Our knowledge of the manuscript tradition of Plato has been deepened greatly during the last generation as scholars have undertaken to collate and classify all the manuscripts of given dialogues. One thinks of the work of Carlini (fourth tetralogy and Phdo.), Moreschini ( Prm. and Phdr.), Berti ( Crito), Moore-Blunt ( Epp.), Slings ( Clt.), Boter ( Rep.), and Jonkers ( Tim. and Critias), among others. As these studies have been published, the stemmatic position of various codices has become clear, and several more primary witnesses have come to light. At the same time, advances have occurred in Greek paleography with the delineation of certain styles of writing and the identification of many hitherto unknown copyists. The study of the manuscripts continues in turn to expand our insight into the scholarly habits of known scribes and humanists. In this ambitious work, a revised version of his doctoral dissertation, Christian Brockmann seeks to approach the textual tradition of Plato from all of these starting points. The primary goal of his book is to identify all the manuscripts of the Symposium and work out their stemmatic relationships. As one might expect of a student of Dieter Harlfinger, however, B. also approaches the MSS. as phenomena in themselves. He seeks to revise dates on paleographical grounds, to identify scribes or catalog identifications of scribes made by others, and to shed light on the history of Platonism by studying how copyists and correctors worked on the text. Engagingly written, containing fascinating excurses into the critical achievements of such figures as Planudes and Bessarion, the result addresses a wider audience than would a strictly stemmatological study. The book is worth owning for its contribution to the history of scholarship and for its compilation of information about the individual MSS. It comes as a disappointment, then, to discover that B.’s arguments for his proposed stemma are often incomplete and in some cases reach untenable conclusions. Future editors of the dialogue will have to check his results.
The book is divided into four sections: an introduction and statement of method; a short history of the most notable scholars who have worked on the text of Plato since the Renaissance (Part I); a list of the 55 MSS. and one papyrus that contain Smp., with codicological information and bibliography for each (Part II); and the bulk of the work (Part III), in which the filiation of MSS., divided into three families, is worked out. B. also classifies the first four printed editions of Plato, as well as Ficino’s Latin translation. A final section of Part III explores the relationship of the primary witnesses to each other and to the papyrus, P. Oxy. 843. There follow bibliography, indices, plates of nearly every codex, and a stemma.
B. collated most of the MSS. from photographs but checked Venetian MSS., the Clarkianus, and Zittaviensis A 2 by autopsy. Although he did search each MS. for erasures, corrections and the like, B. restricted his collation of derivative MSS. to four sample passages of about two Stephanus pages each (there were a few exceptions) and collated about two-thirds of the text of the dialogue in the three MSS. which he regarded as primary witnesses (viz. Bodl. Clarke 39 [=B], Ven. append. cl. IV.1 [=T], and Vind. suppl. gr. 7 [=W]). This weir may be broad enough to trap all the fish; time is short, and researchers need to judge when to stop collecting data. However, in a work that aims to provide the basis for a new text, one expects the collation at least of key witnesses in their entirety—especially when the author faults the accuracy of the apparatus of previous editions. Theoretically, the textual critic should collate all the manuscripts in full. Although that may be too much to ask in the case of a dialogue of Smp.‘s length, some Platonic MSS. do display source switches in the middle of dialogues. Further, since the Platonic MSS. are heavily laced with horizontally transmitted variants, there may be important material lurking outside the portions of text that B. did collate.
With this said, it is best to go directly to Part III. Brockmann is a remarkably accurate collator. I have checked the greater part of his citations of two MSS., B and Marc. gr. 185 (=D for most editors, although B. does not use this siglum), and I have found no false reports. Second, B. makes good use of layers of correction to trace the genesis of apographa, as he does for example with the copies of Par. gr. 1808 (p. 164ff.). He appeals skillfully to proofs based on physical evidence (e.g., on Par. gr. 1810 and apographa, p. 105f.).
On the other hand, B.’s arguments for the derivation of one MS. from another are often incomplete. Only in about half of the cases does B. catalog conjunctive errors that link the copy to its supposed model; one must otherwise presume that they exist. B.’s tendency to regard insignificant errors as significant does not instill confidence, however; cf. e.g. his appeal to errors involving confusion of
The bulk of B.’s conclusions about the filiation of MSS. in Smp. match the findings of students of other dialogues, and despite my reservations about his methodology, I agree with the greater part of B.’s results. B.’s MSS. families are the familiar ones: 1) the group of B; 2) T and its apographs, all but two of which descend through Par. gr. 1808; 3) the family of W. However, some conclusions are either incorrect or not fully proved. In what follows, MS. readings come from my collations from microfilm of DTWP and from the photofacsimile edition of B.
1. Marc. gr. 185. B. argues that D is a copy of B, made through a lost intermediary. This is a controversial claim, for the weight of scholarly opinion has shifted in recent years to hold that D and B are twins. B.’s proof of D’s dependence is this (pp. 52-59): 1) he finds no separative errors in B against D and T, P or W 2) he points to five errors in D, occasioned by homoioteleuton, for which the relevant key words in B stand one or two lines directly below each other, and argues that five are too many to have occurred by chance; 3) B. sets aside the force of Schanz’ and Berti’s arguments based on incomplete but differing sets of stichometric numbers in the two codices by supposing that the numbers which are present in D but lacking in B may have been added in an intermediary. Now, B. is not quite right to say that B presents no separative errors against D, for there are a few (excluding matters of orthography, etc.): 190a8
2. Vat. Pal. gr. 173 (=P). B. is wrong to classify the fragmentary P with T in the second MS. family and not with W in the third family, where students of other dialogues have placed it. B.’s three conjunctive errors are of no value, for they amount to omission of
3. W and Lobcoviciensis VI.Fa.1. B. accepts the argument of Lidia Perria that W and Lobc were copied in the eleventh century by the same scribe, and he views Lobc as a copy of W (pp. 237-247). B. is correct on the derivation of these MSS. and on the date of W, but his view on the identity of their scribes cannot be right. Fol. 256, offering Smp. 173c2-175b1, is inserted along with several other leaves in W by a hand (W 3) that is at least s. xiv, and B. himself inclines to s. xv (p. 237; he claims to have discovered the insertion of fol. 256, but it had already been reported by Post). B. asserts without proof that W 3 copied this leaf from Lobc. Actually the relationship between W 3 and Lobc is the other way round, as Carlini and others have recently shown.
4. Perusinus F 56. This little-known codex, written in s. xv by Theodore Gaza, contains only Smp. B. asserts that it is descended from T independently of Coisl. 155 or Par. gr. 1808 (p. 160f.). The only evidence B. offers of this, however, is an omission in Perus occurring at 212a4-5, occasioned by homoioteleuton and word position in T. Otherwise, he cites only separative errors that show that T is not a copy of Perus. B.’s citation of -AN instead of -AS at 173c3 does not really prove anything. Perus deserves further study, for Gaza may have incorporated interesting readings into the parts which B. did not collate.
5. B.’s derivation of Marc. gr. 189 from Marc. gr. 590 in Smp. creates no problems. However, I am not convinced that 189 was copied in s. xiv (p. 126), for in Chrm. it appears to be a copy of the fifteenth-century Laur. 85.9.
Many readers will be most interested in B.’s conclusions about the lines of the tradition that extend back before the earliest MSS. B. finds that TWP (their presumed source = phi) stand in a group against B, as they do in other dialogues, so that we have a bipartite stemma (p. 248ff.). B. is right to point out that for this reason, the readings of
B. is at his most stimulating when he delves into the history of Platonic textual work. In addition to cataloging scribal identifications made by others, B. comes up with about eight of his own: e.g. Matthew of Ephesus copied Albinus in Vat. gr. 225, Leonardo Bruni appears to have made marginal notes in Lobc, Gemistus Plethon annotated Marc. gr. 189. I am not convinced that the scribe of Lobc also copied Vat. gr. 1029. One of B.’s most provocative claims is the view that Marsilio Ficino translated the Symposium, not from Laur. 85.9, as he seems to have done in other dialogues, but from Ricc. 92 or its exemplar, which B. holds was a lost copy of Malat. D 28,4. B. suggests that this lost copy may have been the manuscript “in carta bombicina” which Ficino borrowed from Amerigo Benci (pp. 220-229). His examination of Ficino’s tendency to translate one Greek word with two Latin words will be useful to those working on Ficino’s versions. B.’s analysis of the textual scholarship of Moschopoulos, Planudes, George Pachymeres, Bessarion and Musurus reveals these men to be the sources of numerous well-known variants, most of which B. takes to be conjectures, although some bespeak an origin in other exemplars, as, for example, variants which suggest that Bessarion had access to T and Coisl. 155. Not surprisingly, B. finds in the work of Bessarion the highest point reached by pre-Aldine scholarship.
Part I, although it opens the book, actually brings this history of textual scholarship up to our own day. B.’s aesthetic and textual judgements of the early editions are well balanced. Stephanus comes into criticism for citing variant readings in the margin of his edition with the sign
Part II’s list of MSS. provides date, material, number of folia, size, contents, scribe if known, together with name of the person who made the identification, and short bibliography. Together with the lists in the recent works of Boter and Jonkers, this list begins to lay the ground for a Plato MS. “Repertorium”. It would have been useful had the respective page numbers of Part III, where each MS. is discussed, been included in each entry; the plate numbers do appear. It also would have been easier for students of Plato if B. had used commonly accepted MS. sigla such as D, Y, etc., for some of the better known codices.
Philologists and paleographers all too often fail to appreciate each others’ methods fully or to make proper use of each others’ results. Brockmann is to be congratulated for setting out to combine both perspectives. He would have made a greater contribution to our effort to establish the text of Plato had his collations been much more complete and had he marshalled his evidence more judiciously. One looks forward to future work by this promising scholar upon the MSS. of ancient philosophers and upon what they reveal of our own intellectual history.