Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2004.10.09

Maria K. Kalli, The manuscript tradition of Procopius' Gothic Wars: a reconstruction of family y in the light of a hitherto unknown manuscript (Athos, Lavra H-73). BzA 205.   München-Leipzig:  K.G. Saur, 2004.  Pp. 197; pls. 16.  ISBN 3-598-77817-1.  €86.00.  



Reviewed by N.G. Wilson, Lincoln College, Oxford
Word count: 1293 words

This monograph is a study of a manuscript of Procopius' Wars Books 5-8 which has not been used before, even though its existence was revealed in a printed catalogue published as long ago as 1925. Since it turns out to be the oldest extant witness, datable to the late 13th century, it is of some importance, and the author's detailed description of its place in the manuscript tradition is to be welcomed. The introduction (pp.1-8) summarises the work of previous editors of the text. Chapter 1 (pp.9-20) is a description of the codex (referred to as Ath). It was written by six scribes, and there are helpful plates in addition to drawings reproducing key features of the individual scripts; the hands are typical for scholars of the period. Chapter 2 (pp.21-131) is the study of the text provided by Ath. This includes a very detailed survey of its errors, which are classified into eighteen categories. Ath is close to L (Laurentianus 69.8); it takes its place alongside L as joint representative of the y-family. Having established this the author passes to a description of the later MSS in this family (pp.132-148). There is some discussion of variant readings indicative of stemmatic relationship. A final Chapter (pp.149-168) is a general discussion of intellectual activity in the Palaeologan period. A brief conclusion is followed by appendices, of which the first prints from MS Salamanca 2750 the Greek text of a letter dated May 17 1574 from Antonios Calosynas to a Spanish patron, tentatively identified as Diego de Covarrubias. The bibliography occupies pp.178-197.

The upshot of these researches is that Ath provides some good readings. While those listed on pp.26-28 are relatively trivial, some that follow on pp.29ff. are interesting in that they confirm editorial conjectures. On pp.32-35 some "new defensible readings" are listed.

This is a useful piece of work. But the reviewer is obliged to report that there is a good deal wrong with the book, and that the valuable elements in it could and should have been published as a substantial article rather than in the inflated form which is now offered to the scholarly world. There are innumerable misprints, including some that display inability to use the diacritics necessary for Spanish or the transcription of Slavonic names, and there are a number of infelicities in the English. A good proof-reader who is also a native speaker could have eliminated all these blemishes. Publishers who care for their reputation should recognise a duty to authors and readers and make efforts to eliminate such shortcomings. One may add that if the text is essentially a dissertation presented for a university degree, which it appears to be, supervisors and examiners have not done as much as might be expected. It should also be said that the final chapter does not really add anything new of importance to our knowledge of the period; it was of course right and proper to insist that a candidate for a higher degree should possess the background knowledge of the field that is displayed here, but it did not follow that there was any justification for printing such an essay.

I pass now to individual matters, some of which are relatively minor, others not.

P.3 Menander Protector has been edited by R.C. Blockley in 1985 and should no longer be cited from Dindorf.

P.4 (and 166) Leonardo Bruni 's surname is given as Brutus.

P.12 One would have liked the plate of hand C to show a specimen of the hyphen joining words divided at line-end. Fortunately plates 7b and 9b show this feature in hand D, where it is at the beginning of the following line instead of the position we are accustomed to. This interesting palaeographical feature has been studied by D.J. Murphy in Greek Roman and Byzantine Studies 36 (1995) pp.293-314.

P.14 The marginal note is described as a subscription, which it is not, and from the limited amount of the wording that can be understood I very much doubt if it is hagiographical.

P.19 It is worth remarking that the chances of a manuscript of this date having watermarks in the paper are very slim.

Pp.21ff. In the discussion of Ath's readings the author does not get to the point at once by looking for shared errors that are more than mere orthographical slips and would not be likely to occur independently in more than one manuscript. It may be significant that she does not list in her bibliography the manuals of Maas and West. In this part of her work she blends two inquiries, one stemmatic, the other an analysis of errors in the MSS. This was not a good idea. She frequently remarks that a reading of Ath is not found in later MSS. This is prima facie evidence that Ath has no direct descendants, or that if it does, the scribes have been able to eliminate a large number of errors by consultation of a better copy. From the data given it appears that the later MSS are basically members of the other family; in a few passages they show agreement with Ath, which indicates contamination. The table of variants printed on p.174 has had its left-hand margin cut off, which is irritating for the reader, and in any case it includes a good deal of insignificant matter.

P.96 It is suggested that the scribe was unable to recognise a dual form. But educated Byzantines were very familiar with them.

P.99 There is a mistake in handling the variant ειωθείσαν (the accent is perhaps a scribal fault). The author takes it as a feminine participle, whereas in fact it is a third person plural verb and not at all puzzling as a variant in the context. It is however distinctive enough to be useful for stemmatic analysis and yet does not figure in the table on p.174.

P.132ff. This chapter on the y-family offers a little more information about the manuscripts rather than systematic collation.

P.135 By a very odd error it is suggested that a fifteenth-century MS belonged to John IV Lascaris, son of Theodore II.

P.137 Plate 14a shows the date in the Basel MS, which is misprinted in the text (it is 23 May). Also the date of 24 May given for Antonios Calosynas' letter in the Salamanca MS is wrong because on p.173 the Greek states that it was the 17th of May.

Pp.172-3 are an appendix giving the text of the letter just mentioned. It is always worth having the text of this kind of correspondence printed as it throws light on various matters of interest. But as printed here it is full of error, and I do not know how the blame is to be apportioned. In line 5 the form of the infinitive is an oddity and I suspect it may be wrong. In line 13 ἄγεσθαι is wrong. The writer wonders why Procopius is not available to students of Greek yet. ἄγασθαι is required. In line 20 προσφιλής is the expected adjective. In line 21 ἡμιόλος is a mystery. ὑμέτερος ὅλος might be right. The verb διατελεῖ must be converted into the imperative. In line 24 εἴμι is to be read as εἰ μή, so that the meaning is "suitable for no-one other than yourself".

P.187 In the bibliography Aubrey Diller has been metamorphosed into his unrelated German colleague Hermann Diller.

I am not pleased to write a review in which the negative element is substantial. As I said above, the author has done a useful job. One may hope that she can be encouraged to do other useful pieces of research in the future. But when one ventures for the first time into this rather complex field one does need a great deal of help.

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