English Classical Scholarship: Historical Reflections on Bentley, Porson and Housman

By C.O. Brink

An authoritative study of the development of English classical scholarship from 1500 to 1950, concentrating on the three giants: Bentley, Porson, and Housman.

ISBN: 9780227172995
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Professor C.O. Brink’s English Classical Scholarship is the first sustained treatment since the early years of this century of the historical development of English classical scholarship. Brink shows the effect of the Italian Renaissance on nascent English scholarship and examines the contribution made by 17th century scholars such as Bishop Pearson and Thomas Gataker.

He deals at length with the life of Richard Bentley, the troubled master of Trinity College, Cambridge, and above all the immense advances he made in classical studies, which were in turn developed by Richard Porson. Brink also shows how, paradoxically, in the Victorian era, while a classical education was seen as the key to advancement, classical scholarship almost wholly stagnated. Although the tradition of Bentley and Porson all but disappeared in England, it was nurtured by the great German scholars of the nineteenth century. It was only with the work of A.E. Housman that the tradition of the greatest classical scholars returned to its native land and Professor Brink shows how it began again to make a contribution to the “European fund”.

Additional information

Dimensions 234 × 156 mm
Pages 260

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

C.O. Brink was Kennedy Professor Emeritus of Latin at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Gonville and Caius College. His magnum opus was a three-volume study, Horace on Poetry.


Foreword by D.S. McKie

1. The way to Bentley: the New Learning in England;
     the seventeenth century, Thomas Gataker and John Pearson
2. Richard Bentley and Trinity College, Cambridge
3. The inauguration of the great age of classical scholarship:
     Bentley’s Epistola ad Joannem Millium and A Dissertation upon the Epistles of Phalaris
4. Bentley the textual critic
5. The way from Bentley
6. Porson and the Porsonians
7. Classical education and scholarship in the Victorian age
8. A.E. Housman: life, poetry, and the fault-finders
9. Housman the textual critic and classical scholar

Short bibliography and some abbreviations


Endorsements and Reviews

In a series of concise and elegant essays, Brink directly confronts his greatest predecessors in the editor’s art. The result is a historical work of a very high level.
Times Literary Supplement

Brink’s assessment of Housman’s classical work and the analysis of his scholarship in relation to his views on poetry and literature provide the best combined study.
Times Higher Education Supplement

In the course of his lively and interesting narrative Brink brings to life a progression of major and minor scholars and illuminates many aspects of and episodes of the story of English scholarship.
JACT Review

Perceptive and stimulating … immensely instructive both for the specialist and for the general reader, and written with exceptional elegance – an elegance which even Bentley and Housman might have envied.
Heythrop Journal

C.O. Brink’s English Classical Scholarship … includes a useful chapter on ‘Classical Education and Scholarship in the Victorian Age’, revising the commonplace of nineteenth-century decline, followed by a detailed consideration of A. E. Housman.
Studies in English Literature 1500-1900

Classical education is one thing, critical scholarship is another, and in his sketch of the history of Classical education in England, built around a detailed treatment of its three most celebrated figures, Professor Brink is concerned above all to describe and to make a case for the element of critical scholarship that Classical education may contain.
Hugh Lloyd-Jones, in London Review of Books, Vol 9, No 3