Homer's Battle of the Frogs and Mice/Zoilus's Remarks

Fleuron from 'Homer's Battle of the Frogs and Mice' by Thomas Parnell published in 1717
Fleuron from 'Homer's Battle of the Frogs and Mice' by Thomas Parnell published in 1717



Ingenium magni Livor detractat Amici,
Quisquis & ex illo Zoile nomen Habes.

I must do my Reader the Justice, before I enter upon these Notes of Zoilus, to inform him, that I have not in any Author met this Work ascrib'd to him by its Title, which has made me not mention it in the Life. But thus much in general appears, that he wrote several Things besides his Censure on the Iliad, which, as it gives Ground for this Opinion, encourages me to offer an Account of the Treatise.

Being acquainted with a grave Gentleman who searches after Editions, purchases Manuscripts, and collects Copies, I apply'd to him for some Editions of this Poem, which he readily oblig'd me with. But, added he, taking down a Paper, I doubt I shall discourage you from your Translation, when I show this Work, which is written upon the Original, by Zoilus, the famous Adversary of Homer. Zoilus! said I with Surprize, I thought his Works had long since perish'd. They have so, answer'd he, all, except this little Piece, which has a Preface annex'd to it accounting for its Preservation. It seems, when he parted from Macedon, he left this behind him where he lodg'd, and where no one enter'd for a long Time, in Detestation of the Odiousness of his Character, 'till Mævius arriving there in his Travels, and being desirous to lie in the same Room, luckily found it, and brought it away with him. This the Author of the Preface imagins the Reason of Horace's wishing Mævius in the 10th Epode, such a Shipwrack as Homer describes; as it were with an Eye to his having done something disadvantageous to that Poet. From Mævius, the Piece came into the Hand of Carbilius Pictor, (who, when he wrote against Virgil, call'd his Book, with a respectful Imitation of Zoilus, the Æneidomastix) and from him into the Hands of others who are unknown, because the World apply'd to them no other Name than that of Zoilus, in Order to sink their own in Oblivion. Thus it ever found some learned Philologist or Critick, to keep it secret from the Rage of Homer's Admirers; yet not so secret, but that it has still been communicated among the Literati. I am of Opinion, that our Great Scaliger borrow'd it, to work him up when he writ so sharply against Cardan; and perhaps Le Clerc too, when he prov'd Q. Curtius ignorant of every particular Branch of Learning.

This formal Account made me give Attention to what the Book contain'd; and I must acknowledge, that whether it be his, or the Work of some Grammarian, it appears to be writ in his Spirit. The open Profession of Enmity to great Genius's, and the Fear of nothing so much as that he may not be able to find Faults enough, are such Resemblances of his strongest Features, that any one might take it for his own Production. To give the World a Notion of this, I have made a Collection of some Remarks, which most struck me, during that short Time in which I was allow'd to peruse the Manuscript.