Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2002.09.26

Anna Rose, Filippo Beroaldo der Ältere und sein Beitrag zur Properz-Überlieferung (Beiträge zur Altertumskunde, Band 156).   Leipzig:  K.G. Saur, 2001.  Pp. 474.  ISBN 3-598-77705-1.  

Reviewed by J.L. Butrica, Memorial University (jbutrica@morgan)
Word count: 2264 words

[N.B. The Vorwort of this book acknowledges my assistance, along with that of others; apart from correspondence, I have no personal connection with the author.]

The history of classical scholarship is an area of burgeoning interest, but the earliest modern phase, the scholarship of the fifteenth-century Italian humanists, receives far less attention than more recent periods, no doubt in large part because much of their work remains in manuscript form (and generally in Latin) and therefore inaccessible. The present book, which originated as a dissertation at the Humboldt University in Berlin, is a substantial contribution to the study of the Propertian incunabula and especially to the study of Beroaldus' edition of Propertius and its commentary, the first on Propertius to appear in print (1487). Though the modern study of Propertius in the Renaissance may lack a single work of the scope and stature of, for example, Gaisser's Catullus and his Renaissance Readers, there is surely no other ancient author of whom one could say that the fifteenth-century scholarship on him has been studied so extensively: we now have studies (sometimes multiple studies) of the major commentators Calderini, Beroaldus, and Volscus, as well as my own studies of the manuscript tradition, of Renaissance biographies, and of the emendation of Propertius, and Thomson's CTC article should appear soon. Rose's highly specialized study, clearly intended for serious scholars, makes useful contributions in several areas, despite the fact that some parts (see below) are vitiated by reliance upon faulty data.

The book has three parts, plus addenda, 7 Anhangen, and extensive bibliographies and indices.

The first part (4-150) will be of the least interest and value to classicists, comprising as it does an extensive treatment of Beroaldus' life, studies, personal connections, and even pupils (the last arranged by nationality).

The second part (151-276), devoted to the Propertian incunabula, unquestionably marks an advance in completeness over my own treatment in The Manuscript Tradition of Propertius (Toronto 1984) by adding an edition of 1473 that I missed, eliminating a "ghost" edition, and looking closely at the various reprintings of Beroaldus' edition. The attempt to place the text of the incunabula (above all the three editions published 1472-1473, the only ones independent of other editions) involves a general discussion of the Propertian manuscript tradition (probably in greater detail than is really necessary, but this is a Dissertation, after all), the identification of manuscripts copied from incunabula (essentially an assessment of previous claims), and an attempt to establish the manuscript sources from which the incunabula derive. This section would be somewhat easier to read had Rose used a single "intelligible" system for identifying incunabula ("Speyer 1472," "Brescia 1486" for example) instead of arbitrarily assigned letters of the alphabet; space has certainly been saved, but not the reader's patience.

Rose proposes to define both the connections with the manuscripts and the interconnections among the editions a little differently than I did, arguing for more extensive contaminatio among the editions. To examine her data in detail would be far beyond the scope of a review, and it must be left to some future researcher to determine which of us (if either) has drawn the stemma accurately. To my eye, the lists of readings used to establish affiliations do not inspire total confidence, since they sometimes use agreements in archetypal readings or readings so widespread in the later tradition that their appearance in two separate editions means little or nothing. In addition, this is where we first encounter the problem of faulty data mentioned earlier: instead of making her own collations of the 100 or more Propertius manuscripts copied after 1440-1450 (certainly more accessible to European scholars than to American), Rose relies on the apparatus criticus of Hanslik's "Red" Teubner (Leipzig 1984), which is unfortunately a largely unreliable source. She is aware of the problem, as the anguished footnote 30 on 297 shows, but perhaps not of how far the problem extends.

A few examples will show how reliance on Hanslik, and the failure to exploit the opportunity for personal autopsy, has undermined her conclusions. Rose disputes the connection claimed by earlier scholars between Barb. lat. 34 and Speyer 1472, claiming instead that the manuscript derives from Volscus' edition of 1488. Personal inspection would have allowed her to see that all the material from Volscus has been added subsequently to a text copied earlier (in a hand that still betrays Gothic characteristics) and that all the readings that she cites from Hanslik on 248f. to show that derivation from Speyer 1472 is impossible are the result of correction by the same annotator who added the material from Volscus. A similar problem occurs in her attempt to identify manuscripts that might have been in Bologna when Beroaldus worked there and might have been used by him; her attempt to connect Harley 2550 with Beroaldus and with Pico della Mirandola falters on the fact that the decisive reading ("Susa" in 2.13.1) is not the reading of the text (as Hanslik indicates) but, like so many, the result of a later hand correcting the manuscript from Beroaldus' edition. Other problems in this section cannot be imputed to Hanslik. Rose (216, n. 360) disputes my dating of Vat. lat. 1612 to 1470 rather than 1480, but has missed my discussion of the colophon, in which the final x of the date has clearly been added by the annotator Gaspar Manius. An extended discussion of this manuscript and some that are obviously related ends up with the extraordinary claim that the colophon to Vat. lat. 1612 is actually in Barb. lat. 58 (219, n. 385). (She is also wrong that what she calls the "Nota de Propertio" appears only in these two manuscripts.) Her discussion of Egerton 3027 as a manuscript possibly available to Beroaldus in Bologna would have been helped had she paid closer attention to my own discussion of the manuscript, where I pointed out that the copyist, Pacificus Maximus, liked to include both date and place of copying in his colophons, then listed the manuscripts known to me; there is no sign of him being anywhere near Bologna between 1465 and 1479 (the dates of the earliest and latest known manuscripts) -- not to mention that he very probably kept all of his manuscripts until his death at age 100 in 1500.

The third part (277-361) uses the preceding study of the incunabula as a basis for studying Beroaldus' work as an editor and emender of Propertius, and this is the section of greatest interest for those studying the history of classical scholarship. Rose begins with the connections between Beroaldus' edition and those of Calphurnius (Vicenza 1481) and Volscus (Rome 1482), then goes on to catalogue cases of "conjectures" by Beroaldus (very broadly defined indeed) made ope ingenii, those made ope codicum, and those made with the use of codices vetusti. A Zusammenfassung follows, though mainly descriptive rather than analytical, listing for example the terminology that Beroaldus uses for each kind.

Here again Rose's dependence on Hanslik has led to errors. When she lists the readings that Beroaldus cites from manuscripts (297-340), she also lists the manuscripts that, according to Hanslik, have those readings, usually introducing them by saying that "only" the following manuscripts have them; but Hanslik's reporting of the manuscripts is arbitrary as well as inaccurate, and the readings could well be found in other manuscripts too. In addition, she speculates (284) about the connection between Beroaldus and Pontano's manuscript, Berlin lat. fol. 500, suggesting that they share so many readings because Beroaldus discussed the relevant passages with Politian in Florence in 1486, and Politian knew Pontano's manuscript (a footnote refers to 96-97 and n. 651, where, however, I found no reference to Politian's familiarity with Pontano's manuscript). In fact the agreements have a single cause: Pontano corrected his manuscript after consulting one of the printings of Beroaldus' edition, and Hanslik consistently fails to note that such Beroaldan readings as Isidos at 4.5.34 are invariably corrections in Pontano's manuscript, not the original readings. As we have already seen, the reporting of corrections as original readings is a serious problem in Hanslik's edition, and it occurs again in connection with Egerton 3027 (284); Beroaldus did not consult the manuscript -- Maximus corrected from Beroaldus.

Rose sometimes appears unclear in this section about what constitutes an emendation, perhaps under the influence of Beroaldus' own rather old-fashioned terminology. Thus she observes (286) that Beroaldus on a few occasions emended the text of his third edition (1493), but the first example cited (replacement of nondum etiam sensus deperditus omnis by nondum est sensus deperditus omnis) cannot be the emendation of a competent scholar since it destroys the metre (since she notes that the latter is in fact read by Brescia 1486, which she considers an intermediary between Speyer 1472 and Beroaldus' first edition, one wonders whether Beroaldus did not go back and start over with Brescia 1486 instead of working from an earlier edition of his own; or perhaps the problem involves an abbreviation of "etiam" misread as "est"). The same difficulty applies to the list of alleged conjectures of Avantius in the 1500 edition (287); many are unmetrical, many are simply senseless, and these cannot be regarded as conjectures of a competent scholar.

As the writer of a dissertation, Rose does a reasonably thorough job of citing the previous literature but perhaps does not discriminate sufficiently about her sources. In addition to my own discussions of the manuscripts and their connections with the incunabula, she reports faithfully what Hanslik's pupils Swoboda and Fischer had to say as well, but Swoboda's opinions about the affiliations of manuscripts related to the incunabula have to be taken with a grain of salt, since she was not assigned any of the incunabula to collate and therefore was not in a position to comment meaningfully on any such connection. Fischer's situation was not significantly better; though he did collate the incunabula and was able to relate some of his own manuscripts to those editions, he still saw only about half the tradition.

Rose's discussion (340-342) of Beroaldus' reports regarding codices vetusti, and even one reverendae vetustatis, is affected not only by the use of Hanslik's faulty data but by her own insufficiently critical approach. One could perhaps defend Beroaldus by suggesting that codex vetus or vetustus for him simply meant a manuscript rather than a "newfangled" codex, i.e. a printed book, but one cannot thus save the allusion to the manuscript "of venerable antiquity," which can only be a lie. The Propertian tradition (I say with due modesty) is better understood than most, and there are only two "old" manuscripts reaching Italy in the fifteenth century, one being Poggio's copy, brought back from France about 1425, and the other being N, which by 1470 had gotten no further south than Milan, and neither can be the source of the reading that Beroaldus reports. It simply strains credulity to think that another such manuscript circulated, but only long enough for Beroaldus and only Beroaldus to see it, or that there was only one reading of interest to him. On 359 we see Rose attempting to suggest that old manuscripts could have been available and that traces of them can be detected in extant manuscripts; I remain unconvinced, even if I could understand why she thinks that the passages 3.24.19 and 4.11.31 are especially important in this regard (the index of Propertian passages discussed points to one earlier discussion of each, but the reference here is not illuminated). Personal inspection of Barb. lat. 34 could have shown her that the annotations from Volscus 1488 and the annotations citing readings from an "old manuscript" were made over a century apart and do not constitute evidence for old manuscripts available in the fifteenth century. The element of sheer theatrical bravado in Renaissance scholarship ("BS" in the vulgar tongue) must be given its due in any proper appreciation.

In the massive accumulation of details here, it is inevitable that there should be minor inaccuracies such as the reference to "Egerton 1027" on 290 (read "Egerton 3027"), but specialist readers (the only ones who will make use of the book in any case) will be able to spot these easily enough. Equally innocuous is the position of her discussion of Beroaldus on 4.10.7 (320), which stands where it would stand if it were actually 3.10.7, though there are also difficulties that would take longer to sort, such as in the list of "conjectures" of Avantius in the 1500 reprinting of Beroaldus' commentary, where "3.21.22 tenuis: tenuit" can only be a phantom duplicate of the earlier entry "2.21.12 tenuis: tenuit." It is also inevitable that there should be minor errors in reporting the opinions of earlier scholars (for example, she wrongly states at 238, n. 437 that I claimed Pal. lat. 1652 as the source of certain other manuscripts; the passage in Ravenna 277 to which she alludes at 217, n. 373 is not a poem but prose), just as she is able to draw attention to minor errors in the work of earlier scholars (including my own, where I am at a loss to explain my discrepant accounts of the source of Paris 8235; fortunately, this is only a matter of which edition it was copied from). These will not substantially affect the usefulness of this book to those studying Propertian scholarship, or classical scholarship generally, as practiced in the fifteenth century; however, readers will need to bear in mind that nothing asserted here on the basis of Hanslik's reports of the manuscripts can be accepted unless confirmed independently.

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