Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2010.05.46

M. Sanz Morales, M. Librán Moreno (ed.), Verae Lectiones: estudios de crítica textual y edición de textos griegos. Exemplaria classica: Vol. Anejo 1.   Huelva:  Universidad de Huelvá, 2009.  Pp. 414.  ISBN 9788492679140.  (pb).  

Reviewed by David Butterfield , Christ's College, University of Cambridge (

In recent years the University of Huelva has been at the vanguard of studies in textual criticism and codicology. Throughout the pages of its annual publication Exemplaria Classica (Vol. 8 (2004-); superseding Exemplaria (1997-2003), which was not restricted to Classical literature), a wide array of material with a textual focus (whether Textkritik, Textgeschichte or Überlieferungsgeschichte) has been treated in all corners of Greek and Latin literature. The first volume boldly announced the admirably rigorous line that the journal wished to pursue: "we are convinced, against the fashions of the day, that the classical texts carry their own meaning. This meaning is not a mere construction or ideation of the critic... We discourage speculative or heavily theoretical commentaries which are not firmly anchored in the discussion of texts and factual information" (A. Ramírez de Verger, Vol. 8 (2004), pp.3-4).

This first supplement to the journal is a gathering of fifteen articles concerning the textual criticism and editing of Greek literature, spanning Aeschylus to Symeon Metaphrastes (fl. s.X2), based on a conference that took place in Cáceras, at the University of Extremadura, in June 2007, with various additions and omissions. The result is indeed a significant, interesting and original collection whose disparate parts merit close reading. Works of this nature are almost necessarily heavy going in parts, and Verae Lectiones is no exception: those attempting to read through the book in one sitting may find a cold flannel of assistance. Nevertheless, the editors have succeeded in soliciting a broad spectrum of papers that typically marry copious detail with sound methodological discussion. For the remainder of this review I shall discuss briefly each of the contributions.

A.F. Garvie discusses a number of textual cruces from Aeschylus' Persae. He prefaces his analyses with a few methodological observations, notably that it is now very difficult for a scholar to propose a new emendation that will be accepted by all editors, and that the oft-followed principle of defending the paradosis "at all costs" is fundamentally dangerous, even given Aeschylus' idiosyncratic style: "It is one thing to show that the paradosis makes sense, but quite another to demonstrate that it is the right sense" (pp.5-6). Garvie discusses in some detail the text of Pers. 80, 277, 815, 945 and 1073, without offering any emendations of his own, but shedding abundant light on numerous instances where most editors have taken wrong turns. For example, he appears to be the first scholar to query the sense of σεβίζων at 945, which he rightly avers to be inappropriate with the Persians' πάθεα as its object (a noun that generally survives the emendations in its turbulent midst).1 The essay, although retaining the feel of a presented paper, is clear and penetrating, and will serve as a welcome introductory survey of textual criticism on Greek scenic drama for those new to the subject.

In the second essay, Jesús de la Villa Polo tackles verbal aspect with a view to variant readings in the Persae, having already implemented this method of analysis elsewhere for Sophocles' OT and Philoctetes. De la Villa's modus operandi is essentially to find instances in the play where variant readings exist that differ in their verbal aspects. On the basis of West's 1990 Teubner, he finds eleven relevant cases, of which nine are shown to be editorially unproblematic: at 171, 794, 802 and 973 the "preferred variant is also more convincing in aspectual terms" (p.22); at 390, 510, 520 "both possibilities, present and aorist, are equally suitable in the context" (ibid.), in which case other factors deserve consideration.2 In two other cases (479 and 962), Aeschylus used a verbal form in the 'less appropriate' aspect where the transmitted form of the text renders alteration to the 'better' aspect metrically impossible, which suggests (pace de la Villa) that on occasion Aeschylus perhaps expressed himself with less attentiveness to verbal aspect than would satisfy a modern grammarian. In two final examples (220, 278), de la Villa challenges the typical decisions of Aeschylean editors on the basis of his survey, although his claims are not especially persuasive.3

The third essay, from Esteban Calderón Dorda, treats the preservation of Euripides' text in the indirect tradition through Plutarch. Calderón, having summarised the available evidence, discusses the primary discrepancies between the direct and Plutarchean traditions, beginning with minor errors (palaeographical slips, aural mistakes, parablepsis, banalisation, synonymous semantic replacements, change of number and inflection etc.). Although it is typically the case that Plutarch (or his subsequent transmission) is in error, in which case his variants merely serve as a benchmark for the comparative fidelity of the direct Euripidean tradition, to close his account Calderón usefully considers a number of cases where Plutarch presents the correct reading. This careful survey will facilitate future analyses in a difficult area, although seemingly equipollent variants will always need to be weighed by the judicious criticism of a competent editor.

Next, Jesús F. Polo Arrondo seeks to defend the three transmitted instances in the text of Herodotus of ἀντί followed by the infinitive without its article, despite the lack of a parallel in any other literary text of Classical Greek. Polo argues that "the article is not completely indispensable when ἀντί combines with nouns" (p.62), which is true but without relevance, and that Herodotus wrote while the Greek language was "undergoing a linguistic renewal", which cannot be proven given the comparative rarity of contemporary prose evidence. Dubiously comparing the "virtuality" of πρίν, ἐφ' ᾡ, which employ the infinitive without the article, Polo concludes that Herodotus experimentally employed ἀντί with the bare infinitive. Yet the mss present the article unanimously at I.134.1 and II.80.2 (and in certain recentiores at VII.170.2), which fact Polo fails to explain, and there seems little reason why the next prudent editor of Herodotus should not follow the restoration of the article at I.210.2 (edd. uett.), VI.32.1 (Valckenaer) and VII.170.2 (TM).4

Stefano Valente offers a business-like study of the value of the Lexicon uocum Platonicarum, a glossary attributed to Timaeus the Sophist, as a witness to the text of Plato's Res publica. The adept account, unfortunately carried out before the appearance of Maddalena Bonelli's 2007 commentary upon the work, to which Valente refers in footnotesen passant, seeks to show that the textual evidence proffered by this shadowy lexicographer (c. s.III A.D.) is able to play a part in constituting the Platonic text, albeit in restricted passages. Ultimately, Timaeus' evidence, which survives only in Paris Bibl. Nat. Coislinianus 345 (s.X), is shown to play only a minor role with regard to the Res publica, to which text Timaeus probably did not enjoy direct access.

The next contribution, from three scholars at the University of Torino, serves to describe and defend their forthcoming edition, with translation and commentary, of Aristotle's Politica, a contribution that seems destined to fill a genuine lacuna in Italian Aristotelian studies. The discussion is clear in focus and leisurely in pace, analysing matters of the Greek text (pp.96-106), the Italian translation (pp.106-23) and the commentary (pp.123-5). The discussion of Besso-Guagliumi-Pezzoli makes evident that they will produce a markedly more conservative text of Aristotle than their predecessors, defending the paradosis wherever possible. The nature of a new text published according to this often detrimental methodology should be an interesting result. A more detailed prospectus of their commentary, outlining in particular what the editors believe the primary shortcomings of their predecessors' to be, would have been salutary.

The seventh essay, by Ma Pilar Leganés Moya, considers in admirable detail the transmission of Demosthenes' De falsa legatione in Spanish mss, largely publishing the conclusions of her doctoral thesis (UC Madrid, 2003). Leganés Moya's analysis of eight Spanish recentiores (ss.XV-XVI), spread between The Escorial, Madrid, Salamanca and Seville, is complicated by the fact that severe contamination has occurred between at least three of the four branches of the tradition into which she places the Hispanic mss: all eight recentiores are treated as descendants, direct or indirect, of YAPF (s.X). As such, all are codices descripti that bear no independent authority; their sole textual purpose is as a repertory of conjectures, and Leganés Moya does record (137) three instances where the emendations of previous scholars have been preceded by Spanish mss.5 The manuscript stemma reproduced as Lámina 5 (p.383) should be taken as the most tentative of genealogies, for the interrelation between the recentiores must be significantly more complicated than the scale of vertical descent it depicts. To accompany the chapter, four plates of the two Aldine editions of Demothenes (1504; c.1513-20) are reproduced at pp.379-82.

Franco Montanari provides an impressive survey in the difficult area of ἐκδόσεις by Alexandrian grammarians, outlining the developments in method from the work of Zenodotus onwards. By comparing the task of Alexandrian grammarians to that of a manuscript diorthotes, Montanari demonstrates that scholars of this period availed themselves of conjectural emendation as well as the more scientific tools of collating available codices and correcting from the exemplar. The discussion is usefully supported by reference to papyrological evidence for Timotheus, Posidippus, Aeschines, Aeschylus, the commentary upon Plato's Theaetetus and St John's Gospel, plates of which are reproduced to varying degrees of quality at pp.385-92.

Probably the most impressive article in the collection is the spicilegium of emendations upon the Greek New Testament gathered by Georg Luck, who fairly observes that the 20th century has seen something of a return to the 'Mumpsimus' style of conservatism to which a religious text instinctively allures its readers. His treatment merits careful attention from scholars given to knee-jerk rejections against modern conjectural emendation, whose antipathy subsides significantly if the conjectural nature of a reading is obscured by its occurring in an anonymous 'witness'. Luck discusses 32 passages from the NT, typically supporting a previous conjecture but in three cases (Mt. 16:2b-3, Lk. 14:5, Acts 17:26) offering his own afresh. His treatment of the various loci that have been typically acknowledged as problematic is masterly in its lucidity and logic. I find Luck's arguments convincing in twenty cases, and worthy of serious investigation in eleven other instances; at Acts 17:26, however, the vulgate: ἐξ ἑνός can easily understand ἀνθρώπου in reference to Adam.6

Manuel Sanz Morales, as well as editing this collection, offers as the tenth chapter a further analysis of the distinct forms in which Chariton of Aphrodisias' Callirhoe apparently circulated. The text of this work is transmitted through three papyrus fragments (s.II/III), a fragment preserved in a Coptic palimpsest, the Codex Thebanus (W; s.VI/VII), and the complete text in Cod. Flor. Laurent. Conv. Soppr. 627 (F; s.XIII). By a careful analysis of the textual discrepancies between the papyri and F, Sanz makes a cogent case that the scale of these divergences suggests that a second tradition existed in antiquity, Although he considers the possibility that two distinct versions of the novel could have existed ab initio, as is commonly found with works of this genre, he believes it more likely that the division results from an early scribe's very loose and free transcription. The survey underlines with copious evidence the difficulty that an editor faces when dealing with seemingly multiple traditions that are recalcitrant to traditional forms of recension.

Manuela García Valdes offers a wide-ranging discussion as prolegomena to a new edition of Aelian's De natura animalium. Starting with Eduardo de Stefani's bipartite stemma and paying due attention to the excerpta Constantini (s.X), García discusses a series of passages that exemplify different matters of editorial interest: the need to dispose of intrusive glosses; the difficulty of evaluating equipollent readings; removing unnecessary emendation of the paradosis by previous scholars; how to treat the presence of the best reading in codd. recc.; the potential utility of the excerpta. The material here presented convincingly demonstrates that García's new Aelian will mark a great advance in the field.

For the twelfth essay Alberto Bernabé treats the difficult matter of editing the Orphic fragments. For the most part, his survey outlines the methodology of his Teubner edition (2004-7), a work which in most respects stands as a major improvement upon Otto Kern's text of 1922. Bernabé offers a clear typology of his three categories of fragment, a schema of how they relate to testimonia and so-called vestigia (texts suggesting Orphic traces in their doctrines), and a defence of the thematic arrangement of material in his edition, which rejected the over-confident assignation of each item to specific sources that often mars fragmentary collection. Bernabé closes by treating the new material that his edition contains: new papyri fragments, including the Derveni papyrus; fragments that were overlooked by Kern; and, least significantly, texts offering new readings since the time of Kern, often via reconstructions from prose witnesses. Since much of Bernabé's essay cannot be found in the prolegomena to his textual edition, the survey will undoubtedly be a useful resource for many years to come.

The next two chapters concern works of Byzantine literature, and to a non-specialist their thorough treatments appear to turn up new research and offer fresh ideas on old problems: one tackles the heavy state of contamination in the epistolary corpus and Amphilochia of Photius; the other attempts to show that textual criticism operating on Classical principles, however that is understood by the author, is an insufficient tool for tackling the complicated problems presented by the texts of the Byzantine historians, which profit much more from historical and literary contextual analysis.

The volume ends, suitably enough, with a piece on editorial methodology: F. Hernández Muñoz applies the famous doctrine of Giorgio Pasquali, viz "recentiores non deteriores", to the analysis of various later manuscripts of Demosthenes, Aeschines, Platonius and Menander Rhetor. It is clearly demonstrated that certain recentiores, all codices of the 14th-16th centuries located on the Iberian peninsula, sometimes offer readings favoured by editors but missing from the primary witnesses. However, since so many of the cases discussed are mere trivialities well within the grasp of Renaissance emendators, further detail is required about the extent to which these mss bear independent authority. Hernández turns finally to a discussion of the codd. recc. of a Latin text, the spurious letters between Seneca the Younger and St Paul, where a careful collation of later witnesses turns up readings deserving serious consideration.7

In their preface (pp.4-5), Sanz and Librán acknowledge the indubitable fact that Spain has lagged behind other European countries in founding and maintaining a tradition in classical textual criticism. Nevertheless, it is clear that a stream of talented scholars throughout the country's universities are making up this lost ground apace. If this collection stands as the opening salvo of a significant series of volumes in the ever-important fields of textual criticism and Überlieferungsgeschichte, we should welcome it as an encouraging precursor of more engaging studies to come.8

Table of contents:

1. A.F. Garvie, 'Textual problems in Aeschylus' Persae' 5-17.

2. J. de la Villa Polo, 'Syntax and textual criticism: aspect in Aeschylus' Persae' 19-32.

3. E. Calderón Dorda, 'La tradición indirecta en la crítica textual griega: el texto de Eurípides en Plutarco' 33-56.

4. J.F. Polo Arrondo, 'ἀντί + infinitive: syntax and textual criticism' 57-65.

5. S. Valente, 'Il ruolo di Timeo Sofista nella constitutio textus della Repubblica di Platone' 67-93.

6. G. Besso, B. Guagliumi and F. Pezzoli, 'Note introduttive ad una nuova edizione, con traduzione italiana e commento, della Politica di Aristotele' 96-125.

7. M. Pilar Leganés Moya, 'La transmisión del discurso Sobre la embajada fraudulenta de Demóstenes en los manuscritos españoles' 127-42.

8. F. Montanari, 'Ekdosis alessandrina: il libro e il testo' 143-67.

9. G. Luck, 'Conjectural emendations in the Greek New Testament' 169-202.

10. M. Sanz Morales, 'Testimonio de los papiros y tradición medieval: una versión diferente de la novela de Caritón?' 203-26.

11. M. García Valdes, 'Editar a Eliano: problemas que plantea' 227-66.

12. A. Bernabé Pajares, 'Problemas de edición de textos fragmentarios: el caso de los Órficos' 276-89.

13. Ó. Prieto Domínguez, 'Epistulae et Amphilochia Patriarchae Photii: mezcla y confusión de elementos en la constitutio textus de ambos corpora' 291-319.

14. P. Varona Codeso, 'Problemas textuales de la historiografía del periodo bizantino medio' 321-53.

15. F. Hernández Muñoz, 'Recentiores non semper deteriores. Nuevos materiales para una vieja discusión' 355-76.


1.   Garvie shows tact in not offering an emendation on so difficult a passage. In a low-profile footnote to a review, by contrast, one could suggest that the participle is the corruption of a rare verb such as βαύ̈ζων, used transitively of bewailing at περς. 13 and reminiscent of the chorus' reference to their own δυσβάϋκτον ... αὐδάν at 574-5.
2.   Yet at 510 de la Villa does not go beyond demonstrating that both aorist ἐκφυγόντες and present ἐκφεύγοντες are possible readings. What is significant is that the aorist is the lection presented by the great majority of the tradition and is inherently more probable. I also find myself in disagreement with de la Villa at 516, where he favours the rather unexpected imperfect ἐνήλλου over the aorist; given that both readings are well supported in the tradition, and that consonantal haplography or dittography is a negligible matter, sense must prevail and the aorist be adopted for its desired perfectivity.
3.   At 220, de la Villa argues that the poorly attested present tense χέεσθαι is a better reading than aorist χέασθαι; yet the fact remains that a single libation would be more natural and this reading is supported by the very great majority of mss. At 278, he rejects imperfect ἀπώλλυτο "was being destroyed", attested in all mss save O, in favour of the aorist form; the imperfect, however, gains support not only from its comparative rarity but also its appropriate place alongside ἤρκει in the same line and the similar employment of διώλλυτο at 483.
4.   The definite article is a common casualty for omission in the mss of Herodotus; it is lost seven times in Book I alone: 31.2, 32.7, 59.3, 60.5, 93.1, 132.2, 149.1; cf. also the loss of the relative pronoun οἱ at 174.2.
5.   In Med.190 εἰσιτητήρια (J ante Reiske), 221 εἰ del. (N ante Seager), and 272 ταῦτα (H ante Dobree).
6.   Of Luck's two conjecture elsewhere, the more persuasive is his interesting suggestion at Mt. 16b:3 that πυρράζει γὰρ στυγνάζων is a corruption, by mechanical repetition and inclusive adaptation of a later correction of στυγνάζει γάρ.
7.   It is not clear what difference his contention that two Spanish mss (Madrid, Bibl. Nac. 10238, s.XIV; Madrid, Bibl. UC 114 (118-z-26), s.XV) belong to an independent but contaminated branch of the tradition would make to the practical task of editing the work.
8.   The book lacks an index rerum, which would have helped unify the themes that the collection treats in the absence of cross-references, but presents a thorough and typically accurate index locorum (pp.405-11).

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