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Richard Bentley

(1662—1742) philologist and classical scholar


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(1662–1742),

made his reputation as a scholar with his Letter to Mill (1691), a critical letter in Latin on the Greek dramatists. He delivered in 1692 the first Boyle lectures, printed in 1693 as The Folly and Unreasonableness of Atheism. He became keeper of the king's libraries in 1694, and during 1697–9 was engaged in the famous Phalaris controversy, during which he proved the Epistles of Phalaris to be spurious (see Battle of The Books) and queried the antiquity of Aesop's fables. In 1699 he was appointed master of Trinity College, Cambridge. Among his greatest critical works were his bold revisions of the texts of Horace and Manilius; he was the last great classical scholar before the divergence of Greek and Latin studies. He was caricatured in The Dunciad (IV. 201 ff.) and elsewhere.

Subjects: literature.


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