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Document number: 5904
Date: 21 Oct 1839
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: THIRLWALL Newell Connop
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Last updated: 3rd February 2011

Kirby Underdale
Octr 21. – 39

Dear Sir

I am very much obliged to you for your suggestion about the library at Catherine Hall <1> which may perhaps lead to a discovery of the book I have been in search of. I am amazed at my own stupidity, that I did not myself think of inquiring there.

Among the German scholars I believe I may mention as both generally distinguished & as having paid particular attention to those branches of philology in which you seem to take the greatest interest, Welcker of Bonn <2> – C. O. Müller of Göttingen Lobeck of Königsberg, <3> Creuzer of Heidelberg Schwenck of Frankfurt on Main, <4> Völcker and Osann both of Giessen <5>

That the story of the pile on which Crœsus<6> was to be burnt is one of the fabulous points in his history may I think be considered as unquestionable. And I think it might with some plausibility be connected with those of Hercules & Sardanapalus. <7> But if from this you would draw the conclusion that Crœsus is not a historical personage you are much bolder than I am. I can feel no more doubt as to his reality than as to that of Solon or Pisistratus: <8> and should much sooner suspect that the representation on the Etruscan vase which you mention did not refer to him – or else that the rule which you say is settled admitted of exceptions.

As to Candaules <9> it is certainly very possible that the real parts of the revolution through which he lost his life may be much disfigured in the story told by Herodotus: <10> but it seems impossible to deny his real existence unless we also question that of Gyges, <11> a contemporary of Archilochus <12> & mentioned by the poet – as well as the fact – which has not at all a mythical aspect – mentioned by Pliny, <13> that Candaules purchased a picture of Bularchus <14> for its weight in gold. With regard to the name there is a good deal of difficulty. According to Hesychius <15> it signified either Hermes <16> or Hercules – which, considering that Candaules was the last Lydian Heracleid, <17> makes a great difference. In the verse of Hipponax <18> it must be observed that κανδαυλα is not the interpretation of Ερμη, but of the epithet [Κυναγχα?], as appears from Tzetzes <19> Chiliad VI. 482. Το δε Κανδαυλης Λυδικως τον σκυλοπνικτην λενει. – a reference which I owe to Schneidewin’s <20> Delectus Poetarum Græcorum. <21> And it may further be observed that this epithet would equally have suited Hercules or Hermes. Nor should it be overlooked that the Lydians gave the name Κανδαυλος to one of their savoury dishes. Athenæus xii. 516. D.<22>

May I be allowed to suggest that some of your etymological conjectures appear to require more support from analogy than you have provided for them. For instance in your conjecture about Κηρεςit is not make clear how the X could ever have become K. The same remark applies to your derivation of Discordia-<23> beside that it might be well doubted how the adjectives, discors, concors, could have been formed from the root chorda. At p. 118. I think you overlook that though three goats might be a worthy subject for a disputa, they were certainly rather a trifling one for a lawsuit – at least if law cost as much then as it does now. But lest I should seem either cavillari or capillari I will remain

Dear Sir Very truly yours
C Thirlwall

H. F. Talbot Esqe
Lacock Abbey


1. Catherine Hall, one of the smaller colleges at Cambridge. Its library was founded by Dr. Thomas Sherlock (1678-1761), who bequeathed his own collection of books to it.

2. Friedrich Gottlieb Welcker (1784–1868); pioneer archaeologist who insisted that study of Greek religion and art should be coordinated with that of philology.

3. Karl Otfried Müller (1797–1840), classical scholar and archaeologist. ‘He prepared the way for scientific investigation of myths’ and ‘avoided the extreme views of Creuzer and Lobeck'. Christian August Lobeck (1781–1860), professor of rhetoric and ancient literature at Königsberg; specialised in Greek religion and Greek language and literature. Opposed to Creuzer – believed mythical elements of Greek religion were later importations from Asia.

4. Georg Friedrich Creuzer (1771–1858), professor of philology and ancient history at Heidelberg. Held that Greek mythology derived from the East. Konrad Schwenck (1793-1864), German writer on philology and mythology.

5. Karl Heinrich Wilhelm Völcker (1798-1841) and Friedrich Osann (1794-1858).

6. The 'pile' refers to the pyre of Crœsus, the last king of Lydia (560–546 BC); the legend was that he tried to escape captivity by being burnt with all his wealth, ie, on a pile of his worldly goods.

7. Hercules, the legendary hero, and Sardanapalus, the last king of the Assyrian empire, were both burnt on funeral pyres. This was memorialised by Guido Reni's ca. 1619 Hercules on the Pyre and Eugene Delacroix's 1827 The Death of Sardanapalus.

8. Solon (b. c.638 BC); one of the seven sages of Greece; connected with the Crœsus story, connected with Pisistratus, a tyrant of Athens.

9. The Greek name for the Lydian king Sadyattes.

10. Herodotus (c. 484 BC–c. 425 BC), Greek historian.

11. Gyges, King of Lydia from 716 BC to 678 BC.

12. Archilochus of Paros ( fl.c.650 BC); poet.

13. Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus (61 AD–c. 112 AD), better known as Pliny the Younger, historian.

14. Bularchus, a Lydian artist

15. Hesychius, presumably Hesychius of Miletus, 5th century AD, biographer and chronicler.

16. Hermes, an Olympian god and messenger who was a guide to the underworld.

17. A descendant of Hercules, conflated with Hermes (but perhaps this hadn’t been recognised in 1839).

18. Hipponax of Ephesus ( fl.540 BC), poet.

19. John Tzetzes ( fl.12th century AD), Byzantine poet and grammarian. His Book of History was also known as the Chiliades.

20. Friedrich Wilhelm Schneidewin (1810–1856), classical scholar.

21. Delectus poetarum elegiacorum graecorum (Gottingen, 1838) is the first part of a series titled Delectus Poesis Graecorum.

22. Athenaeus, aGreek writer, active ca. AD 200, who wrote The Deinosophists (The Gastronomers). Book 12 deals with The Luxury of States and Kings.

23. WHFT's Hermes, or Classical and Antiquarian Researches (No. 2, 1839, pp 97-105) is “On the Origin of various Latin Words.” WHFT derives Discordia from a root meaning of musical chord. In a later section “On a Proverb in Horace” (pp. 118-119), he derives cavillari/quibble from a similar stem capilla/hair. He uses a popular Latin saying supposedly involving “goats” to support his case. Thirlwall is unsure about this but concludes on a conciliatory Latin note, to be understood as “lest I quibble or split hairs”. Cavillari or capillari.

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