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THE ROMAN REPUBLIC.
BELL AND DALDY, FLEET STREET.
CAMBRIDGE: DEIGHTON, BELL, AND CO.
[The Right of Translation is reserved.]
I HAVE a remark to make on the way in which I have used some of my authorities in these volumes. In a few short passages I have kept so close to the originals that my text is almost a translation. I have done this purposely. It makes no difference sometimes whether a man professes to translate a portion of an ancient writer or gives it as near as he can without making a translation. The object in both cases is to present the evidence or statement just as it is without adding to it or taking from it. There are cases in which it is useful for the reader to have the exact words of a witness, that he may be able to estimate their value, and be certain that the modern writer has not altered the meaning of the ancient writer by dressing it in his own words. There is more reason for doing this sometimes than many persons can see, unless they have tried the experiment of making an historical narrative out of insufficient materials. The taste for adding ornament to the simplest facts is now become a fashion, which some writers indulge in to a great extent, and some readers appear to admire. The practice is supposed to relieve the almost unavoidable dullness of a narrative, when the events themselves are not such as to fix the attention and move the
feelings. If a man could thus amuse a few idle persons without deceiving them, it would be a harmless pastime; but
there are readers who prefer truth to fiction, who think that the romance writer and the writer of history ought to have different purposes, and find the bedizening of plain facts with fine words a very tedious and not a clear way of writing. The love of ornament certainly leads both to the imperfect representation and the misrepresentation of facts. It would be easy to show by examples how truth, or such evidence as we must accept for want of better, is often slightly altered by some writer who has taken the trouble to look at the original authorities, and is then perverted by others who only copy him and copy one another.
I have sometimes given Plutarch's words from my own. translation of thirteen of the Roman Lives. In the notes to these Lives I have also translated passages of Greek and Roman writers, and I have used in this volume (pp. 217, 367) at least two of these translations of short passages, one of them with a few slight alterations. I am careful to mention this, that I may not be supposed to have copied them from another book, in which one of the versions appears with a few alterations, and the other with the change of a single word, which is not an improvement.