When at the age of about ten I began to show an interest in the ancient world, my father bought me a classical dictionary, “containing a copious account of all the proper names mentioned in ancient authors, with the value of coins, weights and measures used among the Greeks and Romans, and a chronological table.” The book bore no date, though the copy I was given had obviously been printed not long before, and it was not until much later that I discovered that it had first appeared in the year before the French Revolution. Its author, the Rev. John Lemprière, D.D., records the doings of characters of myth and history alike in the same ceremonious Gibbonian prose and in the same grave tones of judicious appraisal; Cyclops and Caligula, Priapus and Elagabalus, Medusa and Messalina seemed to inhabit the same world. Ancient biographies are nothing if not anecdotal; no less a person than Aristotle held that...

 
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