottocento italiano (Pisa:  Nistri-​Lischi, 1965), 183–​228; Guido Polizzi, La concezione dell’umano, tra utopia e disincanto (Milan and Udine: Mimesis, 2011); Alberto Grilli, “Leopardi, Platone e la filosofia greca,” in Leopardi e il mondo antico, atti del V convegno internazionale di studi leopardiani, ed. AA. vv. (Florence: Olschki, 1982), 53–​74, and my doctoral thesis, A Philosophy as Old as Homer: Giacomo Leopardi and Greek Poetic Pessimism (University of St Andrews, 2017).

42 Franzoni aware of the wretchedness of human life, and the pessimistic maxims of their literature as powerful embodiments of universal truths about human existence.6 The fascination with Greek pessimism culminated in Switzerland in the second half of the century, with Friedrich Nietzsche’s Die Geburt der Tragödie (1871) and Jacob Burckhardt’s Griechische Kulturgeschichte (published in 1900 but composed more than three decades earlier). Albeit in drastically different manners, both Burckhardt’s work (in the chapter Zur Gesamtbilanz des griechischen Lebens) and Nietzsche’s book (which the author himself subtitled “oder Hellenismus und Pessimismus” when he republished it in 1886) potently state the burning necessity of considering the pessimistic side of Greek thought. As they set out to explore and explain this forgotten side of Greek thought—​ Nietzsche in animated and visionary fashion, Burckhardt in more composed, but equally insightful tones—​both authors confronted, unmasked, and overthrew the long-​lived misinterpretation of Greek culture that had led to the oblivion of Greek pessimistic wisdom. The image of the happy Greeks and the depiction of a blessed and perfect Hellas were nothing more than a distorted idealisation, or, in Burckhardt’s emphatic words, “one of the most tremendous historical falsifications that have ever occurred.”7 The task was two-​fold: to investigate and describe a world-​view, but also to dismantle and rectify an enduring misunderstanding—​ all readings “flirting with ‘Greek harmony,’ ‘Greek beauty,’ ‘Greek cheerfulness.’ ”8 Although the vision of Greece attacked by Burckhardt and Nietzsche had long been in the making, with roots as deep as the Roman fascination with Greece and Vergil’s “creation” of Arcadia, the eighteenth century holds a special place in its development. The siècle had begun in the midst of the Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes, which, from its formal beginnings in 1687, was to inform debates about antiquity for decades to come, throughout Europe.9 6

To the best of my knowledge, there is no bibliography on the subject. A section of my doctoral thesis explores some aspects of Schopenhauer’s engagement with Greek pessimism, cf. Franzoni, A Philosophy as Old as Homer, 143–​53. 7 Leonhard Burckhardt, Barbara von Reibnitz, and Jürgen von Ungern-​Sternberg, Jacob Burckhardt:  Griechische Kulturgeschichte Band ii (Munich and Basel:  Schwabe, 2005), 350: “Eine der allergrößten Fälschungen des geschichtlichen Urtheils welche jemals vorgekommen …” 8 Cf. Die Geburt der Tragödie, 20, in Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari, Friedrich Nietzsche, Die Geburt der Tragödie; Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen i–​i i (1872–​1874) (Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 1972), 126. Similarly, Lionel Gossman, Basel in the Age of Burckhardt: A Study in Unseasonable Ideas (Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 2000), 319 recalls Burckhardt’s refusal to “transfigure” or “prettify” antiquity. 9 A very selective bibliography on the Querelle: Joseph M. Levine, “Ancients and Moderns Reconsidered,” Eighteenth-​Century Studies 15 (1981): 72–​89; Marc Fumaroli, “Les abeilles et les araignées,” in Anne-Marie Lecoq (ed.), La querelle des anciens et des modernes (Paris: Gallimard, 2001); François Hartog, Anciens, Modernes, Sauvages (Paris:  Galaade, 2005);

The Philosophy of Ancient Poetry


Although the focus of the Querelle was much wider, going to the heart of the relationship between antiquity and modernity to ask what modernity can (and should) do with the history, fame, and inheritance of antiquity, the debates often converged on the thorny subject of antiquity’s religion, morals, and worldview. The bickering, fickle, and supremely flawed gods of the Homeric pantheon, the recurring and undisguised absence of providence,10 the unfair punishment of the just in so many Greek tragedies, and many other issues inevitably jarred with modern (and Christian) perspectives,11 becoming a problem for both Modernes and Anciens.12 The former shrewdly used such issues to undermine antiquity, forcing the Anciens—​themselves troubled by the religious and moral implications of Greek literature—​to justify their presence in a multitude of more or less convincing ways, ultimately failing to grasp their significance for ancient thought.13 But the primary and undisguised target of Nietzsche’s and Burckhardt’s attack, rather than the moralising attitude of the Querelle’s participants, was the interpretation of ancient Greek culture arising from the work of Johann Joachim Winckelmann, which was to shape the German obsession with ancient Greece as well as interpretations of ancient culture more generally for centuries.14 The vision of Hellas as a place of perfect beauty, pondered serenity, Douglas L. Patey, “Ancients and Moderns,” in The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism. Vol. 4, Eighteenth century, ed. Hugh Barr Nisbet and Claude Rawson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008): 32–​71. The Querelle and modernity’s various modes of engagement with antiquity are the starting point of Chapter 1 by Anthony Ossa-​Richardson in this volume. 10 This generalisation should not of course be taken as encompassing the whole of Greek thought, which includes the Stoic theory of divine providence. 11 See Frank E. Manuel, The Eighteenth Century Confronts the Gods (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1959), 15–​53; Henry Vyverberg, Historical Pessimism in the French Enlightenment (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1958), 86. 12 Cf. the “demi-​dieux … capricieux” of Perrault’s Le siècle. On the shocked reactions of many Modernes to ancient customs and morals, cf. Larry Norman, The Shock of the Ancient: Literature and History in Early Modern France (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011), 78–​82. On the fact that some Anciens too were uncomfortable with the representation of human life drawn by the ancient poets, cf. Fumaroli, “Les abeilles et les araignées,” 167–​68 and Levine “Ancients and Moderns,” 78–​79. 13 Huet’s reminder that poetry should be educational and instructive gives us a sense of why the Anciens found ancient morals troublesome; cf. Huet’s Lettre de M. Huet à M. Perrault, in Fumaroli, “Les abeilles et les araignées,” 398. 14 Winckelmann’s Histoire de l’Art appeared in French in 1766 and was to be reprinted several times before the end of the century, cf. Maurice Badolle, L’abbé J.J. Barthélemy et l’hellénisme en France dans la seconde moitié du XVIIIe siècle (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1926), 156. For Winckelmann’s enduring influence on German classicism, cf. Katherine Harloe, Winckelmann and the Invention of Antiquity:  Aesthetics and History in the Age of Altertumswissenschaft (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 1–​28

44 Franzoni and heroic idealism was to a great extent born from Winckelmann’s interpretation of ancient art (and ancient culture more generally), and from the ensuing process of reinterpreting and re-​imagining antiquity that enveloped Europe through the age of Romanticism and beyond it. It is the idealised Greece that shines forth from Canova’s works, from the balanced and luminous aesthetic of Langhans’s or Schinkel’s neoclassical architecture, or from the uncontaminated beauty of Schiller’s Die Götter Griechenlands. Even more than Winckelmann’s conception of the Greeks’ joyous disposition, their privileged contact with nature, or their enlightened government, his theoretical recognition of the principles of “unity” and “perfection” as the root not only of Greek art and beauty, but of Greek civilisation as a whole, was instrumental in the formation of the “Greek ideal.”15 The resulting idea of Hellas was, and indeed still is, hard to reconcile with a darker and gloomier notion of Greece. Nestled between the Querelle and Winckelmann on one side, and Leopardi, Nietzsche, and Burckhardt on the other, Jean-​Jacques Barthélemy’s Le voyage du jeune Anacharsis en Grèce (1788) plays a crucial role in the history of the interpretation of Greek pessimistic thought. Not only is it one of the direct modern sources for the nineteenth-​century rethinking of Greek pessimism, but it also possesses a significant transitional quality, acting as a bridge between the stormy times of the Querelle and the idealised vision originating from Winckelmann’s ideas, and the rediscovery of pessimistic thought in the following century.16

15 16

and her analysis of panegyrics of Winckelmann between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (including Wilamowitz’s), 1–​24; and Michael Silk and Joseph P. Stern, Nietzsche on Tragedy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), 6. Cf. Dirk T. Held, “Conflict and Repose: Dialectics of the Greek Ideal in Nietzsche and Winckelmann,” in Nietzsche and Antiquity, ed. Paul Bishop (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2004) on Winckelmann’s and Nietzsche’s opposing views of Hellas. We hear polemical echoes of Winckelmann’s work—​and its reception—​throughout the works of Burckhardt and Nieztsche: e.g. “ihres schönen Landes und Klima’s schätzte man sie glücklich” in Burckhardt et al., Griechische Kulturgeschichte, 350, alluding to Winckelmann’s conception of Greek cheerfulness as also originating from the beauty of the Greek land and climate. For Nietzsche, cf. e.g. Albert Henrichs, “Full of Gods: Nietzsche on Greek Polytheism and Culture,” in Nietzsche and Antiquity, ed. Paul Bishop (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2004), 121, identifying a reference to Winckelmann in the way the Nietzsche of Menschliches, Allzumenschliches uses the terms “düster” and “ängstlich,” antonyms of the “buzzwords” of German classicism after Winckelmann. Cf. Christian Emden, “The Invention of Antiquity: Nietzsche on Classicism, Classicality, and the Classical Tradition,” in Nietzsche and Antiquity, ed. Paul Bishop (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2004), 4–​6. The bibliography on the Voyage is sparse to say the least. After Badolle, L’abbé Barthélémy, the Voyage has been the subject of little research. One exception is Marie-​France Silver, “La

The Philosophy of Ancient Poetry



Anacharsis and Philocles: Greek Pessimistic Thought and the Ode to Happiness

Jean-​Jacques Barthélemy’s (1716–​1795) Voyage du jeune Anacharsis en Grèce was a publishing phenomenon: appearing for the first time in 1788, it had been reprinted over forty times, in different languages, by the end of the next century.17 The Voyage integrates the author’s immense erudition on Greco-​Roman antiquity, from archaeology to numismatics, literature, and philology. As we learn from his autobiography (Mémoires sur la vie et sur quelques-​uns des ouvrages de Jean-​Jacq. Barthélemy écrits par lui-​même en 1792 et 1793), Barthélemy was keen to display his particular, life-​long commitment to the classics. His interest began as a child, continued during his Jesuit education, and reached its peak in the crucial years he spent as assistant of the French ambassador in Italy. During this time, Barthélemy was able to visit and research a variety of archaeological sites (first and foremost Herculaneum), and to build a reputation as an expert interpreter of antiquity that ultimately earned him a place in the Académie française. The Voyage, which recounts the adventures of the Scythian Anacharsis18 as he travels through the famous places of Greek history, witnesses crucial events, and meets some of the great men of fourth-​century Greece, eludes any strict generic labelling. Riding on the wave of the eighteenth-​century enthusiasm for antiquity—​potently revived by the discovery of Pompeii and Herculaneum in 1738, and visible in the wealth of translations from ancient authors

17 18

Grèce dans le roman français de l’époque révolutionnaire: Le voyage du jeune Anacharsis en Grèce au IVe siècle avant l’ère vulgaire,” Man and Nature 9 (1990): 145–​55. A variety of works pause briefly on Barthélémy’s influence, for instance those tackling coeval writers—​ e.g. Chateaubriand in Michel de Jaeghere, Le menteur magnifique:  Chateaubriand en Grèce (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2006), Karamazin in Anthony G. Cross, “N.M. Karamzin and Barthélemy’s ‘Voyage du jeune Anacharsis’,” The Modern Language Review 3 (1966): 467–​72, or Marcellus in Gonda Van Steen, Liberating Hellenism from the Ottoman Empire: Comte de Marcellus and the Last of the Classics (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010)—​or larger themes such as travel-​writing and the interest in Ancient Greece, as in Stathis Gourgouris, Dream Nation:  Enlightenment, Colonization, and the Institution of Modern Greece (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996) and Constanze Güthenke, Placing Modern Greece:  The Dynamics of Romantic Hellenism, 1770–​1840 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2008). Cf. Silver, “La Grèce dans le roman français,” 145–​48. Cf. Fernand Letessier, “Une source de Chateaubriand: le ‘Voyage du jeune Anacharsis’,” Revue d’histoire littéraire de la France 2 (1959), 181. Descendant of the wise Anacharsis of Herodotus 4.76 and Diogenes Laertius 1.101–​105.

46 Franzoni throughout the century19—​Barthélemy bridges the gap between the interest of the specialist and that of the layman: merging fiction and (armchair) travel-​writing, it conveys historical research and antiquarianism in the shape of a novel.20 Although clothed in alluring storytelling, the Voyage does not shy away from displaying its erudition:  appearing in multiple tomes, it contains hundreds of footnotes referencing Barthélemy’s primary sources, a feat that rivals strictly historical works of previous decades, like that of Charles Rollin (1730–​1738), itself one of Barthélemy’s sources.21 It is through its attempt at comprehensiveness—​specifically, in one of the countless compilations of ancient sources relating to various subjects—​that the Voyage earns a place in the history of the interpretation of Greek pessimism. Albeit extremely briefly (and, as we shall see, in a peculiar manner), Chapter 28 of Barthélemy’s work provides one of the first modern collections of ancient Greek pessimistic wisdom. Designed to give the reader a taste of the “vie civile” of the Athenians, Chapter 28 (Suite des mœurs des Athéniens) takes place in a lively urban setting populated by pretentious characters, annoying chatterers, and slimy parasites.22 The initial busy fresco of urban life is swiftly followed by an altogether different scene at the “portique de Jupiter,” where a group of disciples of various philosophical schools described as “quelques Athéniens qui agitoient des questions de philosophie” is gathered.23 It is here that we find a small but significant collection of ancient pessimistic statements, many of which were to become the bedrock for the nineteenth-​century explorations of this aspect of Greek thought, complete with references to the relevant ancient sources in the footnotes.24 Three notions that will become crucial to nineteenth-​century readings deserve closer attention: the motif of the flux of generations affecting nature (the waves of the sea and the leaves on the trees) just as much as humans, the idea that it would be best for humans not to be born, and the comparison between life and the dream of a shadow.25 19 Badolle, L’abbé Barthélemy, 172–​73. On the wider influence of the taste for antiquity, for example on fashion, cf. Badolle, L’abbé Barthélemy, 216–​26. 20 On avoiding tedium and dryness: cf. Badolle, L’abbé Barthélemy, 179. On travel writing of a similar (though not novelistic) kind, cf. Chapter 3 by Thomas Hopkinson in this volume. 21 Van Steen, Liberating Hellenism, 44–​45 calls this “citationality,” a new type of literature in which “travel writing-​meets-​fictions-​meets-​philology,” satisfying the contemporary reader’s desire to feel “historically situated.” Ibid., 46 on Marcellus travelling with his Chateaubriand, Barthélemy, Herodotus, and Pausanias. 22 I quote from Jean-​Jacques Barthélemy, Voyage du jeune Anacharsis en Grèce dans le milieu du quatrième siècle avant l’ère vulgaire (Paris, 1788), with tome and page numbers. 23 Barthélemy, Voyage, tome 2, 167–​73. 24 Barthélemy, Voyage, tome 2, 167–​70. 25 Barthélemy, Voyage, tome 2, 168.

The Philosophy of Ancient Poetry


All three ideas have a long history within Greek literature and, more specifically, Greek poetry. From Homer’s Iliad, the earliest attestation of the simile, to the poetry of Simonides and Mimnermus and beyond, the comparison of humans to natural phenomena and the idea of an unending flux of generations are used to conceptualise human existence, symbolizing the instability and frailty of humans and the ultimate insignificance of the individual in the grand scheme of the cosmos.26 The notion of μὴ φῦναι is possibly the paradigmatic example of Greek pessimistic thought; it was already widespread in antiquity,27 appearing in a variety of poetic sources from Theognis 425–​28 to Sophocles’s Oedipus Coloneus, where, bolstered by the connection with the suffering Oedipus (the very “παράδειγμα der Tragik und Nichtigkeit des menschlichen Lebens”),28 the Chorus voices with all its might the universal connection between human existence and unhappiness.29 Last, Pindar’s maxim at Pythian 26 Cf. Iliad 6.146–​49 and 21.462–​67; a fragment preserved by Clement of Alexandria (Stromata 6.5) attributing the idea to Musaeus; Simonides fragment 8 West and Mimnermus fragment 2 West; Bacchylides 5.63–​67; Aristophanes Aves 685: φύλλων γενεᾷ προσόμοιοι. Both Leopardi and Schopenhauer will focus on this trope, the former by studying and translating Simonides fragment 8 West, as well as reflecting on the meaning of the simile in his Zibaldone and Operette. The latter (knowing it to be Homeric in origin) employs the comparison as part of his discussion of death in Chapter 41 of the Supplements to the Fourth Book, in Wolfgang von Löhneysen, Arthur Schopenhauer: Sämtliche Werke (Stuttgart and Frankfurt am Main:  Cotta und Insel, 1960–​1965), Vol. II, 609–​10. I  have explored both authors’ interpretations in Franzoni, A Philosophy as Old as Homer, 102–​53. 27 E.g. Euripides Bellerophon, fragment 285; Pseudo-​Plutarch Consolatio ad Apollonium 115b–​c. 28 Michael Lurie, Die Suche nach der Schuld: Sophokles’ Oedipus Rex, Aristoteles’ Poetik und das Tragödienverständnis der Neuzeit (Munich:  K.G. Saur, 2004), 299, also referencing Stephen Halliwell, “Plato’s Repudiation of the Tragic,” in Tragedy and the Tragic. Greek Theatre and Beyond, ed. Michael Silk (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 1996), 345 on Oedipus as “every man.” 29 Chris Carey, “The Third Stasimon of Oedipus at Colonus,” in Sophocles and the Greek Tragic Tradition, ed. Simon Goldhill and Edith Hall (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2009), 125 calls it “the most limpid presentation we have of the Greek commonplace that it is best for mortals not to be born.” Other instances of the notion: Bacchylides 5.160–​ 61; Euripides Cresphontes, fragment 449; Alexis fragment 145.15–​16; Posidippus fragment *133 (= Anthologia Palatina 9.359). Also, in non-​poetical sources cf. Herodotus 1.31.3 and Aristotle Eudemus at pseudo-​Plutarch Consolatio ad Apollonium 115b–​e, where the notion is voiced as the “wisdom of Silenus.” Schopenhauer quotes Theognis 425–​28 and Sophocles Oedipus Coloneus 1225 in his list of pessimistic “großen Geister aller Zeiten” at von Löhneysen, Arthur Schopenhauer: Sämtliche Werke, Vol. 2, 750–​51. Leopardi engages with the idea of μὴ φῦναι at multiple points, cf. Franzoni, A Philosophy as Old as Homer, 154–​89. It is worth remembering that one of his starting points for the discussion of this notion is the Thracian custom of mourning births and celebrating deaths, about which he could have read in Barthélemy, Voyage, tome 2, 80. Cf. Nietzsche’s interpretation

48 Franzoni 8.95 encapsulates the ephemerality and instability of humans’ nature and fortunes, an aspect of the reflection on victory that runs throughout the poem and counterbalances the celebration of the dedicatee Aristomenes’s athletic success.30 Although Barthélemy’s inclusion of these conceptions of existence is in itself historically noteworthy, it is his presentation of these ideas that renders the passage especially significant. In Anacharsis’s narrative, a disciple of Democritus voices the first notion and the last two are spoken instead by a disciple of Heraclitus, who in turn credits Pindar (Pythian 8.95–​96) with the poetic description of life as dream of a shadow. But while the characters speak as if the beliefs they are relating were their own (with the exception of the attribution to Pindar), the footnotes to the text attribute the first notion to Mimnermus fragment 2 West and Simonides fragment 8 West, and the second to Sophocles Oedipus Coloneus 1224–​27 and Bacchylides 5.160–​61. The incongruity of the passage is glaring. Barthélemy has philosophers voicing the wisdom of poetic texts, relocating it from its original source—​which is left to the small print of the footnotes—​to what is a downright philosophical sketch. Although he accepts the ideas he finds in poetry as sound and representative of ancient thought, Barthélemy seems to struggle somewhat with their medium, as if the lyrical form or provenance could hinder their comprehension, or otherwise thwart their validity. The exception of Pindar is revealing: possibly because of the lyrical quality of the image of life as dream of a shadow, naturally less fit for the tone of a philosophical debate, Barthélemy decides to make the disciple of Heraclitus reveal his source in the main text, reducing the poet’s words to an adornment of the philosopher’s voice. Similarly, the idea of the cycle of generations in both Mimnermus and Simonides is retold in language that avoids the poetic imagery of the former as well as the strong signal of poetic reception of the latter, who presents the trope as a direct quotation from Homer (fr. 8.1). But there is more to Barthélemy’s reception of these ideas than his transformation of poetry into philosophy. Whereas the “disguise” of poetry is an implicit statement of his position on the validity and authority of a literary form—​and,


of the idea in Colli and Montinari, Die Geburt der Tragödie, 31 on which cf. Stephen Halliwell, Greek Laughter: A Study of Cultural Psychology from Homer to Early Christianity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 339–​40: Nietzsche “makes Silenus break out into piercing laughter before uttering his irredeemably grim pronouncement,” an “existentially charged laughter.” Cf. Bruno Gentili et al., eds, Pindaro: Le Pitiche (Rome and Milan: Mondadori, 1995), 585 on σκιᾶς ὄναρ: “locuzione che denota il non plus ultra della vanità delle vicende umane.” Cf. similarly Pietro Giannini “ ‘Qualcuno’ e ‘nessuno’ in Pind. Pyth. 8,95,” Quaderni Urbinati di Cultura Classica 11 (1982), 69.

The Philosophy of Ancient Poetry


in a sense, on the age-​old quarrel between poetry and philosophy—​the reader soon discovers that Barthélemy also had words of caution concerning the subject matter of this pessimistic wisdom. Thus his Anacharsis, stunned and aghast at the multitude of dark notions he has just heard, flees the porticus in a delirium of doubts and horror at the idea that all of man’s knowledge may only serve to highlight his misery (“Tous les efforts de l’esprit humain ne servent donc qu’à montrer que nous sommes les plus misérables des êtres!”). Tormented by “des lumières si odieuses,” Anacharsis turns to Greek literature for answers to placate his fears, and in so doing introduces a new thematic thread in the Voyage. This new subject (developed over a series of chapters starting with number 29, Bibliothèque d’un Athénien, and covering the various realms of ancient knowledge from philosophy and astronomy to history and poetry) is apparently introduced to quench the protagonist’s burning questions, and yet neither the chapter on philosophy nor the one on poetry supply any answer. It is not until Chapter 78 that the reader finds an answer to these existential questions. Chapters 76 and 77, which are both part of Anacharsis’s voyage to Delos, take place in a radiant atmosphere of festive celebrations and ethereal beauty, on which Chapter 78 provides an intellectual commentary. Entitled “Sur le Bonheur,” the chapter is in many ways a short treatise on happiness, delivered by Philocles, one of Anacharsis’s guides on Delos. Described as a man deeply familiar with philosophy (“Dans sa jeunesse il avait fréquenté les plus célèbres philosophes de la Grèce”),31 Philocles has succeeded in finding happiness for himself, and is thus doubly entitled to sharing his successful “système de conduite.” Following the description of man’s misguided search for happiness, Philocles’s speech culminates in two rhetorical questions summarising, and at the same time denouncing, pessimistic conceptions of human existence, which are said to hinder this quest: “Est-​ce donc pour couvrir la terre de malheureux, que le genre humain a pris naissance? Et les dieux se feraient-​ils un jeu cruel de persécuter des âmes aussi faibles que les nôtres?”32 Philocles’s questions echo the themes of the debate in the porticus, grappling with divine justice, human frailty, the purpose of knowledge and human existence, and finally address Anacharsis’s own doubts. A reader familiar with the texts, ethics, and theology of ancient Greece will undoubtedly notice the subtle yet constant tension between Philocles’s ideas and interpretation of ancient notions as expressed in his speech, and the voice of the sources themselves. One is reminded of Jacob Burckhardt’s invective

31 Barthélemy, Voyage, tome 4, 250. 32 Barthélemy, Voyage, tome 4, 252.

50 Franzoni against the falsification that led to the neglect of Greek pessimism, and of his personification of ancient myth and literature protesting against the erroneous ideality that had been forced upon them.33 Philocles’s reply to his own rhetorical questions (“Je ne saurais me le persuader; c’est contre nous seuls que nous devons diriger nos reproches”)34 addresses the issue of divine agency in human misery, and places the blame squarely on humans. Interestingly, this interpretation—​which clearly contradicts much Greek literature, from Iliad 24.525 and Simonides’ fragment 1 West to Aeschylus’ Agamemnon 1487–​ 8835—​aligns Philocles’s position with moralistic readings of Zeus’s speech at Odyssey 1.32, a passage which is famous for the striking directness with which it broaches the questions of causation and suffering. Whereas Zeus declares in his speech that humans are also responsible for some of their sorrows, many commentators have understood the passage as a declaration of human culpability and divine innocence.36 Consciously or not, Philocles sides with those who see the root of human suffering in man’s own actions, thus implicitly 33

Leonhard Burckhardt, Barbara von Reibnitz, and Jürgen von Ungern-​Sternberg, Jacob Burckhardt: Griechische Kulturgeschichte Band ii (Munich and Basel: Schwabe, 2005), 350. Barthélemy, Voyage, tome 4, 240 contains a brief but significant example of Burckhardt’s “screaming” myths: the blessed Hyperboreans envision the land of perfect happiness outside the boundaries of the known world (or even in a place that has no physical existence, as in Pindar Pythian 10.29–​30). Although the narrator acknowledges the idea that “les hommes n’ont jamais su placer le séjour du bonheur, que dans des lieux inaccessibles,” the myth is still set amidst idyllic celebrations, and the inherent contradiction is not noted. 34 Barthélemy, Voyage, tome 4, 252. 35 Compare Pindar Pythian 8.97–​98 where αἴγλα, “brightness” (the opposite of shadow, which is lack of glory) is “Zeus-​given,” διόσδοτος. 36 This interpretation is rendered problematic both by the plot of the Odyssey and by the language of the passage itself. Those who wish to rule out any divine role in human misery fail to consider or translate the conjunction καί (“and,” “also”) in verse 33 (cf. among others William Allan, “Divine Justice and Cosmic Order in Early Greek Epic,” Journal of Hellenic Studies 126 (2006), 16 n.73); cf. Alfred Heubeck, Stephanie West, and John Brian Hainsworth, A Commentary on Homer’s Odyssey (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), 77, who clarify that Zeus’s speech is in no way a denial of the gods’ role in causing evil (κακó, ἄλγεα) for humans. Further, the idea conveyed by the word καὶ is restated in the following line, where Zeus says that “(mortals) through their wickedness have sufferings ὑπὲρ μóρον,” a phrase often overlooked in textual analyses or translated generically as “beyond that which was ordained,” as by e.g. Richard Lattimore, tr., The Odyssey of Homer (New York: Harper, 2007). Given that μóρος is the share allotted to a man in the course of his life, to translate it as “that which was ordained” is to stress a vagueness that is not in the text. “Beyond one’s share” implies that human action adds to a fate that has already been decided, thus reinforcing the notion that human wickedness merely adds to divine action.

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disregarding the anti-​theodical stance of much Greek literature, and its characters’ complaints against malevolent gods.37 But what is perhaps the most striking example of Barthélemy’s readiness to rework Greek thought to his own ends is visible in Philocles’s engagement with the idea that man’s lot is a mixture of good and evil, a notion first attested in Achilles’s speech to Priam in Iliad 24.526–​34. According to Philocles, humans receive good mingled with evil (“Des lois constantes … mêlent sans interruption le bien avec le mal”).38 Yet as he describes the evil, Philocles suggests that some of it may well be revealed to be true good, as opposed to pleasure (which is what humans understand as “good”), and that ultimately “pour la plupart des mortels, la somme des biens serait infiniment plus grande que celle des maux.”39 Philocles’s providential reading diverges dramatically from the ancient sources’ representation of the distribution of good and evil. There is a major discrepancy between Philocles’s optimistic conclusion and the Iliadic description of the jars, which stems from the need to explain the origins of human suffering. Achilles’s description envisions only two possible scenarios: humans may receive either a mixture of good and evil (529–​30), or evil only (ᾧ δέ κε τῶν λυγρῶν δώῃ, 531–​32). This represents the culmination of Achilles’s dark, irrevocable statement at 525–​26 that the gods have destined humans to live in pain. David Young’s reading of Pindar’s Pythian 3.82–​83—​ἓν παρ´ ἐσθλὸν πήματα σύνδυο δαίονται βροτοΐς άθάνατοι,40 which also deals with the allotment of good and evil—​brings a further dimension to Achilles’s tale. Young suggests that Pindar, by claiming that mortals are given two evils for each good, has correctly understood the Iliadic myth of the two jars, and expressed “the attitude of most Greeks toward life itself.”41 Thus Philocles’s speech, although it superficially recalls the Greek outlook on the apportionment of human destiny, twists it to transform it into a tale of human happiness and even, ultimately, of divine benevolence (“Si vous demandiez des raisons d’un si funeste partage, d’autres vous répondraient peut-​être que les dieux nous devaient des biens et non pas


“Hérodote voit partout une divinité jalouse,” Barthélemy, Voyage, tome 3, 462. Cf. Anthony Ellis, “The Jealous God of Ancient Greece:  Interpreting the Classical Greek Notion of Φθόνος Θεῶν between Renaissance Humanism and Altertumswissenschaft,” Erudition and the Republic of Letters 2 (2017), 31. 38 Barthélemy, Voyage, tome 4, 252. 39 Ibid., 252. 40 “The immortals bestow on mortals two pains for every blessing.” 41 David Young, Three Odes of Pindar: a Literary Study of Pythian 11, Pythian 3 and Olympian 7 (Leiden: Brill, 1968), 50–​51.

52 Franzoni des plaisirs; qu’ils ne nous accordent les seconds que pour nous forcer à recevoir les premiers”).42 3

A Time of Transition

Barthélemy’s concise inventory of pessimistic notions in Chapter 28 is a crucial step in the history of the modern engagement with ancient pessimistic ideas. The inclusion of pessimistic notions—​which are, at least for a brief moment, presented without judgement as the independent thought of third parties—​is in and of itself a remarkable feat. The importance and novelty of this small catalogue is further underscored by the considerable role it will play in assisting Leopardi’s exploration of ancient pessimism, together with another, much older collection of pessimistic ideas, the Pseudo-​Plutarchean Consolatio ad Apollonium.43 Although Leopardi will go much further than Barthélemy in appreciating the significance of, and exploring, Greek pessimism, Chapter 28—​which he copied and annotated in his Zibaldone—​represented a critical juncture in his appraisal of the wide diffusion of pessimistic thought in antiquity. Yet while the scene at the porticus of Chapter 28 is a fundamental step in this intellectual genealogy, Philocles’s sermon in Chapter  78—​strikingly positioned towards the end of the work as a final word on many of the ethical and philosophical positions analysed in the book—​allows us repeated glimpses into Barthélemy’s problematic relationship with Greek pessimistic ideas. Although progressive enough to display some of the Greeks’ darkest conceptions of the human condition, Barthélemy eventually gives in to what Maurice Badolle calls “le constant souci de moraliser” and the need for an “histoire moralisatrice.”44 Although he resists the temptation to superimpose allegorical readings onto the ancient texts—​the weapon of choice of many of the Querelle’s Anciens45—​Barthélemy cannot refrain from suggesting an alternative solution, and one which is given added authority by its provenance from within the Greek world itself. 42 Barthélemy, Voyage, tome 4, 253. 43 On the Consolatio, cf. Jean Hani, Plutarque: Consolation à Apollonios (Paris: Klincksieck, 1972)  and Sergio Audano, “Una nota esegetica alla Consolatio ad Apollonium,” in Valori letterari delle Opere di Plutarco. Studi offerti al Professor Italo Gallo dall’International Plutarch Society, ed. Aurelio Pérez Jiménez, Frances Titchener, and Italo Gallo (Malaga and Logan: Universidad de Málaga, 2005), 1 for selected bibliography. 44 Badolle, L’abbé Barthélemy, 282–​83. 45 See e.g. Anne Dacier, Des Causes de la corruption du goust (Paris, 1714), 101–​102, 104, 106; cf. Patey, “Ancients and Moderns,” 54.

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Philocles’s anti-​pessimistic tirade, then, is only the starkest instance of a moralising concern visible throughout the Voyage which, unsurprisingly, is especially fatal to the pessimistic aspects of ancient thought.46 Thus, Barthélemy’s audacious display of the idea of μὴ φῦναι—​possibly the most contentious lines of Oedipus Coloneus, voicing the only possible conclusion from Oedipus’s existence and turning it into a universal assertion of the inescapable sorrow of human existence—​is counterbalanced by the moral judgment on tragedy expressed in Chapter  71 by Théodecte, a follower of Aristotle.47 Théodecte’s condemnation of tragedy for displaying “les décrets aveugles du destin” as well as the cruel whims of superior forces strongly resembles the countless attacks on ancient tragedy’s morals at the turn of the eighteenth century, from James Drake’s vehement critique of the Oedipus Rex for persuading man of the “lubricity of fortune” and the “instability of human greatness,” to Terrasson’s disapproval of the “idée impie” according to which the innocent are unfairly punished by fate and the gods.48 Barthélemy’s suggestion that Homer “avait prêté nos faiblesses aux dieux”49—​which forms part of a larger discussion of Homer, gently but repeatedly chastising the mœurs of the epics—​is strongly reminiscent of Charles Perrault’s, who had suggested almost exactly a century earlier that Homer ought to have given humans the virtues of the gods instead of the reverse.50 Similarly, the protagonist’s rage at the custom of exposing or 46 47 48

49 50

Silver, “La Grèce dans le roman français,” 151 even suggests that some of the erudite curiosities are included in the novel as an excuse to critique superstition. Cf. Ellis, “The Jealous God,” 22 n.60 comparing Barthélemy’s and Geinoz’s readings of the idea of jealous gods in Herodotus. James Drake, The Ancient and Modern Stage Survey’d (London, 1699), 131–​32, condemning the Oedipus Rex for its description of the misery of the human condition; Jean Terrasson, Dissertation critique sur l’Iliade d’Homère (Paris, 1715), 188. A few decades before Barthélemy, Bernard le Bouvier de Fontenelle, Œuvres de Fontenelle, Tome iii (Paris, 1818), 19 wrote: “On ne remporte d’Œdipe, et des pièces qui lui ressemblent, qu’une désagréable et inutile conviction des misères de la condition humaine.” See Michael Lurie, “Facing Up to Tragedy: Toward an Intellectual History of Sophocles in Europe from Camerarius to Nietzsche,” in A Companion to Sophocles, ed. Kirk Ormand (Malden, Oxford, and Chichester: Wiley-​Blackwell, 2012), 424–​40 for a compelling summary of the history of the reception of Sophocles between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. This is the opinion of an “enlightened Athenian” questioned on Homer’s “crime d’avoir dégradé les dieux,” Barthélemy, Voyage, tome 1, 56–​57. Cf. Perrault’s Parallèle des anciens et des modernes, Parallèle tome 3, in Fumaroli, “Les abeilles et les araignées,” 372, on Horace: “Il avait trop de sens pour trouver plus de morale et d’instruction dans les mauvais exemples des dieux de L’Iliade, que dans la vie et les écrits des philosophes, et il devait dire, comme Cicéron, qu’Homère eût mieux fait de donner aux hommes toutes les vertus des dieux que de donner aux dieux tous les vices des hommes.”

54 Franzoni putting to death new-​born children51—​discussed in Chapter 26 as Anacharsis narrates the birth of his host Apollodorus’s son, and described as barbarous and outrageous—​differs wildly from Jacob Burckhardt’s matter-​of-​fact and relatively detached description of the subject, which is explicitly connected to the Greeks’ “allverbreitete pessimistische Ansicht des Lebens.”52 As can be seen from the interaction between Chapters 28 and 78, the problem with Greek pessimism is multifaceted. Anacharsis’s reaction and Philocles’s speech both display moral concern with the subject matter of pessimistic world-​views. The process through which Barthélemy expresses his disapproval is compelling. He accepts these world-​views as historically interesting, and conveys them in a seemingly objective discussion where the ancient Greeks are left to speak for themselves; yet this is balanced by an internal mechanism through which these notions are challenged first by the protagonists’ doubts and fears, and then once again at the very end of the work, in the words of an authoritative speaker in a chapter pointedly entitled “Sur le bonheur.” Rather than obscure or omit, Barthélemy features the pessimistic Weltanschauungen which he considers to be threatening to humans’ evaluation of their own existence and knowledge;53 his moral concern takes the form of an active interaction with the problematic notions, as if he were really able to engage in direct dialogue with antiquity and change its mind. Philocles’s ode to happiness elaborates the uncomfortable wisdom presented in Chapter 28 and makes it morally acceptable, eventually rendering it innocuous by offering a more suitable alternative. Yet there is another side to Barthélemy’s problematic relationship with ancient pessimistic thought, which concerns the context in which it was articulated:  at the intersection between poetry and philosophy, in a time and place where Greek literature’s search for answers about the world and the human condition was expressed in poetic forms that still firmly mingled with myth, religion, and ritual. A  large part of the pessimistic wisdom quoted in Chapter 28 dates to this time, in which humans’ knowledge about the world was collected and conveyed in poetry—​before philosophy—​and Homer and 51

52 53

In the same section, Anacharsis reports the Thracian custom of mourning births (quoting Strabo 11.11.8 and Herodotus 5.4.2), commenting that “Ces plaintes effrayantes ne sont que trop conformes aux maximes des sages de la Grèce,” thus indirectly criticising both the Barbarians and the Greek wisdom conforming to this custom. In Burckhardt et al., Griechische Kulturgeschichte, 378, on which cf. Gossman, Basel in the Age of Burckhardt, 332. Silver, “La Grèce dans le roman français,” 150–​51 similarly observes how Barthélemy features the religious rituals and beliefs he considers superstitious (e.g. the mysteries of Bacchus or metempsychosis), using irony to chastise them.

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Hesiod were the educators of Greece. Barthélemy’s relationship with poetry is thus defined both by questions of form—​poetic content requires the formal sanction of philosophy to be credible, as the scene at the porticus shows—​ and by a failure to accept the historical role of poetry in its archaic and early classical contexts. As we are told in Chapter 29, the poetry that preceded the advent of philosophy—​which began, for Barthélemy, with Thales and the birth of natural philosophy—​is a vehicle of lies and superstition.54 Archaic poetry’s attempt at comprehending the world is too densely mixed with religion and unruly emotion, too far from the clarity and rationality of the lumières which he identifies with (ancient) philosophy. It was precisely by overcoming Barthélemy’s many-​sided predicament with poetic wisdom that nineteenth-​century thinkers were able to rediscover Greek pessimism, finally bestowing philosophical, ethical, and existential dignity onto poetic expression, and making the mimesis enacted by poetry an explicit source of evidence for the Greek world-​view.55 The greatest feat of Leopardi, Burckhardt, and Nietzsche was to observe one side of Greek thought, the pessimistic view of human existence, without denying (and in fact, explicitly stressing) the other, the ability to make the most of life’s delights—​be it the joy of art, the excitement of political engagement, or the simple pleasure of wine. This understanding of the somewhat paradoxical nature of Greek pessimism, and its apparent discrepancy with ancient Greek life, is precisely what Barthélemy was lacking. Fearing that the immorality of these beliefs could taint modernity, he felt the need to impose on the Greeks a vision of life more akin to the luminous surface of Greece as he saw it. It is this world—​the one described in Philocles’s speech in accord with the joyful, Arcadian scenes surrounding him—​that the author wants the reader to take away from this historical, but also moral, journey to antiquity.


Allan, William. “Divine Justice and Cosmic Order in Early Greek Epic.” Journal of Hellenic Studies 126 (2006): 1–​35. Audano, Sergio. “Una nota esegetica alla Consolatio ad Apollonium.” In Valori letterari delle Opere di Plutarco. Studi offerti al Professor Italo Gallo dall’International Plutarch 54 55

Cf. Barthélemy, Voyage, tome 2, 176. For Leopardi, cf. Franzoni, A Philosophy as Old as Homer, 1–​7, starting with the discussion of Zib. 1650 and 2940. Cf. Burckhardt et al., Griechische Kulturgeschichte, 350. On pessimism in poetic form cf. ibid., 365.

56 Franzoni Society, edited by Aurelio Pérez Jiménez, Frances Titchener, and Italo Gallo, 29–​39. Malaga and Logan: Universidad de Málaga, 2005. Badolle, Maurice. L’abbé J.J. Barthélémy et l’hellénisme en France dans la seconde moitié du XVIIIe siècle. Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1926. Benatar, David. Better never to have been. Oxford and New  York:  Oxford University Press, 2006. Blundell, Sue. The Origins of Civilization in Greek & Roman Thought. London: Croom Helm, 1986. Burckhardt, Leonhard, von Reibnitz, Barbara, and von Ungern-​Sternberg, Jürgen (eds). Jacob Burckhardt:  Griechische Kulturgeschichte Band II. Munich and Basel: Schwabe, 2005. Bury, John B. The Idea of Progress: An Inquiry into its Origin and Growth. London: Macmillan, 1920. Carey, Chris. “The Third Stasimon of Oedipus at Colonus.” In Sophocles and the Greek Tragic Tradition, edited by Simon Goldhill and Edith Hall, 119–​33. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Cecchetti, Giovanni, tr. Leopardi, Operette Morali: Essays and Dialogues. Oakland: University of California Press, 1983. Colli, Giorgio and Montinari, Mazzino (eds). Friedrich Nietzsche, Die Geburt der Tragödie; Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen I–​I I (1872–​1874). Berlin and New  York:  de Gruyter, 1972. Cross, Anthony G. “N.M. Karamzin and Barthélemy’s ‘Voyage du jeune Anacharsis’.” The Modern Language Review 3 (1966): 467–​72. Curi, Umberto. Meglio non essere nati. Turin: Bollati Boringhieri, 2008. Dacier, Anne. Des Causes de la corruption du goust. Paris, 1714. de Jaeghere, Michel. Le menteur magnifique: Chateaubriand en Grèce. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2006. Diels, Hermann. Der antike Pessimismus. Berlin: Mittler, 1921. Dienstag, Joshua Foa. Pessimism: Philosophy, Ethic, Spirit. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006. Drake, James. The Ancient and Modern Stage Survey’d. London, 1699. Ellis, Anthony. “The Jealous God of Ancient Greece: Interpreting the Classical Greek Notion of Φθόνος Θεῶν between Renaissance Humanism and Altertumswissenschaft.” Erudition and the Republic of Letters 2 (2017): 1–​55. Emden, Christian. “The Invention of Antiquity:  Nietzsche on Classicism, Classicality, and the Classical Tradition.” In Nietzsche and Antiquity, edited by Paul Bishop, 372–​90. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2004. Felici, Lucio and Trevi, Emanuele (eds). Giacomo Leopardi: Tutte le poesie, tutte le prose e lo Zibaldone. Rome: Newton Compton, 2013. Fontenelle, Bernard le Bovier de. Œuvres de Fontenelle, Tome III. Paris: Belin, 1818.

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Franzoni, Maria Giulia. A Philosophy as Old as Homer:  Giacomo Leopardi and Greek Poetic Pessimism. PhD Thesis, University of St Andrews, 2017. Fumaroli, Marc. “Les abeilles et les araignées.” In La querelle des anciens et des moder­ nes, edited by Anne-Marie Lecoq. Paris: Gallimard, 2001. Gentili, Bruno, et al. (eds). Pindaro: Le Pitiche. Rome and Milan: Mondadori, 1995. Giannini, Pietro. “‘Qualcuno’ e ‘nessuno’ in Pind. Pyth. 8,95.” Quaderni Urbinati di Cultura Classica 11 (1982): 69–​76. Gossman, Lionel. Basel in the Age of Burckhardt: A Study in Unseasonable Ideas. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000. Gourgouris, Stathis. Dream nation: enlightenment, colonization, and the institution of modern Greece. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996. Grilli, Alberto. “Leopardi, Platone e la filosofia greca.” In Leopardi e il mondo antico, atti del V convegno internazionale di studi leopardiani, edited by various authors, 53–​74. Florence: Olschki, 1982. Güthenke, Constanze. Placing Modern Greece: The Dynamics of Romantic Hellenism, 1770–​1840. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. Halliwell, Stephen. “Plato’s Repudiation of the Tragic.” In Tragedy and the Tragic. Greek Theatre and Beyond, edited by Michael Silk, 332–​49. Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 1996. Halliwell, Stephen. Greek Laughter: A Study of Cultural Psychology from Homer to Early Christianity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Hani, Jean. Plutarque: Consolation à Apollonios. Paris: Klincksieck, 1972. Harloe, Katherine. Winckelmann and the Invention of Antiquity: Aesthetics and History in the Age of Altertumswissenschaft. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Hartog, François. Anciens, Modernes, Sauvages. Paris: Galaade, 2005. Held, Dirk T. “Conflict and Repose:  Dialectics of the Greek Ideal in Nietzsche and Winckelmann.” In Nietzsche and Antiquity, edited by Paul Bishop, 411–​24. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2004. Henrichs, Albert. “Full of Gods: Nietzsche on Greek Polytheism and Culture.” In Nietzsche and Antiquity, edited by Paul Bishop, 114–​37. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2004. Heubeck, Alfred, Stephanie West, and John B. Hainsworth. A Commentary on Homer’s Odyssey. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Lattimore, Richard, tr. The Odyssey of Homer. New York: Harper, 2007. Letessier, Fernand. “Une source de Chateaubriand: le ‘Voyage du jeune Anacharsis.’” Revue d’histoire littéraire de la France 2 (1959): 180–​203. Levine, Joseph M. “Ancients and Moderns Reconsidered.” Eighteenth-​Century Studies 15 (1981): 72–​89. Lurie, Michael. Die Suche nach der Schuld: Sophokles’ Oedipus Rex, Aristoteles’ Poetik und das Tragödienverständnis der Neuzeit. Munich: K.G. Saur, 2004.

58 Franzoni Lurie, Michael. “Facing Up to Tragedy: Toward an Intellectual History of Sophocles in Europe from Camerarius to Nietzsche.” In A Companion to Sophocles, edited by Kirk Ormand, 424–​40. Malden, Oxford, and Chichester: Wiley-​Blackwell, 2012. Manuel, Frank E. The Eighteenth Century Confronts the Gods. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1959. Nestle, Wilhelm. “Der Pessimismus und seine Überwindung bei den Griechen.” Neue Jahrbücher für das klassische Altertum 47 (1921): 81–​97. Norman, Larry F. The Shock of the Ancient:  Literature and History in Early Modern France. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011. Panofsky, Erwin. Meaning in the Visual Arts. New York: Anchor Books, 1955. Patey, Douglas L. “Ancients and Moderns.” In The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism. Vol. 4, Eighteenth century, edited by Hugh Barr Nisbet and Claude Rawson, 32–​71. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Polizzi, Guido. La concezione dell’umano, tra utopia e disincanto. Milan and Udine: Mimesis, 2011. Ritter, Joachim and Karlfried Gründer. Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie. Basel: Schwabe, 2006. Silk, Michael and Joseph P. Stern Nietzsche on Tragedy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981. Silver, Marie-​France. “La Grèce dans le roman français de l’époque révolutionnaire: le voyage du jeune Anacharsis en Grèce au IVe siècle avant l’ère vulgaire.” Man and Nature 9 (1990): 145–​55. Sim, Stuart. A Philosophy of Pessimism. London: Reaktion Books, 2015. Snell, Bruno. The Discovery of the Mind, tr. T.G. Rosenmeyer. Oxford: Blackwell, 1953. Stäglich, Hans. “Zur Geschichte des Begriffs Pessimismus.” Schopenhauer-​Jahrbuch 34 (1951–​1952): 27–​37. Terrasson, Jean. Dissertation critique sur l’Iliade d’Homère. Paris, 1715. Timpanaro, Sebastiano. Classicismo e illuminismo nell’Ottocento italiano. Pisa: Nistri-​ Lischi, 1965. Van Steen, Gonda. Liberating Hellenism from the Ottoman Empire: Comte de Marcellus and the Last of the Classics. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. Versnel, Hendrik Simon. Coping with the Gods: Wayward Readings in Greek Theology. Leiden: Brill, 2011. Von Löhneysen, Wolfgang (ed). Arthur Schopenhauer: Sämtliche Werke. Stuttgart and Frankfurt am Main: Cotta und Insel, 1960–​1965. Vyverberg, Henry. Historical Pessimism in the French Enlightenment. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1958. Young, David. Three Odes of Pindar: a Literary Study of Pythian 11, Pythian 3 and Olympian 7. Leiden: Brill, 1968.

pa rt 2 Antiquity on Display: Travellers, Grand Tourists, Collectors

­c hapter 3

The “Nymphs” of the Fountain of Arethusa and the Representation of Classical Sicily in Travel Works, c.1770–​1860 Thomas Hopkinson Until the late eighteenth century, Sicily remained an enigma to most northern Europeans, a cultural and economic backwater which attracted few travellers. Centuries of disinterested Spanish rule had isolated Sicily from mainland Europe both politically and economically, while its culture had languished under an elite whose wealth was squandered on extravagant entertainments and a mania for building palaces. Even its rulers were loath to visit the kingdom. Charles V spent a week on the island at the beginning of his reign in 1735, but ruled from Naples thereafter. Sicily did not next see its monarch until the reluctant arrival of Ferdinand iii, who was obliged to flee to the island when Naples was captured by French troops in 1798. “Europe ends in Naples, and ends there rather badly,” wrote Augustin Creuzé de Lesser in 1806, “Calabria, Sicily, all the rest belongs to Africa.”1 Yet, while Sicily played at best a marginal role in European affairs, it stood at the heart of the classical culture on which enlightened Europe rested, and therefore held a strong attraction for the educated classes. For much of the eighteenth century this attraction was not sufficient to overcome the hardships entailed by a journey to the island, but political and cultural change in the latter decades of the century encouraged its first literary travellers. From the 1770s, a growing corpus of travel works regarding Sicily saw print throughout Europe. Inspired by the island’s classical heritage, they presented an image of Sicily which reflected the cultural tastes and preoccupations of their authors.

1 Augustin Creuzé de Lesser, Voyage en Italie et en Sicile, Fait en MDCCCI et MDCCCII (Paris, 1806), 96. De Lesser continued unflatteringly: “In Sicily, for example, we find almost none of the comforts of life, and almost no trace of civilisation.” See also Gabriella Gribaudi, “Images of the South: the Mezzogiorno as seen by insiders and outsiders,” in The New History of the Italian South: The Mezzogiorno Revisited, ed. Robert Lumley and Jonathan Morris (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1997), 86–​88; and Nelson Moe, The View from Vesuvius: Italian Culture and the Southern Question (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006).

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2020 | DOI:10.1163/9789004412675_005

62 Hopkinson This chapter will explore how travellers to Sicily were influenced by the texts of their classical education, and how these shaped their expectations, perceptions, and narratives of the country. It takes as a case study the Fountain of Arethusa in Syracuse, a site which has particular value for its rich mythology, its popularity amongst travellers, and its dual nature as a site of both classical and contemporary relevance. European travel in the long eighteenth century—​in particular its most culturally significant form, the Grand Tour—​was both a cause and consequence of the revival of classical taste in the period. Richard Lassels, who coined the term “Grand Tour” in his 1670 travel account wrote, “no man understands Livy and Caesar, Guicciardin and Monluc, like him, who hath made exactly the Grand Tour of France, and the Giro of Italy.”2 The Society of Dilettanti, founded in 1732 to encourage and provide support for classical scholarship, required that its members had walked on “Classic Ground,” while Samuel Johnson remarked on the inferiority felt by those who had not been to Italy and “seen what it is expected a man should see.”3 From the mid-​eighteenth century, the discovery and subsequent excavation of Herculaneum (1738), Pompeii (1748), and Paestum (1752) vitalised this interest in antiquity and engendered a new concern with classical archaeology and architecture.4 Johann Joachim Winckelmann’s Anmerkungen über die Baukunst der alten Tempel zu Girgenti in Sicilien (Remarks on the Architecture of the Old Temples at Agrigento in Sicily) (1759) marked the first scholarly treatise on the classical remains of Sicily,5 and his Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums (History of Ancient Art) of 1764 played a central role in shifting classical tastes from Roman to Greek models in the latter half of the century.6 Sicily’s emergence as a destination for travellers in the late eighteenth century was due in large part to this Greek revival, and most

2 Richard Lassels, The Voyage of Italy, or, A compleat Journey through Italy (Paris, 1670), n.p. 3 James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson, Vol. 2 (London, 1791), 61. 4 See Giovanna Ceserani, Italy’s Lost Greece: Magna Graecia and the Making of Modern Archaeology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 77–​134. 5 Lorenz Eitner, Neoclassicism and Romanticism 1750–​1850:  Sources and Documents, Vol. 1 (­London: Prentice Hall, 1971), 13. See also Johann Joachim Winckelmann, Johann Joachim Winckelmann on Art, Architecture, and Archaeology, tr. David R. Carter (Woodbridge: Camden House, 2013); Alex Potts, Flesh and the Ideal: Winckelmann and the Origins of Art History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000). 6 John Buxton, The Grecian Taste: Literature in the Age of Neo-​Classicism (London: Macmillan, 1978), 2. Buxton believes that in Britain this shift produced a distinct period of “Grecian” literature between the Augustan period of the early eighteenth century and the Romanticism of the early nineteenth.

The “Nymphs” of the Fountain of Arethusa


travel writers explicitly demonstrated their familiarity with the classical authors who both inspired and guided their journeys. The importance of classical heritage for travellers to the island may be seen in the titles of such works as Johann Riedesel’s Travels through Sicily and that Part of Italy formerly known as Magna Grecia (1773), John Eustace’s A Classical Tour through Italy (1814), Richard Colt Hoare’s A Classical Tour through Italy and Sicily (1819), and George W.D. Evans’s The Classic and Connoisseur in Italy and Sicily (1835). Many classical tours, however, appeared under more generic titles. Henry Swinburne’s Travels in the Two Sicilies (1783) is dominated by his interest in classical history; Thomas Watkins’s account of 1792, Travels through Swisserland, Italy, Sicily, the Greek Islands, provides a classical background to every town he visited; while Francis Collins prefaces the short description of the island found in Voyages to Portugal, Spain, Sicily, Malta, Asia-​Minor, Egypt, &c. &c. (1807) with an overview of Sicily’s classical history. Many tourists conceded large sections of their prose to a didactic recital of the island’s classical history, even to the extent of subsuming their own narratives of the island.7 For the earliest travellers in this period, the bias towards Sicily’s classical history was reinforced by an ignorance of contemporary Sicily, particularly in Britain. Before the publication in 1773 of the English translation of Johann Riedesel’s Reise durch Sicilien und Grossgriechenland (1771), and Patrick Brydone’s Tour through Sicily and Malta, information regarding modern Sicily was scarce. Encyclopaedias and geographies provided only limited and occasionally inaccurate descriptions of the island. The Encyclopédie (1751–​1772) quite erroneously claimed that Sicily’s largest city, Palermo, had been left in ruins by an earthquake.8 Histories provided readers with more material, but in general lost interest in Sicily’s past after the Romans had left the island. The Modern Part of an Universal History, from the Earliest Account of Time (1765) was typical in the way in which it condensed over a thousand years of Sicilian history into two sentences: “It followed the fortune of Italy in its several revolutions, until the Sicilian vespers in 1282, when the nation massacred their French masters, who had then dominion of it. The French were succeeded by the Spaniards until the year 1707.”9

7 Eustace’s Tour, for example, begins with a thirty-​four page classical history of the island, and each location is provided with further background. 8 “Palermo,” Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, etc., ed. Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert. University of Chicago: artfl Encyclopédie Project (Spring 2011 Edition), ed. Robert Morrissey, ​. 9 The Modern Part of an Universal History, from the Earliest Account of Time, Vol. 43 (London, 1765), 587.

64 Hopkinson In the absence of contemporary sources, the majority of late eighteenth-​ century travellers to Sicily turned for information to the texts with which they were most familiar, the writings of antiquity. Richard Hoare notes in his 1819 Classical Tour through Italy and Sicily: Those travellers whose inclination leads them to visit countries which have been signalized in ancient history by the Greek and Roman authors, and who wish that the eye alone should not engross the whole of the novelty, but that the mind should have its share of gratification, will naturally make themselves acquainted with those ancient authors, who lived nearest the æra in which each nation flourished; and from whose writings they will naturally expect to derive the most authentic information.10 Hoare’s comments indicate two common assumptions:  first, that these nations had flourished at a time remote from the present, and second, that the writings of antiquity were the most authentic. “Virgil and Horace, Cicero and Livy, ought to be the inseparable companions of all travellers; they should occupy a corner in every carriage,” instructed John Eustace in his Classical Tour (1814): “Familiar acquaintance or rather bosom intimacy with the ancients is evidently the first and most essential accomplishment of a classical traveller.”11 Tourists dutifully familiarised themselves as widely as possible with the classical texts, and those who were able to do so carried the most salient works with them. As a consequence, travellers sought a version of Sicily which they knew through their classical texts; they were, writes Rosemary Sweet, on “a voyage of recognition—​not discovery.”12 How far they found what they were looking for, and with what consequence, will be considered through an analysis of tourist representations of one of the most popular of Sicily’s classical sites: the Fountain of Arethusa. 1

The Fountain of Arethusa

Of the classical centres of Sicily none had such importance as the city of Syracuse. Founded by the Greeks in the eighth century bce, it was one of the

10 11 12

Richard Colt Hoare, A Classical Tour through Italy and Sicily (London, 1819), 329. John Eustace, A Classical Tour through Italy (London, 1814), 4–​5. Rosemary Sweet, “The Changing View of Rome in the Long Eighteenth Century,” Journal for Eighteenth-​Century Studies 33.2 (2010): 148.

The “Nymphs” of the Fountain of Arethusa


foremost cities of the Mediterranean world.13 Syracuse had dominated Sicily under the Greeks and Carthaginians, and was the last of the island’s cities to fall to the Romans in 212 bce. One of the best-​known classical sites of the city was the Fountain of Arethusa, a naturally occurring spring which emerged on the periphery of the small island of Ortygia (one of Syracuse’s four ancient cities). The fountain derived its name from the Greek nymph Arethusa. In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which was the best-​known source for the foundation myth of the fountain, Arethusa unwittingly bathed in the river god Alpheus, and was forced to flee to protect her virtue when he became enamoured of her.14 When Alpheus transformed himself into a hunter and chased the nymph, Arethusa called on her patron, Diana, to save her. Arethusa was hidden by a cloud and transformed into a spring. Alpheus, however, saw through this transformation and, reassuming his aqueous form, he merged his waters with hers. Diana then created a cleft in the rocks beneath the Ionian Sea from the Peloponnese to the island of Ortygia, through which Arethusa fled to form the fountain. Alpheus made his pursuit through the sea and, untrammelled by the salt water, he too emerged at Ortygia. The water of Arethusa was therefore believed to be one with the river Alpheus (now the Alfeios), which rises in the Arcadia region of Greece. The key features of Ovid’s narrative—​the meeting of Arethusa and Alpheus, her subsequent escape with the aid of Diana, her transformation into the fountain, and Alpheus’s pursuit—​were shared with most other versions of the myth, although they do not all agree as to the place of metamorphosis, the means by which Arethusa and Alpheus crossed the sea, or the point at which the waters were combined.15 An alternative origin was advanced by Diodorus Siculus, writing in the first century bce, who attributed the fountain to the work of a number of nymphs who, “to ingratiate themselves the more with Diana, made a mighty great fountain on this island.”16 Consistent amongst the origin stories was the association between the fountain, nymphs (one or many), and the goddess Diana/​Artemis.17 13

In the first century bce, Cicero claimed that Syracuse was the greatest city in the Greek world: Ita nobilissima Graeciae civitas, Cicero, Tusculan Disputations, 5.66. 14 Ovid, Metamorphoses, 5.572–​641. 15 Moschus, for example, wrote of Alpheus: “For deep and unperceived his waters flow /​Nor mingle with the main, but roll below.” Fr. 3 Gow, tr. Richard Polwhele, The British Poets, including translations, Vol. 92 (Chiswick, 1822), 162. 16 Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica 5.3.5, tr. G. Booth, The Historical Library of Diodorus the Sicilian, in Fifteen Books, Vol. 1 (London, 1814), 297. 17 See also H. David Brumble, Classical Myth and Legend in the Middle Ages and Renaissance (London: Routledge, 1998), 19.

66 Hopkinson The appearance of the fountain was best known through Cicero’s description in the Verrine Orations (70 bce). Cicero wrote: “At one extremity of this island is the spring of fresh water called Arethusa; an incredibly large spring, teeming with fish, and so placed that it would be swamped by the sea but for the protection of a massive stone wall.”18 Despite the brevity of Cicero’s depiction, it had a disproportionate influence on travellers, who arrived at the fountain with the hope that its appearance would still conform to his description. Polite travellers to Sicily in the late eighteenth century demonstrated their familiarity with these sources, as well as with Vergil’s comments in the Aeneid,19 Strabo’s description of the fountain in his Geography,20 and a number of shorter passages such as those found in works by Pliny,21 Pindar,22 Pausanias,23 and Moschus.24 The fountain’s artistic currency saw its use in more modern, classically inspired references, including in John Milton’s Lycidas (1638),25 Alexander Pope’s Dunciad (1728), and Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Arethusa” (1820).26 The combination of these sources provided the late eighteenth-​and early nineteenth-​century traveller with four main points of commentary: the shared nature of the waters of Arethusa and Alpheus; fish; nymphs; and—​through an association with the spring water, its sacred status, and Arethusa’s chastity—​ purity. Of these the latter two were the most significant. The tropes of nymphs and purity were utilised repeatedly in travellers’ accounts, and dominated representations of the fountain. The belief that the Greek river Alpheus could pass untainted through the Ionian Sea to Sicily was dismissed as early as the first century bce by Strabo, and those travellers who commented on this aspect of classical myth likewise rejected the idea.27 Although the fish were frequently mentioned by writers, it was only to mark their absence. 18

In hac insula extrema est fons aquae dulcis, cui nomen Arethusa est, incredibili magnitudine, plenissimus piscium, qui fluctu totus operiretur, nisi munitione ac mole lapidum disjunctus esset a mari. Cicero, Actionis in C. Verrem Secundae Lib. iv, 118, tr. L.H.G. Greenwood, Cicero: The Verrine Orations, Vol. 2 (London, 1960), 427. 19 Vergil, Aeneid, Book 3, and also Eclogue 10. 20 Strabo, Geography, 6.2.4. 21 Pliny, Natural History, 2.103. 22 Pindar, Nemean Odes, 1.1. 23 Pausanias, Description of Greece, 5.7. 24 Moschus, fr. 3 Gow. 25 “Oh fountain Arethuse, and thou honour’d flood,” John Milton, Lycidas (1638), 85. 26 “As under seas Alphæus’ sacred sluice /​Bears Pisa’s offerings to his Arethuse,” Alexander Pope, Dunciad (1728), 2:317–​18. 27 Patrick Brydone, for example, chides the credulity of the Sicilians and suggests that the fable, “like many modern miracles, was probably a trick of the priests,” Patrick Brydone, A Tour through Sicily and Malta, 2nd edition, Vol. 1 (London, 1773), 302.

The “Nymphs” of the Fountain of Arethusa


The nymphs provided a more profitable topic for commentary. Unlike the fish, the nymphs had not disappeared, but had instead been transformed. While travellers’ interest in the fountain lay in its classical significance, it served a more functional role as a source of clean water for the town’s washerwomen, who gathered at the fountain daily to do their laundry. These washerwomen provided a foundation for travellers to reflect on the discrepancy between their classically inspired expectations and the contemporary condition of the fountain, and as such generated a considerable literary response. As one of the first and most popular tours of Sicily, Patrick Brydone’s Tour through Sicily and Malta is particularly significant in establishing conventions of representation. Brydone had no contemporary works with which to inform his depiction, and was consequently more dependent on classical sources than later travellers. Brydone’s Tour is frequently informed by the classical sources he had read prior to his arrival in Sicily, and those, such as Vergil, which he carried with him.28 His description of the fountain explicitly references Cicero, Pliny, Pomponius Mela, and Pausanias, and he hints that he had read all the relevant sources before making his commentary. Brydone claims to have used the Verrine Orations to find the site—​which perhaps gives Cicero’s description more credit than it deserves—​and it was by Cicero’s account that he first gauges the appearance of the fountain: “It still exactly answers the description he gives, except with regard to the great quantities of fish it contained, which seem now to have abandoned it.”29 Brydone was one of the few travellers who might genuinely have been surprised to find the fountain occupied by the washerwomen, but unlike many of his peers he does not express shock at their presence. Instead Brydone makes playful use of the fountain’s mythology by rendering the contemporary scene through a classical lens: The Fountain of Arethusa was dedicated to Diana, who had a magnificent temple near it, where great festivals were annually celebrated in honour of the goddess. We found a number of nymphs, up to the knees in the fountain, busy washing their garments, and we dreaded the fate of Actæon and Alpheus: but if these were of Diana’s train, they are by 28 29

Brydone notes that Vergil “is one of our travelling companions,” Tour, Vol. 1, 37. The ancient author receives considerably more attention than Brydone’s real travelling companions. He writes: “indeed only by observing Cicero’s account of it, we soon found it out”; Brydone, Tour, Vol. 1, 299. Thomas Smart Hughes also claims that he “needed no guide but Cicero,” Travels in Sicily, Greece and Albania, Vol. 1 (London, 1820), 41.

68 Hopkinson no means so coy of old; and a man would hardly chuse to run the risk of being changed into either a river or a stag for the best of them.30 Brydone imaginatively unifies the contemporary and the ancient by recasting the women as figures from the past. He establishes in his description the mythological origins of the fountain, and his reference to Actaeon—​whose tale also involved Diana, bathing, and a physical transformation (into the stag mentioned)—​may be understood as a demonstration of his antiquarian credentials. But Brydone also makes use of that knowledge to entertain his readers, providing a facetious rather than scholarly commentary. Throughout his Tour, Brydone acknowledges the importance of Greek and Roman scholars, but also demonstrates that he is comfortable with rejecting a pedantic scholarly relationship with the ancient world, particularly that which pertained to mythology.31 In this respect, he is not characteristic of the more rigorously antiquarian travellers of his day. Brydone was a fashionable traveller, as interested in emulating Laurence Sterne as he was Joseph Addison.32 His engagement with the Fountain of Arethusa was informed by his classical knowledge, but his mode of representation was shaped by a broader literary purpose. By comparison, Johann Riedesel, who like Brydone lacked contemporary accounts, wrote in a more traditional, scholarly vein. His description of the fountain is brief, offering a simple comparison between the site’s classical and contemporary state. He notes that the fountain was no more than a poor washhouse, and that the “noble spring, which once enjoyed divine worship, now serves to clean the linens of the Syracusan mob.”33 At the heart of Brydone’s representation of the fountain was the juxtaposition of the past and the present. The women, by their presence and their similarity to the nymphs, intruded upon the classical scene and threatened the imaginative process by which Brydone could feel he was present at the classical site. His description of the washerwomen provided a way of negotiating between a fantasy derived from classical texts and the comparatively disappointing scene with which he was met. Having found a place for the women 30 Brydone, Tour, Vol. 1, 111. 31 See for example Brydone’s comment on the etymology of Cape Pylorus: “it is like most disputes among antiquarians, a matter of mighty little consequence.” Brydone, Tour, Vol. 1, 44. 32 The philosopher David Hume, who read a draft of the Tour, suggested that some of Brydone’s “levities” were “too much in the Shandean style” for public consumption and recommended they be excised; G.  Birkbeck Hill, ed. Letters of David Hume to William Strahan (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1888), 255. 33 Johann Riedesel, Reise durch Sicilien und Grossgriechenland (Zurich, 1771), 87.

The “Nymphs” of the Fountain of Arethusa


in his new image, Brydone was able to express his satisfaction with the site, concluding that: “it is indeed an astonishing fountain.”34 Brydone’s satisfaction with the site is not typical of travellers’ accounts in the long eighteenth century. For tourists hoping to find some faint stirring of the ancient past, the presence of the washerwomen in the fountain acted as a jarring and undesirable imposition. John Lee, arriving with the British fleet in 1798, expressed a view shared by many travellers around the turn of the century, that “neither the delicacy or beauty of these damsels, or their occupations, at all reconciled the naval visitors to the idea which their imaginations had formed of this supposed delightful fountain, and its attendant nymphs.”35 The shock of the contrast between the fantasies of nymphs and the reality of the washerwomen impelled the majority of travel writers to respond to the women’s presence.36 Many authors, like Brydone, saw the creative potential in representing the women as the modern analogue of the nymphs of Diana. The antiquarian Richard Colt Hoare made a punning allusion to Ovid in his comment that “the nymphs of the spring are now metamorphosed into mere washerwomen,”37 William Bartlett commented that the fountain was “frequented by the nymphs of modern Syracuse, whose manners and aspect are the very reverse of poetical,”38 while William Henry Smyth, a captain in the Royal Navy, wrote that the fountain: “is still resorted to by a number of nymphs, who, washing their dirty linen, probably form as great a contrast to its ancient attendants, as its diminished stream must to its once noble torrent.”39 The reconfiguration of the washerwomen as nymphs that Brydone undertook can be found in at least a dozen later travel accounts.40 The purpose and form of their 34 Brydone, Tour, Vol. 1, 300. 35 John Theophilus Lee, Memoirs of the Life and Services of Sir John Theophilus Lee, of the Elms, Hampshire (London, 1836), 82. 36 Of the thirty-​five travel accounts written before 1870 I  have found which describe the fountain, twenty-​seven mention these laundresses in one form or another. 37 Hoare, Classical Tour, 150. 38 William Henry Bartlett, Pictures from Sicily (London, 1853), 191. 39 William Henry Smyth, Memoir Descriptive of the Resources, Inhabitants and Hydrography, of Sicily and its Islands (London, 1824), 171. 40 Besides those sources mentioned, the comparison of the washerwomen with nymphs can also be found in Michel-​Jean de Borch, Lettres sur la Sicile et sur l’île de Malthe, Vol. 1 (Turin, 1782), 40; Hughes, Travels, Vol. 1, 41; George Wood, The Subaltern Officer (London, 1825), 38; George Angas, A Ramble in Malta and Sicily in the Autumn of 1841 (London, 1842), 88; Arthur Strutt, A Pedestrian Tour in Calabria and Sicily (London, 1842), 309; Robert Snow, Memorials of a Tour on the Continent: To which are added Miscellaneous Poems (London, 1845), 78; Penry Williams, Recollection of Malta, Sicily and the Continent (Edinburgh, 1847), 58; John Butler, An Autumn in Sicily, Being an Account of the Principal Remains of Antiquity

70 Hopkinson comparisons remain consistent: to contrast the past and the present, and to express the writer’s disappointment in the change. This denigration of Sicily’s contemporary state is also present in a second common response to the washerwomen, which focused on the contrast of classical purity and contemporary pollution. The association of the fountain with purity originated in two elements found in the classical sources. Descriptions of the fountain emphasised the water’s physical purity, while the myth of Arethusa produced associations with the chastity and modesty of the nymph. The activity of the washerwomen and their appearance were both at odds with these received ideas of purity. Andrew Bigelow, a Unitarian minister from Massachusetts, describes the washerwomen’s presence as irreverent: “Anciently, it was venerated with divine honours, and a company of nymphs was specially set apart to guard it. Now, it is daily profaned by another set of personages, the common laundresses of Syracuse.”41 The idea of profanation also appears in Penry Williams’s description, which bemoaned how the washerwomen polluted, “with their horrid ablutions all that remained of the sacred fount.”42 Other commentators focused on the physical pollution. Michel-​Jean de Borch described the scene as a “disgusting laundry,”43 Thomas Watkins noted how the fountain was daily “polluted … by the foul linen of Syracuse washerwomen,”44 and the cleric and historian Thomas Smart Hughes lamented: “I beheld Arethusa, the lovely Arethusa, so celebrated in songs of ancient minstrelsy, and so honoured in the choicest specimens of numismatic art, despoiled of all her charms, and degraded to the vile office of a public wash-​tub.”45 As with the nymph trope, writers here are responding to contemporary Sicilians infringing on a sacred site. However, where the rendering of the women as nymphs was relatively benign, commentary on the women as the source and embodiment of the pollution was more critical. The affronted response of some tourists continued in their reaction to the appearance of the women. William Hanson described how the Syracusan existing in that Island (Dublin, 1850), 170; and George Dennis, A Handbook for Travellers in Sicily (London, 1864), 333. 41 Andrew Bigelow, Travels in Malta and Sicily:  with Sketches of Gibraltar in 1827 (Boston, 1831), 295. 42 Williams, Recollection, 58. 43 Borch, Lettres, Vol. 1, 140. 44 Thomas Watkins, Travels through Swisserland, Italy, Sicily, the Greek Islands, to Constantinople, Through Part of Greece, Ragusa, and the Dalmatian Isles; In a Series of Letters to Pennoyre Watkins Esq. from Thomas Watkins, A.M. in the Years 1787, 1788, 1789, Vol. 2. (London, 1792), 29. 45 Hughes, Travels, 41.

The “Nymphs” of the Fountain of Arethusa


women “stood in the water without shoes, stockings, or petticoats; the whole extent of their legs perfectly naked, and their bodies very nearly in a state of nature.”46 Dominique Vivant de Non claimed that the “almost naked” washerwomen presented “the most disgusting scene immodesty can display,”47 and George Angas similarly wrote that the occupation of the fountain by “women with their clothes tucked up above their knees” formed “the most grotesque coup d’oeil imaginable.”48 Although the women’s appearance alone might have been sufficient to scandalise some of the onlookers, their state of dishabille was a marked contrast to the chastity which Arethusa had demonstrated. This contrast led Andrew Bigelow to moralise: “Poor Arethusa! Alas, that thy virgin modesty … should not shield thy chaste fount in this degenerate age from such dishonour and desecration!”49 The disappointment faced by the classical traveller may perhaps be seen most evocatively in the bathetic experience of John Bowdler. Inspired by the prospect of visiting the fountain, Bowdler began penning a paean to Arethusa during the course of his journey from Palermo to Syracuse. His poem, which had reached thirteen verses before his arrival in Syracuse, and portrayed the fountain as “the seat of joy and soft repose, the fount of harmony and song,” is brought to an abrupt termination with the following, rather sullen, comment:  “Having arrived at Syracuse, and visited the filthy pool now termed Arethusa, I determined to write no more.”50 Bowdler’s disheartened response to the fountain was perhaps a predictable outcome for one who had raised his expectations so high. Those travellers who most revered the classical myths were least able to reconcile their preconceived ideas of the fountain with the scene which greeted them. Classical travellers imagined the fountain as a site of serenity, purity, and beauty, but found instead a municipal wash-​place filled with chattering, half-​dressed women. In light of the condition of the fountain in the period, it is understandable that tourists expressed some disappointment, but it is remarkable how badly they responded to being disabused of their fantasies. 46

William Hanson, Short Journal of a Voyage to Sicily, 1810 and of an Excursion from Messina to Syracuse by way of Etna and Catania, 1811 (London, 1814), 40. 47 Dominique Vivant de Non, Travels in Sicily and Malta (London, 1789), 309. 48 Angas, Ramble, 88. 49 Bigelow, Travels, 295. The adjective “bare-​legged” was used by Hughes, Travels, 41; Louis Simond, A Tour in Italy and Sicily (London, 1828), 490; George W.D. Evans, The Classic and Connoisseur in Italy and Sicily, Vol. 2 (London, 1835), 302; and Butler, Autumn in Sicily, 170. 50 John Bowdler, Select Pieces in Verse and Prose by the late John Bowdler, 4th edition (London, 1820), 224.

72 Hopkinson The critical response found in the majority of travel accounts may in part be explained by the way in which tourists of the period interacted with the sites they visited. Classical tourism had both a spatial and a temporal dimension. Once tourists had journeyed to a site, they engaged in a form of imaginative time travel in which, using their texts as a bridge, they sought to envisage the site as it once was. Viccy Coltman notes that “the classical pilgrim sees not the archaeological present but visions of an ancient past imposed by his reading of classical literature.”51 Not all sites lent themselves equally to this exercise. At sites which had undergone little change, particularly natural features such as Mount Etna and the “Ear of Dionysius,” travellers found it easy to reconstruct the past and responded positively. Sites which had decayed through the effects of time and which were discreet from their contemporary surroundings, such as the temples of Agrigento and Segesta, could still be admired and imaginatively reconstructed. But where modern Sicily overlaid its classical past, where the toponyms of ancient Sicily were still in use, and where—​as at the Fountain of Arethusa—​the modern intruded upon the ancient, travellers were particularly critical. At these sites Sicily’s fall from grace was most apparent and her glorious past hardest to recapture. A second explanation may be found in the constructed nature of travel writing. Descriptions of the fountain demonstrate the highly intertextual character of many late eighteenth-​century classical tours. Classical texts were read in preparation for the tour, they exerted influence on the way in which the traveller experienced the country, and they shaped the choices authors made in how they rendered their journeys for consumption by an audience. Travellers were responding to ancient sites on the basis of their classical background, but they were also shaping the narrative of those encounters to appeal to and impress a classical audience. Writers therefore juxtaposed sections of travel narration with extracts from classical sources and information gleaned from historical reference books. Travel accounts were, writes Rosemary Sweet, “an elite dialogue between the ancient authors, the Grand Tourist, and his educated readers at home.”52 The writer Richard Griffith noted the significance of classical texts for the composition of travel works in Something New (1772): some [tourists], I have been informed, have so well prepared themselves for this work, before hand, that they have written half their book ere they 51 52

Viccy Coltman, “Classicism in the English library,” Journal of the History of Collections 11.1 (1999): 45. Sweet, “View of Rome,” 154.

The “Nymphs” of the Fountain of Arethusa


set out, in order to save themselves the trouble of lugging the one they had copied from, about with them, from stage to stage. One person, I was assured, deferred his journey, for a twelvemonth, till he had finished his travels.53 Travel narratives did not therefore always reflect an authentic experience of the journey, but were constructed, even pre-​constructed, in order to demonstrate the author’s classical erudition and taste. In this way travel literature fulfilled the same role of self-​promotion as the commissioning of Grand Tour portraits and the collection and display of antiquities, as demonstrated by Maeve O’Dwyer and Miriam Al Jamil in the next chapters. After the publication of Riedesel’s and Brydone’s works, which were both well-​known throughout Western Europe, travellers were not obliged to rely on classical sources. From the 1770s onwards, a growing number of tour accounts prepared them for the pleasures and disappointments which they were likely to face. Brydone’s Tour was particularly well-​known: of forty-​eight Sicilian travel works written by 1850, around three-​quarters have internal evidence which demonstrates their authors had read Brydone’s account. Despite their familiarity with the contemporary condition of the fountain, writers continued to express surprise, shock, and disgust at how it differed from their classical ideal. The desire to respond to classical rather than contemporary sources led some writers to exaggerate or even dissimulate aspects of their experience. Michel-​Jean de Borch’s comment: “instead of a small, clear river full of fish, I saw a disgusting laundry, and turbid, brackish water,” implies that he was expecting a classical idyll, but his Lettres were published as a continuation and a correction of Brydone’s account, to whom the author makes frequent reference.54 It is therefore unlikely that Borch could have been surprised by the presence of the washerwomen. Likewise, we might give little credit to George Angas’s claim, as late as 1842, that the sight of modern nymphs in the fountain was “unexpected,” or Penry Williams’s assertion that he was “unconscious of the actual condition of this relic of poetical fancy,” as these authors were also familiar with Brydone’s Tour.55 Writers mirrored styles of representation which other travellers had used, but did so in such a way as to claim them for their own. Hoare, Smyth, Wood, Williams, Evans, Hughes,

53 Richard Griffith, Something New, in Two Volumes, Vol. 2 (London, 1772), 18. 54 Borch, Lettres, Vol. 1, 140. 55 Angas, Ramble, 88; Williams, Recollections, 57.

74 Hopkinson Butler, and Dennis employed the nymph metaphor for the washerwomen in all likelihood knowing that Brydone had made the same comparison, yet each lets the reader believe that it was inspired by their own relationship with the classical sources.56 Only a single account acknowledges the existence of earlier contemporary descriptions of the fountain’s appearance. Joseph-​Antoine de Gourbillon’s Travels in Sicily (1820), which summarises Brydone’s and Borch’s commentaries, upbraids travellers for their dependency on classical sources and their failure to provide a view of the contemporary fountain. Gourbillon’s comments provide a useful critique of the classical representations which featured in tours of the period: When you ask some account from the learned of this celebrated little spring, you must not expect to hear any details of its locality. Instead of speaking of the fountain, they will cite Pindar, and Bion, and Moschus, and Virgil, and Ovid, and Lucan, and Statius, and a crowd of other authors; and when they have overloaded their pages with Greek and Latin quotations, when they have collected for you all praises which poets, historians, naturalists, and lexicographers have lavished on this fountain, when they have copied all, and said all, you will probably know something less of it than when you asked the question.57 Gourbillon’s criticism of the derivative use of classical accounts reflects a change in taste and a growing desire amongst travellers and readers to learn about the contemporary condition of the country. From the turn of the century, alternative models of representation became more common as accounts were produced by travellers who lacked a classical education or were antagonistic towards the elitism which classical tours represented.



Evans and Hughes both refer, as does Brydone, to the washerwomen belonging to “Diana’s train.” Evans, Classic and Connoisseur, Vol. 1, xiii; Hughes, Travels, Vol. 1, 122; Borch, Lettres, Vol. 1, iii (and numerous other references); Hoare, Classical Tour, 330; Smyth, Memoir, 206; Wood, Subaltern Officer, 41; Angas, Ramble, 50, 101, 127, 154; Williams, Recollections, 74–​75 (Williams also retells Brydone’s anecdote of the sea captain and the “painted snowball”); Butler, Autumn in Sicily, 127; and Dennis, Handbook for Travellers, 11, 109, 141, 397, 440–​42, 454. Joseph-​Antoine de Gourbillon, Travels in Sicily and to Mount Etna in 1819 (London, 1820), 65.

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Changes in Travel Narratives

Interest in Sicily’s classical heritage encouraged a steady stream of travellers to the island in the last decades of the eighteenth century. Yet, while classical antiquarianism shaped the itineraries and representations of the majority of those travellers, they were the rear-​guard of a declining cultural movement. The celebration of classical models, which had dominated the narratives of travellers to Italy at the beginning of the eighteenth century, was increasingly reserved: “praise was tempered with criticism, and the civilisation and taste of the ancients were no longer assumed to be superior to anything the modern age could produce.”58 Kenneth Churchill notes how in the course of the eighteenth century, visitors to Italy had increasingly started to see in its classical sites not the signs of greatness, but the phenomenon of ruin.59 Other factors brought about a change in the way travellers responded to classical sites. The Grand Tour was in decline, its exclusivity under threat, and its participants vilified “as an ill-​behaved and unthinking gaggle, lacking any discernible ‘character’ beyond the folly of their class.”60 The audience for aristocratic narratives was similarly in decline as cultural tastes shifted to reflect a broader, middling-​class market. As Britain’s economy strengthened in the wake of the Seven Years’ War, the number and diversity of travellers on the Continent grew.61 James Duncan and Derek Gregory note that although travel remained a privileged enterprise, “it was increasingly construed as a quintessentially bourgeois experience that had its origins in the conjunction of romanticism and industrialism.”62 The accounts of this new class of traveller reflected their diversity and in some cases provided a deliberate contrast with the narratives of aristocratic tourists. Carl Thompson notes that “we find narrators concerned 58

Sweet, “View of Rome,” 155. See David Spadafora, The Idea of Progress in Eighteenth-​ Century Britain (New Haven:  Yale University Press, 1990), 21–​84; Paul Baines, The Long Eighteenth Century (London:  Bloomsbury, 2004), 147–​48; and Kenneth Churchill, Italy and English Literature, 1764–​1930 (London: Macmillan, 1980), 7–​9. 59 Churchill, Italy, 1–​9. Paul Baines and Kenneth Churchill particularly note the importance of Edward Gibbon’s History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776–​1789) as both an indicator and a cause of the shift from classicism to romanticism at the turn of the century. Baines, Long Eighteenth Century, 147; Churchill, Italy, 9. 60 Katherine Turner, British Travel Writers in Europe, 1750–​1800 (Aldershot:  Ashgate, 2001), 60. 61 Carl Thompson, The Suffering Traveller and the Romantic Imagination (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2007), 33; Bruce Redford, Venice and the Grand Tour (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996), 15. 62 James Duncan and Derek Gregory (eds), Writes of Passage (London:  Routledge, 1999), 6. See also Turner, Travel Writers, 55–​85.

76 Hopkinson to present themselves as more sturdy, patriotic, and commonsensical travellers than the effete aristocrat abroad.”63 Other forms of representation which more closely reflected the tastes of the new participants in travel supplanted aristocratic narratives.64 As the classical provenance of the fountain became less important to travellers, the reaction against its perceived decline became less severe. In most cases, the classical origin of the fountain was still recognised, but it was less likely to determine the way in which the site was represented. Something of this development may be seen in General George Cockburn’s account of his visit to the fountain in November 1810. Although he made a tour of Sicily, Cockburn was not a Grand Tourist, but was garrisoned on the island during the Napoleonic Wars.65 His description of the fountain provides a moderate view of the washerwomen which acknowledges the mundane character of the women and their work: We first went to the Fountain of Arethusa, which, though once so celebrated, is now a mere washing place: a number of women stand in it up to their knees, and are washing linen from sun-​rise till sun-​set … But, alas! Sicilian washer-​women are much the same animals as those of London or Dublin, with more dirt, but with less inspiration from gin or whiskey.66 Cockburn’s comment is almost unique in drawing similarities between contemporary Sicily and Britain, and is markedly different from those classically inspired authors who took pains to align themselves with Sicily’s past and to exaggerate the otherness of its present. Cockburn indicates something of his inspiration in a line extracted from The Village (1783) by George Crabbe. He writes that he felt compelled to “paint the spot /​As truth would paint it, but as bards will not.”67 In quoting Crabbe, Cockburn espouses the poet’s concern that rustic life should be portrayed in a realistic, rather than romantic or ­idyllic, manner. 63 Thompson, Suffering Traveller, 33. 64 Bruce Redford believes the Grand Tour declined from 1760–​1790, but saw a brief revival after the Napoleonic wars, before its exclusivity and its purpose were swept away by steam and rail travel. Brian Dolan sees the same decline, but claims the Grand Tour did not recover from the changes wrought by the French Revolution and subsequent wars. Redford, Venice, 15; Brian Dolan, Exploring European Frontiers: British Travellers in the Age of Enlightenment (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2000), 12. 65 Along with some ten thousand British soldiers. 66 George Cockburn, A Voyage to Cadiz and Malta, up the Mediterranean to Sicily and Malta in 1810 & 11 (London, 1815), 177–​78. 67 Cockburn, Voyage, 179; George Crabbe, The Village (1783), Book I, lines 53–​54.

The “Nymphs” of the Fountain of Arethusa


Cockburn and Gourbillon were still isolated voices amongst the trend of classical travellers until the 1830s. Sicily’s relative remoteness and the novelty of its ancient sites may have helped antiquarian travel endure longer than on the mainland, where the overabundance of guidebooks and travel narratives had created a critical disinterest in classical tours. By the mid-​nineteenth century, however, a clear change may be seen in representations of the fountain, which reflected the rise of a broader class of traveller and an appreciation of other aspects of Sicily’s history and landscape. Those writers who did not owe a debt to classical texts and did not seek a classical audience found that there was little to say about the fountain. Henry Gally Knight, an architectural historian and writer of oriental novels, made a tour of the island’s hitherto little-​regarded Norman sites in 1836. The fountain of Arethusa was of only secondary interest, and although he visits the site, his comment is brief and dismissive: “we descended to the neighbouring fount of Arethusa, which, whatever it may once have been, is now a mere pool.”68 In the wake of changing aesthetic tastes, Sicily became a popular destination for admirers of the picturesque and the sublime. Arthur Strutt made his tour of 1841 with the intention of studying and painting the landscape, people, and costumes of the region. Strutt’s deliberately titled Pedestrian Tour in Calabria and Sicily (1842) was framed in contrast to the aristocratic tours of travellers who “whirled through Europe in a post chaise.”69 Although he makes use of the nymph metaphor, Strutt’s description is a far remove from the disapproving comment of earlier writers: We visited this morning the fountain of Arethusa of classic celebrity. The waters now supply a large lavatoro, and its nymphs are transformed into modern washer-​women, who stand up to their knees in the sacred stream, scrubbing, splashing, chattering, and laughing, more sociably than poetically. We stayed to converse with them some time, and F—​ delivered his blouze to be washed by the nymphs who promised to return it at two o’clock.70 Algernon Bicknell, whose In the Track of the Garibaldians through Italy and Sicily (1861) was situated within the political upheaval of the period, was

68 Henry Knight, The Normans in Sicily (London, 1838), 134. 69 Strutt, Pedestrian Tour, frontispiece. Strutt took the line from Oliver Goldsmith’s An Enquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning in Europe (1759). 70 Strutt, Pedestrian Tour, 309.

78 Hopkinson similarly unimpressed with the classical models of the past. He writes in the preface that: The volume by no means claims to relate what is termed “a classical tour,” for besides the days of such ponderous books of travel having entirely gone by, it would be hopeless to expect to interest the refined and somewhat luxurious reader of 1861 by learned speculations concerning places so near home.71 Bicknell was one of the last authors to see the fountain with its attendant nymphs; within a few years of his tour the Syracusan authorities chose to beautify the fountain and in the process expelled the washerwomen from the site. His rejection of classical allusion provides a description of the fountain which is entirely demystified: This was the far-​famed fountain of Arethusa, and that little soap-​sud puddle is it. My shirts were washed in it this morning, and I am sorry they were, for there is a dead cat bobbing up and down around the spring, and I think they smell of it.72 Bicknell’s description shares the disappointment of many of his predecessors, but it does not share their attachment to the classical origins of the fountain. Instead, his dismissive comment—​and use of the past tense—​indicates his rejection of classical models and the value placed on them by writers. While tour accounts through the nineteenth century continued to mention the origins of the fountain of Arethusa, it became less likely that their commentaries would engage with them directly. The Fountain of Arethusa continued to attract tourists, but the time of classical pilgrimage was almost over. 3


The first travellers to Sicily in the late eighteenth century had the opportunity to establish new forms of representation for the sites they visited. In practice, however, they were invariably shaped by the traditions, tastes, and prejudices


Algernon Bicknell, In the Track of the Garibaldians through Italy and Sicily (London, 1861), vii. 72 Bicknell, Garibaldians, 276.

The “Nymphs” of the Fountain of Arethusa


of their home cultures, and by patterns of representation already established in the literature of the Grand Tour. This analysis of representations of the Fountain of Arethusa has shown that the use of classical tropes, often deployed in a conscious form of self-​ promotion, dominated accounts in the eighteenth century and remained influential into the latter half of the nineteenth century. During this time writers continued to privilege classical sources over contemporary accounts and in so doing expressed the enduring prestige of classical learning and the importance of classical erudition as a marker of taste and social status. Alternative and counter-​narratives emerged from the 1820s, as the social and cultural tastes and constitution of travellers changed, but it was not until the mid-​century that any significant decline is seen in the primacy of classical models. Narrative accounts of the fountain reveal the close familiarity which authors had with classical sources and the significant influence that these texts had in shaping travellers’ expectations. Depictions of the fountain reflect the disjunction between the idealised classical fantasies which travellers constructed and the realities of a public wash-​place. They express how writers negotiated the incompatibilities between their expectations and their experiences with varying degrees of success, and show how those who adhered most strongly to classical ideals were most critical of the fountain and its washerwomen. Accounts of the Fountain of Arethusa therefore demonstrate the culturally relative character of travel writing and the considerable influence which classical texts exerted on how travellers experienced and represented their journeys.


Primary Sources

Angas, George. A Ramble in Malta and Sicily in the Autumn of 1841. London, 1842. Bartlett, William Henry. Pictures from Sicily. London, 1853. Bicknell, Algernon. In the Track of the Garibaldians through Italy and Sicily. London, 1861. Bigelow, Andrew. Travels in Malta and Sicily: With Sketches of Gibraltar in 1827. Boston, 1831. Borch, Michel-​Jean de. Lettres sur la Sicile et sur l’île de Malthe. Turin, 1782. Boswell, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson. London, 1791. Bowdler, John. Select Pieces in Verse and Prose by the Late John Bowdler, 4th edition. London, 1820. Brydone, Patrick. A Tour through Sicily and Malta in a Series of Letters to William Beckford, Esq. Of Somerly in Suffolk. London, 1773.

80 Hopkinson Butler, John. An Autumn in Sicily, Being an Account of the Principal Remains of Antiquity Existing in that Island. Dublin, 1850. Cicero, Quintus Tullius. Actionis in C. Verrem Secundae. Cicero, Quintus Tullius. Tusculan Disputations. Cockburn, George. A Voyage to Cadiz and Malta, up the Mediterranean to Sicily and Malta in 1810 & 11. London, 1815. Collins, Francis. Voyages to Portugal, Spain, Sicily, Malta, Asia-​Minor, Egypt, &c. &c. London, 1807. Colt Hoare, Richard. A Classical Tour through Italy and Sicily. London, 1819. Crabbe, George. The Village. London, 1783. Dennis, George. A Handbook for Travellers in Sicily. London, 1864. Eustace, John. A Classical Tour through Italy. London, 1814. Evans, George W.D. The Classic and Connoisseur in Italy and Sicily. London, 1835. Gourbillon, Joseph-​Antoine de. Travels in Sicily and to Mount Etna in 1819. London, 1820. Griffith, Richard. Something New, in Two Volumes. London, 1772. Guide to Naples and Sicily. Rome, 1847. Hanson, William. Short Journal of a Voyage to Sicily, 1810 and of an Excursion from Messina to Syracuse by way of Etna and Catania, 1811. London, 1814. Hughes, Thomas Smart. Travels in Sicily, Greece and Albania. London, 1820. Knight, Henry Gally. The Normans in Sicily. London, 1838. Lassels, Richard. The Voyage of Italy, or, A compleat Journey through Italy. Paris, 1670. Lee, John Theophilus. Memoirs of the Life and Services of Sir John Theophilus Lee, of the Elms, Hampshire. London, 1836. Lesser, Augustin Creuzé de. Voyage en Italie et en Sicile, Fait en MDCCCI et MDCCCII. Paris, 1806. The Modern Part of an Universal History, from the Earliest Account of Time. London, 1765. Moschus. Fragments. Non, Dominique Vivant de. Travels in Sicily and Malta. London, 1789. Ovid. Metamorphoses. Pausanias. Descriptions of Greece. Pindar. Nemean Odes. Pliny. Natural History. Pope, Alexander. Dunciad. London, 1728. Riedesel, Johann. Reise durch Sicilien und Grossgriechenland. Zurich, 1771. Shelley, Percy Bysshe. “Arethusa” (1820). In The Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley, edited by Mary Shelley. Boston, 1855: 342–​45. Simond, Louis. A Tour in Italy and Sicily. London, 1828. Smyth, William Henry. Memoir Descriptive of the Resources, Inhabitants and Hydrography, of Sicily and its Islands. London, 1824.

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Snow, Robert. Memorials of a Tour on the Continent: To which are added Miscellaneous Poems. London, 1845. Strabo. Geography. Strutt, Arthur. A Pedestrian Tour in Calabria and Sicily. London, 1842. Vergil. Aeneid. Vergil. Eclogues. Watkins, Thomas. Travels through Swisserland, Italy, Sicily, the Greek Islands, to Constantinople, through part of Greece, Ragusa, and the Dalmatian Isles; In a Series of Letters to Pennoyre Watkins Esq. from Thomas Watkins, A.M. in the Years 1787, 1788, 1789. London, 1792. Williams, Penry. Recollection of Malta, Sicily and the Continent. Edinburgh, 1847. Winckelmann, Johann Joachim. Johann Joachim Winckelmann on Art, Architecture, and Archaeology, tr. David R. Carter. Woodbridge: Camden House, 2013. Wood, George. The Subaltern Officer. London, 1825.

Secondary Sources

Baines, Paul. The Long Eighteenth Century. London: Bloomsbury, 2004. Birkbeck Hill, G. (ed.). Letters of David Hume to William Strahan. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1888. Booth, G. The Historical Library of Diodorus the Sicilian, in Fifteen Books. London, 1814. Brumble, H. David. Classical Myth and Legend in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. London: Routledge, 1998. Buxton, John. The Grecian Taste: Literature in the Age of Neo-​Classicism. London: Macmillan, 1978. Ceserani, Giovanna. Italy’s Lost Greece: Magna Graecia and the Making of Modern Archaeology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Churchill, Kenneth. Italy and English Literature 1764–​1930. London: Macmillan, 1980. Coltman, Viccy. “Classicism in the English library.” Journal of the History of Collections 11.1 (1999): 35–​50. Dolan, Brian. Exploring European Frontiers: British Travellers in the Age of Enlightenment. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2000. Duncan, James and Derek Gregory (eds). Writes of Passage. London: Routledge, 1999. Eitner, Lorenz. Neoclassicism and Romanticism 1750–​1850: Sources and Documents. London: Prentice Hall, 1971. Greenwood, L.H.G. Cicero: The Verrine Orations. London, 1960. Gribaudi, Gabriella. “Images of the South: The Mezzogiorno as Seen by Insiders and Outsiders.” In The New History of the Italian South: The Mezzogiorno Revisited, edited by Robert Lumley and Jonathan Morris. Exeter:  University of Exeter Press, 1997: 88–​113.

82 Hopkinson Moe, Nelson. The View from Vesuvius: Italian Culture and the Southern Question. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006. Polwhele, Richard, tr. The British Poets, including translations, Vol. 92. Chiswick, 1822. Potts, Alex. Flesh and the Ideal: Winckelmann and the Origins of Art History. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000. Redford, Bruce. Venice and the Grand Tour. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996. Spadafora, David. The Idea of Progress in Eighteenth-​Century Britain. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990. Sprague, Homer B. Milton’s Lycidas. Boston, 1886. Sweet, Rosemary. “The Changing View of Rome in the Long Eighteenth Century.” Journal for Eighteenth-​Century Studies 33.2 (2010): 145–​64. Thompson, Carl. The Suffering Traveller and the Romantic Imagination. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. Turner, Katherine. British Travel Writers in Europe 1750–​1800. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001.


Diderot, Denis, and Jean le Rond d’Alembert (eds). Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, etc., artfl Encyclopédie Project (Spring 2011 Edition), Robert Morrissey, ed. Accessed 1 August 2017, ​.

­c hapter 4

Antiquity and the Grand Tour Portrait: Rethinking the Significance of Pompeo Batoni’s Use of Classical Sculpture, 1753–​1762 Maeve O’Dwyer Grand Tour portraits commissioned at Rome during the long eighteenth century offer a unique opportunity to examine how British travellers portrayed themselves as figures of impeccable taste, that is, as ideal Grand Tourists. The eighteenth-​century Grand Tour constituted a ritualised itinerary of travel for wealthy young heirs; it was a cultural norm that played an important role in underpinning the stability of British class-​based culture, ensuring that wealth was not the only criterion for social prestige.1 A  central element of Grand Tourism was the opportunity to acquire a superior sense of taste, particularly through the study of the architectural and artistic remnants of classical antiquity at Rome, the cultural apex of the average itinerary. This sense of taste was most easily demonstrated through the collection and domestic display of antiquity, for example, in the collection of Charles Townley as discussed by Miriam Al Jamil in this volume, and through portrait imagery of the Grand Tourist.2 As Fiona Stafford has argued, the eighteenth-​century portrait was “a clear assertion of identity” that achieved multiple goals, serving as a permanent record of identity as well as a status symbol.3 This chapter posits that in the oeuvre of the Italian painter Pompeo Batoni (1708–​1787), the classical sculptures inserted into the portraits of Grand Tourists not only acted as generic symbols of erudition, but could hold much deeper significance. At a minimum, the inclusion within the portrait of unaltered classical sculptures from the collections at Rome brought to mind the viewing 1 The Grand Tour also involved a programme of social activities which led to the acquisition and public performance of taste. For increased attention to the education of young heirs in schools and universities, rather than at home, see Linda Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation 1707–​1837 (London: Vintage, 1996), 180. 2 For the presentation of a collection as a presentation of the self, see Viccy Coltman, Fabricating the Antique:  Neoclassicism in Britain, 1760–​1800 (Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 2006). 3 Fiona Stafford, “Striking Resemblances: National Identity and the Eighteenth-​Century Portrait,” Eighteenth-​Century Ireland/​Iris an dá chultúr 19 (2004), 145.

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2020 | DOI:10.1163/9789004412675_006

84 O’dwyer experience in the gallery, and its associations with Grand Tourist sociability.4 Here, Batoni’s portrait of Charles John Crowle (1738–​1811), painted 1761–​1762, is discussed in detail as an example of a portrait in which the British paradigm for self-​fashioning as a Grand Tourist in Rome shifted (Fig. 4.2).5 Crowle’s inclusion of statuettes of the classical sculptures known as the Vatican Ariadne and Farnese Hercules in his portrait not only served to remind viewers of the experience of viewing the sculpture in the round at Rome, it also created a subtext to the portrait, a hidden joke accessible only to educated viewers.6 This is not to argue that every sitter took advantage of the opportunity to fashion a visual identity of themselves as Grand Tourists, consciously and effectively documenting the success of their travels. It is evident that some elements of Batoni’s pictorial formula were repeated, suggesting that many sitters were content to reuse poses or staging from previously commissioned portraits. However, given the nature of Batoni’s studio as a locus of foreign sociability, the public nature of the process of commissioning a portrait, and the British prioritisation of antiquity as the standard of taste, it is unlikely that sitters who chose recognisable sculptures from the collections at Rome to insert into their portraits were unaware of their possible impact. Batoni regularly left portraits on display for months after completion, and in addition to those who came to his studio to sit for portraits, many visitors to Rome attended the drawing classes and musical evenings he hosted, suggesting Batoni’s portraits were viewed and commented on by a wide audience at Rome.7 For certain sitters in particular, it is clear that their interaction with symbols of the classical past within the portrait space 4 In the long eighteenth century, the absence of information in museums and galleries necessitated either hiring a guide, reading aloud to each other from written guides, or conversing in the space. See Carole Paul, The Borghese Collections and the Display of Art in the Age of the Grand Tour (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008). 5 Pompeo Batoni, Charles John Crowle, 1761–​1762, 254 × 169 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris, R.F. 1981–​37. Edgar Peters Bowron, Pompeo Batoni: A Complete Catalogue of his Paintings (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016), Cat. No. 241. All catalogue numbers of Batoni paintings given in this chapter refer to Edgar Peters Bowron’s 2016 catalogue, unless explicitly stated otherwise. 6 The idea that joking facilitated the navigation of foreign society is posited by Chloe Chard, “ ‘Fog in the Channel’: Joking, Laughing, and Travelling,” in The Legacy of the Grand Tour: New Essays on Travel, Literature, and Culture, ed. Lisa Colletta (Madison: Fairleigh Dickson University Press, 2015): 1–​20. 7 Anthony M. Clark, Pompeo Batoni: A Complete Catalogue of his Works with an Introductory Text, ed. Edgar Peters Bowron (Oxford: Phaidon Press, 1985), 17. From 1759, Batoni was living in a large house at 25 Via Bocca di Leone in Rome, with a studio, an evening drawing class, exhibition rooms, and space for his daughters’ musical evenings. For the social geography of Rome, see Nicola Figgis, “Irish Artists and Society in Eighteenth Century Rome,” Irish Arts Review (1984–​1987) 3.3 (1986): 28–​36. For an example of a sitter who initially visited Batoni on

Antiquity and the Grand Tour Portrait


held deeper significance than has previously been appreciated. Batoni’s most successful portraits capitalised on the rich allusive possibilities of depicting the figure of the Grand Tourist through his relation to visible and identifiable symbols of classical antiquity. This chapter focuses on his earliest innovations, which had an important impact on the self-​fashioning of later sitters, who over the course of Batoni’s career began to reference visually not only their overall acquisition of taste, but specific elements of their Grand Tour experience. 1

Early Examples of Classical Insertions

Batoni’s primary intention in inserting architecture or sculpture into the portrait space in the 1750s appears to have been to place the sitter definitively at Rome, creating visual proof of the sitter’s successful Grand Tour. This is evident through examination of the first known portrait in which Batoni included a recognisable architectural feature of the classical Roman landscape, the c.1753 portrait of James Caulfeild, Lord Charlemont, an Irish Grand Tourist from ­Dublin (Fig. 4.1).8 The portrait was created during a period of intense British sociability at Rome, which gave rise to a number of pictorial innovations.9 The early 1750s saw increased access to Europe following the end of the War of Austrian Succession (1740–​1748), which involved military action between France, Spain, Naples, Britain, and Russia, among other powers. The winter of 1750–​ 1751 followed a Holy Year in which there had been no Carnival, and travellers

a social level, and had no intention of commissioning a portrait, see Bowron, Pompeo Batoni, 554, Cat. No. 553, Henry Bankes. 8 The Colosseum is first visible in the portrait of Lord Charlemont. Pompeo Batoni, Portrait of James Caulfeild, later Lord Charlemont, c.1753–​1755, 97.8 × 73.7 cm, Yale Center for British Art, B1974.3.26. See Bowron, Pompeo Batoni, Cat. No. 188. Earlier portraits by Batoni to include architectural features are: Portrait of a Gentleman (Philip Stanhope attrib.), c.1751, Bowron, Pompeo Batoni, Cat. No. 143, unidentified, possibly a sixth-​century church on the Palatine Hill; James Stopford, later 2nd Earl of Courtown, c.1753/​1754, Cat. No. 172, unidentified structure; William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth, c.1752/​1753–​1756, Cat. No. 192, unidentified ­structure. 9 These innovations included the Irishman Joseph Henry’s commission of the Parody of the School of Athens, a caricature of the Raphael fresco by Joshua Reynolds, which depicted many of the British at Rome in the 1750s, including Lord Charlemont. Joshua Reynolds, Parody of Raphael’s “School of Athens,” 1751, 97 × 135 cm, National Gallery of Ireland, Milltown Gift 1902, ngi.734. See Cynthia O’Connor, “The Parody of the School of Athens: The Irish Connection,” Irish Georgian Society 26 (1983): 5–​22. See also Maeve O’Dwyer, “From Batoni’s Brush to Canova’s Chisel: Painted and Sculpted Portraiture of Visitors to Rome, 1740–​1830,” PhD Thesis (University of Edinburgh, 2016).

86 O’dwyer had flocked to Rome under the impression that the year’s festivities would be particularly rich.10 At this point in time, Batoni was largely known as a painter of religious and historical paintings, but he would go on to paint portraits of an estimated two hundred British sitters.11 Lord Charlemont’s extant portrait, one of two commissioned from Batoni, shows the sitter standing in three-​quarter length view. Charlemont was heir to an extremely large fortune which he inherited at a young age. In 1749, he seized the opportunity to go beyond the usual environs of the Grand Tour, and commissioned a ship to take him to Greece, Turkey, and Egypt.12 His extensive travels and classical knowledge gave him an influential reputation among the British at Rome, as Richard Phelps wrote to John Bouverie: I do not know if you have heard of that young Nobleman’s character but amongst all the men of fashion that I have had the honour of being acquainted with abroad, I know few who have made so great & indeed universal use of their Travels as he has done.13 In Charlemont’s portrait, the Colosseum is visible over his shoulder, in what is arguably the earliest example of the use of a recognisable landmark in a


Cynthia O’Connor, The Pleasing Hours:  The Grand Tour of James Caulfeild, First Earl of Charlemont (1728–​1799):  Traveller, Connoisseur and Patron of the Arts in Ireland (Cork: Collins Press, 1999), 109. 11 This chapter employs the term “British” as the most commonly employed eighteenth-​ century collective noun for Grand Tourists from the four nations of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. On Batoni’s portraits, Bowron notes:  “Of his approximately three hundred surviving portraits, including autograph replicas and variant portraits of the same sitter, two-​thirds depict British and Irish sitters, the ‘Milordi Inglese.’ The majority, about one hundred and fifty portraits, represent English sitters, followed by Irish, Scottish, and Welsh.” Bowron, Pompeo Batoni, preface. 12 See W.B. Stanford, “The Manuscripts of Lord Charlemont’s Eastern Travels,” Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature 80C.5 (1980): 69–​90. John Ingamells records the following dates for Charlemont’s travels: departed the Hague June 1747, in Turin by September 1747 until October 1748, travelled to Bologna, Rome, Naples, and Leghorn from March to April 1749, in Messina on May 6th, travelled to Greece, Constantinople, Egypt, Asia Minor, and Rome from March to April 1750, in Turin from May to June, in Rome for the summer of 1750 to May 1751, travelled to Siena and Lucca by September 26th, in Rome by November 1751 until October 1752, in Naples from October 1752 until June 1753, in Rome until January 1754, in Florence from March to April 1754, in Turin in June, in Vicenza by August 1754, travelled to Verona, and in London by January of 1755. J. Ingamells, A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy, 1701–​1800 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), 196. 13 O’Connor, The Pleasing Hours, 110–​11.

Antiquity and the Grand Tour Portrait


Batoni portrait, and the earliest use of the Colosseum, a choice which influenced many later sitters.14 The sitter’s direct gaze from the canvas, and the window, which effectively places the Colosseum at eye-​level, results in a pictorial composition that renders his location at Rome paramount. In this innovative portrait, Lord Charlemont had achieved the visual manifestation of a desire to acquire classical antiquity, a sentiment which was most succinctly expressed by Henry Seymour Conway in 1740: “I would buy the Coliseum if I could.”15 The second portrait Charlemont commissioned from Batoni remains untraced, but the double commission, one three-​quarter length and one full-​ length, reflects the sitter’s ongoing engagement with portrait imagery. Batoni’s composition in the first portrait was not original, but revealed the potential of a pictorial formula for Grand Tourists which clearly indicated their presence at Rome.16 Charlemont’s choice of a Roman landmark, rather than referencing a recognisable symbol of his more exotic travels, such as an Egyptian obelisk, is striking. It exposes a value judgment which placed more importance on documenting his activities at Rome, over translating the drawings of Greek antiquities by Richard Dalton, his draughtsman on the trip, into his portraits, despite the burgeoning interest in Greek antiquity during this period.17 Charlemont’s portrait was swiftly followed by further innovation, in the portrait of Robert Clements, dated c.1753/​1754. Clements’s choice of including in his portrait a bust of the Farnese Homer was informed by his viewing of the original bust, which he described as, “the famous bust of Homer, Antich [sic] & 14

15 16 17

Following Lord Charlemont’s use of the Colosseum, the device was repeated in the following portraits: Portrait of a Gentleman, Bowron, Pompeo Batoni, Cat. No. 218, c.1758/​ 1759; Francis Russell, Lord Tavistock, Cat. No. 252, 1762; Henry Ellison, Cat. No. 275, 1764; Viscountess Spencer, Cat. No. 276, 1764; Prince Edward Augustus, Cat. No. 281–​84, 1764; William Weddell, Cat. No. 300, 1765–​1766; Hon. Colonel Gordon, Cat. No. 350, 1766; Philip Metcalfe, Cat. No. 314, c.1766/​1767; Sir Gregory Turner, Cat. No. 335, 1768–​1769. It is notable that the device surged in popularity almost a decade later, around the time of the portrait of Charles John Crowle. Henry Seymour Conway to Horace Walpole, 23 April 1740, quoted in Andrew Wilton and Ilaria Bignamini, Grand Tour: The Lure of Italy in the Eighteenth Century: Exhibition Guide (London: Tate Gallery, 1996): 271. Bowron notes: “There is a precedent for the use of this motif in Trevisani’s portrait earlier in the century of Sir Edward Gascoigne at Leeds.” Bowron, Pompeo Batoni, Cat. No. 188, 223. Ingamells notes:  “Now a key figure in the developing Graeco-​Roman controversy, Charlemont claimed the attention of scholars and antiquarians, Benedict xiv and the Cardinals Passionei and Albani. The doors of the Roman nobility were opened to him.” Ingamells, Dictionary, 197. For Dalton’s sketches, which he published without support from Charlemont, see Richard Dalton, Antiquities and Views in Greece and Egypt (London, 1751).

88 O’dwyer

Figure 4.1  Pompeo Batoni, Portrait of James Caulfeild, later Lord Charlemont, 1753–​1755, Yale Center for British Art

extremely fine.”18 For Grand Tourist viewers of his portrait, the presence of the bust indicated Clements’s aesthetic judgement, and called to mind their own 18

Robert Clements, later 1st Earl of Leitrim, c.1753/​1754, Bowron, Pompeo Batoni, Cat. No. 166. The bust of the Farnese Homer was held at the Palazzo Farnese. The quotation above is cited in Bowron, Pompeo Batoni, 192, as the Killadoon Papers S/​I. On the portrait, Bowron also comments:  “The portrait of Clements is of further significance as one of

Antiquity and the Grand Tour Portrait


experience of viewing the bust while at Rome. The choice of a bust of Homer also referenced Clements’s familiarity with classical texts. The use of busts was a common trope for Batoni. His most commonly used sculpture, male or female, was an imaginary bust fashioned from the full-​ length sculpture named the Minerva Giustiniani.19 A Roman copy of a Greek original, it depicted the goddess of wisdom in her helmet and aegis. Although in the original statue the goddess looks forward, in the Batoni bust version, Minerva’s face was usually angled slightly downwards. This had the effect of casting her features into shadow so that her gaze did not catch that of the sitter within the portrait, or that of the external viewer. Batoni adapted a full-​length figure into a bust, reducing the physicality of the sculpture, and diminishing the impact on the portrait.20 Compared to the bust of Homer, a male figure from history, a statue of a female divinity was more susceptible to amendment. It is notable, however, that a sculpture which was frequently touched or kissed on the hand by English visitors to Rome was reduced to a limbless bust within the portrait. Without a body, the dialogue possible between the sculpture and the sitter was limited, and any possibility of impropriety was curtailed. Batoni’s move to include sculptures which were clearly identifiable as depictions of original antiquities in the collections at Rome marked a new appreciation for the readability of sculpture in the portrait space. Rather than highly edited sculpture, such as the Minerva bust, the Homer bust called to mind the viewing experience at Rome, and offered a clear statement of taste on the part of the sitter. In portraits where full-​length sculpture is inserted, however, the dialogue between sitter and sculpture becomes even more complex. 2

Rethinking the Significance of Batoni’s Use of Antiquity

Pompeo Batoni’s use of antiquity in his portraiture has traditionally been dismissed by scholars. The potential implications of the use of sculptural inclusions in portraiture have only recently begun to be explored. John Steegman, the first scholar to catalogue Batoni’s works, wrote in 1946 that “there is

19 20

Batoni’s earliest uses of an antique marble to situate a sitter in Rome and to suggest an appreciation on the part of the sitter for the beauty of ancient art,” Bowron, Pompeo Batoni, 192. Francis Haskell and Nicholas Penny, Taste and the Antique: the Lure of Classical Sculpture 1500–​1900 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981), 63; Fig. 140, 269–​71. “Batoni first depicted the statue in a subject painting of 1737, The Triumph of Venice (Cat. 12),” and later employed it as a bust in an estimated 14 portraits. Bowron, Pompeo Batoni, 197–​98.

90 O’dwyer a separate and fruitful subject for a more specialised study to be found in the objects of classical antiquity, which occur in many of Batoni’s more elaborate portrait-​groups and in some of his simple portraits.” Yet, only a few lines later, he claimed that certain portraits “contain more than one of these stock references.”21 The idea that the painter was simply using classical objects as “stock references,” or as throwaway visual devices, has only recently been challenged by art historians. Batoni’s later cataloguers, Anthony Clark and Edgar Peters Bowron, took a more informed approach, crediting the inclusion of antiquity as significant on a case-​by-​case basis. For Anthony Clark in the 1980s, this significance did not extend beyond providing an indicator of location, or a general expression of taste. Given the context in which the commissioned portraits were displayed, as part of the viewing context at Rome, with Batoni playing host to visitors in his studio, the suggestion that antiquity played a negligible role in the portraits of British Grand Tourists is untenable. The presence in Batoni’s oeuvre of a range of sculptures depicted in different sizes, some portrayed in their original perspective, and others altered by the painter, is suggestive of the range of meaning with which classical objects were imbued in his work. Batoni’s continued production of portraits both with and without sculptural and architectural quotations throughout his career supports the hypothesis that visual r­ eferences to antiquity were discussed as part of the commissioning process. The choice of composition is unlikely to have been financially motivated for British sitters, as Batoni’s works were reasonably priced in comparison to London artists of comparable note.22 Thus the inclusion of added detail in portraiture was meaningful beyond the simple demonstration of wealth. Edgar Peters Bowron recognised the potential for sculptural inclusions to reference an individual 21 22

John Steegman, “Some English Portraits by Pompeo Batoni,” The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 88, No. 516 (March 1946), 56. In the 1740s and 1750s, a half-​length portrait by Batoni cost 30 scudi, and a full-​length portrait cost 60 scudi. By 1765, a half-​length cost 50 scudi, and a full-​length 100 scudi. By 1780, a half-​length portrait cost 100 scudi, and a full-​length 200 scudi. There was a clear disparity between Batoni’s pricings and the cost of a London portrait. In 1760, a half-​ length portrait by Joshua Reynolds cost £24, later £35, and by 1777, a full-​length portrait by Gainsborough would cost £100, and a full-​length by Reynolds £200. Conversion varied according to inflation, but Jeremy Black has estimated that one scudo equalled 5 shillings, therefore in Batoni’s time, 4 scudi equalled a pound. See Jeremy Black, Italy and the Grand Tour (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), “Notes on Dates and Currency.” By 1780, when Batoni was at the height of his fame, his full-​length portraits sold for 200 scudi, or £50, half as expensive as Gainsborough, and three times less expensive than Reynolds. This disparity is partially explained by the fact that the cost of living in Rome was generally a third cheaper than that of London.

Antiquity and the Grand Tour Portrait


sitter’s interest in classical art, architecture, or literature.23 His insight was built on by Christopher M.S. Johns in 2004, who noted that: Since the artist [Batoni] often included the same statues or close variations in his Grand Tour portraits, their significance in relation to the individuals represented has been seriously underestimated.24 Johns’s article emphasised the significance of the statue of Roma in the 1766 Batoni portrait, The Honourable Colonel William Gordon, noting the difference in composition compared to other portraits which include the same statue.25 His analysis of Batoni’s use of classical sculpture stressed the large size of the statue within the painting, and the physical engagement of the sitter with the sculpture within the portrait space. Yet, as the portrait of Crowle discussed below reveals, the inclusion of sculpture which was smaller than life-​size could also have an impact on a portrait, particularly sculpture which was rich in connotations, and was underpinned by a well-​known narrative tradition. Michael Yonan’s later reading of Pompeo Batoni’s portrait, The Holy Roman Emperor Joseph ii and Grand Duke Leopold of Tuscany in Rome, dated 1769, ascribed significance to the statue of Roma employed in the portrait, as well as its architectural inclusions.26 Despite taking the form of a large desk-​top statuette, the Roma was read as an active symbol, both in terms of its staging within the space of the portrait, and as a source of authority for the Emperor. Regarding the later copy of the portrait, requested by the Empress Maria Theresa, Yonan successfully argued that the substitution of the Roma with a Minerva figure symbolised the Empress’s desire to remind her sons of her power.27 Yonan’s in-​depth reading drew on his understanding of material culture, and ascribed significant impact to a statue type which was frequently employed by Batoni. In the same year as Yonan’s analysis, Edgar Peters Bowron and Peter 23 24 25 26


Batoni’s varied use of antiquity, Bowron notes, “surely suggests that [his] approach to antiquity was more thoughtful than has been suggested.” Edgar Peters Bowron, Pompeo Batoni and his British Patrons (London: Greater London Council, 1982): 13–​15. Christopher M.S. Johns, “Portraiture and the Making of Cultural Identity: Pompeo Batoni’s The Honourable Colonel William Gordon (1765–​66) in Italy and North Britain,” Art History 27.3 (2004), 386. Johns, “Portraiture and the Making of Cultural Identity,” 389–​90. Michael E.  Yonan, “Pompeo Batoni Between Rome and Vienna,” Source:  Notes in the History of Art 26.2 (2007): 32–​37. The portrait in question is Pompeo Batoni’s Holy Roman Emperor Joseph ii and Grand Duke Leopold of Tuscany in Rome, 1769, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. Yonan, “Pompeo Batoni Between Rome and Vienna,” 35.

92 O’dwyer Björn Kerber also began to read deeper meanings in the presence of sculpture in Batoni’s portraits, such as the bust of Homer in the portrait of Robert Clements, discussed above.28 On a basic level, the inclusion of any sculpture in the context of Rome referenced the collective Grand Tour viewing experience, and could hold further meaning depending on the composition of the portrait; this is the case even for the Roma statue discussed by Johns and Yonan, which does not appear to have been an original marble, but an amalgamation by Batoni of two sculptures.29 Inevitably, much of this visual subtext is now lost to art historians; however, where sculpture can be linked to Grand Tourist activity, further analysis is possible. It is worth examining in detail the 1761–​1762 portrait of Charles John Crowle, which featured Batoni’s first use of the Vatican Ariadne, and his first and only use of the Farnese Hercules (Fig. 4.2).30 Although the sculptures appear in the form of small statuettes, by resituating the marbles in their eighteenth-​century display context, it becomes evident that their presence in the portrait would have inspired debate among educated viewers. 3

Charles John Crowle (1738–​1811)

Charles John Crowle, of Fryston Hall, Yorkshire, was called to the bar in 1755, and went abroad on his Grand Tour in 1761. He was sociable with his fellow countrymen abroad, judging by the account of Francis Russell, Lord Tavistock, who wrote of him to his father from Paris: I knew him at school, and he was afterwards very civil to me in Italy. He is not very wise but an inoffensive good humoured lad.31



30 31

Edgar Peters Bowron and Peter Björn Kerber, Pompeo Batoni:  Prince of Painters in Eighteenth-​Century Rome, (London: Yale University Press, 2008), 38: “…the inclusion of the sculpture in his portrait may reflect a personal response to the aesthetic qualities of the work as well as an appreciation of Homer as an eminent signifier of the classical tradition.” Pompeo Batoni, Col. the Hon. William Gordon, 1766; Clark, Pompeo Batoni, 303, Clark Cat. No. 298. Clark notes here: “The seated personification of Rome appears to be an amalgamation of the statue of Roma in the Palazzo dei Conservatori with the pose of the seated Agrippina in the Capitoline Museum, Rome.” Farnese Hercules, 3.17 m, c.216 CE, now at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples, inv. no. 6001. Francis Russell, Marquess of Tavistock, Letter to Duke of Bedford, 5 November 1762, quoted in Clark, Pompeo Batoni, 283, Cat. No. 240. Cited as Lewis Namier and John Brooke,

Antiquity and the Grand Tour Portrait


Crowle held an interest in antiquity, was elected to the Society of Dilettanti in 1764, and became Secretary in 1774.32 Despite being best known to Horace Walpole in 1743 as a group of dissolute Grand Tourists, the society sponsored the study of Graeco-​Roman art, funding an archaeological expedition to Greece.33 Crowle’s active involvement in the society suggests that his pictorial choices deliberately referenced his knowledge of sculpture and classical texts. Edgar Peters Bowron noted that the presence of the statuettes “testifies to Crowle’s interest in the antique.”34 He also noted the similarity of the setting of the desk, chairs, books, landscape, and writing implements to another portrait, that of an unknown gentleman, writing that the portraits “could almost be pendants and readily demonstrate the ease with which Batoni deployed his sitters in a variety of studio routines.”35 A certain degree of repetition is logical given the sociable nature of the process of commissioning portrait imagery from Batoni. Batoni’s studio acted as a site of sociability for all Grand Tourists, including those who had not commissioned portraiture from the artist. If the majority of the detail in Crowle’s portrait can be assumed to have been an imaginary or studio scene familiar to the painter, then, crucially, the difference between the two works lies in Crowle’s innovative choice of antique statuettes. Thus the choice of statues stemmed from the sitter rather than the painter. The presence of the Vatican Ariadne and the Farnese Hercules visibly narrow his interest in the antique to tacit approbation of particular works based on his viewing experience at Rome. In the portrait, Crowle looks straight out at the viewer, giving the impression of a man interrupted as he reads the letter in his hand. The view to the left of the painting is a country scene, the Roman campagna. Near Crowle’s arm resting on the desk is a small statuette of the Vatican Ariadne, while a statuette of the Farnese Hercules is situated further back, near the wall. Their position

House of Commons, 1754–​1790 (London and New York: History of Parliament Trust, 1964), ii, 279. 32 Crowle attended Westminster followed by Trinity College, Cambridge. He was featured in Sir Joshua Reynolds’s painting: A Meeting of the Society of Dilettanti in 1777. See Ingamells, Dictionary, 258. 33 Walpole to Mann, 14 April 1743; cf. W.S. Lewis, ed. The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence, Vol. 18 (New Haven:  Yale University Press, 1980), 211:  the Society of Dilettanti is “a club, for which the nominal qualification is having been in Italy, and the real one, being drunk.” See Jason M. Kelly, Society of Dilettanti: Archaeology and Identity in the British Enlightenment (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010). 34 Bowron, Pompeo Batoni, 298, Cat. No. 241. 35 Bowron, Pompeo Batoni, Cat. No. 230, Portrait of a Gentleman, early 1760s, 246.8 × 176 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

94 O’dwyer

Figure 4.2  Pompeo Batoni, Charles John Crowle, 1761–​1762, Musée du Louvre, Paris

among the various symbols of learning, travel, and education on the desk indicates their function: to act as readable objects symbolising Crowle’s aesthetic education and development of taste. At the time of Crowle’s portrait, both of the original sculptures were subject to aesthetic debate, as discussed below, suggesting that Crowle’s decision to include them was particularly significant.

Antiquity and the Grand Tour Portrait


This was Batoni’s first use of the Vatican Ariadne, which he depicted in four subsequent and increasingly daring compositions over the course of the following decade, culminating in the portrait of Thomas Coke in 1774, in which the sculpture dominated the sitter.36 In Crowle’s portrait, the sculpture is displayed differently to the original marble. Her upper body is twisted away from the viewer, so that her facial features are less visible. The nudity of the original is downplayed; there is a slight increase in drapery over her right breast and her left lacks the prominent nipple of the marble and is more fully draped. Close examination of the portrait reveals that the feet are in fact only lightly shaded in, and the end of her plinth fades from view. This may be the result of changes to the position of Crowle’s hand, or it could have occurred more recently, as the painting has sustained surface damage.37 The upright position hides the snake bracelet around the sculpture’s upper arm, which in the eighteenth century provided the crucial key to her popular identity as Cleopatra. Thus both the physical appearance and the identity of the Vatican Ariadne are subtly limited, which curtailed any potentially negative connotations of the marble. Batoni was familiar with the Vatican Ariadne from the earliest days of his career, when he sold drawings of the Belvedere marbles to tourists.38 Throughout the long eighteenth century, the sculpture was displayed so as to encourage an interplay between art and poetry (Fig. 4.3). Although it was purchased as Cleopatra by Pope Julius ii, to reflect his attempt to depict himself as a new victorious Augustus, the Vatican often displayed it as a nymph, presumably to downplay the sensuality of the marble.39 Unfortunately, the semi-​nudity of the sculpture became more titillating once its identity was debated; the very mystery over the identification of the marble encouraged in-​depth discussion of its bodily attributes. This was not the straightforward divine, depilated nudity


The portraits which include a version of the Vatican Ariadne are: Charles John Crowle (1761–​1762); Thomas Dundas, later 1st Baron Dundas (1764); William Weddell (1765–​1766); Count Kirill Grigorjewitsch Razumovsky (1766); and Thomas William Coke, later 1st Earl of Leicester of the Second Creation (1774). For discussion of Batoni’s use of the Vatican Ariadne in these portraits, see Maeve O’Dwyer, “From Batoni’s Brush to Canova’s Chisel,” 65–​101. 37 Bowron, Pompeo Batoni, 298, Cat. No. 241. 38 Clark notes that Batoni “spent long days copying the famous Raphael and Carracci frescoes and the antique statues of the Belvedere. His first success was in selling drawings of these statues to the British.” See Anthony M. Clark, Studies in Roman Eighteenth-​Century Painting, ed. Edgar Peters Bowron (Washington, DC: Decatur House Press, 1981), 107. 39 See Elisabeth B.  MacDougall, “The Sleeping Nymph:  Origins of a Humanist Fountain Type,” The Art Bulletin 57.3 (1975): 357–​65.

96 O’dwyer

Figure 4.3  Vatican Ariadne, classical sculpture, Vatican Museum, Rome, as seen in print by James Anderson, Ariadne, Vatican sculpture gallery, c.1845–1855, J. Paul Getty Museum

of a Venus figure. The partial nudity of the sculpture was the result of careful drapery, which revealed as much as it concealed. Although the Vatican Ariadne appears to be swathed in drapery, this is an impression created by the large amount of material around her hips, and the fact that her head was demurely veiled. In reality, the frontal drapery merely falls between her breasts before travelling around her hips and legs. Printed images of the marble did not reveal the full extent of its nudity, placing the work in the realm of the private joke. On viewing the original sculpture from the position of her feet, the left breast was exposed, and the drapery did not entirely cover her right breast, or most of her stomach. The potential prurience of viewing female sculpted bodies was readily acknowledged on a private level between Grand Tourists. For example, on 24 February 1773, Andrew Caldwell wrote from Dublin to Lord Charlemont, describing how, at the latter’s request, he had assigned two workmen to clean Lord Charlemont’s medal room. The men worked for ten days, and created such a mess that they were dismissed “in a passion.” Following their departure, it was discovered that they had embellished Charlemont’s full-​sized

Antiquity and the Grand Tour Portrait


copy of the Venus de’ Medici, which he had acquired on his Grand Tour.40 ­Caldwell wrote: It is not to be suppos’d that two Garcons, fresh and healthy could be so long shut up there and not sensible to the charms of the Venus, your Lordship will find whatever the Sculptor might have omitted the Pencil has now amply supplied …41 The pencil presumably supplied nipples and pubic hair, an act which stripped the Venus of her ideal aspect, rendering the Charlemont Venus a naked female sculpted body.42 The extent to which classical sculpture could attract a prurient gaze and the trope of the lustful connoisseur would later become a common subject in British satirical imagery in the 1790s and 1800s, for example, in Thomas Rowlandson’s “The Connoisseurs” and “Lady Hamilton’s Attitudes.”43 As a sculpture of debated identity, which was possibly a depiction of the historical figure of Cleopatra, the semi-​nudity of the Vatican Ariadne was susceptible to similar private jokes around the sensuality of the marble. Johann Joachim Winckelmann, whose category of sublime sculpture admitted only heavily draped female figures, was dismissive of the Vatican Ariadne. He conflated his description of the Vatican and the Medici versions in his monograph, writing: Thus, they are not works that can tell us anything about art in the period of Augustus; in any case, people say that Cleopatra was found dead in a similar position.44 40 This Venus is the copy of the Venus de’ Medici acquired by Charlemont from Joseph Wilton while on his Grand Tour. 41 Andrew Caldwell to Lord Charlemont, 24 February 1773:  Charlemont Correspondence, First Series, Vol. 2: Royal Irish Academy, 12/​R/​10, Letter 38. 42 For the cultural importance of hair, see Johannes Endres, “Diderot, Hogarth, and the Aesthetics of Depilation,” Eighteenth-​Century Studies 38.1 (2004):  17–​38. For pubic hair as a love token, see Mark Schoenfield, “Private Souvenirs:  Exchanges Among Byron’s Southwell Set,” The Wordsworth Circle 39.1 (2008): 30–​34. 43 Danielle Thom, “Amorous Antiquaries: Sculpture and Seduction in Rowlandson’s Erotica,” in Burning Bright: Essays in Honour of David Bindman, ed. Diana Dethloff, Tessa Murdoch, Kim Sloan, and Caroline Elam (London:  University College London, 2015):  207–​14. See also Miriam Al Jamil’s chapter in this volume. 44 Alex Potts, Flesh and the Ideal:  Winckelmann and the Origins of Art History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994): 132. For a history of the Medici Ariadne, now at the Museo Archeologico, Florence, Inv. 13278, see Stefania Macioce, “Caravaggio and the Role of Classical Models,” in The Rediscovery of Antiquity: The Role of the Artist, ed. J.  Fejfer, T. Fischer-​Hansen, and A. Rathjie (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2003), 431.

98 O’dwyer Apart from the unique nature of the sculpture, which verified the British understanding that viewing original marbles transcended the experience of viewing casts or prints, the debate over the identification of the sculpture brought additional connotations to the portrait of Crowle. For British Grand Tourists, among the attractions of the identification of the sculpture as Cleopatra was the plethora of classical literature dealing with the Egyptian queen, and the increased immediacy of a depiction of an actual historical character over a mythological one.45 Cleopatra was an exotic and dangerous figure, who seduced Mark Antony and in so doing, caused a civil war which was to transform ancient Rome. According to Plutarch, Augustus’s conquest of Egypt was precipitated by his publication of Mark Antony’s alleged will, which had been changed in favour of his children by Cleopatra, to the detriment of the family he had abandoned in Rome. The moral was clear: enjoyment of foreign women and the vices of liberal societies abroad should not affect travellers’ conviction as to the superiority of their native land. The specific moment of the narrative conveyed by the statue was thought to be when Cleopatra lay dying, bitten by an asp, visible in the form of a bracelet on the sculpture’s upper arm. Without the sympathy of Augustus, Cleopatra chose suicide to avoid being paraded through Rome as a captive in a triumphal procession. After her death, Augustus simply commissioned a sculpted representation, which the eighteenth-​ century imagination translated into the Vatican Ariadne.46 No attempt was made to compare the facial features of the sculpture to numismatic or other visual evidence.47 This idea of a moral dilemma was echoed in the narrative of the other sculpture in Crowle’s portrait, the Farnese Hercules. The warmer colour of the Farnese Hercules and its position towards the back of the painting causes it to fade into the background compared to the fore-​ grounded Vatican Ariadne. The work was traditionally disparaged by British viewers until the late eighteenth century, which brought about a change in

45 46 47

For discussion of Winckelmann, see briefly Chapter 2 by Maria Giulia Franzoni in this volume. The story of Cleopatra was portrayed in the work of Vergil, Plutarch, Horace, and Suetonius, all key authors in an eighteenth-​century British education. Susan Pearce, “The Material of War: Waterloo and its Culture,” in Conflicting Visions: War and Visual Culture in Britain and France c.1700–​1830, ed. John Bonehill and Geoff Quilley (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005): 207–​26. Peter Higgs, “Searching for Cleopatra’s Image:  Classical Portraits in Stone,” in Peter Higgs and Susan Walker, eds, Cleopatra of Egypt: From History to Myth (London: British Museum Press, 2001), 202: “Little attention was paid to the facial features of any of the statues: Cleopatra’s portrait was virtually ignored.”

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considerations of masculinity.48 It is the sole known use of this sculpture by Batoni, depicted in a way which conceals the apples of the Hesperides, which Hercules holds behind his back. Batoni has not depicted the Farnese Hercules exactly; for example, the lion skin visible in the original statue is reduced to simple drapery over the column, but the similarity to the original is striking. In terms of the mythological narrative, the specific labour to which the marble alluded was disputed.49 Thus both of Crowle’s statuettes inspired aesthetic debate. Hercules was the classical figure most frequently depicted in art between the fifteenth and the eighteenth centuries, and usually performed two basic narrative functions: the display of male physical or military potency, or the successful choice between virtue and vice.50 Combined with the Vatican Ariadne, the resulting interplay between the statuettes created a narrative concerning the choice between virtue and vice, and between masculinity and femininity. As the son of an M.P.  from a merchant family, with a career in law and politics, Crowle was not in a position to purchase antiquities. Yet the painted insertions of sculpture visually enter him into the company of an exclusive number of wealthy British Grand Tourists who had viewed the marbles at Rome, a useful device for a young lawyer and politician. It is suggestive that both of the works employed in Crowle’s portrait were not fully revealed by the standardised prints of the works that were disseminated abroad. His portrait therefore referenced not only a shared viewing experience, but the superior in-​ the-​round Grand Tourist experience of viewing the original marbles at Rome. The mythological and historical narratives associated with the two sculptures created a dialogue between the sculptures and the sitter within the portrait space, suggesting that Crowle chose them deliberately to inspire debate. The extent to which his intention was also to create a further visual subtext, a joke about the realities of the Grand Tour experience accessible only to his fellow travellers, is more difficult to unpack. The Vatican Ariadne, although ostensibly a draped female figure of which Winckelmann might approve, was in reality a 48 Potts, Flesh and the Ideal, 116. Martin Myrone posited the Hercules as the opposite pole of “legitimate masculinity” to the Apollo Belvedere in his Bodybuilding:  Reforming Masculinities in British Art, 1750–​1810 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005), 5. For the traditionally negative reception of the sculpture, see Haskell and Penny, Taste and the Antique, 230. 49 Haskell and Penny, Taste and the Antique, 230. 50 F. Polleroß discusses the changing use of the imagery of Hercules from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries in “From the exemplum virtutis to the Apotheosis,” in Iconography, Propaganda, and Legitimation, ed. Allan Ellenius (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998): 37–​62. On the reception of Hercules more generally, see Emma Stafford, Herakles (Abingdon: Routledge, 2012), 201–​44.

100 O’dwyer sensuous figure, a fact underlined by the narrative associated with Cleopatra. The choice of the Farnese Hercules also diverged from the established canon of the antique, indicating that at the very least, Crowle was using his portrait imagery to demonstrate specific aspects of his taste, and his Grand Tour viewing experience. 4


Within the context of British Grand Tourism in eighteenth-​century Rome, a society which prioritised sociability and the expression of taste, the process of commissioning portrait imagery by Pompeo Batoni was a public performance. By focussing on the context in which Batoni’s Grand Tour portraits were created, rather than the eventual display of the portraits, it is possible to gain new insights into the significance of the classical sculpture contained within them. Pompeo Batoni’s success lay not only in his abilities as an artist, but also in his development of a visual formula to depict Grand Tourists, which by the early 1750s, included overt references to visiting Rome. In the portrait of Lord Charlemont, Batoni achieved the ultimate Grand Tourist ideal, a portrait in which the sitter’s experience of viewing the Colosseum was permanently captured, and his success as a Grand Tourist validated. Previous sitters had employed scenes of the Roman campagna, but Charlemont’s portrait elided the centuries between him and the ancient Romans, encapsulating the British fascination with Rome in one image. By the 1760s, Batoni’s use of antiquity had become more complex as he repeated, altered, and developed his visual formula over time. The portrait of Charles John Crowle revealed the rich allusive possibilities of creating a dialogue between sitter and sculpture within the portrait space, allowing sitters to create their own personal canon of antiquity. For eighteenth-​century viewers of Crowle’s portrait, the work indicated his interaction with antiquity and his acquisition of taste. Viewers of the portrait who had visited Rome and viewed the sculpture in question would appreciate the hidden narratives at play: the apples behind the back of the Hercules, the nudity and characterisation of the Ariadne. Crowle, unable to afford his own collection of classical antiquities, crafted an image which placed him not only at Rome, but at specific collections, validating his social cachet as a Grand Tourist and offering material to provoke learned debate. The extent to which this debate would have centred around viewing the collections at Rome or the city’s beauties, both in the form of sculpted bodies and Italian countesses, or resulted in literary conversations over ancient narratives debating virtue and vice, is impossible to judge; but it

Antiquity and the Grand Tour Portrait


was the presence of recognisable antiquities within the portrait which would have sparked any such discussion. It is clear that Batoni’s Grand Tour portraits contain significant insights into their contemporary social and cultural context, shedding new light on the realities of the eighteenth-​century reception and appropriation of classical sculpture.


Black, Jeremy. Italy and the Grand Tour. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003. Bowron, Edgar Peters. Pompeo Batoni and his British Patrons. London: Greater London Council, 1982. Bowron, Edgar Peters. Pompeo Batoni:  A Complete Catalogue of his Paintings. New ­Haven: Yale University Press, 2016. Bowron, Edgar Peters and Peter Björn Kerber. Pompeo Batoni:  Prince of Painters in Eighteenth-​Century Rome. London: Yale University Press, 2008. Chard, Chloe. “‘Fog in the Channel’: Joking, Laughing, and Travelling.” In The Legacy of the Grand Tour: New Essays on Travel, Literature, and Culture, edited by Lisa Colletta, 1–​20. Madison: Fairleigh Dickson University Press, 2015. Clark, Anthony M. Pompeo Batoni: A Complete Catalogue of his Works with an Introductory Text, edited by Edgar Peters Bowron. Oxford: Phaidon Press, 1985. Clark, Anthony M. Studies in Roman Eighteenth-​Century Painting, edited by Edgar Peters Bowron. Washington DC: Decatur House Press, 1981. Colley, Linda. Britons: Forging the Nation 1707–​1837. London: Vintage, 1996. Coltman, Viccy. Fabricating the Antique:  Neoclassicism in Britain, 1760–​1800. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006. Endres, Johannes. “Diderot, Hogarth, and the Aesthetics of Depilation.” Eighteenth-​ Century Studies 38.1 (2004): 17–​38. Figgis, Nicola. “Irish Artists and Society in Eighteenth Century Rome.” Irish Arts Review 3.3 (1986): 28–​36. Haskell, Francis and Nicholas Penny. Taste and the Antique: The Lure of Classical Sculpture, 1500–​1900. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981. Higgs, Peter. “Searching for Cleopatra’s Image: Classical Portraits in Stone.” In Cleopatra of Egypt: From History to Myth, edited by Peter Higgs and Susan Walker, 200–​209. London: British Museum Press, 2001. Ingamells, John. Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy, 1701–​1800. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997. Johns, Christopher M.S. “Portraiture and the Making of Cultural Identity: Pompeo Batoni’s The Honourable Colonel William Gordon (1765–​66) in Italy and North Britain.” Art History 27.3 (2004): 382–​411.

102 O’dwyer Kelly, Jason M. Society of Dilettanti: Archaeology and Identity in the British Enlightenment. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010. Lewis, Wilmarth S. (ed.). The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence, Vol. 18. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1980. MacDougall, Elizabeth B. “The Sleeping Nymph: Origins of a Humanist Fountain Type.” The Art Bulletin 57.3 (1975): 357–​65. Macioce, Stefania. “Caravaggio and the Role of Classical Models.” In The Rediscovery of Antiquity: The Role of the Artist, edited by Jane Fejfer, Tobias Fischer-​Hansen, and Annette Rathjie, 423–​45. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2003. Myrone, Martin. Bodybuilding:  Reforming Masculinities in British Art, 1750–​1810. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005. O’Connor, Cynthia. “The Parody of the School of Athens: The Irish Connection.” Irish Georgian Society 26 (1983): 5–​22. O’Connor, Cynthia. The Pleasing Hours: The Grand Tour of James Caulfeild, First Earl of Charlemont (1728–​1799): Traveller, Connoisseur and Patron of the Arts in Ireland. Cork: Collins Press, 1999. O’Dwyer, Maeve. From Batoni’s Brush to Canova’s Chisel: Painted and Sculpted Portraiture of Visitors to Rome, 1740–​1830. PhD Thesis, University of Edinburgh, 2016. Paul, Carole. The Borghese Collections and the Display of Art in the Age of the Grand Tour. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008. Pearce, Susan. “The Material of War:  Waterloo and its Culture.” In Conflicting Visions: War and Visual Culture in Britain and France, c.1700–​1830, edited by John Bonehill and Geoff Quilley, 207–​26. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005. Polleroß, Friedrich B. “From the exemplum virtutis to the Apotheosis: Hercules as an Identification Figure in Portraiture.” In Iconography, Propaganda, and Legitimation, edited by Allan Ellenius, 37–​62. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998. Potts, Alex. Flesh and the Ideal: Winckelmann and the Origins of Art History. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994. Schoenfield, Mark. “Private Souvenirs: Exchanges Among Byron’s Southwell Set.” The Wordsworth Circle 39.1 (2008): 30–​34. Stafford, Emma. Herakles. Abingdon: Routledge, 2012. Stafford, Fiona. “Striking Resemblances: National Identity and the Eighteenth-​Century Portrait.” Eighteenth-​Century Ireland/​Iris an dá chultúr 19 (2004): 138–​62. Stanford, W.B. “The Manuscripts of Lord Charlemont’s Eastern Travels.” Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature, Vol. 80C.5 (1980): 69–​90. Steegman, John. “Some English Portraits by Pompeo Batoni.” The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 88, No. 516 (March 1946): 54–​61, 63. Thom, Danielle. “Amorous Antiquaries:  Sculpture and Seduction in Rowlandson’s Erotica.” In Burning Bright:  Essays in Honour of David Bindman, edited by Diana

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Dethloff, Tessa Murdoch, Kim Sloan, and Caroline Elam, 207–​14. London: University College London, 2015. Wilton, Andrew and Ilaria Bignamini. Grand Tour: The Lure of Italy in the Eighteenth Century: Exhibition Guide. London: Tate Gallery, 1996. Yonan, Michael E. “Pompeo Batoni Between Rome and Vienna.” Source: Notes in the History of Art 26.2 (2007): 32–​37.

­c hapter 5

Hidden Dimensions and Elusive Forms in Johan Zoffany’s Charles Townley and Friends in his Library at Park Street, Westminster, 1781–​1783, 1798 Miriam Al Jamil Charles Townley (1747–​1805) was an important English Grand Tourist and a significant collector of Roman, Greek, and later Indian antiquities during the second half of the eighteenth century. He was from a Catholic family with Jacobite sympathies, and though his family home was Towneley Hall in Burnley, London was where he kept and displayed his collections, and lived his intellectual, cultural, and social life. Johan Zoffany’s (1733–​1810) oil painting of Townley, his friends, and his collection of ancient sculptures was made in the artist’s punctilious style.1 It is an accessible image, which can be used to illustrate general features of eighteenth-​century culture, but it has also attracted detailed discussion of the painting itself. Its appearance in printed scholarly publications, online journals, and in general historical blogs and websites has made it a familiar image in scholarship on sculpture, the Grand Tour, and Collections in the eighteenth century.2 This chapter looks at how the painting and its subject were viewed both during Townley’s lifetime and after his death, and explores the questions prompted by its ambiguities. It offers new

1 The “friends” are the mineralogist Charles Greville (1749–​1809), the palaeographer Thomas Astle (1735–​1803), and Pierre-François Hugues, Baron d’Hancarville (1719–​1805). 2 Towneley Hall Art Gallery and Museum, Burnley Borough Council, Accession No. pa/​oil.120, Johan Zoffany, Charles Townley and Friends in his Library at Park Street, 1781–​3, 1798. (Oil on canvas, 127 × 99.06  cm.). Recent publications on the work include Joan Coutu, Then and Now. Collecting and Classicism in Eighteenth-​century England (Montreal and London: McGill-​ Queen’s University Press, 2015), Ch.5; Online publications using the image include Matthew Craske, “Conversations and Chimneypieces:  The Imagery of the Hearth in Eighteenth-​ Century English Family Portraiture,” British Art Studies 2 (2016):  1–​43, , [accessed 9 August  2017]. Numerous blogs on history, sculpture, travel, and biography cite the image. For example:  [accessed 10 December 2017].

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2020 | DOI:10.1163/9789004412675_007

Hidden Dimensions and Elusive Forms


Figure 5.1  Johan Zoffany, Charles Townley in his Sculpture Gallery, 1781–​3, 1789

observations on the significance of the sculptures depicted in the painting, and draws attention to possible interpretations which receive little attention in current scholarship.3

3 This approach has many parallels with Maeve O’Dwyer’s chapter on Pompeo Batoni in this volume.

106  1

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The Painting during Townley’s Lifetime

Zoffany worked on Townley’s painting over a number of years. He began in 1781, but his opportunistic trip to India from 1783 meant that he did not return to it until six years later. It remained in Townley’s house during that time; an unfinished painted testament to a collection which was itself always changing and developing, as Townley bought, sold, and exchanged individual items. The date of its completion altered accordingly, as it evolved to include important sculptures, most notably the Discobolus, bought in 1794.4 Many of the statues depicted were never displayed in the library; the limitations of their weight and size have been rendered immaterial by Zoffany’s sleight of hand. Townley was happy to allow the artist to create the illusion for him, and visitors to Park Street could examine the painting to make comparisons with the sculpture on view throughout the house. Private viewings regularly took place at Park Street upon application, and visitors arrived in small groups. They were generally from elite or intellectual backgrounds, and not all of them were known to Townley, as his diary entries show.5 Though the image is ostensibly coherent, the various names given to the painting reflect alternative assumptions about its subject matter, and potentially shape the viewer’s response. John Thomas Smith’s Mr. Townley’s Gallery of Statues is an unpretentious description by someone who had known and respected Townley, particularly for his generosity, and who recalled the painting as a “picturesque composition,” which included a good likeness of the “dignified possessor of such treasures.”6 Townley’s descendants similarly referred to the painting in family papers as Charles Townley among his Statues, with the 4 Viccy Coltman, “Representation, Replication and Collecting in Charles Townley’s Late Eighteenth-​Century Library,” Art History, 29.2 (2006): 304–​24. For a summary of versions of the sculpture, see Ian Jenkins, The Discobolus (Objects in Focus) (London: British Museum Press, 2012). For discussion of the statue in prints, see Ian Jenkins, “Patriotic Hellenism: A Poster for the 1948 London Olympics,” Print Quarterly 28.4 (2011): 451–​55. 5 London, British Museum, The Townley Archive, TY1/​7-​TY1/​12. Various diary entries record groups of visitors. Letters requesting access continued until just before Townley’s death, for example TY7/​1555, 25 April 1804, from ‘Elizabeth D.’ The collection was advertised in publications such as [J. Feltham], The Picture of London for 1804, Being a Correct Guide to all the Curiosities, Amusements, Exhibitions, Public Establishments, and Remarkable Objects, in and near London (London, 1804), 268. A visit was recorded in the diary of Sophie von la Roche, Sophie in London, 1786: being the diary of Sophie v. la Roche, tr. Claire Williams (London: Jonathan Cape, 1933), 219. 6 John Thomas Smith, Nollekens and his Times, and Memoirs of Contemporary Artists from the Time of Roubiliac, Hogarth, and Reynolds to that of Fuseli, Flaxman, and Blake (London: John Lane, The Bodley Head, 1829), 2 vols, 2nd edition, 1920, ed. Wilfred Whitten, I, 213.

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emphasis on the collector himself.7 The accompanying label for the painting at Towneley Hall, Charles Townley and Friends in his Library at Park Street, Westminster extends the nomenclature to include all the individuals depicted, and places them within a specific location for visitors interested in the historical context of the work. The painting is flanked by portrait busts of Charles Townley and Clytie by Joseph Nollekens, recalling paired marital portraits typical of English country-​house displays.8 Scholarship on the painting has referred to the work as “a pastiche.”9 Alternatively, the work has been described as “a capriccio,” and an “icon of British taste for the antique.”10 More recently, it has been designated “an emblem of Enlightenment enquiry,” and “a conversation piece to surpass all others.”11 Desmond Shawe-​Taylor suggests that in choosing to “draw upon the local fashions in setting, deportment and general appearance,” rather than using conventions derived from continental styles, Zoffany “has seemed of all artists the most English.”12 Thus, a foreign-​born artist who “seems English” represents antiquities from Italy owned by a collector whose background was atypical of the English gentry in significant ways.13 Townley’s Roman Catholicism restricted his legal rights, so that collecting “served as a substitute for public office,” for him and for other notable Catholic collectors such as Henry Blundell (1724–​1819).14 Moreover, Townley was described as often being more comfortable speaking in Italian or French than in English, as a consequence of his education in France and his travels in Italy.15 The complexities of the painting clearly extend to both its artist and subject.

7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Information from Tony Kitto, former researcher at Towneley Hall. Towneley Hall Art Gallery and Museum, Burnley, Joseph Nollekens, Charles Townley, 1807 (marble bust, 47.6 cm); Joseph Nollekens, copy of Clytie, 1807 (marble, c.57 cm). John Brewer, The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the Eighteenth Century (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997), plate 5, 306. Jonathan Scott, The Pleasures of Antiquity: British Collectors of Greece and Rome (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 204. Martin Postle, ed., Johan Zoffany RA:  Society Observed (New Haven and London:  Yale Centre for British Art, and Royal Academy of Arts, 2011), 242. Desmond Shawe-​Taylor, The Conversation Piece: Scenes of Fashionable Life (London: Royal Collections Publications, 2009), 103. Martin Postle challenges the “biased perception of [Zoffany] as a ‘foreign artist’.” See Postle, Johan Zoffany RA, 14. Viccy Coltman, Classical Sculpture and the Culture of Collecting in Britain since 1760 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 159. Anecdote by Thomas Dunham Whitaker, An History of the Original Parish of Whalley and Honor of Clitheroe, in the Counties of Lancaster and York (Blackburn, 1801), 23.


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Unlike most of Zoffany’s work in England, this painting was not a commission.16 Though he conceivably anticipated a profit from an engraving which was begun but not completed in his lifetime, Zoffany eventually offered the painting as a gift to Townley, who notes in his diary: I was at first determined to decline a gift so valuable to himself and his family in the pecuniary way … but he seemed so unfeignedly affected and disturb’d at all my arguments for declining a present so valuable, that I judged he would be much disgusted if I persisted … He observed that it was a memorial of him that he had destined for me.17 Townley understood the gift to be an acknowledgement of his agreeing to act as trustee in Zoffany’s will, but he was astute in judging its potential monetary value. Instead, the painting had become a “memorial,” and serves as a valuable exemplar of the exchange of portraits as a form of commemoration.18 Zoffany thus appears to have visualised the picture as a sign of equality and friendship. If we categorise it as a “conversation piece,” we might expect to see the “memorialised” artist himself included among the subjects to celebrate this friendship. Unlike his comparable group portraits, however, such as The Academicians of the Royal Academy (1772) and The Tribuna of the Uffizi (1772–​1777), he did not incorporate a self-​portrait in the design.19 As we will see, the painting did not remain a private “memorial” for long. We turn now to how the painting was received and perceived by its first viewing public. Zoffany exhibited the work at the Royal Academy in 1790, using the title A Nobleman’s Collection. The anonymity embedded in the title accorded with the customary practice of the day. Royalty, celebrities, and aristocrats


17 18


The painting has often been mistakenly assumed to have been commissioned. See, for example, Lester Borley, ed., The Grand Tour and its Influence on Architecture, Artistic Taste and Patronage (Edinburgh:  Europa Nostra UK, 2008), 8; and Brian Francis Cook, The Townley Marbles (London: British Museum Publications, 1985), 30. London, British Museum, The Townley Archive, TY1/​10 (Diary, 1 June–​31 December 1798), Thursday 9 August 1798. On which, see Louise Lippincott, “Expanding on Portraiture:  The Market, the Public, and the Hierarchy of Genres in Eighteenth-​Century Britain,” in Ann Bermingham and John Brewer, eds, The Consumption of Culture, 1600–​1800: Image, Object, Text (London and New York: Routledge, 1995), 82. London, Royal Collection, rcin 400747, Johan Zoffany, The Academicians of the Royal Academy, 1772, (Oil on canvas, 100.7 × 147.3 cm.); rcin 406983, The Tribuna of the Uffizi, 1772–​1777 (Oil on canvas, 123.5 × 154.9 cm.).

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displayed on the walls of Somerset House were not always named; recognition was assumed. The Times reported of Zoffany’s painting: This picture represents Mr. Townly’s well-​known collection of Antique Statues, Bustos, &c., which are most correctly drawn, and admirably painted. The portraits of Mr. Townly and his friends have all the merit of striking resemblances. Indeed, we consider this picture as superior even to that of the Florentine gallery from the same pencil.20 The English Chronicle, and Universal Evening Post stated that the exhibition “consists principally of Portraits,” and numbered the four figures in the painting separately but as “in one piece.”21 The assumption was that readers and viewers would be interested primarily in the individuals portrayed, and that judgement would centre on the accuracy of their mimetic representation. The work was thus categorised as a portrait, not as a depiction of a “collection,” as the title would lead us to expect. Zoffany’s designation of a personal “memorial” exists only in his name as the artist, whereas the named sitters are memorialised by the newspaper descriptions. Furthermore, Zoffany’s title ennobles Townley, whose family derived from untitled gentry. A Nobleman’s Collection both generously elevated Townley as an individual and suggested that his collection ranked among the greatest in the country. Of particular interest, however, is the fact that Zoffany himself was an Imperial Baron, a title which George iii refused to acknowledge.22 In addition, the painting has at its centre the Baron d’Hancarville, the spurious title assumed by Pierre-​François Hugues, Townley’s mentor at the time.23 Zoffany’s subtle questioning of the 20 21

22 23

The Times, Wednesday 12 May 1790, 3. The English Chronicle and Universal Evening Post, Tuesday 7 April-​Thursday 29 April 1790, 3. For discussion of Sir Joshua Reynolds’s seven portrait submissions in 1790, see Mark Hallett, Reynolds, Portraiture in Action (New Haven and London:  Yale University Press, 2014), 428–​38. See Gerard Vaughan, “The Townley Zoffany:  Reflections on Charles Townley and his Friends,” Apollo 417 (1996):  32–​35 (34); Penelope Treadwell, Johan Zoffany, Artist and Adventurer (London: Paul Holberton, 2009), 300. See Francis Haskell, “The Baron d’Hancarville:  An Adventurer and Art Historian in Eighteenth-​Century Europe,” in Francis Haskell, Past and Present in Art and Taste: Selected Essays (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987), 30–​45. D’Hancarville’s work and theories are discussed in Noah Heringman, Sciences of Antiquity, Romantic Antiquarianism, Natural History, and Knowledge Work (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2013), Ch.3; François Lissarrague and Marcia Reed, “The Collector’s Books,” Journal of the History of Collections 9.2 (1997), 275–​94; James Moore, “History as Theoretical Reconstruction? Baron D’Hancarville and the Exploration of Ancient Mythology in the Eighteenth Century,” in James Moore, Ian Macgregor Morris, and Andrew J. Bayliss, eds, Reinventing


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real or assumed value of a title, both of a nobleman and of a painting, connects the artist with the individuals on the canvas and adds a level of acerbic wit to the painting. The Times, quoted above, also compared the painting with The Tribuna of the Uffizi. It was assumed by the paper that comparisons would be readily made by readers, although The Tribuna had been exhibited ten years earlier.24 Zoffany took Townley to see it, probably at Kew, perhaps to make new comparisons for himself and to flatter his friend by pointing out the similarities between his painting and a royal commission. We do not know whether Townley was aware of the Queen’s dislike for the painting.25 He had first met Zoffany in Florence while it was being painted.26 Thematic links between the paintings are clear; both have “portraits” within a gallery of specific art objects, and both make a statue of Venus an important focus. It cannot be assumed that Academy viewers would have appreciated any private meanings in the “public iconography” of The Tribuna, though they probably enjoyed its more obvious innuendos.27 The same can be said of Charles Townley and Friends. Visitors to the Academy may have noticed the mirroring of the top-​lit Great Room of the Royal Academy in the top-​lit gallery space of both paintings. David Solkin’s discussion of the impact of The Tribuna on its 1780 Royal Academy viewers emphasises the similarities between the Gallery of the Uffizi and the Great Room of the Royal Academy, which, he suggests, were “bound to strike a particularly resonant chord in circumstances where [Zoffany’s] viewers were unusually aware of the gallery space they occupied and of their own behaviour in front of works of art.”28 Zoffany probably anticipated a similar recognition

24 25

26 27


History: The Enlightenment Origins of Ancient History (London: Centre for Metropolitan History, 2008), 137–​68. See discussion in Mary Webster, Johann Zoffany: 1733–​1810 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2011), 428; Postle, Johan Zoffany, Cat. no. 53. British Museum, The Townley Archive, TY1/​19 (Diary, Bath 1 June to Townley 6 November 1802), Saturday 31 July 1802. The painting is first recorded as being located at Kew Palace in 1788, noted in Andrew Wilton and Ilaria Bignamini, eds, Grand Tour, The Lure of Italy (London: Tate Gallery, 1996), Cat. no. 91. Maria Hadfield [Florence], to Ozias Humphry, English Coffee House, Rome 20 Jan 1776, describes Zoffany’s work and Townley. Original Correspondence of Ozias Humphry, Vol. 2, 1774–​1784: London, Royal Academy of Arts Archive, HU/​2/​40–​41. See Ronald Paulson, Emblem and Expression: Meaning in English Art of the Eighteenth Century (London: Thames and Hudson, 1975), 238. For analyses of The Tribuna, see Oliver Millar, Zoffany and his Tribuna (London:  Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1967); Shawe-​Taylor, The Conversation Piece, 130–​37. David Solkin, ed., Art on the Line: The Royal Academy Exhibitions at Somerset House, 1780–​ 1836 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2001), 1.

Hidden Dimensions and Elusive Forms


from his audience ten years later. The viewing public at the Academy now merged with Townley’s invited guests. In 1790, the foreground in the painting would have shown a larger expanse of carpet before later additional sculptures were added. The viewer would have “stood” in this space to complete the circle of figures, drawn in to the cluster of friends round the table. At Park Street, however, they would have been personally conducted or given a hand-​written, numbered catalogue to guide them through the collection. Townley took great care to amend and update this information to ensure a correct understanding of the history and significance of each object. His catalogue lists take the visitor round each room, mirroring his or her movement through each space.29 Royal Academy catalogues were printed in accordance with the institution’s own priorities, which centred on genre and artists’ names, so no explanatory notes on the objects depicted in Zoffany’s painting were offered. Townley’s sculpture collection only became accessible in a public space after his death in 1805, when it was bought by the British Museum and shown in the purpose-​built Townley Gallery, top-​lit as in the painting, and in accordance with accepted Roman architectural practice.30 The ordered, symmetrical display of the museum was far removed from Zoffany’s rendition of the collection, which would not have prepared visitors for the differences in both the presentation and representation of the sculptures. 2

Hidden Dimensions and Elusive Forms

I will now consider the compositional structure of the painting, and the various ways in which its meaning has been interpreted, suggesting some new contexts in which we ought to place the work. It is possible that many visitors to both the Royal Academy and the British Museum were more familiar with plaster casts and white painted lead replicas, intended for gardens and available at the statuary yards of Hyde Park Corner, than with the original classical sculptures on which they were based.31 Hogarth drew on this likely familiarity

29 30 31

London, British Museum, The Townley Archive, TY12/​1-​TY12/​6, Catalogues of Marbles in Park Street, undated. See Ian Jenkins, Archaeologists and Aesthetes in the Sculpture Galleries of the British Museum 1800–​1939 (London: British Museum Press, 1992), 109–​10. See Malcolm Baker, Figured in Marble: The Making and Viewing of Eighteenth-​Century Sculpture (Los Angeles:  J. Paul Getty Museum, 2000), Ch. 10; Francis Haskell and Nicholas Penny, Taste and the Antique (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1981), Ch. 11.


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Figure 5.2  William Hogarth, The Analysis of Beauty, 1753

when he published his Analysis of Beauty in 1753. His outline of the sculptor’s skill in manipulating proportion to convey strength or beauty gave him the setting for Plate i in his book: These seeming faults [in proportion], which shew the superior anatomical knowledge as well as judgement of the ancients, are not to be found in the leaden imitations of it near Hyde-​park. These saturnine genius’s [sic] imagin’d they knew how to correct such apparent disproportions.32 The plate depicts a sculptor’s yard in which iconic classical sculptures are juxtaposed to illustrate Hogarth’s arguments about the principles which affect our perception of beauty. The statues include the Laocoön, the Medici Venus, the Belvedere Torso, the Farnese Hercules and the Antinous. Inserted in the margins of the plate are diagrams which accompany Hogarth’s discussion on the


William Hogarth, The Analysis of Beauty, Written with a View of Fixing the Fluctuating Ideas of Taste, ed. Ronald Paulson (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1997), 27.

Hidden Dimensions and Elusive Forms


‘serpentine line’ or ‘line of beauty’ which he argued achieved the most pleasing form of aesthetic affect. Ronald Paulson suggests that Zoffany referenced Hogarth’s plate of the sculpture yard in his composition: [There is] the same relationship of real people to the heroic statues … By the quantity of the statues, by their scale, by the distance from which they are seen, and by the similarity in size and placement between the humans and the statues, it is clear that something further is being said about the relation between the worlds of life and art.33 Paulson points out the “paradoxes of dead sculpture and live human beings” in Hogarth’s diagrammatic print, which, though less immediate in Zoffany’s painting and not intended for the same didactic purposes, nevertheless invite the viewer to engage in close examination.34 We find these juxtapositions in the similar poses of Townley’s head and the bust of Homer behind him, in the angle of Clytie’s head mirroring that of the seated d’Hancarville, and in the echoing of the Townley Venus in the background through the angle of Greville’s right arm on the left.35 Townley’s appearance on the right rather than in the centre of the composition has been noted as a curious detail of the painting by both Paulson and Viccy Coltman.36 It appears less unusual, however, if we consider the attention given to decorum in eighteenth-​century treatises on civility, which determined the position of a person of rank in a coach or when riding or walking, but also on the stage.37 These traditions accorded the highest prestige to those placed on the right-​hand side, and were well-​known to Zoffany from his work on theatrical subjects and his friendship with the actor, playwright, and theatre manager David Garrick. Townley is therefore given an appropriate position in the painting, one that provides a hint of his role in orchestrating the scene depicted, even a sense of Prospero’s powers to direct the “performance” in his library, or of Pygmalion’s ability to animate sculpture. This positioning adds a

33 Paulson, Emblem, 152; William Hogarth, The Analysis, Plate I. 34 Paulson, Notes to the Illustrations, Plate I, in Hogarth, Analysis, 146. 35 London, British Museum, BM Cat. Sculp.1825, Homer; BM Cat. Sculp.1874, Clytie; BM Cat Sculp.1574, Townley Venus. 36 Paulson, Emblem, 153; Coltman, “Representation,” 306. 37 Dene Barnett, The Art of Gesture: The Practices and Principles of Eighteenth-​Century Acting (Heidelberg: Carl Winter Universitätsverlag, 1987), 388.


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Figure 5.3  Johan Zoffany, The Sharp Family, 1779–​81. Bibliothèque Nationale de France, département Musique

hidden dimension to the work; other compositional aspects of the painting meanwhile uncover new connections within Zoffany’s broader oeuvre. The Tribuna had obvious links with Townley’s painting, in terms of its subject matter and its presentation of “paragone” debates over the relative superiority of painting and sculpture, but another work with a comparable structure had been completed by Zoffany in the same year as he began at Park Street.38 His group portrait of The Sharp Family depicts the celebrated musicians on 38

Groups in both paintings are comparing art and sculpture. For related thematic discussions on Paragone, see, for example, Etienne Jollet, “Sculpture in Painting:  Function, Time and Reflexivity (France, c.1630–​1750),” in Penelope Curtis, ed., On the Meanings of Sculpture in Painting (Leeds: Henry Moore Institute, 2009), 21–​29; for discussion about forms of representation in the painting, see Coltman, Fabricating the Antique, Ch. 6.

Hidden Dimensions and Elusive Forms


their boat, sailing down the Thames while giving a performance.39 It was much criticised as an overpopulated and confused pictorial arrangement when it was first exhibited.40 Penelope Treadwell suggests that Zoffany had in mind Sandro Botticelli’s Adoration of the Magi (1475), and that his positioning of the figures in the painting was inspired by his study of art in Florence.41 Rather than a reference to Renaissance theories of the golden ratio however, the positioning might simply be explained by Hogarth’s observation that most compositions “are kept within the form of the cone or pyramid, as the most eligible boundary on account of their simplicity and variety.”42 Paulson suggests that Zoffany’s triangular structure for a group indicated solidarity.43 The figures are posed with a curved progression from right to left, a pattern which is mirrored in Townley’s picture. The eldest, senior Sharp brother sits in profile on the right, like Townley, and a group at a piano in the centre are substituted by Townley’s “friends” at a table. The dog, supposedly Zoffany’s own pet, sits prominently at the front of The Sharp Family. It is remarkably similar to Townley’s dog, Kam. Whereas the former may represent the presence of the artist, Kam might conjure that of Townley’s absent friend Sir Joseph Banks, who gave him the dog as a gift.44 The gathering of the Sharp family was transposed into a gathering of both human and mythological figures at Park Street, a shifting representation of real and imagined, flesh and stone. While William Sharp stands at the tiller of the boat forming the apex of the group, his right arm raised to wave his hat, Townley’s Venus statue mirrors William’s arm position at the apex of the library group.45 William’s wife reaches out to hold Catherine’s arm as a gesture of comfort and support, while Greville’s arm frames Clytie, rather than a living member of the family. Townley’s family members are absent and replaced by nude or semi-​clad gods, nymphs, and goddesses,


London, National Portrait Gallery, npg L169, Johann Zoffany, The Sharp Family, 1779–​1781 (oil on canvas, 1156  mm × 1257  mm). For details:  [accessed 14 August 2017]; Postle, Johan Zoffany, Cat. no. 77. 40 John Kerslake, “A Note on Zoffany’s ‘Sharp Family’,” The Burlington Magazine 120, no. 908 (1978): 752–​54. 41 Uffizi, Florence, Sandro Botticelli, Adoration of the Magi, 1475 (tempera on panel, 111 × 134 cm); Treadwell, Johan Zoffany, 307. 42 Hogarth, Analysis, 30. 43 Paulson, Emblem,156. 44 The dog also appears in Zoffany, John Wilkes and his Daughter Mary, 1779; see Kate Retford in Postle, Johan Zoffany, RA, 259. 45 London, British Museum, BM Cat. Sculp. 1574.


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but these also throng the canvas with the arrested animation and hints of narrative which were typical of Zoffany’s large group conversation pieces. This comparison with a family group conversation piece allows us to frame an alternative interpretation of Townley’s painting. One of the hidden dimensions of the painting is the notion of family. Townley owned many family portraits of various dates and quality. These were mainly displayed at Towneley Hall, in keeping with the tradition that “it was the country house that lay at the heart of an elite family’s identity.”46 Townley’s family roots in Lancashire extended back to the fourteenth century. He was unusual among Grand Tour collectors in that he chose to display his sculpture in his London house rather than build a gallery on his country estate, although he had hoped they would be displayed there after his death. He dutifully spent time in Burnley, managing family affairs and estate business, a point that has received little scholarly attention. Instead, the focus in different analyses of Townley is inevitably on his collections, particularly on their erotic content, and the studies of priapic cults and generative principles enthusiastically undertaken by his circle of friends.47 Townley’s sculpture features throughout Caroline Vout’s Sex On Show.48 The colour print of Zoffany’s Charles Townley and Friends faces a photograph of anatomical votives or wax phalluses, which were collected by Sir William Hamilton.49 Hamilton noted the part they played in the supposed revival of priapic cult festivals in Isernia, in southern Italy, and donated them to the British Museum. Richard Payne Knight used an engraving of them as a frontispiece for his Account of the Remains of the Worship of Priapus (1786). Vout places Hamilton’s collection alongside the painting of Townley to highlight the eroticism that preoccupied his homosocial network; a juxtaposition which insistently guides the reader’s interpretation of the painting, though neither Hamilton nor Payne Knight appear in Townley and Friends, and the anatomical votives were not

46 47

48 49

Gill Perry, Kate Retford, Jordan Vibert, and Hannah Lyons, eds, Placing Faces, The Portrait and the English Country House in the Long Eighteenth Century (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2013), 3. See, for example, [P.-F. Hugues d’Hancarville], Recherches sur l’origine, l’esprit et les progrès des arts de la Grèce (London, 1785); Richard Payne Knight, An Account of the Remains of the Worship of Priapus (London, 1786). These two works are characterised by Ruth Guilding as “Bibles of the Enlightenment,” in Ruth Guilding, Owning the Past: Why the English Collected Antique Sculpture, 1640–​1840 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2014), 223, fig.  221; Kate Retford, The Conversation piece:  Making Modern Art in Eighteenth-​century Britain (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017), 306. Caroline Vout, Sex On Show: Seeing the Erotic in Greece and Rome (London: British Museum Press, 2013). London, British Museum, No. M.560 (Italy, eighteenth century); Vout, Sex On Show, 213.

Hidden Dimensions and Elusive Forms


among Townley’s collection. It does, however, signpost similar items which Zoffany did not include in his painting, along with some sculpture confined to the Museum Secretum at the British Museum, officially created in 1865 for the storage of “obscene objects.”50 Coltman’s study of Townley focuses on Richard Cosway’s Charles Townley with a Group of Connoisseurs (c.1771–​1775), a less well known and more explicit portrayal of the collector and the eroticism associated with nude classical sculpture.51 Ruth Guilding suggests Cosway was poking fun at Zoffany by painting this alternative appreciation of a Venus statue.52 She writes of the “high class titillation” of eighteenth-​century collecting, and the perceived moral necessity of keeping women away from the sculpture’s debilitating effects.53 Guilding’s discussion of “The Connoisseurship of Libertinism,” meanwhile, introduces d’Hancarville as an “ex-​pornographer.”54 These characterisations of Townley and his circle of connoisseurs are corroborated by correspondence between them and their dealers, preserved in the Townley Archive.55 Underlying the ribald banter about statues and the image presented by Zoffany, however, is a fundamental aspect of Townley’s character: his lifelong bachelorhood. I suggest that this aspect of his life, elusive as it might be in the painting, is also part of its narrative. The fact that Townley did not marry was a constant concern particularly for his mother. He was the eldest son and had a duty to safeguard the family name. Letters between them convey her disappointment, some of them centring on his purchase of an Italian marble chimneypiece for her.56 When it is finally in place in her dressing room, it seems to represent only the distance she senses between them. New and bright and possibly similar to the one in Townley’s Park Street library, it makes her room seem shabby by comparison: “I am most prodigiously vain of my Italian Chimney Piece which is now fixt up in my dressing room, and do’s not apear so large as I expected; the rest of the 50

Townley had many small items, such as phallic jewellery, British Museum Cat. Jewellery 3133; Museum Secretum items include a marble male herm, M.463; a fragment of a temple frieze from India, M.633; but also the Nymph Escaping from a Satyr, BM Cat. Sculp, 1658, which featured in the painting; see also discussion in Dominic Janes, “The Rites of Man, The British Museum and the Sexual Imagination in Victorian Britain,” Journal of the History of Collections 20.1 (2008): 101–​112. 51 Coltman, Classical Sculpture, Ch.5, 159–​90. 52 Guilding, Owning the Past, 236. 53 Guilding, Owning the Past, 12. 54 Guilding, Owning the Past, 236. 55 For example, London, British Museum, The Townley Archive, TY7/​2028–​3030, letters from Richard Cosway to Charles Townley. 56 London, British Museum, The Townley Archive, TY7/​88–​93; TY7/​705–​708, letters from Cecilia Towneley to Charles Townley.


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furniture of the room is very unequal to it; but it must serve my time out.”57 Her self-​deprecating letter, thanking him for the gift, refers to his friends: “I think myself uncommonly obliged to my Dear Charles for recomending [sic] so valuable a curiosity as you say this is to a stupid old woman, when you have so many virtuoso friends who most certainly understand things infinitely better than I possibly can.”58 She was clearly aware of the gulf between them. Zoffany’s painting portrays Townley as a bachelor within his social group, ostensibly without any familial ties. Matthew Craske’s discussion of the significance of the hearth and chimneypiece as a symbol of lineage and security within the home includes a reference to the one featured by Zoffany in Townley and Friends: By the standards of the subgenre to which it belongs, the hearth conversation, this painting is conspicuously unconventional. The host, who was not married, could not be appropriately situated in the conventional act of introducing his family. Thus, he is not seen in the usual position, before his own chimney breast. Rather, Zoffany presented Townley at some remove from the chimneypiece, offering his guests the privilege of the hearth and the mandatory small table.59 Craske continues by outlining the “phallic implications” of the imagery in the painting, and notes that “this painting seems redolent of a kind of ‘conversation’ that strays beyond the usual restraints of familial respectability.”60 Townley’s position on the right is here interpreted as an acknowledgement of his separation from family life. Clytie, the bust on the table, is a substitute for the traditional hostess at the tea-​table, one that “suggests a degree of knowing, sexually centred humour.”61 However, the fact that she was reputedly Townley’s favourite antiquity, and he called her his “wife,” points to the very subversion of the expected norm which Townley knew he was flouting. I suggest that although his friends joked about his “love” for Clytie, there was an implied acknowledgement that this was a perverse affection. 57 58 59 60 61

London, British Museum, The Townley Archive, TY7/​92, Cecilia Towneley to Charles Townley, 2 June 1772. London, British Museum, The Townley Archive, TY7/​706, Cecilia Towneley to Charles Townley, 7 March 1771. Craske, “Conversations,” 34. Craske, “Conversations,” 35. Craske, “Conversations,” 34; for discussion about the bust and its meaning, see for example Susan Walker, “Clytie –​a false woman,” in Mark Jones, ed., Why Fakes Matter, Essays on Problems of Authenticity (London: British Museum Press, 1992), 32.

Hidden Dimensions and Elusive Forms


The marbles were often characterised as sentient beings, particularly by Thomas Jenkins, Townley’s dealer in Rome, in order to catch Townley’s imagination and make a sale. For instance, he wrote of a Venus that: “The figure is Just the Size of a lovely Woman,” and of a possible portrait bust of Messalina, “this Lady will make a fit Companion amongst Your Philosophers.”62 He congratulates his client on the purchase of an unidentified female statue in terms which conjure up a reference to a marriage contract: “I am Exceedingly Glad that the Lady increases in Your Esteem, at the same time that it proves her Excellence is a Testimony of the Warmth of Your Passion.”63 When alluding to Townley’s covetousness of other collectors’ pieces, Jenkins writes that “other mens Wifes [sic] run in your Head.”64 The statues are thus imagined as wives, not only as mistresses. A letter to Townley from someone identified as “B. Fountaine” referring to a statue he had presented as a gift to Townley, draws on a prevalent eighteenth-​century anxiety about the absence of male heirs. It could have had personal resonances for the writer, as well as for Townley: Were it possible for a moment, that any feelings could be communicated to it, it would soon perceive of advantage of being remov’d from a dark & Dusty cupboard into lights, & a degree of pleasurable situation, among perhaps some of his former female acquaintance, who had occasionally offer’d up their prayers that he might typically convey some of his vivifying principle, to some ladies, whose ancient families were in danger of becoming extinct for want of Heirs.65 The letter’s innuendo points knowingly at the nature of Townley’s collection, but equally highlights anxiety about the decay of “ancient families,” one likely to have caused the irreconcilable rift between Townley and his mother. Lawrence Stone writes that the “failure of the elite to reproduce themselves in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries … threatened the whole group with biological decline,” and Linda Colley adds that this demographic trend meant “as families died out, because of their inability to produce male heirs, their estates passed to other landowners: through indirect inheritance to 62

London, British Museum, The Townley Archive, TY7/​353, Jenkins to Townley, 6 March 1776; TY7/​348, Jenkins to Townley, 9 August 1775. 63 London, British Museum, The Townley Archive, TY7/​ 313, Jenkins to Townley, 14 August 1772. 64 London, British Museum, The Townley Archive, TY7/​ 339, Jenkins to Townley, 19 October 1774. 65 London, British Museum, The Townley Archive, TY7/​1927, from B.  Fountaine (?), 4 September 1790.


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Figure 5.4  Francesco Vassalli and Martino Quadri, Medici Venus, c.1729–​31. The Great Hall, Towneley Hall, Burnley

distant male cousins, or through the female line, or through sale.”66 Townley’s estate passed to his brother Edward in 1805, but after his death in 1807 it was inherited by their uncle, John Towneley (1731–​1813). Contemporaries attributed 66

Lawrence Stone and Jeanne C. Fawtier Stone, An Open Elite? England 1540–​1880 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 281; Linda Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation 1707–​1837 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2005), 157.

Hidden Dimensions and Elusive Forms


the decline of marriage to the effeminacy and dissipation of the age; the “luxury and viciousness of a nation have a natural tendency to discourage matrimony.”67 When Zoffany was painting at Park Street, Townley was in his late forties and showed no inclination to marry. The classical sculpture on show in the library had a direct family connection for Townley which is rarely addressed in studies about him. His grandfather, Richard Towneley (1689–​1735), had employed the talented Ticino stuccoists Francesco Vassalli and Martino Quadri to decorate the main hall at Towneley.68 This work included delicate motifs and portrait medallions of Richard and his wife on the ceiling, and two large statues in niches over the fireplaces. These represented the iconic Dancing Faun and the Medici Venus, two of the prominent marbles in Zoffany’s Tribuna painting.69 The Towneley Hall Venus was, however, modestly draped. These decorative features would have been well known to Townley. His own portrait medallion was later reproduced, not on a ceiling but by Wedgwood on a small scale in blue jasperware.70 His grandfather’s preference for continental style and iconic classical statues, albeit modified for less sophisticated sensibilities, would remind Townley of his inheritance whenever he returned to Burnley. His own modified, restored, and reimagined statues in London shared many qualities with the plaster copies residing in his family home. Venus may have had a swag added to make her acceptable in Towneley Hall, but in London she was given new limbs and attributes to make her conform to different tastes. Townley’s sculptures reveal as much about contemporary attitudes to women as about the appreciation of classical artefacts. In London, the statues were more likely to have coverings removed than added. Clytie began as a bust of a Roman matron, probably Agrippina. She was remodelled and her drapery cut to be more revealing, in order to conflate “the trope of woman objectified by the connoisseurs’ desire with d’Hancarville’s phallo-​centric creation myth.”71 John Thomas Smith’s memoir of the sculptor Joseph Nollekens (1737–​1823) recounts 67 Anon., Considerations on the Causes of the Present Stagnation of Matrimony (London, 1772), 68. 68 Guilding, Owning the Past, includes a photo of the Venus, along with a witty reference made by Charles Greville in a letter, fig. 225, 237. 69 For discussion of the itinerant stuccoists, see Geoffrey Beard, Italian Stuccoists in Yorkshire (York: York Civic Trust and Maxiprint Colour Printers, 1986), 11; Geoffrey Beard, Stucco and Decorative Plasterwork in Europe (London: Thames and Hudson, 1983), 169. This was carried out between 1729 and 1731 at a cost of £147. 70 Barlaston, The Wedgwood Museum, Mr. Townley (portrait medallion, unglazed jasper, undated, Accession No. 5120). 71 Crossman, Priapus, 79.


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Figure 5.5  Francesco Vassalli and Martino Quadri, Richard Towneley, c.1729–​31. The Great Hall, Towneley Hall, Burnley

the story of a certain “most elegantly dressed” Miss Coleman, who reminded Nollekens of an occasion when she had brought a letter to him “from Charles Townley, to show legs with your Venus. Why I have been with you twenty times in that little room, to stand for your Venus!”72 The model, a contemporary Venus 72 Smith, Nollekens, Vol. 1, 188.

Hidden Dimensions and Elusive Forms


who it seems had prospered in the meantime, had posed for the new limbs required to restore one of Townley’s sculptures. The ancient and the modern were conflated and fused for the gratification of the connoisseur. Hogarth’s Analysis of Beauty challenges the “infectious turn of the connoisseur” who is “apt to pursue the shadow, and drop the substance,” and to “disregard the works of nature.”73 Hogarth’s anti-​connoisseurial approach is a subversive undercurrent in Zoffany’s depiction of a collector identified as the embodiment of the connoisseur; for Paulson, Hogarth was the crucial precursor of Zoffany’s vision.74 Joan Coutu’s discussion of Townley and his contemporaries identifies their focus as collecting “authentic” antiquities, rather than reproductions assembled for aesthetic reasons. His collection was “less a metonym or an opportunity for a dialogic exchange with the personalities of antiquity, than an opportunity for a measured connoisseurial analysis of the representation of these personalities.”75 Hogarth would not have been in sympathy with this approach, but Zoffany’s engagement with the analyses made by Townley’s circle, particularly by d’Hancarville, was crucial to the resulting painting. Zoffany shows d’Hancarville directing Townley’s attention not to Miss Coleman’s legs, but towards his statue of the Drunken Faun which Townley acquired around 1774.76 Both men hold open books. There may be a subtle nod to the drunken Silenus and the open book showing anatomical perspective, portrayed in Hogarth’s Plate I.  In 1785, d’Hancarville published his complex study concerning the syncretic origins of art, Recherches sur l’origine, l’esprit et les progrès des arts de la Grèce. This book drew extensively on Townley’s collection, and was enthusiastically promoted by Townley, until he changed his mind a few years later, deciding that the proposed meanings were “mostly vague and erroneous.”77 D’Hancarville had immediately promoted his book in the fledgling European Magazine, which published extracts translated into English in instalments over the same year, although it was presented with some scepticism and admission of confusion: “We must either deny the existence of the monuments adduced by our author, or acknowledge that he has discovered a truth which leads to consequences of the greatest importance.”78 The summary of

73 Hogarth, Analysis of Beauty, 19. 74 Paulson, Emblem, Zoffany’s response to Hogarth, 138. 75 Coutu, Then and Now, 203. 76 London, British Museum, Cat. Sculp.1657. 77 London, British Museum, The Townley Archive, TY12/​7/​17,1-​34, and TY16/​28, TY12/​ 24–​27. 78 The European Magazine, and London Review, Vol. 7, (Jan–​Jun, 1785), Vol. 8, (Jul-​Dec, 1785).


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his findings proved to be an arduous exercise: “The reader will see by this extract how difficult it is to give a distinct view of such a variety of subjects, and the impossibility of inserting the proofs on which the author’s assertions are founded.”79 The European Magazine appears to have abandoned the attempt, as the promised “to be continued” was not fulfilled. Zoffany’s choice of sculpture for inclusion in the library painting could be loosely aligned with those ancient symbolic figures central to d’Hancarville’s thesis. However, Greville and Astle are also engaged in discussion, and their own research required systematic analyses.80 Greville’s publication on minerals and Astle’s on palaeography could be referenced in the painting either as additional scholarly inquiry, or as an alternative, more rigorous science compared with d’Hancarville’s approach. Scholarly inquiry and its integrity is thus placed at the heart of the painting, but the artist leaves us to draw our own conclusions. 3

The Painting after Townley’s Death

Zoffany’s painting has travelled the world many times since it was first shown at the Royal Academy in 1790. A Towneley Hall curator’s list for the painting, Provenance, Loan and Exhibition History, mentions forty-​one exhibitions and tours from 1790 to 2012, most dating from the twentieth century, with fifteen located outside the UK. The exhibition titles indicate that it has been exhibited to exemplify a variety of themes, which together demonstrate the many agendas its image can accommodate. A selection of these are examined below. The first international exhibition to which the painting travelled was the International Fine Arts Exhibition in Rome, 1911. The luxurious Souvenir of the British Section includes lists and photographs of the 1,200 works on display. Organised by the Exhibition Branch of the Board of Trade to contribute to the fiftieth anniversary of the Proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy, Zoffany’s painting represented one of the “Oil Paintings by deceased Masters.” The display centred on placing contemporary art alongside its eighteenth-​century origins, in “a continuous tradition of intellectual freedom” which England fostered, 79 80

The European Magazine Vol. 7 (March 1785), 207. Charles Greville, On the Corundum Stone from Asia by Rt. Hon. Charles Greville, frs from the Philosophical Transactions, Read before the Royal Society, June 7th 1798 (London, 1798); Thomas Astle, The Origin and Progress of Writing, as well Hieroglyphic as Elementary. Illustrated with Engravings Taken from Marbles, Manuscripts and Charters Ancient and Modern; Also Some Account of the Origin and Progress of Printing (London, 1784).

Hidden Dimensions and Elusive Forms


and to encourage the same freedom in Italian modern art.81 The painting was thus included for a national, political purpose. A  similar agenda marked its appearance among the exhibits at the 1925 British Empire Exhibition. Although the catalogue for that year gives few details of exhibited items, the more comprehensive 1924 catalogue points to a likely location in the Palace of Arts, among the “Retrospective Oil Paintings and Sculpture” by Hogarth, Reynolds, and Gainsborough.82 Zoffany was seen among his contemporary artists, representing Britain, but also within an exhibition space that extended to Indian, Canadian, Australian, and other works of art from the Empire.83 A more usual context for the painting has been exhibitions of Neo-​Classical taste which include items of decorative art and furniture, such as the 1955–​1956 exhibition, English Taste in the Eighteenth Century, from Baroque to Neo-​Classic, and Neo-​Classicism: Style and Motif, held in 1964.84 In recent years, the painting has been presented primarily as a representation of the Grand Tour, but it has also become variously identified as a regional treasure in Burnley, as part of Zoffany’s oeuvre, or as the “portrait” which was its designation in 1790.85 Various aspects of Paulson’s “worlds of life and art” have been found and explored in the painting. The sculpture it represents, however, has had a different history. The British Museum’s new Wolfson Gallery for the sculptures opened in 1985.86 There, a large poster of the painting accompanied the sculpture and prompted visitors to find the objects. This was presented as an uncomplicated matching exercise which served its purpose for the general visitor but 81

Sr. Ugo Ojetti, “Notes on the British Section,” in Sir Isadore Spielmann, ed., International Fine Arts Exhibition, Rome, 1911, Souvenir of the British Section (London: Board of Trade, 1911), 79. 82 See [Catalogue of the] Palace of Arts: The British Empire Exhibition, 1924 (London: Fleetway Press, 1924), 69: [accessed 17 August 2017]; Official Guide: British Empire Exhibition, 1925 (London: Fleetway Press, 1925). 83 For example, anon. review, ‘British Empire Exhibition 1925,’ The British Medical Journal 1.939 (16 May 1925):  939:    [accessed 17 August 2017]. 84 English Taste in the Eighteenth Century, from Baroque to Neo-​Classic (London, The Royal Academy, 1955–​1956); Henry Hawley, ed., Neo-​ Classicism:  Style and Motif (Cleveland: Cleveland Museum of Art, 1964). 85 Andrew Wilton and Ilaria Bignamini, eds, Grand Tour: The Lure of Italy in the Eighteenth Century (London: Tate Gallery, 1997); Art Treasures of England, The Regional Collections (London: The Royal Academy of Arts, 1998); Postle, Johan Zoffany, 2012; John Hayes, ed., The Portrait in British Art, Masterpieces bought with the help of the National Art Collections Fund (London: National Portrait Gallery, 1991). 86 Since 2007, the work has been either in storage or dispersed throughout other generic British Museum displays.


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avoided any deeper engagement with the mimetic qualities of the painting or its historical context.87 It is likely to be the first and only time that Zoffany’s painted sculpture could be viewed by the general public alongside the sculptures themselves, though presented by means of a large-​scale reproduction. Zoffany’s painted two-​dimensional figures were intact, undamaged, and their scale and relationships to the sculptures were carefully composed. Taking into account the hazards of storage and passing of time, the inconsistencies of restoration and repair in the objects themselves were clear to see. The best sculptures of Townley’s collection have been isolated from the context in which they were depicted by Zoffany and now occupy other spaces in the British Museum. For example, the bronze bust of Minerva, and the Nymph of Diana are now respectively in the Enlightenment Gallery, and in a room called Collecting the World.88 The Townley Venus and the relief Youth Taming a Horse are held in room 23.89 This room leads directly to the Duveen Gallery and the Parthenon Sculptures, which supplanted Townley’s collection. A few of Townley’s exceptional pieces have begun to travel, and have been exhibited in different contexts with their “Townley” provenance removed.90 The painting and the sculpture it depicts are thus still in a state of flux and reinvention. While eighteenth-​century collectors obsessively assembled personal testimony of their erudition and taste in the form of a highly manipulated canon of sculpture—​and Townley was ruthlessly engaged in this project throughout his life—​a twenty-​first century audience has less appreciation of, or interest in, this narrative. Connections between individual sculptures and former owners are not important unless given explicit thematic relevance in an exhibition. Freed from these connections, they can embrace new responses.91 The 87

88 89 90


For early descriptions and analysis of the marbles, see B.F. Cook, The Townley Marbles (London:  British Museum Publications, 1985); Colette Crossman, “Priapus in Park Street, Revealing Zoffany’s Subtext in ‘Charles Townley and Friends’,” The British Art Journal 6.1 (2005):  71–​80; Paulson, Emblem, 152–​53; Gerard Vaughan, “The Townley Zoffany: Reflections on Charles Townley and his Friends,” Apollo 417 (1996): 32–​35. London, British Museum, BM Cat. Sculp.1571; BM Cat. Sculp.1710. London, British Museum, BM Cat. Sculp.1574; BM Cat. Sculp.2206. See, for example, Townley sculptures as “The ideal body,” 176; “Mythical desires,” 177; “Personification of desire,” 198; “Riddle of the sphynx,” 199, in Ian Jenkins, Defining Beauty, The Body in Ancient Greek Art (London:  The British Museum Press, 2015). They were exhibited in The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece, in Japan, Australia, and the United States, from 2011 to 2014. New technology and materials offer many possibilities; see for example work by Léo Caillard: [accessed 10 Jan  2018] and Zachary Eastwood-​Bloom:  [accessed 10 Jan 2018].

Hidden Dimensions and Elusive Forms


sculptures now represent their own genesis and evolution within a much longer historic and artistic timeline as part of a dynamic, on-​going project. 4


This chapter has considered the original exhibition of Charles Townley and Friends in 1790 and the variety of names first attached to the picture, in order to suggest that it was never a fixed and straightforward representation of the collector, collection, and his companions. The liberties taken by Zoffany in his depiction of Townley’s sculptures, in addition to other potential associations that they held for the viewer such as garden ornament or classical text, made them fluid forms which added hidden dimensions to the painting and have made different interpretations possible. One of these has been proposed as an alternative to the eroticism usually central to scholarly analyses of the painting: the underlying anxiety about family and Townley’s unmarried state which is brought into relief through comparison with Zoffany’s The Sharp Family. The fluid accounts of the Townley painting continue to be reflected in the variety of themes which have prompted its inclusion in recent exhibitions, while some of Townley’s sculptures have begun a new life. Detached at last from their collector, they are asserting themselves as individual objects with different narratives for a new generation of viewers. Zoffany’s painting of Charles Townley and Friends constitutes a unique depiction of an eighteenth-​century collector in his London house, engaged in a conversation about antiquity and seeking to reveal symbolic interpretations of the sculptures he prized. His support for the convoluted theories expounded by d’Hancarville point, at the very least, to a desire to confer meaning on his sculpture and justify his collection of antiquities within a framework of enlightened erudition. Zoffany’s composition responded to this desire as well as to public interest in the newly accessible displays of ancient objects in galleries and private homes. It was not enough for the sculptures to be appraised simply as decorative souvenirs. Recontextualised in a museum, they were clearly presented as part of an Enlightenment project of which Zoffany’s painting was an intriguing manifestation. By analysing an artist’s approach to depicting antiquities together with their owners, we uncover details of personal relationships, obsessions, and attitudes which resonate beyond the confines of the canvas and into wider eighteenth-​century social and cultural history.


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Coltman, Viccy. Classical Sculpture and the Culture of Collecting in Britain since 1760. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. Coutu, Joan. Then and Now. Collecting and Classicism in Eighteenth-​Century England. Montreal and Kingston, London, Ithaca: McGill-​Queen’s University Press, 2015. Haskell, Francis Nicholas Penny. Taste and the Antique: The Lure of Classical Sculpture. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1981. Hogarth, William. The Analysis of Beauty, written with a view of fixing the fluctuating ideas of taste, edited by Ronald Paulson. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1997. Paulson, Ronald. Emblem and Expression. Meaning in English Art of the Eighteenth Century. London: Thames & Hudson, 1975. Postle, Martin (ed.). Johan Zoffany RA: Society Observed. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2011.

pa rt 3 Antiquity and National Identity: Scotland and Greece

­c hapter 6

The Scottish Heresy: George Mackenzie’s Pelagian Biographies Kelsey Jackson Williams In the middle of the Scottish winter, on 3 December 1725, George Mackenzie was laid to rest amongst his ancestors in the ruins of Fortrose Cathedral, his corpse attended by “all the Gentlemen of the Country.” It was a fitting end for a respected local physician, a member of one of the north of Scotland’s most powerful noble houses, and the anonymous eulogy delivered upon him in the pages of the Caledonian Mercury later that month was fulsome: “His indefatigable Industry in the Pursuit of his Studies, impared his Health and shortned his Days … He was an upright honest Man, a loyal Subject, a true Son of the Church; and for his extensive Knowledge and Learning, deserves to be rank’d among the chief of the learned Authors he has given an ­Account of.”1 This essay will explore that “extensive Knowledge and Learning,” in particular the erudite physician’s magnum opus, The Lives and Characters of the Most Eminent Writers of the Scots Nation (1708–​1722).2 It will reconstruct Mackenzie’s life and recover the intellectual context of his sprawling, three-​volume encyclopaedia of Scottish learning, before proceeding to interrogate the remarkable claims made therein for a Pelagian inheritance in Scottish theology. Read in this way, Mackenzie’s works can tell us much about the continuing importance of ancient authorities in general, and Patristic writers in particular, during the Scottish Enlightenment. They can also help us understand Mackenzie’s close engagement with the Pelagian heresy and the impact it has had upon the fate of his works, both in his own time and amongst subsequent generations. In so doing, this essay will begin to rehabilitate Mackenzie as a significant intellectual figure and a key point of reception for Patristic thought within the Scottish Early Enlightenment.

1 Caledonian Mercury (16 December 1725), 5682. 2 George Mackenzie, The Lives and Characters of the Most Eminent Writers of the Scots Nation; With an Abstract & Catalogue of their Works, their Various Editions; and the Judgment of the Learn’d Concerning Them, 3 vols (Edinburgh, 1708–​1722).

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2020 | DOI:10.1163/9789004412675_008

132 Jackson Williams 1

Recovering Mackenzie

A biography of George Mackenzie appeared in the original Dictionary of National Biography (1893), written by T.W. Bayne, with an updated version, by Clare Jackson, included in the twenty-​first-​century Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.3 Both sketches, however, share a single principal source: the obituary published in the Caledonian Mercury a few days after Mackenzie’s death and referred to above. Mixed amongst genealogical and bibliographical detail, the author of the Caledonian obituary provided a snapshot of Mackenzie’s life which would go on to shape both Bayne’s and Jackson’s interpretations of his career: Having been well educated at the Schools, and having afterwards improved himself in the Studies of Philosophy and Mathematicks at the University of Aberdeen, he was sent to Oxford; where he staid a considerable Time, conversing with the learned Men there, and frequenting the Libraries, taking Notes of such Things as related to his Purpose, and laying in a Stock of Learning, which he made good Use of afterwards. He applied himself chiefly to the Study of medicine, and for his greater improvement, went to Paris, where he continued some Years, pursuing that Study with the utmost Care and Diligence. After his Return to his native Country, he was created Doctor of Medicine in the University of Aberdeen, and made a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh.4 Although seemingly straightforward, this account is not without issues and is certainly incorrect in at least some of its details. George was the second son of Colin Mackenzie, himself a younger son of the Earl of Seaforth and a university-​educated Jacobite military officer as well as owner of the small estate of Kinachulladrum in northern Scotland. George’s mother, Jean Laurie, was the daughter of Robert Laurie, Bishop of Brechin and Dean of Edinburgh.5 His birth on 10 December 1669 thus placed him firmly within the nexus of Episcopally inclined royalist lairds who were then benefiting from the rising tide of the Restoration establishment.6 On 5 January 3 4 5 6

dnb and odnb, s.nn. Caledonian Mercury (16 December 1725), 5681–​82. Alexander Mackenzie, History of the Mackenzies With Genealogies of the Principal Families of the Name, revised ed. (Inverness: A. & W. Mackenzie, 1894), 275; Sir James Balfour Paul, ed., The Scots Peerage, 9 vols (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1904–​1914), vii. 508. No contemporary source for the date of Mackenzie’s birth has been discovered, but it is given as 10 December 1669 in William Anderson, The Scottish Nation, 3 vols (Edinburgh

The Scottish Heresy


1671 Mackenzie’s mother was buried in Greyfriars kirkyard in Edinburgh.7 A decade or so later, his widowed father married the widow Helen Sinclair, scion of a mixed Episcopal and Catholic family which included John Spottiswoode, Archbishop of St Andrews, amongst its ancestors and John Spottiswoode the jurist, and Father Richard Augustine Hay, the priest and antiquary amongst George’s contemporaries.8 Beyond the bald statement by his anonymous biographer that he was “educated at the Schools” nothing is known of George’s life until his appearance at university. This was not, however, at Aberdeen, but rather at the University of Glasgow, where he and his elder brother Robert matriculated simultaneously in February 1685.9 Despite this error, the Caledonian obituarist was accurate in supposing that Mackenzie had spent time in Oxford. The extended Mackenzie kingroup had unusually close ties to that university for a Scottish noble family; ties formed in large part by George’s cousin Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh who had sent his nephew Simon to Christ Church in 1685 and ultimately retired to Oxford after his deposition from the post of Lord Advocate.10 While there is no evidence that George ever formally matriculated at any of the Oxford colleges, he later referred in his proposal for the Lives and Characters to “his Painful Search in the Bodleian Library at Oxford,” no doubt the same “laying in [of] a

and London: A. Fullarton & Co., 1867), iii. 23. Anderson is repeated without additional evidence by the dnb and odnb. For the theological and political contexts of Mackenzie’s age, see Clare Jackson, Restoration Scotland, 1660–​1690: Royalist Politics, Religion and Ideas (Woodbridge:  Boydell Press, 2003)  and Alasdair Raffe, The Culture of Controversy:  Religious Arguments in Scotland, 1660–​1714 (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2012). 7 Henry Paton, ed., Register of Interments in the Greyfriars Burying-​Ground, Edinburgh, 1658–​1700 (Edinburgh: Scottish Record Society, 1902), 417. 8 Mackenzie, History, 275, identifies his stepmother as “Lady Herbertshire,” i.e., Helen Sinclair, widow of William Stirling of Herbertshire. See Sir William Fraser, The Stirlings of Keir and Their Family Papers (Edinburgh, 1858), 175, and Richard Augustine Hay, Genealogie of the Sainteclaires of Rosslyn (Edinburgh, 1835), 154. She was a granddaughter of Archbishop Spottiswoode (Sir Robert Douglas of Glenbervie, The Baronage of Scotland [Edinburgh,  1798], 248)  and her brother James Sinclair of Roslin was the stepfather of Richard Augustine Hay (Richard Augustine Hay, Genealogie of the Hayes of Tweeddale [Edinburgh, 1835], 50). 9 Joseph Robertson and Cosmo Innes, eds, Munimenta Alme Universitatis Glasguensis, 4 vols (Glasgow: Maitland Club, 1854), iii. 142. 10 odnb, s.n. Evidence of Simon Mackenzie of Allangrange’s time at Oxford comes from his correspondence with his uncle Rosehaugh, St Andrews University Library msdep75/​3/​3/​4, 5, 31, 34. Some decades later, Rosehaugh’s son George also attended the university, matriculating at University College, 27 October 1702 (John Foster, ed., Alumni Oxonienses: The Members of the University of Oxford, 1500–​1714, 4 vols [Oxford: Parker, 1891], iii. 957).

134 Jackson Williams Stock of Learning” mentioned by his obituarist, probably sometime in the late 1680s or early 1690s.11 Once again, there is no direct evidence for Mackenzie’s time in Paris, though the Francophile nature of his writings and his evident acquaintance with numerous French texts make it seem plausible. He had certainly returned to Scotland by 1703, for on 22 November of that year he received a diploma ad eundem from King’s College, Aberdeen, “in consideration of the goode service done by his father and family to the college, and in consideration of his present circumstances,” subsequently being granted a doctorate of medicine from the same university towards the end of his life.12 In 1705 he was appointed physician to Heriot’s Hospital in Edinburgh through the patronage of his predecessor, Sir Archibald Stevenson, but soon found himself embroiled in controversy. He was removed from his post in 1711 and engaged in a protracted dispute with the governors of the Hospital during the subsequent three years, at one stage writing an incendiary pamphlet complaining of his treatment as an Episcopalian there.13 He seems to have lived between Edinburgh and Fortrose, a small northern cathedral town in the centre of his extended family’s estates, during this latter period of his life, although 1712 saw him at least temporarily in London.14 During this period Mackenzie became part of a circle of Jacobite scholars active in Edinburgh, all Episcopalian or Catholic. He was a drinking companion of Archibald Pitcairne, the heterodox physician and Jacobite, as well as being well-​acquainted with the scholar-​printer Thomas Ruddiman, the Catholic historian Patrick Abercromby, the Historiographer Royal David Crawfurd of Drumsoy, the genealogist George Crawfurd, and the herald Alexander Nisbet.15 11 12

13 14 15

His name does not appear in Foster, Alumni Oxonienses, iii. 957; George Mackenzie, Proposals for Printing the Lives and Characters of the Most Eminent Writers of the Scots Nation (Edinburgh, [1707?]), verso. Peter John Anderson, ed., Officers and Graduates of University & King’s College, Aberdeen (Aberdeen: Spalding Club, 1893), 124. The odnb errs in dating Mackenzie’s M.D. to 1696, mistakenly assuming it was granted at the same time as the previous entry in Anderson when it is in fact undated. That Mackenzie is there specifically described as author of the Lives and Characters in “tribus vol. in folio” suggests that the Aberdeen M.D. was probably granted after the publication of the third volume of the Lives in 1722. William Steven, History of George Heriot’s Hospital, new ed., ed. Frederick W.  Bedford (Edinburgh: Bell & Bradfute, 1859), 90–​93. In that year he obtained a manuscript from Gilbert Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury, which claimed to be Patrick, Lord Ruthven’s autograph admission to the contrivance of David Rizzio’s murder (Mackenzie, Lives and Characters, iii. 64). For Pitcairne, see Robert Wodrow, Analecta, 4 vols (Edinburgh, 1842–​1843), iii. 291; for Ruddiman, Thomas Ruddiman, A Vindication of Mr. George Buchanan’s Paraphrase of the Psalms (Edinburgh, 1745), 126; for Abercromby (“my learned and worthy Friend”),

The Scottish Heresy


The years in which he published his Lives and Characters found him existing within the midst of the Scottish Early Enlightenment, engaging with the authors and texts which defined Scotland’s vibrant intellectual culture at the turn of the eighteenth century.16 But his place within that culture—​itself none too well known beyond a few specialists—​has been almost completely forgotten by modern scholarship. This long-​term decline in his reputation was first prompted by a particularly acid note in the radical Presbyterian scholar Robert Wodrow’s Analecta (first published in 1843): I find Dr M‘Kenzie, the writter of our “Lives,” is dead. My Lord Grange informs me he was a relation of his, had Oxford education, and was a great pretender to things he understood not. As a physitian, he kneu nothing of his oun bussines. His [Grange’s] brother, the Earle of Marr, imployed him to give him a litle money, but found him not to be trusted to. He was a cronny of Dr Pitcairn’s, and drunk with him. The Doctor at first commended his Lives to every body, but when he had read of them, he declared they wer not worth a button.17 Wodrow was no friend to Episcopal writers—​certainly not to any so outspoken as Mackenzie—​and it is tempting to see only sectarian partisanship in this summary of his character and work. However, criticism of Mackenzie was not limited to those on the opposite side of the theological divide. Thomas Ruddiman, writing almost twenty years after his friend’s death, reminisced that “it was the good Man’s Weakness, that he was sometimes too credulous; of which Mackenzie, Lives and Characters, iii. v; for David Crawfurd, Mackenzie, Lives and Characters, i. xviii; for George Crawfurd, George Crawfurd, Peerage of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1716), 437–​38; for Nisbet, George Mackenzie, The Works of that Eminent and Learned Lawyer, Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh, 2 vols (Edinburgh, 1716–​1722), i. sig. *2r–​v. 16 For the wider context of this culture, see Kelsey Jackson Williams, The First Scottish Enlightenment:  Rebels, Priests, and History (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, forthcoming). For the intersection of Jacobitism, Episcopacy, and Enlightenment exhibited by Mackenzie and his network, see also C.D.A. Leighton, “Scottish Jacobitism, Episcopacy, and Counter-​Enlightenment,” History of European Ideas 35 (2009):  1–​10. As well as the Lives and Characters, discussed here, Mackenzie also wrote “The Author’s Life” in Mackenzie, Works of that Eminent and Learned Lawyer, i.  i-​xix, a composition heavily indebted to Anthony Wood, Athenae Oxonienses: An Exact History of All the Writers and Bishops … of Oxford, 2 vols (London, 1691–​1692), cols. 905–​906. A “Genealogical History of the Fitz-​Geralds and MacKenzies” written by him survives in manuscript at eul MS Coll-​ 51/​1/​3 and BL MS 40720. 17 Wodrow, Analecta, iii. 291.

136 Jackson Williams … there are several other Instances in [the Lives and Characters]; and of which I have also been Witness in general Conversation.”18 Another Episcopal scholar, Bishop Robert Keith, expressed doubt in his History of the Affairs of Church and State (1734), as to the existence of a letter quoted by Mackenzie, implicitly allowing for the possibility of forgery.19 Given such unanimity of assessment regarding both his character and scholarly capacities, it is little wonder that Mackenzie has been neglected. But how should these assertions be interpreted? Was he really as credulous, if not duplicitous, as some of his contemporaries claimed? If so, this impacts significantly upon the larger British national biographical tradition, for many of Mackenzie’s assertions in the Lives and Characters were either explicitly or silently co-​opted by David Irving in his Lives of the Scotish Poets and so found their way into the Dictionary of National Biography and more recent, indebted sources.20 If not, Mackenzie’s work stands in urgent need of reinterpretation and restoration into the intellectual canon of the Scottish Enlightenment. The present essay proposes that the latter is true, and that the condemnations of his contemporaries stemmed not from his gullibility or shoddy antiquarian scholarship, but rather from his unacceptably heterodox theological position. To make a case for this, however, requires a preliminary survey of what the Lives and Characters were and what they can tell us about Mackenzie’s intellectual project as a whole. 2

The Lives and Characters

Mackenzie’s Lives and Characters of the Most Eminent Writers of the Scots Nation; With an Abstract and Catalogue of Their Works; Their Various Editions; and the Judgement of the Learn’d Concerning Them is a monumental work. Beginning in late antiquity, it consists of a chronological series of biographies of eminent Scottish writers and is particularly rich in the lives of sixteenth-​century humanists, especially Scottish scholars abroad. Each biography contains a survey of its subject’s life and works, followed by a summation of their character and a detailed bibliography of their writings, both in print and in manuscript. 18 Ruddiman, Vindication, 126. 19 Robert Keith, The History of the Affairs of Church and State in Scotland (Edinburgh, 1734), 43. 20 David Irving, The Lives of the Scotish Poets, With Preliminary Dissertations on the Literary History of Scotland, and the Early Scotish Drama, 2nd ed., 2 vols (London and Edinburgh, 1810), passim.

The Scottish Heresy


Sources are, on the whole, well-​cited and suggest wide and discerning reading on the part of the author. Mackenzie was no innovator in constructing his work along these lines, instead drawing upon the long tradition of historia literaria, the bio-​ bibliographical histories of letters which had become staples of European scholarship during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.21 As it stands, its three volumes represent only a portion of Mackenzie’s overall ambitions. He had intended at least one more volume containing “the Writers of lesser Note” in the sixteenth century as well as ambitiously imagining appendices containing “a List of all the Religious Houses, with the Names of the Founders, and Shires in which they are; together with an Account of the First Rise of all the Ancient Families of the Nation.”22 What did see print, however, was both substantial and intellectually complex. The first volume of the Lives and Characters was published by the Edinburgh printer James Watson in 1708.23 A second volume rapidly followed from Watson’s press in 1711, and a third, somewhat belatedly, from that of William Adams, Junior, in 1722. Watson was one of a group of Edinburgh-​based Episcopal and Jacobite printers who specialised in “patriotic” or nationalistic scholarly and polemical printing (Mackenzie’s friend Ruddiman was another) and like a number of other productions from this community of printers, the Lives and Characters were published by subscription.24 Amongst those subscribers were many of the leading intellectual and political figures of the day, with a particular imbalance in favour of the Jacobite minority. Any remaining doubt as to the political allegiances of the work and its author melts away upon reading the rabble-​rousing, anti-​unionist, pro-​Jacobite dedication of volume two to John Erskine, Earl of Mar, in which Mackenzie encouraged his patron to “reflect upon the vast Multitudes of Men slain upon our Mountains and Plains,

21 For historia literaria, see Kelsey Jackson Williams, “Canon before Canon, Literature before Literature: Thomas Pope Blount and the Scope of Early Modern Learning,” Huntington Library Quarterly 77 (2014): 177–​99. 22 Mackenzie, Lives and Characters, ii. viii. 23 He had published a proposal for subscriptions some time before in which he imagined the work would consist of two volumes in folio and emphasised both the novelty of his work and that “nothing shall be Asserted … but what shall be Prov’d, either from Their [the subjects’] own Writings, the Writings of these Co-​temporary with them, or by other Writers of Unquestionable Veracity” (Mackenzie, Proposals, verso). 24 I.S. Ross and S.A.C. Scobie, “Patriotic Publishing as a Response to the Union,” in The Union of 1707, ed. T.I. Rae (Glasgow: Blackie & Son, 1974), 94–​119. Indeed, the first volume of Mackenzie’s Lives is the first work published in Scotland known to contain a list of subscribers.

138 Jackson Williams fighting for their Liberties and Country, when all the other Nations about them were tamely submitting themselves to a foreign Yoke.”25 This political stance is significant in part because it links Mackenzie to a larger early eighteenth-​century Jacobite tradition which emphasised the long and glorious record of Scotland in “arms and arts,” both as the proudly undefeated adversaries of the Romans (and, by extension, the imperialistic English—​for this strand in Scottish thought see Alan Montgomery’s chapter in the present volume) and as the purveyors of learning to continental Europe through the ages.26 This tradition drew heavily on earlier humanist scholarship and so it is unsurprising to find that Mackenzie took his initial inspiration from an early Scottish bio-​bibliography, the massive and controversial Historia ecclesiastica gentis Scotorum of Thomas Dempster.27 This marks the first strike against Mackenzie, both by the standards of his contemporaries and by those of many more recent scholars. Dempster’s work was a cultural landgrab, defining (incorrectly as it would eventually prove) the medieval ethnic designation Scotus to mean Scot rather than Gael and so enlisting the whole host of medieval Irish saints and scholars—​as well as the stray Anglo-​Saxon and German—​to serve under the Scottish banner.28 Mackenzie himself was well aware of Dempster’s subsequent reputation, a reputation not improved by being a Catholic exile from a Protestant country, and admitted in his introduction to the first volume of the Lives that “it may seem indeed somewhat strange, that I should Cite [Dempster] so often, after that I had acknowledg’d him to be a Fabulous Writer.” But Mackenzie was no fool. 25 Mackenzie, Lives and Characters, ii. sig. Av. 26 Aspects of this tradition are discussed in Colin Kidd, “The Ideological Significance of Scottish Jacobite Latinity,” in Culture, Politics, and Society in Britain, 1600–​1800, ed. Jeremy Black and Jeremy Gregory (Manchester:  Manchester University Press, 1991), 110–​30; William Ferguson, The Identity of the Scottish Nation:  An Historic Quest (Edinburgh:  Edinburgh University Press, 1998); Murray Pittock, Poetry and Jacobite Politics in Eighteenth-​Century Britain and Ireland (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1994). 27 Thomas Dempster, Historia ecclesiastica gentis Scotorum, lib. xix (Bologna, 1627). A  typographical facsimile of the original was edited in two volumes by David Irving (Edinburgh, 1829). 28 For Dempster and his contexts, see Ulrike Moret, “An Early Scottish National Biography: Thomas Dempster’s Historia ecclesiastica gentis Scotorum (1627),” in A Palace in the Wild: Essays on Vernacular Culture and Humanism in Late-​Medieval and Renaissance Scotland, ed. L.A.J.R. Houwen et  al. (Leuven:  Peeters, 2000), 249–​69; John Durkan, “Thomas Dempster:  A Scottish Baronius,” Innes Review 54 (2003):  69–​78; Jason Harris, “Exiles and Saints in Baroque Europe: George Conn and the Scotic Debate,” in The Ulster Earls and Baroque Europe: Refashioning Irish Identities, 1600–​1800, ed. Thomas O’Connor and Mary Ann Lyons (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2010), 306–​26.

The Scottish Heresy


Realising that Dempster was “Naturally Credulous” he “never made use of his Authority in any thing concerning the Ancient Writers … but when he says, that he either saw the Books themselves in such Libraries, had them in his own Possession, or that they were Publish’d in such Places, in such a Year of god.” In such instances, however, “[i]‌t were very hard to Question” his veracity.29 In other words, Mackenzie only made use of Dempster’s reportage on specific, identifiable books, rather than trusting to his ambiguous, often creative lists of the supposed “works” of this or that author. From the outset, then, Mackenzie presented a face of critical acumen at odds with the assessments discussed above. His place within the Enlightenment biographical tradition which grew out of humanist historia literaria is confirmed by his own points of stylistic reference. “I have Imitated,” he wrote, “the best Biographers of this Age; such as Dr. Cave, M. Du Pin, M. Le Clerc, Dr. Smith, &c.,” not only in their style and methodological approach, but also in their habit of embedding lengthy digressions within a biographical framework.30 Of his contemporaries, it was Louis Ellies Du Pin to whom he was most indebted. The Gallican theologian’s vast Nouvelle bibliothèque des auteurs ecclésiastiques provided an ample mine for Mackenzie, both in its French original and its English translation, and Du Pin’s mixture of biography, intellectual history, and theology is echoed in the structure of Mackenzie’s own work.31 More than anything, the intellectual-​historical digression was Mackenzie’s signature and from the outset he made a vigorous argument for its value as a way of making sense of the larger intellectual and cultural histories of his subjects.32 This quickly supplanted the purely biographical and in the introduction to his second volume he significantly recast the purpose of his work: In one Word; I hope this Collection may be of some Use to those Gentlemen, whose Occasions and Circumstances cannot allow them to be furnished with great Libraries or Collections of Books; since they will find, in what I have already published, an Abstract, or Abridgement, of An Hundred and Fourty Three Volumes, and Seventy Six Letters, written upon the most useful Parts of Learning.33 29 Mackenzie, Lives and Characters, i. x. 30 Mackenzie, Lives and Characters, i. x. 31 Louis Ellies Du Pin, Nouvelle bibliothèque des auteurs ecclésiastiques: contenant l’histoire de leur vie, le catalogue, la critique, at la chronologie de leurs ouvrages … , 19 vols (Paris, 1683–​1715); Jacques Gres-​Gayer, “Un théologien gallican, témoin de son temps: Louis Ellies Du Pin (1657–​1719),” Revue d’histoire de l’Église de France 72 (1986): 67–​121. 32 Mackenzie, Lives and Characters, i. viii. 33 Mackenzie, Lives and Characters, ii. viii.

140 Jackson Williams As it evolved, Mackenzie came to understand the Lives and Characters as something similar to Pierre Bayle’s Dictionnaire, a work anticipating, in its omnivorous nature, something of later Enlightenment encyclopaedias. By the third volume, his subjects—​still, albeit uneasily, squeezed into the frames of individual lives of Scottish scholars—​came to include topics as diverse as the history of astronomy, Greek comedy, the Septuagint, and an account of the persecution of Jews and Christians under tyrannical rulers.34 In the end, the Lives and Characters, which had begun life as an example of humanist historia literaria, ended as an Enlightenment encyclopaedia: a powerful, multivalent text which encapsulated much of the learning of the Early Enlightenment within an erudite, largely tolerant collection of antiquarian biographies. It was not the structure of the Lives which gave offence, but the content—​particularly that of the first volume, which began with a lengthy biography of none other than the heresiarch Pelagius, whom Mackenzie proudly claimed not only as a Scot, but as the earliest Scottish thinker of note. 3

(Semi-​)Pelagianism in Early Modern Thought

Mackenzie’s controversial biography raises two questions: why did he associate both himself and Scottish intellectual culture as a whole with a widely reviled, still theologically live heresy? And why did he believe the fifth-​century theologian was a Scot? The answers to these two questions are inherently linked. Pelagius’s principal heterodox beliefs were calculated to invoke the ire of an early modern audience, especially a Calvinist one.35 He had proposed that there was no such thing as Original Sin; humans were born into innocence and sinned of their own free will. Nor was there any such thing as predestination, or, in Mackenzie’s words, “all Man may be saved, if they will.”36 Divine grace, in other words, was not a prerequisite to following the divine commandments. Unfortunately for Pelagius, one of his principal opponents was St. Augustine, who forcefully rebutted his interpretation of Christianity. All humans, Augustine wrote, were subject to Original Sin; free will, while not extinguished, required God’s grace to be effective; and God chose those to whom he would offer grace (in a nutshell, the doctrine of predestination which formed such a central tenet of early modern Calvinism). 34 Mackenzie, Lives and Characters, iii. vi. 35 For Pelagius in general see B.R. Rees, ed., Pelagius: Life and Letters (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1998). 36 Mackenzie, Lives and Characters, i. 3.

The Scottish Heresy


This ancient heresy once again became current news at the beginning of the seventeenth century when Arminians, particularly the Dutch Remonstrants, began to be accused of holding “semi-​pelagian” views. In reality, the Arminians’ belief in Original Sin, rejection of predestination, and somewhat qualified belief in free will were far milder than Pelagius’s interpretation, but seemed sufficiently similar to hard-​line Calvinists that the accusation became a mainstay in polemic between the two groups. The Synod of Dort in 1618–​1619 decisively rejected the brand of Christianity offered by the Remonstrants—​at least within the Dutch Reformed Church—​but had the ironic effect of making Pelagianism, or at least Semi-​Pelagianism, rather better known than it had been before.37 It was within this charged atmosphere that the Dutch scholar Gerardus Joannes Vossius published his Historia de controversiis in 1618.38 Approaching his topic from a historical perspective, first and foremost, Vossius made a plea for moderation in the post-​Dort era. In responding to Pelagius, he argued, Augustine had gone well beyond the mainstream teaching of the Church Fathers and, as such, his verdict could not be considered entirely canonical, particularly in the matter of predestination. Instead, Vossius suggested, it was just as erroneous to deny free will as it was to deny grace, and the erudite churchman should look for a via media between Augustinian predestination and Pelagian h ­ eresy.39 The long-​term consequences of both the Synod and Vossius’s historico-​philological riposte were less a general warming towards the positions of the Remonstrants than a new fashion for the slurs “Pelagian” or “Semi-​Pelagian” against Arminians or similar thinkers in Calvinist countries. As a potential indicator of heterodoxy, Pelagianism had arrived to stay in the theological controversies of the seventeenth century. Against this wider backdrop, Pelagius and his heresy presented especial difficulties for early modern Britons. Classical sources identified the heresiarch as a native of Britain and church historians across the three kingdoms were quick to embark on a programme of damage control against any such undesirable 37

38 39

Margo Todd, “Justifying God:  The Calvinisms of the British Delegation to the Synod of Dort,” Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 96 (2005):  272–​90; Jan Rohls, “Calvinism, Arminianism and Socinianism in the Netherlands until the Synod of Dort,” in Socinianism and Arminianism:  Antitrinitarians, Calvinists and Cultural Exchange in Seventeenth-​ Century Europe, ed. Martin Mulsow and Jan Rohls (Leiden: Brill, 2005), 3–​48. Gerardus Joannes Vossius, Historiae de controversiis, quas Pelagius ejusque reliquiae moverunt, libri septem (Leiden, 1618). For Vossius’s argument and its implications see also Jean-​Louis Quantin, The Church of England and Christian Antiquity:  The Construction of a Confessional Identity in the 17th Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 173–​75.

142 Jackson Williams claim for their respective nations. In 1639, James Ussher, the erudite Archbishop of Armagh, set the game afoot with an ingenious string of etymological conjecture. “Pelagius,” he supposed, derived from the Latin pelago ortum (“rising from the sea”), the equivalent of the “British” marigenam (“sea born”), whence it could be easily concluded that he was in fact named “Morgan” in his native tongue and was obviously a native of Wales (for similar erudite and pseudo-​ erudite etymological games, see Chapter 1 by Anthony Ossa-​Richardson in the present volume).40 This Welsh origin was not purely Ussher’s own invention, also deriving some support from medieval sources, but it was presumably in response to Ussher that Edward Stillingfleet in his Origines Britannicae made it clear that Pelagius had nothing to do with Wales and was, in reality, far more likely to have been an Irishman.41 Nor were Scots lacking in readiness to wash their hands of heresy. Thomas Dempster performed a tendentious reading of the relevant texts to prove that “Pelagius, the British heretic of damned memory,” could be no other than an Englishman.42 One Patristic text complicated this ethnic blame game, however. St. Jerome, in his preface to the First Book of Jeremiah discussing Pelagius and his master Rufinus, described one of them as nec recordatur stolidissimus & Scotorum pultibus praegravatus: grown fat with the porridge of the Scoti.43 Vossius had identified the offending figure as Pelagius himself and had no reservations in describing him as professione monachus, natione Scotus (“by profession a monk, by nation a Scot”), but others were less convinced.44 Both Ussher and his Catholic counterpart, the Counter-​Reformation historian Cesare Baronio, had read the passage as referring to Rufinus rather than Pelagius and so this crux could be overlooked by Stillingfleet, Dempster, and others.45 But this was not to last. In his posthumously published Critica historico-​chronologia in universos annales ecclesiasticos (1705), the French Jesuit Antoine Pagi returned to Jerome’s barbed comment. There he argued not only that the passage referred to Pelagius, but that the reference to Scotorum pultibus implied that Pelagius 40 James Ussher, Britannicarum ecclesiarum antiquitates. Quibus inserta est pestiferae adversùs Dei gratiam à Pelagio Britanno in ecclesiam inductae haereseos historia (Dublin, 1639), 207. 41 Edward Stillingfleet, Origines Britannicae, or, the Antiquities of the British Churches (London, 1685), 182–​83. 42 Dempster, Historia ecclesiastica, 534. 43 St. Jerome, “Explanatio … in Jeremiam prophetam prologus,” in Opera, 2nd ed., 11 vols in 23, ed. Domenico Vallarsi and Scipione Maffei (Venice, 1766–​1772), iv/​1. cols. 835–​36. 44 Vossius, Historiae de controversiis, 5. 45 Ussher, Britannicarum ecclesiarum antiquitates, 208; Cesare Baronio, Annales ecclesiastici, 12 vols (Rome, 1588–​1607), v. 305.

The Scottish Heresy


belonged “to that nation known as the Scots or Irish.”46 His assessment was taken up and simplified in Jean Le Clerc’s 1706 summary of Pagi’s work in the Bibliothèque choisie; according to Le Clerc, Pelagius was Ecossois, Scottish.47 But, even assuming that Jerome was referring to Pelagius, what was the saint really saying? Modern medieval scholars are aware that Scotus and Scotia were slippery words, referring to Gaeldom, most often Irish Gaeldom, in Latin texts from the late antique period until about the tenth century CE and only then gradually being transferred to the Dalriadic nation which flourished in ancient Alba, modern Scotland.48 To the early moderns, however, this was much less obvious. The ambiguity of the word led in the sixteenth century to the ownership of several continental Irish monasteries passing into the hands of Scottish monks on the grounds that their founders, the Scoti, were clearly Scots rather than Irish, and this in turn led to a long-​running controversy in which the Scottish and Irish Catholic refugees of the post-​Reformation era competed for continental patronage by each claiming the illustrious intellectual pedigree which went with the tag of Scotus.49 By the seventeenth century, this controversy had taken an increasingly combative turn with the publication of Thomas Dempster’s Historia ecclesiastica (discussed above), which claimed, amongst other things, that all Scoti were clearly Scots and aroused a storm of indignant responses from Irish priests and scholars across Europe. As the debate became more heated, both sides became ever more entrenched in their interpretations: for Scottish scholars, Scotia was self-​evidently Scotland, whilst for their Irish counterparts, it was just as clearly Ireland. It was within this environment that Pagi delicately refrained from clarifying the offending word, simply glossing it as Scotum seu Hibernum, “Scottish [in the modern sense] or Irish.” Le Clerc was less subtle and his simplification of Pagi’s position is important because his summary was read, most probably in the year of its publication, by someone who would attempt to fundamentally reshape European interpretations of both Pelagianism and Scottish history.

46 47 48 49

Antoine Pagi, Critica historico-​chronologia in universos annales ecclesiasticos, 4 vols (Antwerp, 1705), ii. 100–​101. Jean Le Clerc, ed., Bibliothèque choisie, pour servir de suite a la Bibliothèque universelle, 28 vols (Amsterdam, 1703–​1718), iv. 305–​308. Dauvit Broun, “The Origin of Scottish Identity,” in Nations, Nationalism and Patriotism in the European Past, ed. Claus Bjørn, Alexander Grant, and Keith J. Stringer (Copenhagen: Academic Press, 1994), 35–​55. See Harris, “Exiles and Saints,” 306–​26, and Mark Dilworth, The Scots in Franconia (Edinburgh and London: Scottish Academic Press, 1974), chaps. 1–​2.

144 Jackson Williams 4

Mackenzie the (Semi-​)Pelagian

This was, of course, George Mackenzie. He had read all of the works discussed above and was quite certain that the heretic who so enjoyed his puls was supping on nothing more nor less than good Scots parritch. The biography of Pelagius which followed was detailed and sympathetic, drawing heavily on the Patristic accounts of Pelagius, his life, and his disciples, and pairing this account with St. Augustine’s rebuttal. This was not done in an attempt to hammer down the Pelagian peg with the mallet of Augustinianism, however. Instead Mackenzie wrote resignedly that “the Christian World is not as yet, nor (I’m afraid) ever will be of one Mind about them,” implicitly accepting the accusation of (semi-​) Pelagianism then rampant in Europe.50 Rather than dismissing such modern-​ day followers of the heresiarch, though, he abjured judgment with the telling comment that he would leave “to the Reader his Free-​will of Condemning or Approving of what he pleases,” “Free-​will” being the very point of contention between the two ancient theologians.51 Without explicitly praising Pelagius and his position, Mackenzie made two sufficiently radical moves. First, he turned the British tradition of Pelagian exegesis on its head, embracing him as a Scot rather than attempting to pawn him off on another part of the British Isles. Second, he made no condemnation of his heresy, but left the reader to make their own judgment of this man who, in Mackenzie’s summary, “was Smart and Quick in his Answers, Wise and Circumspect in his Actions, of a great Capacity, and very successful in Perswading: But there was nothing that he deserved so much to be Prais’d for, as his Innocent and Exemplary Life.”52 Mackenzie was laying the foundations for a systematic restoration of Pelagius’s role as a Church Father. He was building upon Vossius’s earlier work, but going much further in his praise. Nor was this to be found solely in his life of Pelagius. Throughout the first volume of the Lives he returned to the same fundamental questions. In his life of John Scottus Eriugena he placed particular emphasis upon his “Treatise of Predestination,” explaining to his readers that Scottus Eriugena believed that: There cannot be a double Predestination, or one to Glory and another to Damnation; and that Predestination doth not impose any Necessity,

50 Mackenzie, Lives and Characters, i. 10. 51 Mackenzie, Lives and Characters, i. 10. 52 Mackenzie, Lives and Characters, i. 15.

The Scottish Heresy


but that Man is absolutely free … the Torments of the Damn’d are meer Privations of Happiness.53 Lest his point be missed, Mackenzie pointedly observed that “Wemlo or Ganelo Arch-​Bishop of Sens, having read this work … found, as he thought … the Errors of Pelagius.”54 Albin, the supposed Scottish founder of the University of Pavia, was likewise “deeply tinctur’d with the Pelagian Heresy; for all the Pelagian Tenets are to be found in his Confession of Faith.”55 Rabanus Maurus went even further, playing Pelagius to the Augustine of one “Gotteschalcus … a German by Birth” in a ninth-​century debate over grace and predestination.56 If this was not enough, Mackenzie also took his own heterodox stand on another 53 Mackenzie, Lives and Characters, i. 49. Mackenzie followed Dempster (Historia ecclesiastica, i. 42) in claiming Eriugena for Scotland on the grounds that his cognomen was a portmanteau meaning “born in the city of Ayr.” In reality “Eriugena,” like his other cognomen of “Scotus,” simply meant born in “Ériu,” i.e., Ireland. See Mary Brennan, “Materials for the Biography of Johannes Scottus Eriugena,” Studi Medievali, 3rd ser., 27 (1986): 413–​60. 54 Mackenzie, Lives and Characters, i. 50. 55 Mackenzie, Lives and Characters, i.  69. Mackenzie was referring to the mildly Pelagian Confessio fidei inaccurately attributed to Alcuin in Scriptorum veterum fide Catholica quinque opuscula, ed. Pierre François Chifflet (Dijon, 1656); see Douglas Dales, Alcuin: Theology and Thought (Cambridge: James Clarke & Co., 2013), 285–​86, for its pseudonymous nature. As this case of double misattribution suggests, Mackenzie’s Albin was an altogether questionable figure who appears to have been brought into existence by earlier misreadings of a passage in the Gesta Karoli Magni imperatoris of Notker the Stammerer. Notker (I.1) referring to duos Scottos de Hibernia in France, told how one, Clement, remained there, while another  —​whose name is missing from all surviving manuscripts  —​in Italiam direxit, cui et monasterium sancti Augustini iuxta Ticinensem urbem delegavit, ut illuc ad eum qui voluissent ad discendum congregari potuissent (Notker the Stammerer, Taten Kaiser Karls des Grossen, ed. Hans F. Haefele [Berlin, 1959], 1, 3). As Mackenzie relates (i. 64), this unnamed Irish priest was conflated with Alcuin—​whose name appears in the following paragraph—​by later scholars and then separated by Mackenzie, who correctly concluded that “Alcuin was a different Person from Clement’s Companion or Colleague,” but who instead created the Scottish ghost “Albin or Alcuin” in so concluding (i. 64). Modern scholarship suggests the unnamed Irishman may have been Dungal of Bobbio or the scholar Cadac-​Andreas (Notker, Taten, 3). In either case, Mackenzie was correct in thinking that a Scotus had played a role in pedagogy at the monastery of St. Augustine in Pavia and that the Pseudo-​Alcuin’s Confessio fidei smacked of Pelagianism, but wrong in making the Pavian pedagogue the author of the confession. 56 Lives, i. 88. To claim the ninth-​century Frankish Benedictine Rabanus Maurus as a Scot may seem peculiar to modern eyes, but the poems which provide details of his life were considered spurious by at least some early modern writers (notably Mackenzie’s frequent source Du Pin, Nouvelle bibliothèque, vii. 266) and there also existed a sixteenth-​century erroneous belief that Maurus was a Scot (or at least Scotus) which is documented by Mackenzie in Lives and Characters, i. 81.

146 Jackson Williams textual crux which had traditionally worried Scottish historians. The ecclesiastical chronicler Prosper of Aquitaine referred to the role of the fifth-​century missionary Palladius in combatting Pelagianism amongst the Scots, a charge of primal heterodoxy which scholars such as the Catholic Thomas Innes were keen to sweep under the rug, but Mackenzie accepted Prosper’s account without comment.57 In his reconstruction, such widespread Pelagianism would have been only natural. This wholesale annexing of Pelagianism to the Scottish theological tradition was something unprecedented and wholly unexpected. What did Mackenzie think he was doing? The most plausible explanation lies in the history of Scottish Episcopacy during Mackenzie’s lifetime. After the shock of the disestablishment of their church by the 1690 Revolution Settlement, Scottish Episcopalians found themselves in a state of existential crisis (not to mention sporadic, state-​sponsored persecution).58 Freed from the Presbyterian rump of the old Scottish church, they existed in a state of fluidity and redefinition for much of the first half of the eighteenth century. In the process of this search for a new and stable identity, some looked back to the history of the Scottish church (as in the case of Robert Keith) while others attempted to go even further back to the Patristic era itself (as with Thomas Rattray).59 Meanwhile, the church was riven by debates over the exact nature and function of everything from the liturgy to the so-​dearly-​preserved hierarchy itself, with some members even advocating, ultimately unsuccessfully, for a union with the Orthodox communion along lines which had been mooted in England by Archbishop Laud a century before.60 Mackenzie’s fascination with Pelagianism must be read in this context of doctrinal flux. As an obstreperously high-​profile Episcopalian, he was articulating 57

58 59


St. Prosper of Aquitaine, “Epitoma chronicon,” in Chronica minora saec. iv. v. vi. vii., ed. Theodor Mommsen, (Berlin, 1892), i. 472, and paraphrased in Mackenzie, Lives and Characters, ii. 41. Innes commented on the passage in his Civil and Ecclesiastical History of Scotland, ed. George Grub (Aberdeen: Spalding Club, 1853), 50–​51. Alasdair Raffe, “Presbyterians and Episcopalians: The Formation of Confessional Cultures in Scotland, 1660–​1715,” English Historical Review 125 (2010): 570–​98. See Keith, History of the Affairs of Church and State, and Thomas Rattray, The Ancient Liturgy of the Church of Jerusalem, Being the Liturgy of St. James (London, 1744), in conjunction with Stuart G.  Hall, “Patristics and Reform:  Thomas Rattray and the Ancient Liturgy of the Church of Jerusalem,” Studies in Church History 35 (1999): 240–​60. Henry Sefton, “The Scottish Bishops and Archbishop Arsenius,” Studies in Church History 13 (1976):  239–​46; nls Adv. MS 31.1.17, “Concerning the Union of the Episcopal and Orthodox Churches.” For the earlier Laudian moment of attempted ecumenical union see Hugh Trevor-​Roper, “The Church of England and the Greek Church in the Time of Charles I,” Studies in Church History 15 (1978): 213–​40.

The Scottish Heresy


another way of reinventing the church: in this case as an ultra-​Arminian communion which embraced, or at the very least accepted, the Pelagian heritage he had recovered for Scotland (in doing so, he was not so far distant from other attempts at radically transforming Scotland’s classical inheritance—​see, for example, Alan Montgomery’s discussion of eighteenth-​century Scotland’s relationship with the Romans elsewhere in this volume). This is a point of interest in itself, but it also bears directly upon the negative reception of his work discussed above. Of what did the “credulity” of Mackenzie consist? Why was he believed to be “a great pretender to things he understood not”? The answer seems not to be historiographical, but rather theological. His vision of a Pelagian Scotland was a threat, not just to Presbyterians such as Wodrow and Lord Grange, but also and even more so to conservative Episcopalians such as Ruddiman (Pitcairne, himself heterodox, albeit in a different direction, was another matter).61 To praise a text which made such doctrinally unacceptable claims was out of the question and so the whole mass of the work was condemned in terms which have led to its subsequent under-​valuation and dismissal. Understanding Mackenzie’s doctrinal positioning, then, helps us better to appreciate not only his heterodox leanings, but also the Lives and Characters themselves. While Pelagianism was one string to Mackenzie’s bow, his magnum opus contains far more than this single proposition, embracing a rich and untapped expanse of Early Enlightenment learning and historical conjecture. As well as representing one of the last interventions in the long-​running dispute between the Scots and Irish over their shared late antique and early medieval heritage, it was also one of the first modern attempts to understand Scottish history through the lenses of its principal writers and thinkers, contextualising George Buchanan, William Barclay, Hector Boece, Gavin Douglas, and a host of others within the European Republic of Letters and, through them, reading Scotland’s place within early modern Europe. In turn, Mackenzie’s influence upon nineteenth-​century compilers such as Irving and Anderson has given his interpretation longer-​term repercussions which have yet to be fully understood, while his polymathic and extensive researches still offer up the possibility of new discoveries in the history of Renaissance and post-​Reformation Scotland. To return to the theme of this volume, however, it is only through a full appreciation of the ways in which Mackenzie used and adapted the classical and Patristic inheritance that we can understand both the intellectual backbone of his work and its summary dismissal. Once 61

For Pitcairne’s heterodoxy, which took a rather different form than Mackenzie’s, see Alasdair Raffe, “Archibald Pitcairne and Scottish Heterodoxy, c.1688–​1713,” The Historical Journal (published online 22 July 2016): 1–​25.

148 Jackson Williams Mackenzie’s writings have been understood on terms which go beyond their contemporary condemnation, it is to be hoped that they will be explored further as important documents in the history of the Scottish, indeed the European, Enlightenment.


Primary Sources Manuscript British Library, London

MS 40720. The Genealogical History of the Fitz-​Geralds and MacKenzies.

Edinburgh University Library, Edinburgh

National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh

St Andrews University Library, St Andrews

MS Coll-​51/​1/​3. The Genealogical History of the Fitz-​Geralds and MacKenzies.

Adv. MS 31.1.17. Concerning the Union of the Episcopal and Orthodox Churches.

Msdep75/​3/​3. Correspondence of Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh and Simon Mackenzie.


Baronio, Cesare. Annales ecclesiastici, 12 vols. Rome:  Ex typographia Vaticana, 1588–​ 1607. Caledonian Mercury, 16 December 1725. Chifflet, Pierre François (ed.). Scriptorum veterum fide Catholica quinque opuscula. Dijon, 1656. Crawfurd, George. Peerage of Scotland. Edinburgh, 1716. Dempster, Thomas. Historia ecclesiastica gentis Scotorum, lib. XIX. Bologna, 1627. Du Pin, Louis Ellies. Nouvelle bibliothèque des auteurs ecclésiastiques: contenant l’histoire de leur vie, le catalogue, la critique, at la chronologie de leurs ouvrages …, 19 vols. Paris, 1683–​1715. Hay, Richard Augustine. Genealogie of the Hayes of Tweeddale. Edinburgh, 1835. Hay, Richard Augustine. Genealogie of the Sainteclaires of Rosslyn. Edinburgh, 1835. Innes, Thomas. Civil and Ecclesiastical History of Scotland, edited by George Grub. Aberdeen: Spalding Club, 1853. Jerome, St. Opera, 2nd ed., 11 vols in 23, edited by Domenico Vallarsi and Scipione Maffei. Venice, 1766–​1772.

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Keith, Robert. The History of the Affairs of Church and State in Scotland. Edinburgh, 1734. Le Clerc, Jean (ed.). Bibliothèque choisie, pour servir de suite a la Bibliothèque universelle, 28 vols. Amsterdam, 1703–​1718. Mackenzie, George. The Lives and Characters of the Most Eminent Writers of the Scots Nation; With an Abstract & Catalogue of their Works, their Various Editions; and the Judgment of the Learn’d Concerning Them, 3 vols. Edinburgh, 1708–​1722. Mackenzie of Rosehaugh, Sir George. The Works of that Eminent and Learned Lawyer, Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh, 2 vols. Edinburgh, 1716–​1722. Munimenta Alme Universitatis Glasguensis, 4 vols, edited by Joseph Robertson and Cosmo Innes. Glasgow: Maitland Club, 1854. Notker the Stammerer. Taten Kaiser Karls des Grossen, edited by Hans F. Haefele. Berlin: Weidmannsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1959. Pagi, Antoine. Critica historico-​chronologia in universos annales ecclesiasticos, 4 vols. Antwerp, 1705. St. Prosper of Aquitaine. “Epitoma chronicon.” In Chronica minora saec. iv. v. vi. vii., 3 vols, edited by Theodor Mommsen. Berlin: apud Weidmannos, 1892–​1898. i. 341–​485. Rattray, Thomas. The Ancient Liturgy of the Church of Jerusalem, Being the Liturgy of St. James. London, 1744. Register of Interments in the Greyfriars Burying-​Ground, Edinburgh, 1658–​1700, edited by Henry Paton. Edinburgh: Scottish Record Society, 1902. Ruddiman, Thomas. A Vindication of Mr. George Buchanan’s Paraphrase of the Psalms. Edinburgh, 1745. Stillingfleet, Edward. Origines Britannicae, or, the Antiquities of the British Churches. London, 1685. Ussher, James. Britannicarum ecclesiarum antiquitates. Quibus inserta est pestiferae adversùs Dei gratiam à Pelagio Britanno in ecclesiam inductae haereseos historia. Dublin, 1639. Vossius, Gerardus Joannes. Historiae de controversiis, quas Pelagius ejusque reliquiae moverunt, libri septem. Leiden, 1618. Wodrow, Robert. Analecta, 4 vols. Edinburgh, 1842–​1843. Wood, Anthony. Athenae Oxonienses: An Exact History of All the Writers and Bishops … of Oxford, 2 vols. London, 1691–​1692.

Secondary Sources

Anderson, Peter John (ed.). Officers and Graduates of University & King’s College, Aberdeen. Aberdeen: Spalding Club, 1893. Anderson, William. The Scottish Nation, 3 vols. Edinburgh and London: A. Fullarton & Co., 1867. Balfour Paul, Sir James (ed.). The Scots Peerage, 9 vols. Edinburgh:  David Douglas, 1904–​1914.

150 Jackson Williams Brennan, Mary. “Materials for the Biography of Johannes Scottus Eriugena.” Studi Medievali, 3rd ser., 27 (1986): 413–​60. Broun, Dauvit. “The Origin of Scottish Identity.” In Nations, Nationalism and Patriotism in the European Past, edited by Claus Bjørn, Alexander Grant, and Keith J. Stringer, 35–​55. Copenhagen: Academic Press, 1994. Dales, Douglas. Alcuin: Theology and Thought. Cambridge: James Clarke & Co., 2013. DNB = Dictionary of National Biography, 66 vols, edited by Leslie Stephen. London: Smith, Elder, 1885–​1901. Dilworth, Mark. The Scots in Franconia. Edinburgh and London:  Scottish Academic Press, 1974. Douglas, Sir Robert of Glenbervie. The Baronage of Scotland. Edinburgh: Sold by Bell & Bradfute et al., 1798. Durkan, John. “Thomas Dempster: A Scottish Baronius.” Innes Review 54 (2003): 69–​78. Ferguson, William. The Identity of the Scottish Nation: An Historic Quest. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1998. Foster, John (ed.). Alumni Oxonienses: The Members of the University of Oxford, 1500–​ 1714, 4 vols. Oxford: Parker, 1891–​1892. Fraser, Sir William. The Stirlings of Keir and Their Family Papers. Edinburgh: n.p., 1858. Gres-​Gayer, Jacques. “Un théologien gallican, témoin de son temps: Louis Ellies Du Pin (1657–​1719).” Revue d’histoire de l’Église de France 72 (1986): 67–​121. Hall, Stuart G. “Patristics and Reform: Thomas Rattray and the Ancient Liturgy of the Church of Jerusalem.” Studies in Church History 35 (1999): 240–​60. Harris, Jason. “Exiles and Saints in Baroque Europe: George Conn and the Scotic Debate.” In The Ulster Earls and Baroque Europe:  Refashioning Irish Identities, 1600–​ 1800, edited by Thomas O’Connor and Mary Ann Lyons, 306–​26. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2010. Irving, David. The Lives of the Scotish Poets, With Preliminary Dissertations on the Literary History of Scotland, and the Early Scotish Drama, 2nd ed., 2 vols. London and Edinburgh: Longman, Hurst, Rees, & Orme et al., 1810. Jackson, Clare. Restoration Scotland, 1660–​1690:  Royalist Politics, Religion and Ideas. Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2003. Jackson Williams, Kelsey. “Canon before Canon, Literature before Literature: Thomas Pope Blount and the Scope of Early Modern Learning.” Huntington Library Quarterly 77 (2014): 177–​99. Jackson Williams, Kelsey. The First Scottish Enlightenment: Rebels, Priests, and History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020. Kidd, Colin. “The Ideological Significance of Scottish Jacobite Latinity.” In Culture, Politics, and Society in Britain, 1600–​1800, edited by Jeremy Black and Jeremy Gregory, 110–​30. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1991.

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Leighton, C.D.A. “Scottish Jacobitism, Episcopacy, and Counter-​Enlightenment.” History of European Ideas 35 (2009): 1–​10. Mackenzie, Alexander. History of the Mackenzies With Genealogies of the Principal Families of the Name, revised ed. Inverness: A. & W. Mackenzie, 1894. Moret, Ulrike. “An Early Scottish National Biography: Thomas Dempster’s Historia ecclesiastica gentis Scotorum (1627).” In A Palace in the Wild: Essays on Vernacular Culture and Humanism in Late-​Medieval and Renaissance Scotland, edited by L.A.J.R. Houwen et al., 249–​69. Leuven: Peeters, 2000. ODNB = Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 60 vols, edited by H.C.G. Matthew et al. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Pittock, Murray. Poetry and Jacobite Politics in Eighteenth-​Century Britain and Ireland. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. Quantin, Jean-​Louis. The Church of England and Christian Antiquity: The Construction of a Confessional Identity in the 17th Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. Raffe, Alasdair. “Presbyterians and Episcopalians: The Formation of Confessional Cultures in Scotland, 1660–​1715.” English Historical Review 125 (2010): 570–​98. Raffe, Alasdair. The Culture of Controversy: Religious Arguments in Scotland, 1660–​1714. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2012. Raffe, Alasdair. “Archibald Pitcairne and Scottish Heterodoxy, c.1688–​1713.” The Historical Journal, published online 22 July 2016, 1–​25. Rees, Brinley R. (ed.). Pelagius: Life and Letters. Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1998. Rohls, Jan. “Calvinism, Arminianism and Socinianism in the Netherlands until the Synod of Dort.” In Socinianism and Arminianism: Antitrinitarians, Calvinists and Cultural Exchange in Seventeenth-​Century Europe, edited by Martin Mulsow and Jan Rohls, 3–​48. Leiden: Brill, 2005. Ross, Ian S. and Stephen A.C. Scobie. “Patriotic Publishing as a Response to the Union.” In The Union of 1707, edited by T.I. Rae, 94–​119. Glasgow: Blackie & Son, 1974. Sefton, Henry. “The Scottish Bishops and Archbishop Arsenius.” Studies in Church History 13 (1976): 239–​46. Steven, William. History of George Heriot’s Hospital, new ed., edited by Frederick W. Bedford. Edinburgh: Bell & Bradfute, 1859. Todd, Margo. “Justifying God: The Calvinisms of the British Delegation to the Synod of Dort.” Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 96 (2005): 272–​90. Trevor-​Roper, Hugh. “The Church of England and the Greek Church in the Time of Charles I.” Studies in Church History 15 (1978): 213–​40.

­c hapter 7

Rome in Caledonia: Eighteenth-​Century Interpretations of Scotland’s Ancient Past Alan Montgomery As many chapters in this book have eruditely demonstrated, eighteenth-​ century Europeans were captivated by the classical world. With the ancient Romans generally held up as paradigms of civilisation, high culture, and military success, the classical education and Grand Tours of early modern Britons were intended to recreate the glory of Rome in an age when Britain was developing its own world-​spanning empire.1 In England, this admiration for the classical era resulted in enthusiastic antiquarian investigations, with the aim of establishing the nation’s own position within the Roman world. Discoveries of Roman monuments, mosaics, inscriptions, and works of art were eagerly received, evidence, it seemed, of the classical roots of English civility.2 In Scotland, however, the situation was rather more ambiguous. For generations, Scots had been trumpeting their position as one of the only nations to have successfully repelled Roman domination, celebrating their supposed ancestors as indomitable freedom fighters intent on preserving their liberty against foreign oppression. The idea that Caledonia (the name used by Tacitus, amongst other ancient authors, to refer to the northern regions of the British Isles)3 had kept the Romans at bay, which was bolstered by the writings of various medieval and humanist chroniclers, was to become one of the most popular tropes among patriotic early modern Scots, particularly in the context of more current threats to Scottish independence and sovereignty. Nevertheless, the eighteenth century produced a small but dedicated band of Romanist Scots who were determined to locate a classical heritage for their own nation. This chapter will focus on these men, and attempt to uncover the

1 For more on the early modern admiration for ancient Rome, see Philip Ayres, Classical Ideas and the Culture of Rome in Eighteenth-​Century England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997). 2 These antiquarian endeavours are outlined in chapter five of Rosemary Sweet, Antiquaries: The Discovery of the Past in Eighteenth-​Century Britain (London:  Hambledon and London, 2004). 3 For example Tacitus, Agricola 10.3.

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2020 | DOI:10.1163/9789004412675_009

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motivations behind their attempts to present Scotland not as a fiercely independent adversary to Rome, but rather as a settled and civilised Roman province. As will be demonstrated, some were driven by the pervasive eighteenth-​ century admiration for Rome, while others were clearly influenced by their support for Scotland’s emerging role as a constituent in a new British state, and indeed a larger British empire. In the end, this desire to demonstrate a classical legacy for Scotland was to prove unsuccessful, with Scots generally preferring to fall back on previous visions of the “noble savage,” an approach encouraged by the late eighteenth-​century taste for Romanticism which would later evolve into nineteenth-​century Highlandism and “tartanry.” Yet attempts to establish a “classical Caledonia” reveal much about early modern Scotland’s complex, often contentious attitude towards its own history and identity, and by extension, about the Scots’ struggle to establish a clear role for their nation within the wider world.4 The ancient texts available to early scholars of Scotland’s distant past featured various Roman invasions of Scotland: one under Agricola, recorded in the biography by Tacitus; one under Antoninus Pius, alluded to in the Historia Augusta, “Life of Antoninus Pius” 5.4; one led by Septimius Severus, described in books seventy-​five to seventy-​seven of Cassius Dio’s Roman History; a fourth during the reign of the usurper Carausius in the late third century, mentioned in at least one manuscript copy of the ninth-​century Historia Brittonum attributed to Nennius; and another by Theodosius, hinted at in Claudian’s panegyric to the emperor Honorius.5 While, unsurprisingly, such texts generally suggested Roman military success in the region, they remained remarkably unclear regarding the endurance or extent of Roman influence in northern Britain. Meanwhile, the growing interest amongst antiquarians in the material remains of ancient Scotland was uncovering extensive physical evidence of a Roman presence north of Hadrian’s Wall (an ancient frontier which was often conflated with the border between England and Scotland), and even north of the Antonine Wall, two monuments which were still widely regarded as powerful symbols of the limits of Roman power.6

4 For more on early modern Scottish uses of history in the formation of national and religious identity, see Chapter 6 by Kelsey Jackson Williams in this volume. 5 Carausius’s invasion is now regarded as a myth perpetuated and widely disseminated by the work of Geoffrey of Monmouth (P.J. Casey, Carausius and Allectus: The British Usurpers (London: Batsford, 1994), 168–​75). 6 For the reception of Britain’s two Roman walls, see Richard Hingley, Hadrian’s Wall: A Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012) and Laurence Keppie, The Antiquarian Rediscovery of the Antonine Wall (Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 2012).

154 Montgomery Such evidence had proved no impediment to previous generations of historians intent on depicting Scotland’s brave resistance to invasion. The first was John of Fordun, whose largely fabulous Chronica Gentis Scotorum seems to have been written around 1360. No doubt inspired by persistent English claims of suzerainty over the Scots at this time, it presents the inhabitants of ancient Scotland as fiercely opposed to the threat of Roman invasion.7 The humanist historian Hector Boece, whose history of Scotland was published in Paris in 1527 and received with acclaim throughout Europe, painted a similar picture of the Caledonians. Apparently unperturbed by the rediscovery of Tacitus’s Agricola a century before, with its description of a late first-​century invasion of Caledonia ending in a decisive victory for the eponymous Roman general, Boece simply fabricated his own sequel in which a fearless Caledonian chief (referred to by Boece as “Galdus,” now known as Calgacus) regained lost territory and expelled the Roman army.8 This fiction was repeated by George Buchanan in his Rerum Scoticarum Historia, published in 1582, alongside other tales of Roman defeat in the face of Caledonian bravery.9 All three of these books were to remain staple sources for Scottish historians in the centuries which followed. By the late seventeenth century, the notion that Caledonia had repelled Roman conquest had become one of Scotland’s greatest claims to fame, a vivid reminder of the nation’s past glories at a time when its survival as an independent state seemed increasingly perilous. The first Scot to challenge this idea of Caledonian impregnability in print was Sir Robert Sibbald. Born in Edinburgh in 1641, Sibbald’s education took him to Leiden, Paris, and Angers before he returned to Scotland in 1662, marking him as one of the increasing number of young Scots who studied on the Continent and brought back innovative ideas on their return.10 Although medicine was to become his profession, his passion for intellectual pursuits led him into diverse fields, including natural history and geography, and he was to become renowned for his antiquarianism. So many and so varied are his achievements that Roger Emerson has placed him at the heart of a late seventeenth-​century 7 8 9 10

See for example John of Fordun, Chronicle of the Scottish Nation, ed. William F. Skene (Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas, 1872), 44–​45, in which the Caledonian chieftains send a defiant letter to Julius Caesar following his demands that they concede to Roman rule. Hector Boece, The History and Chronicles of Scotland … Translated by John Bellenden (Edinburgh, 1821), 139–​63. For the rediscovery of the Agricola, see David Schaps, “The found and lost manuscripts of Tacitus’ Agricola,” Classical Philology 74:1 (1979). George Buchanan, The History of Scotland (London, 1690), 111. On Scots studying abroad at this time see Roger L. Emerson, “Scottish Cultural Change 1660–​1710,” in A Union for Empire, ed. John Robertson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 12.

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“proto-​Enlightenment,” the development of which was vital for the success of its better-​known eighteenth-​century counterpart.11 In 1682 Sibbald was appointed Scottish Geographer Royal to Charles ii, a post which included a commission to create a patriotic Scotish [sic] Atlas. Sibbald planned a two-​volume chorographical tome dealing with Scotland both ancient and modern, which the Warrant of Appointment as Geographer Royal of 1682 stated would include a “full description … of the ancient monuments of the said kingdom.”12 Despite many attempts by the author to get it to the press, this Atlas ultimately remained unpublished.13 In the early years of the eighteenth century, however, Sibbald began to publish his research relating to the Atlas in various printed tracts, several of which include discussions of Roman Scotland, most notably his Historical Inquiries, Concerning the Roman Monuments and Antiquities in the North-​Part of Britain Called Scotland of 1707, and the Conjectures Concerning the Roman Ports, Colonies, and Forts, in the Firths and a Latin commentary on the Scottish expeditions of Agricola, both published in 1711. In these texts, as well as in his other chorographical descriptions of Scotland, Sibbald proposes a vision of Caledonia, or at least its southern parts reaching up towards the north of modern-​day Fife, as a virtual Roman province, dotted with evidence of Roman culture and civility: By all which it is clear, that the Romans stayed long in this Country: They did introduce Order and Civility where ever they came, and by the Arts and Policy they taught our Ancestors, they tamed their Fierceness, and brought them to affect a civil Life: The Order they established in their Colonies and Garrisons, and Ports, gave rise to the buildings of our best Towns.14 Sibbald identified Camelon as an important Roman city, the administrative centre of the province, also the residence of the “chief governor.”15 His repeated assertion that numerous Scottish towns and castles were located on what he believed to be Roman sites underlines their long-​standing importance as 11

Roger L. Emerson, “Sir Robert Sibbald, Kt, The Royal Society of Scotland and the Origins of the Scottish Enlightenment,” Annals of Science 45:1 (1988), 42. 12 eul MS Laing iii.535. 13 On Sibbald’s Atlas, see Charles W.J. Withers, Geography, Science and National Identity: Scotland Since 1520 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001): 71–​84. 14 Robert Sibbald, Historical Inquiries (Edinburgh, 1707), 51. 15 Sibbald, Historical Inquiries, 17; Sibbald Commentarius in Julii Agricolae Expeditiones (Edinburgh, 1711), 12. Camelon is now recognised as an important Roman military site, displaying evidence of various periods of use.

156 Montgomery places of power and influence.16 One of his principal sources was the Agricola, particularly the twenty-​first chapter, in which Tacitus detailed the project of “Romanisation” carried out by the Roman general in Britain. Despite the fact that this chapter appears well before the text’s description of Agricola’s exploits in the north, Sibbald convinced himself that this civilising process also applied to Scotland, as expressed in his 1710 history of Fife: Without doubt, After-​times may discover in this Shire, and in other Parts of North Britain, many Roman Antiquities, when Curious Persons will search for them: for Tacitus telleth us, that it was one of the Means that Agricola used to Tame the Britains, that he privately exhorted and publickly joined with them to Build Temples, Houses, Seats of Justice; and by degrees brought them to erect Portico’s and Baths.17 No doubt inspired by the publication date of Historical Inquiries, recent scholarship has suggested that Sibbald’s concept of a civil Roman Scotland was concocted in a Unionist context, implying that this vision of Scotland as part of an ancient Britannia was related to the nation’s position in the modern incarnation of Britain.18 In fact, a close study of his manuscript writings reveals that Sibbald’s notion of a civil Roman Scotland dates back as far as the early 1680s, when British union was far less of an issue than it would become two decades later. Sibbald’s own views on the Union are frustratingly opaque: emulating Thomas Leighton, the principal of Edinburgh University, he seemingly preferred to steer clear of political and religious matters, stating that he “preferred a quiet lyfe, wherein I might not be ingadged in factions of Church or state.”19 Later, in the early eighteenth century, when debate on a possible union was raging, Sibbald moved in distinctly anti-​Unionist circles, although their influence on him is far from clear.20 His own opinions were apparently fluid; on 2nd December 1702, writing to the staunch anti-​Unionist Robert Wodrow, he seemed nervous but resigned: “I ame told the Union goes on a pace, God

16 17 18 19 20

See for example Sibbald, Commentarius, 4, 7–​8, 13. Robert Sibbald, The History, Ancient and Modern, of the Sheriffdoms of Fife and Kinross (Edinburgh, 1710), 31–​32. Richard Hingley, The Recovery of Roman Britain 1586–​1906 (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2008), 103. Robert Sibbald, Remains of Sir Robert Sibbald … Edited by James Maidment (Edinburgh, 1837), 15. Emerson, “Sir Robert Sibbald,” 51.

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grant it may be for our good.”21 Nineteen days later he wrote to Hans Sloane in London in a much more ebullient mood: “I should wish wee were more bent for ane Union and then wee might better advance both learning and trade, and better oppose our foreigne enemies.”22 As such, Sibbald’s attitudes towards the Union could be compared to his religious affiliations, which were notoriously indecisive and susceptible to outside influence.23 In fact, it seems more likely that Sibbald’s motivation in formulating his vision of Roman Scotland lay in his admiration for Rome. Evidence of this admiration can be found in his library, the catalogue of which—​the Bibliotheca Sibbaldiana, published for the posthumous auction of his books—​reveals countless volumes relating to the language, habits, and philosophy of the ancients. His surviving correspondence demonstrates a desire to keep up to date with the latest archaeological discoveries in Scotland, and Sibbald himself built a not inconsiderable collection of objects which he believed to be Roman.24 Like William Camden, who cited Seneca’s claim that “the Romans settle wherever they conquer” in his iconic late sixteenth-​century book Britannia, Sibbald seems to have believed that where the Romans went, their way of life surely followed.25 For many Scots, the idea of Scotland succumbing to foreign invasion was anathema; for Sibbald on the other hand, the idea that Rome had played a vital role in the development of early Scotland was something to celebrate. While his near contemporary, the Breton Jesuit Jean Hardouin, was attempting to debunk the canon of classical literature in his own fanciful writings, Sibbald was doing quite the opposite by constructing an imaginary classical legacy for Scotland, a legacy which he believed still impacted on the landscape and society of the early modern nation.26 Sibbald died in 1722; within four years of his demise his fantasy of Caledonia as a Roman province was roundly debunked by the ambitious young antiquarian Alexander Gordon in his influential Itinerarium Septentrionale, a 21 22 23

24 25 26

Robert Sibbald, Sir Robert Sibbald’s Memoirs of the Royal College of Physicians at Edinburgh (Edinburgh, 1837), 32. BL Sloane MS 4039, f.53. Sibbald made a brief conversion to Catholicism in 1685, under the influence of his patron, the Earl of Perth. Following an attack on his house by a mob, he fled to London, where he quickly recanted, later describing the period as “the difficultest passage of my Lyfe” (Robert Sibbald, The Memoirs of Sir Robert Sibbald, ed. Francis Paget Hett (London: Oxford University Press, 1932), 86). For Sibbald’s own catalogue of his collection, see Robert Sibbald, Auctarium Musaei Balfouriani, e Musaeo Sibbaldiano (Edinburgh, 1697). William Camden, Britannia, Vol. I, ed. Richard Gough (London, 1789), lxiv. For more on Jean Hardouin, see Chapter 1 by Anthony Ossa-​Richardson in this volume.

158 Montgomery volume which displayed its author’s staunchly patriotic standpoint and stuck firmly to the traditional view of Caledonian indomitability. Gordon dedicated an Appendix to Chapter iv of the Itinerarium to the rubbishing of his predecessor’s conjectures: “I was surprized that he places whole Countries, Roman Garrisons, Colonies and Forts in that Country, which I have very good reason to believe were never there.”27 The three and a half pages of this “tedious digression” refute many of Sibbald’s claims, with Gordon also questioning Sibbald’s identification of many modern towns as having Roman roots.28 According to Gordon, Scotland had never been a Roman province at all, but instead represented a military zone, the numerous Roman sites that he discovered there being evidence only of several failed attempts to conquer the region. It is interesting to note, however, that Gordon’s main patron, Sir John Clerk of Penicuik, was far more ambivalent on the subject. An early example of a Scottish Grand Tourist who visited Rome in 1697–​1698, Clerk later became something of a Romanist obsessive, collecting relics of the ancient civilisation sourced both at home and abroad, also claiming to have read Horace’s Ars Poetica at least 50 times.29 Whilst Clerk was inclined to praise ideas of Caledonian liberty in public (for example in a paper delivered to the Philosophical Society of Edinburgh in 1739 on the subject of Hadrian’s Wall),30 he also seemed intent on locating a classical heritage for the nation. As well as building one of Scotland’s largest collections of Roman carved and inscribed stones, many of which were sourced along the line of the Antonine Wall, he also tended to see evidence of Roman influence even where none existed:  he identified a (probably Bronze Age) burial mound on his own estate at Penicuik as the mausoleum of a high-​status Roman, and declared a Renaissance carved relief displayed on the side of a building in Edinburgh’s Netherbow to be the finest Roman sculpture in northern Britain.31 He also expressed frustration at Scotland’s relative lack of a classical heritage, writing to the English antiquarian 27 28 29

Alexander Gordon, Itinerarium Septentrionale (London, 1726), 43. Ibid., 43–​46. Sir John Clerk, Memoirs of the Life of Sir John Clerk of Penicuik, ed. John Miller Gray (Edinburgh: Scottish History Society, 1892), 215. 30 Iain Gordon Brown, “Modern Rome and Ancient Caledonia,” in The History of Scottish Literature, Volume 2 1660–​1800, ed. Andrew Hook (Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1987), 37. Manuscript copies of the paper in the hand of an amanuensis survive in the Clerk of Penicuik Muniments, nrs GD18/​5051. 31 Gordon, Itinerarium, 170–​71. For a detailed discussion of the early modern reception of the Netherbow Heads see Iain Gordon Brown and Alan Montgomery, “The ‘Roman Heads’ at the Netherbow in Edinburgh: A Case of Antiquarian Wishful Thinking in the 18th and 19th Centuries,” Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 146 (2016): 253–​74.

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Roger Gale in 1726, “I am, I confess, of the opinion of some learned men, that this is a reproach to a nation to have resisted the humanity which the Romans laboured to introduce.”32 His pride in Caledonian courage was tempered by his discomfort with the apparent savagery of these supposed ancestors, and his disappointment in their rejection of the civility which Roman dominance would have offered. This ambivalence is perfectly expressed in a couplet from his classically inspired poem, The Country Seat: How glorious was the Cause of Liberty Tho’ Founded in a gross barbarity.33 Clerk’s desire for a classical Caledonia was certainly driven by his obvious reverence for the cultural achievements of Rome, but, unlike Sibbald, we can also detect clear political bias in Sir John’s interpretation of the ancient past. Having sat on the committee which helped to facilitate the Union with England in 1707, Clerk was himself a key player in the formation of modern Britain, and his belief in the importance of union also extended to ancient Britannia. Indeed in his manuscript History of the Union, which he began formulating around 1711 and composed between 1724 and 1730,34 Clerk asserts that the Romans offered Britain “the first government of any name,” and claims that they rendered the indigenous people “more sociable … more civilised … more free.”35 For Clerk, the intention of the invading Roman force was altruistic: “To unite the British people along with themselves in a single well-​grafted society.”36 This text, which remained unpublished on its author’s death in 1755, also contains the most explicit demonstration of Clerk’s ambivalence towards Caledonia’s rejection of Rome: But the descendants of those Caledonians today should take care not to boast of their resistance too much, for to be proud of their refusal of Roman rule means admitting that one’s ancestors were barbarians with no claim to civilization whatever.37

32 33 34

nrs GD18/​5029. nrs GD18/​4404/​15. Douglas Duncan, “Introduction,” in Sir John Clerk, History of the Union of England and Scotland (Edinburgh: Scottish History Society, 1993), 5–​6. 35 Clerk, History of the Union, 34. 36 Ibid., 38. 37 Ibid., 38–​39.

160 Montgomery It is difficult to ascertain how far this idea of a classical Caledonia spread beyond the boundaries of antiquarianism and into the realms of the popular imagination. Certainly, visions of a Caledonian resistance persisted in popular poetry and the press, suggesting that Scots in general were more attached to such patriotic imagery. The poetry of Allan Ramsay, another close friend of Clerk’s and the most popular Scottish poet of the early eighteenth century, contains numerous references to the Caledonian rejection of Rome, surely indicative of Ramsay’s romantic, Jacobite tinged attitudes towards Scotland’s past and present.38 Despite, or perhaps because of, the radical, traumatic changes in national identity that resulted from the Union of 1707, Scotland’s self-​image was still largely dependent on concepts of a­ ncient ­liberty. William Maitland, another protégé of Clerk, further fuelled the debate with his posthumously published History and Antiquities of Scotland of 1757. Like Clerk, Maitland was a supporter of British union, having described it in his strongly whiggish History of London—​the city which was his home from 1733 to 1740—​as “a great Blessing to the united Kingdom.”39 Like Clerk, Maitland seems to have been ambivalent on the subject of Roman influence in Scotland, including in his “Introduction” a conventional description of the Caledonians, “who so gloriously maintained their independency against the Romans,”40 but later identifying Agricola as the man who brought civilisation to Scotland. Similar to Sibbald, Maitland located a Roman oppidum at Camelon, but also added a Roman “town of great note” at Middleby, and “one of the most considerable Roman towns in Scotland” at Cramond.41 He also suggested that a Roman bath recently discovered (and destroyed before Maitland had had the chance to visit it) at Delvin in Perthshire was one of those mentioned by Tacitus in ­chapter 21 of the Agricola.42 Maitland proposed that the civilising influence of Agricola affected even the Highlands, claiming that the Gaelic spoken in the region included many Latin words and phrases, and that the Highland plaid was a direct descendent of the Roman toga.43 Maitland developed this idea later in the book, claiming that a comparison of Highland dress with the drapery

38 39 40 41 42 43

See for example his poems Tartana, or the Plaid of 1718 and The Archer’s March of 1726. William Maitland, The History of London (London, 1739), 322. William Maitland, The History and Antiquities of Scotland (London, 1757), iii. Ibid., 173, 192, 203. These sites are now recognised as Roman forts. Ibid., 149. Ibid., 80. Maitland had written to Sir John Clerk of Penicuik in 1742 asking for his opinion “concerning some parts of the Highland Dress and arms … which of them you take to be Roman,” nrs GD18/​5058. Clerk’s response is now lost.

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of a Roman sculpture substantiated this claim, and adding that the Highland bonnet was a descendant of the Roman pileus.44 If eighteenth-​century Scots apparently remained divided on just how “Roman” their home nation had once been, a new source emerged in the late 1750s which seemed finally to settle the argument. “Discovered” in a Copenhagen library by the English expatriate Charles Bertram, a manuscript source which was to become known as the De Situ Britanniae appeared dramatically to improve understandings of the geography and society of Roman Britain. It also seemed to confirm that Scotland had, in fact, been largely subdued by Rome. News of the discovery first arrived in Britain when Bertram wrote to the English antiquarian William Stukeley, striking up a correspondence, one side of which (Bertram to Stukeley) is preserved in the collection of the Bodleian Library, Oxford. A fervent Romanist, Stukeley had himself written An Account of a Roman Temple and Other Antiquities Near Graham’s Dike in Scotland almost two decades previously.45 Towards the end of his second letter, Bertram mentioned that he had recently obtained an “old manuscript fragment” entitled Richardi Monachi Westmonasteriensis Commentariolum Geographicum de Situ Britanniae & Stationum quas Romani ipsi in ea Insula Aedificaverunt (“A geographical description of the places of Britain and the stations which the Romans themselves built in that island by Richard, Monk of Westminster”).46 Stukeley wrote back enthusiastically, declaring the manuscript to be “a Cimelium & Great curiosity,” and suggesting that it should be printed. In the postscript of his next letter, dated 27th November 1747, Bertram revealed more about its specific content, focusing exclusively on what it revealed about Roman Scotland, and placing it within the context of recent scholarship: I have perused Mr Gordon’s Iter Septentrionale with great delight: it is well wrote, & tho I  cannot agree with his opinion at all times, believe good use can be made of him in illustrating the Monk of Westminster. I  could wish I  were acquainted with him, that I  might enquire some 44 Maitland, History and Antiquities, 149–​50. Anne MacLeod notes other later eighteenth-​ century attempts to link Highland and Roman dress, with Thomas Pennant comparing a brooch worn in Skye to a fibula, and William Gilpin comparing the plaid to Roman drapery. See Anne MacLeod, From an Antique Land (Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2012), 74. 45 Although ostensibly a study of Arthur’s O’on, an unusual domed and possibly Roman structure which stood in central Scotland until its demolition by the local landowner in 1743, Stukeley’s 1720 Account of a Roman Temple includes a detailed account of southern Scotland as a settled Roman province. 46 Bodl.MS.Eng.Lett.b.2, f.7.

162 Montgomery things concerning Scotland beyond the Tay, the Monk placing several stations there & makes the Roman roads to run as far as the Varar Aestuary [Moray Firth], tho hitherto none, that I have heard of, have discovered any vestigia in those parts.47 As the correspondence developed, more revelations regarding Scotland were included. Stukeley quickly leapt to the conclusion that the manuscript had been written by the medieval historian Richard of Cirencester, and was based on the lost memoirs of no less a figure than Agricola himself.48 Most notably, the text apparently showed that Scotland had not only been almost completely conquered, with two altars north of modern-​day Inverness marking the limit of Roman control, but also split into two provinces called Valentia and Vespasiana. These provinces contained three important cities: Victoria (Perth), Pteroton or Castra Alata (Inverness), and Theodosia (Dumbarton).49 All of these were listed by Richard as being among the thirty-​three “more eminent” Roman cities in Britain, and among the ten described as Civitates Latio jure donatae, translated by Stukeley as “Cities honor’d with the Italian Freedom.”50 Bertram seems to have banked on the fact that such ground-​breaking new information on the extent of Roman Scotland would pique Stukeley’s interest. His hopes were not to be disappointed. Despite the fact the Bertram seemed unable, or unwilling, to send over the original manuscript, Stukeley was well and truly hooked, even updating and correcting his own copy of his Account of a Roman Temple with numerous manuscript notes.51 Disseminating the text, however, was a slow process, and it was only in the late 1750s that the De Situ Britanniae was to become more widely available to other antiquarians and historians. In 1757, Stukeley published an English abridgement of the text in his Account of Richard of Cirencester, Monk of Westminster, and of His Works. That that same year Bertram published the original Latin text of the manuscript, alongside well-​known texts by Nennius and Gildas, under the title Britannicarum Gentium Historiae Antiquae Scriptores Tres. That the manuscript was an elaborate, if rather clumsily written, hoax created by Bertram himself would finally emerge a century later, when close analysis of the Latin revealed numerous flaws and anachronisms. In the intervening 47 Bodl.MS.Eng.Lett.b.2, f.10. 48 William Stukeley, An Account of Richard of Cirencester (London, 1757), 12. 49 Charles Bertram, The Description of Britain (London, 1809), 1.6.xliv; xlvii. 50 William Stukeley, Itinerarium Curiosum (London, 1776), Centuria ii, 118; Bodl.MS.Top. gen.e.68, f.1–​2. 51 Now in the Bodleian Library, reference Bodl.533.7 G.42 fol.

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years, almost every analysis of the history and landscape of Roman Scotland had been infected with its many fraudulent claims. The second half of the eighteenth century witnessed a new approach to Scotland’s Roman past: Hanoverian troops invoked the spirit of Agricola as they subdued the Highlands in the wake of the 1745 Jacobite rebellion. For centuries, the Highlands had been viewed as a separate, troublesome place which at times even threatened the stability of the Scottish state.52 Sir Robert Sibbald wrote in the late seventeenth century that “the Lowlanders are more civilized and use the language and habit of the English, the Highlanders are more rude and Barbruse [sic] and use that of the Irish.”53 Daniel Defoe, writing at the time of the Union, linked the inhabitants of northern Scotland with the Irish and ancient “Scoti,” noting their distinct names, manners, and language, while also suggesting a part-​Roman heritage for Lowlanders.54 The modern inhabitants of the Highlands were at times conflated with the ancient barbarians described by the Romans centuries before. The wording chosen by the English scholar John Chamberlayn to describe the purpose of Agricola’s fortification of the Forth Clyde isthmus in his book Magnae Britanniae Notitia, published just after the first Jacobite rebellion, is telling: “to exclude the Scotch-​Highlanders.”55 In the years after 1745, the Hanoverian regime aimed to suppress Gaelic culture in their attempts to prevent future Highland insurrection. Recent scholarship has noted that this, often brutal, pacification project—​with its network of roads and fortresses constructed across the region—​was largely inspired by Roman models.56 The Britannia of 1789 notes that “troops employed in making these roads left engraved on the rocks the names of the regiment each part belonged to after the manner of the Romans.”57 That the campaign was believed to surpass Roman achievements was made explicit: General George Wade placed an inscription on the bridge he built over the Tay at Aberfeldy, which noted its position 250 miles beyond the limits of the Roman Empire (by which he apparently meant Hadrian’s Wall). A new breed of soldier antiquarians set out across Scotland, armed with a copy of the Agricola, and later the De Situ Britanniae, turning their focus


For more on “Highland Separatism” pre-​1707 see David Turnock, The Historical Geography of Scotland Since 1707 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 19–​22. 53 NLS Adv.MS.33.5.16 f.81. 54 Daniel Defoe, The History of the Union Between England and Scotland (London, 1786), 34. 55 John Chamberlayne, Magnae Britanniae Notitia (London, 1716), 356. 56 See for example Hingley, Recovery of Roman Britain, 149; also Sweet, Antiquaries, 181–​82. 57 Camden, Britannia, Vol. 3, 384–​85.

164 Montgomery towards the region’s Roman military sites in their attempts to trace the route of the first-​century Roman general. Captain Robert Melville, for example, was called back from the Austrian Wars of Succession to help suppress the ’45, and later spent much of his leisure time scouring the landscape of Perthshire and Angus for Roman camps and forts in his attempts to chart Agricola’s progress through Scotland. His antiquarian endeavours also inspired those of the talented cartographer General William Roy, whose Military Antiquities of the Romans in North Britain, published posthumously in 1793, includes numerous maps and plans of Roman military sites throughout Scotland. Where Melville and Roy led, others followed: the retired Colonel Alexander Shand spent his later years exploring the regions north of the Tay in search of Roman remains, and the collection of manuscript maps and plans produced by various members of the Antiquarian Society of Perth (now held in Perth Museum) show a marked interest in sites supposed to be Agricolan.58 These maps and plans accord with eighteenth-​century approaches to mapping and recording geography both ancient and modern. Charles Withers has identified the significance of this desire to record the landscape as a factor in nation building, and has described the eighteenth-​century Scottish drive to “understand its present constitution and to provide a vision of the nation in the future”; forward-​ thinking Scots of this period were equally intent on understanding Scotland’s landscape in the distant past, with a view to establishing the very foundations of the nation itself.59 This new generation of military-​minded antiquarians effectively steered the historiography of ancient Scotland in a new direction. The image of redoubtable Caledonians fending off an oppressive force from the South had, until now, been useful to patriotic Scots keen to highlight their nation’s stance against the more recent threat of English dominance. In an age where southern civility was perceived to be threatened by uncivilised northern hordes, however, the endeavours of the Romans in North Britain began to appear more relevant to early modern, Lowland Scots. This ancient conflict was being revived not as an analogy for more recent struggles between Scotland and England, but rather Hanoverians against Highlanders. Indeed, Roy’s Military Antiquities could be viewed, alongside the Latin inscriptions in the Highlands, as a piece of Romanist Hanoverian propaganda. As a tale of an invading force bringing civilisation to the north, the narrative portrayed in the work of these soldier antiquarians suited the need for a new comprehensively “British” historiography, in which 58 59

Eighteenth-​century manuscripts relating to Roman Scotland in the Perth Museum archive include their reference numbers P.85–​88, 266, 272, 300, and 307. Withers, “Geography,” 142.

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political and social progress could be charted from the ancient to the modern state.60 Fashions, however, were changing. While the historical conjectures of earlier eighteenth-​century Britons had been largely inspired by a reverence for the Roman world, the later eighteenth and early nineteenth century saw the increased influence of Romanticism and Primitivism. The incredibly successful poems of Ossian—​supposedly written by a third-​century Caledonian bard, “translated” and published in the early 1760s by James Macpherson, and almost immediately provoking claims that they were largely forgeries—​suggested that the Caledonians had not been the “barbarians with no claim to civilization whatever” described by Sir John Clerk, but rather cultured and cultivated heroes with a literature to match those of the Greeks and Romans. Antiquarianism too became sidelined in the wake of new approaches to history. Susan Manning describes the emerging conflict between antiquarianism and the new generation of Scottish historians, pointing out that Hume’s “Science of Man” had a profound impact on Enlightenment historiography, which was generally intent on explaining the past on a macro level and favoured a conjectural approach, while antiquarians were increasingly criticised for focusing on minute details and remained resistant to the “grand narratives of philosophic history.”61 Hume himself had little interest in the Roman period, stating his intention in the first volume of his massively popular and widely read History of England (published 1754–​1762 with numerous later editions) to “briefly run over the events, which attended the conquest made by that Empire, as belonging more to Roman than British history.”62 Despite this, attempts to claim a classical heritage for Scotland were not quite exhausted. In 1775, Lachlan Shaw proposed that many of the towns around the Firth of Forth were built on the foundations of Roman military and civil sites, a suggestion surely influenced by Sibbald’s 1711 treatise Conjectures Concerning the Roman Ports, Colonies, and Forts, in the Firths.63 Elsewhere, a report taken from a letter written by the landowner James Wedderburn to the 60 61

62 63

For a discussion of the problems inherent in the use of Scottish history in the process of creating a “British” national identity post-​1689, see Colin Kidd, Subverting Scotland’s Past (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), passim. Susan Manning, “Antiquarianism, the Scottish Science of Man, and the Emergence of Modern Disciplinarity,” in Scotland and the Borders of Romanticism, ed. Leith Davis, Iain Duncan, and Janet Sorensen (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2004), 59–​65; Ibid., 60. David Hume, The History of England, Vol. 1 (London, 1767), 2. Lachlan Shaw, History of the Province of Moray (Edinburgh, 1775), 3.  Shaw also cites Sibbald’s 1710 history of Fife in the same book (41).

166 Montgomery antiquarian Adam de Cardonnel on the discovery of Roman remains in the Lothian village of Inveresk in 1783, which features in the 1789 edition of Britannia, strongly suggests that Scotland had been extensively settled by the Romans: By this post, and the camp at Ardoch the Romans meant … to have considered the river Earn as their boundary, and covered the county of Fife completely: and they must have been in peaceable possession when they erected stone and brick buildings of imported materials … Beyond and to the northward of their posts they must also have extended to a high and settled authority.64 Perhaps the last antiquarian of this period to describe the ancient nation as a virtual Roman province was George Chalmers; the first volume of his multi-​ tomed national history, Caledonia, emerged in 1807. Having spent time in America as a young man, Chalmers’s loyalist sympathies forced him to return to England in 1775 during the discontent preceding the War of Independence, and he eventually settled in London. Thanks to his various official posts, he was able to devote much of his time to writing, and following the publication of a biography of Thomas Rudimann, Chalmers turned his attention towards composing a history of his homeland.65 Unlike Hume, Chalmers saw the Roman period as a vital part of the nation’s development, and placed the subject at the opening of his book “from its priority in time, as well as precedence in importance.”66 In his account of the exploits of Agricola, Chalmers sticks closely to the information contained in Tacitus. Regarding the period following Agricola’s recall, however, he countered the ideas of Boece and Buchanan, and dismissed claims by previous commentators that a phrase in Tacitus’s History, perdomita Britannia et statim omissa (“Britain was overcome and then immediately let go”), suggested that the Romans had quickly deserted Scotland.67 Chalmers instead claimed that the “querulous historian” Tacitus was not to be trusted, and that the “silence of history” in fact proved that Scotland had been quietly subdued thanks to “the power of the governors, and the weakness of the governed.”68 Citing the De Situ Britanniae as evidence, Chalmers proposed that 64 Camden, Britannia, Vol. 3, 311. 65 Although six volumes were planned, only three were published before Chalmers’s death in 1825. 66 George Chalmers, Caledonia, Vol. 1 (London, 1807), viii. 67 Chalmers specifically refers to the English antiquarian John Horsley as having proposed that the Romans retreated soon after Agricola’s victory. 68 Chalmers, Caledonia, 115, 183.

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the Roman walls had never indicated the full extent of Roman imperium, and that during the rule of Antoninus Pius, “every inhabitant of North-​Britain, who resided along the east coast, from the Tweed to the Murray Firth, might have claimed … every privilege, which particularly belonged to a Roman ­citizen.”69 Chalmers’s discussion of Scotland’s Roman remains includes much details on roads, and also mentions Roman towns at Cramond and Camelon, and a villa at Linlithgow.70 In his Preface, he notes the recent discovery of a supposed Roman bath at Burghead in Moray, evidence which apparently extended the limits of Roman power into the region where the author himself was born.71 When relating a partial Roman retreat during the 160s CE, he presents an organised, peaceful withdrawal, Roman troops remaining in key locations, and the Caledonians so accustomed to subjugation that they remained tranquil even after the Romans’ departure.72 Unlike many Scots, Chalmers was sceptical of the authenticity of the poems of Ossian, pointing out that “elegant poetry requires not authentic history to support its elegant narratives,” and reminding readers that the Gaelic in which the poems were supposedly composed was not spoken until long after the end of the Roman Empire.73 Although he often cites Gordon’s Itinerarium, and so must have been aware of its criticism of Robert Sibbald’s conjectures, Chalmers’s early nineteenth-​ century vision of Roman Scotland was not too different from that conjured up by Sibbald over 120 years previously. While he was not the first historian to be inspired by the fake De Situ Britanniae, Chalmers was the first to use it to map a civil Roman landscape in the north. His explanation of why the Romans eventually retreated is distinctly negative towards Scotland: “The Romans relinquished the country, which experience had taught them to regard, neither as useful nor agreeable.”74 When he is viewed as an enthusiastic supporter of Britain’s imperial ambitions who spent much of his adult life in England, Chalmers’s approach towards Caledonia’s place within the Roman world perhaps begins to make more sense. In his writings about Roman Scotland, his sympathies clearly lie with the invading and civilising force rather than with the defeated indigenous peoples. Du Toit notes that, while he could indulge in

69 70 71

Ibid., 116, 119. Ibid., 166, 170. This is presumably a reference to Burghead Well, a subterranean construction of unknown date. Although there are various modern theories regarding its origins and purpose, it is not considered Roman today. 72 Chalmers, Caledonia, 183–​84. 73 Ibid., 189. 74 Ibid., 183.

168 Montgomery sentimental Jacobitism, Chalmers tended to back the standing British regime, and viewed opposition to authority as sedition.75 Such an approach seems to have encouraged a negative reception of his book. Contemporary commentators were highly critical; Caledonia was widely regarded as derivative, old fashioned, and unreliable, and was compared unfavourably with the work of Chalmers’s English contemporaries.76 As the nineteenth century rolled on, Scots seemed to lose interest in heroic tales of Roman Scotland, looking elsewhere for their patriotic histories.77 It is perhaps no coincidence that, as Scotland became more confident of its own civility and more urbanised, its capital city transformed by a neo-​classical New Town, its streets apparently thronging with influential thinkers, its people turned towards more Romantic visions of their past, searching for a place of primitive nobility and wide, open landscapes. As has been noted by Frank Turner and others, Greece began to overtake Rome in the minds of nineteenth-​ century Britons.78 Edinburgh, of course, became known as the “Athens of the North” for a time; in presenting their capital city in such a way, Scots demonstrated their continued interest in the classical past, but now in a foreign context, with no direct link to the history of their own nation. The only nineteenth-​century monograph dedicated to the history, geography and material remains of Roman Scotland did not appear until 1845, when Robert Stuart published his Caledonia Romana. Given his reliance on the work of Sibbald and Chalmers, as well as his belief in the authenticity of the De Situ Britanniae, it is no surprise that Stuart assumes a level of Roman civility in Scotland—​he proposes the location of various “Roman or Romanised” towns, and the book’s subtitle talks of “The Roman Occupation of North Britain”—​ but he seems less intent than his predecessors on proving Roman influence in his home nation, or on representing the Caledonians as heroes who courageously repelled Rome.79 While previous generations of antiquarians had made dogmatic claims regarding the state of Roman Scotland, Stuart is more 75 76 77

78 79

Alexander du Toit, “George Chalmers,” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 10 (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 870. Ibid., 871. For a discussion of nineteenth-​century commemoration of Scotland’s historical heroes, most notably William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, see James Coleman, Remembering the Past in Nineteenth-​Century Scotland (Edinburgh:  Edinburgh University Press, 2014). See Frank M.  Turner, “Why the Greeks and not the Romans in Victorian Britain?,” in Rediscovering Hellenism, ed. G.W. Clarke (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1989): 61–​81. Robert Stuart, Caledonia Romana (Edinburgh, 1852), 154.

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reticent, unwilling to leap to conclusions when the evidence does not exist. His attitude towards the problem of identifying how long the Romans remained in Scotland after Agricola’s invasion is suitably dismissive: “The question is not one that can be decided; nor is it indeed of any material importance.”80 The various attempts to establish a classical heritage for Scotland over the course of the long eighteenth century had come to nothing. In their analyses of ancient literary sources and material remains, men like Sibbald, Clerk, and Chalmers had allowed their own admiration for Rome, and their own beliefs in the importance of union and empire, to lead them towards ambitious conjectures regarding the state of ancient Scotland, conjuring up in the process a Caledonia filled with Roman cities, temples, baths, and villas. In doing so, they contradicted the prevalent belief, held not just by the majority of the nation’s antiquarians, but also by proudly patriotic Scots in general, that the Romans had failed to conquer northern Britain due to the invincibility of the indigenous tribes still widely viewed in the eighteenth century as the ancestors of the nation’s modern inhabitants. Although they seem to have failed to capture the imagination of the wider population, these Romanist antiquarians offer an important example of how Scottish history has been manipulated and misinterpreted to suit more current concerns, their interpretations often suggesting a nostalgic and emotional connection with the nation and its distant past. Ultimately, their fantastical accounts of ancient Scotland tell us much more about ideas of “Scottishness” and “Britishness” during the long eighteenth century, about what Scots thought they and their nation should and could be, than they do about the region’s Roman past. In attempting to pull their own nation into the boundaries of the Roman Empire, these antiquarians sought to gild their own heritage with a hint of classical elegance, creating a decidedly whiggish picture of ancient Britannia; but ultimately Scots preferred to portray themselves as gallant outsiders, more kilted Highland warriors than toga-​clad Roman generals. A truly classical Caledonia, it seems, was just never meant to be.


Anon. Bibliotheca Sibbaldiana: Or, a Catalogue of Curious and Valuable Books: Consisting of Divinity, Civil and Ecclesiastical History, … To be Sold by Way of Auction, on Tuesday the 5th of February 1723. 1723.


Ibid., 104.

170 Montgomery Ayres, Philip. Classical Culture and the Idea of Rome in Eighteenth-​Century England. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997. Bertram, Charles. The Description of Britain. London, 1809. Boece, Hector. The History and Chronicles of Scotland … Translated by John Bellenden. Edinburgh, 1821. Brown, Iain Gordon. “Modern Rome and Ancient Caledonia.” In The History of Scottish Literature, Volume 2 1660-​1800, edited by Andrew Hook, 33–​48. Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1987. Brown, Iain Gordon and Alan Montgomery. “The ‘Roman Heads’ at the Netherbow in Edinburgh: A Case of Antiquarian Wishful Thinking in the 18th and 19th Centuries.” Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 146 (2016): 253–​74. Buchanan, George. The History of Scotland, tr. J. Fraser. London, 1690. Camden, William. Camden’s Britannia, edited by Richard Gough. London, 1789. Casey, P.J. Carausius and Allectus: The British Usurpers. London: Batsford, 1994. Chalmers, George. Caledonia, or, An Account Historical and Topographical of North B ­ ritain, Vol. 1. London, 1807. Chamberlayne, John. Magnæ Britanniæ Notitia: Or, the Present State of Great-​Britain. London, 1716. Clerk, John. Memoirs of the Life of Sir John Clerk of Penicuik, Baronet, Baron of the Exchequer, Extracted by Himself from His Own Journals, 1676–​1755, edited by John Miller Gray. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press for the Scottish History Society, 1892. Clerk, John. History of the Union of Scotland and England, edited by Douglas Duncan. Edinburgh: Printed for the Scottish History Society by Pillans & Wilson, 1993. Coleman, James J. Remembering the Past in Nineteenth-​Century Scotland: Commemoration, Nationality, and Memory. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014. Defoe, Daniel. The History of the Union between England and Scotland. London, 1786. Duncan, Douglas. “Introduction.” In Sir John Clerk, History of the Union of Scotland and England, 1–​29. Edinburgh: Printed for the Scottish History Society by Pillans & Wilson, 1993. Emerson, Roger L. “Sir Robert Sibbald, Kt, The Royal Society of Scotland and the Origins of the Scottish Enlightenment.” Annals of Science 45:1 (1988): 41–​72. Emerson, Roger L. “Scottish Cultural Change 1660–​1710.” In A Union for Empire, edited by John Roberston, 121–​44. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Fordun, John of. Chronicle of the Scottish Nation, edited by William F. Skene. Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas, 1872. Gordon, Alexander. Itinerarium Septentrionale: Or, A Journey Thro’ Most of the Counties of Scotland, and Those in the North of England. London, 1726. Hingley, Richard. The Recovery of Roman Britain 1586–​1906: A Colony So Fertile. ­Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Hingley, Richard. Hadrian’s Wall: A Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

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Hume, David. The History of England: From the Invasion of Julius Cæsar to the Revolution in 1688, Vol. 1. London, 1767. Keppie, Lawrence. The Antiquarian Rediscovery of the Antonine Wall. Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 2012. Kidd, Colin. Subverting Scotland’s Past: Scottish Whig Historians and the Creation of an Anglo-​British Identity, 1689-​c.1830. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993. MacLeod, Anne. From an Antique Land: Visual Representations of the Highlands and Islands 1700–​1880. Edinburgh: John Donald, 2012. Maitland, William. The History of London, from Its Foundation by the Romans, to the Present Time. London, 1739. Maitland, William. The History and Antiquities of Scotland from the Earliest Account to the Death of James I, Vol. I. London, 1757. Manning, Susan. “Antiquarianism, the Scottish Science of Man, and the Emergence of Modern Disciplinarity.” In Scotland and the Borders of Romanticism, edited by Leith Davis, Iain Duncan, and Janet Sorensen, 57–​76. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Roy, William. The Military Antiquities of the Romans in Britain. London, 1793. Schaps, David. “The Found and Lost Manuscripts of Tacitus’ Agricola.’” Classical Philology 74:1 (1979): 28–​42. Shaw, Lachlan. History of the Province of Moray. Edinburgh, 1775. Sibbald, Robert. Auctarium Musaei Balfouriani, e Musaeo Sibbaldiano. Edinburgh, 1697. Sibbald, Robert. Historical Inquiries, Concerning the Roman Monuments and Antiquities in the North-​Part of Britain Called Scotland. Edinburgh, 1707. Sibbald, Robert. The History, Ancient and Modern, of the Sheriffdoms of Fife and Kinross. Edinburgh, 1710. Sibbald, Robert. Commentarius in Julij Agricolae Expeditiones 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Edinburgh, 1711. Sibbald, Robert. Conjectures Concerning the Roman Ports, Colonies, and Forts, in the Firths. Edinburgh, 1711. Sibbald, Robert. Memoirs of the Royal College of Physicians at Edinburgh: A Fragment. With Portions of His Literary Correspondence. Edinburgh, 1837. Sibbald, Robert. Remains of Sir Robert Sibbald … Containing His Autobiography, Memoirs of the Royal College of Physicians, Portions of His Literary Correspondence and an Account of His MSS, edited by James Maidment. Edinburgh, 1837. Sibbald, Robert. The Memoirs of Sir Robert Sibbald, edited by Francis Paget Hett. London: Oxford University Press, 1932. Stuart, Robert. Caledonia Romana: A Descriptive Account of the Roman Antiquities of Scotland. Edinburgh, 1852. Stukeley, William. An Account of a Roman Temple and Other Antiquities near Graham’s Dike in Scotland. London, 1720.

172 Montgomery Stukeley, William. An Account of Richard of Cirencester, Monk of Westminster, and of His Works. London, 1757. Stukeley, William. Itinerarium Curiosum; or, An Account of the Antiquities, and Remarkable Curiosities in Nature or Art, Observed in Travels through Great Britain. London, 1776. Sweet, Rosemary. Antiquaries: The Discovery of the Past in Eighteenth-​Century Britain. London: Hambledon and London, 2004. Tacitus, Cornelius. Agricola, edited by Anthony J. Woodman and Christina S. Kraus. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. du Toit, Alexander. “George Chalmers.” In The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 10: 870–​71. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Turner, Frank M. “Why the Greeks and Not the Romans in Victorian Britain.” In Rediscovering Hellenism, edited by G.W. Clarke, 61–​81. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989. Turnock, David. The Historical Geography of Scotland Since 1707: Geographical Aspects of Modernisation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982. Withers, Charles W.J. Geography, Science, and National Identity:  Scotland Since 1520. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

­c hapter 8

The Enlightenment and the Teaching of Ancient Greek Grammar in Greece Marta Dieli Due to its economic and geopolitical leadership, North-​Western Europe was the first to experience the social, cultural, and political changes brought about by the Enlightenment. Over the course of the long eighteenth century, however, this movement of ideas also spread further throughout Europe, reaching other geographical contexts including the South-​Eastern Mediterranean. This chapter investigates aspects of the impact of the Enlightenment in Greece, and the influence exerted by contemporary European thought on the formation of the modern Greek nation-​state.1 An in-​depth discussion of the Greek Enlightenment, a complex and multifaceted phenomenon, falls outside the scope of this short study. Here, I propose to focus on one important aspect of its intellectual and cultural history: the reform of the traditional system of education, particularly the transformation in the teaching of ancient Greek grammar. I will outline the situation of schools in Greece, and the remarkable changes they underwent, through an exploration of the work of two Greek scholars of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries: Neophytos Vamvas (Νεόφυτος Βάμβας, 1776–​1855) and Konstantinos Koumas (Κωνσταντίνος Κούμας, 1777–​1836), both representatives of the generation of Greeks fighting for the political and cultural renewal of their nation. Their long and productive careers fell in the crucial decades at the turn of the nineteenth century, when Greece was rapidly transformed from a territory under Ottoman domination to an independent nation following the ­Revolution of 1821. They pioneered a new system of education which drew inspiration from wider pedagogical trends in Enlightenment Europe. By analysing these two representative figures, this chapter aims to shed light on the peculiarity of the reception of antiquity in early nineteenth-​century Greece, where the engagement with an indigenous ancient Greek tradition was mediated by 1 The definition and characteristics of the Greek Enlightenment have been widely debated in scholarship, particularly from the second half of the twentieth century. One of the most extensive treatments to date can be found in Paschalis M. Kitromilides, Enlightenment and Revolution. The Making of Modern Greece (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013).

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2020 | DOI:10.1163/9789004412675_010

174 Dieli substantial interest in Western European classical scholarship and pedagogical methods. As we shall see, this combination formed an important matrix in which the national identity of the newly independent Greek state developed. The chapter begins, however, with a brief outline of the social and historical circumstances surrounding the rapid development of the cultural and political renaissance of modern Greece, followed by an overview of the Greek Enlightenment, which formed the backdrop against which these significant educational reforms took place. 1

Eighteenth-​Century Greece: National Identity, Language, and Pedagogy

During the long eighteenth century, the study of antiquity, fuelled by the ongoing interest in the ancient world that had characterised European culture since the Renaissance, underwent a process of formalisation into a set of academic disciplines, including archaeology, epigraphy, and classical philology. German universities played a leading role in this field, pioneering Altertumswissenschaft.2 The study of ancient Greece, together with the growing popularity of classicism, encouraged the emergence of philhellenism across Europe. This phenomenon, as we shall see, encouraged Greek intellectuals to appeal to ancient tradition in fostering a modern Greek national identity. From the fifteenth century, most of the areas which today fall within the boundaries of modern Greece, and which once belonged to the Byzantine Empire, were under Ottoman rule, the so-​called Turkocracy (Τουρκοκρατία), which lasted almost four centuries until the War of Independence in 1821. The idea of Greece, however, had survived as a social entity, identified by a common language and traditions. Under Ottoman rule, the Greek language spread over the multi-​ethnic populations of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans. A  common diglossia characterised this region, in which Greek functioned as the “elite” language amongst a variety of spoken languages and dialects, and preserved a special status among the other conquered communities, including the Albanians, Vlachs, and Bulgarians. Greek was the language of learned men, books, and trade, and of the Orthodox Church, the oldest and most widely spread cultural institution in the region. Modern Greek was considered to have evolved seamlessly from ancient Greek; hence its normative

2 For a recent presentation of the genesis and development of classical scholarship, see Storia della filologia classica, ed. Diego Lanza and Gherardo Ugolini (Rome: Carocci, 2016).

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grammar was the ancient one, and, despite the gap between the written and spoken varieties of the language, the sense of continuum in the history of the Greek language from antiquity onwards was never questioned.3 During the Turkocracy, the subdued population lived in difficult conditions. Nevertheless, several Greeks maintained a prominent socio-​economic status in commercial and administrative centres inside and outside the Ottoman Empire. Since Byzantine times and during the Turkocracy, the cultural heritage of the Greek-​speaking area had been preserved by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, which not only held religious authority, but had administrative jurisdiction (millet basi) over the Orthodox population of the Ottoman Empire (Rum millet).4 The Patriarchate was also responsible for education. The Patriarchal School of Constantinople—​also known during Ottoman times as the “Great School of the Nation”—​was the leading centre of higher education, where the clergy was trained; it was regarded as a model for additional centres of higher education and secondary-​level schools in the area, such as those at Patmos, Chios, Smyrna, and Ioannina.5 The clergy, who held authority in the local communities, promoted literacy along with religious education among the subjugated Greeks.6 The Orthodox Church, through this educational effort and the use of Greek in the liturgy, helped to preserve the ancient literary tradition, with a Christian rather than a classical focus, and kept alive a sense of Greek identity among those who professed the Orthodox faith. Although this was a remarkable undertaking, it was marked, as we shall see, by a traditional and conservative approach towards pedagogy. In this context, it comes as no surprise that the impulse for educational reform came from outside the Ottoman Empire, from those Greeks who lived abroad, either temporarily—​such as the Greek scholars who studied at the most famous European academic centres in France, Germany, and Italy—​or 3 In other words, the Hellenistic koiné was seen as having experienced an unbroken development throughout the Byzantine and modern periods. 4 The term millet designated all the non-​Muslim communities of the Ottoman Empire, which were identified on the basis of their religion and had administrative autonomy. The Rum millet included all the Orthodox populations of the Empire, under the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. See Bruce Masters, “Millet,” in Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire, ed. Gábor Ágoston and Bruce Masters (New York: Facts on File, 2009), 383–​84. 5 See Eleni Karantzola, “From humanism to the Enlightenment:  the teaching of Ancient Greek and its grammar,” in A History of Ancient Greek: from the Beginnings to Late Antiquity, ed. Anastassios-Fivos Christidis (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 1246. 6 See Theodore G. Zervas, “National Identity and Education in the Early Modern State of Greece,” Historical Yearbook 7 (2010): 140–​44.

176 Dieli permanently—​in the so-​called diaspora communities, which included scholars, merchants, and students who were constantly in contact with broader European social and cultural concerns. They acted as the main bridge between their homeland and Europe, and were the first to feel the need both for an educational system that was deeper, broader, and more up-​to-​date than the traditional Greek pedagogical model, and for more effective linguistic training, which, it was hoped, would provide a more suitable means of communicating in the modern world. 2

A Forerunner of the Revolution: the Project of Rhigas Velestinlis

Before exploring the ways in which traditional Greek teaching was transformed in the early decades of the nineteenth century, it is helpful to outline the political background against which these developments took place. Limits of space prohibit a detailed examination of the political situation of Greece on the eve of the nineteenth century, but it is worth mentioning the project of Rhigas Velestinlis Feraios (Ρήγας Βελεστινλής-​Φεραίος, 1757–​1798).7 Rhigas, remembered as a Greek national hero and the “protomartyr” of Greek independence, was the first to conceive the project of a full-​scale national revolution, and died in the Balkan uprising against Ottoman rule. Inspired by the political thought of the French philosophes—​particularly Montesquieu and Rousseau—​he adopted the ideals of the French revolution—​“liberty, equality, fraternity”—​as guidelines for the Greek national constitution.8 According to Rhigas, independence from Ottoman despotism was the first step towards a wider project for the social, moral, and cultural restoration of the Greek nation. Following the example of contemporary Napoleonic policy, he aspired to the re-​birth of the Byzantine Empire under a republican system of government, a Hellenic Republic: a multi-​ethnic state politically and culturally ruled by the Greek nation, with Greek as the official language. Of particular interest here is Rhigas’s vision of the important role to be played by universal education in ancient Greek language and history in fostering a spirit of patriotism and national pride. He asserted the need for a system of compulsory public education for all children irrespective of sex.9 Knowledge of ancient Greek was regarded as the key to 7 The most recent presentation of this figure, with detailed bibliography, can be found in Kitromilides, Enlightenment and Revolution, 200–​29. 8 His revolutionary pamphlet including the Constitution of the Hellenic Republic was a Greek translation and adaptation of the Jacobine Constitution of 1793. On which, see Kitromilides, Enlightenment and Revolution, 219. 9 Kitromilides, Enlightenment and Revolution, 221.

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accessing the original texts that “would assure the effective training of patriots,” by connecting the new-​born nation with its illustrious, ancient past.10 Rhigas’s attempt to emphasize this connection is illustrated in his “Charta of Greece,” a monumental map published in Vienna in 1797, while the country was still under Ottoman domination, depicting the ideal future of Greece, which would encompass Asia Minor, Constantinople, and the Balkans up to the Danube.11 It was both a historical map, recalling past Hellenic greatness, and a precise political proposal for the establishment of a modern independent Greek state. Rhigas’s premature death meant that his complex programme could not be put into practice.12 Nevertheless, his constitutional project was at the root of the so-​called “Great Idea” (Μεγάλη Ιδέα), the nationalist aspiration to a greater Greece including all areas historically inhabited by the ancient Greeks, which formed a cornerstone of Greek policy until the twentieth century. Rhigas’s ambitious project shows the extent to which Greece, a country which existed only in the minds of the intellectual elite, was defined by shared cultural and linguistic features, in which conceptions of the history of ancient Greece played a significant role. Greece was where Greek speakers lived and where Greek culture had spread. These ideas had a long legacy. The term “Hellenism,” which defined the spread of Greek language and culture in the empire of Alexander the Great, was thus revived in nineteenth-​century Greek historiography to indicate a new phase in Greek history. The political and cultural movement striving for the rebirth of Greece was described as modern ­Hellenism.13

10 Kitromilides, Enlightenment and Revolution, 221. 11 For a detailed description of this map, see Kitromilides, Enlightenment and Revolution, 210–​12. 12 The Greek Revolution would begin more than twenty years after his death, in 1821. 13 This historical narrative, introduced by the historian Konstantinos Paparrigopoulos (1815–​1891) with the clear ideological objective of presenting Greek history as a coherent development from ancient to modern times, had a profound influence on subsequent Greek historiography. In his interpretation of Greek history, Paparrigopoulos traced back modern Hellenism—​the modern rediscovery of ancient Hellenism—​to the thirteenth century, thus seeking to justify the birth of a modern Greece entirely independent from the influence of Western culture. A century later, Konstantinos Dimaras (1904–​1992) first defined the Greek experience of the Enlightenment as “Neohellenic Enlightenment,” applying the notion of Hellenism to eighteenth-​century Greek culture (cf. briefly below). For a discussion of these developments in Greek historiographical narratives and their ideological significance, see Antonis Liakos, “The Construction of National Time:  The Making of the Modern Greek Historical Imagination,” in Political Uses of the Past:  The Recent Mediterranean Experiences, ed. Jacques Revel and Giovanni Levi (London and New York: Routledge, 2014), 27–​42.

178 Dieli It is noteworthy that until the Revolution of 1821, Greeks called themselves “Romaioi,” presenting themselves as the heirs to the Byzantine and Christian traditions of the Eastern Roman Empire, while “Hellen” (Ἕλλην) was used to refer to the ancient Greek pagans, and the “Hellenic language” (Ἑλληνικὴ γλῶσσα) to ancient Greek.14 After the war of independence, however, the term “Hellenic” was recovered and adopted for the new-​born nation, in order to strengthen the continuity with its glorious past. The new country was thus named “Hellas,” a term that had been used since antiquity to designate an ethnic entity united by a common culture rather than a political unit.15 The fact that modern Greece adopted a historical name associated with its ancient culture is suggestive of the profound influence in the decades preceding 1821 of the rediscovery of antiquity—​through the study of ancient language and history—​on the formation of modern Greek national identity. It is these decades to which we now turn, the period generally regarded as the age of the Greek Enlightenment. 3

The Greek Enlightenment

The term “Greek Enlightenment,” which has been described as the “cornerstone” of the “modern Greek history of ideas,” was used for the first time in 1945 by the influential historian Konstantinos Dimaras.16 Dimaras later outlined the evolution of Greek culture and society in the period 1600–​1821, within which the Greek Enlightenment formed the last of three phases in a process of Greek cultural revival.17 He traced the first phase to the seventeenth century, which 14




See Antonis Liakos, “ ‘From Greek into our common language’:  Language and history in the making of Modern Greece,” in A History of Ancient Greek: from the Beginnings to Late Antiquity, ed. Anastassios-Fivos Christidis (Cambridge and New  York:  Cambridge University Press, 2007), 1287–​95. Western Europe names Greece after the Latin “Graeci,” the name given by the Romans to the ancient Hellenes, and later the entire Eastern Empire. See John S. Koliopoulos and Thanos M. Veremis, Greece. The Modern Sequel: From 1831 to the Present (London: C. Hurst & Co., 2002), 1–​2. As noted in Manolis Patiniotis, “Neo-​Hellenic Enlightenment: In Search of a European Identity,” in Relocating the History of Science:  Essays in Honor of Kostas Gavroglu, ed. Theodore Arabatzis, Jürgen Renn, and Ana Simões (Cham, Heidelberg, New  York, Dordrecht, and London: Springer, 2015), 119. Dimaras’s work was almost entirely devoted to the study of the Neohellenic Enlightenment; cf. for instance Konstantinos T. Dimaras, Νεοελληνικòς Διαφωτισμός (Athens: Ermis, 1977, numerous reprints). For a discussion of Dimaras’s argument, see Patiniotis, “Neo-​Hellenic Enlightenment,” 119.

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he described as the age of “religious humanism,” a movement of spiritual and intellectual renewal, and a forerunner of the Enlightenment.18 He identified the second stage, from the last decades of the seventeenth century until 1774, as the “century of the Phanariots.” The Phanariots represented the intellectual elite of the Greek-​speaking society of the time, whose economic power brought them great political and cultural influence.19 Through their contacts with contemporary European culture, they promoted a movement of ideas open to the reception of European—​particularly French—​thought. For Dimaras, the Greek Enlightenment proceeded from this period. It spanned the last fifty years of the Turkocracy, emerging around 1775 and culminating in the war of independence in 1821. Although it took place later than in the rest of Europe, the Enlightenment in Greece gained ground and spread quickly—​in part because of favourable socio-​economic conditions—​and developed its own, unique characteristics, merging with the local Orthodox tradition and a specific understanding of the ancient past.20 One of the main objectives of the Greek Enlightenment was to strengthen the Greeks’ bond with their past: their ancient heritage allowed them to take part in modern Europe and to present themselves to European philhellenists as the heirs to the historical and mythological heroes of classical antiquity. In Dimaras’s scheme of modern Greek history, it is notable that Europe functions as a mirror through which the Greeks constructed their own identity, as a model for both comparison and emulation. Since their country, as a gateway from East to West and from South to North, was exposed to competing cultural influences, the Greeks attempted to frame a national identity that would preserve Greek traditions, while participating in broader European trends. In part due to their awareness of the importance of education in shaping national consciousness, Greek scholars between the eighteenth-​and nineteenth centuries were particularly concerned with pedagogy. But what was teaching practice like in eighteenth-​century Greece? As we have seen, centuries of political oppression had rendered Greece a periphery of the vast Ottoman Empire. The authorities had no interest in improving education, and existing pedagogy depended entirely on the Orthodox Church;

18 19 20

See Constantin T. Dimaras, La Grèce au temps des Lumières (Geneva: Droz, 1969), ix–​xiv. They were named after the Phanar district of Constantinople, in which the headquarters of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and the Greek-​speaking elite more broadly, were based. For a full account of “the scheme of the Enlightenment,” see Konstantinos Dimaras, “Τὸ σχῆμα τοῦ Διαφωτισμοῦ,” in Ἱστορία τοῦ Ἑλληνικοῦ Ἔθνους, Vol. xi, ed. Georgios Christopoulos (Athens: Athenon, 1975), 328–​59.

180 Dieli there was no school system. Basic education was entrusted to individuals, whose efforts were usually non-​systematic. The syllabus was traditionally entirely restricted to grammar, and the only language taught was ancient Greek, which differed from the vernacular. The remainder of this chapter will explore how Neophytos Vamvas and Konstantinos Koumas aimed to reform this educational system, and in so doing draw attention to the particularities of the reception of antiquity, and its significance in the formation of national identity, during the Greek Enlightenment. 4

Neophytos Vamvas (1776–​1855): Teacher of the Nation

Neophytos Vamvas, a scholar, teacher, and a leading figure in Greek cultural life, was born in 1776 on the island of Chios where he spent his early youth.21 There he started studying, according to the custom of the time, displaying good abilities and a great interest in learning. At the age of around fifteen, he joined the clergy and became a deacon, thereby undertaking secondary education, which was usually reserved for those who began an ecclesiastical career, but he never became a priest.22 In spite of his parents’ lack of means, he travelled across the Aegean in search of the best-​known teachers, motivated by an insatiable thirst for knowledge (φιλομάθεια). He soon became a teaching assistant, and moved with his schoolmaster to Constantinople, the religious, political, and cultural capital of the subdued Greek people, which offered a vibrant and stimulating context in which to work. After a long period spent in Constantinople, in which he started teaching and became an active member of the intellectual elite,23 he finally succeeded in reaching Western Europe in order further to improve his education. In 1808, travelling through Vienna—​the capital of the Austrian Empire, and home to a large Greek diaspora community of intellectuals and merchants—​he moved to Paris, where he lived under the wing of the prominent classical scholar Adamantios Korais (Αδαμάντιος 21

22 23

A complete essay about this significant figure of the Greek Enlightenment is still a desideratum. A short biography and essential bibliographical references can be found in Λεξικό Νεοελληνικής Λογοτεχνίας (Athens:  Patakis, 2007), 247. For a more in-​depth biographical profile see Panagiotis Michailaris, “Νεόφυτος Βάμβας,” in Κληρικοί στον Αγώνα, ed. Panagiotis Michailaris and Vasilis Panagiotopoulos (Athens: Ta Nea, 2010), 81–​113. The exact date of his appointment as deacon is not known, but it could have been at the start of his secondary education, or at some point in the first years of this course. In 1799, he collaborated to the publication project of a great encyclopaedic dictionary of the Greek language, Κιβωτὸς τῆς Ἑλληνικῆς γλώσσης (Constantinople, 1819), the first work of its kind in modern Greek.

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Κοραής, 1748–​1833), and became his pupil.24 Korais was one of the most influential intellectuals of the Greek diaspora, and is generally seen as the father of the Greek Enlightenment.25 He promoted the re-​birth of the Greek nation through his theories on language, culture, and education and his thought had a profound influence on the following generation of Greek intellectuals, including Vamvas.26 In Paris, the home of the philosophes and birthplace of the French Revolution, Vamvas came into contact with European thought; after a few years, encouraged by his master Korais, he returned to his native island of Chios, where he took up the direction of the local school, reforming and improving it with the establishment of a library and a printing press. When the Greek Revolution broke out, he initially took an active part in the military action, alongside the revolutionary leader Dimitrios Ypsilantis, but subsequently decided to fight the battle for freedom and modernisation in the field of education. He spent the rest of his long life establishing modern schools and teaching across Greece,27 spreading European ideas throughout the country, and he wrote—​or translated into modern Greek—​many school books covering a wide range of

24 25



On the relationship between Korais and Vamvas, see Konstantinos T. Dimaras, “Δύο φίλοι. Κοραῆς καὶ Βάμβας,” in Ἱστορικὰ φροντίσματα, Vol. B: Ἀδαμάντιος Κοραῆς, ed. Konstantinos T. Dimaras (Αthens: Poreia, 1996), 135–​95; 230–​42. Born in Smyrna, Korais spent most of his life in France. He studied medicine at the University of Montpellier, and lived for the remainder of his life (1788–​1833) in Paris, where he witnessed the French Revolution. For further biographical details (with essential bibliography), cf. ΛΝΕΛ, 1122–​23; for a more extensive account, see Konstantinos T.  Dimaras, Ὁ Κοραῆς καὶ ἡ ἐποχὴ του (Athens:  Aetos, 1953), and more recently, Peter Mackridge, “Korais and the Greek language question,” in Adamantios Korais and the European Enlightenment, ed. Paschalis M.  Kitromilides (Oxford:  Voltaire Foundation, 2010), 127–​50. His masterwork was the Hellenic Library, a collection of ancient Greek authors compiled following the modern methods of philology. The long Prolegomena of these volumes present his programmatic considerations on Greek language and education (paideia) to the emerging intellectual elite, together with precise critical and practical advice on how to revive Greek civilisation. Central to his concerns was the creation of a “clear” modern Greek language, suitable for the cultural needs of a modern nation:  in the contemporary controversy on modern Greek, he strongly supported the via media (“middle way”) between archaism and demoticism. See Vincenzo Rotolo, A. Korais e la questione della lingua in Grecia (Palermo: Accademia, 1965). One of his most important teaching experiences was in the Ionian Islands, where he spent a decade from 1823 to 1833 immediately after he retired from the war. Since they formed part of the British protectorate, in Kefalonia and Corfu, Vamvas continued to be exposed to Western ideas.

182 Dieli disciplines, from grammar and rhetoric to chemistry and philosophy.28 He was also a prominent figure in theological and religious debates, and is renowned for the first great translation of the Bible into modern Greek, which was published between 1836 and 1850. In 1837, he was appointed the first Head of the Philosophy Department of the recently established University of Athens, where he remained a teacher until his death in 1855. During the last decades of his life, he was influenced by the more conservative turn that characterised the intellectual life of the new Greek State.29 5

Teaching in Greece before and after the Enlightenment: Vamvas’s Account

An important source for our knowledge of Vamvas’s life is an autobiographical letter which remained incomplete and unpublished, in which he describes his youth and his attempts to further his own education.30 He depicts his personal 28



From his stay in Paris onwards, Vamvas studied and translated the works of French Enlightenment thinkers—​ especially those of Jean-​ François Thurot, whose lectures he had attended. He was also deeply interested in Scottish philosophy, with which he became acquainted during his stay in the Ionian Islands. When he was a teacher of philosophy in the Ionian Academy, he translated Dugald Stewart’s (1753–​1828) Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind and Outlines of Moral Philosophy as a didactic tool for his lectures. See Dugald Stewart, Ἐγχειρίδιον Ἠθικῆς Φιλοσοφίας, tr. Neophytos Vamvas, ed. Panagis D. Aliprantis (Athens: ine/​e ie, 2009). In the foreword, the editor provides important information about Vamvas’s teaching activity in Corfu and the influence of Scottish philosophy on the development of Greek Enlightenment thought. The creation of the new independent state was followed by a process of cultural crystallisation, in which the ideology that had led to independence was deeply influential. For instance, Korais’s theories on language gradually underwent distortions which led to the creation of the katharevousa (lit. “purified”), an archaising, artificial language based on Ancient Greek which would be the official Greek language form the 1830s until 1976. Vamvas himself was involved in this cultural process and the language of his books progressively evolved into a more archaising form. On the Greek language question, see Peter Mackridge, Language and National Identity in Greece, 1766–​1976 (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2009). The letter, addressed to his friend I. Valetas, contains no indication of the place or date of composition; it remained unfinished and was never delivered to the addressee. The autobiographical account covers the period from Vamvas’s birth and early years until the War of Independence, specifically the summer of 1822, the beginning of the Ottoman repression against the insurgents. The letter was found in Chios, Vamvas’s native island, and was published in 1869 by the historian Anastasios Goudas, the author of the first work on modern Greek history, with the evocative title: Parallel Lives of the outstanding men at the time of Greece’s Renaissance; cf. Anastasios N. Goudas, Βίοι παράλληλοι τῶν ἐπὶ τῆς ἀναγεννήσεως τῆς Ἑλλάδος διαπρεψάντων ἀνδρῶν, Vol. Α (Athens, 1869), 288–​97.

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experience of traditional teaching in Greece, which fuelled his desire for education in the core subjects of Western European university curricula: Until the age of fifteen, I attended classes in my homeland Chios, but feeling that my advances were scant, when I heard about the famous school of Sifnos, I begged my parents to send me there; although they resisted because of my youth and vulnerability, and lack of means, I begged them with tears and persuaded them with difficulty to supply me with all they could, and to pray for me to the Heavenly Father. Thus I went to Sifnos and there I spent two years studying. At the school there was only one teacher, Misail Patmios, who only taught ancient Greek language, like almost all teachers at the time. Philology, Logic, Philosophy, Elements of Mathematics were either completely ignored or extremely rare in the public schools at the time. It is worth mentioning here the commendable love for knowledge (φιλομάθεια) of the Sifnians and their extraordinary philanthropy (φιλανθρωπία) towards foreign students.31 According to the letter, despite its widespread reputation, the school at Sifnos did not meet Vamvas’s expectations. Nevertheless, he thought highly of the Sifnians’ attitude towards education, considering it both the proof of the Greek nation’s persistent sensitivity to paideia, and the first step towards rebuilding the educational system. After Sifnos, Vamvas moved with his teacher to the island of Patmos where he attended the lectures of one of the most erudite schoolmasters, Daniil Kerameus (d. 1800),32 at one of the few centres for higher education in Greece that followed the model of the Patriarchal School of Constantinople. At the school at Patmos, Vamvas once again bemoaned the restrictive curriculum: I studied there [in Patmos] for two years. Instruction there was also restricted to exegesis and syntactical analysis. There was no philological theory, because the teachers knew neither Latin nor any other European language; the school library contained nothing but old editions of [ancient] Greek and ecclesiastical writers.33


This autobiography has been recently re-​published by Michailaris as an addendum to his biography of Vamvas; see Michailaris, Νεόφυτος Βάμβας, 142–​48. All translations from the Greek are mine. 32 See ΛΝΕΛ, 1080. 33 Vamvas’s autobiography: Michailaris, Νεόφυτος Βάμβας, 142.

184 Dieli Vamvas’s narrative confirms that primary and secondary education in Greece in this period were limited to language teaching, specifically ancient Greek grammar and syntax with a selection of authors. The main aim was to provide students with the ability to read the Bible, the Church Fathers, and the Christian tradition to prepare them for theological studies. Vamvas’s account also draws attention to the perceived need to engage with Western European philological scholarship in order to enhance the teaching of ancient Greek. He notes that the only books available as teaching aids were the humanist grammars and language books composed in the fifteenth century, when ancient Greek, alongside Latin, became a language of European intellectuals. The most well-​known of these were the Epitome of the Eight Parts of Speech (Ἐπιτομὴ τῶν ὀκτὼ τοῦ λόγου μερῶν) by Constantine Laskaris (1476), and the four-​volume Grammar of Theodore Gazes (1495), both reprinted frequently in subsequent centuries. They were largely “the result of continuous additions, deletions and rearrangements of self-​contained treatises by p ­ rofessional grammarians,” particularly Dionysius Thrax’s Art of Grammar (Tέχνη Γραμματική) and Theodosius’s Canons (Κανόνες), both composed in late antiquity (second century bce and fourth century CE respectively).34 These books soon became the reference point for Greek language learning across Europe, and for centuries teaching followed this tradition. In Greece, as in other European countries, pedagogical innovation would come from a growing interest in the spoken language and the acknowledgement of its cultural significance.35 Vamvas’s autobiographical account continues with a reflection on his more recent experience as a teacher: Practice in ancient Greek writing and orthography was much greater than in today’s schools and gymnasia; and this happens today on account of the crowd of many different subjects, whereas the basis of Greek instruction should be the Greek language, upon which the rest should gradually be built. It should not happen that a Greek could speak and write foreign languages while speaking Greek in a barbaric and ill-​formed way.36

34 35


Karantzola, “Teaching of Ancient Greek,” 1243. See Karantzola, “Teaching of Ancient Greek,” 1244, who compares the Greek case to Spain: from the fifteenth century onwards, the translations of Latin works into the vernacular language led to the development of grammars of the modern languages. This phenomenon of “grammatisation” provided modern European languages with “the two basic metalinguistic technologies: the grammar and the dictionary.” Vamvas’s autobiography: Michailaris, Νεόφυτος Βάμβας, 143.

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This statement provides evidence that the first attempt to modernise teaching on the model of Western schools consisted of introducing different subjects without a systematic organisation of the curriculum, which had resulted in a “crowd of different subjects.” At the beginning of nineteenth century, several Greek educational centres had introduced scientific subjects imported from abroad.37 Yet in the previous lines, Vamvas seems to argue that these modern subjects should not replace the centuries-​old Greek educational practice based on language teaching, which, although in need of reform, provided strong foundations for a broader education. The passage as a whole suggests a development in the perceived importance of teaching ancient Greek. Although it had never been abandoned in previous centuries, it would acquire a new significance in the age of the Enlightenment, thanks to new pedagogical methods and a broader, more coherent project of national education. From the difficulties he encountered in his youth, and using the experience he had gained in Paris, Vamvas conceived the outline of a programme for the reform of the Greek school system that would be a lifelong commitment. This involved the translation and adaptation of contemporary European reference books into modern Greek. In his works, essentially conceived as teaching aids, Vamvas put into practice the idea of a modern education available to a wider public. Beginning with his first publication, the Rhetoric, which provided advice on the art of speaking and writing well drawn from ancient and modern authors and was printed in Paris in 1813 under the guidance of Korais, his textbooks went through many reprints and revisions.38 He updated them himself throughout his life, and they display his ongoing engagement with contemporary European thought: for example, the Rhetoric was reprinted in 1841 in a revised edition in which we can recognise the influence exerted by the aesthetic theories of the Scottish Enlightenment.39 In accordance with Korais’s


38 39

See Iason Kastanis and Nikos Kastanis, “The Transmission of Mathematics into Greek Education, 1800–​1840: From Individual Initiatives to Institutionalization,” in Paedagogica Historica, 42 (2006), 515–​34. See below on Konstantinos Koumas, one of the most scientifically literate teachers in the Greek schools. The work is Rhetoric based on the most famous ancient and modern writers:  Neophytos Vamvas, Ῥητορικὴ Ἐκ τῶν ἐνδοξοτέρων τεχνογράφων παλαιῶν καὶ νεωτέρων (Paris, 1813). Vamvas’s engagement with the Scottish Enlightenment has been noted by Panagis Aliprantis, who edited Vamvas’s translation of Dugald Stewart, Outlines of Moral Philosophy (1793). See Dugald Stewart, Ἐγχειρίδιον Ἠθικῆς Φιλοσοφίας, 20–​37. Two manuscripts recently found in the Department of Manuscripts of the National Library of Greece (ms ebe 4072; ms ebe 4295), which contain an unpublished text of Vamvas’s handbooks on rhetoric and grammar, provide evidence that he had forged his teaching methods under the influence of Scottish thought during his stay in the Ionian Islands (1823–​1833). See

186 Dieli teaching, Vamvas wrote his early works in a learned language closer to the vernacular,40 thereby laying claim both to the legacy of the ancient past, and to the necessity of linguistic modernisation. Thanks to this fortunate linguistic choice as well as to their contents, his textbooks were highly successful in Greek schools. Valuable information about the educational reforms promoted by Vamvas can be found in the forewords of his publications, in which he explains why he published his textbooks, which models he followed, and his personal choices in terms of style and content. When he returned to Greece as a teacher and school director, Vamvas began teaching ancient Greek grammar; yet the difficulties mentioned above, particularly the lack of books, teaching aids, and learning tools, as well as inadequate methods, forced him to produce new didactic tools. He began by composing a plain Grammar of the [Ancient] Greek Language (Γραμματικὴ τῆς Ἑλληνικῆς γλώσσης, Chios: 1821),41 written in a language and style suitable for beginners and based on the example of contemporary Western grammars, especially those of German philologists such as Philipp Karl Buttmann (1764–​1829) and August Matthiae (1769–​ 1835).42 This first volume was followed by a Syntax, belatedly published in Corfu in 1828 because of the outbreak of the war. From this point on, Vamvas’s books—​along with similar works by other enlightened teachers, such as Konstantinos Koumas, Konstantinos Vardalachos, and Konstantinos and Stefanos Oikonomos—​progressively became standard textbooks for the teaching of ancient Greek. From the 1830s onwards, Vamvas also wrote a successful series of parallel grammars of both ancient and modern Greek. These works were adopted and reprinted in Ermoupolis, Athens, and Constantinople, and saw nine editions during Vamvas’s lifetime. The high number of reprints suggests that these grammars became widespread course textbooks in other innovative educational centres. Vamvas’s interest in reforming the teaching of ancient Greek thus had wider repercussions on the teaching of the modern Greek language.

40 41 42

Marta Dieli, “Due manoscritti «inediti» delle opere di Neophytos Vamvas,” Ho Eranistes 29 (2016): 257–​81. On which see n. 26 above. As mentioned above, here “Hellenic language” (Ἑλληνικὴ γλῶσσα) means ancient Greek (the Hellenistic koiné), the grammar of which was codified in the Hellenistic period. As Vamvas himself writes in the Foreword of his first Grammar:  Neophytos Vamvas, Γραμματικὴ τῆς Ἑλληνικῆς γλώσσης (Chios, 1821), (γ’)–​ι’.

The Enlightenment and the Teaching Of Greek



Konstantinos Koumas (1777–​1836): a History of Greek Education

Vamvas’s personal account of the traditional teaching of ancient Greek grammar, and of the steps he took to reform it through engaging with Western European pedagogical methods, is confirmed by the writings of Konstantinos Koumas, another itinerant intellectual and pioneering teacher of the Greek Enlightenment.43 He was born in Larisa (Thessaly) in 1777, and was educated both locally and abroad, especially in Vienna. During the time he spent in Austria and Germany, he met some of the most brilliant scholars of the day, including the philologists Friedrich August Wolf (1759–​1824), Philipp Karl Buttmann, and Friedrich Thiersch (1784–​1860) and the philosophers Friedrich Schelling (1775–​1854) and Wilhelm Traugott Krug (1770–​1842). He took an active part in European intellectual life, and published most of his works in Vienna.44 Like Vamvas, Koumas devoted his energies to teaching, translating, and compiling teaching aids in various fields from geometry and chemistry to philosophy, history, and literature. He worked particularly hard to enhance the Greek educational system through the introduction of mathematics and the sciences into the school curriculum. In his approach to language teaching and pedagogy, he was greatly influenced by Korais’s thought, and like Vamvas, worked actively in the Greek schools to implement Korais’s ideas. In 1809, Koumas was invited to Smyrna, a cosmopolitan city and trade centre, to take over the local school, which he rapidly turned into an innovative advanced learning centre, the Philological Gymnasium. Korais himself strongly endorsed this initiative for the modernisation of education. Under Koumas’s directorship, the school became famous, especially for its innovative teaching methods,45 which he promoted in the face of opposition from Smyrniots who supported traditional schooling, which finally forced the Gymnasium to close in 1819. In 1814, Koumas left Smyrna to take up the directorship of the Patriarchal School of Constantinople for a year, following which he travelled in Germany and returned to Vienna. He was there when the Revolution broke out in 1821, and spent time in prison because 43 44


For a short biography and essential bibliographical references, see ΛΝΕΛ, 1146–​47. For a discussion of the influence of contemporary German philosophy on Koumas’s educational thought, see Athanasia Glycofrydi-​Leontsini, “The Role of Philosophy in Citizenship Education during the Neohellenic Enlightenment,” in Politics in Education, ed. Peter Kemp and Asger Sørensen (Münster: lit Verlag, 2012), 62–​3. Koumas gave particular prominence to scientific subjects, and imported the tools and materials for scientific experiments and practical training in geography from Vienna. For a detailed presentation of Koumas’s activity in Smyrna, see Evaggelos G. Vallianatos, “Constantine Koumas and the Philological Gymnasium of Smyrna, 1810–​1819,” East European Quarterly 6.4 (1973): 419–​43.

188 Dieli of his affiliation with the “Friendly Society” (Φιλική Εταιρεία), a secret association of Greek intellectuals and merchants which—​like other contemporary European secret societies—​spread revolutionary ideas in order to prepare for a political uprising.46 In 1835, after the establishment of the Greek kingdom, Koumas was appointed director of the Greek School in Trieste, which was at that time part of the Austrian Empire. He died in 1836 after a life entirely devoted to learning and teaching. His role in reforming teaching practice is documented through his textbooks, many of which include essays on the history of education. In 1833, he published a Grammar for schools in Vienna, a work which epitomises the great challenge of modernising the curriculum. In the book’s long Prolegomena, Koumas retraces the origins and development of grammar teaching in Greece from antiquity to the modern day, providing a history of Greek education which confirms Vamvas’s account of the long-​standing reduction of the curriculum to the “art of grammar” (γραμματικὴ τέχνη). Koumas argued that the history of Greek letters fell into three great periods: the first ranging from the Hellenistic Age until the Byzantine Empire, the second taking place during the Turkocracy, and the third marking a turning point towards modernity, under the influence of Korais’s thought. During the first phase, the grammatical system was codified by Alexandrian grammarians; under Ottoman rule, the “art of grammar” established by Byzantine scholars was gradually synthesised and organised in individual works, such as the grammars of Theodore Gazes (“the most perfect at the time,” according to Koumas) and Constantine Laskaris, which became the standard textbooks for language learning and thus for basic education.47 Addressing his daughter, to whom the book is dedicated, Koumas says of these works: My dear Helen, these two Grammars reigned over the Greek schools until the beginning of this century [the nineteenth century]. And, although our schoolmasters were divided into two opposite parties—​on the one hand, those who held Theodore to be the only safe guide to Mount Helicon [i.e. to poetry, the highest level of language], on the other, those who preferred the most detailed textbook of Laskaris—​the former could not avoid Laskaris for beginners, any more than the latter could avoid Gazes for syntax.48 46 47 48

Like most intellectuals of the time, Vamvas was also probably affiliated with the Friendly Society. See Karantzola, “Teaching of Ancient Greek,” 1247. Konstantinos M. Koumas, Γραμματικὴ διὰ σχολεῖα (Vienna, 1833), ια’–​ιβ’.

The Enlightenment and the Teaching Of Greek


Nevertheless, Koumas continues, neither grammar could meet the students’ needs because of their complexity. Subsequent grammarians and teachers sought to provide clarifications to them through commentaries, only increasing their length. None of these works were suitable for effective learning because they lacked any kind of pedagogical method; moreover, they were written with the aim of teaching a language which was different from the spoken one, which increased perceptions of their lack of utility. From the eighteenth century onwards, Koumas argues, the need for change was felt amongst intellectuals who were in contact with European thought. The first of these was Korais, who provided the guidelines for the modernisation of the “art of grammar” by following the precepts of Western European philology:

Around the same time (1805) the immortal Korais raised his voice in the Prodromus [preliminary publication] of the Hellenic Library and shared his advice on grammar with the nation, that is: a. It should be synthetic; b. It should be written in the spoken language; c. It should cleanse the confusion of adverbs;49 d. It should examine the nature of parts of speech. The voice of such an admirable man was heard loud and clear all over Greece, and someone committed, as a point of honour, to putting his advice into practice.50

At this point, the author mentions the German philological school, which “shines today for knowledge of the Greek world” and “engendered such luminaries whose erudition, intellectual depth, and diligence never cease to amaze me.”51 For Koumas, German scholars offered enlightened Greeks the best model for a modern grammar as they began translating their works into modern Greek and adapting them to their own reform projects.52 Korais once again played a leading role in promoting this development: 49

Note that the idea of “purification” stands at the core of Korais’s linguistic theory about modern Greek. Taken to the extreme, it would lead to the creation of the katharevousa, on which cf. n.29 above. 50 Koumas, Γραμματικὴ διὰ σχολεῖα, ις’–​ιζ’. 51 Ibid., ις’–​ιζ’. 52 The translation of Western European teaching tools into Greek is the main subject of my current doctoral research at the University of Padua. The aim of the project is to shed light on the models, contents, and methods of language teaching reform during the Greek Enlightenment in order to evaluate the contribution of European thought to the history of ideas in modern Greece.

190 Dieli In 1810, the two grammars [of Buttmann and Matthiae] had been published and Korais—​God rest his soul—​persisted in begging me through his letters to translate one of them, especially that of Buttmann, for the students of my Gymnasium … It has finally been translated by Stephanos Oikonomos and published in 1812 at Vienna; it has been very advantageous for our country, in spite of its complexity, and it has, as far as I know, been reprinted at Corfu for the Ionian State schools.53 Oikonomos’s Grammar, the several editions of Vamvas’s Grammars, and Koumas’s own work, which lay at the end of the historical development he traced, epitomised the substantial effort of this generation of Greek scholars to enlighten their country through the modernisation of education and the advancement of ancient learning. 7


Vamvas’s and Koumas’s personal experiences bear witness to the standards of instruction in Greece before the Revolution. Through their teaching and writings, they endeavoured to improve the education of the nascent Greek state by drawing on Western pedagogical models. The development of modern philosophical and pedagogical standards led to the introduction of a wide-​ranging curriculum. Teaching became a profession, and learning a requirement of every citizen rather than merely preparation for a religious vocation; education acquired a central role in contemporary culture and politics. The teaching of ancient Greek grammar had an important role to play in this transformation, changing considerably both in methodology and purpose. Through their translations, Vamvas and Koumas—​among other enlightened teachers such as the brothers Konstantinos and Stephanos Oikonomos—​ introduced European handbooks to ancient Greek grammar that were inspired by the modern science of antiquity. These new grammars reclaimed elements of traditional teaching, such as the parts of speech codified by ancient grammarians, presenting them to Greeks as well as to students and scholars of other European countries; yet they did so in a modern way, in accordance with the precepts established by contemporary classical philology. At the same time, the comparison between the spoken and the ancient language led to the production of new grammars of so-​called “common” Greek alongside ancient Greek, and to the progressive “grammatisation” of modern Greek. 53 Koumas, Γραμματικὴ διὰ σχολεῖα, ιη’–​ιθ’.

The Enlightenment and the Teaching Of Greek


The Greek Enlightenment—​and the subsequent cultural and political uprising—​thus included the rediscovery of an ancient tradition which was to have an instrumental role in the making of the nation. The growing interest in linguistic issues encouraged debates over the language of modern Greece, which was closely related to the establishment of the independent Greek state. Ancient Greek grammar, mediated through Western classical scholarship, therefore became a means to access a tradition which, in Greece, shaped not only the modern language, but national consciousness as well. This was the great endeavour of the Greek Enlightenment: through the rediscovery of modern Greek identity in its classical roots, the ancient past became a path to modernity.


Primary Sources

Secondary Sources

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Dieli, Marta. “Due manoscritti ‘inediti’ delle opere di Neophytos Vamvas.” Ho Eranistes 29 (2016): 257–​81. Dimaras, Konstantinos T. Ὁ Κοραῆς καὶ ἡ ἐποχὴ του. Athens: Aetos, 1953. Dimaras, Konstantinos T. La Grèce au temps des Lumières. Geneva: Droz, 1969. Dimaras, Constantin T. “Τὸ σχῆμα τοῦ Διαφωτισμοῦ.” In Ἱστορία τοῦ Ἑλληνικοῦ Ἔθνους, edited by Georgios Christopoulos, Vol. xi, 328–​59. Athens: Athenon, 1975. Dimaras, Konstantinos T. “Δύο φίλοι. Κοραῆς καὶ Βάμβας.” In Ἱστορικὰ φροντίσματα, Vol. B:  Ἀδαμάντιος Κοραῆς, edited by Konstantinos T. Dimaras, 135–​95; 230–​42. Αthens: Poreia, 1996. Glycofrydi-​Leontsini, Athanasia. “The role of Philosophy in Citizenship Education during the Neohellenic Enlightenment.” In Politics in Education, edited by Peter Kemp and Asger Sørensen, 56–​74. Münster: lit Verlag, 2012.

192 Dieli Karantzola, Eleni. “From humanism to the Enlightenment:  The teaching of Ancient Greek and its grammar.” In A History of Ancient Greek:  from the Beginnings to Late Antiquity, edited by Anastassios-Fivos Christidis, 1241–​49. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Kastanis, Iason, and Nikos Kastanis. “The Transmission of Mathematics into Greek Education, 1800–​1840: From Individual Initiatives to Institutionalization.” Paedagogica Historica, 42 (2006), 515–​34. Kitromilides, Paschalis M. Enlightenment and Revolution. The Making of Modern Greece. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013. Koliopoulos, John S. and Thanos M. Veremis. Greece. The Modern Sequel: From 1831 to the Present. London: C. Hurst & Co., 2002. Lanza, Diego and Gherardo Ugolini (eds). Storia della filologia classica. Rome: Carocci, 2016. Λεξικό Νεοελληνικής Λογοτεχνίας (ΛΝΕΛ). Athens: Patakis, 2007. Liakos, Antonis. “The Construction of National Time: The Making of the Modern Greek Historical Imagination.” In Political Uses of the Past: The Recent Mediterranean Experiences, edited by Giovanni Levi and Jacques Revel, 27–​42. London and New York: Routledge, 2014. Liakos, Antonis. “‘From Greek into our common language’:  Language and history in the making of Modern Greece.” In A History of Ancient Greek: from the Beginnings to Late Antiquity, edited by Anastassios-Fivos Christidis, 1287–​95. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Mackridge, Peter. Language and National Identity in Greece, 1766–​1976. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. Mackridge, Peter. “Korais and the Greek language question.” In Adamantios Korais and the European Enlightenment, edited by Paschalis M. Kitromilides, 127–​50. Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2010. Masters, Bruce. “Millet.” In Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire, edited by Gábor Ágoston and Bruce Masters, 383–​84. New York: Facts on File, 2009. Patiniotis, Manolis. “Neo-​Hellenic Enlightenment: In Search of a European Identity.” In Relocating the History of Science: Essays in Honor of Kostas Gavroglu, edited by Theodore Arabatzis, Jürgen Renn, and Ana Simões, 117–​30. Cham, Heidelberg, New York, Dordrecht, and London: Springer, 2015. Pechlivanos, Miltos. “The teaching of (ancient) Greek grammar and the Modern Greek Enlightenment.” In A History of Ancient Greek: from the Beginnings to Late Antiquity, edited by Anastassios-Fivos Christidis, 1250–​58. Cambridge and New  York:  Cambridge University Press, 2007. Rotolo, Vincenzo. A. Korais e la questione della lingua in Grecia. Palermo: Accademia, 1965. Vallianatos, Evaggelos G. “Constantine Koumas and the Philological Gymnasium of Smyrna, 1810–​1819,” East European Quarterly 6.4 (1973): 419–​43. Zervas, Theodore G. “National Identity and Education in the Early Modern State of Greece.” Historical Yearbook 7 (2010): 139–​60.

pa rt 4 Antiquity in Moral Philosophy and Political Thought

­c hapter 9

Hume, Cicero, and Eighteenth-​Century Moral Philosophy Tim Stuart-​Buttle The Ciceronian age held a particular allure for early modern philosophers, who were confronted with the bloody aftermath of the Protestant Reformation and the continuing schisms to which it gave rise. In an age of rampant religious, political, and philosophical partisanship, in which rival sects defended their definitions of truth with the pen and sword, the late Roman Republic appeared to those of eirenic tastes to be an epoch of intellectual freedom. Humanist proponents of religious toleration, from Erasmus onwards, observed how in Cicero’s time philosophers could disagree on even the most fundamental of doctrines, and yet do so politely. Cicero’s dialogues, in which he mediated between the arguments of the rival philosophical sects, provided a model of how intellectual debate ought to be conducted. Notwithstanding their differences on speculative questions, the heathen philosophers lived peaceably together in a society guided by a shared, practical concern for the common good.1 Even in the mid-​eighteenth century the Ciceronian age retained its appeal for those philosophers, such as David Hume, who chafed against the tendency of supposedly less enlightened individuals to refuse to break bread with any whose views on purely speculative questions happened to differ from their own. To one of his critics, Hume proposed reviving “the happy times, when Atticus and Cassius the Epicureans, Cicero the Academic, and Brutus the Stoic, could, all of them, live in unreserved friendship together.”2 As this chapter will attempt to show, however, Hume’s admiration for “Cicero the Academic” went beyond this rather conventional yearning for the recrudescence of the benign spirit of the libertas philosophandi. As a philosopher in his own right, Hume argued, Cicero had something unique—​and uniquely important—​to say about the question which, in a Christian age, was 1 Gary Remer, Humanism and the Rhetoric of Toleration (University Park: Pennsylvania University Press, 1996). 2 Hume to [James Balfour], 15 Mar. 1753, in Letters of David Hume, ed. J.Y.T. Greig, 2 vols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1932), i, 173. For a similar plea, see the “Dedication” (to John Home), in Four Dissertations (London, 1757), ii; and for discussion, see James A.  Harris, Hume: An Intellectual Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015), 297–​302.

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2020 | DOI:10.1163/9789004412675_011

196 Stuart-Buttle the most vexed of all: the proper relationship between moral philosophy and moral theology. Hume invited his readers, almost all of whom could be expected to be well-​versed in their Cicero, to recognise how his own moral theory and philosophy of religion were constructed upon Ciceronian (and sceptical) foundations. In so doing, however, Hume asked his readers to interpret Cicero’s philosophical commitments in a very particular (and, when set against the context of most contemporary readings of Cicero, a very unusual) way. In a footnote added to the 1764 edition of the Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals (1751), Hume declared in uncharacteristically oracular fashion that “cicero, … in a dispute, which is chiefly verbal, must, on account of the author, carry an authority, from which there can be no appeal” (epm, 106 n.72).3 Here, as Isabel Rivers observes, Hume “breathtakingly attributes a quasi-​scriptural status” to Cicero’s philosophical writings.4 Even more breath-​ taking, however, was the range of questions which Hume denominated “chiefly verbal.” These were precisely the seemingly intractable issues upon which recent moral and political philosophers had disagreed most profoundly. The most pertinent included “the vulgar dispute concerning the degrees of benevolence or self-​love, which prevail in human nature”; whether morality, justice, and society were natural or artificial (epm, 98–​99); whether “pride” was “good or bad”; and whether only those actions motivated by disinterested benevolence were to be deemed virtuous (epm, 106). These questions were, in turn, intimately related to another, denominated “merely verbal” by a dying Hume in a paragraph added to the Dialogues concerning Natural Religion in 1776: this regarded the nature and attributes of a divine being.5 In treating of all of these highly contentious points, Hume claimed to draw from Cicero’s incontestable authority. Whilst Hume’s general esteem for Cicero has been widely noted, the literature on the subject has scarcely scratched the surface. In part, this is because scholars interested in Hume’s relationship to Cicero have sought to address two, seemingly separable issues. The first is the nature of Hume’s epistemological scepticism, most fully developed in Book i of A Treatise of Human Nature (1739) and subsequently offered in revised form 3 An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, ed. Tom L. Beauchamp (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998): page references are provided in brackets in the text, as above. 4 Isabel Rivers, Reason, Grace and Sentiment: A Study of the Language of Religion and Ethics in England, 1660–​1780, 2 vols (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991–​2000), ii, 299. 5 Dialogues concerning Natural Religion and Other Writings, ed. Dorothy Coleman (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2007), 92–​93. M.A. Stewart considers Hume’s late addition to the Dialogues to be his “dying testament to posterity”:  “The Dating of Hume’s Manuscripts,” in The Scottish Enlightenment:  Essays in Reinterpretation, ed. Paul Wood (Woodbridge: University of Rochester Press, 2000), 303.

Hume, Cicero, & and Eighteenth-Century Moral Philosophy


in An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (1748); and the second, the position adopted by Hume in a work—​the Dialogues—​which was clearly modelled on Cicero’s De Natura Deorum.6 I contend that Hume’s presentation of Cicero can tell us a great deal more about his most fundamental philosophical objectives, and how he sought to advance them. Hume’s interpretation of Cicero’s philosophical commitments was highly distinctive. Cicero was, in Hume’s hands, a uniquely eclectic philosopher, whose academic scepticism set him apart from the dogmatic philosophical sects by which he was surrounded.7 Most notably, this interpretation suggested that Cicero had been critical of many of the cardinal philosophical doctrines of both the Stoics and Epicureans:  the two late Hellenistic sects whose thinking was widely held by contemporaries to exercise a pervasive influence on how early modern philosophers framed, and sought to address, the most important questions under discussion in the period.8 This, Hume suggested, explained why Cicero—​unlike the dogmatic Stoics and Epicureans—​had avoided “chiefly verbal” hypothetical questions, and instead offered a treatment of morals which was founded, like Hume’s own in A Treatise, on “the experimental method” (that is, experience and observation). Although this presentation of Cicero as adopting an empirical approach in his moral inquiries was distinctive, it was not unique to Hume. John Locke, whom Hume credited as pioneering the “science of man,” read Cicero in a very similar way (T, Introduction, 5 n.1).9 As in the case of Hume, even as many scholars have noted Locke’s abundantly attested admiration for Cicero’s philosophy, they have paid insufficient attention to the 6 On the former, see (inter alia): Stephen Buckle, “British Sceptical Realism,” European Journal of Philosophy 7:1 (1999), 1–​29; and John P. Wright, “Hume’s Academic Scepticism: a Reappraisal of his Philosophy of Human Understanding,” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 16:3 (1986), 407–​35. There is an extensive literature on the Dialogues, and Cicero’s presiding presence within them, but see especially: John V. Price, “Sceptics in Cicero and Hume,” Journal of the History of Ideas 25:1 (1964), 97–​106; Christine Battersby, “The Dialogues as Original Imitation: Cicero and the Nature of Hume’s Skepticism,” in McGill Hume Studies, ed. David F. Norton, Nicholas Capaldi, and Wade L. Robison (San Diego: Austin Hill Press, 1979), 239–​52; and Peter S. Fosl, “Doubt and Divinity: Cicero’s Influence on Hume’s Religious Skepticism,” Hume Studies 20 (1994), 103–​20. 7 For the significance of interpretations of Cicero as an academic sceptic in an earlier period, see Charles B. Schmitt, Cicero Scepticus: A Study of the Academica in the Renaissance (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1972). 8 For a brief review of the (now extensive) scholarship on the pervasive interest in Stoicism and Epicureanism in the period, see Ben Dew, “Epicurean and Stoic Enlightenments: The Return of Modern Paganism?,” History Compass 13:1 (2013), 486–​95. 9 Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, ed. David F.  Norton and Mary J.  Norton, 2 vols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007): where appropriate, references to Book, Part, Section and Paragraph are provided in parentheses in the text.

198 Stuart-Buttle question of how Locke read Cicero—​that is, as an academic sceptic—​and why he considered Cicero’s writings to be so uniquely valuable.10 This shortcoming alerts us to the more general need to consider carefully the intellectual, institutional, and polemical contexts in which early modern philosophers turned to ancient philosophy, and invoked particular predecessors as vindicating both the approaches they adopted and the substantive conclusions they drew. As Dmitri Levitin has argued forcefully in a valuable recent contribution, in an important sense there were no Stoics, Epicureans, or academic sceptics in the early modern period. Philosophers were selective in their interpretation and borrowings, and their approaches to the philosophical bequest of the ancient world were mediated by centuries of humanist scholarship, commentary, and critique (and usually framed by Christian apologetic concerns).11 It is, then, important to ask what they took themselves to be doing in “picking out certain characteristics of an ancient position and using them to denote a modern one.”12 As I show in the first section of this essay, Cicero occupies a central place in Locke’s deeply problematic attempt to construct a moral theology. The heathen philosopher, on Locke’s reading as on Hume’s, had something uniquely valuable to say about the vexed relationship between morality and religious belief, and between reason and revelation as the two sources of human knowledge. Yet Hume’s interpretation of what Cicero had to say here was very different indeed to that offered by Locke. In the second section I argue that it was, in part, through his interpretation of Cicero that Hume forcefully denied what Locke had sought to establish: that an empirical science of morality could only get so far, because a full understanding of moral obligation relied upon theological postulates which had been revealed rather than discovered. By placing Hume’s interpretation of Cicero “after” Locke’s, I contend, we are better placed to appreciate that Hume’s primary objective—​and, from his perspective, greatest 10

11 12

For discussions of Locke’s esteem for Cicero, see especially Giuliana di Biase, La Morale di Locke: Fra Prudenza e Mediocritas (Rome: Carocci, 2012); John Marshall, John Locke:  Resistance, Religion and Responsibility (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1994), 157–​204, 292–​326; Phillip Mitsis, “Locke’s Offices,” in Hellenistic and Early Modern Philosophy, ed. Jon Miller and Brad Inwood (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2003), 45–​61; Raymond Polin, La Politique Morale de John Locke (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1960); and Neal Wood, The Politics of Locke’s Philosophy: A Social Study of “An Essay concerning Human Understanding” (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), 29–​30. Dmitri Levitin, Ancient Wisdom in the Age of the New Science: Histories of Philosophy in England, c. 1640–​1700 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 4 and passim. István Hont, Politics in Commercial Society: Jean-​Jacques Rousseau and Adam Smith, edited by Béla Kapossy and Michael Sonenscher (Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Press, 2015), 11.

Hume, Cicero, & and Eighteenth-Century Moral Philosophy


achievement—​was to explain society and morality in terms which were entirely independent of the question of God’s attributes, will, sanctions, and even existence. Even as the focus is placed squarely on them, it should nonetheless be noted that Locke and Hume were quite consciously intervening in a much wider, long-​running, and heated European debate regarding Cicero’s philosophical commitments, in which the relationship between morality and religious belief occupied a central place.13

In An Essay concerning Human Understanding (1689), Locke distinguished between moral motivation and obligation in a quite novel way. “It must be allowed,” Locke argued, “that several Moral Rules, may receive, from Mankind, a very general Approbation, without either knowing, or admitting the true ground of Morality” (ehu 1.3.6). Locke pointed to the heathen world to substantiate this claim. “Even in the Corruption of Manners,” Locke declared, “the true Boundaries of the Law of Nature, which ought to be the Rule of Vertue and Vice, were pretty well preserved” (ehu 2.28.11). The heathens—​and here Locke’s primary example was the late Roman Republic in the age of Cicero—​ had clearly failed to comprehend that “the true ground of Morality” lay in God’s will and command. In ancient Rome, moral philosophy and divinity were “two parts or provinces of knowledge” between which there was no overlap.14 As a result, philosophers had sought—​vainly—​to explain the nature and foundations of moral duty on the basis of human nature alone, and without any reference to divine will and command. “The philosophers of old,” Locke declared, “did in vain enquire, whether the Summum bonum consisted in Riches, or bodily Delights, or Virtue, or Contemplation: And they might have as reasonably disputed, whether the best Relish were to be found in Apples, Plumbs, or Nuts” (ehu, 2.21.55). Here Locke was as sceptical as Hobbes regarding the ancient moralists’ success in identifying man’s true end on the basis of autonomous reason.15 Yet Locke’s reasoning here was importantly different to that of 13

For a sense of this broader context, see Tim Stuart-​Buttle, From Moral Theology to Moral Philosophy: Cicero and Visions of Humanity from Locke to Hume (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019). 14 Bodleian Library: MS Locke, Film 77, 93 (1698); Locke, The Reasonableness of Christianity (1695), in Writings on Religion, ed. Victor Nuovo (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 194–​95. 15 Hobbes, Leviathan (1651), ed. Noel Malcolm, 3 vols (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2012), ii, 150 (1.11). Locke would have found similar depreciations of the value of classical moral philosophy in the writings of, inter alia, Montaigne, Charron, and Gassendi. On

200 Stuart-Buttle Hobbes: they had failed, Locke argued, because of their ignorance of the true God, who imposed duties on men and would reward or punish them on the Day of Judgment. Meanwhile, Locke argued that in most areas of human life, particularly those of greatest concern (morality, religion and justice), the individual would necessarily deal in probabilities: something the dogmatic sects, craving certainty, had been unwilling to recognise.16 Yet in practice heathen societies had nonetheless been led to behave in ways broadly in accordance with the immutable duties of natural law, even as the individuals within them did not understand why they ought to do so. Here it is important to ask two questions: why did Locke distinguish between moral motivation and obligation, and how did he explain the relationship between them? The Essay was intended to explore a question which, Locke argued, had been unsatisfactorily addressed: that of the relationship between “the principles of Morality and reveal’d Religion.”17 Even as the individual’s natural faculties were “sufficient” to establish all the knowledge they required to perform their duties, this did not mean that in the absence of revelation they could grasp all the moral truths which they now considered to be essential. In his mature, published writings, Locke argued that revelation had provided what reason had not: a normative theory of morals, and thus an explanation of why humanity’s duties under natural law are obligatory.18 Christ’s revelation affirmed, explained, and enlarged upon those insights gained through the individual’s experience in a morally ordered cosmos. In this regard, true philosophy and revealed theology were in perfect harmony. In making this case, Locke offered

16 17


moral scepticism in this period, see Richard H.  Popkin, The History of Scepticism from Savonarola to Bayle, rvd edn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003). For Locke’s elision of the conventional scholastic distinction between scientia and opinio, see Douglas Casson, Liberating Judgment: Fanatics, Skeptics, and John Locke’s Politics of Probability (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011). See James Tyrrell’s marginal note in his copy of the Essay in the British Library, quoted by John Colman, John Locke’s Moral Philosophy (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1983), 1–​2. As early as 1661, Locke noted that “the greatest caution should be taken lest, having trusted too much in our reason, we neglect faith, and, by not having given due regard to the mysteries of the gospel, we embrace philosophy instead of religion”: The National Archives, Shaftesbury Papers, 30/​24/​47/​33 (c. 1661–​1662). (The entry is in Latin; the translation is Nuovo’s: Writings on Religion, 71). For discussion, see Richard Ashcraft, “Faith and Knowledge in Locke’s Philosophy,” in John Locke: Problems and Perspectives, ed. John W. Yolton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969), 194–​223. Locke’s earliest treatment of natural law, dating from c.1663–​1664, was rather more optimistic regarding man’s ability, by reason alone, to identify the most cardinal truths in morality and theology, even as he was witheringly sceptical of the ancient philosophers’ attempts to do so: see Essays on the Law of Nature, ed. and tr. Wolfgang von Leyden (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1954).

Hume, Cicero, & and Eighteenth-Century Moral Philosophy


up a classical moralist as an exemplar of how to practice true philosophy, and used him as proof that the right cultivation of one’s natural faculties led to insights which were perfectly consistent (although far from coextensive) with the truths revealed by Christ. This classical moralist was Cicero, whose academic scepticism (as defined in the Academica) privileged probability whilst nonetheless emphasising the duty to labour for truth even as certain knowledge in many areas of life might be unattainable.19 The harmony between Cicero’s philosophy and Christ’s teachings was repeatedly alluded to by Locke: on the title-​page of the Essay, where a citation from De Natura Deorum was (from 1700) accompanied by another from the Scriptures; at multiple points in the Reasonableness of Christianity (1695); and in his educational writings, in which Locke recommended De Officiis as the sole work of moral philosophy to which youths ought to be introduced, and which along with the Gospels provided all the moral guidance they required.20 In the account of how the individual might attain true moral knowledge in the Essay, Locke indicated why he considered Cicero’s philosophy to be unique. Unlike the dogmatic philosophical sects, Cicero had recognised the impossibility of establishing a definition of man’s true end and happiness on the basis of autonomous reason alone. Here Locke alluded to Cicero’s focus in his moral teachings, and especially in De Officiis, on the utility (utile) and agreeableness (dulce) of virtue to oneself and others rather than on its normative truth (honestum). “It is never beneficial to do wrong,” Cicero declared in De Officiis, “because it is always dishonourable; moreover, because it is always honourable to be a good man, it is always beneficial.”21 This was precisely the point developed at length by Locke in the Essay which, as with Locke’s thinking as a whole, is indelibly structured by a divine teleology. Locke argued that God had ordered the world (and human nature) in such a way as to ensure that what conduced to the collective happiness of mankind in this world was consistent with the immutable duties of natural law. To be sure, estimations of pleasure and pain shaped the individual’s ideas of what is good or evil: here Locke adopted a hedonic psychology which reflected his engagement with contemporary French


See, for one such statement, Academica, tr. Harry Rackham (Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Press, 1933), 2.3.7-​8. 20 Cf. Some Thoughts concerning Education (1693), ed. John W.  Yolton & Jean S.  Yolton (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 1989), 239; “Some Thoughts concerning Reading and Study” (1703), in The Educational Writings of John Locke, ed. James L. Axtell (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968), 399–​400. 21 On Duties, ed. M.T. Griffin & E.M. Atkins (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1991), 3.64.

202 Stuart-Buttle philosophical currents of thought (and notably with Pierre Gassendi).22 Yet God was the author of man’s desires, as well as his reason. Man had been created so that, in society, he found it in his interest to behave in ways which served God’s ends, even as he might fail rationally to understand his duty to do so.23 God in His goodness had, “by an inseparable connexion, joined Virtue and publick Happiness together; and made the Practice thereof, necessary to the preservation of Society, and visibly beneficial to all, with whom the Virtuous Man has to do” (ehu 1.3.6). By pursuing comfort, security and happiness in society, individuals tended to act in ways consistent with the dictates of the divinely authored law of nature—​even as they lacked any comprehension of the true origins and nature of that law, or of the eternal sanctions enforcing it. The individual’s greatest concern, Locke argued, is in most cases to secure the good opinion of his neighbours (praise), and to avoid their contempt (shame). It is “a Burthen too heavy for humane Sufferance,” Locke declared, “to live in Society, under the constant Dislike, and ill Opinion of his Familiars, and those he converses with” (ehu, 2.28.12). This pervasive desire for esteem and reputation serves effectively, insensibly, and quite naturally to render the individual’s sense of their own interest broadly conformable to that of the society of which they are a part, so concerned are they to win the approval of others. Led by their “needs and wants” to gather together in society, the individual’s ideas concerning good and ill were shaped by what, in the Second Treatise, Locke called “the mutual influence, sympathy, and connexion” they experienced with others.24 As Locke repeatedly emphasised, this gave rise to a “law of propriety,” by which almost all men found it advantageous and agreeable to abide, and which was contingent and developed according to what was found to be publicly useful.25 This, for Locke, emphatically did not mean that public utility and pleasure are sufficient to explain moral good and ill. “The rightness of an action,” Locke 22

For the most forceful statement of Locke’s intellectual debt to Gassendi, see T.M. Lennon, The Battle of the Gods and Giants:  The Legacies of Descartes and Gassendi, 1655–​1715 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), 149–​90. 23 The classic work on the development of the language of “interest” in this period, and on the increasingly positive role accorded to it in facilitating social harmony and cooperation, is Albert Hirschmann, The Passions and the Interests:  Political Arguments for Capitalism before its Triumph (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977). 24 Locke Two Treatises of Government, ed. Peter Laslett (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), Second Treatise, § 212. 25 For an extensive discussion of this neglected aspect of Locke’s thinking, see Tim Stuart-​ Buttle, “ ‘A Burthen Too Heavy for Humane Sufferance’: Locke on Reputation,” History of Political Thought 38:4 (2017), 644–​80.

Hume, Cicero, & and Eighteenth-Century Moral Philosophy


declared, “does not depend on its utility; on the contrary, its utility is a result of its rightness.”26 This was a point which the Epicureans—​and their modern admirers, such as Hobbes—​had failed to comprehend. Even in the ancient world, however, only Cicero, Locke argued, had recognised these moral distinctions to have developed solely on the basis of their communal utility as attested by experience and observation (ehu 2.28.11). Cicero nonetheless identified the limits of reason properly to understand the true foundations of moral obligation: these had been revealed in full by Christ, rather than discovered by reason. This explained, Locke argued, why in his writings on morality Cicero had exhorted men to virtue on account of its utility and agreeableness, rather than on the basis of its normative truth. This also helps us to understand why, for Locke, Cicero’s moral philosophy was so uniquely valuable: it left a conceptual space which had subsequently been filled by Christ’s revelation. Locke’s Cicero, as an academic sceptic, recognised the limits of reason in the face of God’s omnipotence. In De Officiis, Cicero had sought to outline those moral qualities which conduced to the well-​being of society in all times and at all places, in order to construct immutable ideal archetypes—​such as the Golden Rule (“do unto others”). “The Truth and Certainty of moral Discourses,” Locke declared, “abstracts from the Lives of Men, and the Existence of those Vertues in the World, whereof they treat: Nor are Tully’s Offices less true, because there is no Body in the World that exactly practises his Rules, and lives up to that pattern of a vertuous Man, which he has given us, and which existed no where, when he writ, but in Idea” (ehu 4.4.8). It was only with Christ’s ministry, something discussed at length in the Reasonableness of Christianity, that a “vertuous Man” appeared who was able exactly to practise these rules and, as importantly, to explain to mankind why they ought to do likewise as God’s created beings, accountable to Him on the Day of Judgment. On Locke’s account, Cicero nonetheless employed his “Reason to understand those Truths, which have given [the virtues their] reputation” in the first place (ehu 1.4.23). Yet Cicero was constrained to rest content with communal utility and agreeableness as his fundamental explanatory principles. The total separation between ethics and divinity in ancient Rome precluded even Cicero from locating moral obligation in the divine will: in the Reasonableness, Locke included “Tully” among those ancients who had failed to establish ethics upon its true foundations.27 It is nonetheless important to note that Locke’s own, distinctly anti-​metaphysical philosophical “proofs” for the existence of

26 27

Essays on the Law of Nature, 215. Reasonableness of Christianity, 196.

204 Stuart-Buttle God and a future state were drawn directly and explicitly from Cicero.28 Locke alighted upon Cicero as an example of how far reason could reach in the absence of revelation. This had real implications for Christian apologetic: that is, for the foundations upon which Christians should establish and defend their faith. In the Reasonableness, Locke declared that all too many so-​called Christian philosophers, like their dogmatic heathen predecessors, sought to establish the foundations of men’s moral duties on the basis of philosophy—​failing to recognise how revelation had enlarged upon reason on this point: … many are beholden to Revelation, who do not acknowledge it. ’Tis no diminishing to Revelation, that Reason gives its Suffrage too to the Truths Revelation has discovered. But ’tis our mistake to think, that because Reason confirms them to us, we had the first certain knowledge of them from thence, and in that clear Evidence we now possess them. The contrary is manifest, in the defective morality of the Gentiles before our Saviour’s time ….29 All too many Christian philosophers, Locke argued, sought to establish the truth of Christianity on the basis of speculative philosophy (metaphysics). In so doing they—​unlike Cicero—​disturbed the natural harmony between reason and revelation: by giving too much to the former, they failed to recognise both the reasonableness and necessity of the latter. Despite the centrality of a future state to his moral theology, Locke maintained that, whilst there were good moral arguments for the soul’s immortality, the primary argument used by Christians to defend it—​immateriality—​was weak at best. Here once more Locke turned to Cicero, in this instance the Tusculan Disputations, to re-​establish how far reason could reach, and had reached in this question in the absence of revelation: that is, to recover the status quo ante. Cicero’s evaluation of the evidence for and against the immateriality of the soul, Locke emphasised, did not lead him to deny its immortality: the question of immateriality, on which Locke was similarly studiously agnostic, was “academic” in every sense. Only once the limits of reason on this point were



For Locke’s distinctly anti-​metaphysical proofs for the existence of God, drawn primarily from Cicero’s De Legibus, see ehu 4.10.6. John Dunn calls Locke’s proofs “flaccid”:  The Political Thought of John Locke: An Historical Account of the “Two Treatises of Government” (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1969), 14; see, too, Victor Nuovo, Christianity, Antiquity, and Enlightenment:  Interpretations of Locke (London:  Springer, 2011), 53–​73. Meanwhile Leo Strauss and his followers have interpreted Locke’s equivocatory treatment of these questions as illustrating his supposed religious scepticism. Reasonableness of Christianity, 200.

Hume, Cicero, & and Eighteenth-Century Moral Philosophy


grasped might the necessity of Christ’s teachings, and the harmony between true philosophy and revealed theology, again come into view: So unmoveable is that truth delivered by the spirit of truth, that though the light of nature gave [Cicero] some obscure glimmering, some uncertain hopes of a future state; yet human reason could attain no clearness, no certainty about it, but that it was “jesus christ alone who brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” Though we are now told, that to own the inability of natural reason to bring immortality to light, or, which passes for the same, to own principles upon which the immateriality of the soul (and, as it is urged, consequently its immortality) cannot be demonstratively proved; does lessen the belief in this article of revelation, which jesus christ alone has brought to light, and which consequently the scripture assures us is established and made certain only by revelation.30 For Locke, one, if not the strongest, argument attesting to the truth of revealed Christianity was that it offered what philosophy could not: an account of moral obligation and man’s true end. Cicero’s academic scepticism had led him, in his philosophical dialogues, to criticise the dogmatic and exclusivist theories of the summum bonum concocted by his fellow philosophers, whilst nonetheless remaining open to the delivery of revealed truth.

In Book ii of A Treatise of Human Nature (1739–​1740), Hume famously declared that “moral philosophy is in the same condition as natural, with regard to astronomy before the time of Copernicus” (T 2.1.4:  30). This comment bears a marked resemblance to a passage in Hume’s letter to a physician of 1734, in which he observed that “the moral Philosophy transmitted to us by Antiquity” remained “entirely Hypothetical, & depending more upon Invention than Experience.” As Hume’s invocation of Copernicus suggests, modern philosophers had proved no more successful than the ancients on this score. This insight led Hume, in the years which followed, “to seek out some new Medium, by which Truth might be establisht.”31 30 31

A Second Reply to the Bishop of Worcester … , in The Works of John Locke, 9 vols (London, 1794; repr. London: Routledge/​Thoemmes, 1997), iii, 489 (Locke cites 2 Tim. 1.10). Hume to?, 1734, in Letters, i, 12–​18 (italics added). For discussion of the importance of this letter for our understanding of Hume’s early intellectual development, see Harris, Hume:  An Intellectual Biography, 35–​77; and M.A. Stewart, “Hume’s Intellectual

206 Stuart-Buttle Hume made this point powerfully in a letter to one such modern philosopher, Francis Hutcheson, in response to his criticisms of a draft of Book iii (“Of Morals”) of A Treatise. Hutcheson’s own ethical theory, Hume observed, remained “founded on final Causes; which is a consideration, that appears to me pretty uncertain & unphilosophical. For pray, what is the End of Man? Is he created for Happiness or for Virtue? For this Life or the next? For himself or for his Maker?” These were precisely the sort of “endless” questions which Hume would later dismiss as “merely verbal.” Hutcheson’s moral theory fell into the same trap which, Locke had argued, bedevilled ancient Stoic ethics: it assumed that men might be motivated to virtue for virtue’s sake. Cicero, Hume argued, recognised that “Virtue can never be the sole Motive to any Action”: pleasure and utility must occupy a central place in any account of moral motivation. Hume invited Hutcheson to review both De Officiis and Book iv of the dialogue De Finibus.32 As for Locke, the signal merit of De Officiis for Hume was that it offered a treatment of morality which focused squarely on the utility and agreeableness of virtue. Meanwhile in Book iv of De Finibus, the definition of the summum bonum furnished by the Stoic Cato was refuted by the academic sceptic (Cicero himself). Hume noted in “Of the Rise and Progress of the Arts and Sciences” (1742) that, in De Finibus, Cicero was so anxious to critique Cato’s Stoic ethical theory that he failed to observe “the true spirit of dialogue” which, in his other writings, was such a conspicuous feature of Ciceronian philosophy. In this regard, Hume intimated, Cicero’s academic scepticism in no sense precluded the drawing of firm conclusions in his moral theory: indeed, it underpinned, rather than mitigated his unequivocal and rather dogmatic rejection of final causes in moral philosophy.33 If Hume’s presentation of Cicero bears an unmistakeable resemblance to Locke’s, it is nonetheless clear that from an early stage Hume rejected what Locke had strenuously maintained:  that revealed Christianity could provide what moral philosophy alone had not. Cicero had something rather different to say on the question of the relationship between morality and religious



Development, 1711–​1752,” in Impressions of Hume, ed. Marina Frasca-​Spada and Peter J.E. Kail (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 11–​58. Hume to Hutcheson, 17 Sept. 1739, in Letters, i, 33. On Hume’s critique of the teleological dimension of Hutcheson’s moral theory, see James Moore, “The Social Background of Hume’s ‘Science of Human Nature’,” in McGill Hume Studies, ed. Nicholas Capaldi, David F. Norton, and Wade L. Robison (San Diego: Austin Hill Press, 1976), 23–​41. “Of the Rise and Progress of the Arts and Sciences,” in Essays Moral, Political, and Literary, ed. Eugene F. Miller (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1985), 623 n. H (this passage was withdrawn from all editions from 1768).

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belief. In the Introduction to A Treatise, Hume opined that natural theology was “in some measure dependent on the science of man” (T, “Introduction,” 4). If, for reasons of prudence, Hume largely avoided exploring this point in A Treatise, his correspondence indicates that his inquiries from the later 1720s led to a profound questioning of the philosophical foundations of religious belief.34 Even in the “castrat[ed]” form in which it was published, A Treatise nonetheless made the argument clearly enough that the question of God’s attributes, will, design, and sanctions had no place in true moral philosophy.35 Locke’s attempt to tie the moral codes by which societies were regulated inextricably to God’s will and command—​and hence to justify them on the basis of their truth, rather than explain them in terms of their public utility and agreeableness—​was untenable. It once again reintroduced “final causes” which could not be established on the basis of reason. Hume made this point most forcefully in his famous passage in Book iii of A Treatise denying that an “ought” could be deduced from an “is”: this represented an “imperceptible” departure from the “ordinary way of reasoning,” and took place as soon as the existence of God had (supposedly) been established (T 3.1.1: 27). Meanwhile the existence—​or otherwise—​of a future state, which for Locke ought to offer the strongest incentive to virtue for the Christian, was utterly irrelevant to any explanation of moral motivation (e.g.: T 1.3.9: 13). The scholarship on Hume’s critical engagement with Lockean philosophy has focused almost exclusively on Hume’s epistemology in Book i of A



In 1751 Hume noted that he had only recently “burn’d an old Manuscript Book, wrote before I  was twenty [c.1729]; which contain’d, Page after Page, the gradual Progress of my Thoughts” on religion: Hume to Gilbert Elliot, 10 Mar. 1751, in Letters, i, 154. In a letter to Henry Home, dated 2 Dec. 1737, Hume regretted that he was engaged in “castrating my work, that is, cutting off its nobler parts” before sending it to Joseph Butler, and he enclosed “some Reasonings concerning Miracles, which I once thought of publishing with the rest, but which I am afraid will give too much offence, as the world is disposed at present”: Letters, i, 23–​25. M.A. Stewart declares that in “Of Miracles,” Hume’s “project is, in effect, to make Locke consistent”: “Hume’s Historical View of Miracles,” in Hume and Hume’s Connexions, ed. M.A. Stewart and John P. Wright (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1994), 183. Stephen Buckle similarly emphasises how the incorporation of Essays x and xi of the Philosophical Essays into the Treatise would have indicated far more clearly to Hume’s contemporary reader the extent to which the work ought to be read as a critical response to Locke’s Essay: “Marvels, Miracles, and Mundane Order: Hume’s Critique of Religion in An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding,” Australasian Journal of Philosophy 79:1 (2001), 1–​31. For a discussion of the largely implicit, but evident irreligious implications of A Treatise, see Paul Russell, The Riddle of Hume’s Treatise:  Skepticism, Naturalism and Irreligion (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).

208 Stuart-Buttle Treatise.36 For the purposes of this discussion, however, I want to divert attention elsewhere: to the second Enquiry, and to the two works to which it is intimately related: the Natural History of Religion (1757) and the Dialogues.37 Cicero occupies a central place in all three works. Hume repeatedly opined that the Enquiry was “incomparably the best” of his writings.38 In it, he addressed most directly what he recognised in 1734 to be the greatest challenge facing philosophers, and one which Cicero had apparently confronted: that of offering a complete moral theory which did not depend on “final causes.”39 In a highly revealing statement, Hume alerts us to this point: “whatever is valuable in any kind so naturally classes itself under the division of useful or agreeable, the utile or the dulce, that it is not easy to imagine, why we should ever seek farther” (epm, 72). When set against Locke’s interpretation of Cicero, we are better placed to grasp the extent of Hume’s claim here. In confining himself to utility and agreeableness, Hume argued that Cicero had correctly understood what a theory of morals and justice could and could not offer. As James Moore has noted, Hume quite explicitly claimed to follow Cicero in banishing the question of normative truth (the honestum) from moral philosophy: there was no need ever to “seek farther,” and push beyond the principles of utility and agreeableness. The empirical moral philosopher confined his enquiry to the question of recognition—​how and why men identify particular qualities (in themselves and others) as morally estimable or opprobrious—​rather than asking whether they were correct in these judgements.40 Hume’s blunt denial in A Treatise that


Hume himself laid claim to novelty primarily for the manner in which he had taken Lockean insights—​on the association of ideas, and on probability—​in a quite different direction: An Abstract of a Book Lately Published … (1740), in Treatise, i, 416, 408–​409. 37 The Natural History was probably composed at the same time as, or shortly after, Hume’s initial draft of the Dialogues (that is, at Ninewells in c.1749–​1751). In a letter to his publisher, Andrew Millar, of 12 June 1755, Hume noted that it was one of “four short Dissertations, which I have kept some Years by me”: Letters, i, 223. 38 “My Own Life” (1776), in Essays, xxxvi; Hume to David Dalrymple, 3 May 1753, and to the Abbé le Blanc, 5 Nov. 1755, in Letters, i, 175, 227. 39 A similar explanation of Hume’s high valuation of the epm is offered by James Moore, “Utility and Humanity,” Utilitas 14:3 (2002), 365–​86. This is not to suggest that the epm departed in any particularly significant way from the Treatise; merely that Hume developed his central contentions more expeditiously. As in the Philosophical Essays (later the first Enquiry), “the philosophical Principles” were the same as those of the Treatise, but “by shortening & simplifying the Questions, I really render them much more complete”: Hume to Gilbert Elliot, Mar./​Apr. 1751, in Letters, i, 158. 40 A point properly emphasised by Annette Baier, Postures of the Mind: Essays on the Mind and Morals (London: Methuen, 1985), 257.

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there “is a real right or wrong; that is, a real distinction in morals, independent of [the] judgments” made by men in the course of “common life” should be taken seriously (T 3.1.1: 14).41 Locke’s similar scepticism regarding philosophy’s claim to identify man’s true end was informed by a conviction that the Christian revelation could make good the deficit: this was absolutely necessary to prevent the slide into ethical relativism. Hume, taking Cicero as his guide, accepted the first point and denied the second. Hume, as (on his presentation) had Cicero, refused to “fetter his moral sentiments by narrow systems,” and defined virtue solely in terms of its utility and agreeableness (epm, 106 n.72). Explicitly adopting Cicero’s “Catalogue of the Virtues,” Hume encompassed every quality “which contributes to the happiness of society, [and] recommends itself directly to our approbation and good will,” thereby including those “natural Abilitys” with which men were endowed (good looks, strength, and so forth) with little effort on their part (epm, 38).42 Hume expressed his surprise that so few philosophers had been willing to admit the principle of utility into their “systems of ethics” (epm, 34). Yet Cicero had not committed the error of modern Epicureans, such as Hobbes and Mandeville, who scandalised contemporaries by reducing all virtue to base self-​interest and self-​love. Here, once again, Hume’s approach mirrored Cicero’s own in its refusal to identify one, ultimate principle which explained the ethical universe. “It is needless to push our researches so far as to ask, why we have humanity or a fellow-​feeling with others,” Hume declared (epm, 38 n. 19). In A Treatise, Hume had called this “sympathy”; but in the epm, he preferred “humanity,” a term with unmistakably Ciceronian resonance (humanitas).43 The individual’s willingness to abide by the moral codes which regulated their society—​that is, their sense of the obligatory character of the duties enshrined within them—​was primarily the consequence of man’s natural concern for the esteem of others, in ways Locke had similarly sought to theorise but with considerably less nuance or complexity. Men came to take pleasure (“pride”) in behaving in a manner approved of by others—​even to the point of actively exerting themselves on others’ behalf (“benevolence”), sometimes in ways which seemingly contradicted their own narrow self-​interest. Hume similarly cited Cicero in support of his claim that natural and positive law developed 41 42 43

For the most sustained attempt to interpret Hume as a moral realist, see David F. Norton, David Hume:  Common-​Sense Moralist, Sceptical Metaphysician (Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 1982). As Hume observed, Hutcheson—​along with most of his contemporaries—​denied that the natural abilities ought to be defined as virtues: Letters, i, 33–​34. As noted by Moore, “Utility and Humanity.”

210 Stuart-Buttle in tandem, according to what was found to be in the public interest. Locke’s separation of the two, and foundation of a right of resistance on the basis of natural law, was as untenable as Hobbes’s and Mandeville’s political account of the origins of ethics (epm, 13). Hume first discussed the implications of his ethical theory for religion in a letter to William Mure of 1743. Men, Hume noted, were naturally attuned to experience “love and gratitude for whatever is benevolent and beneficial.” This echoed Cicero’s claim in De Officiis that “when we think people possess these virtues, we are compelled by nature to love them.”44 Although a deity might possess the moral “attributes in the greatest perfection,” it was evident that unlike one’s fellow man “he is not the object of any passion or affection.” Hume observed that even a “remote ancestor, who has left us estates and honours” was sufficiently “unknown to us” as to fail to stimulate any considerable affection or gratitude. This being so, how could any affection be felt towards “an invisible infinite spirit” that was utterly incomprehensible to man?45 This example of the remote ancestor was lifted, without acknowledgement, from Cicero’s De Natura Deorum. In that work the academic sceptic Cotta pronounced both justice and morality to be “the offspring of human society and of the commonwealth of man.”46 “The divine bestowal of reason upon man,” Cotta continued, “is not in itself an act of beneficence, like the bequest of an estate.” The latter act stimulated a degree of affection and gratitude towards one’s (immediate) benefactor, whereas men experienced no such sentiments with regard to any deity.47 Meanwhile, Cotta observed, “our virtue is a just ground for others’ praise and a right reason for our own pride, and this would not be so if the gift of virtue came to us from a god and not from ourselves.”48 The conclusion to be drawn from this, Hume informed Mure, was that piety and religious devotion were both unnatural and potentially corrupting of the socialised individual’s affective responses.49 Hume’s moral theory, as Thomas Holden has convincingly argued, went well beyond a Pyrrhonian suspension of judgment when it came to the question of God’s nature and attributes.50 In this regard Hume advertised the fact that 44 45 46 47 48 49 50

On Duties, 2.32 (italics added). Hume to Mure, 30 June 1743, in Letters, i, 50. De Natura Deorum, tr. Harry Rackham (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1933), 3.15.38. Ibid., 3.28.71. Ibid., 3.36.87. Hume to Mure, 30 June 1743, in Letters, i, 50. Holden interprets Hume as a “strong” moral atheist—​one who positively denied that the deity possessed moral attributes, rather than merely asserting that those attributes could not be known: Spectres of False Divinity. Hume’s Moral Atheism (Oxford:  Oxford

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he went further than had Cicero, who on this point had broadly accepted a Pyrrhonian submission to custom and tradition in matters of religion. Hume declared that in De Natura Deorum, “cicero, being a great sceptic in matters of religion” was “unwilling to determine any thing on that head among the different sects of philosophy.”51 Here the operative word is “unwilling”: there is no suggestion that Cicero was unable to “determine anything on that head.” Why might Cicero have refrained from drawing more determinate conclusions regarding the various truth-​claims made for religion by his contemporaries? Here Hume drew attention to the morally and politically benign character of Roman paganism. The national religion in Rome “hung loose upon the minds of men,” embraced no contradictions, and contained no moral component (nhr xii: 75). Cicero, it followed, had defended the national Roman religion solely on account of its political utility and ethical benignity. Had Cicero deemed it necessary or desirable, Hume intimated, he could have offered a far more thoroughgoing critique of religion. If ancient polytheism was largely harmless in its moral consequences, however, the same could not be said for Christian theism. It was for this reason that it was more incumbent on the modern philosopher to examine the truth-​claims of religion than it had been in Cicero’s age. In more recent times, “philosophy of all kinds, especially ethics, have been more closely united with theology than ever they were observed to be among the Heathens.” Here Hume shared Locke’s conviction regarding the separation between ethics and divinity in the heathen world. The consequences of the subsequent union between the two fields in a Christian age were quite different for Hume than for Locke: the introduction of a theistic God as moral legislator had “warped from their natural course” the “unbiassed sentiments of the mind” and corrupted all “reasoning” in ethics (epm, 108–​109). As a result Hume, writing in a Christian age and for a predominantly Christian audience, offered to make explicit the implications of Ciceronian moral philosophy for religion. In De Natura Deorum, Cicero’s Cotta challenged his Stoic and Epicurean friends (Balbus and Velleius) to convince him “of this fundamental tenet of the divine existence, not as an article of faith merely but as an ascertained fact.”52



University Press, 2010). Compare and contrast with James Noxon, “Hume’s Agnosticism,” Philosophical Review 73:2 (1964), 248–​61. “Rise and Progress,” 623 n.  H (italics added). This passage is misinterpreted by Price, “Cicero and Hume,” who suggests that Hume made precisely the opposite point (that Cicero always declared his opinion in such matters). For a more accurate reading, see Rivers, Reason, Grace, and Sentiment, ii, 251. De Natura Deorum, 1.22.61.

212 Stuart-Buttle Unless they were able to do so, all subsequent debate regarding the deity’s supposed nature and attributes was nothing more than a “verbal” discrepancy.53 His antagonists, however, were reluctant to begin with the question of the bare existence of the deity: it was for this reason that Cicero’s academic interlocutor, Cotta, accused them of lacking “the courage … to deny that the gods exist.”54 In the Dialogues, Hume’s Philo similarly sought to return the debate to this essential starting-​point. If one did so, the consequences were clear. Even if one were willing to accept the highly “ambiguous” proposition that “the cause or causes of order in the universe probably bear some remote analogy to human intelligence,” this was a proposition that “affords no inference that affects human life, or can be the source of any action or forbearance” (dnr xii: 101–​102). Reason not only afforded no grounds whatsoever for envisaging a deity possessed of moral attributes. It could go further, as Hume had suggested most forcefully in the second Enquiry. Men’s moral sentiments were confined to human life and were the product of an affective psychology possessed solely by men. Any religion which entertained the idea of a deity (or deities) as a moral legislator and governor, and thereby possessed of moral attributes, was demonstrably false, and a form of superstitious anthropomorphism. Here Hume quite consciously moved beyond Cicero: something that, he intimated, was necessary in a Christian age in which religion asphyxiated rather than “hung loose upon the minds of men.” This point can be illustrated most succinctly by considering “Of the Immortality of the Soul” (1777), which reads like a digest of extracts drawn from Cicero’s philosophical writings.55 Hume began precisely where Locke had left off, citing 2 Timothy 1.10 (the doctrine was ultimately “brought to light” by Christ). Hume emphasised the importance of establishing religious principles on cognitive rather than affective grounds, since “all doctrines are to be suspected, which are favoured by our passions.”56 Hume was in no doubt that the doctrine of a future state originated in the “hopes and fears” that actuated the human mind. The question remained as to whether it had a foundation in reason. As had Locke, Hume divided the evidence into three categories: metaphysical, physical, and moral. As had Locke, Hume paraphrased the Tusculan Disputations almost verbatim in order to reject the metaphysical and physical arguments, and show that both led to atheism. When he came to consider the 53 54 55 56

Ibid., 1.7.16. Ibid., 1.31.87. This point is missed entirely by commentators including J.C.A. Gaskin, who provides the most thorough discussion of the essay:  Hume’s Philosophy of Religion, 2nd edn (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1988), 166–​82. “Of the Immortality of the Soul” (1777), in Essays, 590–​98 (on 598).

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moral arguments upon which Locke had laid such weight—​and which, Locke claimed, Cicero had endorsed—​Hume drew from a source that Locke had studiously avoided in his discussion.57 This was De Natura Deorum, the work in which Cotta had similarly challenged his antagonists to prove the principles they sought to defend on reason alone. Hume’s arguments to undermine the moral evidence in favour of the doctrine were identical to those employed by Cotta to refute Balbus. Moral arguments, both argued, were grounded on the fallacious assumption that God could be known to possess attributes—​justice, goodness, benevolence, power—​“beyond what he has exerted in this universe,” but which “according to human sentiments” were “essential parts of personal merit.” This was to once again fall into the error of supposing “that human sentiments have place in the deity,” when the “chief source of moral ideas,” as with men’s ideas regarding justice, “is the reflection on the interests of human society.”58 Hume’s point was not simply that a truly Ciceronian, empirical moral theory had no need to invoke God or a future state in order to explain moral obligation. Rather, its ability to explain morality with exclusive reference to the unique characteristics of human nature illustrated the inherent groundlessness and falsity of moral theologies of every stripe.

For Locke, Cicero’s moral philosophy, by banishing final causes and focusing on utility and agreeableness, left a conceptual space which had subsequently been filled by Christ’s revelation. This vindicated Locke’s own, highly distinctive conceptual separation between moral motivation and obligation. Revelation delivered what men both desired and required, but could not establish by their own natural lights: an account of the summum bonum, and an explanation of why the duties they were nonetheless motivated to perform on the basis of their utility and agreeableness were also morally obligatory. Hume, conversely, presented Cicero as entirely closing off this avenue.59 In Hume’s hands, Ciceronian academic scepticism unequivocally denied the very possibility of a harmony between empirical moral philosophy and Christian moral theology. 57

58 59

This is not to suggest that Locke was Hume’s sole target, not least since Butler had similarly defended the doctrine primarily on the basis of moral evidence:  Paul Russell, “Butler’s ‘Future State’ and Hume’s ‘Guide to Life’,” Journal of the History of Philosophy 42:4 (2004), 425–​48. “Immortality of the Soul,” 592–​96 (italics added). Here Rivers’s claim that Hume’s intention in the Dialogues may have been “to rescue Cicero from his Christian readers and restore him to scepticism” can be applied more broadly to a far greater number of Hume’s writings: Reason, Grace, and Sentiment, ii, 277.

214 Stuart-Buttle Hume’s interpretation of Cicero, it should be said, might bring this essay to a close but in no way represents the end of this story. Hume’s critics, especially in Scotland, recognised the importance of this interpretation of Cicero to Hume’s exposition of his own philosophy more clearly than have modern scholars. From the first such critic of his moral theory, Francis Hutcheson, onwards, the attempt to challenge the devastating consequences of Hume’s moral theory for Christian ethics was accompanied by a rejection of his interpretation of the meaning and significance of Cicero’s philosophy. In 1742, shortly after the publication of A Treatise, Hutcheson denied in his Philosophiae Moralis Institutio Compendiaria what Hume had implicitly maintained: that in De Officiis Cicero offered “a complete system of morals or ethics,” and thereby banished the question of “the supreme good, which is the principal part of ethics.” De Officiis was, in this regard, merely a theory of politeness intended for youths seeking to make their way in the world, rather than a theory of morals properly so-​called. Instead Hutcheson argued that in his more systematic works of moral theory—​De Finibus and the Tusculan Disputations—​ Cicero had in fact followed the Stoics in maintaining that utility and agreeableness alone were insufficient to explain moral obligation: virtue must be its own reward.60 James Beattie similarly opined that “Cicero seems to have been an Academic rather in name than in reality,” as “when the subject of his inquiry is of high importance, as in his books on moral duties, and on the nature of the gods, he follows the doctrine of the Dogmatists, particularly the Stoics; and asserts his moral and religious principles with a warmth and energy which prove him to have been in earnest.”61 Notwithstanding his very different treatment of morals, Thomas Reid followed Beattie on this point: “though an Academic, [Cicero] was dogmatical” in his moral theory, identifying “self-​evident truths” in ethics as in religion.62 By this means Hume’s critics sought to deny his claim that Ciceronian academic scepticism represented a discrete (and superior) tradition in the history of moral philosophy. As this essay indicates, the question of Cicero’s philosophical commitments was deemed to be of the utmost importance to early modern philosophers, for whom the relationship between ethics and religion remained a profoundly vexed issue. By the nineteenth

60 61 62

I have cited the English translation of the work: Francis Hutcheson, A Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy, 2 vols (Glasgow, 1747), I, vi–​vii. James Beattie, An Essay on the Nature and Immutability of Truth (Edinburgh, 1770), 2.2.1, 243–​44. Thomas Reid, Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man (1785), ed. Derek R.  Brookes (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2002), 6.2, 452–​53 (referring to De Oratore); 6.6, 500 (to De Finibus).

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century, in contrast, this earlier interest in Cicero as a philosopher in his own right—​rather than as merely a doxographer, crudely summarising the teachings of others but contributing little that was novel to western philosophical thought—​had come to seem curious indeed.63 Acknowledgements I am grateful to seminar audiences in Edinburgh and Antwerp for commenting helpfully on earlier versions of this essay.


Ashcraft, Richard. “Faith and Knowledge in Locke’s Philosophy.” In John Locke: Problems and Perspectives, edited by John W. Yolton, 194–​223. Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1969. Baier, Annette. Postures of the Mind:  Essays on the Mind and Morals. London: Methuen, 1985. Battersby, Christine. “The Dialogues as Original Imitation: Cicero and the Nature of Hume’s Skepticism.” In McGill Hume Studies, edited by David F. Norton, Nicholas Capaldi, and Wade L. Robison, 239–​52. San Diego: Austin Hill Press, 1979. Beattie, James. An Essay on the Nature and Immutability of Truth. Edinburgh, 1770. Buckle, Stephen. “British Sceptical Realism.” European Journal of Philosophy 7:1 (1999): 1–​29. Buckle, Stephen. “Marvels, Miracles, and Mundane Order: Hume’s Critique of Religion in An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding.” Australasian Journal of Philosophy 79:1 (2001): 1–​31. di Biase, Giuliana. La Morale di Locke: Fra Prudenza e Mediocritas. Rome: Carocci, 2012. Casson, Douglas. Liberating Judgment:  Fanatics, Skeptics, and John Locke’s Politics of Probability. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011. Cicero, M.T. Academica, tr. Harry Rackham. Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Press, 1933. Cicero, M.T. De Natura Deorum, tr. Harry Rackham. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1933.


Here the central figure in disparaging Cicero’s significance was Theodor Mommsen: see Nicholas P. Cole, “Nineteenth-​Century Ciceros,” in The Cambridge Companion to Cicero, ed. Catherine Steel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 337–​49.

216 Stuart-Buttle Cicero, M.T. On Duties, edited by Miriam T. Griffin and E. Margaret Atkins. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991. Cole, Nicholas P. “Nineteenth-​Century Ciceros.” In The Cambridge Companion to Cicero, edited by Catherine Steel, 337–​49. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. Colman, John. John Locke’s Moral Philosophy. Edinburgh:  Edinburgh University Press, 1983. Dew, Ben. “Epicurean and Stoic Enlightenments: The Return of Modern Paganism?” History Compass 13:1 (2013): 486–​95. Dunn, John. The Political Thought of John Locke: An Historical Account of the “Two Treatises of Government.” Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969. Fosl, Peter S. “Doubt and Divinity: Cicero’s Influence on Hume’s Religious Skepticism.” Hume Studies 20 (1994): 103–​20. Gaskin, J.C.A. Hume’s Philosophy of Religion, 2nd edition. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1988. Harris, James A. Hume:  An Intellectual Biography. New  York:  Oxford University Press, 2015. Hirschmann, Albert O. The Passions and the Interests: Political Arguments for Capitalism before its Triumph. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977. Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan, edited by Noel Malcolm, 3 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Holden, Thomas. Spectres of False Divinity. Hume’s Moral Atheism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. Hont, István. Politics in Commercial Society: Jean-​Jacques Rousseau and Adam Smith, edited by Béla Kapossy and Michael Sonenscher. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015. Hume, David. Four Dissertations. London, 1757. Hume, David. Letters of David Hume, edited by J.Y.T. Greig, 2 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1932. Hume, David. Essays, Moral, Political and Literary, edited by Eugene F. Miller. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1985. Hume, David. An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, edited by Tom L. Beauchamp. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. Hume, David. A Treatise of Human Nature, edited by David F. Norton and Mary J. Norton. 2 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. Hume, David. Dialogues concerning Natural Religion and Other Writings, edited by Dorothy Coleman. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Hutcheson, Francis. A Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy, 2 vols. Glasgow, 1747. Lennon, T.M. The Battle of the Gods and Giants: The Legacies of Descartes and Gassendi, 1655–​1715. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993. Levitin, Dmitri. Ancient Wisdom in the Age of the New Science: Histories of Philosophy in England, c. 1640–​1700. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

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Locke, John. Essays on the Law of Nature, edited and translated by Wolfgang von Leyden. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1954. Locke, John. The Educational Writings of John Locke, edited by James L. Axtell. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968. Locke, John. An Essay concerning Human Understanding, edited by Peter H. Nidditch. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975. Locke, John. Two Treatises of Government, edited by Peter Laslett. Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1988. Locke, John. Some Thoughts concerning Education, edited by John W. Yolton and Jean S. Yolton. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989. Locke, John. The Works of John Locke, 9 vols. London, 1794; repr. London: Routledge/​ Thoemmes, 1997. Locke, John. The Reasonableness of Christianity. In Writings on Religion, edited by Victor Nuovo. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Marshall, John. John Locke: Resistance, Religion and Responsibility. Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1994. Mitsis, Phillip. “Locke’s Offices.” In Hellenistic and Early Modern Philosophy, edited by Jon Miller and Brad Inwood, 45–​61. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Moore, James. “The Social Background of Hume’s ‘Science of Human Nature.’” In McGill Hume Studies, edited by Nicholas Capaldi, David F. Norton, and Wade L. Robison, 23–​41. San Diego: Austin Hill Press, 1976. Moore, James. “Utility and Humanity.” Utilitas 14:3 (2002): 365–​86. Norton, David F. David Hume: Common-​Sense Moralist, Sceptical Metaphysician. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982. Noxon, James. “Hume’s Agnosticism.” Philosophical Review 73:2 (1964): 248–​61. Nuovo, Victor. Christianity, Antiquity, and Enlightenment: Interpretations of Locke. London: Springer, 2011. Polin, Raymond. La Politique Morale de John Locke. Paris:  Presses universitaires de France, 1960. Popkin, Richard H. The History of Scepticism from Savonarola to Bayle, revised edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. Price, John V. “Sceptics in Cicero and Hume.” Journal of the History of Ideas 25:1 (1964): 97–​106. Reid, Thomas. Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man, edited by Derek R. Brookes. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2002. Remer, Gary. Humanism and the Rhetoric of Toleration. University Park: Pennsylvania University Press, 1996. Rivers, Isabel. Reason, Grace and Sentiment: A Study of the Language of Religion and Ethics in England, 1660–​1780, 2 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991–​ 2000.

218 Stuart-Buttle Russell, Paul. “Butler’s ‘Future State’ and Hume’s ‘Guide to Life.’” Journal of the History of Philosophy 42:4 (2004): 425–​48. Russell, Paul. The Riddle of Hume’s Treatise:  Skepticism, Naturalism and Irreligion. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. Schmitt, Charles B. Cicero Scepticus: A Study of the Academica in the Renaissance. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1972. Stewart, M.A. “Hume’s Historical View of Miracles.” In Hume and Hume’s Connexions, edited by M.A. Stewart and John P. Wright, 171–​200. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1994. Stewart, M.A. “The Dating of Hume’s Manuscripts.” In The Scottish Enlightenment: Essays in Reinterpretation, edited by Paul Wood, 267–​314. Woodbridge: University of Rochester Press, 2000. Stewart, M.A. “Hume’s Intellectual Development, 1711–​1752.” In Impressions of Hume, edited by Marina Frasca-​Spada and Peter J.E. Kail, 11–​58. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. Stuart-​Buttle, Tim. “‘A Burthen Too Heavy for Humane Sufferance’: Locke on Reputation.” History of Political Thought 38:4 (2017): 644–​80. Stuart-​Buttle, Tim. From Moral Theology to Moral Philosophy: Cicero and Visions of Humanity from Locke to Hume. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019. Wood, Neal. The Politics of Locke’s Philosophy: A Social Study of “An Essay concerning Human Understanding.” Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983. Wright, John P. “Hume’s Academic Scepticism: A Reappraisal of his Philosophy of Human Understanding.” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 16:3 (1986): 407–​35.

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Rousseau’s Rome and Political Pragmatism Flora Champy 1

Rousseau’s Antiquity: a Nostalgic Attack against Modernity?

Jean-​Jacques Rousseau’s self-​proclaimed admiration for antiquity has been noted and commented on ever since the publication of his books. From the beginning of his literary career, he considered antiquity as a yardstick1 by which to assess what he could observe in modern society. In the work which launched his reputation as a literary celebrity, the first Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts (1749), he chose as a spokesman the severe, incorruptible Roman consul Fabricius, a representative figure of Republican austerity. Rousseau stages Fabricius’s coming back to life to voice eloquently his indignation at his fellow citizens of the Roman Empire, who have forgotten their political identity to revel in the new mores brought by Greek culture. Fabricius thus stands for Rousseau’s own indignation at his contemporaries,2 enslaved by the arts and sciences which were supposed to enlighten them. This strong criticism exposed Rousseau to the risk of being accused of naïve, excessive anachronism. Fabricius is not just an example of good conduct taken from antiquity to be offered to the reader’s appreciation and admiration. He epitomises overt respect for the past, as opposed to the acceptance of outrageous change. This moral position operates on two levels: Fabricius’s recalling the superiority of old Roman traditions over the new mores inspired by Greece echoes Rousseau’s extolling ancient societies in order to disparage modernity. The series of oppositions established in the text confirms this parallel. Rousseau reinterprets the classical opposition between Sparta and Athens by combining it with the equally classical contrast between the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire. The artistic refinement of classical Athens is thus associated with the notoriously corrupted morals of the Roman Republic, and both are opposed to the military and civic virtue of Sparta and Republican Rome. Chantal Grell highlights that this new, double opposition was a way for Rousseau to take a clear stance in contemporary 1 To use the expression of Judith Shklar, Men and Citizens. A Study of Rousseau’s Social Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969), 16. 2 Jean Starobinski, “La prosopopée de Fabricius,” Revue des sciences humaines 161 (1976): 84–​96.

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2020 | DOI:10.1163/9789004412675_012

220 Champy debates on the benefits of commerce.3 Following the path opened by Pierre-​ Daniel Huet in his History of the commerce and navigation of the ancients,4 many Enlightenment figures who praised the emerging capitalist economy, like Jean-​François Melon5 or Voltaire, proposed Pericles’s Athens as a model.6 They opposed its lustre to the bare poverty which, in their eyes, was the true face of the overrated “virtue” of Sparta and Republican Rome.7 Yet Athens was seen as an exception among ancient societies. In general, ancient states could and should no longer be imitated in modern times. In the Spirit of the Laws, Montesquieu, one of the main advocates of the importance of commerce,8 evoked Athens as the ancient city closest to a modern state,9 which nevertheless failed to fulfil its commercial potential. A new social and economic model, based on the development of trade and exchanges of all kinds, had become dominant, entailing the development of new moral standards. Austere virtue was not only old-​fashioned, but also useless and pernicious. This distinction also implied major political consequences:  the cohesion characteristic of ancient states could no longer be envisaged in modern ones. This structural difference must be acknowledged by anyone who wished to write about politics. In a sense, as Roger Masters pointed out, both Montesquieu’s and Rousseau’s political reflection entirely revolves around this contrast between antiquity and modernity.10 However, they envisage it from completely different viewpoints, and arrive at radically opposed conclusions. Posterity has retained the image of a “modern” Montesquieu opposed to an “ancient” Rousseau. At first sight, their respective choices of political models confirm this 3

Chantal Grell, Le dix-​huitième siècle et l’Antiquité en France, 1680–​1789 (Oxford:  Voltaire Foundation, 1995), 464. 4 Pierre-​Daniel Huet, Histoire du commerce et de la navigation des Anciens (Paris, 1716); The history of the commerce and navigation of the ancients, written in French by Monsieur Huet, made English from the Paris edition (London, 1717). 5 Jean-​François Melon, Essai politique sur le commerce (Caen:  Presses universitaires de Caen, 2014). 6 Nicole Loraux and Pierre Vidal-​Naquet, “Formation de l’Athènes bourgeoise: essai d’historiographie,” in Classical influences on Western thought, ed. R.R. Bolgar (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), 169–​223. 7 See Voltaire, Défense du Mondain, in Œuvres de 1736. Œuvres complètes de Voltaire 16 (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2003), 304–​10. 8 Albert Hirschman, The Passions and the Interests (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977), 60 and 70–​80. 9 Montesquieu, De l’esprit des lois (Geneva, 1748), xxi, 7. 10 Roger Masters, The Political Philosophy of Rousseau (Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 1968), 368–​69.

Rousseau’s Rome and Political Pragmatism


interpretation: Montesquieu’s theory of the necessary balance of powers within the state is informed by the institutions of contemporary England, whereas Rousseau provides a detailed account of ancient Roman institutions. In the context of eighteenth-​century debates, Rousseau’s exaltation of illustrious ancient men and political systems could sound entirely out of place. Indeed many of his contemporaries reminded him that significant historical changes had taken place since the time of Sparta’s glory. Théodore Tronchin thus wrote to him, after reading the Letter to d’Alembert: Our home town, my dear friend, is not what you think it is. We should not be misled: what was suited to Greek Republics is no longer suited to ours. Geneva is no more similar to Sparta than the gauntlets of an athlete are similar to the white gloves of a dancer from the opera.11 In this letter, Tronchin does not merely express the opinion of many of Rousseau’s readers; he also points out why the overwhelming presence of examples from antiquity in Rousseau’s work may be so problematic. Rousseau’s immense admiration for antiquity could easily be seen as evidence of a profound miscomprehension of modernity. In Tronchin’s view, it signalled Rousseau’s inability to accept the specific needs of modern societies. It could thus be used as an argument to invalidate his theory. Tronchin’s criticism touched a crucial point:  it highlighted that antiquity lay at the core of Rousseau’s theory, and suggested that the exemplary role ascribed to antiquity in Rousseau’s system questioned the practicability of the system itself. In this chapter, I  propose to re-​examine the relationship between Rousseau’s references to antiquity and his political theory from a literary and historical perspective. Situating his sources and rhetorical devices in the intellectual context of his time can help us to apprehend his political philosophy. Should we infer from Rousseau’s numerous references to ancient Greece and Rome that he was simply unable, or unwilling, to deal with the real issues of political life, in particular modern political life? This assumption, which originates in the criticisms of his contemporaries, has been developed in a long tradition of scholarship. After briefly recalling how this interpretation took shape, I will 11

“Cette patrie, mon bon ami, n’est pas ce que vous imaginez … Ne nous y trompons pas, ce qui convenoit aux Republiques Grecques, ne convient plus à la notre … Genève ne ressemble pas plus à Sparte que les gantelets d’un athlete ne ressemblent aux gants blancs d’une fille de l’opera.” Letter of Théodore Tronchin to Rousseau, 13 Nov. 1758, in Correspondance complète de Jean-​Jacques Rousseau, ed. R. Leigh (Oxford, Voltaire Foundation, 1965–​1998), Vol. 5.

222 Champy argue that Rousseau in fact relied on examples of ancient cities to engage with the practical aspects of modern politics. 2

Rousseau’s Antiquities and his Definition of Liberty

The portrayal of Rousseau as a political thinker in the ancient style took shape in the aftermath of the French Revolution. For many commentators, the events of the Terror rendered Rousseau’s enduring praise of antiquity not only slightly ridiculous but utterly disastrous. Elaborating on the charges already brought against Rousseau in his own time, Benjamin Constant examined his political theory in the light of recent historical experience. His analysis developed gradually. He began by devoting a whole section of the first version of his Principles of Politics, dating from 1806,12 to criticising Rousseau’s key political concept: the sovereignty of the people. Constant condemned Rousseau’s definition, which was so broad that it could lead to the worst excesses if one tried to translate it into fact. This idea reappears in synthesised form in the second version of the Principles, published in 1815. The opening chapter of the book is dedicated to this fundamental notion, trying to find a “precise and exact definition” without which “the triumph of the theory could become a calamity in its application.”13 Defining sovereignty entails setting its limits; this is the crucial point where Rousseau, according to Constant’s account, dramatically failed. By “overlooking” the fact that society as a whole cannot have “unlimited authority over its members,” Rousseau’s “error made of his Social Contract, so often invoked in favour of liberty, the most formidable support for all kinds of despotism.”14 Constant reiterated his criticism once more four years later, in a speech given at the Athénée royal de Paris in 1819, entitled The Liberty of the Ancients Compared with that of Moderns. He added another point to his argument. Rousseau’s error lay not only in his misconception concerning sovereignty; this misconception itself resulted from the abusive projection of ancient social realities onto modern ones. The leaders responsible for the abuse of the Revolution, however “well-​intentioned,” 12

Benjamin Constant, Principes de politique applicables à tous les gouvernements représentatifs, ed. Kurt Kloocke, Etienne Hofmann, et al. (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2011). To my knowledge, this version of the work remains untranslated in English. 13 Benjamin Constant, Political Writings, tr. Biancamaria Fontana (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 175. 14 Constant, Political Writings, 177.

Rousseau’s Rome and Political Pragmatism


had derived several of their theories from the works of two philosophers who had themselves failed to recognize the changes brought by two thousand years in the dispositions of mankind … I shall show that, by transposing into our modern age an extent of social power, of collective sovereignty, which belonged to other centuries, this sublime genius, [Jean-​Jacques Rousseau] animated by the purest love of liberty, has nevertheless furnished deadly pretexts for more than one kind of tyranny.15 Here Constant offers the most complex version of his argument, which results from the combination of the traditional accusation of anachronism (Rousseau saw modern reality through an ill-​adapted ancient lens) with his own remark about popular sovereignty. In theorising this concept, Rousseau gave rise to dramatic confusion. He tried to generalise what was a specific political structure in antiquity. This abusive generalisation led to historical disaster when people were persuaded that ancient sovereignty could actually be implemented in modern circumstances. Whether or not one agrees with Constant’s criticism, his analysis calls attention to a crucial relation within Rousseau’s political theory. Constant underlines the ambivalent value of Rousseau’s ancient examples: their powerful imagery calls for immediate political action, but they can be interpreted as an ominous sign of the fundamental inability of Rousseau’s theory to grasp the needs of pragmatic political policy. According to Constant, Rousseau’s ancient examples are not merely a sign of his idealism; they provide internal motivation for his theory to neglect any consideration of what can actually be accomplished given the conditions of modern societies. Constant’s account thus highlights the fact that examining the function of antiquity in Rousseau’s political system amounts to examining the status of theory itself in his system. Does the prominence of ancient examples in Rousseau’s political system mean that theory should prevail over any pragmatic considerations? Should we therefore consider the prevalence of antiquity as the sign of the authoritarian, or even totalitarian, quality of his political thought? A long line of critics followed the path opened by Constant, without being as cautious as him.16 They depicted an authoritarian Rousseau, trying to force citizens to comply with his theory. Lester Crocker explicitly linked Rousseau’s admiration for antiquity with his supposed totalitarian penchant: he saw the figures of ancient lawgivers so often praised by Rousseau (Moses, Lycurgus,

15 Constant, Political Writings, 318. 16 Constant was in fact much more critical of Mably than he was of Rousseau.

224 Champy Numa) as forerunners of totalitarian leaders.17 To counter this argument, other critics conceded that Rousseau was certainly an idealist, who, however, never aimed to exert actual political influence, and could therefore not be charged with totalitarian instincts. Thus, several aspects of Judith Shklar’s analysis echo Benjamin Constant’s argument. Her interpretation relies on the assumption that “Rousseau was the last great political theorist to be utterly uninterested in history, past or future, the last also to judge and condemn without giving any thought to programs of action.”18 According to Shklar, Rousseau’s only ambition as a political writer was to arouse awareness in his reader. On this interpretation, Rousseau’s system was elaborated regardless of any historical consideration. For this purpose, he constructed two deliberately strict utopias. On the one hand, Sparta encapsulates a political ideal in which all individuality is completely erased, absorbed in a civic identity. On the other, a natural household inspired from the fantasy of the Golden Age preserves man from any intervention that would transform him into a citizen. Enlightening as it may be, this explanation does not account for every aspect of Rousseau’s political theory. In particular, it leaves one crucial point unexplained: the status of ancient references other than Sparta. Can we really consider the numerous references to ancient Rome as insignificant? When she mentions Rome, Shklar forces Rome into the Spartan model, speaking for instance of a “Spartan-​Roman government” for Corsica.19 This expression is problematic. Can we really see a “Spartan” model in the Discourse on Political Economy,20 in which Sparta is only briefly alluded to, and is there anything “Spartan” in the policies proposed in the Plan for a Constitution for Corsica, in which the ancient city is never mentioned? Shklar’s interpretation envisages Rousseau’s antiquity as a mass of undifferentiated examples, all completely disconnected from any historical background, and stemming from a compelling Spartan imagery. This line of interpretation finds an echo in Yves Touchefeu’s comprehensive study of antiquity in Rousseau’s thought.21 According to Touchefeu, references to Sparta, Athens,


Lester Crocker, Rousseau’s Social Contract: An Interpretive Essay (Cleveland: Press of Case Western Reserve University, 1968), 163. 18 Shklar, Men and Citizens, 1. 19 Shklar, Men and Citizens, 28. 20 It is, according to Shklar, Rousseau’s “most rigorously Spartan utopia” (Shklar, Men and Citizens, 16). 21 Yves Touchefeu, L’Antiquité et le christianisme dans la pensée de Jean-​Jacques Rousseau (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 1999), 232–​40 and 447–​50.

Rousseau’s Rome and Political Pragmatism


and Rome unite in a global representation of the “ancient city,” a consistent political paradigm, which should be analysed in opposition to the Christian paradigm informing Rousseau’s moral thought. Without denying the decisive global influence of antiquity in Rousseau’s political thought, I would like to challenge the idea of a united ancient paradigm in his system. Recent scholarship has underlined “the diversity of ways in which Rousseau dealt with the ancients,”22 inviting a reassessment of Rousseau’s relationship to history. In line with this interpretation, I propose that there is in fact not one, but two separate ancient models in Rousseau’s thought.23 Greece and Rome play clearly distinct, specific roles in his political system. Rousseau deliberately distinguishes these two models and overtly gives Rome prominence. He unquestionably admires Sparta, placing it on a par with Rome as regards the excellence of its polity.24 He does not, however, treat both examples with the same attention. The references to Rome greatly outnumber those to Sparta, which is not even mentioned in some of his political works. Nowhere in Rousseau’s work can one find an account of Lacedaemonian institutions comparable to the detailed description of Roman ones included in the Social Contract. Rousseau deliberately privileged the Roman example because it allowed him to think more deeply about the relation between political theory and practice25—​an issue he attempted to resolve in a decisively pragmatic manner. Far from trying to impose an ill-​suited, anachronistic model to the necessities of modern political life, Rousseau resorted to the Roman example precisely in order to grasp the specific questions of modern politics. His main concern was to keep a democratic principle at work, even in unfavourable historical conditions. My analysis will be based mainly on readings of the chapters devoted to Rome in the Social Contract, which have been recently re-​examined

22 23 24


Avi Lifschitz, “Rousseau’s imagined antiquity: an introduction,” in Rousseau’s Imagined Antiquity, ed. Avi Lifschitz, History of Political Thought 37 (2016), 2. See Alberto Postigliola, “Sur les modèles politiques chez Rousseau,” in Transactions of the Seventh International Congress on the Enlightenment, svec 264 (Oxford:  Voltaire Foundation, 1989), 917–​20. Rousseau draws a “Parallel between the two Republics of Sparta and Rome” many times, and not only in the political fragment which bears this name (Rousseau, Collected w ­ ritings, ed. Christopher Kelly and Roger Masters, 4, 59–​63; Œuvres complètes, iii, 538–​40). The two ancient cities are often mentioned together and compared: see Social Contract, iii, 11: “If Sparta and Rome perished, what State can hope to endure forever?” (Collected ­writings, 4, 188; OC iii, 424). Roger Masters demonstrates that Rousseau’s concern for pragmatic policy is not an appendix to his system, but is part and parcel of his political philosophy (Masters, Political Philosophy, chapter viii).

226 Champy in the debate between John McCormick and Chiara Destri.26 I will also refer to Rousseau’s three practical political works (the Letters Written from the Mountain, the Plan for a Constitution for Corsica and the Considerations on the Government of Poland) to underline the democratic aspect of Rousseau’s account of the Roman Republic. 3

Rome’s Exemplary Assemblies

Examining the Roman example is crucial to assess the pragmatic value Rousseau himself intended to give to his theory. His reflection on the Roman Republic decisively informs his presentation of the political device in which theory is put into practice:  popular assemblies. In Rousseau’s political philosophy, the assembly of the people is a key component of political life: it is the only place where popular sovereignty, the fundamental principle which legitimises political activity, can be exercised: “The Sovereign, having no other force than the legislative power, acts only by laws; and since the laws are only authentic acts of the general will, the Sovereign can only act when the people is assembled.”27 This principle may sound utterly unrealistic in Rousseau’s time. It seems to stem from very specific political experiences and situations, limited to small city-​states like ancient Athens or modern Geneva. The peculiarity of these examples threatens the general value of Rousseau’s theory. We should not be surprised, then, to see that Rousseau dismisses these examples which apparently best fit his system. Instead, he somewhat surprisingly develops the case of the Roman Republic. Four chapters of the last book of the Social Contract are devoted to Roman institutions, including a very detailed account of the Roman assemblies. One of the two longest chapters of the book (with the penultimate chapter on civil religion), that about the Roman comitia, usually puzzles both readers and scholars. Its meaning and status, however, are clarified in a previous chapter, in which Rousseau explains why the Roman example is best suited to show “how the sovereign authority is maintained”:



John McCormick, “Rousseau’s Rome and the Repudiation of Populist Republicanism,” Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 10.1 (2007): 3–​27; “Response to Destri,” Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 19.2 (2016): 217–​ 20; Chiara Destri, “Rousseau’s (not so) oligarchic republicanism,” Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 19.2 (2016): 206–​16. SC iii, 12, Collected writings, 4, 189; OC iii, 425.

Rousseau’s Rome and Political Pragmatism


The people assembled, it will be said, what a chimera! It is a chimera today, but this was not the case two thousand years ago. Have men changed their nature? … I shall not speak of the ancient republics of Greece; but the Roman Republic, it seems to me, was a large State, and the town of Rome a large town … Yet few weeks went by in which the Roman people was not assembled, and even several times. It exercised not only the rights of sovereignty, but a part of those of Government as well. It handled certain business matters; it tried certain cases; and at the public assembly, this entire people was nearly as often magistrate as Citizen.28 Alberto Postigliola judiciously related this passage to the chapter about Roman assemblies, underlining the generalising value of the Roman example.29 It is selected as a counterargument against the twofold reproach of anachronism and particularity. For Rousseau as for Montesquieu,30 Rome is not one example among others. Its extraordinarily rich history turns it into what we might call a universal example, which can be called upon to examine any issue, and which must be accounted for in the validation of any theory of ­political ­development. Yet whereas Montesquieu examines the whole of Roman history including the Empire, Rousseau, who only counts as legitimate those institutions which rely on a democratic basis, only considers the Roman Republic. In order to demonstrate the necessity of assemblies in political life and to prove the validity of his theory, he has to demonstrate that it can convincingly explain the political life of the Roman Republic. Thus, the practicability of the system also reinforces its theoretical aspect. Several explanations are therefore possible for the unusual length of the chapter about the Roman comitia. The first one is rhetorical. Rousseau goes into such great detail because he needs to convince his reader that it is indeed possible to exert popular sovereignty on a very large scale. This is related to the chapter’s historical dimension: Rousseau details the history of the Roman assemblies in order to show how a political system can be maintained even when circumstances change.31 This very consideration, however, can be troubling 28 29

SC iii, 12, Collected writings, 4, 189; OC iii, 425. Alberto Postigliola, La città della ragione. Per una storia filosofica del settecento francese (Roma: Bulzoni, 1992), 202. 30 See Spirit of the Laws, xi, 13. 31 The clearest example appears at the end of the chapter, when Rousseau evokes the necessary changes in voting procedures (when the secret ballot was adopted, Collected writings, xx; OC iii, 452).

228 Champy when related to the theoretical principles developed earlier in the book. If Rousseau praises Rome for keeping its principles alive through the vicissitudes of history, can he really be considered a democrat? It seems extremely paradoxical to see anything democratic in Roman assemblies: from the very beginning of the Republic, their voting procedures were clearly weighted in favour of the wealthier citizens.32 This seemingly contradictory system has recently led John McCormick to formulate an ironic interpretation in a thought-​provoking article.33 For McCormick, the “time, space, and energy” spent on the depiction of the Roman comitia are aimed at elaborating a “practicable political exemplum” which should be literally imitated. In this interpretation, Rousseau addresses a clearly pro-​oligarchy message to his “judicious reader”; the detailed account of Roman voting procedures shows how to maintain and anchor in political practice the domination of the wealthy while asserting an abstractly strong, but pragmatically ineffective claim to popular sovereignty. This is especially obvious in the contrast between the presentation of Rome and Athens: Rousseau extolls the Roman comitia centuriata for exerting the same power which he harshly criticises in Athenian ekklesia.34 According to McCormick, the only valid explanation for this apparent contradiction lies in Rousseau’s preference for the inegalitarian bias of the Roman system. However odd his portrait of a duplicitous Rousseau may seem, McCormick clearly exposes an issue which scholars cannot ignore when commenting on this chapter. If Rousseau endorses the Roman Republic’s discrimination in favour of the wealthy, we are led to reconsider the basic principle of his political theory. In her response to McCormick’s article, Chiara Destri contests his interpretation, defending the traditional view of Rousseau as a democrat. She then has to deny any practical value to the Roman example: it should be recognised “as one that Rousseau believes not appropriate for modern circumstances.”35 Her argument relies on a strong textual parallel between the chapter on the comitia and the Letters Written from the Mountain. In this text, Rousseau, defending himself and his works against the condemnation of the Petit Conseil in Geneva, uses his case as an example to denounce the oligarchy that is being installed. A key issue in contemporary Genevan politics was whether the 32

See Lily Ross Taylor, Party Politics in the Age of Caesar (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1949). 33 McCormick, “Rousseau’s Rome,” 6. 34 Compare SC iv, 4 (Collected writings, 4, 211; OC iii, 453) and ii, 4 (Collected writings, 4, 149; OC iii, 374). 35 Destri, “Rousseau’s (not so) oligarchic republicanism,” 212.

Rousseau’s Rome and Political Pragmatism


Conseil Général, or assembly of all citizens,36 should be summoned. This is an occasion for Rousseau to reflect on the difference between ancient and modern politics: Do not let your chains be forged by amour-​propre. Too small to compare yourselves to anything, stay within yourselves, and do not blind yourselves about your position. Ancient Peoples are no longer a model for modern ones; they are too alien to them in every respect. You above all, Genevans, keep your place, and do not go for the lofty objects that are presented to you in order to hide the abyss that is being dug in front of you. You are neither Romans, nor Spartans, you are not even Athenians. Leave aside these great names that do not suit you. You are Merchants, Artisans, Bourgeois, always occupied with their private interests, with their work, with their trafficking, with their gain; people for whom even liberty is only a means for acquiring without obstacle and for possessing in safety. This situation demands maxims particular to you. Not being idle as the ancient Peoples were, you cannot ceaselessly occupy yourselves with the Government as they did: but by that very fact that you can less constantly keep watch over it, it should be instituted in such a way that it might be easier for you to see its intrigues and provide for abuses.37 This text undoubtedly sheds light on the chapter devoted to the Roman comitia. My reading of it, however, is different from Destri’s. The most remarkable aspect of this text is its double movement.38 Rousseau’s insistence on the irreducible gap between ancients and moderns only enhances the urgent need to preserve the exercise of popular sovereignty, even in modern Geneva. We differ deeply from ancient Romans and Greeks; but this makes their example even more necessary, because it reminds us of an institution fundamental to maintaining the legitimacy we are so prompt to forget. This is why, in an earlier passage, Rousseau explicitly referred to both the Athenian ekklesia 36

37 38

It must be recalled, however, that this assembly was far from representing all the people actually living in Geneva. The population was divided in four classes: Citoyens, Bourgeois, Habitants, and Natifs, of which only the first two had political rights. Actual power was actually in the hand of a very small minority. See Michel Launay, Jean-​Jacques Rousseau, écrivain politique (Geneva: Slatkine reprints, 1989). Collected writings, 9, 292–​93; OC iii 881. Michel Launay analyses this characteristic feature of Rousseau’s political writing in “L’art de l’écrivain dans le Contrat social,” in Études sur le Contrat social de Jean-​Jacques Rousseau (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1964), 351–​78.

230 Champy and the Roman comitia to oppose those who attempted to ban the general councils in Geneva on the pretence that they could not be held in an orderly manner:39 Is it then a more difficult thing to establish rule without servitude among some hundreds of naturally serious and cold men, than it was at Athens, about which they speak to us, in the assembly of several thousands of quick-​tempered, ardent, and almost unrestrained Citizens; than it was in the Capital of the world, where the People in a body exercised in part the executive Power, and then it is even today in the great Council of Venice, as numerous as your general Council? Here, Rousseau resorts to the examples of Athens and Rome as an a fortiori argument. Yet this parallel in the Letters makes the text of the Social Contract even more intriguing. Why did Rousseau choose to dwell specifically on Rome? The pragmatic meaning that he conferred on this example in his main theoretical treatise is confirmed in the later practical political works. In the Plan for a Constitution for Corsica and the Considerations on the Government of Poland, Rousseau proposes modern Switzerland and Rome as models, but he most often adapts Roman policies.40 Far from seeing Rome as a specific example that can no longer be imitated in modern circumstances, Rousseau seems to consider the Roman Republic as the only ancient political system able to provide satisfactory inspiration for modern politics. Two factors contribute to explain Rome’s relevance to modern policy-​making: its peculiar history and the “inner purpose” which directed its organisation. 4

Rome: a Miracle from History

Rome could be a relevant source of inspiration for modern states because it followed a similar process of elaboration. Unlike most ancient cities, its constitution was not established by a single legislator. Ancient Rome does not fit in the distinction established by Rousseau in his unfinished History of the Government of Geneva: 39 40

Letters Written from the Mountain, vii, Collected writings, 9, 251–​52; OC iii 831. To my knowledge, there is only one policy inspired from a Spartan example, in the text about Poland (Collected writings, 11, 213), and Athens is proposed as an example only in the Letters Written from the Mountain, concerning the issue of popular assemblies (as mentioned above).

Rousseau’s Rome and Political Pragmatism


Modern Governments have not been, as those of ancient peoples were, formed in one piece and founded so to speak in a single stroke. Formerly States that were new or reborn through sudden revolutions sometimes gave themselves a master and sometimes a Constitution. A single man whose functions were well beyond those of Kings was in this latter case charged with the enterprise, and adopted by the nation, his labor formed a regular system all of whose parts cooperated toward the same end since they were made for each other. This is no longer the case among the moderns, all our governments—​built up successively out of pieces related less in accordance with the public needs than in accordance with private aims—​in their irregularities show only the peculiarity of the events that caused them.41 Rome’s history does not offer one single legislator figure. Several historical characters contributed to elaborate its institutions. Naturally, Rousseau mentions Romulus as the founder of Rome,42 but he puts greater emphasis on the decisive action of Servius, whom he calls the “wise founder”43 of Rome in the chapter on the Roman comitia. In the Considerations on Poland, however, he also calls Numa Pompilius “the true founder of Rome,”44 endorsing a view which had become traditional since Machiavelli. To these three potential “lawgivers” we may add the collective instance of the Tribunes of the plebs, who according to the Social Contract gave its final form to the Roman government.45 A significant enumeration in the chapter on the Roman comitia conveys the way in which several layers of historical action combined in the elaboration of the Roman institutions: “The comitia by Curiae were derived from the institution of Romulus, those by Centuries from that of Servius, and those by Tribes from that of the Tribunes of the people.”46 In Rousseau’s view, what is truly remarkable about the Roman Republic—​ and what makes it different from modern states—​is that these multiple 41 42 43

44 45 46

Collected writings, 9, 103. See the Social Contract, Collected writings 4, 203, 206, 208; OC iii 449, 450. Social Contract, Collected writings, 4, 204; the English translation uses the same term for two different words in French. While Romulus is Rome’s fondateur, who laid the foundations of the city, Servius is called an instituteur, who imagined the main political institutions of the state. Poland, ii, Collected writings, 11, 172; OC iii 957. Numa is often mentioned by Rousseau, along with Solon, Moses, and Lycurgus, as one of the main ancient legislators:  see for instance Political Fragments, Collected writings, 4, 34; OC iii 500. Social Contract, iii, 10, Collected writings, 4, 186. Social Contract, iv, 4, Collected writings, 4, 207.

232 Champy historical forces did not alter the consistency of the body politic. On the contrary, it reinforced it. Yves Touchefeu points out that this statement echoes Cicero. In his Republic, Cicero relates Cato’s opinion that the superiority of the Roman state is due to the cooperation of several generations in its making.47 Transposed into the framework of Rousseau’s set of political examples, this consideration gives Rome a paradoxical value. The Roman Republic simultaneously epitomises ancient states as opposed to modern ones, and is a remarkable exception among ancient states—​thereby becoming a credible model for the moderns. In Rousseau’s view, the success of several generations of Romans is rooted in their common understanding of the specific purpose of the Roman state. Rome’s mission was to ensure the reign of virtue. From Fabricius’s speech to the Social Contract, Rousseau did not alter this judgment.48 Having encountered, in the course of its history, all the issues that a body politic could meet, Rome was able to provide a satisfactory solution to them, because it could count on the most reliable resource:  civic virtue. This does not mean that Rome should be imitated—​the Discourse on Political Economy explicitly recalls that the Roman “miracle” is not to be equalled.49 Nevertheless, modern states can draw inspiration from this model to devise policies for their own use, provided that they adapt them to their own historical needs. For instance, the Roman assemblies could be used as a convincing example to argue in favour of the restoration of popular sovereignty in early 1760s Geneva. The later texts on Corsica and Poland offer even more striking instances of the way in which two contrasting political models could share a common Roman inspiration. In the case of Corsica, Rousseau subordinates all his proposed policies to one priority: establishing a democratic government and the agricultural economic system to support it. This seems to be the system best adapted to the geographical and historical situation of the island, while it can still be preserved from the corruption of civilised Europe. There is no need to evoke the structure of Roman assemblies here: the people of Corsica do not seem sufficiently educated yet to reach the “public enlightenment”50 which would have 47 Cicero, De re publica, ii.1.2. See Yves Touchefeu, “Les institutions politiques romaines comme ‘modèle’ démocratique au xviiie siècle, en France,” in Antichità e rivoluzioni da Roma a Costantinopoli a Mosca, ed. Pierangelo Catalano and Giovanni Lobrano (Roma:  Herder, 2002), 83–​ 116. I  heartily thank Yves Touchefeu for sharing this information. 48 See Social Contract, ii, 11, Collected writings, 4, 163; OC iii, 393. 49 Discourse on Political Economy, Collected writings, 3, 157; OC iii, 262: “Rome was for five hundred years a continual miracle that the world ought not to hope to see again.” 50 Social Contract ii, 6, Collected writings, 4, 163; OC iii, 380.

Rousseau’s Rome and Political Pragmatism


enabled them correctly to express their general will. In this work, Rousseau adopts the perspective of the legislator who makes decisions concerning the guiding principle of the future state—​he is no longer dealing with an already existing population deprived of its sovereign power. The “inner cause” must be as simple in Corsica as it was at the beginning of the Roman Republic. What really matters is to preserve mores similar to the Roman mos maiorum, the mores of the ancestors. That is why Rousseau, when handling the question of taxing, praises the Roman system, which consisted in impositions in kind rather than in financial contributions: Corsicans, this is a fine model! … I could say that from Corsica’s situation and the form of its government there will not be a less expensive state in the world, since being an Island and a Republic it will have no need of regular troops and since the leaders of the State all return to equality they will not be able to draw anything from the common mass that does not return there in very little time.51 This passage reveals what Rousseau means when he speaks of a Roman “model”: he does not intend it as a mould to be imposed on any reality. The skilful political leader should rather follow the opposite line of action:  after determining the real needs of the people, he can look for inspiration in Roman policies. These policies are a valid inspiration because they were meant to endure through historical change. The Roman tax system evolved as the empire extended, but without ever betraying its fundamental principle, namely that Roman citizens should not pay any money tax.52 The situation of Poland is different: this time, the legislator attempting to reform it has to deal with a deep-​rooted tradition of distinction between lower and higher nobility. The Roman constitution provides a policy likely to prevent this traditional hierarchy developing into social domination. Unlike Corsica, Poland has already developed an irreversible taste for luxury. However, the “objects” of this taste can still be “changed”;53 instead of placing their pride in a material display of their wealth, prominent noblemen could revive the Roman relations of patronage:

51 52 53

Corsica, Collected writings, 11, 148, OC iii, 930. See James Swenson and Christophe Litwin, “Les finances publiques comme clef du gouvernement,” in Jean-​Jacques Rousseau, Affaires de Corse, ed. Christophe Litwin and James Swenson (Paris: Vrin, 2018). Poland, iii, Collected writings 11, 179, OC iii 965.

234 Champy That is a truly great and noble luxury, the inconvenience of which I feel perfectly, but which at least, far from debasing souls, raises them up, gives them feelings, resilience, and was not abused among the Romans as long as the Republic lasted … I doubt that a luxury of that sort leaves a lot of room for the luxury of trinkets. In Rousseau’s view, as paradoxical as it may seem, the revival of clientage in the Polish context would curb the nobility’s ambitions. It would compel them continually to cultivate and demonstrate their physical prowess, instead of basing their domination merely on privileges inherited from their ancestors. Thus, it would avert the creation of a hereditary aristocracy—​the worst possible outcome, according to the Social Contract.54 This is but one of a series of measures inspired by Roman institutions, which Rousseau exposes in detail in two key chapters of the work: “Means for maintaining the constitution,” the longest section, and “Plan for subjecting all the members of the government to a graduated progression.” A regulation of careers inspired by the Roman cursus honorum would keep at bay any attempt at corruption, while committees playing a role similar to that of the Roman censors would progressively enforce the enfranchisement of serfs, thereby enabling all Poles to take part to “the administration of their country.”55 5

Rome and the Political Role of Mores

This last passage from the Considerations on the Government of Poland echoes and illuminates another from the chapter on the Roman comitia. It is to this text that I finally return, in order to underline how Rousseau elaborates the Roman constitution as a political model which is both pragmatic and, in my view, democratic. At first sight, Rousseau’s praise of Roman clientage in this chapter may certainly raise some questions: This admirable institution of Patrons and Clients was a masterpiece of politics and humanity, without which the Patriciate, so contrary to the spirit of the Republic, could not have survived. Rome alone had the honor of giving the world this fine example, which never led to any abuse, yet which has never been followed.56 54 55 56

Social Contract, iii, 5, Collected writings 4, 175; OC iii, 406. OC iii, 1027. Social Contract, iv, 4, Collected writings 4, 208, OC iii 450.

Rousseau’s Rome and Political Pragmatism


John McCormick refers to this passage to buttress his plutocratic interpretation of Rousseau, interpreting it in the light of Rousseau’s supposed complete endorsement of the centuriate assembly. I would suggest a different interpretation. If we read the text closely, it seems that what Rousseau admires is less the system of clientage itself than the fact that it never led to any abuse in the Roman Republic.57 He marvels at the way in which Roman mores, and the key role given to morals in the Roman political system, succeeded in overturning structures of oligarchic domination into a system of democratic checks and balances. The voting procedure in the centuriate assembly was a necessary outgrowth of the social system of clientage; nevertheless, these two profoundly inegalitarian institutions were balanced by the very system of values in which they were inserted. By giving their votes to the wealthy not because of their fortune but according to the level of personal virtue they could display, the poor had a powerful instrument for containing, and potentially threatening, their patrons’ influence. What operates here is a kind of moral equivalent of popular sovereignty: the key values of the political community lay in the hands of the poor, that is, the majority among the people. Although this may seem paradoxical, Rousseau argues that an inegalitarian voting system allowed the poor to force the wealthy to comply with a moral system in which wealth was despised—​thus restraining its use as an instrument of domination. Here, Rousseau admires the Romans’ ability to turn the most dangerous political poison into an antidote.58 They were able to conceive and, above all, to implement durably a policy based on wealth to disparage the latter’s effects and external signs: Without deciding here if this third type of enumeration was good or bad in itself, I think I can assert that it was only made practicable by the simple morals of the early Romans, their disinterestedness, their taste for agriculture, their disdain for commerce and for the desire for profit. Where is the modern people whose devouring greed, uneasiness of mind, intrigue, continual moving about, and perpetual revolutions in fortunes would allow such an establishment to last for twenty years without overturning the whole State? It must also be carefully noted 57 58

I cannot discuss here whether Rousseau’s assertion is based in fact. For a historical account, see for instance Claude Nicolet, The World of the Citizen in Republican Rome, tr. P.S. Falla (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980). Jean Starobinski masterfully demonstrated that this is a key principle of Rousseau’s philosophy. See Blessings in Disguise; or, The Morality of Evil, tr. A. Goldhammer (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993).

236 Champy that morals and censorship, which were stronger than this institution, corrected its vices in Rome, and that a given rich man could find himself relegated to the class of the poor if he made too great a display of his wealth.59 This passage encapsulates the paradigmatic and pragmatic values of the Roman political model in Rousseau’s thought. He explicitly states that contemporary morals would make the centuriate assembly impossible in a modern context: instead of maintaining good mores, it would only be an instrument of instability. In exposing the minute details of the Roman voting system, Rousseau by no means urges modern politics to reproduce it literally. The chapter is intended as a “scale,” a yardstick to assess the degree of popular sovereignty in existing states. More importantly, however, it shows that the people cannot rightfully exercise their legislative power if they do not have the corresponding morals. Given that Rome’s “inner cause” was to maintain these morals, and that it provided a successful answer every time they were threatened in the course of the Republic’s history, the few modern populations still requiring legislation could draw inspiration from it to find policies likely to sustain this fundamental political asset in their own, specific context. 6

Conclusion: Rousseau’s Pragmatic Antiquity

This analysis of the Roman example, the most significant in Rousseau’s political works, has shown that the prominence of antiquity in his thought expresses a keen concern with pragmatic political needs and issues. Rousseau explicitly distinguishes two ancient models, the Greek cities and the Roman Republic, deliberately singling out the latter as more pertinent to modern audiences. The Roman political system, an exception among ancient cities, was the product of a piecemeal process of elaboration similar to that which resulted in the formation of modern states. Unlike modern states, however, Rome succeeded in preserving its coherence throughout this process. Thus, Roman history can be viewed as a stock of potential policy examples. The task of the good modern statesman is to select the right one for a given historical and political situation—​for choosing the wrong one might have harmful consequences. By scrutinising the Roman example, moderns can be reminded of the value of a now lost, cardinal political asset: the importance of morals. In 59

Social Contract, iv, 4, Collected writings, 4, 207, OC iii, 448.

Rousseau’s Rome and Political Pragmatism


the chapter on the Roman comitia, far from endorsing the inegalitarian structure of Roman institutions, Rousseau emphasises the counterweight opposed to the domination of the wealthy by the collective values of the Roman people. Although the effectiveness of this type of non-​institutional counterweight can certainly be debated, I believe that the chapter contains no contradiction or hidden meaning to be deciphered by the reader. This emphasis on the political function of mores is certainly classical in inspiration. It could be construed as a sign of Rousseau’s extreme idealism, or, in line with Shklar’s interpretation, as the hallmark of a “realistic utopianism.” According to that interpretation, Rousseau, by depicting antiquity as a utopia so remote that one should not even think of applying it to reality, in fact urged his reader plainly to accept modern politics as they are. In contrast, I have argued that Rousseau’s antiquity is anything but the remote object of the reveries of a solitary walker. His representation of antiquity is entirely shaped by the desire to identify what is lacking in modern politics—​the ability of the people to govern themselves. The contrasting image of ancient cities is intended to lead the modern reader to greater awareness of a citizen’s rights and duties, thus calling for political change. On the other hand, Rousseau’s politics may ultimately appear as purely moralising, and therefore completely unrealistic. I would respond that Rousseau, by showing that the majority can rely on a political resource—​the choice of refusing to share the values of the wealthy minority—​points to a levy of political action which, however slight it might seem, is always at hand.


Cicero. De re publica. De legibus, tr. Clinton W. Keyes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1928. Constant, Benjamin. Political Writings, tr. Biancamaria Fontana. Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1988. Constant, Benjamin. Principes de politique applicables à tous les gouvernements représentatifs, edited by Kurt Kloocke, Etienne Hofmann et  al. Berlin:  De Gruyter, 2011. Crocker, Lester. Rousseau’s Social Contract: An Interpretive Essay. Cleveland: Press of Case Western Reserve University, 1968. Destri, Chiara. “Rousseau’s (not so) oligarchic republicanism.” Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 19.2 (2016): 206–​16. Grell, Chantal. Le dix-​huitième siècle et l’Antiquité en France, 1680–​1789. Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 1995.

238 Champy Hirschman, Albert O. The Passions and the Interests. Political Arguments for Capitalism before its Triumph. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977. Huet, Pierre-​Daniel. Histoire du commerce et de la navigation des Anciens. Paris, 1716. Huet, Pierre-​Daniel. The history of the commerce and navigation of the ancients, written in French by Monsieur Huet, made English from the Paris edition. London, 1717. Launay, Michel. “L’art de l’écrivain dans le Contrat social.” In Études sur le Contrat social de Jean-​Jacques Rousseau, Publications de l’Université de Dijon, 351–​78. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1964. Launay, Michel. Jean-​Jacques Rousseau, écrivain politique. Genève:  Slatkine reprints, 1989. Lifschitz, Avi. “Rousseau’s imagined antiquity: an introduction.” In Rousseau’s Imagined Antiquity, edited by Avi Lifschitz, History of Political Thought 37 (2016): 1–​7. Loraux, Nicole and Pierre Vidal-​Naquet. “Formation de l’Athènes bourgeoise:  essai d’historiographie.” In Classical influences on Western thought, edited by R.R. Bolgar, 169–​223. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979. Masters, Roger. The Political Philosophy of Rousseau. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968. McCormick, John. “Rousseau’s Rome and the Repudiation of Populist Republicanism.” Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 10.1 (2007): 3–​27. McCormick, John. “Response to Destri.” Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 19.2 (2016): 217–​20. Melon, Jean-​François. Essai politique sur le commerce. Caen: Presses universitaires de Caen, 2014. Nicolet Claude. The World of the Citizen in Republican Rome, tr. P.S. Falla. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980. Postigliola, Alberto. “Sur les modèles politiques chez Rousseau.” In Transactions of the Seventh International Congress on the Enlightenment, SVEC 264, 917–​20. Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 1989. Postigliola, Alberto. La città della ragione. Per una storia filosofica del settecento francese. Rome: Bulzoni, 1992. Rousseau, Jean-​Jacques. Œuvres complètes, edited by Marcel Raymond and Bernard Gagnebin. Paris: Gallimard, 1959–​1995. Rousseau, Jean-​Jacques. Correspondance complète, edited by Ralph Leigh. Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 1965–​1998. Rousseau, Jean-​Jacques. Collected writings, edited by Christopher Kelly and Roger Masters. Hanover: Dartmouth College Press, 1994–​2007. Rousseau, Jean-​Jacques. Affaires de Corse, edited by Christophe Litwin, text established by James Swenson. Paris: Vrin, 2018. Shklar, Judith Nisse. Men and Citizens:  A Study of Rousseau’s Social Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969.

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Starobinski, Jean. “La prosopopée de Fabricius.” Revue des sciences humaines 161 (1976): 84–​96. Starobinsky, Jean. Blessings in Disguise; or, The Morality of Evil, tr. A. Goldhammer. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993. Taylor, Lily Ross. Party Politics in the Age of Caesar. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1949. Touchefeu, Yves. L’Antiquité et le christianisme dans la pensée de Jean-​Jacques Rousseau. Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 1999. Touchefeu, Yves. “Les institutions politiques romaines comme ‘modèle’ démocratique au XVIIIe siècle, en France.” In Antichità e rivoluzioni da Roma a Costantinopoli a Mosca, edited by Pierangelo Catalano and Giovanni Lobrano, 83–​116. Roma: Herder, 2002. Voltaire. Défense du Mondain. In Œuvres de 1736. Œuvres complètes de Voltaire 16, 304–​ 310. Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2003.

Index Abercromby, Patrick 134 Academic Scepticism see Philosophy; Cicero Addison, Joseph 68 Aeschylus 50 Agricola 153, 155, 156, 160, 162, 163–​64, 166, 169 see also Tacitus Alexander the Great 177 Alpheus 65, 66–​67 Altertumswissenschaft 174, 184, 186, 187, 189 Anacharsis see Barthélémy, Jean-​Jacques Anachronism 20, 219, 223 Ancients and Moderns see Querelle des anciens et des modernes Angas, George 71, 73 Antiquarianism, antiquarians 3, 46, 68–​69, 75, 104–​24 passim, 131–​48 passim, 152–​69 passim Antonine Wall 153, 158 Antoninus Pius 153, 167 Archaeology  Pompei and Herculaneum 45, 62 Roman Britain 153, 158, 160–​64 see also Sicily Arethusa see Sicily Ariadne  Vatican Ariadne (statue) 9, 84, 92–​100 Aristotle 47n29, 53 Astle, Thomas 104n1, 124 Atheism, dangers of see Religion Augustine 21, 140–​41, 144, 145 see also Patristics Augustus 95, 97–​98 Bacchylides 47n26, 47n29, 48 Banks, Sir Joseph 115 Barclay, William 147 Baronio, Cesare 142 Barthélémy, Jean-​Jacques  Life 45 Voyage du jeune Anacharsis en Grèce  44–​55 passim see also Pessimism; Religion Bartlett, William 69 Basnage, Jacques 22

Batoni, Pompeo 9, 83–​101 passim Charles John Crowle 9, 84, 92–​100 passim James Caulfeild, later Lord Charlemont 85–​88, 100 Robert Clements, later 1st Earl of Leitrim 87–​89, 92 The Holy Roman Emperor Joseph ii and Grand Duke Leopold of Tuscany in Rome 91 The Honourable Colonel William Gordon 91 Thomas William Coke, later 1st Earl of Leicester 95 see also Grand Tour Battle of the Books 4 Bayle, Pierre  Dictionnaire historique et critique 140 Beattie, James 214 Bertram, Charles 161–​63 Bicknell, Algernon 77–​78 Bigelow, Andrew 70, 71 Bion 74 Blundell, Henry 107 Bochart, Samuel 35 Boece, Hector 147, 154, 166 Boivin, Jean 19–​20 Borch, Michel-​Jean de 70, 73, 74 Botticelli, Sandro  Adoration of the Magi 115 Boulanger, Nicolas Antoine 35 Bowdler, John 71 Bowyer, William 23, 26–​28, 30, 36 British Museum 111, 116–​17, 125–​26 Museum Secretum 117 Brydone, Patrick  A Tour Through Sicily and Malta 63, 66n27, 67–​69, 73–​74 Buchanan, George 147, 154, 166 Burckhardt, Jakob see Pessimism Buttmann, Philipp Karl 186, 187, 190 Caldwell, Andrew 96 Caledonia 152–​69 passim Camden, William 157, 163, 166

242 Index Canova, Antonio 44 Carausius 153 Cardonnel, Adam de 166 Cassius Dio 11, 153 Caulfeild, James (later Lord Charlemont)  96–​97 see also Batoni, Pompeo Chalmers, George 11, 166–​69 Chamberlayn, John 163 Charles ii 155 Charron, Pierre 199n15 Christianity see religion Cicero 11–​12, 23, 64, 195–​215 passim Academica 201 De Finibus 206, 214 De Legibus 204n28 De Natura Deorum 197, 201, 210–​13 De Officiis 201, 203, 206, 210, 214 De re publica 232 Tusculan Disputations 65n13, 204, 212, 214 Verrine Orations 66–​67 Ciceronian age 195, 199, 211 see also Philosophy Cirencester, Richard of see Description of Britain Claudian 153 Cleopatra 95, 97–​98, 100 Clerk, Sir John 11, 158–​60, 165, 169 Cockburn, George 76–​77 Coleman, Miss 122–​23 Collins, Francis 63 Constant, Benjamin 12, 222–​24 Principles of Politics 222 The Liberty of the Ancients Compared with that of the Moderns 222–​23 Copernicus, Nicolaus 205 Corsica 12, 224, 232–​33 see also Rousseau, Jean-​Jacques Cosway, Richard  Charles Townley with a Group of Connoisseurs 117 Crabbe, George 76 Crawfurd, David 134 Creuzé de Lesser, Augustin 61 Crévier, Jean-​Baptiste-​Louis 24–​25, 27 Crowle, Charles John 84, 92–​93, 99 see also Batoni, Pompeo; Grand Tour Cuper, Gisbert 22

Dacier, Anne 19–​20, 52n45 Defoe, Daniel 163 Dempster, Thomas  Historia ecclesiastica gentis Scotorum 138–​39, 142, 143, 145n53 Description of Britain (De Situ Britanniae, forged manuscript) 161–​63, 166–​67, 168 D’Hancarville, Pierre-​François Hugues 104n1, 109, 113, 117, 121, 123–​24 Recherches sur l’origine, l’esprit et les progrès des arts de la Grèce 116n47, 123–​24 see also Antiquarianism Diana 65, 67–​68, 69, 74n56 Diodorus Siculus 65 Dionysius Thrax 184 D’Olivet, Pierre-​Joseph Thoulier 22–​23 Douglas, Gavin 147 Drake, James 53 Du Pin, Louis Ellies 139, 145n56 Duval, Francis Philip 28 Education  in modern Greece 173–​76, 182–​91 Emotions, emotional reactions to antiquity 6 Discomfort, disapproval 20–​26 passim, 54 Disappointment 69–​71, 73, 76–​78 Amusement 27, 30–​31, 67–​69, 73, 84, 97, 119–​23 Empiricism see Philosophy Encyclopaedia, dictionary 63, 140, 180n23 Epicureanism see Philosophy Episcopalianism see Mackenzie, George; Religion; Identity Erskine, John, Earl of Mar 135, 137 Erudition 19–​37 passim, 40–​55 passim, 131–​48 passim and humour 31–​36, 67–​69, 84, 89, 97, 99 among travellers and Grand Tourists  66–​67, 72–​74, 79, 83, 90–​91, 93, 127 Etymology, pseudo-​etymology 30–​35, 68n31, 142 Euripides 47n27, 47n29 Eustace, John 63, 64 Evans, George W.D. 63 Fabricius 219, 232 Fontenelle, Bernard Le Bovier de 53n48 Fordun, John of 154 Friendly Society (Φιλική Εταιρεία) 187–​88

Index Gainsborough, Thomas 90n22, 125 Gale, Roger 158–​59 Garrick, David 113 Gassendi, Pierre 199n15, 202 Gazes, Theodore 184, 188 Gender  Sicilian washerwomen 67–​71, 76–​78 and classical sculpture 89, 98–​99, 120–​23 see also Nudity, female Geneva 12, 221, 226, 228–​30, 232 see also Rousseau, Jean-​Jacques Gordon, Alexander 157–​58, 161, 167 Gourbillon, Joseph-​Antoine de 74, 77 Grand Tour 9, 62, 72–​73, 75–​76, 79, 83–​101 passim, 104, 116, 125, 152, 158 see also Rome; Sicily; Batoni, Pompeo Greece, ancient  Greece idealised 8, 42–​44 in comparison with Rome 87, 219–​20 see also Pessimism Greece, modern 173–​91 passim Greville, Charles 104n1, 113, 115, 121n68, 124 Griffith, Richard 72–​73 Hadrian’s Wall 11, 153, 158, 163 Hamilton, Sir William 116 Hanson, William 70–​71 Hardouin, Jean 8–​9, 19–​36 passim, 157 Apologie d’Homère 19–​20, 36 Opera Varia 22–​23 Prolegomena ad censuram scriptorium veterum 23–​31 Hay, Richard Augustine 133 Hedonism see Philosophy Heraclitus 48 Hercules  Depiction in art 99 Farnese Hercules (statue) 9, 84, 92–​94, 98–​100, 112 Heresy see Religion Herodotus 31, 45n18, 46n21, 47n29, 51n37, 54n51 Hesiod 55 Historia Augusta 153 Historicism and Presentism 8, 19, 22, 25–​26, 36 Hoare, Richard Colt 63, 64, 69 Hobbes, Thomas 199–​200, 203, 209, 210

243 Hogarth, William 125 The Analysis of Beauty 111–​13, 115, 123 Homer 31, 36, 55 editions of 1n1 religion of 19–​20, 40–​41, 43, 53 Iliad 20, 47, 50–​51, 53n50 Odyssey 50 sculptures of 87–​89, 92, 113 Horace 20, 23, 26n25, 27, 30–​31, 53n50, 64, 98n45 Ars Poetica 158 Huet, Pierre-​Daniel 43n13, 220 Hughes, Thomas Smart 67n29, 70 Hume, David 11–​12, 68n32, 165, 195–​99, 205–​14 passim A Treatise of Human Nature 196, 197, 205–​206, 207–​209 An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding 197, 207n34, 208n39 An Enquiry concerning the Principle of Morals 196, 208–​210, 211, 212 Dialogues concerning Natural Religion 196, 197, 208, 212, 213n59 History of England 165 “Natural History of Religion” 208, 211 “Of the Immortality of the Soul”  212–​13 “Of the Rise and Progress of the Arts and Sciences” 206, 211 see also Philosophy; Religion Hutcheson, Francis 206, 209n42, 214 Identity  Collective identity  of scholars 36, 72–​73 of Grand Tourists 72–​73, 75–​76, 83–​84, 92, 99, 100 National identity  of Britain 152–​169 passim of Scotland 146–​148, 152–​169 passim of Greece 173–​191 passim Religious identity  of Scottish Episcopalians 132–​34, 137, 146–​48 of Greek Orthodox 175, 178, 179–​80, 184 Immortal soul see Religion Innes, Thomas 146 Irving, David 136, 138n27, 147

244 Index Jacobites 104, 132, 137–​38 Jean Paul 26 Jenkins, Thomas 119 Jerome see Patristics; Pelagius Johnson, Samuel 62 Keith, Robert 136, 146 Kerameus, Daniil 183 Klotz, Christian Adolph 27 Knight, Henry Gally 77 Knight, Richard Payne 116 Korais, Adamantios 180–​81, 182n29, 185–​86, 187, 188, 189–​90 Koumas, Konstantinos 11, 173, 180, 185n37, 186, 187–​90 Grammar for Schools 188–​90 Krug, Wilhelm Traugott 187 Langhans, Carl Gotthard 44 Laskaris, Constantine 184, 188 Lassels, Richard 62 Le Clerc, Jean 139, 143 Lee, Joseph 69 Leopardi, Giacomo see Pessimism Literature  Aesthetics 19–​20, 43–​44 Forgery 20–​26 Metafiction 26, 31–​36 Historical novel 45–​46 Travel Writing 61–​79 passim Livy 62, 64 Locke, John 12, 197–​98, 199–​205, 206, 207, 208, 209, 210, 211–​13 An Essay concerning Human Understanding 199–​203, 204n28, 207n34 The Reasonableness of Christianity 199n14, 201, 203–​204 Two Treatises of Government 202 see also Philosophy; Religion Lycurgus 223, 231n44 Machiavelli, Niccolò 231 Mackenzie, George  life 132–​36 Lives and Characters of the Most Eminent Writers of the Scots Nation 10, 131, 135, 136–​48

Episcopalianism 132–​33, 134, 135, 137, 146–​47 see also Antiquarianism; Religion; Identity; Pelagius Macpherson, James see Ossian Maitland, William 160–​61 Maria Theresa 91 Mark Anthony 98 Material culture see Sculpture; Portraiture; Archaeology Matthiae, August 186, 190 Melon, Jean-​François 220 Melville, Robert 164 Menander 41 Milton, John 66 Mimnermus 47–​48 Minerva  sculptures of 89, 91, 126 Missy, César de 8, 27–​36 passim Montaigne, Michel de 199n15 Montesquieu 176 Spirit of the Laws 220–​21, 227 Morality  Hardouin’s genealogy of morals 25–​26 concerns over ancient Greek pessimism 52–​55 and classical sculpture 95–​100, 116–​23 see also Philosophy; Religion Moral Philosophy see Philosophy Moral Theology see Religion Moschus 65n15, 66 Moses 223, 231n44 Motteux, Pierre 35 Natural Theology see Religion Nennius 153 Nietzsche, Friedrich 25, 40–​41n2, 42–​44, 47–​48n29, 55 see also Pessimism Nisbet, Alexander 134 Nollekens, Joseph 107, 121–​22 Nudity, female  in classical sculpture 95–​97, 121–​23 at the Fountain of Arethusa 71 Numa Pompilius 224, 231 Nymphs 65–​66 and Sicilian washerwomen 67–​71, 73, 77–​78

Index statues of 95, 115, 117n50, 126 see also Gender; Nudity, female; Sculpture; Sicily Oedipus 47, 53 Oikonomos, Stefanos and Konstantinos 186, 190 Ossian 165, 167 Ottoman Empire 11, 173, 174–​75, 176, 177, 179, 182n30, 188 Ovid 20, 31, 69, 74 Metamorphoses 65 Pagan Religion see Religion Pagi, Antoine 142–​43 Patristics, Church Fathers  reception of 8, 10, 21, 131, 184 see also Augustine; Pelagius; Religion Pausanias 46n21, 66, 67 Pelagius  Pelagianism, Semi-​Pelagianism 10, 131, 140–​41, 144–​48 see also Mackenzie, George; Patristics; Religion Perrault, Charles  Parallèle des anciens et des modernes 53 Le siècle 43n12 Pessimism, ancient Greek 40–​55 passim Burckhardt, Jakob 42–​44, 49–​50, 54 Leopardi, Giacomo 40, 41, 44, 47n26, 47n29, 52, 55 Schopenhauer, Arthur 40–​41n2, 41–​42, 47n26, 47n29 see also Greece, ancient; Nietzsche, Friedrich; Barthélémy, Jean-​Jacques Phanariots 179 Philhellenism 11, 174, 179 Philip Augustus 31 Philology  Humanist 25–​26, 198 in Scotland 140–​48 in Greece 182–​91 see also Altertumswissenschaft Philosophy  Academic Scepticism 195–​96, 197–​98, 201, 203–​206, 210–​12, 213, 214 Empiricism 197, 198

245 Epicureanism 2, 195, 197–​98, 203, 209, 211 Hedonism 201–​202 Moral Philosophy 49–​50, 52–54, 196, 199, 200–​203, 205, 208, 211, 214 Probability 201 Scepticism 199, 205, 210–​11 Stoicism 2, 43n10, 195, 197–​98, 206, 211, 214 Summum bonum 199, 205, 206, 213 and poetry 41, 47–​49, 54–​55 see also Cicero; Hume, David; Locke, John; Religion Pillonnière, François de La 21, 26n25 Pindar 47–​48, 50n33, 50n35, 51, 66, 74 Pitcairne, Archibald 134, 135, 147 Plautus 8, 20, 23, 31–​36 Poenulus 32–​33, 35 see also Missy, César de Pliny the Elder 24, 31, 66, 67 Plutarch 98 Pseudo-​Plutarchean Consolatio ad Apollonium 47n27, 47n29, 52 Plutocracy see Politics Poland 12, 232, 233–​34 see also Rousseau, Jean-​Jacques Politics  Plutocracy 235 Popular assemblies 226–​31 Popular sovereignty 222, 223, 227–​28 Pragmatism 223, 226, 230, 234, 236–​37 Republicanism  in modern Greece, 176–​178 in ancient Greece, 219–​221, 224–​245 in ancient Rome, 219–​237 passim Virtue 232, 235, 236–​237 Voting procedures 228, 235 see also Identity; Rousseau, Jean-​Jacques Pompei and Herculaneum see Archaeology Pomponius Mela 67 Pope, Alexander 66 Pope Gregory ix 31 Popular assemblies see Politics Popular sovereignty see Politics Portraiture see Batoni, Pompeo; Zoffany, Johan Pragmatism see Politics Presentism see Historicism and Presentism Probability see Philosophy

246 Index Prosper of Aquitaine 146 Providence see Religion Pygmalion 20, 113 Querelle des anciens et des modernes 4–​5, 19–​21, 42–​44, 52 Rabelais, François 35 Ramsay, Allan 160 Rattray, Thomas 146 Reid, Thomas 214 Religion  Atheism, dangers of 20–​22, 24, 212 Heresy  Arminianism/​Pelagianism 140–​48 Immortal soul 204–​205, 212 Moral theology 196, 198, 199, 200, 201, 203–​204, 213 Natural theology 207 Pagan Religion 19–​20, 49–51 Providence 41, 43, 51 Toleration 195–​96 see also Barthélémy, Jean-​Jacques; Hume, David; Mackenzie, George; Locke, John Republicanism see Politics Reynolds, Joshua 85n9, 90n22, 93n32, 109n21, 125 Riedesel, Johann 63, 68, 73 Rollin, Charles 46 Rome  Colosseum 86–​88 Roma (statue) 91–​92 Roman Empire 219, 227 Roman Republic 219–​37 passim Romulus 231 Rousseau, Jean-​Jacques 11–​12, 176, 219–​37 passim Considerations on the Government of Poland 226, 230, 231, 233–​34 Discourse on Political Economy 224, 232 Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts 219 History of the Government of Geneva 230–​31 Letter to d’Alembert 221 Letters Written from the Mountain 226, 228–​30 Plan for a Constitution for Corsica 224, 226, 230, 232–​33

Social Contract 222, 225, 226–​28, 230, 231, 232, 234, 235–​36 see also Politics Rowlandson, Thomas 97 Roy, William 164 Royal Academy 108–​11, 124 Ruddiman, Thomas 134, 135–​36, 137, 147, 166 Russell, Francis, Lord Tavistock 92 Scepticism see Philosophy Schelling, Friedrich 187 Schiller, Friedrich 44 Schinkel, Karl Friedrich 44 Schopenhauer, Arthur see Pessimism Scotland see Identity Sculpture  And Grand Tour portraiture 83–​101 passim and Johan Zoffany’s portraits 104–​27 and Charles Townley 106, 111, 113, 115–​23, 126 and eroticism/​innuendo 95–​97, 116–​24 Seneca 157 Septimius Severus 153 Servatus, Lupus 30 Servius Tullius 231 Shand, Alexander 164 Shaw, Lachlan 165 Shelley, Percy Bysshe 66 Sibbald, Sir Robert 11, 154–​58, 163, 165, 167, 168, 169 Simonides 47–​48, 50 Sicily 61–​79 passim Silenus 123 wisdom of 47–​48n29 Sloane, Hans 157 Smith, John Thomas 106, 121 Smyth, William Henry 69 Sociability 2, 84, 85, 93, 100 Society of Dilettanti 62, 93 Solon 231n44 Sophocles  Oedipus at Colonus 47–​48, 53 Sterne, Laurence 68 Tristram Shandy 36 Stewart, Dugald 182n28, 185n39 Stillingfleet, Edward 142


Index Stoicism see Philosophy Strabo 54n51, 66 Strutt, Arthur 77 Stuart, Robert 168–​69 Stukeley, William 161–​62 Suetonius 98n45 Summum bonum see Philosophy Swift, Jonathan 4 Swinburne, Henry 63 Syracuse see Sicily Tacitus 152 Agricola 152n3, 153–​54, 156, 160, 166 History 166 Taste  and Grand Tourists 73, 79, 83, 89, 90–​91, 94, 100–​101 Terence 20 Terrasson, Jean 53 Thales 55 Theodosius (Emperor) 153 Theodosius of Alexandria 184 Theognis 47 Thiersch, Friedrich 187 Thompson, Carl 75–​76 Thurot, Jean-​François 182n28 Toleration see Religion Towneley family  Cecilia 117–​18 Edward 120 John 120 Richard 121 Towneley Hall 104, 107, 116, 120–​22, 124 Townley, Charles  bachelorhood 117–​21 Catholicism 104, 107 collector of antiquities 83, 104, 107, 116, 118–​19, 121–​23 see also Zoffany, Johan; Grand Tour Travel  Imaginative travel 72 see also Grand Tour Tronchin, Théodore 221

Ussher, James 142 Utopia 224, 237 Vaillant, Paul 23 Vamvas, Neophytos 11, 173, 180–​86, 187, 188, 190 life 180–​82 theory of education 182–​86 Vardalachos, Konstantinos 186 Vassalli, Francesco and Martino Quadri 120–​22 Velestinlis, Rhigas 176–​77 Venus  sculptures of 96–​97, 112–​13, 115, 117, 119–​23, 126 Vergil 20, 22, 31, 42, 64, 66, 67, 98n45 Aeneid 66 Eclogues 66n19 Vico, Giambattista 4 Voltaire 220 Vossius, Gerardus Joannes 141, 142, 144 Voting procedures see Politics Wade, George 163 Walpole, Horace 93 Watkins, Thomas 63, 70 Wedderburn, James 165 Williams, Penry 70, 73 Winckelmann, Johann Joachim 43–​44, 62, 97, 99 Wodrow, Robert 135, 147, 156 Ypsilantis, Dimitrios 181 Zeus 50 Zoffany, Johan  Charles Townley and his Friends in his Library at Park Street 10, 104–​27 passim Reception 124–​27 The Academicians of the Royal Academy 108 The Sharp Family 114–​16, 127 The Tribuna of the Uffizi 108, 110, 114, 121 see also Townley, Charles