BMCR 1997.01.08


, , Platonis opera. Scriptorum classicorum bibliotheca Oxoniensis. Oxford: E. Typographeo Clarendoniano, 1995-. volumes 1 ; 20 cm.. ISBN 9780198145691 $32.00.

Students of the text of Plato have been waiting for a new Opera Omnia for at least two generations. It was not long ago that E.R. Dodds could lament that “to this day, no one can say with certainty how many primary witnesses to the text there are, or how they are related to each other and to the secondary MSS.” ( Plato. Gorgias [Oxford 1959] 34). Much work has since been done by Dodds and others to isolate the primary witnesses, and the results have now served the team of scholars (one of whom, Winifred F. Hicken, lamentably did not live to see the publication of this first volume) who have begun the new OCT of the ancient author most written-about in our time.

Burnet’s knowledge of Plato was deep, and lovers of his excellent text may wonder, why replace it? Despite Burnet’s acumen, however, the inaccuracies of his apparatus are well known. Burnet was the first editor to make substantial use of what came to be considered the three most important primary MSS: Clarkianus 39 (=B, A.D. 895); Ven. Marc. gr. append. cl. IV.1, coll. 542 (=T, s. x); Vind. suppl. gr. 7 (=W, s. xi). Although he made some consultations of B in Oxford and of photographs of T, he obtained most of his MS. reports from others. Burnet had but limited acquaintance with six other MSS. that subsequently have been shown to be primary witnesses. Numerous papyri and indirect testimonia, as well as Aristippus’ Latin translation of the Phaedo, have been published since his day. Finally, Burnet selected many readings that rest on weak or no MS. authority. While the Budé series represented certain advances, those volumes are of uneven quality. Therefore, although the text of Plato has not been in bad shape, we have needed an Opera that rests on a truly scientific basis.

In the preface, the new editors lay out their program for meeting this need (p. v-xxi). Except for the Theaetetus, for which Miss Hicken was responsible, Elizabeth A. Duke investigated the indirect tradition, and William S. M. Nicoll tracked down and collated the MSS. In this latter task, Duke and David Robinson assisted by examining various MSS. by autopsy. Nicoll edited the Euthyphro, Apology and Crito; Christopher Strachan edited the Phaedo; Nicoll and Duke edited the Cratylus; Robinson edited the Sophist (assisted by Nicoll) and the Politicus. The collaborators discussed and considered each others’ opinions, however, so that the result is a shared work.

The primary MSS. divide into the three well-known families clustered around B, T and W. Each of these MSS. offers all the dialogues of tetr. i-ii. Closely related to B but independent of it are Ven. Marc. gr. 185, coll. 576 (=D, s. xi-xii), and Tueb. gr. Mb14 (=C, s. xi), which latter MS. for Vol. I transmits only Euthphr., Crito and Phdo. The editors believe that these three MSS. descend in a tripartite stemma from some hyparchetype “Beta”, but acknowledging the effects of contamination and chance, they deny that one can safely take the agreement of two of these MSS. to represent Beta. 1 T is the sole independent member of the second family. Alongside W, the third family numbers Vat. Pal. gr. 173 (=P, s. x, containing Apol., Phdo. and excerpts), Vat. gr. 225 (=V, s. xiv? 2 independent only in tetr. i), Par. gr. 1813 (=Q, s. xiii, containing Phdo. and Crat. of this volume), and Par. suppl. gr. 668 (=S, s. xi, containing Crito and parts of Phdo. and Crat.). To these must be joined the putative exemplar (=L) of Aristippus’ Latin translation of the Phaedo (A.D. 1156) and that of the Armenian translation of Euthphr. and Apol., as well as the fragment of Apol. contained in Ven. Marc. gr. 511 and the corrections assignable to B2 (presumably Arethas, the codex’s owner). The hyparchetype of this third family is designated “Delta”. The editors also believe that the corrector T 2 is an independent “Delta” witness, but they rightly avoid making absolute claims about particular T corrections. The editors follow Carlini’s division of the third family in Phdo. between VWL and PS, adding Q to the latter, and they see similar bifurcation elsewhere.

Evidence for the independence of these MSS. can be found in works cited in the preface. The hardest MSS. to classify are C and D, for they share very few correct readings with T or “Delta” against B. I have expressed elsewhere my reasons for believing in the independence of D. 3 Additional separative B errors include Euthphr. 8e4 ἕκαστόν] ἑκάστων β; Apol. 19d7 τἆλλα] πολλὰ β; 38c3 ME om. B; Crat. 399c4 ὄπωπε] πωπε sic B; 417a8 ἔοικε om. B; Soph. 247d5 ἡμῶν om. B. 4

The editors omit to cite readings of papyri or ancient authors when they deem the MS. text indubitable (p. xvii), and the index testimoniorum (pp. 561-72) catalogs only those cited in the apparatus, excepting scholia and Platonic commentaries that follow the sequence of the text. A modern bibliography is a desideratum for new OCT’s; there is a bibliography of editions that have provided the indirect testimony (xxvi-xxxi).

The OCT team claims to have investigated the other MS. candidates to independent status and to have determined that none is such. They have deemed it unnecessary to make complete collations of all the MSS. (xvii-xviii). Strictly speaking, one must collate every MS. in its entirety to be sure of its place in the tradition. Copyists may use different exemplars; a late MS. may contain readings, even corrections, of ancient authority. I have examined a large number of Platonic manuscripts without finding any primary witnesses that are unknown to the OCT team, however, and I believe it unlikely that we shall identify any other known MS. as independent in the earlier tetralogies. Although Platonic manuscript work is not finished, the results of the editors’ recension are likely to stand for a long time.

Now to the apparatus. It is remarkably accurate, and it corrects errors of Burnet that escaped the Bude editors. I have consulted my collations in Phdo. and Cra. and have verified anew from photographs only these errors: Phdo. 59 d6 εἰσήειμεν sic re vera codd. (not εἰσῇμεν 67e3 οὐ γελοῖον π Socrati tribuens (not γελοῖον 78a1 and 97d3, not corrected by Q 1; 5 78b4 ἀνερεῖσθαι π (not ἀνερέσθαἰ; 91c6 ME Q (not μέν Cra. 385b2 τί θ lpc (not τἰ; 413b2 με ἀποπιμπλάναι θ says Q omits ME). There are few misprints: Phdo. 99c3 ἄν ποτε TDelta (not ἅν ποτἐ; 99a6 ἄλλα ὅσα ωπλ (not ἀλλὰ ὅσα, and the OCT omits reference to θ 108d3 οὖν θ (not οὔν Soph. 244d11-12 “Socrates” is a slip for “hospes”; Plt. 281e4 instead of “συναιτίους βτω π 2 Stob.” the true variant is μέν βτω π 2 : μέν OU)=NStob., and the index lacks the citation (Stob. IV.413-14 Wachsmuth-Hense); 285 “b8” should read “b7”; 297a2, b2 dots for iota subscript appear.

The editors elect to pass over in silence many obvious or insignificant MS. errors (xix; cf. Nicoll [supra, n. 1] 31). Space limitations of course obtain; yet, students of papyri and MSS. will still need to consult collations in earlier editions. A good policy would have been to list all errors shared by more than one primary witness. For example, at Phdo. 105c3-5, BD omit by homoioteleuton the words νοσέσειἐγγένηται, which are supplied in the margins by B 2 and by an early corrector of D. C on the other hand omits c3-4 σώματιἀριθμῷ. BCD being related, it would be worthwhile to cite the omissions, since they prove that C cannot be a direct copy of B ac or B 2. To cite Phdo. 59c2 τὸν σωκράτη] TW=(sic) σωκράτει θς would help to evidence the QS link. Sometimes an error in one MS. goes unmentioned when the same error in others is cited, even across MS. families: e.g. Phdo. 69a6 γὰρ om. T atque V; 95c4 ἀνόνητον ωλ atque D; Cra. 388d13 αὐ τά] ταῦτα ω atque Q. Some readings are presented as though they rest on authority of all MSS. when they do not: e.g. Phdo. 113c1 (the MSS. and Burnet read N), Tht. 156a4 ἐξ ἧς (only in bW2), Soph. 244b9 ἀποκρινέσθων Simpl.: ἀποκρινέσθωσαν bTW (Burnet’s report is correct). Since T is the only representative of its family, one misses fuller collations of this codex. Especially useful would be citation of omissions of lines of text like Phdo. 103d9-11 πάνυ ἀπολεῖσθαι om. T. T’s value as a witness can be overestimated by those who have been led into a false view of the fidelity to his model of its scribe, Ephraim Stoudios.

A special problem is posed by Lambda, for the citations would be more useful if doubtful cases were represented by the quoted Latin and not as e.g. Phdo. 59a8 “τοτὲ τπθς, ?Lambda”; better to print “? Lambda (nunc)” or simply to give the Latin reading. On the other hand, more Lambda readings could have been included, as e.g. 90d1, where Aristippus’ talibus most likely presupposes τοιουτοισὶ with BCDWPV and not τοιουτοις with Q and T. But the OCT makes good use of Aristippus. His quid equidem is rightly represented as τί δὴ at 105d13, and his version is cited as authority for readings like 70e1 ἴδωμεν (videamus) or 85e3 ἧ δὴ (prout), a conjecture of Forster (Burnet misstated the reading of W).

The reader is warned that not all the primary witnesses of the first or third family necessarily contain the readings ascribed to the hyparchetypes (p. xix). The editors frequently enumerate the witnesses singly when the MSS. differ within a family, but a better policy would be to cite the putative hyparchetype only when all its witnesses agree. This is especially important in the case of B2, which does not offer all the distinct Delta readings. When the apparatus shows Delta as differing from Beta, should we suppose that Arethas made the Delta correction or not? This is worth knowing, since he is the earliest Delta witness.

The new editors have found MS. authority for many correct readings which in Burnet rested on the authority of later MSS. or on that of printed editions or scholarly conjecture. These readings fall into several categories. A) Readings printed by Burnet without the authority of a primary MS., in support of which the new OCT cites at least one primary MS.: e.g. Crat. 426e1 τρέχειν θ; Tht. 175e5 ὁ δ’ π and Iamblichus; Plt. 281d2 ἂνπεριέλωμεν δ; etc. B) Readings in support of which the new OCT cites a source of superior but not independent stemmatic position: e.g. Euthphr. 15d1 προσσχὼν Vind. phil. 80 (“scripsi” Burnet); Apol. 23b2 EI) add. man. r. Laur. 85.6 (“add. Stephanus” Burnet); Crat. 385a2 O( ἂν FH|S KALH=| Ven. app. cl. 4.54pc (coniec. Hirschig); etc. The editors think that these readings are probably conjectures (p. xix). We owe many of them to the first scribe of Par. gr. 1808 (cf. e.g. Plt. 274d2, 275b5, etc.). Flor. Laur. gr. 85.6 and Ven. Marc. gr. 186 are also well represented. The editors deserve credit for tracking down the sources of readings that Burnet ascribed only to “al.”, “recc.”, “vulg.” and the like, and for identifying which critics first proposed many modern conjectures. At Crito 46b4, the new OCT cites a newer transcription (IG XIV 318 no. 1214) for the reading νῦν πρῶτον.

To the text itself. The editors acknowledge that Delta is closer to Beta than to T in Apol., that TW agree in Plt. after 288, etc., but they rely on editorial acumen rather than stemmatic considerations when deciding what to print: the tradition is heavily contaminated, MSS. switch sources, and the connections between the MS. families are quite entangled (p. xiv-xvii; Nicoll [supra, n. 1] 34-36). 6 In broad outline, an eclectic approach is the only possible one for the “open” Platonic tradition. A correct reading is often found in only one witness, and there is no best branch of the tradition. Nevertheless, in cases of relative indifferentia like minor word order differences, particles, etc., stemmatic criteria can create a presumption of probability along the lines suggested by Boter (1987) 151, and if the editors would admit this weak claim, they should say so. For example, at Tht. 162d2 ταχὺ τω: τάχα Beta (so Burnet), the W reading seems to have helped make the decision. The same impression comes from Apol. 26a8 δῆλον ἤδη δτ et fort. B: ἤδη δῆλον Delta (so Burnet), Plt. 303d1 νῦν BetaW: νῦν δὲ T (so Burnet), etc. Actually, although Nicoll (1995) 36 has rejected Boter’s suggestion, the two seem not to disagree: Boter invoked probability; Nicoll denies certainty.

As to the passages that differ from those printed by Burnet, 7 the largest number are those for which Burnet did not cite third family readings. Cf. Apol. 24e10, where the third family along with T1(?)pc agree with BCD’s οἵδε οι( against οἱ δε of Tac, which Burnet printed. At Euthphr. 6a7, on the other hand, knowledge that V agrees with BetaT in including O( seems to have helped the editors reject Burnet’s καὶ θεοφιλὴς of W. The editors readily opt for a minority reading; cf. Crito 53a1, where Nicoll follows the superior βαρβάρων of T against βαρβαρικῶν of BetaDelta and Eusebius (Burnet had almost made this choice; cf. ad loc.). The agreement of TDelta is by the same token often preferred to a first family reading, esp. in Phdo., where the stemma appears tripartite. Cf. e.g. 69b6 καὶ B2TDelta Iambl. Stob.: om. Beta (Burnet bracketed). Some superior readings rest only on “Delta”, as e.g. Crat. 407e6 τὸ γὰρ against καὶ τὸ of βδτ; 408d7 δὲ τῶν τοιῶνδε confirms previous editions; 418a8 διιὸν ω essentially anticipates Bekker’s ἰὸν. The editors uncover places where first family MSS. too are decisive, as e.g. at Apol. 26a8, where D backs up what seems to have been an original agreement of B with T in reading δῆλον ἤδη ἐστὶν against the third family’s different word order, which was favored without strong reason by Burnet. Cf. also Apol. 38c3 ME (omitted by Burnet, but support for TDelta comes from D); Plt. 288e4, where Burnet’s “al.”, which read προσαγορεύωμεν against Burnet’s preferred indicative mood of T, turn out to be BDW! More accurate collations provide gems like Crat. 421d4 ἂν εἴη εἰ η( T2, where Burnet was led into unnecessary deletion of A)/N by his mistaken belief that BT read only εἴη and not εἴη ἡ. Broader knowledge of papyri and the indirect tradition has also helped the editors support good readings: e.g. Apol. 41c2 οἷς διαλέγεσθαι ἐκεῖ (where Pack 2 1387 confirms T); Phdo. 101d3 ἔχοιτο confirmed by Pack 2 1389; Crat. 405c7 ὥσπερἄκοιτιν confirmed by P.Oxy. XXXIII 2663 (s. ii); Soph. 223d6 καπηλικὴ Themistius.

The new OCT Plato accordingly is far better supported than any predecessor. The editors’ choices from among this plethora of readings have created a text that reads smoothly and lays out logical steps lucidly. Robin Waterfield has already used it for his translation of the Statesman. As noted above, the editors make excellent use of W and its relations, and that MS. should now come under closer scrutiny as representing what is often the most philosophically sophisticated branch of the tradition. 8 On the other hand, the last century’s deference to the Clarkianus has finally been abandoned. The text in tetr. i (less so Apol.) remains fairly close to Burnet’s, and I agree with the tendency to retain words that had been excluded without sufficient reason as interpolations. In tetr. ii, however, the new OCT differs much more, chiefly through emendations that often are unnecessary or unconvincing. On the other hand, the editors solve some difficult problems, and in their turn they are right to restore certain MS. readings that Burnet had abandoned unnecessarily: e.g. Crat. 386b5 ἄνθρωποι om. T (Meridier also retained), Tht. 183c6 δεῖ, Soph. 224a3 καὶ πιπρασκομένην (Dias retained), Plt. 264e12 ἄρτιον ἀριθμόν. I proceed now to a few of the many passages that merit discussion.

Euthphr. 14c3-4. Burnet printed τὸν ἐρῶντα τῷ ἐρωμένῳ, but the new editors rightly prefer … ἐρωτῶνταἐρωτωμένῳ with Schanz et al. Against Burnet, the latter participle is attested by VArm, and ἐρωτῶντα is the better attested of the first pair of alternatives. The passage concerns following the argument where it leads (cf. b9), and the dialogue does not present Euthyphro as an erotic object. I suspect that a common source read TON ἐρωτῶντα τῷ ἐρωμένῷῷ (these verbs are often confused).

Apol. 27e6. The new editors wrongly agree with various precedessors in excluding OU) along with Ven. Marc. 184. Burnet’s reasoning in following the primary MSS. is sound: Socrates is arguing that the same man must believe in both divine and “daimonic” activities, and the same man again (αὖ) who believes in the activities cannot deny the existence of gods or daimons (cf. Burnet’s comment ad loc.).

Apol. 29c4 and 30c1. Nicoll prints A)/N with future in agreement with the MSS., but cf. E. de Strycker-S.R. Slings ( Plato’s Apology of Socrates [Leiden 1994] ad locc.).

Phdo. 69a1. With Verdenius (Mnemosyne 11 [1958] 204-205), I concur that the strong adversative ἀλλ’ ὅμως of the MSS. and indirect tradition is needed here, against δ’ οὖν of the Arsinoe papyrus (Pack2 1388), which Strachan and others prefer.

Phdo. 83b7-9. The new OCT is right to print ἢ λυπηθῇ, for the latter reading was lacking only in Beta. The words καὶ φόβων at b7, however, are absent in Pack 2 1388, Iamblichus and Tac, and Burnet was probably right to bracket them as an addition motivated by desire to balance the four verbs of b8-9 with four correlative nouns (cf. Verdenius 218; R. Loriaux, Le Phedon de Platon 2 I [Namur-Gembloux 1981] 184-185).

Against deletion of FASIN at Phdo. 83e6, originally suggested by Jachmann, cf. L. Taran ( Gnomon 48 (1976) 764-65) and C. Rowe ( Plato. Phaedo [Cambridge 1993] ad loc.). On “normalization” in papyri of s. i-ii, cf. P.J. Sijpensteijn ( Mnemosyne 19 [1966] 231) with reply of Verdenius (ibid. 269).

Phdo. 92d4. Relying on Pack 2 1389, M. Haslam has suggested the punctuation ἐάν τις αὐτοὺς μὴ φυλάττηται εὖ μάλα, ἐξαπατῶσιν ( ZPE 89 [1991] 11ff). Strachan adopts this improvement.